Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bikes

While he was in California, this happened.

Touring on Uncle Chuck's bike

And once he got home, this happened.



"Safety First" on Mike's bike
Yes, that is an actual motorcycle helmet on his head, bought with his own allowance money. Michael is just a safety conscious kind of guy.





Saturday, July 11, 2015

Home Again

After an uneventful flight from California to Atlanta, Squishy Bear arrived back on his home turf after a fun-filled two weeks with Uncle Chuck and Aunt Karen. Eventfulness made an appearance, however, when David arrived at the gate to find ... no Squishy Bear. Caught in traffic to the airport, plus bottlenecked getting through security, plus the flight arriving 20 minutes early, and Michael had been relocated by the "sweeper" from his gate to another area. It took a few minutes for the gate attendant to figure out where he was, but eventually David found him and brought him home.

Found at the airport

Michael thoroughly enjoyed his adventure, and was happy to be back home in Georgia with his family. Yes, even his oldest brother.

Favorite way to ride in the car

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Teen Tubing

In celebration of Andrea's birthday, the valiant Mama E loaded a gaggle of teens into The Beast and drove to Helen, GA for a day of Tubin' the Hooch (floating down the Chattahoochee River is large donut-shaped inflatables). It was later reported that everyone, including Mama E, had a fabulous time.

Alex, Hannah, Andrea, Thomas, and friends

Friday, July 3, 2015

Off to Moon Shade Hollow

In what seems to be becoming an annual tradition, we packed up the kids, the dogs, and Popper, and headed for Moon Shade Hollow for the long Independence Day weekend.

Jasmine, Jenny, and Ruger ... always first into the car
By now the dogs (including newbie Ruger) know when we're going camping, and whine to be put in the back of the Sequoia while we're packing, until we load them up.

Rufus doesn't whine, but he's usually settled into his spot in the car while we finish hitching up the camper.


Rufus ... always second into the car

It's not a long drive, which makes it a nice, simple get-away. Everyone knows we're close when we pull into Leon's for bait and ice.

We know we're almost there....

This is my favorite part of the entire drive ... the road the house is on.

Favorite view from the road

Even the dogs know what's up when we pull into the drive.

Ruger: "We're almost there!"  William: "Don't drool on me!"


New sign!

When we're having heavy rains, the lake often rises several feet, making Popper's usual spot down by the boathouse a bit soggy (or just plain flooded). So, we dropped her in the parking area just under Blueberry Hill, nicely snuggled under the trees. I think this is my favorite spot for her.


Popper's new favorite spot, overseen by Hostess Kit

But, THIS is my favorite spot for ME. Sitting on the wrap-around porch enjoying the view.


Ahhhh ... now we're on holiday!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bad Biscuits

This is Biscuits. With a dead bird which she caught and expired. Which she was batting around on the floor while I was doing yoga. It kinda killed my Zen.

Bad Kittie

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Squishy Bear's Big Adventure

Today Michael (aka Squishy Bear) left on what is surely his biggest adventure to date. He flew solo from Atlanta to California to spend two weeks with his Uncle Chuck and Aunt Karen. This was his first flight, and went without his family, to be 3,000 miles from home, for a long stretch. He was as nervous as he was excited.

All packed up and ready to go.

After thoroughly checking his packing list to be sure everything was in his big suitcase, it was decided at the last minute that Mom could pack everything into a carry-on (which I successfully did) so he could avoid checking a bag. Then Dad took him to the airport, got him to his flight, and watched while it took off.


Arrival in CA

After what was later reported to be an uneventful flight (except for some uncomfortable ear pressure), Michael arrived and was greeted by his hosts, Chuck and Karen.

As every traveler knows, traveling can take it out of you. After a meal at In-N-Out, a bout of motion sickness in the car ride to his lodgings, and a brief call home, it was time for a crash on the couch. And that was the successful beginning of Squishy Bear's Big Adventure.

 
Bushed from a long day

















Plaza Suite

Another Mom's Night Out, we met up at New London Theatre to see David in his most recent stage appearance as Jesse in Plaza Suite.

