Plymouth Rocks

IMG_3300The sunlight filtered through the trees, creating a kaleidoscope of shadows on the trail. Our footsteps were hushed by the dirt path, and the only other sounds were the songs of both bird and man carried on the breeze. I didn’t understand the words of either, but I wanted to hear more of both.

As we drew closer to the music, other sounds began to stand out. The giggles of children, the rhythm of tools, the crackle of a cooking fire. The trail delivered us from the forest and into an apparent time portal. We stepped into the clearing and found ourselves in a 17th century Wampanoag homesite. IMG_3290
This is the magic of Plimoth Plantation. You step through the gates and into history. You are in it. You can see it, taste it, smell it, and talk with those living it. The goal is to “illuminate the past and inspire the future.”

 

The staff welcoming you to the riverside Wampanoag homesite are not role-players. They are all members of local Native Nations and very graciously share their heritage with visitors. You’ll learn all about the traditions, customs, and everyday life of the people who’ve lived in this region for thousands of years.

 

As you continue down the path, you’ll come to the 17th Century English Village built along Plymouth Harbor. Painstakingly recreated homes and gardens line the village street. The people you’ll meet have adopted the names, histories, and viewpoints of actual Plymouth residents. You can observe, you can participate, you can ask questions. It’s truly the most immersive living history we’ve ever known.

 

 

Just down the street from Plimoth Plantation, you’ll find the harbor dotted with anchored boats, a shady park dotted with gift shops, and the star of the show–Plymouth Rock. If not for the beautiful columned structure, security guard, and chiseled 1620, it might look like any other boulder. And if we’re being historically accurate, it could very well be any other boulder. But I’m still glad to have stood there and looked down as the tide came in.

 

If you’re hungry, I’ve got an idea for you. Before heading to the Plantation, we headed to the beach for lunch. Sandy’s at Plymouth Beach offered fantastic casual meals and an even more amazing view. It’s an open air restaurant overlooking Plymouth Beach. We had some great seafood sandwiches and the kids meals came in a keepsake sand pail with attached shovel. Because genius.

 

Even though Plymouth is mostly known for all things Pilgrim, you can certainly find other things to see. Check websites like See Plymouth and Visit Massachusetts for more ideas.

IMG_3304Plymouth opens the door to a completely new understanding of history. But there’s even more fun to be had! Come for the pilgrims, stay for the beach! Either way, Plymouth Rocks.

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Taking a Bite of the Big Apple on a Budget

IMG_2635The air seems to hang differently in Manhattan. Maybe it’s the collective weight of all the dreams and plans and goals put out into the universe from generations of those stubbornly determined souls with the fortitude to make their way to this concrete jungle island.

It changes you. This air filled with the intensity of driven purpose. It makes you consider your own life. Those dreams you put up on the shelf long ago. Spend an hour walking the streets in New York City and you’ll be blowing the dust off your dreams in no time.

I will be forever grateful to have shared New York with my kids. I never expected to be able to swing it. But we did and I’ll tell you how we saw NYC on a (super) tight budget.

Public Transit
We saved money on parking and tolls (and therapy to deal with the trauma of driving through the city) by taking the train. The trip took a bit longer than if we had driven, but we were able to take in amazing scenery, leisurely drink our coffee, and there may have been some donuts involved. The best part is that the train took us right into Grand Central Station, which is unbelievably beautiful. You should really put it on your list of places to see. Those soaring blue ceilings with the constellations painted on them, the huge arched windows, the stone walls–it’s almost cathedral-like.

9/11 Memorial
The last time I had been in NYC, I had spent much of my visit at the World Trade Center. Our high school chorus was staying in the Marriott there and we even rehearsed on the 108th floor of one of the towers. Seeing those towers come down just a few years later changed me in ways I’m still discovering. While we decided the 9/11 Museum might be a little too heavy for our kids, we definitely did not want to miss a chance to share the significance of that day and what it meant for us as a nation. We focused on the courage and heroism of that day and how we came together. It was very important to us to visit the 9/11 memorial. While tickets are required for the museum, the memorial is free.

The Statue of Liberty
While there are plenty of tour companies competing to be the one to ferry your family over to Lady Liberty, we didn’t have room in the budget for five tickets. Thanks to the Staten Island Ferry, we didn’t have to miss the chance to see one of the most iconic New York City sights. The ferry is completely free and crosses the Upper Bay from Manhattan to Staten Island. It just so happens to also give you a great view of the Statue of Liberty as you go. Try to find a spot on the right side of the boat as you leave Manhattan and the left side as you return.

