New England Travel Help

I’m planning a last minute trip for my mother in law, mother, daughter and me to go to New England to see the fall colors.

You can see it in your head right now, can’t you?  Turns out, I’m planning it on the busiest New England fall travel weekend!

I am a super-way-ahead-travel planner and now we all four have plane tickets and nowhere to stay!

We’re flying into Boston because it makes the most sense.  It’s a direct flight from Houston and I can get to central New Hampshire or Eastern Vermont in three hours or less (far easier than connecting flights).  So I do want to stay in that general region because I don’t want to drive for four or more hours with a little one (even though I realize the drive will be pretty, it’s a lot of time to drive unfamiliar roads).

I plan to rent a car, stay in Boston Friday night, and then spend Saturday, Sunday and Monday in New England, only to fly back to Houston Monday evening.

I know between all of my readers, someone has had some luck in New England.  The two recommendations I have so far, both awesome, are booked (Norwich Inn in Vermont and Wentworth in New Hampshire, pictured below…).

vt.nh

I’ve also tried VRBO and, honestly, don’t love the housing options.  Most look pretty dingy and this may be the only time my mom and MIL get to see New England in the fall.  I’ve checked out over 35 properties with very limited success right now (I have three possibilities).

I need, ideally, two bedrooms, so I’d love a suite or home.  At a minimum, a junior suite with two beds.  I also would strongly prefer having at least 1 and a half bathrooms because that is a lot of women with only one toilet and sink.

So, any of you East Coast residents/visitors, where do you go?  What is your favorite town?  What’s your spot to stay?

Also, even if you can’t help on accommodation recommendations, I would love to have your suggestions for a favorite drive or shopping or best place to eat in New Hampshire/Vermont (or even a delicious spot for breakfast in Boston as we head north on Saturday morning).

Help me!

 

Fall color courtesy of yankeefoliage.com

Whatcha Reading??

I love to read.  Seriously.  LOVE it.

My kids love to “read.”  I read to them and then they “read” to me – we’re not quite there yet but the in between is fun too.

books

A girlfriend of mine just recommended Honey for Your Child’s Heart which just came in the mail and I’m super excited.  It has WONDERFUL book recommendations for children based on their ages and interests.  I’m neck deep in the 4 – 8 recommendation list and am going to have to get to the library so I don’t bankrupt us by buying fifty more kids books!

As for me, I’ve got a stack going on as usual.  My reading time has recently been allotted to plane trips and not much else, but I’ve managed to down several books this summer.

I started reading My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir to prepare for our Yosemite trip;

I polished off Undone and Every Bitter Thing is Sweet in the faith category, and they were both incredibly powerful;

I’m just beginning John Acuff’s Do Over and Donald Miller’s Scary Close;

I inhaled Marisa de los Santos The Precious One, and she is far and away my favorite author these days, I’m always so sad when I finish her books, I’ve read them all right now;

I’ve finally talked myself into tackling Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity – it’s the third in the Century Trilogy, and I loved the first two, but they are SO big;

And of course I’ve always got a couple of biographies, but those take me forever because I end up desperate for fiction.

Up next, after I wrap up Scary Close and Edge of Eternity are several in the stack: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Story of Hannah More; Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (because I LOVED Bossypants); Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan; For The Love by Jen Hatmaker, and I am desperate for some new good fiction.

So what are you “grown ups” reading?  Fiction especially would be appreciated (no sci-fi or graphic sex or violence for me).

Also, what are YOUR favorite children’s books in the 4 to 8 age category?  In my Amazon basket after beginning Honey for Your Child’s Heart are these (what should I add?):  Margaret Wise Brown’s Little Fur Family (we already have her classics like Goodnight Moon), William Steig’s Doctor De Soto, Virginia Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (I remember this from my childhood), Don Freeman’s Corduroy, any assortment of Paul Galdone’s classic renditions, Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, Mercer Mayer’s Just Me and My Dad, every dadgum thing by Charlotte Zolotow (how is she not all over my library) but I’m leading with The Sleepy Book. 

Oh I love books so much and I’m so excited that my kids seem to love them like I do.  Sound off!  I love suggestions.

We’re All The Same

gindi

Bray and I walked into the surgery center Thursday afternoon.  I couldn’t believe my surroundings – this was the fanciest waiting room I’d ever seen.  Chandeliers.  Leather chairs.  Modern chaises. 

