Tag Archives: houseboat

Saying good-bye to an AMAZING week!


good friends

It has been a wonderful week.

This was a vacation built around rest and relationships…

Exactly what we stood most in need of during this season of life.

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With our shared path forking into multiple directions in the coming month, this week of connection with friends and family was a wonderful gift before everyone embarks on their individual adventures.

The houseboat provided us the forced rest and stillness that is so hard to find in most other vacations we take. Rather than soaking up local sites and experiences, we soaked up sun. We moved through our days at a languid pace with no agenda or responsibilities driving us.

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It was a week built on simply being present,


And was such a blessed gift.

Much of our week was spent floating in the water with the sun warming our faces,


But we also spent time pampering ourselves,

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Playing games,

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Feasting on good food,

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Making friends with the local wildlife,


Toby came very close to accidently stepping on this copperhead hiding in the brush.


Soaking up the beauty of God’s creation,


Capturing it through our lenses,

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And enjoying the blessed gift of laughter with friends.


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It was sad to see our time on Norris Lake come to a close, but all good things must come to an end.

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On Friday morning we prepared to disembark at the marina. The boat had to be returned at 10:00 am. Knowing this, the kids woke early for a final swim and kayaking through the morning fog that had settled on the lake.

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Bags were packed and piles we gathered as we headed back to the marina.

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We enjoyed a final ride on the top deck, soaking in the scenery and reflecting on the beauty and blessings of the week.

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Then it was all ashore as we unloaded the boat and repacked our cars for the trek home.

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It was an amazing week…

Simply magical.


How grateful I am for this time of rest and renewal and the people I got to share it with!


Sending Hopes to Heaven


Hope Floats is one of my all-time favorite movies.

I have always loved the concluding line of the movie:

“Beginnings are scary.

Endings are usually sad,

But it’s what’s in the middle that counts.

So, when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up,

And it will.” –Hope Floats

I find myself teetering on the edge of one ending and the start of another beginning, and in the midst of that transition I find myself awash with these very emotions. Life is transitioning from one season to the next, and as wonderful as that transition is, and as happy as it makes me to see my children growing into amazing adults, with any change comes feelings of grief. Endings are sad, even when an ending is necessary for the next beginning. And the unknown of a new beginning is scary, despite the eager anticipation of the changes it will bring.

This trip has been an amazing blessing and a special gift of family time in the midst of riding this wave of change that is playing out in front of us. My goal this trip has been to do as the quote above councils and recognize the gift of the middle…that time that exists before the end of one season and the beginning of another. I have tried to allow myself to simply be, to rest in the present moment, and appreciate the gift of today and the magical experiences this vacation offers.

Yesterday marked the halfway point of our houseboat vacation and last night we had one of those magical experiences planned.

We brought with us 10 sky lanterns, knowing that we wanted to recreate some of the special moments from our past houseboat vacations.

The dark night, lit only with stars, made the perfect backdrop for this magical experience.

We told the kids we were sending hopes and prayers to heaven.

With a black Sharpie each person wrote upon their paper lantern the hopes and prayers of their hearts. Many in the group were feeling that same sense of nostalgia, as we all recognize the change of seasons that is bearing down on us. With kids leaving for school, working, getting married and nearing graduation, etc. everyone was more thoughtful about their prayers and wishes they wrote down.

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Toby and I shared a lantern and here were the hopes and prayers we penned:

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When everyone was done writing down the wishes of their hearts, we headed upstairs with our sky lanterns and a lighter.

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Woody and Toby helped everyone light their lanterns and one by one the kids sent their prayers to heaven on the back of a lantern.

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We stood on the deck watching our prayers float upward until they were specks of light, eventually lost in the shadows of the stars.

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And it was beautiful.

“So, when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up, and it will!”

Here’s to hopes, dreams, and prayers for beautiful bright beginnings.

Lake Livin’


Yesterday marked our third day houseboating across Norris Lake.

Our days have found a comfortable rhythm and are filled with the easy-breezy, laid back activities that make houseboating an ideal vacation for our crew.

So, how does one spent their time on a houseboat, you might ask…

How do you fill a week-long vacation while trapped on the open water?

It’s easy!
Here is a peek into some of our daily activities.


The view from our bed. What a way to wake up!

Everyone wakes at different times with Woody, Olivia and Tyler usually up first. Woody usually heads out fishing while Tyler gets his meds and some cereal. We will usually put on a movie in an attempt to keep him quiet so everyone else can sleep in.

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Then the boat slowly comes to life.

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Our day seems to revolve around meal times, much like being at home, with meal prep, meal eating and meal clean-up anchoring the hours of our day.

