photo taken by Angela Speiker

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall in New Hampshire & Maine

From the top of this mountain on a clear day you can see New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Canada, and New York. (Fri morning)
The pictures are not necessarily in order, but I left captions helping describe them. Then their is a detailed description of our trip below. Sorry so many pictures, but I couldn't pic just a few.
York, Maine golf course. (Sat)
The turkeys, there were 17 in all. This ones for you Pop-Pop (Sat)
Skip searching for shells. (Sat)

Stephanie on the beach in Ogunquit, low, low tide. (Sat)
In front of the covered bridge near Liberty Gorge (Fri)
Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick (Fri)
The point beside the lighthouse, the surfers were loving the waves that day. (Fri)
Our lobster in York, Maine. So appropriate right now! (Fri night)
Skip on top of a ridge on the golf course. It was a hike to get up to his tee box. (Sat)
The Flume Gorge, discovered in 1808. Franconia State Park, northern New Hampshire. (Fri)
This is why NH is called the Granite State. (Fri)
Looking past the gorge as the gorgeous foliage. (Fri)
This little cavern required you to get down on your hands and knees to crawl thru. It was dark and wet, and we opted out of that lovely experience. Didn't even know if my tall husband would fit :) (Fri)

Another covered bridge, this one just a pedestrian bridge, built in 1939. (Fri)
Atop Cannon Mountain, Franconia State Park. (Fri)
The tram can hold 70 people and all their ski equipment in the winter. (Fri)
Echo Lake from above, and some beautiful color splashed in. The town of Franconia is located at the top of this picture. (Fri)
Flume Bridge built in 1886. There were too many covered bridges to visit. Everywhere you looked you would see "fall" with pumpkins decorating doorsteps, bridges, etc. This bridge is located at the beginning of our hike to Flume Gorge. (Fri)

The pictures just don't do it justice! The colors were spectacular! (Thurs)
More color as seen on the golf course. (Thurs)
In front of an old iron furnace built around the early 1800's in Franconia. (Fri)
Lobster and I in front of Echo Lake, Franconia State Park. (Fri)
This picture shows how shallow and clear Echo Lake is. If you look in the center, slightly right, you will see a tram going up the mountain. We took that tram after leaving this lake. (Fri)
Taken on Owl's Nest golf course in Campton, NH. (Thurs)
Just a random stop outside Franconia--I made Skip stop for a picture. (Fri)
The Gale River in Franconia, NH, a quaint town of about 900 that was settled in 1772. We stayed the night here. (Fri)
The hotel we stayed at Thurs night, and ate at the Irish Pub on the right for breakfast. (Fri)
Our rental car for the week. (Fri morning)
Skip enjoyed the golf, we both LOVED the view! (Thurs)
Skip & I on Owl's Nest Golf Course in Campton, NH (Thurs)

Skip & I went on a kidless vacation last week. We decided to celebrate all of these events by taking a trip together: our 10 year anniversary, we sold the house, we survived last year, relax before the baby comes, spend time with just the 2 of us. It was an incredible trip, very relaxing, and I feel like my batteries are recharged. I of course cried leaving the house, missed my munchkins like crazy, but it was worth it! We want to give a huge thank you to my mom, Heidi, and Jeff who were all crazy enough to step in and play the role of caregivers while we were gone! Thanks so much guys!!!
The trip started Wed. night, and we had flight delays which required us to stay the night in Charlotte, NC. That was interesting, simply because that area has no gas right now. There was one gas station working in the area. We weren't sure we'd make it the one mile to the hotel and back again for our early morning flight. It worked out, and we finally made it to Manchester, NH, at about 12:30 Thurs. There was just enough time to grab our rental car and drive up to Campton to play for our 2:00 tee time. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare (wow). The golf was gorgeous, the views amazing, and I think Skip had fun, too. The couple we played with were from Maryland and were working on their goal of playing golf in all 50 states. New inspiration for Skip! We finished right at sunset and quickly hopped in the car to drive by at least one covered bridge. We got to see it, but the picture of that one didn't come out, too dark. The weather couldn't have been better for the day. We stopped at some local restaurant and ate a delicious dinner, yummy squash if you can believe that, and drove to our hotel in Franconia.

