Monday, October 28, 2013


This past summer, my friend Elizabeth asked me train for a 5K with her.  I jumped at the chance, though I wasn't sure that actually running 3.1 miles was possible for me.  Well, you never know until you try!  I really believe I wouldn't have made it without such a good training partner, but I have now completed 3--count 'em, 1-2-3 5K events!  The first one was in Maine and I covered that in a previous post.  The other two I completed on consecutive weekends just a couple weeks ago.
One was a color run to benefit a nearby women's crisis center.  It was fun to have so many friends to run with, and the color mess was fun, too!  (Friend Elizabeth is on my right.)
The second one was a fundraiser for the local high school's athletic department.  No color here, but I placed in my age range... and won a t-shirt from Piggly-Wiggly!  What more could you ask?
My finishing times for the races were 28:58 and 29:02, respectively. 
Now, the kids want to train and run a 5k with me next year!  I cannot tell you how much that excites me!

Friday, October 18, 2013


Atop Cadillac Mountain, looking south-ish
So, I grew up not too far from one of the most beautiful places in all the world, the rugged coast of Maine; also, not too far from the most beautiful slice of that coast, Acadia National Park.  It's been several years since we've taken the opportunity to stop here on our annual trip to Maine, so it was high time.
Atop Cadillac Mountain, looking northeast
We drove down along with my sister Carol and her family on National Park Service Birthday, so admission was free!!  It was a gorgeous summer day!
Carol brought an extra bike for Andrew, so he took off on the bike trails with his cousins and we didn't see much of him that day!  
Biker dude!
Dwayne and I took our other three kids (we five being non-bikers!), and freely wandered the trails, climbed the rocks, even browsed through the nature center that I never knew was there!
 It's hard to capture with a camera the beauty of that day.
It's impossible to explain the feeling of walking along Cadillac Mountain where the rocks are pushed back in smooth rolls,
or to put into words the majesty of ragged, chiseled granite as it abruptly meets the salty water.

Whenever I encounter nature that is so vastly different from my everyday, it shocks me anew how great God is.  He brings every wave to shore in the exact spot He intends.  He put those massive rocks in place as effortlessly as breathing.  And He holds it all in place.
 Late that afternoon, we met back up with Carol, Brian, and the boys at Sand Beach, a rather short strand of beach surrounded by so much rocky coast.  It was my kids' first chance to experience the ocean waters of Maine.  So cold!!
 It took a few minutes to work up the courage to stay put when that cold water was coming toward our feet!  But then...
we went further..
and further,  

until one or two "fell" in!
As the shadows lengthened over the beach, and the air grew as cold as the water,
we all headed back to the cars... and to a lobster supper on the way home!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Philadelphia, Summer 2013

On the steps of the 2nd Bank
This summer on our way up to Maine, we took a side-trip to spend a day seeing the really cool sights in Philadelphia.  Our first adventure was finding a parking space in downtown Philadelphia!  Not easy when you're driving a minivan with a luggage carrier on top!  We exceeded the clearance for every parking garage we could find.
Independence Hall in the background, and
and on the steps inside Congress Hall
Eventually, we did find a spot for street parking, even though it was a fair bit from all the historic site.

So the car is parked and we can start our day...
First came the Liberty Bell, which has a whole building dedicated to it.  Lots of history there, with the entire story of the bell told in pictures and on panels as we made our way through the building.  By the way, you're not supposed to touch the Liberty Bell.  Not sure why; it's a big hunk of metal and surely wouldn't be hurt by people touching it.  Well, gladly, I did not see the sign.  Yes, I touched the Liberty Bell.  Sorry for breaking the rule, but it was worth it!
Next came Independence Hall.  Our tour guide was so nice, with such interesting mannerisms and such a neat way of speaking; Marian and I just loved him!
This park ranger was
the best tour guide ever!

As for the buildings, there is such a feeling of awe when you imagine men with powdered wigs, white ascots, and knee britches in those very rooms, discussing, debating, arguing, or worse!  I love to touch history like that... and to bring my kids along to experience it as well.Our next stop was the  Portrait Gallery in the2nd Bank of  the United States.  Here, there were portraits of many historical figures, some more familiar than others.  To be honest, the building itself was of far more interest to us than the portraits.  Way cool cellar.

