Friday, October 30, 2015

Ithaca Falls Natural Area

Next stop on our little getaway to Ithaca, NY was a spot well known to the locals, but virtually hidden to tourists.

Right in the middle of a neighborhood and across from the local school was this “little” gem. Ithaca Falls Natural Area clearly has very little funding for such niceties like fancy trail markers and such. The parking area is easy to find via GPS and the hike is, get this, approximately 100 yards to the base of the Ithaca Falls. Yes, ONE HUNDRED YARDS. 

It’s a perfect quick hike on the way into Ithaca for a yummy supper or something. The hike was easy, though not stroller friendly. It was so easy that you could hold your littlest person on your hip while you walk back to the base of the Falls. Seriously.

Although our 5, 8 and 10 yr olds could hike this before the whining might even commence, I don’t actually recommend it for children (YET). Sadly, an industrial site once occupied the cliffs and bluffs above the falls, probably harvesting the water power to run their machinery. The place has several warnings about lead being on site. That said, it may not be the best place to take your kids. (Our Blossoms like to touch and experience nature whole-heartedly.) 

I am hopeful that in the next few years, the site will be mitigated and the lead warnings removed, making this an amazing destination for Blossoms and other Little People to see God’s beauty.

The Rugged Mountain Man and I found a bench and listened to the water run and gazed at the rippling waters gurgling by. Oh, the peace of it!  (Since we weren't scrambling and climbing on the bluffs, the lead did not deter us.)

With bellies full of burgers, onion rings and ice cream, we kicked up our feet back at the cabin and relaxed in entire peace and quiet.  Wow, is that ever a change of pace for us!!


For GPS or Google Mapping purposes:
Ithaca Falls Natural Area
399 Lake St.
Ithaca, NY 14850

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Taughannock Falls State Park

Due to the benevolence of a dear friend, the Rugged Mountain Man and I were recently able to get away – just the two of us – to Ithaca, NY. We discovered Taughannock Falls State Park as a fantastic couples AND family destination. (“Taughannock” is pronounced, “Tuh-GAN-ick.”) Based on how much we liked it (read: were THRILLED with it), we do hope to take the Blossoms back there to experience the amazing geology and waterfalls.

I was most impressed by how short the hikes were. I often tell folks that I like hikes with a difficulty level of 5, with a 9 on aesthetic value. Of course, I’m referring to a scale of 1-10. This state park gets a 9.5 by my rating system!
 (I know it's a funky angle, but the Upper Falls is surprisingly difficult to photograph
since it can only be viewed from the bridge above it.)

Since there were no Blossoms in tow, we just hiked all trails. Hey, we used to be known as Hikemon and Hikewoman, so this was no surprise that we were returning with vigor to our desire to go-go-go out in the Great Outdoors. Plus, God really blessed us with beautiful weather.  We were so thankful for that.

 Upper Gorge, as viewed from above
We combined the North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail for a hike of approximately 2.5 miles. Then, the Gorge Trail added another 1.5 miles for a total of 4 miles of hiking. We saw the falls and gorges from every angle.  Additionally, we were able to look down into the Upper Gorge, a beautiful canyon entirely inaccessible to people, a fact that I found totally fascinating.  (Most natural beauty I've glimpsed in my life has been places that people can touch, change and access.  I like the fact that it was inaccessible.  It was beauty God put there, just for beauty's sake.) 
 (View from the Rim Trail.)

Let me just give you the rundown on hiking Taughannock Falls State Park with children.
The Gorge Trail is 1.5 miles, round trip and is extremely STROLLER friendly. You get to see the (main) Taughannock Falls from its base and the Lower Falls. The trail boasts astounding beauty with very easy access.

 View of Taughannock Falls from the Gorge Trail
 Standing there, my throat ached with the sheer splendor.  God is big and His Creation reflects His grandeur. 
The North Rim Trail and the South Rim Trail follow the rim around the top of the gorge. You glimpse the Lower Falls, the (main) Taughannock Falls and the Upper Falls from the rims of the gorge. I think we could do these trails with our 2 year old in a pack (her walking part of the way) and the 5, 8 and 10 yr olds hiking. I have no doubt they could handle the steep staircases that begin the trail. However, if you just wanted to see the jaw-dropping view and be done with it, there’s a visitor center in progress and a terrific overlook that you can drive to. See what I mean about super kid friendly?
View of Taughannock Falls from the Overlook on the Rim Trail/parking area 

View of the Lower Falls from the beginning of the Gorge Trail
 Since we do hike fairly often with our crew, we’re pretty aware of what they can handle (when armed with water and lots of granola bars.)

The Rugged Mountain Man and I were enthralled by this state park. 