The next morning, Friday, we ate at an Irish Pub with super thick pancakes. We hopped in the car and drove around the small town of Franconia. The White Mountains, where Franconia is located, is a huge draw for all four seasons. For those who ski, Bodie Miller is from around there. Franconia Notch State Park is also located there and is a gorgeous area full of activities. The town was established in 1772 and has all these older buildings with a river running thru the town, pumpkins were everywhere, and of course the splash of color. We then drove down to the tram up Cannon Mountain. We stopped at the base to see Echo Lake and a monument to the Old Man of the Mountain. This natural rock formation looked like a mans face in the mountain and was named in 1805. All the highway signs in the state have this image. Unfortunately, it fell about 5 years ago, but they have hopes to recreate it somehow. We took the tram up the mountain and were still lucky enough to have missed the rain. The tour guide said he thought he would consider it "peak" time for the leaves while we were there b/c of the storm they were supposed to be getting would wash out all the old color and they'd only have the new color left. From the top of the mountain you can see 4 states and Canada. We had a great view and it actually started raining on our way down, great timing. From there we drove south about 4 miles and stopped at Flume Gorge. This natural glacier-made gorge was discovered in 1808 and is amazing. We hiked around the gorge, which included a second gorge, Liberty Gorge in the rain. It wasn't too bad to be raining then, b/c it kept things cool and the tree canopy kept most of the rain off us. It was a bit slippery in parts, and my sweet husband was always willing to help this growing bellied woman from falling. It was well worth the hike. The trees were so pretty, the water made it tranquil, waterfalls are always a favorite for me, and we felt like we were all alone hiking in the woods (something we don't do too often). Although there were Moose Crossing signs on the highway and warnings all over, we never saw a moose, and no bears on this hike (unlike our last hike in Alaska). The hike included a couple of covered bridges as well, something you have to see in New England.

After the visit to the gorge we dried off and drove thru the Lakes Region of the state getting to see some cute little lake towns with a very colonial feel. There was a stop for lunch at a little cafe for chowder (perfect rainy day food) and sandwiches. We continued our drive down to York, Maine to spend the night. This coastal town was established in 1638, making it rather old if you ask me! We had to dodge the rain Friday night. We went to visit the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick. We stepped out of the car to take some pictures and got right back in. The wind was howling, the rain blowing sideways, and it wasn't warm. So, most of my pics are from inside the car. This wasn't a lighthouse you can go into anyway, it is located on a small island. From there we drove to a "tourist" store to find something special for our little Lobster. We found a cute stuffed animal and had to get the other 2 munchkins something special, for being good we hoped, in addition to some delicious fresh saltwater taffy made locally! We asked some locals where to eat lobster, and found a great little lobster restaurant (like that was difficult to do, there were lobster restaurants lining each side of the street). They did a great job of showing us how to eat our lobster, peel it apart, what to eat and not eat, etc. It was a fun experience to be in Maine, eating fresh lobster. It was also pretty yummy, just not something you want to do if you are starving! After that we actually went to the movie theater. As pathetic as that sounds, yes, we enjoyed a movie. I can't tell you the last time Skip and I had a date night at the movies. We got Coldstone Creamery ice cream and saw Eagle Eye with a theater full of teenagers. It was a good choice, since it was pouring rain outside (I think the area got 6 inches in a day).

