Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winter - Part 1

When we moved from south-central Pennsylvania to upstate New York almost two years ago, winter topped the list of the many things we anticipated. We have not been disappointed! While last winter and this one have been "mild" by all accounts, we've enjoyed some very distinct differences between Pennsylvania winters and North Country winters.

Attitudes Toward Snow - For example, if two inches of "mixed precipitation" fell in PA, the talk the next day was, "Whew... we dodged the bullet!" "School is closed!" or "Thank God that was rain!" Two inches of snow fall here in NY and everyone moans: "Where's the snow?!" "We haven't had winter yet!" And my favorite, "Let 'er rip!"

People around here don't endure snow... they CELEBRATE snow. Their eyes sparkle when they talk about snow. Their cheeks glow from playing in snow. In many cases, they butter their bread with snow... if you know what I mean.

Lifespan of Snow - Two inches of snow in PA never lasted long - usually gone by morning. By contrast, two inches of snow fall here in NY and several months later, they're still here! (I am still amazed to get in my van and find unmelted snow on my floormat from previous trips)

Although we've had a relatively "snowless" winter, our world remains frosted in white. The cold temperatures allow us to enjoy every flake. (As well as the flakes that fell several months ago!) We have about a foot of accumulated snow on the ground now, and I thought you might like to come along on some of our winter adventures.

Winter - Part 1 - Sledding at the Ausable Club

In early January, our friends, Marty and Danel Pietrowski came for a weekend of snowy fun. They tackled the "big" mountain - Whiteface Mountain ( , which boasts the highest vertical drop in the East. We aren't quite that daring yet! But we shared a fun Sunday afternoon sledding at the Ausable Club.

No fear here... Sodie whizzed down headfirst!

Marty and Danel preparing for launch

Falling off is half the fun... right? Raven seems pretty happy after a splat.

Sodie and Trevor were racing buddies

It was COLD... about 9 degrees and windy!

Wayne and I prepared for our own descent

Now I freely admit I'm a chicken... but just so you are duly impressed, please note the tiny specks near the top right of the photo. Those are the kids... that is where we were headed! Eeek!

I soon concluded that it is much safer to travel alone. For example, I could utilize the nifty "braking" system with my right foot when the speed got too extreme!

CorrieAnne is also a little dare-devil.
(Hmmm... they don't get that from me!)

When exhausted from hiking back UP the long hill, we enjoyed just laying on our sleds and looking at the mountains. Beautiful!

Race TIME! Trevor and Sodie won the race down the hill.

We concluded our day with a yummy dinner. Nothing beats good friends and good food - especially when they come together at the same time!

Funny things happen to people when they come in out of the cold!

Hope you are enjoying winter wherever you live. I'll be back with another Winter Fun update soon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Christmas Letter I Never Wrote!

It's already mid-January, but I hope you'll indulge me as I take a look back at 2009. By nature, I'm a sentimental person who gets misty-eyed and nostalgic over anything that happened more than 15 minutes ago! I love scrapbooking, journaling, refrigerator art, handprint placemats and any other way to remember and celebrate the days of my life.

In honor of all those sentimental year-end tributes on TV, I've assembled my own list of 2009 memories. Here, in random order of significance are:

The Most Intriguing Memories of 2009:


I'm feeling like a bad parent here! With our first "baby," we took dozens of pictures and kept you updated almost daily on the progress. With the second... a little less. And now, our beautiful third room has been finished for almost a year and we've yet to introduce her! So here is a brief look at the birth of our Harmonies room.

The way she was ... This was a very pretty room, but everything you see here was gone by the time we arrived (except for the floor, walls, windows and fireplace!). We were left with a blank slate... peeling paint, peeling wallpaper.

My Dad and I spent a wonderful week bonding over painting the front porch and finding creative ways to convince the wallpaper to let go of the walls in our third room. We found that the best solution was a sponge dipped in Downy fabric softener!

Hmmm... this is progress? Our blank slate has become a tangle of wallpaper and tools. At this point, we were 3 weeks from checking in our first guests. Yes, I was a little panicked!

I've warned you before that it's a dangerous thing to visit us as we're always in the middle of some project. Our friends, Don and Lynda, arrived just at the "right" time! Wayne put Don to work sanding the sink top for the little dresser we were converting into a bathroom vanity.

Meanwhile, Lynda and I had lots of "girl talk" while we painted and painted and painted!

