Sunday, August 28, 2011

Acadia: Travel or Triathlon Training?

 Our family has had the great privilege and luxury of spending time in Maine almost every summer since we've lived in Massachusetts.  Maine is such an amazing place, and I'd have to agree with the slogan that we see on the welcome sign as we cross the state border:  
Welcome to Maine:  The Way Life Should be.  

I don't think I've mentioned here that I'm planning to participate in a triathlon in two weeks.  I say "participate", because "race" would be an exaggeration and give the impression that I can actually do any of the three sports involved fast.  Now, I have been "training", but only so that I can actually finish the thing!  It's an all women's event, that I'm sure will be fun to do together with three sweet friends.  And it's a "sprint" triathlon, which is a very gracious way of saying "short" for amateurs like me. (Swim 1/2 mile; Bike 12 miles, and run 3.2 miles)  There will be no sprinting on my part.  Anyway, I was worried about missing training days while we were vacationing in Maine.  It's discouraging to find that building up to these physical feats takes some time, but losing that strength and endurance takes no time at all!
 Well, silly me.  This particular trip to Maine was probably more training than I would have accomplished if I had stayed at home!

The trip was divided into two parts: without kids and with kids.  Robert and I had four nights together in Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park first, and then our dear friend, Lois, brought our kids to meet us in Ogunquit for the last three nights  Robert and I camped in Acadia the first two nights and then stayed in a bed and breakfast the last two nights.  
(I highly recommend this order of accommodations, by the way!)
 We hiked to Cadillac Mountain from our campsite on our first morning.  This was an 8 mile round trip hike of moderate difficulty.  The second photo gives you just a tiny glimpse of some of the views along the way.  Wild blueberries line the trail, and were deliciously sweet.  We sat and enjoyed a picnic lunch with practically a 360 deg. view of the ocean at the peak before descending to our campsite.
 The next day we enjoyed a walk to another part of our campsite that led to this beautiful perch on Maine's famous rocky coast, as well as a 12 mile bike ride on parts of the 50+ miles of carriage roads built by J. Rockefeller.  Our bike ride took us from Eagle Lake to Jordan Pond, where we enjoyed another picnic lunch, and then back with gorgeous views of lakes and mountains all the way round.
 On day three, we broke camp and headed into town where we checked in to The Primrose Inn. (A VERY special discount to senior pastors and wives here!) Check in is at 4pm and is perfectly timed with high tea.  Believe it or not, along with an assortment of regular pastries, there were gluten free and dairy free chocolate chip cookies!  We took our treats to the front porch of the inn, and I didn't think to get a picture until our cookies were almost gone.
 That night we returned to Jordan Pond (by car, not bike!), and had dinner at it's renowned restaurant ~ the only restaurant actually located in Acadia National Park.  Sadly, we didn't realize that they only serve lunch on the lawn and not dinner like we were hoping.  Still, we had a great view of the pond from our table and a nice walk beside it afterward.

 Here we are the next day overlooking Jordan Pond. (The restaurant is at the far end.)  We hiked to Bubble Mountain's peak that overlooks the pond and then hiked down and all the way around it which equaled about 5 miles total.
 That hike was a little more dicey than the Cadillac Mountain hike!  Harrowing memories of our White Mountain Hike from last summer were surfacing on these narrow passageways and super-steep trails!  When we finally made it down to pond level, we ate lunch on a rock at its shore, and my Robert read me some poetry from another Robert.  Frost, that is.  Perfect ~ especially as it intermingled with the Psalms and lots of discussions concerning God's majesty and holiness; His grace and redemption.
We stayed on the southern tip of the park in Blackwoods Campground.

Would you believe that later in the afternoon we opted for swimming in Echo Lake?  Yep, I even got in some stroke and breathing practice that day!
 On our personal deck just outside our room at the inn.

A final dinner out, and watching The King's Speech in our luxurious room later was the perfect ending to the "without kids" part of our getaway.  People keep asking me if we were able to truly rest, and I tell them that although we were tired and sore, and declared to ourselves that it was the most active vacation we've ever been on, the rest came in the way of lots of time to talk, read, enjoy good food, and leave behind the tasks and chores of home and ministry life.  And I easily managed to keep up my "swim, bike, run" training!

Maine "with kids" coming soon!

Waiting on Irene

Well, church is canceled this morning because of Irene's impending arrival.  This is the first time we've ever canceled church because of weather, so we're all just sitting here in front of the various news shows, drinking tea, and watching the rain and wind pick up outside. (Actually, Kory has not yet been seen this morning!  Sleepyhead teenagers...) New Jersey and Long Island are getting the brunt of the storm right now, and we're only about three hours from there.  Connecticut friends have lost power, as have many in our state already.

