Time for a summer break…

bare-1985858_960_720

Advertisements

#weekendcoffeeshare – Rainy Day Chatter

coffee-1117933_960_720

Well, so much for spring!  Yesterday was 74° and partially cloudy, and today it’s 40° and rainy.  Hence the reason I’m late getting up today.  Honestly, I could have slept all day since it’s so dark outside.  But alas, my stomach got to grumbling and so here I am; not quite awake yet, and trying to figure out something worthwhile to talk about.  So without further ado, grab a hot cup of something and let’s chat!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I had a fairly low-key week.  Monday I traveled to a town I used to live in, all in order to do my taxes, and then I also stopped by to see a dear friend of mine.  She has been going through a rough patch, so I wanted to stop and say hello and bring her a bit of cheer.  We had a nice time catching up, after not seeing her since Thanksgiving.  Then later that night, my husband and I took our girls to see Beauty and the Beast.  I have to say… it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, and Emma Watson really made the movie what it was.

Thursday night I had a date night with hubby.  It was sort of a spontaneous thing that happened.  We were just going out to run some quick errands but decided to go out for dinner as well.  Always a nice surprise when we can spend some time together.  He works such longs hours, and so I hardly ever see him.  I’m looking forward to this summer because he’s only scheduled to work two weekends all summer long.  I’m hopeful that we will actually be able to plan a camping trip; something we always talk about but rarely get to do.

Last night I got to go see my niece graduate.  She came away with her associate’s degree as a medical assistant.  I am so very proud of her!  After suddenly losing her mom whom she was living with a couple of years ago, she has since been trying to support her and her son the best she can.  So going back to school was very difficult for her, with everything else she had to face as well.  But I think she can finally see her efforts coming to fruition, and it’s good to see a smile on her face because of it.

Living here in Wisconsin is hard for me, as I don’t have any blood relatives where I live, except for my immediate family of course.  Then, on my husband’s side, we only have four blood relatives living somewhat near us (30-90 min. away).  The thing is, it makes for very small family gatherings and the holidays often seem a bit lonely.  I grew up with big family celebrations and I really miss them.  So seeing my niece last night was such a blessing to me.  We were able to take her out to dinner and had the best time.  And now with eating out twice this week, I guess I will really have to watch what I eat this coming week!

Well, I suppose I should wrap things up for now.  I’m still sitting here in my pajamas at almost 2:00 in the afternoon!  Lol…

Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend.  Talk to ya next week!  ~M

502

Many thanks to Nerd In The Brain for hosting the #WeekendCoffeeShare, a collective of chats over digital coffee among bloggers. To find out more, and to see this weeks posts, go here.


Photo credit: pixabay.com and giphy.com

Guilty pleasures

IMG_3928

So thankful I’m not single, or I might eat like this all the time.  It’s been a great week away, but I’m ready to head home tomorrow.  I’m not quite sure if I really accomplished all that I had hoped to, but I think my mind is clearer and I’m ready to face another school year at home with my girls.  Hope all of you have enjoyed your last few days of summer.  I’ve been trying to catch up with reading blogs, but since I follow 1,400 of you, you’ll have to excuse the fact that I got a little behind while on vacation.  Love you all so much!  Have an amazing weekend!  ~M  xo

Whitewater Lake

IMG_3489

Whitewater Lake isn’t far from where I live.  We had such an amazing afternoon there, and so I wanted to share some of the pictures I took.  This was one of the most perfect ways to spend one of the last few days of summer.  My girls had a blast watching the turtles and the muskrats that were floating on the surface of the water.  They even tried to make their own fishing poles while we were there and attempted to catch some fish.  Overall, it was a very fun day and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to spend this time with my girls.

Lake Superior & the Apostle Islands

IMG_2968

There are a few places I visited this past summer, which I have still not shared with any of you.  So today I have decided to show you what it was like to explore Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.

IMG_2913Lake Superior is surrounded by three different states (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota) and Ontario, Canada as well.  Lake Superior is also the world’s largest freshwater lake and I was surprised by how large it really is.  In fact, when you are standing near the waters edge, it gives you the illusion that you are actually looking at an ocean instead of an actual lake.  The only difference was the lack of a sandy beach from where we were.