Before we left on our trip, Lana and I sat down and made a menu for the week and split the grocery list. This is a chore that requires extra diligence as stopping at Walmart halfway through the week isn’t and option when you are cruising through the week in a boat.

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For meal prep and clean-up, we either take turns or cook together.
The kids have also paired off and each have a few nights when they are responsible for making dinner.


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Molly and Tatum also made a fruit pizza for dessert one day. Look at the artistry of their creation!

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Our daily schedule looks something like this…

After waking and eating breakfast, the morning is spent swimming and fishing.

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Around 1:00 we have lunch and clean up.

After lunch we untie the houseboat from the spot we “parked” for the night and we head out to explore more of the lake and find a new spot to tie off for the night.

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We all love riding on the top deck while the boat’s moving.


The stunning vistas paired with the warmth of the sun on our shoulders and the cool breeze against our faces, makes it a wonderful way to travel.

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The remainder of the day is spent exploring our new location,

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Enjoying the water,

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Riding the water slide,

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Playing games,

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And maybe even doing a little self-pampering…

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This is especially true for the girls who have loved this concentrated, uninterrupted time with their best friends. The added responsibilities of growing up and having to “adult” leave them with little time for each other in comparison to the time they were able to invest in their friendship at age 12.

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It has been a great blessing for all four girls to have had this week together before Molly and Tatum head off to college and the responsibilities of adulthood crash down on Olivia and Grace.

Yesterday we carved out some girl time with all four friends and the mommas too. I ordered some fun Color Street nails for this houseboat vacation so that we could have a manicure day.

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I ordered a wide variety of colors/designs to choose from and let everyone pick the set they liked best.

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It was fun pampering ourselves and prettying our nails as part of the summer vacation experience,

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And the finished results were adorable!

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Our nail party took place as we were traveling from one stop to another and it was during that jaunt that our move was rudely interrupted by a summer storm that came upon us with little to no warning. We were outside enjoying the trip to our next docking location, and choosing our nail sets, when we noticed a wall of rain moving towards us from the opposite side of the lake.

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Not even a minute passed before we found ourselves in the thick of it!

The manicures were paused as we scurried to gather towels and floats that were at risk of blowing away and carried everything inside.

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While we were buttoning down the hatches Woody was trying to keep the boat from capsizing, while Toby made sure we didn’t lose the fishing boat out back.

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It was short-lived but incredibly intense. To say it made for an exciting adventure is an understatement!

The following day our “typical” scheduled switched up by the need to stop at the marina for a gas tank and water tank fill-up.

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Part of the rental agreement states that we can’t drive the boat into the marina. Instead houseboat renters must call the marina and request docking. An employee will then drive out in a little boat, tie off to the houseboat and drive the big boat into dock. I’m sure this is for liability reasons, as they don’t want inexperienced boaters driving an eighty-foot houseboat through narrow passages lined with expensive yachts.

Once docked the kids were set free to walk around on solid ground and explore the gift shop.

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They were each allowed to get a treat at the café while dock employees unloaded our garbage, filled the gas tank, and refilled our water tank.

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This process took about an hour then we were driven out of the marina and set free to explore on our own, finding our next cove to call home for an afternoon of fun in the water.

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Evenings on the houseboat are laid back and relaxed, with the hot tub being a favorite place to congregate after dark.

The stars are gorgeous here. There are so bright, with the only ambient light being the beautiful blue lights that color the water around the boat.

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Then it is time for bed, with the adults usually turning in before the teenagers, who giggle, talk, and watch movies late into the night.

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Everyone sleeps hard after a full day of swimming and sunning.

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What a glorious way to spend a week!


The Lake through Molly’s lens



On our second day at Norris Lake, the kids headed out for a sunset exploration of the lake on kayaks and paddleboards. It was a magnificent evening and Molly was able to capture the beauty of the trip through the lens of her camera. The pictures perfectly  capture the unique way Molly sees the world and the beauty she finds in all that she sees.

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Splish Splash!


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Day one of our houseboating adventure began at 3:00pm on Friday when we were allowed to check in. All our gear for a week on the lake was unloaded from the cars, wheeled down the dock, and put away in the boat. Day one was spent getting settled in and becoming familiar with the boat. Saturday morning was when the fun really began, and much of the fun occurred in the water as we enjoyed the beauty of our own little cove on Norris Lake.

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Connected to the back of our houseboat is a water slide that goes from the top deck to the water below. That slide got a lot of use yesterday!

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The slide wasn’t the only creative way to enter the lake. Others chose to jump or dive from the top deck. The lake is extremely deep and the shore is extremely steep with depths ranging from 40 to 80 feet, making such antics safe for those who are brave enough to try.

