Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Beach Camp-out

More important news first!
Jacob is home from the hospital.  He has started chemo and doctors are already saying the cancer is mostly gone.  However, childhood leukemia has a high risk of relapse.  He will continue with chemo for the next 3.5 years.  Sweet guy.  He's holding up like a champ!  There was so much money raised for his parents it's fantastic!  Joanie's fundraiser should let her be with him without having to worry about work for a while, as well as take care of basic needs like gas to doctors appointments, food, etc.

Jacob's dad, JJ, had his own funraiser to help him get here from Texas to visit.  We're happy to see him, and glad he can be here for Jacob, if only for a short time.

Thanks to everyone who is supporting them!!

This past week we went to Hunting Island for a group camp-out.  The kids had so much fun, and this year we actually camped right next to the beach so it was quite pleasant!  Last time, we camped back in the woods where the mosquitos were relentless and the packs of raccoons were terrifying.

The kids had a great time flying kites, collecting shells, visiting the lighthouse, fishing and of course swimming!

How did we get there, you ask??  Well, I bought a minivan!  I am not thrilled to be back into a huge, gas-guzzling machine again, but it sure is nice to be able to haul so much stuff in it.
Right when we got to the beach, the teens set to work gathering fallen palmetto branches and building a shelter.  Big enough for a few kids to squeeze into.

Look how close we camped to the beach!!  Can't get much better than that.

Lots more photos:

Sandy baby butts are just the cutest thing ever.

 She actually struck this pose:
 Giant sand drawings:

 All of the kids (about 8 in total, I think) worked to build a massive sand structure that could withstand the incoming tide.  It was actually still there in the morning, and had lots of pits for Blossom to play in.

If anyone is in the area and looking for a beach camping spot, I HIGHLY recommend Hunting Island.  Only 4.5 hours from Asheville, no development, quiet beach, so nice!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I don't want to post this

Trying to hold it together here at home for the kids.  Typing this is just bringing tears to me.  Blossom's very best friend Jacob was just diagnosed with leukemia this weekend.  His mama, Joanie, is one of my best (and oldest) friends.  She is a single mom with 3 kids.  She obviously can't work right now and for the present, needs to be able to pay rent and have gas money.

Please click HERE to help.

Thank you

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This morning started out with the loud sound of peeping chicks from the living room.  They are too cute to be mad at!  These little guys are all of 4 days old.  They are Dominiques, a breed I have been looking for, and just found a few on Craigslist.  The fellow also gave me 8 fertile eggs, which I squeezed under our broody hen (that means she's trying to hatch out eggs).  Hopefully she'll stick with it and we'll have another batch of chicks in the beginning of October.
Blossom is doing a very good job of holding these little guys gently.  This chick, the kids named "Fatty" (he's the biggest, and probably a rooster).  He got to play in the dollhouse today.

We had our Sunday Art Group this morning.  The attendees have dwindled over the Summer, but we're hoping it will pick up once everyone is back in the rhythm of Fall schedules. 
Blossom and Willow picked lots of flowers and leaves to bring to the table.  The table was so lovely with all the colors!  They made designs of petals and leaves on clear contact paper and then sealed it over with another piece.
I secured that inside a paper plate frame, which they could decorate with crayon.  Then we hung them up in the window to see the sun shine through!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Bunch of Firsts

The boys are gone again!  Their dad invited them to his house in Napa Valley, California for 2 weeks.  This is their first time to California, their first airplane flight without an adult (me), their longest airplane flight, the longest time they've spent with their dad, and the farthest they've been away from home.  Big stuff!  Of course, they were very excited :)

Before they left, Clay used birthday money to buy a penny board (a small, plastic skateboard) to add to his board collection.  He immediately wiped out pretty hard.  Seeming unfazed by it, he's happy to show off his injuries before heading out.
Ouch.  He is undeterred, and made sure to pack his penny board in his carry-on luggage.

Blossom is super adorable as usual.  Singing something other than her usual ABC's & Twinkle Twinkle Little Star medley:

B and I did our first hops harvest this Labor Day weekend.  We started with doing it on the vine.
Then realized those vines are done anyhow, so just cut them off and it was much easier to harvest them on the ground (and gave any bugs a better chance to crawl out and away)
We had an end harvest of over 3 pounds.  Not bad!  That will dry to much less of course - you've got to add a LOT more wet (fresh) hops to beer than dry hops.  I did brew a batch with the wet hops, weighed and froze a bunch and put more in the dehydrator.  Since we only brew beer every couple months, this should see us through many brews!

Hope everyone had a fun and relaxing holiday weekend!

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!