We later discovered that it's rated amongst the nation's top state parks.  I can totally see why.  We were invigorated by the beauty, fresh air and our time together in God's Creation.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

More on the Plan


You might remember that I talked a little about God's beautiful plan for the family back in September. It was actually thoughts I shared with our church body on a Sunday morning. I wanted to delve further into Ephesians 5:22-24.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church and He is the Savior of the Body. Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”  


Perhaps you realize that TV and other forms of media are extremely prevalent, so much so, that families today are using media's examples of marriage and family structure as the example to follow.


That is sobering, to say the least.


(This is how long it's been since I've watched TV regularly.)  Think of Everybody Loves Raymond, one of the more "wholesome" sitcoms out there.  Raymond's and his wife's (I can't remember her name) marriage is not a Godly one.  TV always seems to portray the husband as a lazy wimp and the wife as a bossy, nagging, cutting and sarcastic woman.  As a Christian, why would you want to take your view of marriage and family structure from tv? 

The more you watch, the more it just soaks in. 


Another thing that we pull from our culture and its media, is this concept that marriage is a team. The thought is that we make decisions together; we split the work 50/50.  One has the same amount of authority as the other.  I'm sure you're probably starting to squirm, but please don't freak out yet.  I want you to know why that has never sat quite right with me.  In verse 23, the Word says,

"For the husband is HEAD of the wife…”



Now, you ask yourself. Which way are we going in a marriage? We’re going the way the HEAD wants to go.


Are we going where the feet want to go?  No. The head is what decides where we’re gonna go. We’re going where the head leads, where the head decides. When I take the team idea and I hold it up against what that verse says, it doesn’t match to me.  As a believer, that says to me, this cultural idea is not quite right.  It is not quite what God had in mind.

My working definition of our roles in this marriage is that my husband is the CEO of this (family) enterprise and I am the Executive Assistant/Domestic Engineer.  It just helps me see the chain of the command better.  It helps me be practical about my husband being the head and me submitting to him.  Every successful CEO knows he is lost without his Executive Assistant.  She may be a little more in the background, but she is vital.  Just because we as wives aren't the head, doesn't mean we aren't vital. 

So many wives have shied away from submitting to their husbands because they thought it meant that he was everything and they were nothing.  That isn't God's intention at all.  In a culture that didn't particularly value women (in Bible days), there were women mentioned in Jesus' geneology.  Unheard of!  God values women.  We simply have different roles or jobs or functions.  It's a beautiful balance, when both the husband and the wife operate in the functions God has set up. 

Pictures from our recent trip to Ithaca, NY and Taughannock Falls State Park.  More on that in days to come. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Definition of Motherhood:

The state of checking for food or various stains upon one's clothing before venturing into public situations. 


The creativity of knowing appropriate responses for when a not quite feeling up to par toddler answers all comments, questions and requests with a vehement "NO!" 

All joking aside, motherhood is such a sanctifying season of life.  My character has been tested on so many levels, so much more than it was tested when I worked at the World's Weather Leader.  I believed in practical Christianity then; in living what I believe, in being there, what I was at home. 

Being what I am at home, while I am at home, is so much tougher.  Is that strange to say?  Or, even to think?  My Christianity is so much more brutally honest here.  I feel like it's Christianity with all the layers, facades and excuses stripped away.  I very often identify with Eustace Scrubb, as Aslan peels away the layers of Eustace's dragon skin.  (read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by CS Lewis, if you don't know what I'm referring to.  It's my favorite chapter.) 

I often feel raw, with nothing to hide behind, like everyone can see the real me, and it isn't always pretty.  I am very frequently humbled, humbled by how much more room there is for growing in my life.   But I still try to be real. 

There's nothing wrong with realizing how far you have to go;
just so you go to the right place.

Those humble, raw times should point me right back to finding strength to live a holy life in and through Christ. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Whole Lotta...

As y'all know by now, we love "the Cabin."

From the scenery,

to the activities,

This place is just plain special to us.


People sometimes ask what we do at the cabin. 


I usually say, "A whole lotta nothing." 

And that's pretty much true.

But let me clarify.

There's boat-sailing (after the boat-building).

And stick-throwing.

There's salamander catching.

And brave salamander sailing.

There are crayfish wars.

There's the all-important wood chopping.

(especially, if one wants to sit around the fire a whole bunch.)

There's dog talkin' and dog fellowship.

There's a little overlook viewing,

And meandering in the woods.

There's tree investigating.

There's specimen gathering.

There's moss-jumping.  (which is to say, jumping on a large bed of moss),

And sap touching.

There's leaf gazing.  And ohhhhing and ahhhhhhing.

Yep, a whole lotta nothing.