She Stays, He Goes: Everyone is Happier

Every year, Ben’s extended family take a five-hour car ride to Houghton Lake, Mich., for a week. They’ve been doing it for years — many more years than I’ve been part of the clan.

They stay in very basic, un-air conditioned cabins. And although I love board games, a boat ride, a good campfire and a s’more, I’m not a big fan of this trip. It’s hot. Really hot. It’s a lot of work just to get there (and let’s not even talk about the unpacking when we get home). You have to take your own toilet paper, and towels, and sheets. The mattresses are original (in a bad way). I have a baby and a toddler, both still in diapers.

So, knowing I would have a seven-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old this summer, I opted out of the trip very early. Ben wasn’t thrilled at first, but I was done, and I know myself enough to recognize it. Best. Decision. Ever.

Who knew that separate vacations were actually quite enjoyable? Sure, I miss Ben and Elias (who both love every minute of this trip), but everyone is much happier with me not there.

kid on swing

The one thing that I miss about going camping: seeing my little guy enjoy himself! This was him last year.

I’m happier, obviously, because I am taking care of my baby girl in the air conditioned comfort of my own (well, my in-law’s) home.

Ben is happier because he’s not spending the entire week trying to make me not be miserable, as I melt in the heat. (I am a fragile little flower, what can I say?) And bless his heart, he really did try. We even left early last year; my pregnant body just could not take another night.

You know that saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? It’s true.

Have you ever taken a vacation apart from your spouse? What was your experience like?

God is in the Used Truck Business

GMC Jimmy

Introducing Jimmy, our new-to-us debt-free vehicle!
Welcome to your new home, Jimmy.

God is everywhere, in everything.

In today’s American society, that’s easy to forget. But recently, I’ve been reminded of that – by a speaker at a women’s event, again by a pastor at our church and in every day life. I suppose God knew I had forgotten and needed reminding!

Is He in the kitchen while I’m washing dishes? Yes. Is He with me at the grocery store? Yes. Is he with me while I’m watching my son throw himself on the floor after I tell him he can’t have another cookie? Yes.

But I do forget that sometimes, and it is easy to put on my Christian hat when it’s obvious that I should have it on – not so easy to keep it on during the most mundane tasks and errands.

Case in point: God even cares about the vehicles we drive.

BP and I had been looking at different vehicles for our family during the past month or so. (Riding squished in the front seat of a pickup truck isn’t working out so well!) When he started looking, we owned an old, rusty white pickup that sat in the driveway; a newer red pickup that we felt needed to be replaced with something bigger (though we have a small loan on it); and a mid-size car that is paid for.

A couple of weeks ago, someone showed up on our doorstep and offered to buy the rust bucket we had sitting in the driveway. BP had declined selling it previously, but for some reason, he let it go this time. What a coincidence, right? (NO! It was God!)

Once “old whitey” was gone, BP started researching something to replace the red pickup. He had found a couple of possibilities online (all of which would require a small amount of financing), but for whatever reason, we remained hesitant to make a decision. The very day we were considering pulling the trigger on one (still hesitantly), we ran into some friends who happened to have a vehicle for sale, and it was just the size we were looking for. They are planning a cross-country move and don’t want to take an extra vehicle with them.

And we knew it was the right thing to do.

God was telling us to be better stewards with His money. God had a vehicle to fit our needs all along — one that wasn’t going to keep us in vehicle debt.

In hindsight, God’s hand was in the situation from the beginning. (Which should be obvious, right? He always is in every situation!) We will be one step closer to being debt-free after the red pickup sells. Apparently, He has some other plans for His money.

A Family Camping Adventure

Traveling with my Little Bundle of Joy for the first time last weekend was something I had anticipated, both for the excitement of a new adventure and for the challenges of packing for two adults and a nearly-six-month-old.

baby and mama

Me and the Little Bundle of Joy getting ready to leave for Hocking Hills

It went swimmingly, mostly. Though, we did not swim.

BP’s family rented a “cabin” in the Hocking Hills State Park region of Ohio, and we “camped” for the weekend. I am 100 percent sure that BP will roll his eyes when he reads this because he has informed me, multiple times, that our trip did not involve a cabin, nor camping. Okay, so maybe the five-bedroom, three-bath cabin with a theater room, game room, full kitchen and hot tub was nicer than any of our homes. And maybe sitting around a campfire in the yard each evening doesn’t necessarily qualify as camping.

cabin

Yeah, that's our cabin.

