Girl in Braids, 1982. Girl in Braids, 2009

My Girl in Braids watching the horses at Duck Harbor Pond.

My girl in braids watching the horses at Duck Harbor Pond.

Last week I slept in my bed exactly 2 times. Every other night was spent sleeping on the ground somewhere in Pennsylvania with my kids, husband, family and friends.

We packed 3 camping trips into a week and a half, and my kids still didn’t want to come home. That makes me smile. I’m glad they enjoy the outdoors as much as I do.

A few of those nights involved a trip down memory lane as the kids and I camped with my parents at a lake in Wayne County.

Our connection to this lake reaches way, way back. My mom vacationed there as a kid. When she had kids, she brought my brothers and me to the lake, as well. We refer to it as “going to the mountains.” My son is the first to question why we call it “the mountains.” He also wanted to know if there would be snow there. Not in July.

We do the normal stuff you do on an outdoor vacation…boating, fishing, hiking, hitting trees with sticks, playing lots of games (Traffic Jam, badminton and chase being the favorites right now), catching lightning bugs and picking flowers.

Of course the bugs love us, too. As I write this, a mosquito bite on my big toe is particularly itchy. And this time we had an unfortunate encounter with ants.

One other game we play is guessing how many deer we’ll see as we drive around each night looking for all manner of wildlife that may be moving about at dusk. This tradition started out many years ago as a way to scope out deer for the hunters in my family.

As we drove about the bucolic areas of Wayne County looking for deer and rabbits (we even saw an egret!), watching one farm melt into another, I realized the origins of my fascination with farms. Maybe this is why I long to live in a stone farmhouse or converted barn. This is where my admiration of stone fences came from. This is why I love horses and cows and sheep and all things animal.

The lake where we play is home to a bustling horse farm and a cow farm. As a kid, daily I walked down the dirt road to the horse farm to check on the foals. This is where I stole a pat on the head from a horse curious enough to come to the fence.

As I got older, I worked hard at home to earn money to buy a $13 trail ride from a another farm a car ride away. I scooped dog poop and painted, mowed grass and picked up sticks (awful job!), just so I had enough money to take a trail ride or two in the week we spent at the lake.

I still remember the day my mom got on a horse and proceeded to get right back off. She was NOT going to ride a horse. That farm still has horses, although the house we called “Little House on the Prairie” is gone, and it doesn’t seem they give trail rides anymore.

Too bad for my little budding horse lover.

Still, she watched the horses eat hay and waited for a passing pat last past week. As I watched my daughter wait patiently by the fence I saw myself in her. Not just in the braids and love for horses, but in my dreams. As I kid, I wanted to be a jockey and ice skater (just like Dorothy Hamill). Tall dreams for a short, fat little kid. My daughter says she wants to be a “horse rider” and ballet dance. Maybe not too far off for a tall, skinny kid…

P.S. Don’t forget you need to pre-register if you want to attend Sunday’s horse hair jewelry class at the Museum of Indian Culture. Click here for more details.

Birds!

Birds!1

I just returned from vacation on an island.

Birds! 6I just like to say that because it sounds like I went somewhere very exotic.

It is an exotic place in its own special way. Not exotic in the floating pool-side drinks and cabana boys style, but the opposite extreme of exotic where the cabin didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing.

There I am on the island’s rocky beach bordering Lake Champlain sewing birds.Birds! 5

After mentioning my vacation to many different people, I realized this type of experience really is “exotic,” foreign to many. I’m surprised at the number of people who have never “showered” in a basin or carried their water supply somewhere.

When you have to carry your water from a lake, then boil it before you can make coffee, do the dishes or bath, it really makes you consider energy consumption and waste in a whole new way. My dear friends who invited us to their cabin are considering different solar options for powering their cabin. I highly recommend this kind of vacation as a crash course for anyone who wants to reduce their energy consumption, go green, reduce their carbon footprint, or whatever you want to call it. Try this lifestyle for a few days, and it will make you rethink your whole household.

Surprisingly, my 5-year-old didn’t complain once that she had to put shoes on and walk with a flashlight to the toilet in the middle of the night. The lack of conveniences didn’t phase her when she had snakes to watch and water to splash in.

Truth be told, we did have cell phone service, which was helpful when we sent the men out a huntin’ to the mainland for ice and pizza to go (it was a vacation, after all). And the kids had battery operated toys to keep them entertained while we made dinner. The whole vacation was such a blast!

Before setting out to the island with–dear me!– no internet service, we did more traditional vacationing by visiting family.

Birds! 3

My nephew was baptized and I made him this bird mobile for a gift. Shall we say they’re doves to go with the baptism theme?

No matter what kind of birds they are, they are so cute, and they’re my latest crafting obsession. I downloaded the pattern from Spool Sewing blog.

So cute, so simple and a great 3-D project for beginners. Getting them to balance is tricky, but the eye hooks are key.

I’ve become so enamored with these birds, I want to make them for everyone. My nephew got the first flock, although I think his mother may have claimed them because she loves birds.

The cabin on the island got the second set. (This photo is not the best!)

Birds! 7

Through 6 hours of driving, daytime kiddie naps and lakeside resting, I stuffed and sewed birds. I even got to take my sister-in-law’s Janome sewing machine for a spin stitching them up. Sweeeeet machine!

On the island I found odd-shaped driftwood for the mobile.

These birds look like they’re talking to each other.

Birds! 4

I used awning fabrics and regular cotton for those birds, but was thinking of spraying them with Camp Dry so I can hang them outside.

Next I’m hoping to make a flock or two for home…one for my porch and one for my 2-year-olds’ room. I’ve got all the time in the world right now because mentally, I’m still on vacation.