Au Naturale Eye Essentials Kit

Live Simply, Laugh Often, Love Much

I have a sign on my porch when you walk in with this exact phrase. I have always liked the meaning behind it, and try to live by this, especially the "Love much" part.

Over the weekend, Tom and I went to a beautiful bed and breakfast in Mumford, New York, which about 35 minutes away. We went away so we could enjoy some time together as Tom and Karley the couple.

You see, 99.9% of time we're Tom and Karley working, raising two young boys, answering phones and ringing doorbells, making and delivering local orders, doing the Etsy thing, walking a barking dog, going to know what I mean--life's daily events when you're a married couple with an almost 5 year old, a 3 year old and an 85 pound dog.

Do not get me wrong. We love our life. We love our boys more than anything in this world. I love that I can stay at home with them and also do something I enjoy on the side. I love that Tom has a wonderful career with a great deal of flexibility, where he can attend preschool events and pediatrician appointments and work from home a good part of the time. I love the life we have created and that we focus our lives around our family. We eat dinner together as a family 7 nights a week, whether it be at home or on a picnic, at a restaurant or with our neighbors on a Friday. That is just our family policy.

By the time our day to day tasks are over and the boys have finally fallen asleep, we're both tired. I usually do some work and then Tom and I will watch the Yankees play before we head to bed around 11.

Our time just being together without a time schedule seems rare. This is one reason we went away without the boys. First of all, Nick and Ben had a blast and were angels the whole time we were gone. Even though it was just for a weekend, it's one weekend that taught us so much.

Other moms, if you are reading this, take note:

First of all, it is OK to leave the kids. It is OK to go away and be "selfish" and spent time as a couple with the one you love. It is OK to go away to a lovely place to, in a way, remember who you are and remember quite quickly all the reasons you fell in love with your mate in the first place. GO. It is just a weekend and it will do you wonders.

Deborah and Richard Stankevich are the innkeepers of the Genesee Country Inn. Let me first say that Deborah is the epitome of a B & B owner. Did you ever walk into a home and just gets a sense that the home was loved and well-cared for and that, in return, the homeowner was taken care of and loved by home itself? This would describe the relationship shared between Deborah and her lovely B & B. The home is so loved, well cared for, and brought back to all of its splendor. Deborah and Richard put so much love and sweat equity into the beautiful inn and you can sense the love and warmth the moment you step through the door.

We hadn't been to a B & B since we were married at Claudia's Manor in Savannah. Sadly, Claudia and Larry Collins closed their inn, but it was a lovely, warm place. I've always loved B & Bs. The first one I stayed in was while visiting my brother at Princeton University, and it is called The Peacock Inn. Other B & B stays when I was younger were in Eureka Springs, Arkansas when my father was working in Missouri, and a B & B in Lawrence when I toured the University of Kansas. A large chain cannot beat the warmth and charm of a good B & B. There are several inns in the Rochester area from which to choose. This one was chosen because it was close, yet far enough away from home, and because it seemed so inviting.

We walked in and were immediately pleased. Not only is the large cobblestone home gorgeous, it is on a beautiful property with lots of walking and pretty scenery. Every detail of the decorating inside was exquisite. The room we stayed in, The Garbutt, was very lovely. We opened the door and I was greeted with a bouquet of 25 yellow roses. We had 5 large windows in our room and had views in 2 directions. I enjoyed looking out at the bright and cheerful Cosmos, as well as the lovely pots of flowers Deborah planted.

Deborah was welcoming, and the love for her inn radiated with every word she spoke. I believe it is a gift to have a "job" that doesn't feel like a job, something you look forward to every single day and have invested in with your heart and soul. This is the impression I got after spending time conversing with Deborah. She truly has a passion for what she does, and that is why she is so good at every single detail.

Just after we set our bags in the room, Deborah brought out a pitcher of her freshly brewed iced tea. She had a jar of her homemade Ghiradelli chocolate cookies (with chocolate shavings rather than chips) and it only took me a few hours to nearly empty her jar...which was refilled very early in the morning. We spoke about her use of local vendors for coffee and the local honey from another tiny town called Nunda. It was as though we had known Deborah and her husband for quite some time, because they were easy to talk to and so warm and welcoming.

Deborah's breakfast was heavenly. I cannot even narrow down my favorites. Perhaps the oven-baked pancake with homemade apple cider syrup...or the different quiches...or the different types of bread, everything made with love and from scratch. Everything was just perfect. We even got to meet Alison Arngrim, the actress who played "Nellie Oleson" on Little House on the Prairie, as she was a guest at the inn and happened to be there for the weekend at the Genesee Country Village as a special guest. As a child who watched Little House every Monday night at 8pm until it went off the air, this was a real treat for me to meet her.

Aside from meeting some great people and staying in an absolutely beautiful inn, the best part was the time spent with Tom. The sign on my porch describes our weekend perfectly. Everything was simple, as we didn't have to follow any kind of schedule. We took a quiet walk listening to the water. We walked far enough to peer out over a creek to see cows in the distance. It was so peaceful and serene. We took a walk down 2 blocks to a quaint primitive and antiques shop. We drove with the windows down to dinner singing and laughing as though we were back in our college days.

We were carefree, without plans or details to iron out or something to pick up at our third trip of the day at Wegmans. We talked for hours on end, laughed together even more than we normally do, and fell even more in love than we already were.

There is something to be said for living simply, laughing often, and loving much. Not much on earth is better...Our weekend could not be least not until we walked back in the door Sunday at noon with our boys yelling "Mommy!" "Daddy!" with big smiles on their happy faces.

We all had such a great weekend that we already reserved our room in late December for our anniversary and if we have a chance, we'd like to head back in October.