It all started here.
Two people, in love with Jesus, met on the mission field in Belize, Central America.
Meet Mr. & Mrs. Barkman.

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Marriage and 31 years later, they’ve expanded the family.
They began with four daughters.

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They loved the girls, but decided they’d try for sons as well.
They had two, and everyone was so happy.

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Meanwhile the children had children, and the family grew and grew. [where does that line come from? I’m having a deja’ vu!] At this point it’s not even basic addition; it’s more like multiplication. :) It’s so fun!

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We met from various points of the east (Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia) at a chalet in the mountains of West Virginia for several days. Time like this is so special because we don’t get to all be together very often, and also, we never know how many more times together we’ll be gifted. Life is such a GIFT! And we want to treasure these sweet moments.

So, what does a family do in the boonies of West Virginia, where there is hardly any cell phone service and no internet? Well, be together, of course. While the no connection with the outside world came a bit as a surprise, it was actually welcomed because that meant there wasn’t as much room for distraction and time being frittered away on electronics.

Besides, there were deer in abundance – one evening drive counted in the fourties – and the men were ecstatic. There was even a few points of high excitement as one of the brothers-in-love pulled out his bow and arrow for a shot at a groundhog.

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There was so much good food. SO MUCH.
Mom and we girls each took a day of cooking, and it worked wonderfully.

good food

There was time to sit and relax, with hot coffee and early morning light.
For those without little kiddos, these moments were definitely longer and more relaxed. :)

morning light devotions

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And being raised in the home of our book-loving mother, we all brought various books or picked up some that were already present. My book-loving children were ecstatic by the entertaining uncles and aunts and Papa and Nana.
Zoe, meet the Boxcar Children.

books & things

There were trails hiked and tennis games [I won’t even say how many I won, er – lost] and ping-pong battles, and funny games where we laughed so hard we could hardly breathe, and times to sit out by the mountains.

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My family is at a stage with lots of change right now.
In a year and a half, my parents went from having 3 daughters and 2 sons at home, to having only 1 son in the house. My three sisters got married, and my brother is moving into the city.

We spent a lot of time together talking about life, praying, dreaming, blessing each other.
It is such a BLESSING to be part of a family where Jesus is central.
I know it’s rare, and I treasure it.

All those family devotions growing up? [that I would sometimes get tired of]
I’m so grateful for them now, for the way they still let us see into each other’s hearts.
For the way it opens up conversation to talk about the things of God,
how He’s working and leading and moving.
It’s so exciting!

This vacation? We all said it was The Best Vacation Ever.

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Early-rising children. Vacation looks a bit different with little kids. :)

vacation kiddos

There was a little nearby town to explore, with a Goodwill and some quaint little shops.
We did more window shopping than buying, but it was fun to get out and look around.

Ervina & baby Huddy
My sister Claudia can rock these glasses like few people can. Like I sure couldn’t. :)

claudia & fashion

Oh, and there was an ice cream shop, right by a little stream. We couldn’t resist.
Besides, Ervina’s baby was hungry. :)

ice cream collage

And in typical Barkman fashion, we must carve out a few minutes of time for some pictures. These were probably the most informal we’ve ever done, but hey, it’s documented. :)

We’ve got all kinds of lovebirds…

couples pix

And these two are expecting a new little Lovie. We cannot wait until March!!

Kenny & Ervina
This little guy melts me in a puddle.


These kids adore their uncles.  uncles

A rare few of my love and me.  That’s my brother James all snuggly with us. Ben & Clarita

And one last picture…
Parting words from Zoe, age six,
Mommy, why is it SO SAD to say goodbye to them?”

I know, Sweetie. I know.

aunties & nieces

To us, family means
putting your arms around each other
and being there.

-Barbara Bush

“Siblings: children of the same parents,
each of whom is perfectly normal until they get together.”
– Sam Levenson


32 thoughts on “A West Virginia Family Week.

  1. Shannon

    This looks like a beautiful family vacation. Living far from family is only about to get much much worse. When little nieces and nephews are born and you can’t be there, it’s tough!
    I have to ask where this is in WV. WV holds fond memories for me because Eric and I worked that area for Choice Books for 2 years after we got married. Love those hills and the porch sitting people. :)

  2. shellynissley

    I love each and every picture and your sweet documentation!! So much fun! And oh, Zoe’s question is right on. Sigh. The quotes at the end are perfect. :) And wow, I just love all the bright colors, the love birds, the little leaf by Ervina’s baby that one absolutely cannot see in real life, even tho I was *looking* for it at a little coffee shop in Abbeville last week! Your family reminds me so much of my own . . . the stage of life we’re in . . . the exciting changes . . . long miles of separation . . . and how precious it is when we finally do get to spend some time together! Thanks for the post. :)

  3. Ervina

    “Why are you smiling so big?” husband asks as he beholds my grinning-like-a-cheshire-cat-face in the living room. Then he joins me on the couch and we proceed to scroll slowly through every single memory and relive the most wonderful vacation ever. *long content sigh* Boy, do I love my family.