However, we were in the woods. And we did have two campfires. And we hiked. And zipped down the SuperZip, which was super fun. For the record, my sweet Mother-in-Law did take care of the Little Bundle of Joy while BP and I zipped with Brother-in-Law and two nephews.

guys

Brother-in-Law, BP, Nephew #1 and Nephew #2 getting ready for the SuperZip

The Little Bundle of Joy was a real trooper for the whole weekend. It helped having two grandparents, an aunt and uncle, two cousins over the age of 13 (I think) and a nine-month-old cousin to help entertain him. We really only ran into two problems: a major case of constipation on Saturday (I felt terrible for the little guy!) and crying for nearly the entire way home on Sunday. BP drove. I slept through the crying. Camping is exhausting.

babies playing

Nephew #4 and Little Bundle of Joy entertaining themselves in the cabin

All in all, our first overnight trip with the Little Bundle of Joy was a bundle of fun. We were in the same area last year and camped (ha! BP is rolling his eyes again – I know it!) with two of our dearest friends, LK and BK, and had an equally fun time. You can read about that trip here.

We hope to go back again next year, for more zipping and more hiking … and, you know it, more camping!

Lovin’ Ohio (And No, That Isn’t Sarcasm!)

Last weekend, BP and I traveled to Hocking Hills State Park for a mini-vacation with our friends, LK and BK.

I was reminded of what Ohio has to offer in the way of travel, fun and adventure. There wasn’t any need to venture further than my very own state to have a fun weekend out of town with good friends.

Several months ago, I booked a very nice house for us all to stay in. (BP rolled his eyes when I told him we were staying in a cabin – house is probably a more accurate term. And he told me this did not qualify as camping.)

BP and I arrived several hours before our friends, so we went ahead and did some hiking in the Old Man’s Cave area. It was beautiful, and although BP made me nervous jumping all over the rocks and onto cliffs and ledges, it was a good hike. We are from the flatlands of northwest Ohio, and so the mountains (I can hear all of you out-of-staters laughing now, but to me, they are mountains) of southern Ohio were an enjoyable change of pace.

BP on a cliff

BP making me nervous

Old Man's Cave

BP in Old Man's Cave

Saturday morning started with all four of us on an 11-mile canoe trip (which took us three hours – Go, Us!) down the Hocking River. And despite the fact that I requested a 9 a.m. take-off time when I booked the trip online, the livery had us on the river around 10 a.m. I”m still not sure they ever found my reservation. But, we did get to the river and all was well.

BP and me

BP and me, ready for the river

While we were canoeing, we did get to see one of the newest offerings of the area, Canopy Tours, in action. One of their zip lines runs across a portion of the river, and it looked like a lot of fun. That activity is on our List of Things Definitely To Do when we go back. I’d have loved to have done it this year, but since I’m preggers, I decided it wasn’t a great idea.

me and BP

me (with my baby bump) and BP during a hike

Other areas we hiked included Cedar Falls and another park area.

The moral of this story: explore your state! Support your local economy and get to know what your state has to offer you! After all, your tax dollars are helping to pay for it.

O, Little Town of Bluffton

Last weekend, I tagged along to cute little Bluffton, Ohio, with a good friend, LK. She was headed to The Food Store there, and since we share an interest in health and nutrition, I thought it would be a fun afternoon.

It was definitely worth the trip (not that I doubted it – LK is one of the most fun people I know). We started at The Food Store, which is located downtown at 103 S. Main St. It had all kinds of goodies – organic products, hard-to-find flours, bulk ingredients and other fun food things. She filled up a basket with some snacks for her small son and some other items; I left with some chai tea, both original and peppermint flavor. The employee who was working that day was helpful and friendly.

After stashing our goods in LK’s vehicle, we decided to take a walk through the small downtown and check out some of the local businesses.

We stopped in Forever In Stitches, which presented us with a beautiful display of fabric bolts and finished quilts upon entering. I’m sure this little shop is frequently visited by avid quilters. It was gorgeous. The fabrics were gorgeous. Just stepping foot in the door made us want to go home, get out our sewing machines and start stitching! It really was a visual delight, and an inspiration to me to get out the two quilt tops I’d set aside before BP and I started remodeling a couple of years ago. And on top of it all, the employees there were friendly, helpful and chatty.

It was a cold afternoon, and we were cold, so our final stop in the little town of Bluffton was Common Grounds Coffee House. LK ordered a salad and a small hot apple cider, topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel. I also ordered the hot apple cider, medium, no extras. Both of us were satisfied with our choices and we chose a table for two alongside a back wall. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and there were several seating options available depending upon your desired level of privacy.

During our walk downtown, we also passed the local courthouse, which was decorated for its annual Blaze of Lights, a village-wide folk art Christmas display. Though we were there too early in the day to see the lights, the display draws many, many people from surrounding towns each year.

And last but not least, we also passed the Shannon Theatre, a staple in Bluffton for as long as I can remember. The small, one-screen theatre calls itself “Your Best Value in Family Entertainment!” It’s a great place to take a date or your family for an affordable evening out, complete with movie theatre popcorn!

Next time you feel like getting out of town, give Bluffton some love!