Why, hello there, little blog. Miss me?

I am just unpacking, laundering, and detoxing from four days spent off the grid with our cousins from the east in Amish Country, Ohio. While having no cell or internet service whatsoever was a wee bit inconvenient at times, this was my view first thing every morning:

We stayed once again in these charming little cottages smack dab in the middle of a working Amish farm. Our kids spent approximately 18 hours outside every single day and got so dirty it made my mama heart warm. They hiked through fields. They shot bows and arrows. They ran hard. They slept hard. We sat with our husbands around a table and laughed until our sides split.

It was a little taste of heaven.

The farm also allowed our kids to indulge their inner pet ownership fantasies, as the two farm dogs kind of adopted them. One of the dogs is missing a leg, and we respectfully dubbed him Tripod (though his real name was Tango). We suspect he lost the leg while trying to win a race with an Amish horse buggy. He tends to be a little reckless, this one.

Tripod's companion on the farm is a small four-legged dog that our kids called Little Dog (creative naming geniuses at work, clearly). Little Dog sometimes lifts that fourth leg up and runs on only three legs. We think he does it so Tripod won't feel left out. You know, with his disability and all.

Everybody needs a friend like that.

Tripod also has no clue that he is a land-dwelling mammal. He was always frantically scrambling to keep up with the kids on the paddle boats. Pretty good swimmer, too, considering he's minus a limb.

The gratuitous turkey dinner was fed to us by the locals at the one and only restaurant in town. Gabi and I thoroughly enjoyed not having to lift a finger to cook it, and took devilish delight in walking away without washing a single dish.

It makes me wonder why I ever spend the holiday cooking for days at a time.

Plus, it was sinfully delicious and sent us all into that magical tryptophan coma.

Mmmm, tryptophan coma.

On our way home, we stopped in to see some very good friends, and felt sad leaving, as there just wasn't enough time spent with them. It was like we had been together yesterday, instead of four years ago. It was so easy to pick up right where we left off. We drooled over their fabulous home, gorgeous boys, and shared a meal like old times. Remind me sometime to tell you my favorite story of our friend, Chris. He's a good man, that one. He and Emily are the best.

A lot of hours on the road later, and we are home safe and sound. There is mud in every crevice of my children's jeans, a pile of mail to go through, and a million calls and emails to return. But I find my heart is full from the love of it all - good friends, family, simplicity, and time.

I feel so blessed.

On road trips and fraidy cats

We're back from our weekend jaunt to Denver, and I must say, it was well worth the 12-hour car ride each way.

Not because of the last-minute victory which made the Husband absolutely ecstatic, but because we got to hang out with these people that we love:

And we got to go trick-or-treating with our cousins, which is a first for us, having always lived away from family:

Trick-or-treating was fun for everyone except Hannah. She was terrified of anything resembling a spiderweb, skeleton, or bat.

Yeah. Which apparently pretty much makes up the whole of Halloween.

So, I gently explained to her that no doors, no candy was going to be the policy of the night. Even when she begged me to go to the door FOR her, I held firm. I mean, after all, that's less candy for me to consume while she's sleeping, right?

But lucky for her, cousin Will has a soft spot for little fraidy cat girls. At every house she refused to approach, he would ask for an extra piece of candy, and bring it to her himself.

Her own mother was not so kind.

But all in all, the trip was fantastic. How would it be otherwise with the weather a balmy 75 degrees, the BYU game a success, and the company hilarious? We really hated to see it end.

If only we could click our ruby red heels and be home in an instant. Those last few hours in the car got to be a little long.

P.S. Did you vote today? I did. And it was worth waiting in line for over an hour for. Man, I love this country of ours.