  4. Michelle

    This looks like such a restful vacation … except maybe for the early rising kiddos. :) So exciting that your kiddos are going to have a cousin!!


    West Virginia is home for me!! Love the family pics. Reminds me of home and my family back home. Just easy living in WV!! Love your blog :))

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      West Virginia is so beautiful!! You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place! I had rarely been there before, and when I was, it was a quick drive-through from one state to another. We so enjoyed spending time in your lovely state! It seems so relaxed and restful. :)

  6. Mary Landis

    Aw, Clarita! These pictures are beautiful….it brings tears to the surface as I see how you live life. It’s true….we don’t know when the last time will be, so we are wise to live in the moment and make the most of each moment. I especially felt teary when I saw Zoe’s words. Good-byes are so hard, are they not? Your family is beautiful and we Glick’s (and in-laws) are blessed to know you all. :) Love you, friend! You’re in my prayers and I look forward to catching up soon.

  7. Rebecca

    Absolutely Beautiful. I am so blessed with a family )”the tribe” as they are affectionately known to us and who love the Lord and each other in BIG ways… This post is absolutely a stunning and resounding hymn that testifies to the Lord’s goodness in everyday moments and in the beauty of family. Thank you so much for sharing!! I love reading your blog!!
    :) Rebecca

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Thanks so much, Rebecca! It is SO special to be part of such a close-knit family – you also spoke of that! I know it is so rare, and I don’t take it for granted at all… We are blessed in order to pass on that blessing, that’s what I often think of. The Lord is so kind to give us families!

  8. heidi

    “Siblings: children of the same parents,
    each of whom is perfectly normal until they get together.”
    – Sam Levenson
    I love this quote – made me laugh and nod my head!: )

  9. Rach

    This reminds me SO much of my family… everything- uncles teasing my kids, all hanging out on the couches together, going shopping, EATING, serious talks & laughing til we about puke!!!! And my sis is expecting her baby girl in January.. It looks like you all had a blast!! Thanks for sharing! ;)

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Awww, you sound blessed with such a great family too! Sometimes I look around and wonder WHY I was so blessed, because there is no reason why I should be. I think of what God spoke to Abraham, “You are blessed to be a blessing.” Let it be so with us! xo

  10. Tricia R.

    Your blog and your family are both so beautiful!! Next time you come to WV, we should meet up!! I’ve been reading your blog for a little while…and it’s quickly become one of my all-time favs.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Oh my goodness, Tricia, I would love to meet you someday!! I followed you to your blog, and I love it! If we ever go that way for a stay again, I will let you know. :) Thanks for your kind words!

  11. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

    We were in Berkley Springs, a quiet little area, but close to Hagerstown, MD and an hour from um, I forgot the name of the bigger town – but whitewater rafting and stuff like that. :) It is a beautiful area!!

  12. amber

    i love reading/hearing about your family~ i think i’d like hanging out with your sisters!! :)) i know how precious these times are when you live far away.. it’s been several months now since i’ve seen my family and i’m just ACHING for them. this post left me all sentimental and wanting to jump in the van right this minute and drive home!!!

    as you said having a family this close. one you want to be with and enjoy being around is such a treasure~ all i can say is heaven is sure going to be awesome!! like one never ending, wonderful family vacation!!! :))

    love you friend.

  13. Christy

    Okay, I’m quickly scrolling past the comments and hoping I can remember most of what I was thinking as I read–the pictures are so beautiful and it looks like a wonderful family time! The food looks delicious and the quiet and laughter and good times–aah. I know your family lived in Belize, but I don’t think I realized your parents met there. That’s really neat. Your family has really gone through a LOT of change in the last year, and it will just keep changing with more little ones coming! So neat that you got to see Ervina’s [tiny] baby bump. With a sister, especially, you just have to see the bump at LEAST once, but several times is better. :) I’m so glad you had a good week that week.

  14. Chels

    beautiful beautiful beautiful. your family is amazing..and big families ARE.THE.BEST. I’m sure it will be fun too once we get to the “multiplication” stage although for now I’m really lovin’ it just the way it is w/ us all at home.=)
    That’s so great that y’all got to vacation together!
    love all the pictures. =)

  15. nicole neesby

    i literally just cannot get over how cutecutecute your whole family.

    also, i should post this comment on the appropriate post, BUT your seasonal decorations are always crazy inspiring to me. will you teach a class so i can learn from you?!


    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      You are too kind, Nicole! I think my family is pretty awesome, but then again, I’m of very biased opinion. :) And I’ve been taking a few pictures for an autumn theme decor post… hopefully within the next few days! Thanks for your encouragement!

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