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Others chose more relaxed ways of cooling off and enjoying the water. We have a nice selection of floats to enjoy…

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As well as four paddleboards and two kayaks for the kids to use to go exploring.

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Regardless of how each person chose to make a splash, all found themselves in the water for the majority of the day. With the sun beating down from above and the water cool against our skin, it felt like summer.

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What a wonderful way to vacation!

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Houseboating Adventure- Round 3!


We were only home for a short minute before packing began again, this time for our long-anticipated houseboat vacation!

Toby and I arrived home on Monday evening after picking up Braden from his Pap’s house. We arrived home to find that everyone has survived our two day absence. The next two days were spent preparing for the next summer adventure as piles began to sprout up throughout the house in preparation for our Thursday morning departure to Tennessee.

This vacation has been on the calendar for over a year and when it was planned life was quite different. Ozzie was still at home, Braden wasn’t even a thought on our minds yet, Grace wasn’t dating anyone, much less engaged to be married, and we didn’t have any idea that Molly would be headed 2500 miles away for college in September. It is crazy how much life can change in a year.

How grateful I am that we took the plunge and booked this vacation before all the craziness of life kicked in, because now this week-long excursion is all the more needed and treasured, as it will probably be the last family trip before the family unit changes once again.

On Thursday morning we headed south. It was a nine hour drive south, broken up by bathroom breaks and quick meals along the way. We did stop make a quick stop at New River Gorge visitor center.

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Every time we head south we pass over this massive bridge, but this time we decided to stop at the visitor center and overlook.

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It made a good pit stop along the way so that everyone could use the bathroom and stretch their legs. I didn’t realize it was a National Park and we enjoyed strolling through the visitor center learning about the area and the construction of this mammoth bridge.

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We then walked the path to the overlook to check out the view.

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It was a great stop along the way and gave everyone a chance to stretch their legs and mark another national park off their list.

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It was then time to get back in the car and finish our journey to the lake that will be our home away from home for the week.

We will be spending the week in Tennessee on Norris Lake. We have rented a houseboat with our dear friends, and vacation buddies, the Hudaks. This isn’t our first trip with them and it isn’t our first time on a houseboat. This vacation will mark the third time we have gone on a houseboat vacation together. Each time has been wonderful and filled with marvelous, memory-making adventures and we can’t wait for this week of fun with our dear friends.

On our first houseboat vacation we traveled to Sutton Lake, West Virginia. It was 2012 and Tyler had just joined our family, literally. He moved in on a Friday and on Sunday we left for a weeklong vacation on a boat. The timing wasn’t intentional. When we planned that trip he wasn’t even a blip on our radar, but it ended up being a great blessing because that week away accelerated our bonding in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened at home.

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The next houseboat vacation occurred in 2015. This time we traveled to Lake Cumberland, Kentucky and Ozzie was our newest addition. It was a beautiful lake and we created more exciting memories with our dear friends as we spent the week cruising the lake, swimming, fishing, and living the houseboat dream.

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Here we are four years later and we are houseboating once again. The location is a new one but the company is the same, with the exception of Ozzie’s absence and Braden’s presence. Ozzie was unable to join us on this houseboat trip, as the staff didn’t feel he was ready for home visits quite yet.

This week Braden will be experiencing houseboating for the first time. He is going to love it!

  We are looking forward to a wonderful week connecting as a family, resting from the cares of life, and making magical memories as we float our way through the week.

Let the Norris Lake houseboating adventure begin!!!

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Arriving and catching the first glimpse of our houseboat.

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It is beautiful!

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There are seven bedrooms and two bathrooms on board. Half the room sit below the water level and half sit above.

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On the upper deck there is a bar, grill, hot tub and a slide into the water.

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I don’t think there is any risk of going hungry this week!

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Some of our cruising crew…

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Everyone loves the slide!

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Smooth Sailing- Part 1



FB_IMG_1519869021196Last Saturday Toby and Rusty returned home from a week of sailing the open seas with their fellow sea dogs. It was an adventure of a lifetime and I was so glad Rusty got to experience it with his Dad.


Their crew was comprised of three other young men from Rusty’s scout troop and three other leaders, making it a solid crew of eight.


This adventure came about as a result of an awesome Scoutmaster who time after time pulls out all the stops and goes far beyond the call of duty to offer these boys incredible, skill building, character developing, life changing challenges. This was, however, an opportunity that went beyond their normal adventures. This was a once in a lifetime experience offered through The Boy Scout’s Sea Base in southern Florida.



