Sunday, September 11, 2016

Nantahala Gorge

Before Summer is officially over, we stole away to the mountains for a weekend.  I have called Bryson City, NC home before, and it was great to go back for a visit! 

We got a great cabin in the woods, right on a creek outside of Bryson City.  I could have easily hung out just at the cabin the entire weekend!
The cabin area had lots of little fun things to poke around and explore.

We did go have some adventures, though! 
We went hiking at Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It was the perfect weekend to go as Labor Day had past, but "leaf" season hasn't started yet.  The weather was still perfectly summer-like, but we weren't surrounded by other visitors!

The boys and I rented inflatable kayaks and boated down the Nantahala River in the Nantahala Gorge.  No photos of that, as the camera surely would have been soaked over that 3 hour ride!

On the last day, we had planned to go back to Deep Creek and go tubing, but the kids were worn out!  Instead, we drove back down into the Gorge and just relaxed in the river, watching boaters and rafters float by, while we enjoyed locally-made ice cream sandwiches - yum!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Delicious Summer!

I'm so glad Summer is here - it's my favorite season.  I'll take the heat, bugs and humidity when it also means swimming, gardens, minimal clothing, ice cream, berry picking, sleeping with the windows open ... I love it!

The boys are both back from California now.  Reed turned 13 right when he came home! 
Bobby bought his a pool pass for his birthday, so now he has started riding the 2 miles on his bike to the pool nearly every day!  It's exhausting for him now, but I'm sure by the end of the Summer he'll be a pro at the ride.

I'm doing childcare nearly every day of the week, and we have so many sweet kids that come over to play.  On a recent walk we took, I led the kids into an empty lot to see if any blackberries were ripe - oh they were!
The girls filled their skirts with the ripe berries that were weighing down the branches.
They picked and explored for quite a while before they decided they were tired of getting scratches from the brambles!

Stained hands and bellies full of berries made for another wonderful Summer day!




Thursday, June 16, 2016

Post-Iowa

We are finally settling back into regular life after the Iowa trip!
Right when we came home, it was Clay's 16th birthday!  He hung out with friends all day and went to the skate park.  He and his friends did stop by the house for a minute to open presents and have some cake.

The very next day, both boys left for California.  Clay is spending 2 weeks there with his Dad, Reed is spending a whole month!!  That is definitely the longest that Reed has been away from home.  He's very excited!  He'll come home just in time for his 13th birthday.

Blossom did a ballet camp the following week which she loved.  She can't wait to start real lessons next month.  In the mean time, she's doing weekly swim lessons at a local gym.
Here she is at the little "recital" for parents on the last day:


We met up with some homeschool co-op friends to do a fun hike to the lake!

And now that things have settled down, I started having kids over to the house again for childcare... messy art projects and all!
Finally getting settled into Summer!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Iowa

We had a fun trip to Iowa.  The kids took 4th place at World Finals!!  So impressive!
 (waiting to go on)
They were all feeling under the weather on the morning of the performance, but pushed through and did great!  Here is their vehicle they designed, using a swing as the propulsion system:
Grandma, her new husband Bob and my brother David all came from Omaha to watch the kids perform.

On our way to Iowa, we stayed a night in Chicago.  We spent most of our time in Millenium Park, admiring all the art installations, playing the in water features and the boys checking out the skate park.

We meandered along the lakefront.
We wandered to Buckingham Fountain and saw Pat Sajack and Vanna White filming for Wheel of Fortune (I was so excited that I actually *knew* who celebrities where - it's rare!)
Blossom made new friends as always:
We even got a great group photo before leaving to find Chicago deep dish pizza (mission was successful!)






Iowa was of course filled with all sorts of cute moments.  Reed loved having the mix of teen activity and family time and of course new travel adventures!  Blossom soaked up all the attention from being the only little one there!

The return trip took us through St. Louis where we explored City Museum, which is basically a super fun big kid/adult playground.  Giant slides and ferris wheel on the roof, even!
Blossom was not a big fan of all the walkways and climbing paths that were made of welded metal - she didn't want to be able to see through them!
But she did dig the castle!  Everything behind her in the photo is part of the museum, so many tunnels and things to explore - and this was just the outdoor part!
While in St. Louis, we walked to the arch, of course!


It's so fun taking a trip with a kid who is so easy-going and finds the beauty even in the empty field next to the hotel!

I'm so proud of the teens for going out in style.  This was their last year doing OM, and they won first place at States plus a Renatra Fusca award for extreme creativity.  Then went on to rock out the World Competition and come in 4th!  A good way to kick off the Summer as well :)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Productivity!

First off, Clay Odyssey of the Mind team successfully raised $8400 to get to Iowa!!
The kids and parents helped equally.  We had many great donations and business sponsors.  We held a massive yard sale, did some restaurant fundraisers, and the kids took on lots of yard work jobs.  Just in time, we leave for Iowa on Monday!

All that fundraising over the last two months kept us quite busy!  In addition, I started doing in-home childcare again.
We pulled Blossom out of her sweet preschool a couple months ago.  It was just too many kids for her to be comfortable.  She does much better in small groups.  Several of her little friends' families were happy to join us for childcare, and we've made a few new friends as well!
And it really is wonderful to see Blossom having such great days, and having all the fun energy in the house again!
So, this last month has been filled up with not only fundraising and homeschooling, we've had preschoolers over nearly every day!  Building forts, making sandbox creations, doing arts and crafts and generally just enjoying the freedom of being kids!
Blossom has loved having friends come over each day and getting to spend so much time at home.  She seems to really be a home-body - taking after Bobby, not me, that's for sure!  But these sweet moments are ones I'm sure to cherish :)
Love to all!  I'll probably write next from Iowa!

Friday, April 22, 2016

World Finals is Happening!!

Clay's Odyssey of the Mind team has advanced to the World Finals for the 3rd and final year.  Not only did they place first at the Regional and State competitions, they also won the Renatra Fusca award at States.

Renatra Fusca is the highest honor a team can earn by extreme creative problem solving!  Way to go out with a bang on their final year!!

The vehicle they designed is powered by a swing!  So cool!

  Clay and his team mates have worked so darn hard on the project, and now are working tirelessly to earn the money to get to the World Finals.  They have raised $2000 so far, and still have $6000 to raise by the end of May.  They are doing boatloads of yard work around town, putting on a yard sale, having multiple fundraising dinners, etc.  But every year, our biggest fundraiser is just getting donations from family and friends.... like YOU!

I do so appreciate anything you can give to help out these awesome kids.  I am so proud of them!!  To donate, just use the donate button on this website:
http://ahcom.weebly.com/

Thank you!!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

New Fun for Spring!

Spring is settling in, and with the goodbye to the puppies comes a hello to new chicks!  ZB was too excited!  She picked them out herself this year from the garden store.  She thinks they are regular play toys, and this is what happened as I was setting up their brooder box!
 We also got a fun new addition to the yard.  I had no idea these climbing domes were made for home use until a friend of mine bought a smaller one.  Bobby and Clay had it assembled in just a few hours, and the kids LOVE it!  Looking forward to many years of use out of this fun climber.

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