March Inn

Why"March Inn?" March Inn was the name of that magic place where I spent my summers growing up. I have alluded to this place before, and I probably will again. March Inn is no longer standing. The waters of Katrina rendered it unlivable so my children will never know that "March Inn." That makes me sad. In fact it brings me to tears whenever I think about it. I want my children to have their own "March Inn," and I want to capture our lives as they are growing and changing. I invite you to "march inn" to our lives. My hope is that you will catch glimpses of the real world. You will see our creations. You will see our chaos. You will see our affection. You will also see our frustrations, fears, and disappointments. Enjoy your march!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Do you know the book Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey? We love books in our house and I particularly love reading my children the books that I heard over and over as a child. I guess those could be considered classics. Books by Robert McCloskey fall into that category. Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings are probably our favorites.

Yesterday, I felt a little like Sal's mother. Fortunately, there were no bears ~ just my children dropping berries into their buckets to hear the kerplunk and then gobbling them up equally as quickly.

My mother and I took the children to my Uncle Tres' house to pick blueberries. This is just another example of how blessed I am ~ my uncle has what might be considered an orchard of blueberry bushes. They are enormous {more like trees than bushes} and organic, and they yield amazing quantities of blueberries. Each summer I try to make one trip to his home to stock my freezer for the year. With each trip I am secretly dreaming of picking enough to make blueberry preserves ~ something my grandmother did each year when I was a child. Most homemade preserves are delicious ~ how can they not be with so much sugar ~ but I am a complete sucker for homemade blueberry and fig preserves! They taste of my childhood and the hours those that went before me spent over a hot stove canning.

Picking blueberries is not difficult. In fact, many of these were the perfect degree of ripeness to allow them to just pop off of the bush. But as anyone who has three young children can tell you, having children adds a different element to life, and as you can imagine picking blueberries was quite interesting.

This is basically how it went... Mary Frances was quite helpful {maybe 5 is the magic age}! She picked and Walker ate while Stephen played with the piles of recently cut grass and attempted to climb the ladder.

Actually this was the most successful attempt I have had with picking berries with my children. Maybe it is because they had each other. Maybe it is because they are older. Undoubtedly it is because the weather was perfect ~ overcast and threatening making it cool and breezy. After several hours and a picnic lunch we made it back to Sagwah with two large buckets of berries.

I'm dreaming of blueberry preserves, blueberry cobbler, blueberry fruit leather, and maybe even a blueberry pound cake to take to the lake for the 4th of July. I hope this will leave us with just enough to freeze for pancakes throughout the year.

I hope to be back soon with some of the fun things we do with these berries.

For now I will leave you with this thought...

Patterson would say we had a good day!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Tide Ebbs and Flows

I'm not sure if I have conveyed the reason we have had the privilege of once again spending time over the bay. We are here for my double first cousin, Dillon's wedding. Therefore, it has been a fun-filled week and a half with family ~ close family and extended family ~ Just so you have an idea of what this entails...

The house we are renting, Sagwah, is filled with close family ~ my family of five, my mother, her mother, my brother and his growing family.

All of the festivities took place at my aunt and uncle's home. Not only did they play host to parties Thursday through Sunday, their house is filled with their three grown children and their own families.

Another aunt shares a condo very nearby with her husband and for the weekend her son and soon to be daughter 'n law.

My paternal grandmother lives in an apartment just up the road.

Various other relatives came from Mobile to partake in the wedding festivities.

If you were around in the spring, I think you know we welcomed baby Sarah into our family. This is my brother and his beautiful bride, Anna's sweet baby. My children are smitten!

So were the cousins... or at least the girls {minus Baylis} ~

I promise, she gave him the idea! You can even ask her daddy.

Sisters catching up...

I don't know about you, but I love my family so much that it can hurt. I truly want to spend time with them, but they sure can drive me crazy and even make me angry probably because I am overly sensitive, desire perfection, and wear my emotions on my sleeve {just to name a few of my faults}. But amid those bumps and bruises are the bonds that make us want to come back for more to create more memories such as these...

Idol worship

turns to silliness
Wedding moments...