Anita, Mo, Grace, Kit, Stacey, and Ashley

Another fabulous show! David had us all rollin' with is Hollywood swagger and 70s white pants.

David and Becca as Jesse and Muriel

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Big Concert

After months of anticipation, David finally attended the R40 RUSH concert, with an extremely excited Michael in tow. It was later reported both had a blast.
On The Lawn

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mike's Pumpkin

Grown from a seed in a pot ... now residing in the front yard.


Sadness and Rain

We lost Cindy and Sammy yesterday, and a major thunderstorm delayed their burial until this morning. They were sweet creatures, and we will miss them.

Another backyard burial

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Teen Crash

After a long night of marathon movie viewing...


Thomas and AJ

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mom's Day


My big plans for Mothers Day

Top three reasons I'm spending my day in the hammock ... LOVE!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

View From Hammock

I love the new leaves in Spring. This is the best place to think and collect my thoughts before taking on a chunk of editing or rewriting.



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Handmade Joy

Today was our homeschool group's second annual kids' holiday gift exchange. The moms have been doing the traditional "pick a name from a hat" Secret Santa gig for a few years now, but all gifts must be crafted by hand. While the moms have to guess who made their gift, the kids each personally presented to the recipient the gift they made for them. There was a lot of creativity and care put into these gifts, and they were all appreciated.



Cooooold weather at the park, so huddling in a circle was good.


William and friends Andrea and Alex.


Thomas: "What could it be?" (Connor looking on from behind)


A cool gaming t-shirt from Connor.


Michael: "Food!"


Brownie joy.


William: "A cat toy!" from Griffin.


Kittie will be very happy.


Post-Exchange Group Shot.


Happy faces.

One of the things I really appreciate about our group is their genuine appreciation for anything and everything that is hand-made or home-made, from food, to winter hats and scarves, to a gift made especially for them by a friend. It's not just the moms, though I'm sure in each household there has been intentional creation of a culture of appreciation. But each kid who opened a gift had a smile on their face and a "thank you" on their lips (okay, a couple of the littles needed to be reminded by mom). This is a good time of year to remember how blessed we are by having such wonderful people in our lives.

The boys' recipients:

Ava's snowman from Thomas.
 
Ella's birdhouse from Michael.
 
Stella's treasure box from William.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ready For Snow

These are snow shoes for someone who lives in Georgia. Devised by....okay, you all know who, so no naming in necessary. I'm thinkin' they might actually work. 'Nuff said.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Go Cart!

In his usual persistent style, Michael managed to procure from David the purchase of scrap lumber (half off!), which he immediately turned into a go-cart. He's had this design in mind for quite some time, so it only took a few hours to put it together. It's just about perfect for the long, slow slope down our street (also used for sledding when we get the occasional winter snow).


This particular go-cart must be ridden accompanied by sound effects courtesy of Bill Cosby.





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back in the Sling

There's some saying about lightning not striking twice, but I'm pretty sure it's been proven that it can actually strike the same spot more than once, thus proving the inaccuracy of the saying.

Same park. Same wrist. And after a trip to the ER, we're scheduled to see the same orthopedic surgeon to get the broken wrist fixed.

There's not much more to say than that.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Amicala Falls with Homeschooled Kids

We all hear about how excited parents can get when it's "Back to School" season. What you may not know is that many homeschool parents get excited around the same time of year. Not because we will again be shipping our kids off on yellow buses five days a week (which we won't be doing), but because, for some unknown reason probably related to "planning" the upcoming "unschool year," we all seem to get bit by the field trip bug and we all start planning field trips for our group. Unfortunately, many of them seem to end up clustered in the same couple of months in the fall, so some picking and choosing is necessary.

The trip we chose for this week was a visit to Amicalola Falls State Park. It was a bit of a drive for us (close to two hours), but it was good practice for Thomas--the longest distance he has driven so far.

Map at Visitor's Center
If have to say right off, the folks manning the post at this Park were very friendly and helpful. In our Tour of America four years ago I found that customer service was not always a priority for the Park rangers. Heather in particular, who was in charge of our group's hands-on program, was wonderful about working with us and the kids.