Whoa.

Once I’d finished signing a stack of papers, the friendly nurse escorted me back to the pre-op area and promised to bring Bray back as soon as I was prepped. 

After answering every medical question possible, she slid the curtains closed and instructed me to change. 

Looking around, I realized no matter how fancy the exterior waiting room, the inside guts of surgery areas are the same no matter where you go.  Blue paper gown.  (Nice blue paper gown with warming lining, but paper gown nonetheless.)  Beige gripper socks.  Narrow stretcher.  Screens with beeping machines on both sides. 

I lay there with thoughts wandering to all the sorrow in the news lately. 

As I laid there with no makeup, jewelry, and clothes and waited for a person to come and wheel me back to the OR, I thought about how stripping it all away might solve everything.

I know that can sound out of touch and idealistic.  (But I am a little idealistic.)

There were all sorts of other people that came in and out of surgery that day, but there are absolutely no indications of your position in life while laying on a stretcher.  No one can tell if you are single or married.  Wealthy or poor.  Employed or unemployed.  Seriously ill or just in need of a tune up. 

You can’t tell if you’re dripping in diamonds or just filed for bankruptcy while you’re unconscious in a paper gown.  You can’t tell if you’ve sold a million books or can barely spell a million when someone is investigating your bone fragments. 

Skin, blood, bone, well it all looks the same underneath. 

We are all the same underneath. 

What if we just remember we are all the same.  Our bodies work, or fail, in the same way. 

I still can’t wrap my head around what happened in Charleston, but I believe if we start going into other people’s churches and sit in the pews and pray with the unknown person next to us, instead of hating or judging or avoiding them, we can radically change the face of our country. 

It’s the new model. 

Every Wednesday night, we could pretend we’re going in for surgery (because it’s going to take a massive soul surgery to turn this country’s ailments around).  Remove every single artifice you’re wearing: it’s not just your make up and jewelry, but it’s also prejudice and misconceptions.  Then walk into a church where you don’t know anyone.  And start praying next to the person in the front pew.    

What if we allow the news of today to serve as the doctor’s prognosis which demands immediate action? 

On Failure: Part 3, Facing Heartbreak

Well, this has been a fun week for me (ahem…).  Nothing like walking down your failure memory lane.  But each post has opened the door to talk to people who have worn a similar failure shamefully for years.  The walking wounded.  Bearing the scars of loss under a smile.  I hope sharing my own story has provided those of you with similar struggles with some freedom.

We covered rejection – I had my fair share in law school.

Then I walked through career loss – when I lost a job I needed.

Today I’m going to share something on the personal side – a failed relationship.

I hope you have not had to walk through painful heartache, but odds are many of you have.  I have never written about this part of my history before, so I asked my husband to review it first to make sure he was comfortable with me sharing about a “pre-him” relationship.

I fell in love three times in my life.  Each time was deeper than the time before.  The third and final time, I was 30 years old and dating my husband.  I love him in a way I didn’t know I was capable of loving before him.  We are about to celebrate nine years of marriage, and I am incredibly thankful for God piecing my heart back together.

The relationship I had before my husband started out as a friendship though we realized there was a bigger connection.  Almost a year after we became friends, we started dating.  As I mentioned yesterday, for reasons I didn’t understand then, I moved to a new city for a job opportunity while the relationship was still young.  I believed it would endure the transition.  We talked every day, and I visited him and he came to visit me.

He said all the right things, and I was a total words girl and fell for everything he said.  There were some warning signs from his past relationships, but I moved forward undeterred.  I believed I would end up moving back in a year’s time when the right job presented itself.

Then one Monday night a friend called from my old town.  She asked some general questions about my life and then started asking me if I was with this man the weekend before.  I responded yes, thinking she meant a full week ago.  She expressed her great relief because she had understood he’d spent the weekend with another woman in another town.  When I cleared up the dates, I realized the time period he had been unreachable the previous weekend he was with someone else.  He arrived in town that week, and when I confronted him with the information, I discovered that he was sleeping with someone else.

I was undone.  My heart was shattered.  Infidelity was a particularly acute fear of mine because my parents marriage unraveled for this exact same reason.

I would soon be turning 30 and had put my hopes of forever after aboard the Titanic.  I spent months questioning myself (not him, that is so frustrating to me now!).  I bore the shame of the relationship failure and questioned every decision I had made.  I very briefly dated bad choices in hopes they could say something that would make me feel better about myself.  I made decisions out of a wounded place instead of a wise one.