Just like the tide emotions ebb and flow yet family remains constant. My Great Uncle Billy and I were talking last night, and he shared some thoughts which I believe are spot on. He has recently turned 90 and become more philosophical than ever. He was talking about people and about relationships and making the point that how we react to situations is a choice. My paraphrase: Unlike the ebb and flow of the tide, we can choose how we respond to our emotions, our fears, our frustrations, and our disappointments. One of his points was that some people choose to hold on to resentment and in my opinion {not what he said} this leads to bitter unhappy folks. Others choose to let go and move on. In all of our relationships, we have a choice whether we see the good things or see the bad things in each other and in those relationships. Believe me in each of us and in every relationship there is plenty of both ~ after all none of us are perfect ~ as hard as we try or as much as we might want to be. So be the bigger person, let go and see the good in life. Learn from those difficulties and frustrations. It makes the ride all the better.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Born with the Bay in His Blood

I think Stephen has the bug and has it bad. Now that I am here, I recall this sentiment from the time we spent at Point Clear last summer. My middle child loves this place which is wonderful beyond words to me. I actually have tears in my eyes as I type because it gives me such joy. There is also a touch of sadness behind those tears since we can't just jump in the car and make weekend jaunts to March Inn. This sadness is deepened as I think how the impact of the BP oil spill is going to change the world as I know it, but that is another story for another day.

Don't get me wrong I think everyone in my family has had a fabulous time and would love to come back again and again, but Stephen in particular has loved being over the bay. He has played hard and unfortunately not slept as hard. He rises early and goes to bed late. He wants to do it all ~ fish, crab, swim, sail, play in the sand, jump in the waves, watch the boats, point out the pelicans and seagulls, ride bikes {or trikes as the case may be}, and just watch the waves crash on the beach.

One afternoon I coaxed Stephen into his nap by asking him to dream what our next adventure was going to be. When he woke up, he told me he dreamed about riding his bike to see the ducks and so we did.

We have rented what to us is a perfect bay house. Not too fancy but comfortably nice with everything we need and then some. It reminds us of our beloved March Inn yet with the comfort of air conditioning. One unexpected bonus was the crab trap. When I pulled it up "just to see," there were to my surprise five large male crabs and a mullet. Now how he wandered in, I'm not sure, but I was delighted. Not only did I have enough crabs to boil but also bait to attempt to catch some more. Stephen was enamoured by this whole process and is longing to catch more.

When you get to end each of your days with this surrounded by family and friends, who wouldn't have the bug and have it bad!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Just Like Daddy

Happy Father's Day to all of you fathers out there!

We have a small board book titled Just Like Daddy, and I smile to myself each time I read it because what child especially what boy doesn't want to be "just like daddy" ~ particularly in the 18 - 36 month range. {Well maybe that's all I can attest to since my oldest just reached the outer limits of that range.}

I want to give you a series of shots of my Stephen who wants to be "just like daddy"

As I dwell on these thoughts I am reminded of a parenting seminar put on by our church. An area counselor, Hal Threadcraft, was giving what I considered to be words of wisdom. As part of that presentation, he shared a story of when his boys were young. {I hope I am recounting the details of the story accurately. It has been several years ago, and I apologize if I am not but this is as I remember it and in this form it certainly made an impression on me.} One evening his wife met him on the front steps of their home as he came home for the day. She said, "Hal if there is anything you don't like about yourself, you need to change it now." He was a bit confused and wondering what he had done and where this was going, when she went on to tell him about her day and how their oldest child had gone around the house doing things exactly like his father did them. Those things that the child did throughout the day are the details that allude me but nonetheless I can relate.

Have you ever watched a child watch their parent and then change their stance or their posture to mimic what they see? It is hilarious and it happens often.

I want to close by saying thank you to Frank for being a wonderful father to our three children. They are blessed to have you as the leader of our home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Changing Gears

I'm not good at quick turn arounds...getting myself and three children out of town whether it be for a weekend or a week or even longer is hard enough as it is. When faced with a three day turn around, I started to panic.

But we did it ~ we changed gears. Literally, we swapped our sweaters, backpacks, and hiking boots for life jackets, sand toys, and bikes.