First up, we gathered behind the Visitor's Center in the Lower Amphitheater, and the kids all sat facing the wrong direction. Most of the moms were turned around, too. But, Heather just went with it and relocated to the back of the theater and got started.

Ready for the program

Heather talked about turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. She had a pair of box turtles (one of my favorites), a male and a female. Fun fact I did not know: Males have brighter orange or red eyes, and females have darker eyes.

Heather and Lightning
Heather passed around the turtles, and also some shells for everyone to look at. Another fun fact I did not know: In some species of turtles, their spines are actually attached to the top of their shell.


Thomas with an empty turtle shell

The female turtle, Speedbump, was brought to the Park after she was found injured (run over by a car...thus her name). She had a quite cleverly crafted repair job on her upper shell using some sort of industrial-strength adhesive. As with All Things Turtle, the healing of a shell can take a long, long, long time, and the adhesive keeps their shell together while the healing takes place.


William--not quite sure he wants to hold it...it had just peed


Michael and Lightning

One of the empty shells Heather passed around was not quite empty; it had a variety of turtle bones in it. Michael and Simon were particularly interested in identifying the different bones, and pointed out there were two heads but only one pelvis.

Simon with a shell full of bones


We won't go into how difficult it can be to get nice pictures of one's children.

Thomas and Friend

As a nice surprise, Heather brought out a corn snake for everyone to hold, pet, and enjoy. Although there was some theatrical squealing from a few members of the front row when the snake was brought out of the bag (it wasn't exactly a surprise, since it was announced in advance), just about every squealer immediately jumped up to pet the snake.

Corn Snake named Kellogg



Thomas and Kellogg

While I was being a good homeschool mom and documenting our educational experience, I also managed to steal a few shots of some of our moms.

Maria The Pediatric Nurse, and one of her Wild Goats (yes, that is what she calls her children)



Stacey The Math Expert


Christin The Writer, and Kellogg

Once the turtles had been properly passed around and admired, Heather commenced the Turtle Races. Speedbump won every race, despite her damaged and repaired shell.

Michael and Syd starting the turtle race

The second half of our hands-on program was all about building emergency shelters. It was led by a very nice young man who had never led the shelter-building program before, so he was perfectly suited to facilitate (and not interfere with) a gaggle of kids who are all about gettin' in there and getting' it done. A few of the kids had built these types of shelters before, and since all of these kids have spend so much time together for so many years, working as a team was not a problem.

Building an emergency shelter


In progress

At some point, the younger kids realized there were kind of a lot of people involved in building just one shelter, and their contributions were shaking out to be more about gathering materials and less about building, so they decided to start their own shelter.

The Youngers' shelter

You have to admit, that's a whole lot of folks to build one two-person shelter. But, it went up really quickly. And came down even quicker (we had to return our materials to where they came from). Our facilitator was so impressed with the effort and results of our group, he took a picture to post on their FaceBook page.

The Whole Gang and a completed shelter

One of the things I love about our group is the lack of "stratifying" socialization. Thomas is fifteen, and a big, hulking teenager (way bigger than me now), and one of his best buddies is a petite little sweetie-pie who can (literally) perch on his shoulder.

Thomas and his buddy, Em



William and friend trying out the shelter

This is just a random photo because I liked the angle.

Thomas on top

So, yes, we did eventually hike down the trail to see the Falls. I always think it's somewhat counter-intuitive to hike *down* to see a waterfall, but that seems to be how these things are set up. It was an easy hike, and on the way we say this old truck interestingly perched on the hillside. Obviously it fell from the road above at some time in the past, and has been resting here ever since.

Old truck

The Falls themselves, of course, were wonderful.

William at the falls


Nick, Em, Thomas, and Hannah

After hanging out at the main landing, we all went down a bit further to appreciate the view from another view.


Another view from below



Michael

And then back up the stairs...


William, back up the stairs

And, finally, a small group of us motored up the rest of the way to the top of the Falls. Very nice view.

View from the top

And a last gathering of friends at the Upper Amphitheatre.

Last exchange