mercy, grace, and marshmallows

when i try to explain the concept of grace to my children, i often stumble over my words. i often say things like 
"grace is getting what you don't deserve" or my personal favorite, "grace is a hug when you deserve a spanking." still, i find the concept difficult to put into words. 

so i am thankful when little life experiences come along that show an everyday example of grace

who knew a s'more at camp honey's would be the perfect example of grace and mercy.

it is a given that if there is a fire pit at the cabin, there will be a camp fire. who cares if the heat index is well over 100 degrees and roasting anything burns your skin and stings your eyes. there's a fire pit and s'mores in july are so much better than churned ice cream ;)

every year my mom buys a bundle of firewood and whips together a pretty impressive s'mores bar. every year the kids scour the property for sticks and rarely find any stick long enough to avoid second degree burns. what's the next best thing to long stick? a wire coat hanger of course! unfortunately rental cabins are usually low on those too.

this year my competitive angel child ;) found the one and only wire coat hanger on the property. so while her cousins risked second degree burns with their tiny sticks, mary claire was a marshmallow roasting champ with her three foot crooked coat hanger. 

she was the champion until she set it down for a minute. "finders keepers, loser weepers." one minute out of her possession makes her the loser and evie the finder. evie quietly grabbed that bent wire and ran. 

i lost count how many times i heard "that's my stick" and "that's not fair!" ... oh the drama

oh the righteous indignation! my girl huffed and puffed making sure everyone knew that evie had lost her place as mary claire's favorite ;) but mary claire did let her keep the prized wire... because "she is the youngest."

not long after mary claire's dramatic presentation, evie brought her the very first s'more to make it onto a cracker. yes it was covered in dirt and the marshmallow was scorched black... but it had love written all over it.

i was so excited, "mary claire, THIS is an example of grace! a gift be given out of love, not obligation. even after all of your unkind words, evie showed you undeserving love. just like Jesus does for us every day." i mentally high fived myself.
mary claire's wheels were turning. 

"mom, evie may have shown grace. but i showed her mercy. because she took stole my stick!"

enough said :) i un-high fived myself and mary claire dropped the mic

happy trails

here we are again, one year later and a few less grandchildren. on this go-round, everyone is arriving and leaving in shifts. it stinks that there was not be a single day when everyone was here at once. sarah anne had her state tennis tournament (they won by the way) bennett had to work. anna katherine spent a few days at lake lure before arriving.
the first few days were jammed packed with  everything cheesy!
indian shows, trinket shops and gasping at the sight of deer. our yard is overrun with deer, but seeing them in the mountains is different ;) 

first up on the camp agenda; horseback riding. 

we found a quaint,  peaceful farm offering groupon for horseback riding.  i will preface this srtory with the fact that i am fairly  new to groupon.  however hearing "check out the groupons" from so many, i decided to do just that.  

the first thing i realized was... many of the coupons contain stock photos (the pictures you and a hundred other businesses can purchase images and used them at will)  because what we saw in person was not near what we saw online.
the surrounding farms were beautiful. the horses were very tame and nice looking. the staff was friendly.

but from the looks of the facility (barn, bathrooms, parking lot, furniture, wedding chapel... all of the property) it looked pretty darn rough. i would not have been a bit surprised if the staples also served as an industrial meth lab.  but not a shiny meth lab like on breaking bad. more like the labs you see on cops.  
thankfully the staff was very nice and the water in the bathrooms was able to be turned on by flipping a switch behind the barn.

 we were thankful that the groupon was reasonably priced. we were extra extra thankful that the little ones didn't receive any hitchhikers from wearing the helmets. oh my! i signed a waiver opting the big girls out of helmets. i pondered the thought and decided the odds were higher for head lice than a cracked skull.

roger loved, loved, loved it. before the ride began he was asking to go again. the guide was so patient and encouraging!
even evie was ready to go back!
sweet liza got the misbehaving horse who loved to stop and snack on anything green. she was a super trooper!

mary claire decided she was ready to go pro. her horse was so tame!
along the way i enjoyed taking one handed pictures and physiologically counseling liza. if we could have traded horses all would have been well with the world. her horse misbehaved up to the very last step.

the trails were legit mountain trails. so legit that they were frightening at times.

on the way back we passed by the wedding chapel. i could kick myself for not taking a wide picture. below this beautiful cross was a "torn down house/chapel/trailer."  you could tell that it had been there for awhile.  it puzzled me as to why they had not removed the kitten appliances, rain soaked further, trash, food boxes... everything you would typically find in a house/chapel/trailer. 

i imagined the angles photographers  would have to shoot to avoid looking as if your altar was located in a landfill. i quickly decided that there were zero good angles and any wedding there would on a landfill  backdrop. (at any angle except straight up.) i would also  add a tetanus shot to the rental agreement for everyone in attendance.

i came to the conclusion that there was no way a couple who was  not in the meth business would get married here.

but the staff was very nice! (does meth make you nice or mean?)

at the end of the ride, we were tired and happy that we stumbled upon this groupon we saw zero traces of headache.

  the trail rides and bearing witness to a meth-barn was worth all the money we spent.!


sometimes it is tough being a boy surrounded by a sea of girls!
but more often than not, it is tougher being a girl surrounded by these two boys!

 these two "ant hill kickers" do not let something like a little ole' 15 year age difference stand in the way of an alliance.
days like this, the age gap melts away and they are boys doing their best to torment our girls! and a couple of our girls can turn on the drama queen switch with  only seconds notice!
the game pictured here is what these two scalawags call "pirates."
an excuse for them to chase around screaming girls!

i was pretty impressed with bennett's knowledge of pirate lingo!
he lives up to his reputation of keeper of random knowledge.

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