Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Day with Pop-Pop

Blossom was excited to visit with her Pop-Pop on our last day in Maryland!  She sported the new dress from Pop-Pop and her doll even got a matching one.  She got to meet her Grammie Carolyn and we all went to a puppet show at the really sweet Glen Echo Park.
Here we are waiting for the show to start - ZB was very excited!   This was a performance of The Nutcracker for children, done with puppets as well as wonderfully costumed live actors.
She loved it!  She was even tickled to get to meet some of the cast afterwards:
They have performances for children all year long. Next time we come back to the area, we will definitely go see more!

We had a fun and very busy time in the DC area.  Bobby enjoyed his workshop, too.  We're glad to return home to the mountains and start planning new adventures :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Baltimore for a Day

ZB and I took the Amtrak from DC to Baltimore Sunday morning.  The ride was short enough to avoid toddler boredom, but long enough for her to get excited about a train ride.  The friend we were supposed to meet was sick, so ZB and I had the day to ourselves.
We headed straight to the National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor.  ZB's main objectives were sharks and octopus, which thankfully they had both of! They even had a fun little kids play area, which was nice for her to take a break from looking at seemingly endless tanks of fish.

We both LOVED the jellyfish exhibit.  They are SO beautiful!
After a while, ZB did get bored of looking at fish, fish and more fish.  I was trying to snap a couple photos of her with fish, and she was becoming increasingly resistant to the idea.  This is when I handed her the camera.  That plan worked amazingly well!  She must have taken about 20 photos of fish - she was racing all over to see different tanks, pushing grown-ups out of the way (they were all very nice about it!) on her mission.  Here is a very small sampling of her first photo shoot:

At right about the 2 hour mark - she was done with the aquarium.  We went outside to walk around the Inner Harbor.  On our way to a lighthouse, we found a beautiful sculpture playground.  We probably spent at least an hour there - outdoor space always is my kids favorite thing when we visit big cities... go figure!

When the overcast sky started to sprinkle, we headed on to the lighthouse.  It was really neat, and ZB was excited to be able to go inside.  The last lighthouse we went to was at the beach camping trip in South Carolina and we found out at the last minute that ZB was too short to go inside, which was very disappointing to her.  She loved this one, and we were the only visitors at the moment.  It had lots of neat history and photos printed inside, as well as a replica bedroom of the caretakers.
When we were done with the lighthouse, we had about an hour left before needing to head back to the train station, and it was raining at that point.  We trekked to the Barnes & Nobles that was right around the corner and stayed dry with children's books for a little bit.
That was a fun day!  I'm glad we got to go, but wish my lovely friend, Jackie had been feeling better so we could have visited.  We may just have to come back another time :)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

DC with a Preschooler

Blossom and I spent the day in DC together today, while Bobby was at his first day of his glass blowing workshop.  I am EXHAUSTED!  (She is too, but is fighting sleep in the bed next to me right now!)  We took the METRO into DC to the Smithsonian stop. (photo credit to ZB!)

We walked to the Museum of Natural History, which was great!

 I had several recommendations for this museum with a preschooler in tow.  She was most excited to see the dinosaur exhibit, which wasn't as big as we had hoped, but still neat.  We walked through a long hallway of various animal skeletons on the way to the dinos, which was definitely interesting.  Blossom loved those more than I thought she would.

We then wound our way around to the insect exhibit. This was really cool, with live insects, hands-on exhibits and even a "pet a bug" station!
I really wanted to take her to the gems and minerals section, but the little lady was ready for food, and it seemed a good time to get outside for a break.  The weather was so gorgeous today, we couldn't spend it all inside!  We snacked, listened to some street musicians and made our way to the Washington Monument.  She thought it was a castle and really wanted to go inside to the top, but settled for a picture next to it.

We meandered around a bit more before getting back on the METRO and heading to the National Zoo.  We met up with Blossom's cousins there and little ZB became quite tired and cranky, so unfortunately the zoo trip didn't last very long.  Blossom's favorite animals were the huge turtles,the iguanas and the gorillas.

Now we are snuggling down in bed and gearing up for a big day in Baltimore tomorrow!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Winter Holiday

Winter is here!  The boys went to California to spend the holidays with their Dad.  They will be gone for 3 weeks - yikes!  I will admit I teared up a bit as they boarded the plane... this is the longest they will have ever been gone from home.

I made sure to get a few pre-boarding photos from the gate at the airport (they let the parents go to the gate with unaccompanied minors).

The weather has been so gray and dreary here, that we decided to give Blossom her present from us on early, when she had a buddy over.  When I was pregnant with Blossom and stopped doing in-home childcare, I saved a big box of vintage Fisher Price Little People toys. 
 I brought the box up from the basement yestereday, and she LOVES them!  (I knew she would, that's why I saved them, after all :)  She and her friend played with them for hours yesterday.

When she woke up this morning, she instantly went back to playing.  She opened one other present from her PopPop today, which was a super cute dress and matching dress for her doll.  We are spending the rest of the day packing.  Tomorrow morning, we leave for a 4-day trip to the DC area.  Bobby is taking a glass-blowing class and Blossom and I will visit Bobby's family DC and go see one of my sweet girlfriends in Baltimore.
We're are going to split the rest of Blossom's presents up for after we come home from our trip, and when the boys come home.  I'm off to continue packing - hope everyone is staying warm and cozy and happy this holiday season!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Halloween 2014

The kids had a great Halloween this year! 

Reed and Blossom had a great time decorating their pumpkins.  Reed worked hard to carve some choice spooky animals on his pumpkin (bat & raven).

 Blossom had a lot of fun painting, applying sharpie and hammering nails into her pumpkin.  Most of the nails she had threaded with a couple beads before hammering them in.

I wanted to make Blossom a costume for Halloween, but she changed her mind at least 2-3 times each day about what she wanted to dress up as (rainbow, fairy, bat, princess, and "no-noggin" were in constant rotation, along with many new ideas).  We decided to just let her wear things from her dress-up.  Then, we received a package from Gram in the mail on Halloween day that had more dress-up clothes.  At that point, Blossom chose a new costume, which was a mermaid.

Reed was a homeless guy.  Here he is with his trick-or-treating buddies:

Clay (didn't get a picture of that sneaky teenager!) dressed up as "the Party" with a couple of his friends.  They had matching fleece animal pajama-looking costumes and a backpack with built-in speakers and glowsticks, so they played music and danced wherever they went :)

We took Blossom trick-or-treating at about 5 houses (notice the very small pocketbook she was using to collect treats!), which was just right for her first time doing it.  The boys, however, came home with piles of candy, which I'm sure they'll take care of quickly!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Little Apple Picker

Fall means lots of things here in the mountains.  We have a big burst of tourism with folks coming from the South to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the changing leaves.

Another big draw is the apple orchards around Henderonville.  This is about 45 minutes from our house, and the largest apple-growing county in the state (7th in the nation!).  There are lots of u-pick farms, and Blossom's preschool went to hike around yesterday at Sky Top Orchard, so much fun!
We took a hayride, met the farm animals, and of course, picked lots of apples!

A couple more photos I just couldn't resist sharing from our day:
Blossom's outfit choice (and silly face):

And yet another weird sleeping position.  Seriously, I don't know how she falls asleep like this, she looks like she's about to topple off the side, or was just about to get up when she conked out:

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!

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