We are now on our second adventure of the summer. Fortunately, I've walked this road my entire life, and I know that anything I need is a short drive away. I figured as long as dinner for the first night was covered and coffee for the morning was taken care of then we could make a plan once we arrived. Also, my mother is with us which means she gathered all of the "rental list" items which is a much appreciated gesture. I know how much work it entails.
As I was helping with something in the kitchen, one of my children asked me what I brought. My response ~ "the chaos." My dear mother replied, "No, you brought the love." It's true ~ my children help us all love each other just a little more.

The first highlight of the trip was an enthusiastic comment from Stephen as we crossed over Interstate 10 on Highway 98. With great excitement, Stephen exclaims from the back seat, "Mommy, there's Mobile Bay!" Yes, I had tears in my eyes as those have always been my sentiments exactly. This comment also helped Stephen to redeem himself ~ about 45 minutes prior to this comment my eyes glanced in the rear view mirror to see Stephen almost sitting in Mary Frances' car seat. There is certainly a drawback to new found independence. Needless to say there was a harsh consequence for his reckless behavior, and I hope he learned his lesson.
To swim or not to swim has been the raging debate in my head since returning from North Carolina. As I drove south yesterday, I had decided there would be no swimming for me and mine, but once I arrived I discovered no trace of oil ~ no smell, no residue, no sheen. Instead, lots of boat activity, wharf fishing, and pelicans flying so I am back to my original plan of taking it one day at a time. Hopefully, my dad is right when he says I will know when I shouldn't swim.

And I'll leave you with a picture from the original March Inn. There have been many photographs taken of my extended family in and around this tree. While here, I intend to get one suitable for framing of my little ones ~ maybe even Frank and I can be in it as well. I also want a picture of Baby Sarah and her sweet parents in this same spot.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary

A few weeks ago, the children and I made a quick weekend jaunt to Mobile so that I could attend the wedding of a high school classmate. As I sat through the service, I was reminded of Father Powers words as Frank and I were preparing for our own wedding eight years ago. He was going through the service with us and got to a particular place in the service where he said he would read the "beautiful prayers" associated with the service of marriage. As I've attended many Episcopal weddings since that time, I think about his statement and I agree with his words so I wanted to include them in today's post.

In addition, I want to dwell on them and challenge myself and Frank to remember and live them each day.

Taken from The Book of Common Prayer

Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of
salvation, and giver of all grace: Look with favor upon the
world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life,
and especially upon this man and this woman whom you
make one flesh in Holy Matrimony. Amen.

Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their
common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a
counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion
in joy. Amen.

Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will,
and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love
and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.

Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and
acknowledge their fault, and to seek each other’s forgiveness
and yours. Amen.

Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful
and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement,
forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair. Amen.

Bestow on them, if it is your will, the gift and heritage of
children, and the grace to bring them up to know you, to love
you, and to serve you. Amen.

Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they
may reach out in love and concern for others. Amen.

Grant that all married persons who have witnessed these vows
may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties
confirmed. Amen.

Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all
your children are united one to another, and the living to the
dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will may
be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, O Father, with your
Son and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity,
now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Linville Adventures

I will attempt to be concise but I intend to soak up each and every memory and would love for you to feel as if you experienced the "mountain magic" with us.

Saturday: The Getting There

"Everything but the kitchen sink" ~ are you familiar with this expression? Well apparently my daughter was not. Our family of five plus Frank's dad and his dog had a lot of stuff to take to North Carolina so we have turned a corner and entered a new era ~ traveling with a car carrier. As we were loading the car, Mary Frances asked me why we needed it and I included the above expression in my response. She laughed out loud making it a reoccurring theme when anyone commented on our stuff. If you are a mom who has travelled with young children you know how it is ~ you want to make sure the children's needs are anticipated and met in order to minimize meltdowns along the way. This means not only did I pack clothes {for warm weather and cold weather}, food {complete with snacks}, and staples {since we were renting}, but also games, toys, and other activities. We were also celebrating a very important three year old birthday so we had birthday presents, birthday pictures, birthday cd, and the ingredients for a "firetruck" birthday cake. In addition we had several laptops among the adults, a double stroller, a baby backpack, and I'm ashamed to say my sewing machine that I never even opened.