Then we took a stroll down a couple of blocks to an old storefront which the park had set up as a Ben Franklin era print shop.  There, we could see the way the print had to be set, letter by letter, as well as some of the clever sayings that would have appeared in Poor Richard's Almanac.
I liked this one. :)
Our last historic visit was a little sidetrip to a place called Elfreth's Alley.  If I understand correctly, this is the oldest residential alley in the United States that has been constantly inhabited.  I don't think this visit had as much meaning for Dwayne and the kids as it had for me.  I've recently read about (and been creeped out by) the yellow fever epidemic of 1793.  Surely not the only epidemic of this nature in cities of that time period, but the one I know most about.  I could just imagine living in those tiny rooms, waste thrown out in the narrow street, the heat of summer bearing down, mosquitoes, rodents...  It makes me shudder.

On a lighter note, our day was winding up at this point, but we had one more thing to do.  We absolutely had to eat a Philly steak sandwich in Philly!  In the process of going from place to place, we had noticed two restaurants, side by side, on Market Street, both of which boasted (as do they  all) to have the best Philly steak in the city.  We decided to put them to the test.  Half the family ordered from one restaurant and half ordered from the other.  Well, I won't name both restaurants, but I will say that Panini's Trattoria makes a mighty fine steak sandwich!
On the other hand, it made me feel good to discover that the Philly steak sandwiches I make in my crockpot at home do not suffer by comparison.  Not braggin', just sayin'.

So ends our Philadelphia trip.  We really enjoyed the city and all the history it holds.
I need to note this so I will always remember.  Dwayne was such a dear that whole day (as he so often is).  Since we'd had to park on the street, we had a meter to feed.  Dwayne kept track of the time and walked back to the car every time the meter needed more money.  Like I said it was a good distance from the park sites to where the car was parked.  He never complained, and refused to even consider letting me do it even once.   XXOO, Dwayne!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

August-- In Like a Whirlwind, Out Like a Stampede!

That's what August felt like in our family!  We had the garden, football, an anniversary, a trip to Maine with lots of field trips and sightseeing, a wedding, the kids first trip to the ocean, and a new kitten!!  
As always, the garden is such a huge part of our summer.  The peppers were so green and juicy!  We had our first crop ever of Brussels sprouts this year-- really cool plants!

Then... a milestone.  Andrew's first season of football!  Dwayne was so proud, and I was.... scared??  I could not believe that I was not ready for this!  As much as I always expected the time would come when Drew would want to play football like his dad, surely that time hadn't come already?   As the season went on, however, I recovered from the initial shock and really enjoyed watching Drew out on the field every Saturday.  Like father, like son!
The new kitten came along around the same time.  We left Andrew's helmet out on the porch to air out after practice one night and cute little Calli thought it was the perfect little perch.
Next, came our anniversary!  18 years as sweethearts, best friends, life-sharers.  I'm so glad you're mine, Dwayne!
Around the middle of the month, we headed north to Maine to visit family, stopping for a day to sight-see in Philadelphia (separate post).  During our stay in Maine, we took in Cole's Transportation Museum, a great place to visit with displays ranging from horse-drawn wagons to semi-trucks, from railroad cars to snowplows, army jeeps to classic cars.  Now for some cute pictures...

A dairy truck that used to deliver milk to your doorstep
Crazy kids on a bench from an old train station

The boys really liked the WWII jeep

They've actually moved all the trappings from an old train station and reconstructed here at the museum.  Lots of cool stuff here!
 A couple big events while we were in Maine, foremost, my nephew Robbie's wedding.  It was beautiful, yet somehow, I came away without any good pictures of the bride and groom.  However, I did snap a wonderful picture of my parents 
 and one of my pretty little girl...
Another big event, at least for me personally, was my first official 5K!
 Here I am with my pit crew, holding up the official placement board for all the runners, in my other hand are bottles of blueberry soda which were provided after the end of the race.  I did not exactly break any records, but I didn't come in last either!  My time was 30:21, putting me in the middle third of the racers.  I was so proud!  And I was so glad to have my family cheering me on!
Dwayne with Reagan, Cousin Ben, Andrew, Ellie, Marian, and Cousin Matthew on the beautiful Maine coast
Another big day while we were in Maine-- a trip to the ocean.  This was Ellie's and Reagan's first time to touch the ocean, and all the kids' first trip to Acadia.  Having my sister and her family along made it an extra special day!  (More on Acadia on a separate post)
As always, spending time at Nana and Bubba's house is a highlight of our year.
Mmmmm!  Breakfast at Nana's!

This year, road construction right in front of the house was a source of endless fascination...... and Nana got the opportunity to hone her UNO skills!
 We always have such a good time in Maine.  Too soon it is time to return home.  Hugs, kisses, and tears send us on our way, but a piece of our heart remains.  We love you, Nana and Bubba!