Monday, July 27, 2009

The Jersey Shore

This weekend Christian and I did something we hardly ever do. We took the weekend off, which meant closing the office on Saturday and headed down to his parent's bungalow at the Jersey Shore. Not only was it great to get away from the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced, populated squishy towns that are around us day in and day out, but this was the first time that we were the only two people at the family's shore house. (Don't get us wrong, we love spending the day on the beach with the family, but it was cool having the place so quiet that I sat and read a book for over an hour without a single interruption! I can't even think of the last time that happened.)

You can see me in the reflexion of Christian's glasses. Say Cheese!
Okay, this late into the summer its not very hard to tell who is new on the beach. I was no exception, with my glowing pale complexion. All I can say is thank goodness for SPF 36 Bull Frog Sunblock spray!
Christian has always been a water baby. Growing up each summer for the entire month of August his family lived at the Jersey Shore. I've heard stories of all four boys spending hours in the ocean racing each other to the buoys. The water was rough on Saturday. I didn't dare venture into it with my shoulder, but I stood on the shore and watched for Christian's bobbing head after each wave toppled over him. Needless to say, I was relieved when he said he was tired and came out of the ocean alive. (If I'm this worried about my husband in the water, just think how I'll be when I have kids? Sheesh! I don't know how Kathy did it all those years with four boys! Kudos, Kathy! Kudos!!)
Yet another feat I achieved thanks in part to the solitude of the bungalow. I have never sat with a deck of playing cards and attempted to build a house of cards. This was my first endeavor, and I think I just may have a knack for it. Four levels high, not too shabby for a novice.
One man on the beach really knows how to take advantage of the brisk breeze blowing in from the ocean. I was in awe of all the kites this fellow has. The ones shown in the collage above are just from Saturday. On Sunday he had a giant blue crab, a very large accordion style Chinese lantern, and giant donut shaped circle with black and white strips that spun like a hypnotist's tool. (Of course I forgot my camera for the afternoon and was too lazy to go back and get it, so the descriptions will have to do. Sorry)I took a stroll to the Bay as the sun was setting. Its one of my favorite things to do. In a way it helps me feel closer to the West Coast as I watch the sun putting the East Coast to bed and knowing that it's traveling towards my family. There is an amazing pier in the bay, and surprisingly it was not filled to the brim with people on Saturday evening, so I took the chance to snap a few photos of what caught my eye. I'm very pleased with the single photo of the pier above. I just dig the colors, and the perspective of it. (Pat myself on the back. )

I know that I'm a country girl, and that the mountains and lakes are where I feel the most at home, but the Jersey Shore does wonders to help relax and create fond memories during those hot fast summer months. And I must admit that it's one of my favorite places here in Jersey.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Newest Kaufman

On Monday, July 20 my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Krysty & John, welcomed to the world the most precious gift, a baby girl. She was born at 7:25 in the evening, weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces, and was 19 inches tall. She has the cutest blond hair that flips into a tiny curl at the top of her head, the deepest blue eyes that melt your heart, and the face of an angel. She's positively perfect! Ten tiny little toes and ten tiny little fingers. She even has the tiniest little muscles that I've ever seen. (Both her Mom and Dad are strong people, she's going to be amazing!)

Krysyty and John did a remarkable job taking care of her all through the long nine months leading up to her birth. John never failed to create the healthiest meals for his wife. Krysty kept active with baby yoga. And together they took long walks with her puppy Bailey.

I'm so thrilled that she's finally here, and so utterly happy for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. So please welcome the newest Kaufman, John and Krysty's precious baby girl, and my niece

Shayla Maureen Kaufman

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Big Move

This weekend marks a monumental day! My father moved out of the house that I grew up in. He lived there for a grand total of 23 years. Honestly, when we first moved in, we thought we might only be there for a few years at most. But as the years passed, we both grew quite comfortable in our super tiny home. We watched the neighborhood change over the years from "not that bad" to "little salsa-ville" to just plain "ghetto." (Please don't be upset with me for my descriptions. I'm as open -minded as they come, but when you grow use to traveling circus Oom-pah-pah beats, you start to think that something is wrong with the neighborhood.)

