Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweet Summertime

One of the things I love most about our town is being surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty. Today my friend Angie and I took our children to a little place just minutes from where we live.

The girls had a blast playing together...

Juliette is showing off her missing bottom tooth. She just lost it, her first, last night.

Richard and "Livy" (Olivia) got along great today...

Doesn't Richard look like an angel in this picture? Let me assure you, the boy is no angel! Rock throwing, letting beach toys float down the River, walking all over the blankets with sandy feet, taking his shorts off and running around neck-ed on a public beach, throwing dry towels into the river...these were just a few of his many naughty pleasures. It felt like he was being punished every fifteen minutes!

BUT, I am grateful to have a healthy, happy (though extremely disobedient at times) son and overall it was a beautiful day with wonderful friends. We thoroughly enjoyed the majesty of God's creation above......

and below the surface of the water.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Historic St. Charles, Missouri

Last weekend my girlfriends and I visited one of my *new* favorite places in all the world; Missouri's first state capitol, St. Charles. Brick streets & sidewalks, antique lampposts, horse drawn carriage rides, historic buildings, seemingly endless quaint shops, fine dining, a marching band that periodically marches through the street-all of my favorite town characteristics-all in one place. It was a very good day, to say the least.

Our trip began with a McDonald's breakfast at 6am. I got my favorite treat; a cinnamelt and a caramel frappe. We won't talk about the excessive calorie or sugar intake-this was a special day.

We arrived at around 10:30 am., took a good look at our surroundings, and began our shopping adventure...

At 11:30, we enjoyed a beautiful, outdoor lunch at Little Hills Winery.

They seated us right next to the tranquil pond! (It's the little things in life that make me happy.)

The food was delectable, the service exceptional, but the company was by far my favorite part...

We had some live aviary entertainment while we waited for our meal to arrive. A crow helped himself to a patron's unwanted fries...

A tiny bird took full advantage of a giant bird bath opportunity...

We had the most fun in "Thistle and Clover"; a Celtic shop. It was here that we all fell in love with an irresistible Irish man.
He and Angie hit it off right away...

Seconds earlier, she made his hand fall off. Clearly, he was not amused....neither were the shopkeepers.

I never knew a man in a skirt, big fur hat, and purse could look so handsome! Maybe I should have purchased some Irish garb for Dale...

Heidi, you naughty girl!

He brought out Rebecca's wild side...

By this time, Tressa was wondering how she ever got herself into this crazy mess! She seems to be thinking, "Who ARE these woman!?"

My friend Angie and I discovered that we have the same everything! Our favorite shop was called, "European Accent".

It was here that we bought matching red scarves and set our eyes on the most adorable black, wooden wheelbarrow with wicker basket carrier.

She was able to purchase it for $30 less at a different shop, but here, it was love at first site for both of us. I can't wait to help her decorate her front porch with it!
And finally, we arrived at the little shop I've been dreaming about since discovering it last September....Cobblestone.

It was filled with all sorts of primitive eye candy.

I purchased a plaque I had been searching for for over eight years. It says, "Give us this day our daily bread". I've found the perfect spot for it in my kitchen.

Last but not least, we enjoyed a twenty-five minute horse drawn carriage ride through the town.

This is another thing I can mark off of my list of "Things to do before I die". The horse's large, heavy hooves made a soothing, methodical sound against the brick street. The slate blue, velvet seats were soft and luxuriously plush after a long day of shopping. "Madi" trotted steadily past all the adorable shops, past the scenic Missouri River, past the black, shiny statue of Lewis and Clark, past the old train station, bringing us back to where we started.

I think we counted five separate weddings on our trip around the city. The weather could not have been more perfect for those blessed couples.

Farewell, St. Charles. We hope to visit again very soon!

Monday, July 5, 2010

God Bless America!

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." -Thomas Jefferson
Independence Day: Freedom. Celebration. Unification. Reflection. Anticipation. A time to thank God for the amazing blessing it is to be an American and to be able to share those blessings with family and friends.

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. "

This year, our family loaded our minivan to the brim with all the necessary equipment for a successful camping trip. On Friday, July 2 we drove a short distance from home to arrive at our destination; Hardy, Arkansas.

As we drove through the quaint, historic town, I was expecting "shoot'em up" cowboys or Model-T cars to appear in the street at any moment. An unexplainable nostalgic feeling came over me.


I marveled at how fortunate we were to snag such a decent campsite just a few days before the fourth of July. All other campgrounds were booked, which is what brought us to this destination, one and a half hours from the actual fireworks display. It wasn't long before the reality of our bargain set in......
This is the coal train that came through our campsite every few hours....including the middle of the night! Restful would not be a word I would use to describe our fourth of July weekend, but FUN would be!!


We camped with five of our closest friends, as well as ten other children.
The following morning, July 3, we took the children to play on the nearby playground.


Soon after, our husbands ditched us with all the kids while they went for a canoe ride down the scenic Spring River, so we took a trip to Walmart and spent all their money. No, no....that's not right. I did manage to buy Juliette's birthday present, however (talk about waiting until the last minute).

Happy 6th Birthday to my big baby girl!!!

On the drive back to the site, I captured the cutest picture of Juliette and her buddy, Noah.

Noah insisted on bringing his cool goggles everywhere he went. The boy is so cute you just wanna squeeze him!


Brown eyed girls, Grace & Belle.

Zach makes sure no one eats his honey buns. Oh honey, you are just as sweet!

After a break from shopping, and a quick snack, we packed up for the river. It was a joy to watch the children splash each other, collect shells, and swim.


Jacob, Gabe, and Jon enjoying the water.

Richard and Noah relax
in the water together.

Juliette, the bathing beauty.

Richard starts to get a little sleepy...
Mama soaks in the snuggle time...

When the men return, the ladies go shopping in all the cute stores on Main Street.

First we cannot help but take advantage of some great photo ops....

That evening, we head to Norfork Lake and watch a spectacular fireworks display. After an "I'm so tired I could sleep through a train horn" night, we awake, clean up our camp, spend some devotional time together and head to Greer Spring for a scenic hike and cave exploration.