The American Museum of Natural History
You could easily spend several days at this museum that inspired the box office hit franchise, Night at the Museum, and you still wouldn’t see it all. There are countless fascinating exhibits and there is surely something for everyone. You can purchase tickets online for a set price, but if you have the patience to wait in line, you can “pay what you wish” to see this incredible museum. Our favorites were the African and North American mammals (I hope this is the only place we’re ever locking eyes with lions and grizzly bears) and the Ocean Wonders. Nothing makes you feel quite as small as standing under the blue whale suspended in the air above you.

Central Park
Just across the street from the American Museum of Natural History is Central Park. An oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle, this is a fantastic spot to slow your pace. We visited the zoo where the sea lions made us laugh, the penguins were charming, and we got to feed sheep, goats, and llamas. Then we fed ourselves by finding a hot dog vendor and a bench and we spent a few minutes just absorbing the world around us. People, pups, horse-drawn carriages, artists, musicians all make this one of the best spots to just sit and breathe in that dream-laden NYC air.

Times Square and Broadway
This might be the most energetic spot in the city. The sidewalks become ocean tides carrying people this way and that. It’s easy to get caught in the flow. The neon lights turn night to day and it’s hard to know which direction to look first. If you’re hoping to see a show (and I don’t just mean the guy dressed as Elmo fighting Thor), but you’re not sure you can fit it into your budget, make sure you head down to Times Square first. The Theater Development Fund operates a TKTS Discount Booth where you can find last minute deals to experience the arts on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Tickets are usually 20-50% off regular prices.

IMG_6301Meals
This could easily end up being the biggest bite out of your Big Apple budget. We found prices to be much more reasonable further away from your typical tourist areas. We really enjoyed finding the local hole-in-the-wall delis to get that traditional NYC food. We were also not too proud to hit up the street vendors. I completely admit we didn’t plan well for our meals. As evidenced by the hangry meltdown in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. (And I’m not referring to the kids.) You live, you learn. There were many dining opportunities left on the table (hardy har har), so we’ll just have to plan to return soon!

Hotels
There are exactly seven hundred million hotels in NYC. Check Groupon. Check discount travel sites. Just make sure you read the reviews. (Always, always, always read the reviews.) Try to find a great deal in a part of the city that you want to spend most of your time exploring. But if that’s not possible, there’s most likely a subway stop super close to where you need to be.

Top of the Rock
This, my friends. This was our biggest splurge and it was worth every single penny. Most people choose to get a sky-high view from the Empire State Building, but here’s why I went a different way. I wanted to see the Empire State Building as part of the skyline. Top of the Rock makes it super streamlined. You book your tickets ahead of time and you choose a time slot. You’re basically making a reservation. Which cuts way down the time spent waiting in line, and it cuts way down on the number of people sharing the observation deck. My biggest tip? Pay the little bit extra to get your reservation during sunset. The city takes on a gorgeous glow and the lights begin to twinkle and it feels as if anything is possible in this city.

IMG_6370New York, New York. There’s truly nowhere else like it on the planet. It might seem impossible, but you really can see it on a budget. And if you can make it here, you’ll make it anywhere!

Take Heart, Daughter – TGT

 

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I don’t like to wear short sleeves. Even the hot, humid summers here in the Deep South will find me on the verge of heatstroke in cardigans with the sleeves pushed up. I know it’s ridiculous. Every summer, I promise myself I’ll grow up and be more mature about it next year. But each time I look in the mirror and see the thick, jagged, raised scars crisscrossing my right arm, I chicken out and throw on that sweater. It’s just easier to avoid what they represent to me.

My scars don’t have an interesting story behind them—no exciting adventures, no secret tragedies. Each one of my thirteen scars is from a near-miss with melanoma. Those lines across my skin serve as a reminder of all the times I went without sunscreen. To me, they’re wagging fingers pointing out my foolishness.

Scars on the Inside

I carry scars on the inside as well, and I like to hide them from the outside world just as much as I like to hide my visible scars. My inside scars are the words I wish I could unhear. The words I wish I could unsay. The moments I would change if I could. The hurts I’m ashamed to feel as deeply as I do. Just like my physical scars, these inner wounds remind me of my foolishness—and my weakness.

