Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Smoky Mountains Vacation

Earlier this year we asked Olivia to choose the vacation destination for our June family vacation.  Since we are celebrating her graduating from our homeschool, we thought this would be a nice treat for her.  She chose the Smoky Mountains.  

Our family has visited these mountains once before--when Leah was about 18 months old, I was pregnant with Sam, and the other children were 6, 8, and 10.  Jimmy's sister, Jenny and her three children joined us on that trip, and I don't remember too much about it except that I was constantly nauseous, and Leah would not sleep at night!  Jenny's children were sick while we were there, and by the time we got home and over the next few days, the stomach virus hit all of us too! What a trip!

We needed to make some pleasant mountain memories!

We left on a Saturday, just after we ran the Elvis Presley 5K.  We stopped in Nashville for the night.  We visited the Opryland Hotel, and then we attended the Grand Ole Opry.  The "most exciting" guest of the night was Scotty McCleary (he won American Idol a couple of years or so ago).  

in the pretty Opryland Hotel

still in the hotel

I took Olivia and Julie down to the stage so that we could get some up close pictures.  We were surrounded by shrieking young girls.  That was almost as entertaining as hearing Scotty sing!  When we left to go back to our seats, the young ladies who got our spot were ecstatic!

the Grand Ole Opry stage

We stayed in the Nashville area on Saturday night, and Sunday morning we worshiped with Jimmy's cousin, Stacee, and her family.  She prepared a delicious lunch for our family and two other families from their congregation.  We had such a nice visit!

Then we headed on up to Pigeon Forge.  We were pleasantly surprised by our cabin.  It was spacious, welcoming, and clean!  The children spent a lot of time in the game room, playing air hockey and pool.

one of many pool games

Monday morning we went to Cade's Cove.  We stopped at a couple of the historic spots.

At one point, as we were driving along, discussing the remote possibility of seeing a bear, the traffic inside Cade's Cove came to a standstill.
A bear spotting!

In fact, in a short period of time, we saw six bears! We got out of our van to have a closer look, and Jimmy was able to snap a few pictures.

After the bears moved on into the woods, we drove to a trailhead, Abram's Falls.
We ate our picnic lunch, and then we began the 5 mile round trip hike to a waterfall.  All five children quickly left me behind (I am not so fast on trails, especially mountain trails).  Jimmy waited for me, and we met the children at the top.

headed up the mountain

one of five scary bridges that we had to cross

the reward of our almost one hour hike up...
a beautiful waterfall!

We rested for almost an hour while the children played in the stream.

Going across another bridge

Can you find Sam in this picture?

The older three children quickly followed the trail back to our van, but Leah and Sam lost some steam.  Jimmy had to carry them on his back part of the way!

Tuesday, we drove about 3 hours to visit some friends in North Carolina.  It was a curvy, winding road that led over the mountain to their house, and I think all seven of us were carsick by the time we finally arrived.

But it was so worth the trip!  Their home was absolutely beautiful, and the view--breathtaking!

Jimmy, Clay, and Aaron rode 4-wheelers up and down the mountainside.

Cari and her daughters prepared us two delicious meals--both lunch and supper.  We had such a fun visit!  The Smith family has five children just like us, and they also homeschool.  Their oldest daughter will be attending the same college as Olivia.  And their second daughter is Julie's age.  Cari is an ultra marathoner!  In fact, she recently completed a 100 mile race!

 the older girls hanging out

 the little boys played outside most of the day

 getting reading to eat lunch

 Cari, Olivia, and Emma

Leah and Sarah

Sam with a dirty face after eating homemade goat's milk chocolate ice cream.  It was so yummy!

I think one of the biggest highlights of the day for my children was milking the goats!

After they milked the mama goat, they bottle fed the babies.

Here is the beautiful view from the Smith's front porch!

Wednesday we did a ropes course and zip line in Gatlinburg!  Now that was fun!  In fact, I will write a separate post about that day--I have tons of pictures!  It was crazy!

After the zip line we walked around Gatlinburg a little bit.

The children searched for rocks in the streams that afternoon.

Thursday we went to Dollywood.

Each morning I fixed hair--mostly Leah's but on this day I braided all three girls hair.  That was a good hairstyle for roller coaster riding and rain!

We rode the scariest, fastest, most thrilling roller coasters ever at Dollywood.  I cannot believe the three that I rode! I skipped one.  We still had one roller coaster and the huge log ride that we had planned to ride after our lunch--but we were unable to.  It began to rain during lunch, and quickly progressed to bad weather.  There was even a tornado warning at some point, and we had to take shelter inside a theater.  The rides at the park shut down, and we left Dollywood around 4:00.

We went back to Pigeon Forge for a little bit more souvenir shopping, and then back to the cabin to begin packing up.