As we woke up on Saturday, we were amazed that it wasn't raining! We headed to the golf course and were the only ones on the course (not literally, but after moving ahead of a group we didn't catch anyone all the way around, playing as a single). The course was amazing, both in beauty and according to Skip level of play. We saw several chipmunks munching on nuts and even had 17 turkeys run across the fairway in front of us (he got a birdie on that hole). It rained for about 3 holes, but other than that the weather was great. After the round of golf we headed up the coast about 10 miles to another quaint little coastal town, Ogunquit, which is known for their beach. It is highly populated in the summer, so we heard, and was full of cute little shops. It was a busy little town. We ate some delicious pizza (pizza places were all over the place up there) and headed to the beach. It was a little rainy, not too bad, and kind of chilly, however we couldn't resist walking in the water and on the beach for a bit. We hunted for shells for the kids, chased the birds, and watched the surfers taking on the big waves.

We dried off and headed back down the coast to drive thru Portsmouth, NH and drove about 5 miles out of our way to cross into the state of Massachusetts just to say we were there. We headed back to Manchester, ate dinner, repacked our bags for our early flight the next morning. Sunday we left the hotel at 5:45 am to catch our flight home. We had a bit of a layover in Philly and then off to KC. It was so sweet to see my kids again, and they really seemed to be happy to see us, after they came out of sleepy state from their car nap. I think they missed us a little but they stayed so busy that the week flew by.

It was a great vacation, and we loved being able to spend time together focused on us as a couple. If you ever have the opportunity to head to New England in the fall, don't pass it up!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Family updates

Calvin's cheesy and sweet smile.

Emerald actually facing the camera.

17 weeks

Right over our house.
Calvin counting and laughing.

On Sunday our sweet little boy will turn 20 months old. The other night he surprised us by counting to 10, and then 13 the next day, all by himself. He learned this from Emerald!! Sad to say, but we have not been working with him like we should. He picks up so much from her--he really is just like a little parrot. We took him to the doctor for his 18 month check (a little late) on Monday. He is 50% for weight, and 75% for length. That is new for us! He feels so solid when you pick him up. He will climb anything, repeat anything, and eat, almost, anything. Most especially he loves his fruit, Elmo, Dora, Diego, playing outside, and we think he may have a little crush on the girl down the street, Avery. Every time he sees her, he smiles, runs, and screams out Avery. It is pretty sweet. Avery has a twin brother, Carson, but we haven't heard him say Carson as often as Avery. He has also started displaying some serious independence. Any time we change his diaper, it is a fit on the floor. Time for bed, you will hear, "uh oh, run, hide" from his sweet little mouth. And hide he does! He has been showing some polite behavior, too. If you sneeze, he says "bless you" and he will tell you please and thank you. There is hope! The one thing he adores more than anything else in life, his "Geeee", aka Emerald, big sister. He worships the ground she walks on whether she is playing with him, or just smacked him. It is pretty sweet to witness. Out little boy is growing up fast. For those who knew Calvin before, he does like his sleep much better these days, thank goodness!! We appreciate that!

Emerald has been the true stinker lately! I won't go into details but lets just say WOW it has been a frustrating couple of weeks including fire, medication, and a very disgustingly messy room involving washing sheets 5 days in a row. She turned 3 1/2 this week, maybe that's it. She has been pretty sweet to Lobster, starting to talk to my belly, kiss it, talk with Calvin about being a big brother, etc. She is super excited about her new cousin, Simon. She loves her dance lessons and playing outside on her new swings. She thinks her daddy hung the moon! She would watch tv 24-7 if we let her. She most definitely has her frequent drama queen moments. All in all though, we are really happy with how she treats her little brother and cooperates around the house with helping. She is a smart little toot.