Those inconvenient aspects of being human—imperfections, mistakes, and failures—are what we put the most effort into hiding and minimalizing. They’re also basic, common threads that link all of humanity. We all deal with hard stuff. We all mess up. We all fall down and need a hand getting back up. And yet we never want to seem weak, so we spend a lot of time and effort covering our scars so no one sees them.

Recently, I’ve begun seeing these scars in a new light. Where I once saw only my shame, I’m beginning to see the loads of grace behind each and every scar. Those unhealthy moments weren’t the end of my story. The scars aren’t just evidence of mistakes; they’re proof of healing…

To continue reading this post, please click through to The Glorious Table:
https://theglorioustable.com/2019/02/take-heart-daughter-womens-devotional/?fbclid=IwAR2zgmLovoYyIC9LpqEQkJP6uk6mkWWJlTiP7n26VBhpsF76EmwT8y16oCA

Take Heart, Daughter

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Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Social media has been a hard place lately. Between the news stories and political happenings and the responses of friends and family sharing their own stories and then the responses to the responses of friends and family, there is one thing that has been made so overwhelmingly clear.

It’s something that can’t be debated or doubted or downplayed and it’s this–there is so much hurt out there.

With each new secret shared, my heart is continually being brought to its knees.

But as a society, pain makes us uncomfortable so our first reaction is to discount it or rationalize it away. We tell ourselves there are ulterior motives or political manipulations.

I just want to stand on the roof of my house and shout.

STOP. EVERYONE JUST STOP FOR A HOT MINUTE.

Your neighbor. Your babysitter. Your mother. Your mail carrier. People are hurting.

And they are vulnerably and courageously bringing their broken pieces out into public view. With trembling hands, they are offering up their stories and holding their pain up to the light.

Just stop for a second and consider what you’ve been hearing from the people you pass on the street, in the grocery store aisle, in the halls at work.

So many people have been going about their lives, never letting on that they were carrying these heavy, heavy burdens.

But Jesus sees those broken places inside us and wants to heal more than just our bodies. He wants to heal our souls.

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22 NIV)”

This woman had suffered from a bleeding condition for twelve long years. Her physical pain must have been great. Her body must have been struggling with all sorts of issues resulting from continuous blood loss. This is what I’ve always tended to focus on when I read her story—the obvious need for physical healing.

It’s hard for me to imagine the modern-day equivalent of the crushing loneliness this woman must have lived with for the last dozen years. In a time when bleeding women were considered unclean and sequestered in isolation, the last twelve years of her life must have been a nightmare.

But Jesus knew. He not only addressed her physical healing, but with a single word, he addressed her emotional healing, as well.

Daughter.

With that single word, he banished loneliness and isolation and brought her into community. In the presence of so many witnesses, he deemed her wanted and welcomed. As far as I can tell from my limited knowledge and research, she is the only person Jesus referred to as “daughter,” and she just might have been the one whose heart needed to hear it most.

We all have our scars and broken places deep within us. Lately, more and more of those hidden wounds are being brought out into the light. It’s been overwhelmingly heartbreaking to see just how many have been carrying such heavy burdens of pain, often silently.

Take heart, daughter.

He sees the invisible and hears the silent. He heals the hidden hurts.

Created to Create

Coastal Sunset

“How on earth do you have time for that?”

When I first began writing, this was by far the question I received most often. The inquiry was legitimate. My husband was in nursing school. My oldest was in the process of an autism diagnosis. My youngest was potty training. I was working part-time and found myself in the middle of a downward health spiral, which led to two autoimmune disorder diagnoses.

When you add all that to the regular requirements of being a human—carpool, dishes, cooking, laundry, groceries—it’s a wonder I had time to breathe, much less write.

The weird thing was I couldn’t keep from writing. Yes, I barely had time to breathe, but it was the one thing that seemed to help me keep breathing. Whenever I began to feel overwhelmed with the circumstances of our lives, I felt the urge to type out my thoughts. I joked about it being free therapy. But for a long time, I had an enormous amount of underlying guilt associated with every minute spent at the keyboard.

I stopped talking about writing. I began to hesitate every time I was about to share my latest post. I downplayed any growth or progress made through the hobby I loved so much. I spent years like this, and I often went through phases when I gave up writing altogether. I would try to focus all my energy on being a better mother, a better wife, a better housekeeper, until the day I realized writing makes me a better mother, a better wife, a better housekeeper.