A year ago they secured a spot for the season and Toby and Rusty signed up to go with the troop, giving Rusty a year to work and earn the money needed to fund this fun. Those twelve months flew by and before we knew it the time had arrived for them to pack their bags and hit the road.


The troop decided to drive down to Sea Base in our 12 passenger van, a spacious and dependable vessel that they soon discovered was built for high capacity not high comfort. They left on their road trip early Thursday morning and drove for 22 hours straight, allowing a few quick stops along the way, including an emergency 2:30 am stop at a Krispy Kreme Donuts.

One of the passengers in the van who was not sleeping at the time spotted the “Hot Donuts Now” sign lit up like a beacon of refuge to weary travelers. With a shout of “STOP!” those sleeping were jolted awake and this van full of scouts pulled in to claim their hot donuts from the drive-thru window…Donuts which ended up being merely warm, much to their disappointment.


By the time they pulled into the Sea Base parking lot everyone was worn and weary and ready to catch some ZZZZZs… wherever they could find them.


They were informed that they could check into the dorms at noon, so while they waited they headed over to Robbie’s, a local dumpy but delicious dive on the water. There they enjoyed a yummy breakfast on the docks. Toby said it wasn’t much to look at inside with the exception the notable décor that papered the walls. Evidently the inside of the diner was wallpapered in dollar bills that had been stapled up onto the walls over the years. Toby estimated their was a few thousand dollars worth of Mr. Washington’s papering the walls, money that he thought would have been better put to use fixing up the place.



He did say that despite the wear and tear of the building, the view was incredible.


At noon they were allowed to check into the Sea Base dorms where they, as the first crew out for the season, found they had the dormitory of 50 beds all to themselves for the night.


They were not scheduled to set sail until the following day so Friday was spent napping a little, exploring the Sea Base compound, doing their snorkeling test in the pool, and prepping their sailboat with supplies.


After a restful night sleep in the dorms they set sail on Saturday morning. Their vessel for the week was a 44 foot sailboat that would become their home away from home.



Below deck was the Captain’s sleeping quarters (which were off limits to the crew)


Capt. Hajo

The galley where the boys prepared meals three times a day:



The dining room table (which converted and became Keith’s bed at night):



The head (bathroom), and a storage area for the single bag of gear each crew member was allotted:


As well as a few beds:



Toby’s bed for the week.

Some slept below deck while others spent the week sleeping out under the stars:


Others caught Zzzzs whenever and wherever they could:



Once on the boat they set sail for an adventure on the high seas.


Under the leadership and guidance of their faithful captain, Hajo, they began their training to become proficiant sailors. As they headed out of the marina they caught their first glimpse of the magical sights that awaited them. It came in the form of a sunrise that set the tone for the week and gave this crew a preview of the awesome experiences that awaited them.




Stay tuned as we look back on their week of adventure and I attempt to do justice to the stories they have shared and the pictures they captured as they sailed around the Florida Keys.

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“Life was made for good friends and great adventure”


We are now on our way home

after an amazing week of fun, friends, and adventure on the water.

After our week of living the houseboat life on Lake Cumberland, Kentucky

it is hard to say goodbye.

The weather was perfect with temperatures in the low 80’s during the day and low 60’s at night. The lake water was still warm enough to be comfortable, feeling more like pool water than lake water.

The week was filled with special memory-making moments with friends.

Lucas and Rusty

Lucas and Rusty

Here is a final look into an amazing vacation with friends:

IMG_1780The food just kept getting better and better as the week went on, making mealtimes a time to look forward to each day.

Dinner on the patio.

Dinner on the patio.

One Molly and Tatum's dinner night they made chicken pot pies, fruit salad, cesaer salad and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

On Molly and Tatum’s dinner night they made chicken pot pies, fruit salad, caesar salad and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

On our final night we had shish kabobs on the grill. The kids making their shish kabobs.

On our final night we had shish kabobs on the grill. The kids enjoyed making their own shish kabobs.

They were so yummy!

They were so yummy!

The bulk of our days were spent in the water…

swimming, jumping, splashing and floating.

On our final night we camped at a beautiful, secluded cove with this trickling waterfall to climb and jump from.

On our final night we camped at a beautiful, secluded cove with this trickling waterfall to climb and jump from.

The boys tiing off the boat.

The boys tying off the boat.

The water felt wonderful and it was such a treat to be able to float away the hours of our day with nowhere to go and nothing to do. It is going to be so hard to go back to reality!

The water felt wonderful and it was such a treat to be able to float away the hours of our day with nowhere to go and nothing to do. It is going to be so hard to go back to reality!