When I moved to the East Coast I begged and pleaded my Dad to try and find a new place to live. It wasn't an easy task, and frankly, I think we both knew in the back of our heads that it would take a major life changing moment to pick up the roots and move.

Well, as many of you are aware, my Aunt passed away a month and a half ago. She lived with my grandmother, who will be celebrating her 85th birthday this November. My Aunt's passing was the major life changing moment that allowed my Dad to uproot himself and take over where she left off. He is moving in with my grandmother (his Mom), and I am utterly grateful for this, on so many levels.

He will have someone to come home to, and talk with. He has a new found purpose, and has been spending more time outdoors, mowing the lawn, stacking wood for the winter and taking care of Nana's property. I no longer need to worry about his well-being in his own house. (Nana lives just outside of town WAY up in the mountains. Now the worst thing I could even worry about is that he doesn't get sprayed by a skunk.)

But what brings the biggest smile to my face, is the knowledge that both Nana, and my Dad are together. My family in Oregon is incredibly small, just five of us, and with my Aunt now waiting for us on the other side, now is the time we need to bond together even tighter.

So celebrate with me, and say goodbye to the house I grew up in. I wish I could say that the next family to live there would build such happy memories as my Dad and I did in it, but sadly, I doubt that the new tenants would stay that long. Goodbye little Stukel house. I'll miss you.This was taken a few years after we moved in. It was such a cute house, wasn't it?To this day I still enjoy shoveling snow. Strange, but its something I've done since I was child, and I find it so peaceful.Whenever we had a snowfall, I'd try to dig a path from the front door of the house to the driver's side door for my Dad. I was alway so worried he slipped and hurt himself. This photo is one of the last shots my Dad took as he was moving out this past week. He rented a dumpster to help clean out the clutter from inside.In case you can't read the red type. The top says, "The blue roof is my old house. The red car is my Dad's car." To the left reads, "This is my elementary school." and to the right reads, "This is my Church."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebrating America's Beauty

This Fourth of July weekend Christian and I decided to head out to the Delaware Water Gap on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania boarder and do a little hiking. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves in to.Being the avid National Park fan that I am, of course I stopped in the visitor's center to ask the rangers for hiking suggestions. They gave us a map, circled several trails and told us to go have some fun.

We headed off on our first trail. After walking about two miles on it, we figured out it was actually the Appalachian Trail, which for those who aren't familiar with, starts in Georgia and ends in Maine. We made the wise choice of heading back to look for another trail. The cool part of making this first pick of trails, not only can I now say that I've hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, but we also saw this... (press play)
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As we meandered back to look for another path we had a chance to pass by nature working her magic. So of course, there I am, surrounded by it and I have camera in tow. Here are just a few of the beautiful things we saw on the way back down.

Our second pick for a trail was suppose to be "hard" according to the park ranger that I had spoken to. It was a steady climb to the summit of the tallest peak on the Appalachian Trail, but she told us that it had the best views, and was well worth the effort. So Christian and I headed up our second trail.

After just a little effort, we arrived at a lookout point, which we thought was the summit. We were amazed at how easy this "hard" path was. Until Christian looked up and saw a steep-rock filled pathway with other hikers walking down. It dawned on us, we were not at the top. So we carried on, determined to see the summit.A little taste of the mile and a half "path" that created a challenging hike. (Below a look down at the rocks we had just hiked up)
Finally we reached the summit and were ever so pleased to sit down! The ranger was right, the view was spectacular. And even though the quickest way back down was the way we came, we chose to play it safe, by searching for an easier, yet longer trail, that twisted it's way back down the mountainside.

When we arrived home, after a long day's adventure, with the Empire State building as a back drop, we were treated to New York City's firework display on the Hudson River from the comfort of our apartment. So enjoy the show and I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July. Christian and I certainly did.

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