Friday we left at 6:30 AM for the 7 hour trip back home.

What a fun trip!  Olivia chose a fun destination!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Scheduling

I had a post on The Homeschool Classroom last Monday, but since I was at Rustic Youth Camp with basically no free time, I failed to share the link.

You can click here to read about planning and scheduling your summer.  Since we have been out of town with only a day or two here and there at home since our last day of school, today or tomorrow is the day that my children and I will sit down and plan our summer.  I can't wait!

What kinds of fun and productive things do you have planned for your summer?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Menu and Miles

I am so glad to be home!  Two weeks ago we were on vacation for a week, and then all last week we were at Rustic Youth Camp (RYC).  We had a fabulous week, but I am so happy to be home!  I made a super long grocery list early Saturday morning, and then I shopped at both Sam's and Kroger.

Here is what's on the menu this week:

Sunday:  Potluck--quinoa salad, pasta salad, green salad, banana pudding
Monday:  baked potatoes, green salad
Tuesday:  homemade veggie burritos, chips and salsa
Wednesday:  roasted asparagus, green beans, crock pot lima beans, carrots, corn on cob
Thursday:  Mexican green salad
Friday:  eating out
Saturday:  taco bar

Miles this week:

With all of my traveling, I have not run much at all lately.  I ran 3 miles Saturday morning, and I was stiff!  Last Monday I ran 2.3 miles with a friend from camp.  That was a lot of fun!  This week I have 34 miles planned.  I think this will be the schedule.

Monday:  5
Tuesday:  10 or 7
Wednesday:  6
Thursday:  rest
Friday:  10 or 7
Saturday:  6
Sunday:  rest

You can visit for more menus and recipes.

I'm still working on my Homemaking Binder.  Actually I have not done much work on it, I am still thinking about it, and I have not had much time to work on it.  My goal is to have a finished product by the end of this week!  Thanks to Kari, who left me a comment with a link to, I think I have a plan on how to accomplish this.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Our Wedding Anniversary

Here we are 22 years ago.

Yesterday was our 22nd Anniversary.  I tried to scan and upload these pictures yesterday, but I couldn't figure it out, got frustrated, and just gave up!  This morning, Jimmy surprised me with an email with these pictures attached!  I know how to post pictures from an email.

We had a nice day......Jimmy had to work until mid-afternoon, and then we enjoyed a dinner for nine prepared by Julie and me.  Our two guests were the teachers of our upcoming preacher-training school. It really was a nice night.

I am so grateful to be married to such a wonderful man.  He is godly, compassionate, unselfish, loving, caring, hard-working, and kind.  He truly is my best friend!

Here we are 22 years later!

on our recent vacation to the Smoky Mountains

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Just Checking In!

It's going to be a wild, exhausting summer!

We just got back yesterday from a week long trip to Nashville and the Smoky Mountains.  I have lots of pictures and fun to share.....if I ever get to it!

The rest of my summer includes the following:

  • one week of Rustic Youth Camp
  • one week of hosting some young men (I am not sure yet how many) who will be here for a preacher training program
  • one week of running camp (this includes SLEEPING OUTSIDE IN A TENT)
  • getting Olivia ready for college
  • cleaning out my schoolroom
  • preparing our school for the upcoming year
  • cleaning out various areas in my house
  • finishing my Homemaking Binder
So, I am not sure how much blogging I will be doing for the next 10-12 weeks.  I am also trying to train for the Tupelo 14.2 Miler, but so far have not done so well in the running department.

We almost, almost finished the 12 hour CD of Robinson Crusoe while we were on vacation.  We have about 5 minutes left!  But we were pulling in our driveway, and everyone was ready to get out of the van already, and I had to return the CDs today.  I plan to read aloud the last few pages to everyone tonight, hopefully......I read the last little bit on my iPad last night.  Our entire family really, really enjoyed this book!

Here is one picture from our vacation:

I'm not riding!  I'm taking the picture!

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Latest Read

Last week while I was in my recliner trying to endure the pre-root canal tooth pain, I read Boo Mama's book, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet.  I read a few chapters one night, and then I finished the entire book in one sitting the next day.  It's that good!  Especially if you are a southerner and can so relate to her stories!  If you are from another part of our country (or another country!), you will gain some insight into our culture.

I laughed out loud. I teared up.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  I highly recommend it for your summer reading.  Sophie expertly relates stories about her family that will warm your heart.  

Next book on my list:  Robinson Crusoe.  Actually I am not reading this book, but our whole family is listening to it on CD.  It's very I am not sure when we will be done.  I still have not finished Les Miserables.  I haven't even picked it up in a few months.  I want a large stretch of time to complete it, and since we are not going to Seaside this summer, I am not sure when I will find that block of time to just sit and read a book!

