Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer Bucket List Week 9

We started off the week with one of my all time favorite summer activities, Back to School shopping.  Which is pretty crazy, since I actually am not looking forward to my kids going back to school.  However I LOVE school supplies and get a little sad this time of year that I am not setting up my own classroom somewhere.  Shopping for crayons, notebooks, and pencil boxes fulfills some sort of longing I have.  My boys did not like shopping as much as Molly and me, but we tried to make it fun with lunch out with friends in the middle and a stop for ice cream when we were done.

On Tuesday we met our cousin Alex and Aunt Jen at the Pit to race car drive, climb a rock wall, play laser tag, and ride bumper cars.  I had not played laser tag since college.  It was a blast!  As always, it was wonderful to spend time with our family.  We really miss living in the same town.

This week it was the girls' turn for their July book club.  We hosted a Fancy Nancy book club with  neighborhood friends.   (Aren't these girls beautiful?  I mean seriously, the little girls in our neighborhood all look like little models).

We had fancy food.

For our gathering activity, we colored pictures of Fancy Nancy reading a book.  Perfect for our book club!

The girls each shared their favorite Fancy Nancy book with the group and three things they like about the book.

Then we decorated fancy mirrors with jewels and stickers.

We ended the book club by trying to balance bananas on our head, like Fancy Nancy does in her books.

 Visiting the Columbia Zoo was near the top of our bucket list, and we got to do that this week with friends.  We have been to the Asheville zoo more times than I can count, so it was fun to explore a new zoo with different animals.  Pretty sure the penguins and feeding the giraffes were tied for our family's favorites.  We bought a pass, so we will definitely be heading back soon.  My kids are all anxious to try the zipline and ropes course there, too.

Thursday night, Aunt Rachel came and played Dance Dance Revolution and spent the night.  The boys made breakfast for her in the morning and she headed back early to get to work.

Unfortunately, several times during the week, my dearest, usually angelic and grateful children, would make a comment that something we were doing was boring, or that all they have to do during the summer is chores, or school work, or practice piano.  They said they had too much work to do and this wasn't a fun summer.  So Friday, we made the choice to stay home. And work. The entire time Daddy was at work. From 8 in the morning until he arrived home.  Because that is what Daddy gets to do during the summer.  And yes, they have a lot of responsibilities each day, but they also get to have lots of fun.  So we had a day that just focused on our responsibilities.  I am happy to report that the next day they were very happy to go to the movies and pool with their dad and did not complain.  I even heard a few thank yous.

On Saturday, we headed with Chad to see Minions.  The kids thought it was hilarious.  Chad and I enjoyed our popcorn and hearing our kids laugh.

I can't believe we only have two more weeks left of summer.  I am not ready for it to be over.  I love every minute I get to be with my kids, even those ungrateful, whiny moments.  Because they are MY ungrateful, whiny, incredibly entitled children.  And although I prefer hearing my name said with love, even the sound of "Mooooooom" shouted from upstairs as a 5 syllables word, is still a blessing that I wasn't sure would ever be mine.  A blessing I thank Heavenly Father for every day.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer Bucket List Week 8: Trip to Raleigh, Boys Book Club, and Camping

We started our week turning in our Summer Reading sheets at Barnes and Noble on Monday.  Each of the children were able to pick out a free book.

Chad had a half day conference in Raleigh on Tuesday.  Since it is 3 hours away, they let him get a room at the downtown Marriott Monday night.  At the last minute, the kids and I decided to join him. We drove down when Chad got off of work.  The trip wasn't on our original list, but still super fun. 

We were there less than 24 hours, but we had a fun time at Marbles Museum Tuesday, which has been on our bucket list for a few years.  Glad we finally made it there! And even better, it was free, since we have a pass to the Discovery Place! We played until lunchtime and then headed back home.

On Wednesday, I hosted our first Boys Only Book Club.  It definitely won't be our last!  I chose Sign of the Beaver.  All of our activities were inspired by the book. (Kind of like Mommy and Me Book Club, but with chapter books).  

We started with a fun Bingo Quiz.  I asked questions about the book and the answers were in squares of the Bingo Board.  The boys did were superb at remembering details of the book. 

The boys roasted marshmallows over a fire for S'mores.

We headed to one of the boy's home to shoot with bows and arrows, since our backyard is not a very safe place to shoot arrows.

We finished with free time to explore the forest together.  Next month we are reading The Phantom Toll Booth.  Any fun ideas?

Thursday we headed to Cascade Lakes for a wonderful camping trip.  I did a separate post about that activity.  But as Andrew said, camping is the highlight of his summer every year, and in his opinion, no bucket list would be complete without a trip to Pisgah National Forest. 

Camping at Cascade Lakes

We spent two nights and three wonderful days with these friends and their parents at Cascade Lakes in the Pisgah National Forest.  We have been friends with the Westbrooks for 16 years and the Campbells for 10 years, so my kids don't ever remember a time when these families were not a huge part of our lives.   The kids are as close as cousins to one another and I truly love them as much as I love my own wonderful nieces and nephews.  Aenea and Dodie are like sisters to me.  Truthfully, I am feeling a little melancholy today after leaving them.   I miss them so very much.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and set up camp.

While dinner cooked, the kiddos headed down to explore the lake with their friends and dad.


All three of my children came back soaked head to toe, cold, but happy.

I inaugurated my new dutch oven with a yummy chicken and bacon dinner and then we held our own version of "Will it Smore?" loosely based on our favorite web show, Good Mythical Morning.  The kids tried dozens of types of candies, chips, jerky, crackers, oreos, and chocolate doughnuts.  They had a good time.  I am not sure about everyone else, but my two boys went to bed with quite the tummy ache.  For the adults, we brought yummy German chocolates bars from Aldi.

The next morning, we headed to Sliding Rock.

The crowd was crazy there this year, so after about an hour, we headed over to Andrew's very favorite place on earth, Coon Creek Picnic area.  He joked and said that now when his friends' parents ask them if their friend jumped off of a cliff, would they, the friends would have to say YES!

We think this cliff is about 10 feet?

And that perhaps this one is about 6 feet?

The dads all jumped, too.

Unfortunately, this was the only picture I managed to capture of the many times that Chad jumped.  Oops!!!!

Ryan was an awesome cliff jumper.  He even managed to do some spinning as he jumped.


Molly would only jump if Andrew jumped with her and if Chad would catch her.

Andrew jumped off the highest cliff this year.  We would not let him before.   He is my thrill seeker.


We are estimating it is about 15 feet.

Funny side story.  I sat down on the beach next to a family. We started chatting.  I asked her where she was from.  She is from Indian Land. Her kids go to the same school as mine. She lives off of the same road as us!  She very sweetly let Molly play with this little raft in the river when she was done with jumping.  Such a small world.

The males of our family were all battered and bruised by the time we headed back to the camp ground to swim in the swimsuits this time.

Chad blew up our little inflatable boat.  The kids took turns going out across the lake.

Across the lake, they found a rope swing someone had built.

The next day, the rangers came and took it down and said we could not use it anymore, so we were glad that we took advantage of the chance on Friday. 

That evening, we roasted hot dogs and made three ingredient peach cobbler in the dutch oven.  For some reason, I didn't take any pictures after we got back from the lake.

In the morning we enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast and then broke down camp. 

We had a couple of hours left together after we all packed up our tents.  Some of the kids went fishing, while others went back to the lake to swim.  The camera went with Chad to the fishing dock.

My spirit was refreshed spending time with my friends who are also brothers and sisters in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I miss them more than words can express.  I am grateful that distance cannot weaken our bond.