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Greetings from Pittsburgh!

15 Mar

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Well we’ve made it up to Pittsburgh. Despite a very dreary, rainy day & windy, mountainy roads, our trip was completely uneventful. Thank you, sweet Jesus!

Will Owens is my hero & booked up a super great suite. I’m talking penthouse suite, people!! 2 separate bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen & this beautiful view! Our hotel even had a complimentary calzone dinner & free beer! [We love free beer.] Pennsylvania has been good to us so far!

I think we’re checking out a cool sports science museum tomorrow & just relaxing. We’ve got a busy few days after that.

If you think of it, please pray that our closing goes smoothly. Will has been crazy awesome in the way he’s handled the purchase process. He has definitely done everything humanly possible to make this as seamless as possible. We’re scheduled to close @ 930am Thursday.

Thank you all for your prayers, cards, gifts, texts, phone calls & overwhelming love. We love you!!

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music to my ears.

7 Mar

this weekend was crazy busy.  william had a sleepover friday night with his buddies and we had so much fun!  i’ll post pics later.

saturday will and i hit the road at noon and headed up to charlotte for the day and evening.  we picked out a couch at ikea that we plan to purchase after we close on our house [hopefully] next thursday.  the kids can sleep in sleeping bags until the truck delivers our stuff.

we met up with some friends and after a big, fat greasy dinner, we went to a really fun concert.  i’m a big fan of drew holcomb and the neighbors after i first heard ellie holcomb (drew’s wife) sing at a young life camp.  they are totally on the cusp of making it big.  they’re a great band with a unique sound.  here’s their latest video for their newest song, which should be playing on a radio near you.

 

 

 

the headliner for the show was marc broussard, who’s from my hometown of lafayette, la.  he’s got an amazingly deep, rich soulful voice that i absolutely love.  his biggest hit “home” is one of my favorite songs.  every single time i drive across the border into louisiana, we blare that song in the hotyssey.  and every time i run a race, that is a must-have on my ipod playlist.  the video is extra cool to me because it’s full of places where i’m from and gives me a sweet reminder of my home.  enjoy!

 

 

 

we celebrated william’s eighth birthday on sunday.  he’s really starting to grow up and it’s fun to watch, usually.  🙂

 

one week to go….one week.

charleston for a day.

26 Feb

visiting charleston has been on our SC bucket list for a while now, so yesterday we surprised the kids by taking them out of school and heading down to will’s old stomping grounds for the day.

it completely poured the entire trip down and the entire morning.  but no worries, thanks to our handy Droids.  we spent the morning at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.  what a great place!!!  it’s much more hands-on, creative play than EdVenture here in Columbia.  the kids painted pictures in the art room, ran through a room that looked like a medieval castle, played for an hour in the water room and on and on and on.  check it out:

 

i’m serious–it was crazy awesome.  no loud music, no TVs screaming at you, no flashy stuff–we will absolutely go back there next time we visit charleston this summer (BEACH WEEK, BABY!).

 

we decided on hominy grill for lunch, which is our favorite restaurant in charleston.  allow me to gloat and tell you the deliciousness we ate:  she crab soup with sherry, okra & shrimp beignets with salsa & cilantro-lime sour cream, fried green tomato blt w/ ancho chile lime mayonnaise, southern fried chicken breast with country ham gravy, collard greens cooked to perfection, and biscuits.  oh hominy, how i love thee.  i know charleston is a food mecca, but i just can’t tear myself away long enough to experiment with new restaurants.

 

after lunch, we headed down by the waterfront and took a nice long walk around battery park.  if you’ve never been to charleston, it’s lined with houses like these:

 

 

the kids loved running loose around such a beautiful park, climbing on old cannons and cannonballs, statues, monuments, etc.  it’s one of my very favorite places on earth.  i’m not kidding.  i took a bunch of pictures, which you can see in the slideshow below.

finally, we headed over to the citadel, will’s alma mater.  we dropped some cash in the gift shop (gotta represent up north!!) and walked around campus for a bit.  the cadets put on a parade every friday afternoon and i’ve waited a long time to make the time to go to one (other than on homecoming weekend, when it’s super crowded).  we’d love it if the boys went to the citadel, but we’ll know for sure in 10 years, i guess.

gotta run!  enjoy the slideshow (there’s about 20 pics)!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

girls beach weekend.

15 Feb

i went to hilton head island, sc with 4 of my very best friends in the whole wide world this past weekend.  and it was sweet.

 

so, so sweet.

 

 

we laughed [until we cried].

we danced [like we were 18 again].

we ate [a lot].

we walked on the beach [picking up sand dollars].

we played this game [until tears streamed down our faces].

we read [good books].

we shopped [a little].

we drank [good beer/wine].

we cried [knowing things are about to change].

we talked [about everything under the sun].

we slept [because we there were no children to wake us].

we prayed [and cried at the same time].

we knitted and crocheted [scarves and cowls with beautiful yarn].

we took pictures [at sunset].

we were present [as friends].

