third time’s a charm

The third annual Layer lake vacation in Maryland was just about as perfect as they get. This is not to say our previous vacations were the pits; simply that we had the best weather than before, stayed in a bigger, more beautiful house than before, and had–dare I say it–more fun than before.

We had a different house this year, as we outgrew the house we rented the previous two summers! We all agreed this house really *made* the vacation, as it was just a bit nicer, a bit larger and had a better dock. The extra room and outdoor spaces (two decks, fire pit, dock) allowed us all to be together without being on top of each other.

Maelle was ready to swim as soon as we arrived!

I enjoyed being able to keep my paddle board inflated and used it almost every day. It doubled as an easy floatation device, too. I went out by myself a few times during the week, once with Andrew in a kayak, and another time with my Kula to meet everyone at the state park nearby.

The hot tub is always a hit with the kids…and adults!

We enjoyed a few beautiful sunsets out on the dock or by the fire pit together.

One evening after an early dinner, we snuck away as a little family to play at the playground at the state park! Maelle loved climbing the ‘mountain.’

Each couple cooks dinner twice during the week, and this bigger house definitely made the entire process of cooking, eating, and cleaning up so much easier.

The younger cousins bonded over a shared interest in the iPad…I felt a bit like the ‘screen police’ all week, chasing after Maelle and finding her nose in a tablet. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘a nose in a book,’ does it?

I really enjoyed the outdoor table on the deck for meal times. With 14 (!!!) of us, there just isn’t really a way for us to all sit down together at the same table, at the same time. Having this table on the deck right off the kitchen at least allowed us all to be pretty close, whether we were sitting at the indoor table, kitchen counter or outside.

There is a path through the woods that leads from our section of homes to the state park, so we decided to pack the kids up and head there. I took it as my first opportunity to strap my cooler onto my paddle board and meet everyone there. Glad I did–there was a lot of grumbling about the walk over!

(Apparently, it took longer than expected. Well, we all should have known to add another 15 minutes to Grandpa’s ‘estimated’ time, especially with children in tow. No one brought drinks or snacks (except for me in the cooler); my earlier suggestion to pack lunches was not greeted with enthusiasm (or action). We should have had a wagon. Oh well, lessons learned for next year!)

Before we knew it, the week was over. The end of vacation is always a sad one, but we’re already looking forward to returning next year!

While we didn’t drive further south to see family (like we did the previous two years), we did stop at Penn State on our way home for a late lunch and souvenirs! We cannot help ourselves….

Maelle is very into monsters right now, so she chose a magnetic ‘build it’ set with a variety of monster body parts! She loves it and it’s a great toy for the car and all our long drives. She also got a guitar! It was very serendipitous; just that morning on the drive to Penn State, she saw a picture of a guitar in one of her coloring books and asked for one. A pretty random request, if I do say so myself. Well, wouldn’t you know that the toy store in State College had guitars on display when we arrived! It was a sign, and she’s been strumming it ever since. The cutest part: she says “mik-tar” instead of ‘guitar.’

Part of me wishes she would stay this small forever.

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