More reading:  I received my latest edition of Runner's World magazine a few days ago.  It has a 48 page spread all about the 2013 Boston Marathon--complete with photos, narratives of the race, and first hand accounts of the bombings.  I flipped through it last night.  But I could not read it.  Not yet.  

What's on your summer reading list?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday's Ramblings

Bible Study
I haven't shared in a while about what I am doing for my daily Bible study.  If you remember, I began the B90 (reading through the entire Bible in 90 days) in late January.  That was after attempting to follow a plan of reading through the Old Testament in one year and through the New Testament four times in that same year.  That plan was not working for me because I did not not like reading in both the Old and New Testaments at the same time.....I thought I would prefer to just read it straight through.    So I began the B90.  I read through Ezekiel, and then I just stopped.  I am not sure why.....I have done the B90 three times previously, but this time it was a struggle.  

So I went back to copying Scripture.  Jimmy bought me a pretty pink leather journal just for this purpose.  For no particular reason I began my copying with Colossians.  I am using Frixion pens.  They write smoothly, come in a variety of colors, and most importantly, they are erasable.  That is important when copying the Bible!  I ordered mine from Amazon.  On most days I copy half a chapter or more, usually whatever is the equivalent to one page in my journal.  When I finish copying a chapter, I outline that chapter (in my journal--I copy only on one side of the pages and I use the other side for the outlines and any notes or thoughts I want to record).  Some days I only copy, and other days I write some extra notes about certain verses.  I have also started choosing one verse from each day's reading/copying and writing it at the top of my to-do list for that day.

So far I have copied the following books:
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
almost through with 1 Timothy

Each day I read or reread the chapter that I am copying before I begin my copying.  Then I read the chapter again from my copybook, checking for mistakes.  I am really enjoying this method of Bible study right now.  I want to do the B90 again, but I am not sure when.

My Homemaking Binder
I am still working on it.  I do not have a final product!  I have read all of the links that you readers have shared with me (I got several ideas from my FB post and personal friends too).  What I need is a huge block of time to just sit down and "get it done", but we all know that huge blocks of time to do anything are few and far between.  I have decided that I will have a page called a Daily Docket. I got the idea for this page from a book I have called Organized Simplicity. I have created a form for this on my computer, and I am so proud that I figured out how to make little blocks with text inside!  This Daily Docket page includes these categories (inside cute little blocks):

  • Today's Top Three (the most important things I have to do that day)
  • Inspiration (where I record a Bible verse)
  • What's For Supper
  • Running Plan for the Day
  • Places to Be Today
  • Today's To-Do List (the rest of the day)
  • Today's General Plan (I list key times of day and what I need to be doing)
Yesterday when I was at Staples (one of my FAVORITE stores!) I saw a whole line of planning binders, pages, etc.  The brand was Arc Customizable Leather Notebook System, and it looked fabulous!  I looked at it for a long time, but I did not buy anything.  I think I will continue with my original plans, but the Arc system sure does look tempting!

Due to my root canal saga, I have run only one time this week.  Last night we joined other runners in Corinth for the first night of the Team Corinth Summer Series.  They are meeting weekly to run/walk/jog for an hour or so, and then end at the Pizza Grocery for supper!  Fun!  I ran with Koach, and we ran a mile to a place called Warrior Circle where he has marked off 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 mile.  He was planning on running a few 800s (800 meters--1/2 mile--also called Yasso 800s, after Bart Yasso).  I have never done Yasso 800s, but I had planned to do some of these workouts this summer as I try to bring down my half-marathon pace.  I asked Koach if I could run them with him, and he was delighted to have me join him.  It was nice not to have to look at my watch to keep myself on pace.  Koach was an excellent pacer--I just ran beside him, and we met our goal of running each one under 4 minutes!  Wow!  I did not know I could do that!  We did a total of 3 Yasso 800s, and then we ran back to the Pizza Grocery.  So the run was 4 miles in all.  I plan to run tomorrow, so for this week I'll have two days total.  Some weeks are just like that!

I think that is all the rambling for now.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yay! I Feel Better!

I have had a toothache since last Tuesday.  It began with a little nagging pain that caused me to sleep poorly last Tuesday night, and the progressed to feeling like someone was hammering the side of my face 24/7 by Monday.

At first it only hurt at night, when I would try to lie down in bed.  So ever since last Wednesday, I have slept either in my recliner (upright!) or propped upright in bed (when we were in Atlanta).  I went to the dentist Thursday morning before I left for Atlanta (I did not see my brother, my regular dentist, because he lives 1 hour, 20 minutes from me, in the opposite direction of Atlanta, so I saw Leah and Sam's dentist, Dr. Ritter, whose office is just down the road).  Dr. Ritter determined that my tooth was dying (who knew a dying tooth could cause so much pain?), and he said that I would need a root canal.