It is perfectly appropriate to mourn the loss of a relationship.  It is not okay to let it haunt you and define you and inform your next romantic choices.

I got healthy and was comfortable being alone when I met my husband.  And because of my prior two heartbreaks, I made certain things nonnegotiable in a relationship.  Not an unreasonable list of things, but critical criteria made it to the top of my evaluation in a way they hadn’t before.  At the top of that list was honesty.  All the pretty in the words in the world will do you no good if you can’t trust one of them.  While I didn’t know I was in love with my husband for several months, he had me hooked the first night we met and we engaged in a vigorous debate.  He wasn’t trying to charm me with blowing a bunch of smoke, he was DEBATING me for Pete’s sake.  The quality might not have topped my list five years before, but honesty has created the foundation for an incredible love that I didn’t even know was possible.

It came out of failure.  Broken messy ugly shards pieced into a beautiful mosaic I couldn’t have imagined at the time.

Failures are an indication you are living.  They are a layover en route to your destination.  Do not give up because you failed.  Be thankful you are still here and can try again.  You can take a new route.  You can recalibrate your plan.  You can rest confident in the fact that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  (Phil 1:6)

On Failure: Part 2, Losing a Job

I’ve had great jobs and not great jobs.  I’ve had great bosses and not great bosses.  I’ve had big career successes and sad failures. 

If you missed yesterday, I’m writing about the purpose in your failures this week.  You can read about it if you’d like more background on today’s post. 

Today I’m talking about something that I told two of my closest girlfriends less than a year ago that I would never share.  I have got to stop staying never.  God takes that as a line in the sand and regularly makes me cross to the other side. 

I’m not planning on sharing any details, but I lost a job. 

I tend to be an overachieving perfectionist so this was a devastating loss. 

I also have no family money, so it was an incredibly fearful period in my life as well. 

There were numerous factors, one of which was a very problematic relationship with a boss having personal struggles beyond my control, but it ultimately led to my boss telling management they had a choice, and I drew the short straw in the choice outlined.  Management delivered the message softly, but it still shook me and shocked me. 

I spent two months (gratefully while still employed) searching for jobs in several cities.  I had just begun a relationship (tomorrow’s post) and wasn’t anxious to move.  I spent weeks in between replies of “we don’t have a place for you,” and “we’re thinking about opening something up in six months” weighing if I would be a good barista and if it could cover my bills. 

I ended up with two offers.  While neither of them were the dream job I’d outlined in my head, one offer made sense and one didn’t make sense.  One kept me in my town and one moved me.  One my best friend supported and one she said was an unnecessary choice.  I choice the latter one. 

Aside from some inexplicable intervention from God to nudge me to the yes to the latter choice, I have no reason to support why I said yes to the latter.

Not to blow the punchline or anything, but the latter choice ended up being the right choice. 

I was miserable for a year though.  

I held on to that job loss grief for far longer.  Everyone thought my choice was voluntary because that is the face you put on those things, but it was not.  I wore failure like a hidden cloak of shame and it tinted every job decision I made for years.  It made me fearful.  It made me insecure.  It made me doubt my abilities. 

I let that go.  Eventually, I released the shame.  I saw the loss was a necessary evil.  One, it brought me to a place I needed to go but wouldn’t have traveled to on my own.  Two, it helped me understand others going through similar losses (I remember acutely empathizing with the throngs of lawyers who lost their job in 2008).  Three, it made me thankful for a job I loved.  Four, it reminded me God provides even when it seems impossible. 

I do wish I could shortcut your journey through the pain though.  The failure still haunting you or that you are in the middle of can often arrest your confidence and color your judgment.  Failure whispers to you to take the safe choice instead of the best one.  Failure encourages you to pick security because you’ve been thrust into a season of insecurity. 

Can you step back for a minute?  Silence the scared voice.  Look at the season or the choices as if they were your friend’s season or choices.  If you were independent, then what would you counsel?  Is there someone you can be transparent enough with to get unfiltered, but wise, counsel? 

This loss does not define you.  This failure is not who you are.  You are capable.  You are smart.  You are strong.  {===>Tweet This}  You will move beyond this and the change in course may offer even brighter opportunities.