Friday, April 29, 2016

What Came First? The Chicken or the Egg

I don't know if I Mormon is a great fit for me spiritually because I love to serve because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or if I am a member because I love to serve.  Either way it's a good fit, it makes me happy, it brings me joy whether formal or informally, I like to be in the trenches helping when I can.

This past weekend our congregation of church goers when to Wheatland Estate - James Buchanan's home to help, clean, restore and beautify for the tourist season. 

See what the LDS Humanitarian Services are doing around you locally and internationally.  It is amazing.

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Like They Play

So the past few months things have really clicked musically for the kids.
When I hear them practicing or playing, it sounds like real music now.
And since they play violin and viola in two different orchestras together it is fun to hear them practicing together at home and in concert.
I love all the music that gets played around our house,
both seriously and for fun.
My favorite concert clips are too much data :(

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Days My Dreams Are Made Of

Yesterday was a Saturday chalked full of activities and as a result my house looked like a tornado had blown through.  Considering even that, the day was perfect.  It was the type of day I dreamed family life would be like.  Despite the chaos and the worrying that there are not enough parents (aka drivers) for the amount of kids and activities somehow it works out.

Wyatt left early for District 7 PMEA Stringfest.  Then Travis and I attended the baptism of a girl in our ward.  She comes from a part member family, but this family is amazing.  The mom, Angie, teaches me so much about mothering even though she mothers totally different than me.  Their family exemplifies the (2) Great Commandments - Love the Lord thy God and Love The Neighbor as thyself.  After seeing that and chatting with their family and some friends for a bit, we rushed out to make Kody's baseball game which we had arranged for a friend to pick him up for.

Once there, Travis realized how much he underestimates the Kody man as he batted a thousand, with his first at bat being a double.  In the outfield the coach moved him around some, but largely he ended up playing shortstop.  He had a great time with his first scrimmage and they won 11-5.  Sitting and watching the game was wonderful under the perfect sun and one arm got a bit burnt, but we had to leave early and the same friend took him home until we could pick him up later.

From there we went to Isabella's friend's confirmation party.  They have been friends for years and our families have become close.  It was at a great place that has ping pong, pool, air hockey, etc...It was great to play with Issac and Travis while Isa got to hang out with her friends.  There was a nice lunch and a couple of tears shed as Renee (Allie's mom) thanked everyone who was there who because they had helped her in her life and faith get to that point.  It's amazing to be a village raising a child.  We ended up leaving there early too, while Issac and Isabella stayed.

Travis and I went to Conestoga Valley to listen to Wyatt play in the District 7 PMEA orchestra concert.  His teacher had sent some pictures from earlier in the day.  The music was pretty awesome and we felt super proud.  Afterwards Wyatt glowed with joy.  Travis took him home and I left to go meet up with friends, Liz and Nicole.

We were going to go hiking, but when I got there we had a change of plans.  Instead we would bike downtown for dinner at Souvlaki Boys (holy yum) and dessert at Rachel's Creperie.  As a chain of one of the bikes came off we had an encounter with some of the people on their porches.  One nice man was super willing to help, but because of an overheard phone conversation we learned with a great deal of certainty that he was likely a drug dealer.  That was just enough excitement to have us giggling the rest of the day.  We cycled around town and through the old cemetery.  We got back to their house, hung out for a bit before I knew I needed to return home and back to real life.

The kids had been put to bed, Travis had cleaned up the house and done the dishes.  All was quiet and I was able to do just a couple of maintenance things before heading to bed to read.  After less than ten minutes of reading, my body demanded sleep.  I obeyed.  It was amazing and awesome.  If only every day could be that good.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

This week instead of having my kids take the PSSA's (Pennsylvania's Standardized Testing), Travis and I took the kids and our dog and some educational travel days and decided to do a 50 mile hike in 4 days on the Appalachian Trail instead. 

We started in West Virginia and ended in Pennsylvania spending most of our time, 45ish miles in Maryland.  The Maryland challenge is a popular thing amongst hiking enthusiasts.  But we needed a few more miles, because why not have Wyatt earn his scout badge for a 50 mile hike while doing something so close.  So we started a little further back in West Virginia and made sure to do some of the scenic by-routes, although near the end, no one could be bothered to see any of the overlooks.  The appeal was totally gone.

We packed everything in and out, slept in shelters or tents, and rarely showered or changed clothes.  We tested the physical limits our kids thought they had, only so they could realize that they can do a whole lot more than they thought possible.  We learned that hiking with an additional 30% body weight in a backpack makes a huge difference especially on our feet (think no fewer than 5 blisters on the pads of my toes just from weight difference) and knees.

But for as miserable as they were at some points - and they were - there was a lot of laughing, joy and bonding.  There were many friendly hikers, our favorites a Swiss couple, many great stories and a multitude of life lessons learned.

Prepare yourself for pictures...
Starting in WV
Crossing over the river into Maryland
There were a ton of great views, both intentional overlooks and then just the beauty of nature!
They even make crossing over the top of a highway sort of breathtaking.
Around the camp fun includes tents, every stick becoming a weapon, random imaginary play, Trixie (our dog) cuddling down in leafy, sunny spots, other hiker socializing, fire making and cooking.
The best was when a "tenter" by the shelter comes rushing in with a bear and cub sighting.  I send Travis to go take a look and get a picture with my camera (I was already in bed and quite skeptical).  It turns out for good reason.  He got the picture but it was a rock outcropping between trees.
Some streams were easy crossing, when they provide these wood planks, others a little less.  But the kids did great even accounting for wonky backpack weight.
Also really amazing to see were left over walls from the Civil War.  Being this close to the Mason Dixon line and a hot spot of activity, we saw a couple of these.  History really comes alive when you imagine war on foot, with packs, building rock walls, and living in more extreme conditions than what we were facing.
Near the end we hit a park right on the Maryland/Pennsylvania line.  When we got to the parking lot, we found we had a flat tire.  Happily my husband put on a spare.  He is such a stud.  We then got in the car for a smelly 1 1/2 hour trip home, where instantly the kids and dog were out.
It was the trip of a lifetime, even if not every memory was easy or fun!