IMG_2945I recently learned that Lake Superior has over 400 islands.  The apostle islands are a group of 22 islands off the Bayfield peninsula in Northern Wisconsin, and this is where we decided to spend our first day.  We chose Madeline Island in particular for our first destination.  Madeline Island is located in the Chequamegon Bay area of Lake Superior. To get there, we had to drive to Bayfield, Wisconsin and then take a 2.5 mile ferry trip in order to reach the island.

IMG_3537We took our car with us on the ferry ride over and because of this, we were able to drive to the state park which is in more of a remote area of the island.  I was quite impressed by how serene it was there.  I felt as if I had stepped into another world, since there were hardly any other people around.   Don’t get me wrong though, there are still quite a few people that live on Madeline Island.  During the winter months, access to the ferry is impossible.  So I am not sure how people live there during the winter season.  I suppose all of their supplies must be flown in.  I could actually imagine myself living there someday.  I think it would be the perfect place to be flooded with inspiration.

IMG_3536After exploring Madeline Island, we made our way back to Bayfield, Wisconsin and found it to be quite a charming place.  The shops were bustling with tourists and there were quite a few places to eat.  As the sun began to set, there was a live concert down by the waters edge and everyone in the town seemed to converge upon the scene all at once.  Avoiding the crowds, we opted to eat at a restaurant in a less crowded area and the food was amazing!  After dinner, we walked around the town for a little while longer, just enjoying the sights and sounds of this amazing small town.  We stayed until most of the shops started to close.

IMG_3517On the way home, we pulled off the road into a viewing area and stepped out to look at the night sky.  We could clearly see the Milky Way.  It felt as if we could almost reach out and touch it.  Such a breathtaking sight, and then we witnessed a meteor shower as well.  The only disappointing part, was that we were not able to see the Northern Lights while we were there.  I have only seen them occur once in my life and so I had hoped for the opportunity to see them once again.  Oh well, it gives me another reason to go back again.  Here’s a poem I wrote, about my experience of seeing the northern lights for the first time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Day 15 of our 21 day adventure

IMG_1616

Today is finally here. The day I have been looking forward to for months now! We will be hiking up to Angels Landing, but that isn’t the best part; we will also be renewing our vows and I am so excited that I just want to scream! The problem is, it’s 5:00 a.m. and so screaming isn’t allowed at the moment. I must be civilized and act like an adult, like everyone else. Who am I kidding…? I’m surrounded by three boys at the moment, so I’m probably the most mature person around right now.

IMG_1463This morning is much the same as yesterday. I am preparing lunches and packing everything that we will need for the day. We are leaving a little bit earlier today so that we don’t face as many crowds as we did yesterday. As we approach the shuttle, I notice that there are quite a few people here. Most seem to be prepared for climbing, as they are loaded down with ropes and all kinds of other gear that I suppose one might need for that sort of thing.

IMG_1468We arrive at the drop off point for the West Rim trail that will lead us up through Walter’s Wiggle’s; these 21 switchbacks look like a beast to climb. I am ready though and excited to see if I can make it up the 1488 feet that we will need to climb. The hike is 5 miles round trip and the hiking guide shows that it should take us about 5 hours to complete the hike. I am nervous about my 6 yr. old nephew coming with us. This is a strenuous hike and it isn’t recommended for children.

IMG_1493As we make our way up the steep sandstone incline, I start to wonder if I am crazy for attempting this. I have been a stay-at-home mom for several years now and so just walking around the block often wears me out. But I remind myself of our hike up at Mt. Charleston and yesterday’s hike was no cake walk either. It isn’t long before my nephew Levi starts to get tired and my brother David tells me that he may have to turn back if Levi cannot continue on.

IMG_1507Brian and I continue on without Levi and David, hoping that they will catch up to us after they rest for a while. I know that if I stop now, that I may never make it the rest of the way myself. There aren’t too many people on the way up. It’s still really early in the day and I am happy that we decided to leave so early. To my surprise, my brother and Levi catch up to us within a few minutes and I am excited to see them.