I included a picture of a hot air balloon we saw the other night flying right over out house, pretty low. The people inside waved to us and Emerald "wants to do that soon". I also threw in a picture of my growing belly. It might not be the best pic, but there will be more! Hopefully we will get some good pics of Skip & I together next week on vacation. We are at 17 weeks with Lobster. We had a doc visit this week and all is well. We scheduled our sonogram for next month, October 15. What a great birthday present!! Even if we aren't finding out the sex, we are super excited to be able to see pics of out little one and to know that he/she is growing healthy inside. Skip is still busy going to Garmin, coming home doing the job of daddy/husband, then putting on his UST hat and working his 3rd job. I don't know how he does it some days. I do appreciate and love him for his hard work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Simon Randall Jordan

Our sweet nephew is at home now! I am so happy for Laura and Shane that everyone is healthy and doing well. Simon Randall was born Sunday evening at 11:39 pm in Colorado. He was a perfect 7 lb 1 oz and 21 1/2" long. We showed pictures to Emerald and Calvin this morning and Calvin kept saying, "baby, baby" and Emerald was amazed at his "itty bitty, small, tiny little hands." I know the kids can't wait to meet their new cousin and I can't wait to give him a great big kiss from his Aunt Stephie. Congrats and best wishes to the new mommy and daddy! We feel so lucky that you will be able to experience all of the joys of parenthood. There really is nothing like it in the world! May he remain healthy, sleep well, and be as laid back as you both are! We love you guys!! And Simon, we already love you more than you know!!!!!!

Helpers helping Daddy

Skip has been working to create a level area for our swing set to sit upon. It is hard for him as he get to work for about an hour each night. It is especially interesting when he gets his "helpers" in the middle of the job. They really are pretty cute when they want to do everything Daddy is doing. I can't tell you how many times Skip had to re-tie the pink line you see b/c of the kids or Laney. My sweet husband really has been working his hiney off lately. He works all day, has had to pick up some slack around the house from when I haven't been feeling so hot, is working a second job for UST (his old job), and trying to get things done around the house. I think he is as ready for this vacation as I am. Did I mention he gets to play golf at least twice? I really don't mind. It will be fall, in New Hampshire, and I am just riding along observing the fall foliage. I can't wait! If you chat with Skip you can tell him that he is doing a good job with the swing set. He is an engineer, and I am 1000% confident it will all be level, safe, and perfect when he is done :)


We've had some weird weather lately. This day was unusual (never seen anything like it) and everything was almost orange. So weird!

The crabs on his outfit are so perfect for Calvin's attitude lately!! :)

These are just some random pictures I had--after church, when Grandma was visiting, and an interesting summer day. We have kept pretty busy around here, as usual. The weather has changed from summer to fall and we play outside a lot!! The temps have only been in the mid 60's or so with a few days trying to get into the 70's. It is gorgeous! The kids are loving the outdoor playtime, we love to have the house open, and Skip is working hard and almost finished with the swingset. I am 16 weeks pregnant now! Feeling much better these days, although I still get a little tired chasing the kids around (isn't that normal, though?). We go in next week for a doc visit, then the next visit will be our sonogram!! We can't wait to see little Lobster showing off. Emers has been super sweet lately trying to talk to Lobster, tickling Lobster, teaching Calvin about being a big brother, etc. She is such a great big sister. I am sure that Calvin will be a good big brother, as long as the baby survives the first year :) I am starting to show a little, especially with the right clothes on. I will have Skip take a pic and post it on here soon. Everyone keeps asking if I've felt him/her move yet, nope, not yet. I do really look forward to that, though, and am super excited for the reminder that there really is someone inside of me. I am also super-oober excited about our trip in a couple of weeks. Skip and I are traveling up to the New Hampshire/Maine area and spending about 4 days alone, away from the daily grind of the Pankewich lifestyle. I am so anxious to get a chance to reconnect with each other, relax, and take a little break from my job. I haven't had a vacation day from my job in about 14 months, so this is due. When you work 24-7 at your job, it is nice to get a little break every once in a while. I am sure I will miss the kiddos the second I leave, and will call often. However, they probably won't even notice we're gone b/c they will be too busy playing with Grandma, and Aunt Heidi & Uncle Jeff. Hopefully the adults in the situation will survive the chaos of my kiddos :)