Yesterday, we spent half of the day at a lovely wedding and the other half of the day preparing for the storm.  We got out all of the provisions we keep around for blizzards and snowstorms.  Would you believe we've NEVER had to use any of them in a snowstorm?  For this storm, though, we've received two automated messages from our electric company, and one from our town urging us to stay at home and be prepared to go for up to seven days without power! To live in New England and prepare more for a hurricane than a blizzard seems very strange, but here's what we did:

1. Bought 2 cases of bottled water at our local pharmacy on Friday, because our grocery store had NO water.  The shelves were completely empty, and people were resorting to club soda.

2. Filled the bathtub, all of our water bottles, and the gallon jugs of water we keep for emergency use in the winter with water. (Though our town website says they don't anticipate any disruption in water supply.)

3.  Gathered all flashlights, emergency candles, and matches.

4. Brought the bunnies and their hutches into the mudroom and off the back porch.

5. Checked/cleaned gutters and drainage.  (We have had water in our basement before because of heavy rain.)

6. Bought all groceries for the week.

7. Washed and dried ALL laundry and dishes.

8. Gathered passports, birth certificates, etc. from basement in case of flooding.  (Though a tree through the roof is more of a concern than flooding!  We've got huge trees surrounding our house ~ almost everyone here does! Both Cooper AND Robert had dreams that a tree fell through our roof last night.)

9. Made a fresh batch of granola. ;-)  (Not that this is is urgent, but at least we'll have healthy food options during our power outage!)

10. Prayed for God's protection and mercy.

The wind is really picking up now, so I should publish this before I can't, but all of this reminds me of a Psalm that "happened" to be the next one I would read one morning while in Maine.  It had stormed there all night, and I couldn't sleep, because my heart and mind were having similar stormy thoughts and anxieties that day...

The LORD reigns, 
He is clothed with majesty
The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. 
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice,
The floods lift up their pounding waves.
More than the sounds of many waters,
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The LORD on high is mighty.  
Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house,
O LORD, forevermore. 

Psalm 93
His Word is living and active!  He is faithful to speak through it, and He did speak to me very clearly that day.  He is in control.  He reigns. He is mightier than the storm.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Gluten Free Friday ~ Rosemary Parmesan Focaccia Bread

 Ever since I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle with all of its descriptions of garden fresh veggies, local eggs and meats, and impromptu meals of crusty breads and cheeses, I've wanted to make a bread that our family could use as a "tummy filler" alongside farm veggies and cheese for an oven-free summer meal.  The final inspiration came last week when we stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast in Bar Harbor, Maine. (more on that soon!) The innkeeper's gave us a complimentary set of fine quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar from a local vendor, and I couldn't wait to get home and experiment with a bread to dip in it.
Focaccia bread sounded especially good, so I researched a couple of recipes, added a few of my favorite savory ingredients, a little xanthan gum, and came up with this recipe.  As it baked, (which means our meal wasn't exactly "oven-free." Oh well.)  it filled the house with that wonderful yeast-y baked bread smell, and the kids could hardly wait to devour it.  A small plate of olive oil and vinegar was prepared, as well as a plate of raw veggies, fruit, cheese, and sauteed kale with chickpeas, and that was our dinner!  

Rosemary Parmesan Focaccia Bread

3 cups gluten free flour mix (rice, tapioca, potato here)
1 tsp salt
3 tsp xanthan gum
2-3 Tbsp rosemary (crushed with mortar/pestle if you like)
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 pkg yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 - 1 1/4  cup warm water
4 eggs
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil + 2-3 Tbsp for brushing surface of bread before baking
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
More olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping

1. Mix yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl and let sit while working on rest of ingredients.
2. Place dry ingredients (GF flour, salt, xanthan gum, and rosemary) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
3. Add eggs, vinegar, olive oil, and pressed garlic cloves to yeast mixture.  Stir, and add to dry ingredients.
4. Stir until well combined, and then pat flat onto a pizza stone or baking sheet.
5. Let rise 15-20 minutes, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan (and more rosemary, if you like), and then bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 more minutes.
6. Cut into squares or triangles and serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rockin' the Green Ones

 Sent Cooper off this morning for his first day of Cross Country with the high school team.  He was a bit nervous, but at least he looked good in the green Asics he chose yesterday!
 Robert took him to get his new running shoes, and when they checked out, the salesman said, "So, you think you can rock the green ones, huh?"
 Well, of course he can rock the green ones!

Praying that he has a great time at practice, (two-a-days till school starts!) gets to know the other kids quickly, develops his running abilities more and more, and really enjoys himself!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Will you PLEASE Read 'Anne' Tonight?"



When Kayla asks me that question almost every night, it is truly music to my ears! And even though reading aloud to my kids (or really, anyone who will listen!) is one of my favorite things to do, it hasn't happened as much lately.  It used to be a daily occurrence, but now that my kids are older and life seems a little crazier, it has gone by the wayside a bit, so I'm thrilled when Kayla asks, and even more thrilled when she asks for Anne!