IMG_1508After finally making it through all of the switchbacks, we are now at Scout Lookout, which is the saddle that lies between the West Rim trail and Angels Landing. I am thankful that they have bathrooms all the way up here. I would hate to be the one that has to climb up here every day to replace the toilet paper though! Walking over to the beginning of Angels Landing trail, I begin to feel a little apprehensive. This is not for the faint of heart. I can tell by the posted sign that talks about how many people have died falling to their deaths because of the sheer cliffs.

IMG_1510Taking a deep breath, Brian and I proceed to hike the last .5 mile which is what will take us to the final lookout for Angels Landing. There are anchored support chains along the trail to help people climb the steep sandstone ridge. I am able to barely pull myself up the first few chains until I am resting on a large boulder that overlooks the entire park. Great White Throne Mountain is to my left and we are sitting at an elevation of 5,785 ft. The views are breathtaking and horrifying at the same time.

IMG_1511I turn around quickly when I catch something out of the corner of my eye. It turns out that Brian’s lens cap has fallen down from where he is sitting. He is higher up on the boulder than I am and as he reaches for his lens cap, he tears the pocket from the back of his shorts and his wallet begins to fall out too. This is not the place to be trying to catch things that are falling and I am beginning to become very nervous about going any further.

IMG_1518With nothing to hold onto, I start sliding back to one of the anchored support chains. It was hard enough getting up to this point and getting down seems a lot harder. I can’t quite reach the support chain and in front of me is a sheer drop-off into the valley below. If know the only way down is to sort of take a leap of faith from where I am and hope and pray that I can boost myself enough to grab hold of the chain.

IMG_1521It’s getting more crowded by the minute and there is no way to go around the other people that are coming up the trail from the other side. I am forced to hold my breath and reach out as far as I can to grab the anchored support. After what seems like forever, I finally grasp the support and hoist myself down onto the safety of Scouts Lookout below. I have never been so terrified in all my life and yet I am still glad that I am here, living this adventure with the man I love.

IMG_1529David and Levi are waiting for us on Scouts Landing and David decides to see how far he can make it on the Angels Landing Trail. As we wait with Levi, Brian and I begin to set up the camera so that we can film our wedding vows here at the entrance to Angels Landing. Sitting down next to Levi, I am surprised when a chipmunk decides to climb up my back. The squirrels and chipmunks are everywhere, always looking for food.

IMG_1538We haven’t waited very long before my brother returns. He wasn’t able to make it all the way to the end either because there are too many people crowding the paths and making it impossible to reach the end. It’s disappointing, but I think we all are just glad to have made the attempt and we proceed with setting up everything so that we can renew our wedding vows.

IMG_1563David helps steady the camera on the tripod and we take out the vows that we have written to each other and begin the short ceremony. Brian goes first and because of the noisy groups of people in the background, I can hardly hear what he is saying. Once he is done saying his vows, a bunch of people begin to clap. I am surprised that people have actually stopped and are watching our little ceremony. Feeling flustered by the onlookers, I begin to read the vows that I have written to Brian.

IMG_1578We have had a very hard year. The hardest year of our marriage so far. These vows mean more to us than anyone else will ever know or understand. Because of the problems that we have recently faced in our marriage and in our family, we knew that we needed a fresh start. To be able to start over and begin anew has meant the world to me.

IMG_1581When I first met Brian and when we were married 21 years ago, Brian wasn’t a believer and I wasn’t sure if he ever would be. It didn’t matter to me though, I loved him and that’s all I knew at that time. I didn’t think that his beliefs would ever be an issue in our marriage and honestly, I didn’t really care one way or another at that point. I just wanted to be with someone who cared about me and loved me, and who would be by my side for the rest of my life.

IMG_1587Years later, I would come to realize what this decision would cost me and my family more than I would ever know. I finally understood what being unequally yoked meant and certainly paid the price because of it. Do I regret my decision? No, of course not… but life would have been a whole lot simpler had we spoken about our religious views before we were married and if we had worked on that first.

IMG_1602God has been gracious to us though and it has been 9 years now since Brian became a Christian. It has made all the difference in our marriage and even though things will never be perfect, we can now get through the hard times a little bit easier because we have our heavenly father who ties us together even in the worst of times.