We Are Created by an Unimaginably Creative God to Be Creative

To continue reading this post, please click through to The Glorious Table here: http://theglorioustable.com/2018/06/created-to-create-womens-devotional/

Coastal Sunset
Find me on Instagram at @ashleydpooser

The Best Moms Are Selfish

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No matter what your journey to motherhood looks like, moms everywhere suffer from early onset Mom Guilt. It is running rampant through our community. I think it might even be contagious. Often, we even struggle with especially complicated cases of Mom Guilt when we have guilt for not having guilt.

“Oh. She is feeling terrible for mistakenly grabbing the nonorganic milk. Why don’t I feel terrible for giving my kids regular milk on purpose? I must be a terrible mom.”

It’s gotten so bad we consider it “selfish” if we ever use our energy, our time, our money on anything other than our families.

Time to get selfish.

I’m here to remind you, mama, it’s time to be “selfish.”

You do everything for everyone all the time. You go hours and hours and then realize you haven’t eaten. Or gone to the bathroom. Or taken a breath. You work so hard for your family.

Listen. You can only give and give and give of yourself before you run out. Out of patience. Out of energy. Out of cares. And then it all tends to fall apart.

When we are “selfish,” we take the time or resources needed to do something on our own and for ourselves. And it gives us life. It reminds us that we are whole human beings with so many gifts and talents to offer this world. And while motherhood is one of the most beautiful parts of who we are, it is not all we are and we cannot allow it to swallow us up…

Please click through to Atlanta Area Moms Blog to continue reading about why the best moms are selfish. (https://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/best-moms-selfish/)

Home Is Wherever I’m with You

 

Home is a fluid term.

It has meant so many different things to us over the years.

Whenever I smell salt air or hear seagulls, I feel at home. Those are some of my earliest memories from a childhood spent in a tiny coastal Florida town.

Home also meant Tallahassee. And for at least a decade, it meant the little blue house with the red front door. The place where we learned to adult and brought babies home and navigated some of the most brutal and some of the most beautiful times of our lives.

But then we moved and before we knew it, Atlanta felt like home. Our growing family bonded over a shared adventure. Parents and kids alike were on equal footing as we all faced new routines, new places, making new friends.

Home was our little rental house where Abby took her first steps and the big kids learned to ride bikes. Where I learned how far I could push my sleep-deprived body and where I also learned how to ask for help. Finally.

Home is the “unicorn house” we found together. Our answered prayer, a house that checked off so many boxes for an incredible bargain courtesy of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Home.

The one thing connecting all these places?

My people.

The grubby hands. The smiling eyes. The fussing and the laughing and the singing from the next room.

The smell of freshly washed toddler hair. The bear hugs from arms that are somewhere between man and boy. The gentle tugs of my hair while little fingers practice new braiding techniques.

This.

This is what home will always be.

And this is what we take with us. It is not limited to buildings or towns. And that’s a good thing. Because we are about to blow out the traditional limits of what home means.

In just three weeks, we will pack up a summer’s worth of daily life and begin a thousand-mile drive. Jake accepted a 13-week assignment as a travel nurse for Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in Connecticut.

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Our inner gypsies are thrilled. We cannot wait to see and explore and do. We are already planning adventures in New York City, Boston, Plymouth, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington, and so many places in between!

The inner Type A control freak is completely overwhelmed. Our calendar is insanely full before we leave.

Oh. And we don’t actually technically really have a place to live just yet. Cue absolute stress meltdown.

Remember that bit up there about me learning how to ask for help?

Well, friends, this is me asking for help.

Know anyone in the New Haven area who’d like to bring in some summer income on a garage apartment or an attic or a basement or a camper or a boat or a van down by the river? We’re nonsmokers. No pets with us. (April will be at summer camp with Nana and PopPop.)

We’re friendly people. I mean–we’re absolutely crazy–but we’re sweet. =)

Comment or email with any leads! If your tip leads to us finding a place to live, I’ll give you a handpainted wooden sign of your choice from my Etsy shop, Haven Creek!

home is wherever i'm with youSo, friends? We’re really doing this! We’re taking this show on the road. If you’re in the New England area, let me know. If you know of any awesome roadside stops between Atlanta and Connecticut, let me know that, too.

If you would like to follow along on our adventure, be sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram. I cannot even begin to imagine the ups and downs this summer will bring us.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey!