Sunday, August 29


Our neighbors, the Woods, whom we adore... are currently living in Germany, yep, GERMANY... and we miss them  (all 11 of them) terribly.  While they are living there, they have a wonderful couple living in their farmhouse and taking care of their property and animals.

This morning as we were leaving for church, the neighbor called to the kids to come see the baby donkey that was just born.  HUH?!??!  Perplexing cause our neighbors have a full size female donkey but not a male, of course a necessary element to have a baby, right?!.

When the kids ran over to see the baby, I told them to take the camera and we could post photos of the baby for the Woods to see in Germany.

And when Savannah came back the proof was in the photos.  Yep!  Our grey miniature donkey must have snuck over in to the neighbors pasture and found a love interest in their donkey.  Ooops!  We do beg their pardon for our wayward donkey, you think you know your animals, you try and raise them right, and then they go and disgrace you like this.  Hopefully forgiveness will be granted when they see the result of this previous scandalous rendezvous, grin!

Mommy is still extremely protective... Savannah was not able to get too close, so we think it is a girl but not 100% sure until we can get a closer inspection.
So... proof of father?  Our miniature donkey, Bart, is dark grey and he has the very distinctive markings of the nativity cross down his back and the rare markings of the tiger stripes on his legs.  BUSTED!  Bad Bart!
So... now the dilemma... do we go congratulate Bart for his beautiful baby, or ground him for the next forever for sneaking around behind our backs?  Snicker.
Now we shall wait to hear what the Woods are going to name her (or he)... they always come up with the best names for their animals!

Tuesday, August 24

Amish Country

There are many perks to being married to Shawn.  A big perk is his incredible vacation planning skills.  I make sure laundry is done and suitcases get packed, otherwise I just jump in the truck and trust that Shawn has the rest all under control.  Nice!!

This vacation was tons of time on the road and many nights in all different lodging.  If it was a one night stay... Shawn was sure the hotel had the 2 ever important necessities... a pool and continental breakfast.

When we stayed somewhere for more than one night, Shawn really did his homework.
While in Palmyra, we stayed at a 5 star hotel and spa... so fun.  But I did have to laugh one day when I realized that not one other hotel guest was wearing flip flops... the Callahan footwear of choice.

My favorite places to stay are Bed and Breakfasts.  I prefer the ones that have separate Guest Houses, the perfect blend of having our own space but still the intimacy of staying on someone's property.
Well, Shawn did it again... he found us the perfect B&B to stay at while in Lancaster County, PA.
I loved this property, it was owned by a couple that were former Amish... they still very much enjoy a simple life but they do utilize modern amenities.  They were beautiful hosts!

This is the side yard of the Main House... I hope our weeping willows grow up to be as dramatic as these. 
We stayed in one of the two guest houses, ours was called the guest loft.  The loft was located on the upper level of their carriage house.  Very similar to what our loft will provide in our future B&B.
Below is a picture of this darling window that was part of our loft.  This is the only photo I got of the loft, ugh.
We were all 5 able to fit comfortable in the loft.
The second guest house on the property was this darling guest cottage.
The inside was so tiny but quaint... we took a peak because we just couldn't help ourselves :)
Literally there was a bed, claw foot tub, and two comfy chairs and a small table.  The perfect getaway for a couple... which later that day a cutey couple did arrive to take advantage of this cottage.
And you know what I really loved about these guest houses?  No tvs, no phones, no internet... just peace and quiet and beautiful surroundings... the kids relaxed, they played in the pool, and played games the whole time we were here... I just can't tell you how fun it was!
This sure got me to thinkin'.  What if we built a small cottage out by our future pond?!!  If we built a Guest Cottage out in the pasture by the pond... we could leave it very simple, a good choice for those that truly want to 'escape' from busy lives.  Creative juices are flowing.  Never mind that the B&B is on indefinite 'hold'... this girl can still dream about what may be someday, can't I?
Below is the arbor between the Carriage House and Main House.  It is shaded all day and such a great place to relax.