Speaking of painting... this was the bathroom! Not very soothing! That orange HAD to go!

And more about painting... This is Wayne up on a ladder on the coldest night of the year, scraping paint from the second floor windows because someone joyfully spray painted right over them when they painted the house!

Done at last! Harmonies is decorated in greens with a fern theme. The bed is an antique and the fireplace now has a charming electric insert. Many of our guests comment on the serenity of this room.


We enjoyed several family hikes this year. I think our favorite was Baxter Mountain in Keene Valley. I took dozens of photos, but I'll just share two of my favorites:


Wayne laid a stone walkway leading from the driveway to the porch steps. This greatly reduced the mud being tracked into the house by guests. We also planted a lot of astilbe and hosta around the front of the house.

Another "work" visit! My brother-in-law, Bill, helped Wayne replace the roof on the old ice house. We are converting it into a Friends and Family Cottage where we can host our personal visitors without worrying about coordinating visits around the B&B schedule. It's going to be so cute... I just might move in!


Sodie participated in a scouting clinic sponsored by the US Luge Team. She absolutely loved whizzing off the ramp and down the curving road. No fear here! She wore a big smile as she plowed time after time into the bales of hay along the track! She wasn't selected for the Junior Team, but she definitely had fun. There's always next year...

This is a "two-for-one" in learning new skills! CorrieAnne participated in an after-school rock climbing class sponsored by Rock and River in Keene. The plan was for Mom to enjoy taking photos... but if you'll look closely, you'll see that Mom was put to work "belaying" which may look a lot like sitting on a chair and holding onto a rope. But according to Wikipedia, belaying is definitely a skill ... "a variety of techniques used in climbing to exert friction on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far." Yep... she fell! But Mom saved the day!

What's that sound?! No, it's not a moose in heat! It's the Stoner Sister's Saxophone Session! I'm happy to report that both girls have now moved beyond the honking stage and are making beautiful music... most days!

Before our lovely hair stylist, Anna, moved to Florida, she decided that it was time for this white girl to learn to relax hair! I had exactly .... ONE lesson! This is our maiden voyage without Anna. Notice the tense look on my face and the less-than-hopeful look on Sodie's face. We're both hoping that she still has hair when I'm finished! (She does!)


Yes, the little brown angel that arrived on our doorstep 10 years ago is now a teenager! We celebrated Sodie's birthday with a family boating trip to Schroon Lake.

My favorite "Sodie turning 13" moment occurred in the car a few weeks later when she turned to me and said, "Mom, I've been 13 for two weeks now." I said, "Yes?" She paused and then said, "So far, so good!" I think she thought life was going to spontaneously combust at 13! (Any prayers you want to pray for a peaceful teenage experience will be gratefully accepted!)

Sodie also hosted a birthday party for her friends from school. As our home reverberated with giggles, shrieks, whispers and gossip, I was reminded of our days as youth group leaders. Hmmm.... my nerves must be growing older!


In April, we enjoyed a family visit to Niagara Falls - the site of our honeymoon 22 years earlier. Wayne and I chuckled thinking that if anyone would have told us what our lives and family would have been like on our next visit, we'd have had a hard time comprehending it! We still do somedays!

In November (notice the "off-season" pattern to our travels!), we took the girls to Disney World in Orlando. Every kid needs to go at least once - including Wayne who had never been there. We took over 800 photos, but I'll spare you! Here's just one to prove we were there!

Oops... make that two. I just have to include this picture because A) the girls are cute B) the castle is pretty and C) it provides proof that occasionally both girls are happy and feeling loving at the same time!


Well, technically she's not a new family member! But after 7 years "abroad" in the big world, Katie returned home for 6 months during 2009. She enjoyed her "penthouse" room on the unheated third floor, but was wise enough to move on before cold weather hit! We have many wonderful memories of our time with Katie. We all agree that it went far better than last time!

The rodent that stole our hearts! Please meet MICKEY ... our newest family member. CorrieAnne used her hard-earned money from sweeping porches and stripping beds to buy this Chinese Dwarf Hamster. Mickey is cute as a button as long as he doesn't actually touch me! You'll notice that his name was inspired by our trip to Disney.

We ended 2009 as we end every year... with a family photo taken on Christmas Eve. Our year was filled with joy, pain, fun, challenge, adventure and ... LIFE! We are thankful for each of you who were part of our journey. Here's to an awesome 2010! Let's live it well!