 

To be continued…

Day 2 of our 21 day adventure

IMG_0174 copy for WPIt’s 6:00 a.m. and we’re headed for the Badlands in South Dakota. There isn’t much to see yet and I’m getting anxious for the possibilities of the day. After driving for a short while though, we spot a rest stop and decide to stop and stretch our legs. It doesn’t take us long to realize that we have found a beautiful place that overlooks the Missouri River. I start to get excited because this is our first panoramic view that we have come across and I excitedly tell Brian to go get his camera. There are a few kids riding skateboards up and down the cement pathways and a European family is posing for a picture under the flags that are swaying gently in the cool morning breeze. Everyone around us seems to be just as excited as we are and we walk out to the lookout point to take some pictures. Of course after about 10 minutes, I realize that we have so much more to see and so I know that we must move on. I linger for just a moment taking in this picturesque place and then resign myself to the fact that we still have hours of driving ahead of us.

IMG_0195 copy for WPAfter about another hour of driving, the scenery starts to change. I’m now viewing some small grey rock formations that seem to be sprouting up sporadically, growing in abundance the farther we go. Brian and I decide to pull over at a scenic viewpoint to get a better look. We head to the top of a small hill and smiles grace our faces as we are mesmerized by what we are seeing. South of the hilltop is a vast area of rock formations that seem to go on for as far as the eye can see. IMG_0192 copy for WPThere are cattle grazing in front of us at the bottom of the hill, and looking to the north is a tree that is standing all alone on the open prairie. The humidity is starting to rise and the landscape seems hazy in the far distance. Brian starts to take a few pictures and becomes oblivious to the fact that he is being eaten alive by the insects that live here. I yell over at Brian to look at his legs, which are completely covered in black biting insects. He begins to quickly brush them off and leaves behind trails of blood running up and down his legs in the process. We both look at each and know that it’s indeed time to go. Another poor man rushes past us, apparently eager for the view. I feel awful because I don’t warn him about the pests that are lurking up ahead. We finally reach the car and are relieved for the Cortisone spray that we brought with us.

Photo Credit:  www.tripadvisor.com
Photo Credit: http://www.tripadvisor.com

Heading out once more, we see the exit that we need to take for the Badlands. After turning off, we notice a sign that says, “Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, .5 miles.” We decide to take a quick look since it’s on our way. As we enter the building, we are flooded with videos, photographs, and detailed descriptions of this historic place. I quickly learn that the purpose of this site, is to tell the story of Minuteman Missiles, nuclear deterrence, and the Cold War. We walk around the crowded site taking in as much as possible, knowing that we need to head out soon in order to reach our ultimate destination. As we leave, I am feeling excited that we have already seen so much today and yet we haven’t even seen the best part yet!

Down the road a little way we see a gas station and know that we should fill up our tank, since it looks like this could be the last gas station for a while. I look around and find some postcards that appeal to me, when all of a sudden a man comes up to me and asks me if I have any bug repellent. I tell him that I do and he starts to point out a young Asian woman who is in need of some. Apparently the store is completely out of bug repellent and I notice that she has numerous bug bites all over her legs. I run up to her and tell her that I can help. She quickly pays for her things and I motion her to follow me over to my car. I feel funny, like I’m luring her out of the store. She barely speaks English and I feel like I am teaching her to do something that she shouldn’t be doing. Trusting a complete stranger that wants to take you over to their car is never a good idea. But I know that she needs the bug spray and I can’t help myself. I must help her if it’s the last thing that I do! Yes, secretly I am Superwoman, and I have come to save the day with my super bug spray! I show her the bug spray and she lets me spray her down with it. She wants to pay me, but of course I refuse. After all, it’s only bug spray. She is all smiles and proceeds to tell me that she has just come here from another country and is working at the Badlands for the summer. We try to converse as much as possible, but her English is lacking and I do my best to answer her questions. I find myself motioning with my hands to explain half of what I am saying. She is so sweet and I instantly feel a connection with her. If there wasn’t so much of a language barrier, I am positive we would exchange phone numbers and become good friends. I finally say goodbye and wish her well. A part of me feels afraid for her, like I am leaving a small child to fend for herself. The feeling nags at me as we head out once more. I wish I could have done more for her. My motherly instinct tells me that she is all alone in a strange place and should have someone around that she can trust. I try to put the nagging feeling aside and continue on. I know that I have to trust God to take care of this young woman and I say a silent prayer that the Lord will keep her safe.

To be continued…