Ty thought he was too big to climb up into this treehouse... but I barely had enough restraint to not go up there myself! Oh my, oh dear, this was cute!!
While in Lancaster County, we were quite lazy and leisurely picked activities as they peaked our interests.
We did a buggy ride through the surrounding farms.
Amish School House
The Oldest standing Amish Homestead... still has the stone plate that dates 1782.
We also rode a open car train that took us between small towns.
The view of the countryside and Amish farms is breathtaking.  It is a strong point of the Amish religion to keep their properties immaculately maintained... and since we live on a tiny farm ourselves... it was amazing to us how they keep the smallest details of their properties manicured and all that without using modern equipment.
The train makes a stop mid trip at a picnic area and play ground.  So we thought ahead and grabbed picnic lunches from a local deli and hopped off the train to eat and play.
Can I just say that our youngest is nigh impossible to keep shoes on.  The boy has feet of steel, nothing phases him, but it does cause his mom to fuss when the boy shows up barefoot all.the.time!!
We all were pretty exhausted after our site seeing trip.
I love this part of the country.  This is my second time here and I hope to come back many more times.  I just slow down more here than anywhere else we have vacationed... I credit the influence of the Amish people, their slower pace is addictive and I am thankful for it!  
Next Stop :  Home Sweet Home... and I guess it is a wonderful sign that even after an amazing vacation, there is still no place quite as wonderful as our home.

Friday, August 20

Palmyra, New York

We spent several days in Palmyra... so glad we did because it is so beautiful there!
This is on the Smith Farm.  We are standing in front of the Smith Cabin.
I loved seeing period pieces and learning what they were used for, but mostly I just wanted to scoop up all these rustic items and bring them home.
In the woods behind the Smith Cabin are tons of Bass wood trees.  These trees naturally hollow out over time and then they are made into beehives for honey production.
This was my third time being in Palmyra... once when I was a youth, second with Shawn, and finally I was able to come with our children.  I was thrilled to have them see the Sacred Grove... this environment is what our family loves anyway, and then when you feel the spiritual nature of the site... it was breathtaking!
The Temple is located just across the road from the Smith Farm.
This photograph is taken from the top of the Hill Cumorah.  Later this same night we came back to watch the pageant that is done on the side of the hill, which is why there are stages and seating below.
This is the monument at the top of the Hill.  Ummm, can you read Christian's shirt?
Christian bought this tee with his own money.  Hilarious!  He got lots of giggles.  Funny story:  there was a family from Tahiti in our tour group while at the Smith Farm.  They did not speak English (only French, did not realize they spoke French in Tahiti, now I do) so we had a translator with us during the tour.  The Father spoke some English and so we were able to chat with him some.  At one point he noticed Christian's tee-shirt.  The man quickly grabbed his 14 year old, gorgeous!!!, daughter and exclaimed, "I have a Mormon Girl...."  To which Christian about d.i.e.d. and the poor daughter could have passed out.  The rest of us laughed hysterically at their expense.  I told Christian if he was bold enough to wear the tee, he had to be man enough to take what came... including father's offering up their daughters for consideration, snort!
Us arriving for the pageant and visiting with cast members as they mingled with the audience.
It truly is an amazing production, so thankful for the thousands of people that make this possible.
Next stop... Lancaster County, PA

Wednesday, August 11

Niagara Falls... fireworks, water, and raincoats

A friend suggested to us that we be sure and go see the Falls at night, so we arrived in NY in the evening and headed straight over.  The Falls are lit at night... Gorgeous!.. and also they were doing fireworks on the night we arrived.
The next morning we went to see the other sites.
Cave of the Winds
Maid of the Mist
Shawn laughed at me and my attempts to stay 'semi-dry'.
We were leaving right after these sites and driving to Palmyra... I didn't want to be soggy on the drive.  I was victorious, snicker!!
Next stop... Palmyra, NY