Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dollywood and Home Again

We finally got our sweet boys home!  Two weeks was the longest they've been away from home.  They had a great time in Memphis, and Bobby did lots of projects around the house!  Not only did he repaint the living room (turquoise!), but also painted the boy's bathroom and gave them a new toilet, and the most work went into completely remodeling our bathroom.  My favorite part is after nearly 2 years of the initial start of the project (tearing things out), there is now tile floor, which means I can clean it!  So, pretty much Bobby's a rock star :)  Here's some before and after :

When I picked up the boys in Tennessee, we spent the night in Pigeon Forge and used our season passes for Dollywood & Splash Country (the big Christmas present last year, which a couple other family friends bought also so we can all go together). 
Dollywood has fireworks every night, which were fun, and then the next day the boys went with their friends to Splash Country and ZB and I had a little-kid day at Dollywood... she loved it!
We went to two shows (the Gazillion Bubbles show and a play of "The Little Engine that Could"), and she just adored that she could go on rides of her own!
Then she had a great time playing in the designated play areas for young kids.

The weather was nice and overcast, and with the high chance of rain, the park was not at all crowded.  We happily avoided rain and everyone had a great day :)

 A couple chicken pics before I end this post!  I've struck up a friendship with a guy who brews beer in huge quantities.  He calls us when he's brewing and we go pick up the grains he's used for brewing, in trade for a couple dozen eggs for his family.  The chickens are in heaven, and I appreciate the free (local & organic) food!
Here's they are munching away, under our hops vines (which I will hopefully use for our own homebrew this Summer)
Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New and Old

Blossom went to her first day of school today!  Well, sort of.  She will be going to half-day preschool one day a week in the Fall.  This week and next week, both boys are with their grandparents in Memphis, and the preschool was offering a Summer camp this week, so we thought Blossom would like to attend.  The theme is "Rainbows" - perfect!  She was so excited to attend, and came home talking about the crafts they made, the things they played and the songs that they sang.  She's excited for another day tomorrow!
Dressed herself for her first day of "Rainbow Class":

And now for the old.  Well, to you it will be new, but she's invented this about 6 months ago, I just finally got her to do it for the camera!  And now, I present, Blossom, The One-Girl Band:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Orchard Lake Campground

This weekend, we gathered up a sweet group of friends and all our camping gear and headed to nearby Saluda to camp at Orchard Lake Campground.  Not only is a beautiful location, it also is all activities included!

We were with 6 other families who all had kids.  We all loved that our campsites were right next to a shaded playground.  It was also a short walk to the and other activities.  All the kids loved the zipline (the toddlers did a shortened version).  The main draw was the lake.
Here's Reed canoeing.  He and Clay and their friends spent hours and hours and hours at the lake - swimming and boating.  There was also a rec room with pool, foozball, and the like, right next to the lake.  So, we really didn't see them much during the weekend.  The little kids loved the lake just as much, though!
ZB got to take her first (and second and third) boat ride:
Learning how to paddle, singing "Row Your Boat" over and over, feeling the underside of lilly pads and imagining what creatures might live in the water were all things to consider.
We'll definitely be visiting here again!  Reed wants to try golfing next time.  We've plotted out which sites we'll get next time, and found which things we packed did and didn't go over well (tricycle did not work on gravel, but giant bubbles were a big hit!)

It was pretty great that the whole weekend went off so smoothly with all the families and little kids involved.  Hopefully the poison ivy outbreaks stay at a minimum and the good memories shine through!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A New House

A new house for ZB's dolls, that is.  I had seen some ideas for cardboard doll houses online and after seeing some that were extreme (sliding doors, wired lighting, spiral staircases, etc), I found a simple and sturdy version that suited me much better!  Here's the basic design I chose for ZB's first dollhouse:
After fitting the pieces together, I hot-glued a second level on with the scrap cardboard.  We had some friends over and all the kids happily joined in making this a special play spot!

The kids and I worked for nearly 2 hours adding ribbons, curtains, coloring, making furnture, slides and stairs. They deserved a popsicle break!  These are made with goat milk kefir, strawberries, bananas, grass-fed gelatin and cod liver oil.  Pretty much when all that nutritious stuff is blended with strawberries and frozen on a stick, it magically tastes delicious!

After their break, I got the toddlers back to work.  We went the garden and harvested peas.  I sure love snow peas, but if you're like me and neglect harvesting for several days, you end up with big fat peas.  Just the job for little hands.
After a while the little ones just wanted to eat and play instead of shell peas, and I had a hard time keeping any in the bowl to make lunch with!
After our friends went home, ZB finally got to settle down and help her tiny My Little Pony friends settle into their new house.
It was a good day with friends and making new toys always feels productive.  Looking forward to a relaxing weekend of camping!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

14 Years Old!

We finally got around to celebrating Clay's 14th birthday!  He had a bunch of friends over to our house last night.  They had lots of delicious Mellow Mushroom pizza and a good game of trampoline dodgeball (rules made up on site).  Once it got dark, we hung a sheet up on the side of the school bus and played two Austin Powers movies with our friend's projector and speakers. Between movies, the campfire was going and s'mores were made (though I did have to make a quick late-night run to the grocery, since some kids had eaten an entire bag of marshmallows as a movie snack!). 

At some point in the night, the kids settled into tents and the schoolbus (one boy slept on the trampoline, I heard).

At 10:30 this morning, we had a yard full of zombie-like teenagers.  They were easy enough to lure into the house when I promised them a good breakfast spread of juice, fresh fruit, bacon and doughnuts.  So, this was the easiest birthday cake I've ever made... not the healthiest, but still, it was enjoyed by all...
 I'm glad his party went off so smoothly!  Here's to another great year :)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sandwich Car

Clay's team placed 17th overall and 6th place in their long-term problem!!  Woo-hoo!  And they had a great time in Iowa.  Here is the video I took at the State Competition in Charlotte... Enjoy!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Shaving Cream Mayhem

ZB's favorite activity lately has been body painting.  Maybe inspired by Daddy's tattoos, maybe the paint just feels nice and cool.  I don't know, but at some point in the day, we find paint on her.  Maybe just some on her arms, maybe a full body paint.  It's kinda her thing.  If we are having a day at home, this is typically how ZB may look (here she is getting ready to dash away yelling, "ZOOM!") :

We had some friends over today, and I have been wanting to do some projects with shaving cream, so this seemed a good day to do it.  We dripped liquid watercolors into the shaving cream with eye droppers, marbled it with toothpicks, pressed paper on it and scraped the cream off  of the paper to reveal beautiful marbled colors.
Not all of the kids were so attentive to their project, though... or perhaps had a different project in mind...
I'm glad the older kids each did the marbling, because the scene quickly transformed into shaving cream sculpting!  The assortment of liquid watercolors was a very nice touch.
I think the shaving cream was definitely a hit!  For $1.50 a can, I am a fan as well :)  There are lots of art projects online that use shaving cream, I'm sure we'll trying more soon.  For now, time to clean up!