All of that to say we had a remarkably easy drive from Central Alabama to Linville, North Carolina. Despite all of the people and all of the stuff, we only stopped once which I will always think is amazing!

Sunday: Getting our Bearings
Not any exciting adventures to report ~ we spent the day recovering from our car ride, making some plans for the week, and discovering the lay of the land. I went for a run to inspect the Eseeola Lodge and All Saints Church. I have always liked getting a vantage point by foot! We went for a long walk ~ Stephen and I went for a small adventure on what appeared to be a neat trail that ran beside the creek and probably the golf course though we never made it back to investigate further.
The McNeils arrived and enjoyed a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres overlooking the golf course. As noted in the above picture, the house we rented sits just above the driving range. Scarlett assured me that each evening as soon as the last ball was cleaned up this area became a vast playground for her children. I think this will be one of my children's most vivid memories of Linville because they did it each day.
Monday: A Birthday Celebration, Feeding the Fish, and a Hike at Roan Mountain

I apologize in advance for the number of pictures, but this was definitely our most picturesque day ~ We went on an amazing hike on Roan Mountain. The children did quite well despite the birthday boys initial screams to be held and the like. We took it slow and provided many gorp breaks for energy.

Stephen has a unique way of showing us how old he is...I've never seen three shown quite like this but he is very consistent in doing it.

Pops and Mary Frances were our trailblazers most of the day.

The little man loved riding on his daddy's back ~ he could see everything and not exert any energy.

Returning to the trailhead took us a bit longer than our assent as Stephen needed to inspect all aspects of nature ~ the sticks, the rocks, the moss, the mushrooms. He might have a promising career in foraging.
The Eseeola Lodge has a stream running near it where it is great fun to feed the fish. A perfect post-nap activity.

As for the birthday, the cake didn't turn out exactly as planned. I had all the supplies to make the requested firetruck birthday cake, but upon arriving in the mountains there was no mixer. It is difficult to make a birthday cake or icing without that key component so after returning from our hike I reluctantly went to the grocery store to purchase a cake. An aside, several days later Stephen said very sweetly yet matter of factly, "Oh, we never made my birthday cake. That's sad."

Tuesday: Playing at the Blount's House, A Picnic in the Park, and the Mast General Store

Wednesday: Flat Rock

The weather was threatening all morning, but we finally decided to make the small hike to Flat Rock for a picnic lunch. By the time we got our wits about us to leave the house, I forgot a camera so there are no pictures to prove we were there and and able to check off yet another thing on Scarlett's punch list.
Thursday: Pixie Trail
But first...What better way to get an almost five year old out of a morning funk ~ a crafty project. Do you know the book Snowballs by Lois Ehlert? It is a perennial winter favorite in our house. In the story, there are presumable children who are waiting for a good snow in order to make snowmen. They have been collecting "good stuff" to decorate their snowmen as they wait for snow. Well in our house, we use the term "good stuff" whenever we are collecting items to decorate anything. In Linville, we collected "good stuff" to make these mountain caterpillars.

I particularly like the above picture not because of the caterpillar but because it highlights the bark material used to make shingles to cover many of the houses in Linville.

Did you know there were Pixie Stix on Pixie Trail? The children found them "growing" from a tree.
Friday: Lost Cove
In my opinion, we saved our best hike for the last day. It was a perfect HOT day for Lost Cove.
This is the one thing our children keep asking if they can do again. I think they agree that it was the best!
My human backpack...If you've read any of my posts over the course of the month you know my middle child can sleep anywhere. Well, he did again. He fell asleep on my back as we hiked out of Lost Cove.

Saturday: Back in the Car and Home
It's always nice to go on vacation and it is always nice to come home.
Thank you to Betsy and Al for allowing us to rent their home and introducing me and my children to mountain magic. It was certainly a new set of activities that we enjoyed as a family and I think will continue. It was confirmed that we prefer an active vacation and the mountains certainly provided plenty of activity.
Stay tuned for more summer highlights.