I immediately recalled my first and only other root canal experience, and I was not looking forward to it.  Not at all.  That first root canal ranks up there with the MRI I had before my mastectomy last year---the two worse medical procedure experiences I have ever had (the root canal and the MRI, that is)--way worse than childbirth (even when I was in labor with Sam and the epidural suddenly stopped working right when it was time to push and I began hollering like those women you see on TV).  I knew that I wanted a different endodontist than last time to do my root canal.  The other dentist was nice and polite, but I waltzed into that office thinking that the procedure would be no worse than getting a cavity filled.  I had not even taken a Motrin in anticipation.  I was not offered any of the gas (much to my dismay).  I normally don't use the gas for getting cavities filled because it makes me feel icky and claustrophobic to have that nozzle on my face, but since the root canal was going to take so long, I was willing to try it.  Except that they did not ask me if I wanted it, and I was too timid to ask!  When they draped me with all of the that stuff and then crammed my mouth full of other stuff--the claustrophobic feeling was overwhelming.  Anyway, I endured that root canal and vowed to not have another one. Ever.

Dr. Ritter set me up with Dr. Crumpton, and he and his entire staff could not have been nicer!  I had to go Monday morning for a consultation (because Dr. Ritter wanted them to address my procedure anxiety) before scheduling the root canal.  They asked me if I would like some sedation, and then began explaining my options.  I quickly interjected, Just give me the strongest thing you have!  The nurse told Dr. Crumpton that I was considering oral sedation (the best they have), and I said, "No, I am not considering it.  I most definitely want it!"

I was sent home with a prescription for pain meds (thank you!), and another one for the "oral sedation".  I hung on until yesterday morning--taking the pain meds and Motrin, and just trying to rest in my recliner--and then Olivia took me for the root canal at 7:30 yesterday morning.  The combo of oral sedation and the gas was perfect.  I don't remember any of the procedure or coming home!  I did not feel trapped at any time.  I had no pain.  It was a much, much better root canal experience.  I cannot stress how kind and nice the entire office staff were!

My mouth still hurt pretty badly yesterday after the numbness wore off, so I spent another day in the recliner.  But thankfully, this morning I woke up with no pain!  Yay!  No pain!  Just a little soreness.  I am so happy to be in the land of the productive today!  My to-do list is very, very long!

So of course I have not run any of my miles this week.  I plan to run 6 or 7 tonight if I continue to feel well.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Blacksmithing and a Road Trip to Atlanta

Jimmy and Clay recently moved Clay's forge from a shed behind our house to the back of the barn.  They built a chimney.  There is electricity out there, so Clay is all set up.  I have no idea what all is in a forge/blacksmith shop, but I think that Clay has collected and bought most of what he needs.

Here are some pictures that Jimmy took of the shop area.  I really can't comment on them, because I don't know what all of those tools and things are......

I know that this is Sam, and that is a spade--made either by Clay, Sam, or both.

Thursday I took Clay and Sam to Atlanta for the Atlanta Blade Show.  Jimmy's aunt and uncle had told him all about this huge knife expo last winter, so Clay made plans for all of us to attend.  We found out last week that the dates of the Blade Show were not what we thought, so instead of our entire family attending, only Clay, Sam, and I went.  Jimmy could not get off work, and the girls were at various places.

So the three of us made the 5ish hour drive to Atlanta!  We arrived Thursday around suppertime at Ann and Buster's home.  They served us a delicious supper!  After our meal, Clay displayed the knives that he had made for Buster to see.  I had to just listen to the blacksmithing conversation, because they were using vocabulary that I was not familiar with.  However, Sam knew exactly what they were talking about!

 Clay's collection of handmade knives.
Some are made from railroad spikes, some from lawn mower blades, some from some sort of steel, horseshoes, and I am not sure what else.
The handles are made from walnut, paracord, and denim material.

 One of the knives with its hand made cover

 Then Buster showed us some of his handiwork!
Face Vases!

 Buster gave each of the boys a special hammer and some other materials for knife construction.

Friday morning we went to the Varsity for lunch, and then proceeded to the Atlanta Blade Show.

 Enjoying ice cream at the Varsity

 At the entrance to the Atlanta Blade Show

Sam took this picture.  I think it is a belt sander.  We did NOT buy one.

The boys, Clay especially, had a fantastic time at the blade show!  It was like being at a marathon expo, except that instead of running shoes, apparel, and gear, there were knives, and knife making supplies, and belt grinders and sanders, and all kinds of things that I had no idea what they were. 

After the blade show, we went back to Ann and Buster's house for the night.  The boys enjoyed swimming, and we all had a nice visit.  We left early Saturday morning to drive home.

It was a fun road trip!  And as soon as we got home, Clay went to his forge to begin making a new knife using some of his new supplies!