 

i am so grateful for my beautiful friends:

 

jessica

 

 

 

sarah

 

 

 

jeannie

 

 

 

allison

 

 

 

me

 

 

 

christmas 2009: smoky mountain memories!

24 Dec

Since I was a crappy blogger last year, I’ll just tell you the brief story of our fun Christmas 2009.  We decided to make it a first-ever destination Christmas, so we booked a beautiful, high-end cabin in the Smoky Mountains.  Well, it just so happened to snow like CRAZY 2 days before we were scheduled to arrive, as in 18 inches crazy.  Being somewhat snow-ignorant, Will and I figured everything would be fine.  We packed the kids, the presents and loaded up both the Hotyssey and Will’s truck and headed to Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

We crossed into NC and the snow kept getting higher and higher and we started getting a little nervous.  Normally we would have been super excited, but our cabin was at the very top of a mountain and neither one of us were driving a 4×4 vehicle.  We got to the Maggie Valley ReMax to pick up our key and we learned that we most likely would not be getting to our luxurious, warm, snuggly cabin at the top of the mountain.  Of course we had to try though, right????

I had the kids in the van with me and Will was driving his truck.  Making a VERY long story short, we attempted to get to our cabin unsuccessfully.  Let’s just say it was one of the most terrifying hours of my life.  One-lane road, snow, ice, children crying in the backseat, snow chains wouldn’t go on, turning around on the one-lane road almost falling off the mountain, sun going down, driving backwards downhill on the one-lane road in the dark…you get the picture.

After searching and searching, we found a Comfort Inn that had one available room.  I was in no position to bargain with Will, so we took the one room with two double beds.  We slept in the clothes we wore all day and had a warm place for the night.  Will didn’t do much sleeping after he got kicked to the floor by a restless, kicking, talking-in-her-sleep Amelia.  Thank the Lord that my mom, Kate and Brandon were not scheduled to arrive until the next day.

The next morning, Will headed back up to the ReMax office and by the sheer grace of God, there was an available cabin of the same size.  The lady didn’t think we’d be able to get to that one either, but we managed.  My genius husband threw a shovel and bag of salt in the back of his truck before we left and that came in very handy.  It was the first time I’d ever seen him shovel snow!

That was the biggest story of the trip–just getting there.  Mom, Kate and Brandon arrived safely and Christmas 09 commenced!  We enjoyed the hot tub:

 

 

And the big boys squared off in a mustache contest.  My brother was declared the winner after he pulled of the Mexican drug lord ‘stache.

 

Brandon took home the prized mug.

 

And Will was heartbroken when he had to shave his.  (It was his Christmas gift to me.)

 

 

Brandon and Will had an enjoyable night in the hot tub

which led to Brandon doing a snow angel in his bathing suit in about 20*.

 

We went snow tubing ,

 

And we had a great time being together!!

 

 

Yay for Smoky Mountain Memories!!!

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas from the Owens Family!

favorite things 2010: BEACH WEEK!

22 Dec

One of the very best weeks of the year is always beach week with the Owens family!  We’ve been going to different South Carolina beaches for the last 3 years, and it’s such a fun time.  We rent a giant beach house, Will’s sister and I split up the cooking and everyone relaxes.  Our kids have fun with their only cousin (until a few months ago, that is!).  Here are a few shots:

We got our the best family portait in years thanks to Kate’s great trigger finger!  (I got everyone situated, dialed up the camera settings I wanted and asked her to press the button 15 times)

Sweet cousins!

One of my favorite shots–I stood in the water and told the kids to just run.  What more could you ask for??

And probably my favorite shot of the week.  I love the way her arms are spread, all dainty.

This year we stayed at Folly Beach, SC and we’ll likely go back there in 2011.  They have a great Main Street, Charleston is a 15 minute drive away and the surfing is the best in the area!

Will hired a surfing instructor for us (minus Amelia) and we learned to surf!  It would have been perfect, except I forgot my “Sporty Spice” bathing suit at home and I may or may not have flashed the 20 year old surfing instructor a few times.  Sorry, Mom!!  Will, William and Zachary surfed from the very first wave.  I lost my favorite Costa del Mar sunglasses on the first wave.  I eventually got it, but the boys did way better than me!

Below is a link to the Picasa album of candid photos from the trip.  Enjoy!

Folly Beach 2010

favorite things 2010: VERMONT!