While we were reading last night, Kayla got tickled during part of chapter fourteen in Anne of Avonlea, entitled  "A Danger Averted."  Her giggling caused me to giggle, and it was just too much fun not to tell you about.  The backstory is that Matthew has died, and now Anne, who still lives at home with Marilla, is a teacher.  She and Marilla are also now responsible for twins ~ Davy and Dora, since their father can not care for them presently.  Davy is a real stinker, while Dora is a proverbial angel, and this scene has Davy in trouble yet again, with Anne giving the reproof...

"Davy Keith, don't you know that it is very wrong of you to be eating jam, when you were told never to meddle with anything in that closet?"

"Yes, I knew it was wrong," admitted Davy uncomfortably, "but plum jam is awful nice, Anne.  I just peeped in and it looked so good I thought I'd take just a weeny taste.  I stuck my finger in..." Anne groaned..."and licked it clean.  And it was so much gooder than I'd ever thought that I got a spoon and just sailed in."

Anne gave him such a serious lecture on the sin of stealing plum jam that Davy became conscience stricken and promised with repentant kisses never to do it again.

(And here's the gave-us-the giggles-part...well, after we giggled about "gooder", that is...)

"Anyhow, there'll be plenty of jam in heaven, that's one comfort," he said complacently.

Anne nipped a smile in the bud.

"Perhaps there will...if we want it," she said.  "But what makes you think so?"

"Why, it's in the catechism," said Davy.

"Oh, no, there's nothing like that in the catechism, Davy."

"But I tell you there is," persisted Davy.  "It was in that question Marilla taught me last Sunday. 'Why should we love God?'  It says, 'Because He makes preserves, and redeems us.'  Preserves is just a holy way of saying jam."

(giggle, giggle...)

"I must get a drink of water," said Anne hastily.

(HA HA HA HA!)

When she came back it cost her some time and trouble to explain to Davy that a certain comma in the said catechism made a great deal of difference in the meaning.

(Giggle, giggle, giggle....)

"Well, I though it was too good to be true," he said at last, with a sigh of disappointed conviction. "And besides, I didn't see when He'd find time to make jam if it's one endless Sabbath day, as the hymn says.  I don't believe I want to go to heaven.  Won't there ever be any Saturdays in heaven, Anne?"

(hee, hee, hee....poor Davy!)



Sooooooo thankful that my girl can still giggle over a misplaced comma, and the innocent, youthful,  depravity of a little boy!  Oh, that her own girlish innocence would remain, and that she would always be entertained by Anne!

(Exerpt from Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery, pp.114-115 ~ and HIGHLY recommended reading, by the way!  All of the 'Anne' books, that is.)


Friday, August 5, 2011

Gluten Free Friday ~ Herbed Goat Cheese and Flank Steak Sandwiches

Any recipe that includes goat cheese always grabs my attention, but one that also includes caramelized onions AND sweet, vine-ripe, summer tomatoes, practically demands that I try it at home.  This photo is of a meal I made last summer, but lost track of the recipe, and never shared it with you here.  The memory of its deliciousness, though, is strong, so I was determined to figure it out. (I have the picture ~ how hard could it be?) It's going on the menu plan for this week, and I can hardly wait!  This is actually an open-faced sandwich that is quickly broiled before serving.  I used a gluten free hamburger roll for the bread and served them with a side salad.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Flank Steak Sandwiches

Ingredients:

grilled flank steak (great use of leftovers!)
gluten free hamburger rolls/french bread/or sandwich bread
herbed goat cheese (pre-packaged or made yourself)
1-2 onions, sliced in rings
butter or olive oil for sauteeing onions
2-3 tomatoes, sliced
mayonnaise

Directions:

Bake or grill flank steak ~ or get out your leftover steak! Saute the onion slowly in olive oil/butter until softened or "caramelized." Toast the gluten free rolls a bit and set aside. (Toasting ALWAYS makes gluten free bread more palatable and less crumbly!) Slice tomatoes while bread is toasting.

Spread mayonnaise on rolls, then layer a tomato slice, flank steak, onions, and goat cheese.  Place open faced sandwiches on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 at 350 degrees.  Then, turn on broiler, and place baking sheet underneath until goat cheese is slightly browned on edges.

Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese:

1 11 oz. log of soft goat cheese
3 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 tsp minced/pressed garlic
1/2 tsp lemon zest
salt and coarse pepper

Place goat cheese in a bowl and fold in next 5 ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate, if desired, to make more firm and easier to "crumble" onto the tops of the sandwiches.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Add Extreme Sleepwalking to His Resume

 Our son Cooper has become somewhat renowned for a variety of things ~  his amazing ability to play guitar despite his refusal/inability to read music (he once told his piano teacher that "negative A" came before "A" in the musical alphabet), his striking similarity in appearance to the famed Justin Bieber (Never Say Never!), his mad basketball skillz (he was one of three to receive a "Blue Chip" scholarship from basketball camp this year), a stupefying ability to rapidly memorize anything of any length (he memorized the Nicene Creed last night in about 20 minutes ~ sheesh!), and some uncanny, and highly unsettling sleep patterns.

If you read a recent previous post, you know we spent a week at Gordon College with about 400 teenagers a couple of weeks ago for youth camp.  Well, as you may already know, youth camp typically has all of the perfect ingredients for what could be a recipe for disaster: lots of sun and heat, cafeteria food three times a day for 6 days, very late nights, very early mornings, and non-stop, high-energy activity.  Cooper reacts more sensitively to these extreme conditions than my other two kiddos, and we caught a startling glimpse of that last summer at camp when we woke up to someone banging on our dorm room door one night  around midnight.  We thought it was Allyson, the camp director, waking us up because of some emergency, but it was Cooper ~ our son ~ the one we had tucked into bed in the next room just a couple of hours earlier.  He had been sleepwalking (he does this at home occasionally, too), had walked out of our dorm room/apartment, wandered down the hall and around in the dorm building for a while, and then had returned to our room to find that the door had automatically locked behind him. We let him in, tried to get an explanation out of the sleeping boy, and tucked him back into bed, but as you can imagine, it worried us a bit.  Who knows what he did or where he went or for how long?  Fortunately, the whole building is full of those who are on staff at the camp just like us, and we all know each other!
 Well, this year I determined to figure out the proper magnetic strip/key swipe motions to keep our door unlocked at ALL times for the duration of camp.  It worked, and was wonderful freedom from kids needing keys at all times of the day to get back into our room. (3 keys + 8 people = someone always locked out. We had three extra children with us for the week.)  I wasn't really thinking about the previous year's sleepwalking episode, but rather my own stress level in managing children and keys. Although if Cooper did leave our room, at least he could get back in this way!
Two birds, one stone; perfect!

Oh vanity of vanities!

This year, on the second  night of camp, Cooper came into our room between midnight and 1am, obviously scared and upset.  I was soooooooo sound asleep (camp is exhausting for big people, too) that I could barely make out what he was saying at first:  sleepwalking, outside, door locked, emergency phone, police officer....

Police????

Yes,  this year Cooper outdid himself by sleepwalking OUT of his bedroom...
OUT of our dorm room/apartment ON the second floor...
DOWN the stairs (or elevator, who knows?)...
OUTSIDE of the dorm building, 
IN the middle of the night...
ALONG the sidewalk...
NEAR the campus POND...
TOWARD the chapel...
...and then he woke up and realized ~ 
"Wait.  Mom and Dad aren't in the chapel.  They are in bed. The worship service is over.  The moon is shining.  There is no one out here.  Everyone is in bed.  I guess I should go back to bed, too."

Good plan, except that the dorm buildings are locked for security purposes each night at midnight, so he couldn't go back to bed!  He couldn't even get back into our building!

So, he walked around the entire building, tried all the doors, and even some first floor windows.  Everything was locked tight.  Thankfully, he had gained presence of mind enough to read the sign on the entry door and use the emergency phone to call the campus police as directed.  He explained to them that he had been sleepwalking (think they believed him??) and was locked out of his dorm. He waited a few minutes, and then a female police officer arrived and let him back in. He said she was nice.
 So, each evening, for the rest of the week, after tucking all children snugly into their beds, this is how I barricaded our dorm room door ~ first the trash can, then the recycle bin, and then a chair ~ and a turned lock  The door was able to be locked by a dead bolt from the inside.  One night I even put all the baskets of dirty laundry there, too.   I pleaded with Cooper to let those objects serve as a memory jogger that it was NIGHTTIME and NOT TIME to leave the room.  I also prayed for his ability to rest and sleep peacefully after that, and he did.
The boy is a perpetual source of entertainment, fear, frustration, and adventure ~ and for that, we love him all the more.

(Are there such things as sleepwalking alarms?  Maybe a near-future investment...)




Monday, August 1, 2011

19 Years...

 ...and more grateful than ever to be running the race of life with him...
 ...still with a heart that thrills to see him across the room, or in anticipation of a night out ~ 
or in...
 ...still having a respect for his character and leadership that only deepens with each year...
 ...still amazed by his gift of understanding and teaching of the Bible, his proclaiming of the gospel...
 ...still thriving and secure because of his unconditional love, and constant encouragement...
All of the same things that drew me to him over 19 years ago, but abundantly more so now.  Thanking the Lord today for 19 years of marriage to the most humble, handsome, and gifted man I know.