I can't remeber the last time I had the luxury of being able to just sit and read in the middle of the day.

I can’t remember the last time I had the luxury of being able to just sit and read in the middle of the day.

Olivia, Grace, Lucas, and Rusty.

Olivia, Grace, Lucas, and Rusty.

The girls watching the boys jump from the rocks while enjoying a mid-afternoon snack. :)

The girls watching the boys jump from the rocks while enjoying a mid-afternoon snack. 🙂

Swim time also meant “bath time.” Rather than wash in the boring shower most bathing took place in the lake.

Dip, lather, rinse with a ride down the slide into the water…repeat!




DSCF2750After climbing from the lake the next stop was usually the hot tub, to warm up before drying off.


After a nighttime swim Tyler found the hot tub water extra toasty!

After a nighttime swim Tyler found the hot tub water extra toasty!

Whether working together:

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this group knew how to have fun!


Craft time! Scratch art pictures.

Craft time! Scratch art pictures.

Painting river rocks..

Painting river rocks..

Beautiful wild flowers Rusty picked for his Momma...love that boy!

Beautiful wild flowers Rusty picked for his Momma…love that boy!

I loved playing Yathzee with the giant dice and laundry basket we brought from home.

I loved playing Yahtzee with the giant dice and laundry basket we brought from home.

Molly's turn to roll the dice!

Molly’s turn to roll the dice!

With all the fun we packed into our days on board,

by nightfall we slept hard.

After evenings spent watching movies, star-gazing, playing cards and board games, snacking and talking we all wandered off to our separate corners for a good night sleep.

IMG_2953DSCF2775On our final morning the kids woke with the sun for an early morning swim,

with the fog still rolling across the lake.



Four brave souls!

Then we headed back to Beaver Creek Marina, where we packed, unloaded the boat,


Tyler helping the marina employee run loads of our gear back up to the van.

and cleaned up the last of the evidence that we were there. 🙂


Just about ready to leave…

IMG_2979Good-bye, Kentucky. We had a wonderful time!


“Shine Bright!”


“The darkest nights produce the brightest stars”

This is true whether you are talking about heavenly orbs or “stars” of a different kind…

Last night was our glo-stick dance party!

IMG_2683The darkness found in the middle of Cumberland Lake made for the perfect backdrop for our stick-man party on the top deck.

After dinner we pulled out the glo-sticks we brought with us and began cracking them into life. As they began to glow red, yellow, purple, and green we separated them by color.

IMG_2603The kids picked their stick-man color and began taping their “body parts” on with clear packing tape.

IMG_2601Glo-stick glasses were added to finish off the look.

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IMG_2605The music began to play,

and the party began!!


When the kids had their fill of dancing

IMG_2639IMG_2660our glo-stick dance party” turned into a “glo-stick swim party” as our stick-kids moved the fun into the dark lake.

IMG_2680It was neat to see the glowing stick figures float in the water below.

IMG_2674After everyone had their fill of swimming

they all moved to the hot tub to warm up before we moved back indoors.



These kids really know how to SHINE!

IMG_2654They must get it from their mothers!

IMG_2612“You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you can, in your own way, illuminate the world.” – Oprah Winfrey

Learning to Fly!


Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 10.08.45 AMYesterday my children learned to fly.

I am so grateful for a husband that counters my natural tendency to hesitate and be cautious.

I live with the fear of falling.

He lives with the possibility of flying.

The week has been spent enjoying the sun and the water.




IMG_2304The kids have spent the majority of each day in the water

swimming and sliding.

IMG_2486The big blue tube slide, that begins at the top deck of the houseboat and twists down to the water, has been the hit of the week.

IMG_2511The kids discovered that with the addition of a drop or two of baby shampoo the speed going down the slide doubles, and you can REALLY get going!






Yesterday the water fun advanced from riding the slide and jumping from the ledge to a whole new level of fun.

IMG_2334After a lot of big talk the dads took the plunge and jumped from the top deck of the houseboat into the water,

teaching their children how to soar.


IMG_2365I’ll admit the idea of the kids flying off the top deck into the dark waters (and hidden dangers below) made me more than a little anxious.

But after the dads tested out the safety and showed the kiddos how it is done there was no stopping them.

IMG_2373My little chicks took flight, one by one, soaring from the safety of the boat into the unknown.

IMG_2394Oh, how scary!

IMG_2481But they didn’t fall…they flew.




IMG_2369And they soared and soared again,

IMG_2349until the sun began to sink in the sky.

I thank God for blessing me with a husband that is not afraid of falling,


because if it was up to me my chicks would never leave the safety of the nest,

and they would miss out on the thrill of flying!