This October marked the sixth year that our family has been traveling to my aunt and uncle's house on Lake Tenkiller in Northeastern Oklahoma. And in that time, it has become one of my very favorite places on earth. It's one of of those special places that evokes a large collection of fond memories. Our family has traveled out there most every summer and spring as well, but there is just something about the fall. After living in Oklahoma most of my life, I've come to the conclusion that October is God's gift to our state. We survive through a cold, icy, windy winter, then an unpredictable spring with tornadoes dropping at any time, a long hot summer with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees most days, and then comes October-- a breath of fresh air. The wind dies down from hurricane force to balmy breeze. The sunlight is golden and mellow. The temperatures stay somewhere between lows in the 50's and highs in the 70's with the occasional 80 degree day. It's light jackets in the morning and t-shirts in the afternoon. The air conditioner goes off and the windows come open. Heaters don't get turned on until November most years. If you ever plan on visiting our state, please consider October. It's glorious. With that said, our little house in the woods is a perfect place to enjoy this wonderful fall weather. Perched at the top of a hill, the front of the house has a great view of the lake below and the deck off the back is nestled into a quiet woods.
We drove in late Wednesday night just in time to put the kids to bed, unload our coolers and go to sleep. But that means when we open our eyes Thursday morning, we're there. The kids waste no time getting dressed and heading outside to play. They basically stay outside the whole time with the exception of eating and sleeping. This year, they were excited to add to the fort we built last fall.
My view from the woods looking back at the house.
Looking back into the woods. Doesn't it look enchanting? Like fairies and wood nymphs are hiding there somewhere. The only sound to be heard was the gentle wind shaking the leaves and the occasional acorn falling to the ground. Oh to breathe deep.
And then I heard the sound of my husband snapping a picture of me. Followed by hoops and hollers from the six children running my way to play in their fort. Those are glorious sounds too.
Here are Hannah and Eli deeply involved in some sort of creative drama. From what I could hear, they were brother and sister left to survive in the woods alone.
The back of the fort.
See the awesome rock wall we built last year? And by "we" I mean the three dads.
While the kids run and play, this is where the adults hang out. We light the chiminea (even if it's warm because the cool ambiance overrides temperature). We drink our coffee here in the morning and our glasses of wine in the evening. Many a conversation has taken place on this deck both deep and emotional and light hearted and funny. I have laughed until I nearly wet my pants sitting here and I have wept big salty tears as well--especially the fall after my mom died. Man, the heart can really heal when left to spill its guts in a quiet place surrounded by safe friendships.
After a morning of playtime at the house, we ate a quick lunch and headed down to the water. Our annual rock skipping contest had to be held. And I'm happy to report Mike is still the champion with an impressive 10 skip rock! The kids just like to throw rocks into the water and see who can make the biggest splash. This year, because it was pretty warm out, the kids asked to take off their shoes and wade in. We said why not. Which led to them wading out to their knees, then a few "accidentally fell in" which led to all of them swimming in their clothes. This was a first, but they absolutely loved it.
Lucas contemplating his next throw.
Love how the sun shimmers off the water
Lucas opted for the shirt off-pants on look.
Fully soaked and loving it.
Once they tired of swimming, we went back to the house for a bath and change of clothes. As my friend Nikki prepared dinner, the kids did a little cookie decorating. Pumpkins and candy corns were covered in icing and set out to harden so they could be devoured after supper.
Parker, Leah, Eli and Lucas hard at work
We saw some truly inspired color combos.
Eli and Lucas' pumpkins were sort of Jackson Pollock inspired.
Hannah with her finished product
Our first day ended with kids going to bed early (let's just say they were extremely tired after a late night arrival and a full day of play-- in other words they turned into little crying monsters). The adults piled on the couches and watched World War Z before calling it a day.