Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Family Hike up Mount Cardigan

Mount Cardigan is one of the most famous and well-traversed mountains in the whole world...and it's right here in little ol' New Hampshire! Last Thursday, Bill surprised everyone by taking the day off from work so we could make the trip up as a family.

 The blue sky particularly blue that morning. Lush, rolling meadows, fields, and farms stretched out before us on each side as we drove north. John Cougar Mellencamp's Greatest Hits blaring playing at appropriate decibels for young ears (okay, so I'm a fan of his old stuff, you know, the "Cougar" days). 
Things were going great.
Until the little high-pitched voice behind us starts wailing and holding onto her tummy.
Then splat.
Thankfully, we were only two minutes from the parking area, so we prodded forward. That short but everlasting little part of the trip wasn't so great. We cleaned up as best as possible with wipes and the gallon of water we keep in the trunk for the dog. She sure was a trooper! There was no stopping her from that moment on. (The road to the mountain is quite curvy, bumpy, and rather might just be best to take your time driving.)

There are two very sizable (and pretty clean, too!) bathrooms available just beyond the parking area. Okay, so I can only speak for the little girl's room, but I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't like that when we hiked here a few years ago.

 I thought for sure we were going to lose that silly dog right over the edge of the mountain!
Fearless climber! He blends right in.
This isn't exactly for the faint of heart, and my heart lurched to my throat several times as our boys got closer and closer to those edges. I feel a little jittery just thinking back on it.

There are also trail maps for the taking. This is a BIG mountain, and things can get a bit tricky as you ascend- it's nice to have a map with marked trails just in case.

Here they are!
FYI, see that ledge beyond Isabelle in the picture? Yeah, that's the one.
Straight down. Not even kidding.

Mt. Cardigan is famed for its child-friendly trails and extreme panoramic views at the summit. It's a fantastic hike! We had substantial rainfall the weekend prior to our trip, so some of the trails were pretty muddy, but nothing we couldn't handle. There are lots of giant steps and such formed from rocks and logs, but the sheer rock face doesn't begin until you're nearing the top. Believe me, I was huffing and puffing by the time I made it to the fire tower. Of course my kids had been waiting around for me at least a half an hour at that point...No, not really, ha. 15 minutes tops.  =)

One of my absolute favorite parts of the day was listening to my boys as they soared up the steep crag. They couldn't contain their excitement or amazement as they looked all around them and took it all in. It doesn't really get much better than that.

 Caleb kept yelling over and over again,
"I'm a man! I'm a man!"
He was very proud of his accomplishment. Of course we were too! I felt so thankful to be able to experience part of God's majestic Creation with our children.
There are several little streams and waterfalls along the hike which are fun to watch and listen to. I'm not sure if these stay throughout the summer, but right after spring, they were in abundance. There are a couple of small bridges to cross, and children always enjoy that. We heard some eagles squawking in the distance, too!

Brrrrrrrrrrr.....poor thing was all pooped out and freezing by this point...but she did it!
What a big girl!

In addition to water and snacks, be sure to bring along some extra layers. The wind is downright fierce up there, and it sends a chill right through you like little else can. We did fine with wearing gym pants over shorts and sweatshirts/fleece jackets tied around our waists. We brought a picnic and enjoyed lunch on some boulders before beginning the steep rocky ascent toward the top. That wasn't the plan, but I'm really glad it worked out that way because it would have been disastrous trying to eat and keep a handle on plastic bags and such at the summit. Plus, our fingers would've been too frozen to hold onto anything anyway!

Mt. Cardigan isn't huge in terms of actual distance (it's only 3,155 feet above sea level), but its granite ledges are sizable, and they give you a run for the money. They don't call us "the Granite State" for nothing, and you start to feel it when you're up there. As always, coming down is harder on the knees and ankles...gravity just seems a little bit stronger when you're scaling down nothing but steep rock. We all survived, and are the better for it. It's a wonderful hike to share with your family!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Winners & Weekends

Whoops! The whole week flew by and I completely forgot about my little giveaway...sorry! And the winner is...SARA! Thanks so much for playing along (thank you everyone!), and you get to choose your favorite print from my shop! Email me or leave me a comment letting me know. 

It's just about dinner time, it's Friday, and I've had all four lovelies home with me all week long. Did I mention that it's Friday? Have a super weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

SUYL Etsy- Little Girl's Long, Ruffled Nightgowns & Baby Bonnets

Good morning! Welcome if you're visiting from Kelly's Korner for the first time. And of course, welcome if you aren't. While I haven't talked about our adoption recently, I opened an Etsy shop last year to help with funds to adopt our 5th child. I'm just a regular busy wife and Mom who enjoys making things. After taking a brief hiatus, I've been sewing up a big ol' beautiful storm again! I do love making dresses and skirts, but I've discovered that I really love making  beautiful, ruffled, long nightgowns for little girls, which are difficult to find in stores. It makes me so nostalgic, thinking back to simpler, more innocent days, and I adore watching my little princess twirl her little heart out in her beautiful nighties. I also love designing and creating special things for Baby.

Here are a few items in my shop:

I've been busy designing some new items...I'd love it if you added me to your Favorites to stay informed!

the sweet nightie below has been my best seller this summer!

I also adore these little modern bonnets for baby...

They are completely reversible, so you're getting 2 for the price of 1!

 Thanks so much for taking a look! Have a super day!  Click here or on the sidebar photo to hop on over to my little shop. =)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quick and Easy One-Bowl Blondies!

It's been another cold, rainy day, so I was in the mood for puttering around the kitchen. I didn't even want something chocolate...gasp! Now don't get me wrong: I love (L-O-V-E) chocolate as much as the next girl, but sometimes I just want something sweet and yummy that isn't necessarily cocoa-derived. I know, I know. Who am I? 
I was looking for recipes for Blondies and ended up tweaking a few for this one-bowl recipe. Few ingredients, minimum mess, and it's really quick and easy- a winner for sure!

Very Best One-Bowl Blondies

Here's what you need:
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups light or dark (richer flavor) brown sugar, packed (go ahead and leave some "sugar lumps" in the batter!)
  • 2 eggs
  • a generous dash pure vanilla (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cups walnuts (toasted if you wish)
Here's what you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees
  2. Butter 13 x 9 baking pan
  3. Place walnuts in frying pan in single layer over medium heat OR bake on pan for 10 or so minutes, if desired
  4. Meanwhile, cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl; add eggs and vanilla
  5. Add salt and flour and blend well; gently fold in walnuts
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth
  7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until edges start to brown
  8. Cool & sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, slice...and EAT!!!
You may add a different kind of nut, or omit the nuts altogether if they're not your thing. You can also add a cup of chocolate chips to the batter (phew, I don't feel so traitor-like now). Since there is no baking powder, these Blondies don't rise and they stay really soft and gooey. So, SO good! Enjoy!
 Preteen tested and approved!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Swings, Baseball, & Service

We're having a low-key, rainy Sunday here in the Northeast today, but we desperately needed the rain so I don't even mind. It gives me an excuse to be a little lazy, I think.  =)

These are some snapshots of our week:

A cute little someone has finally mastered the fine art of pumping on the swing!
 OhMyGoodness, I just melt over this picture! That face, that smile, that wild hair!!!!!

Baseball is now in full force!
No longer rivals! Practices and games are SOOOO much easier when they're actually on the same team!
They said they didn't like "versing" each other, either. Such champion brothers!

Swimming breaks
Go, Ryder, go!

Yesterday was a great day for finishing up some sewing projects! The weather was so beautiful, and the kiddos were outside playing with friends, helping neighbors mulch flower beds, and just, well, out. Insert grin here.
I worked on some things for my Etsy shop, and everything came out so cute! I love it when that happens! There may have been a baby bonnet involved...eek! ADORABLE! I'll share those pics later...
Isabelle and I were very excited to make a little girl living in poverty a beautiful dress to call her own (info is on the sidebar). I just discovered this wonderful opportunity a few days ago through a sewing blog, and I'm so glad I did! Isabelle chose the style and the fabric, but I didn't have a large enough piece, so I had to mix things up a bit. This is the dress...
What do you think?
The dress is a size 6/7, so it's a tad big on my little size 5 beauty. I tried something I'm not used to because the idea of having to be so exact with all those pleats in a large {daunting} circle scared me just a little bit! So I completed the front and back as separate panels, if you will, and then stitched up the sides in one long side seam. Ironed in and stitched the yellow hem, and voila! Easy peasy!
We are going to pray over the dress before we mail it to our representative in CT. Bill and I both feel so blessed that all of our children have such sweet and tender hearts, and I know they will grow up eager to serve others. We all want to help in our own way, don't we? I think God put something in us that just makes us crave helping others in need. I've been on the giving end, but I've also been on the receiving end (and desperately so), lest I sound high and mighty here.

I was a little embarrassed in church this morning with Ethan sitting beside us because the subject matter was...Ruth and Boaz, which of course branched out into several different areas of discussion. I felt my face get all red and hot at one point, ha. I know I wasn't the only one, either! Some things are just not that easy to talk about no matter how great your relationship with your child is.  
Now, Ethan is sleeping over at my parent's house (vacation this week), so it was just the 5 of us this afternoon. 
There was dancing...

Jonah made us Brownies all by himself! He likes to pour chocolate chips on top when they come out of the oven and spread them like frosting...yummy!

I think I see a nice, relaxing evening of take-out Chinese food and Friday Night Lights {season 2} with Bill on this cool, rainy day.      :)

sharing with...
Sew Many Ways

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Last week, Isabelle had plans to sleep over at Mimi's house, but...poor Mimi was feeling under the weather the morning of. I had BIG plans that day, which of course went down the toilet. Ugh!

Today was my second chance at freedom. I made no plans. I had no agenda. And I puttered, and meandered, and sat in the sun, and enjoyed the quiet. Now I'll be honest and let you know that my dining room table looks like a fabric store has vomited its entire inventory across it, my floors are an absolute mess, the winter/summer boxes are halfway taken care of...and the list goes on and on. For every step forward I take, there are about a hundred more pulling me right back! I feel so frustrated sometimes! But I know it's also good to enjoy the quiet sometimes and let those other things sit just a while longer.

I better get to replacing that toilet paper roll some unknown child gifted me with in the downstairs bathroom, though, because that wasn't so much fun.

These things were fun.

Oh, and these things are making me downright giddy!
Or how I attempted to deal with it here?

Now if I move a tad to the left...
...more stupid signs
Those forsythia bushes are going to be HUGE! The sooner the better!
I try so hard to be patient and kind, but those signs are just plain mean and they make me so upset I could spit. I won't, but still...I could.

Now I'm off to go do some boy stuff with my fellas!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Isabelle's Easter Dress

I was finally able to get some Easter pictures of Isabelle outside. So it was only a few days after Easter. No big deal.  =)

I followed the pattern fairly closely (not typical of me!), but I did gussy up the bow in the back- who wants a wimpy Easter bow? Not Isabelle!

the sun was so bright- this is horribly over-processed, but you can see the front better

this makes me smile...and think of Laura Ingalls Wilder
I love it

it beckoned twirling

she twirls fast

our beautiful girl
who I'd already lost by this point
because she was anxious to try on her Easter Tinkerbell nightgown since it was warm

Oh, one more thing...remember this? 

I still get so tickled when I see it floating around Pinterest. (You can read the tutorial here.) Does that make me sound weird? Oh well.
Anyhoo. I've just whipped up another summer nightgown...only this one is even easier than the first! 
Stay tuned for a tutorial...and a giveaway!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ultimate Blog Party 2012...Hello & a Giveaway!

Hi there, welcome to our family blog!
I'm so glad you stopped by today!
I may as well let you know right now that my life is perfect.
I never argue with my husband; in fact, there is no bickering whatsoever amongst our brood.
I can eat chocolate like it's going out of style without ever gaining an ounce.
Everything I cook comes out looking like it should be on the cover of a magazine.
And my kids never eat junk food, and never make messes!
{a certain someone gets really excited about all that healthy food!}

Speaking of children, mine are always squeaky clean.
They also know better than to goof around when I've got my camera in hand, pleading for a group shot.
And nothing in my house ever breaks or gets misused. Ever.

We think children should never, ever have to do chores around the house.
Especially cute ninja kiddos.

And of course have really expensive toys to keep them entertained.
{certainly they're still clean as a whistle!}

We try to develop good hygiene skills at an early age.

And excellent sleep habits.

No one ever whines or cries.

Or gets sick.
 {poor baby}

Okay, so I'll admit it...we aren't perfect. I bet you're shocked!
But we're a family, and there's always someone close by ready to give a hug or a smile.
 And share an adventure or two.
Or a picnic in the living room.
Or stargazing and roasting marshmallows in the backyard.
Sometimes even a special dance.  =)

We've recently begun a mission to live simpler, more purposeful lives. I see homemade laundry detergent in my future. And more trips to the local park than the mall (or Target, gasp!). And possibly chickens.

I love photography and I love to I finally opened an etsy shop last year- Growing Paiges. Of course I had to come up with a title under duress, so I'm thinking about changing it...the whole permanent thing, yikes!
I'm giving away one of my 5 x 7 prints to one of...YOU! Simply follow this blog and leave a comment, and at the end of the week, someone will get a beautiful picture! I share project ideas and tutorials, recipes, and the occasional review or giveaway, so you could just follow along for fun. The more the merrier!
**OOPS! I just realized I didn't update my shop last week as I had planned...I've got some great prints going in TODAY!**

Most importantly, though, we love Jesus with all our hearts, and rely on His mercy and grace
 Adoption changed our whole life- for the better!! We may have some exciting news to share, which may include having to change the name of this blog....  :)

Thanks again for visiting...I hope you'll stop by again sometime! Click here or on the badge below to return to the party & make some new friends!

Ultimate Blog Party 2012
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