19 Dec

Many of you know we took an epic road trip to Vermont this summer.  Our family had never been on a vacation JUST the 5 of us for more than a long weekend.  Since Amelia is 3 now and potty trained, we agreed the time was right to venture out.  We wanted to go on a non-traditional trip to a place not often visited, AKA the non-Disney World vacation.  (Disclaimer:  I love Disney World.  We will be going in 2011 so Amelia can see the castle her Daddy built for her.)  We wanted a place that we could drive to and neither Will nor I had spent much time in the NE United States.  So……Vermont.  My BFF Jessica and her family had been up there visiting family quite a bit and all she could say was that it was very remote and very beautiful.  Done.  We’re there.

We wanted to do non-traditional and I had read about farmstays, where you stay in a room or a cabin on a working farm, you help out with the chores and the kids get to experience farm life.  Perfect.  So we booked a couple of nights at Four Springs Farm.  Will and I love rock climbing, but the kids had never been on real rock.  Perfect.  So we found these guys and booked a family trip with them.  Bam.  Our trip was starting to take shape.  Of course we had to do the Ben and Jerry’s tour and the Cabot Creamery tour, because that IS touristy for Vermont.  And that was pretty much it.

I ordered Off the Beaten Path:  Vermont because my friend Sarah told me so, we grabbed our computer, a few clothes and we were off!  We headed out for 9 days of adventure!

It took us two days to drive, but 1,040 miles later, our first stop was at the original Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, VT.

I won’t bore you with every single detail of the trip, but I will tell you about our favorite day.  We woke up one morning and set out to find the Brookfield floating bridge, which I had read about in our Off the Beaten Path book.  It was definitely off the beaten path, but driving through backwoods Vermont in the middle of July was completely gorgeous.  Very few people, very few houses, very few cars and NO WAL-MARTS!  As we got back in the car, I realized we were near a cheese-making farm just a few miles away.  What else did we have to do?  Nothing.  So we drove on up to Neighborly Farms.  When we first got out, there were several baby calves out that Will and the kids got quickly aquainted with.  The girl working there was the daughter of the people who owned the farm and we had arrived JUST in time to watch them make the cheese (or at least the fun part).  So she told us all about the cheesemaking process, which is quite interesting!

After we ate cheese until we could bust, Will picked up a jar of goat’s milk caramel in the Neighborly gift shop and asked the girl about it.  Well, wouldn’t you know that the farm was right up the road???  So, we hopped in the car and drove on up to the goat farm.  Fat Toad Farm makes Mexican style (cajeta) goat’s milk caramel.   Yes, it sounds disgusting.  HOWEVER, it is the richest, most delicious caramel you will ever taste in your life.  Our favorite was the Vanilla Bean Caramel.  Oh. Em. Gee.

So Will asked the sweet lady farmer if beekeeping was popular up there.  (Fun fact about Will Owens:  he has always wanted to be a beekeeper.  Go figure.)  Well, of course it was!  There was a guy right up the road who has bees!  So she called him and the next thing I knew, we were driving up the mountain to his house.  When we got out of the car, the beekeeper looked completely quintessential Vermont mountain man.  He made wooden canoes.  He chopped lots and lots of wood for the winter.  He had a big scruffy beard.  And he was wearing plaid.  Awesome.

So the beekeeper showed us all around, the hives, the honeycomb press things, the process for extracting honey and wax and he let us taste the final product.  It was one of the coolest and most random things ever.
The time we spent at the farmstay was fun and relaxing.  We didn’t even get cell phone service, which was icing on the cake!

We toured a maple farm, and tasted all things maple, also a first!  We drove up to Derby Line, VT where half of the town is in Canada and the other half is in the US.  The kids ran around screaming, “Hey MOM!  We’re in CANADA!!!!!!”  Sadly, we didn’t have passports for them, so we couldn’t drive into Canada.  We visited a fish hatchery where we got to feed river trout in all stages of life.  We toured several different breweries and played in a river behind Long Trail Brewery, where Will taught the boys how to skip rocks.  We toured Green Mountain Coffee and had ice cream in an old-timey ice cream shop.  We just enjoyed being together.

We stayed the last 2 nights in Barton, Vermont (near Crystal Lake) in the Deer Den cabin.  The 2br/1ba cabin was about 15x15ft.  It overlooked a tacky-looking but river-fed pool, which was cold as ice even in July.  And just a few steps down the trail was this:

What more could you ask for?  We found a great hiking trail nearby and enjoyed a nice hike.

We stopped in New Paltz, New York for our rock climbing trip.  Two very patient guides took us into the Shawangunk Mountains, where all 5 of climbed up a beautiful rock face.

Finally we made the long trek home.  The kids were absolutely fantastic.  Aside from library books and the Chronicles of Narnia on my iPod, the only entertainment they had was looking out the window.  We came home refreshed, relaxed and very tired of being in the car.

I made a Picasa slideshow with the remaining photos that you can see here.  Enjoy!!

 

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