Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jumpin' July '09

As July comes to a close, I realize that our blog has looked more like a scrapbook this month. Lots of pictures! In thinking about the busyness of the past four weeks, I recalled that last summer I posted a blog entry titled "Jumpin' July." It seems an applicable title to recycle.

We have had a busy month, with trips to visit the grandparents, weekend getaways, playdates, sleepovers, cookouts, and campouts. But we've also enjoyed many lazy days at home - sleeping in, hanging out, and lounging in our pjs. The boys are a delight, as they continue playing well together and enjoy each other's company.

In three weeks, they will start a new school year, and we will adjust to a new routine. We'll schedule our days and check items off our "to do" list. But until then, we'll cherish these leisurely summer days where we have the spacious choice to stay or to go, to play or to rest, and to stay up late and to sleep in.

In keeping with the photo-friendly feel of my July posts, here are a few more pictures of the fun we've had this month. Enjoy!

At the beginning of the month, my friend Jenn and I took the kids to my parents' house in LaFollette for a few days. They had a great time riding scooters, shooting BB guns, climbing trees, playing with the dollhouse, and walking the dogs of a family friend. Jenn and I enjoyed eating (I'm just being honest) meals homecooked by my mom. Jenn tried okra for the first time and liked it. If you're not sure about okra, you should try my mom's. You'd like it too!

Toward the end of the month, the boys spent a few days with Tim's mom, Ann. This is an annual getaway for them, which they love. This year they went to Ruby Falls and Rock City, the Warner Park Zoo, and the Tennessee Aquarium. Of course, they spent a few hours at Chuck E. Cheese as well.

Finally, one of the highlights of our month was Worship/Serve. On Sunday, July 19, our church closed the doors to the building and instead served throughout the community. People led worship and served meals at the Knox Area Rescue Ministries; visited with the residents of several retirement homes; did landscaping at local parks and schools; and participated in many other projects.

Our family spent our time at Hope Resource Center, a vital crisis pregnancy center that serves Knoxville, Lenoir City, and several surrounding counties. We cleaned the inside of the building, hung blinds, changed lightbulbs, and landscaped along with 20 others from Providence Church. One of the greatest delights of the experience was working alongside Seth and Reed.

Now, as July comes to a close, I find myself packing for our annual beach getaway with my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. We leave on August 1, so this means that we'll start our month with a little R&R and family fun. It also means I'll start a new blogging month with more pictures! See you then.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Into the Woods

On the weekend of July 24, we celebrated Tim's birthday with our first-ever family camping trip. We went to Elkmont, where we celebrated 4th of July, and pitched our tent for two nights. We were blessed with these amazingly mild July temperatures throughout the weekend, and we had a fun time learning the "camping" ropes from Tim, who camped with his family throughout his childhood. Here are pictures from our weekend in the wilderness:

We had a lovely spot (campsite A7 if anyone is interested) at Elkmont beside this small creek. Our tent proved to be roomy and waterproof, which was a good thing as we had a nice rain shower during the early morning hours on Saturday.

Seth enjoyed whittling with his new pocket knife. He made two menacing daggers.

I learned that one of the great things about camping is how easy it is to clean up after dinner. Tim and the boys were all too eager to do the dishes.

On Saturday we drove to Cades Cove so we could hike to Abrams Falls. Boy, was it crowded on the loop! But once we parked and got started on the 2.5-mile hike, the crowd thinned out somewhat. Here we enjoy a serene moment before we start the trek to the Falls.

This hike was the first time we got to try out Tim's Camelback. It was a hit, as we could stop for a drink anywhere along the trail. The boys were especially fond of it!

Obviously I'm not thinking; Tim's thinking "I'm not so sure about this"; and Reed's thinking "Uh, I don't think this branch can hold the two of you!"

Here Seth and I pose on one of the many bridges you cross hiking to Abram's Falls. At first we were wary of the troll under the bridge, but we decided he looked harmless enough and crossed anyway.

Ahhh, we reached the Falls. Time to enjoy a healthy and delicious lunch of peanut butter crackers, Combos and Chex Mix, and Snickers bars.
Our destination: Abram's Falls. Now, time to cool off before making the 2.5-mile return trip.

We couldn't pass by this natural water slide on our return hike. It looked too inviting for two (or is it three?) adventurous boys.

The boys were super troopers and made the 5-mile round trip hike with little complaining. When we reached the car, however, it took less than 10 minutes for the boys and me to pass out. We slept for the entire drive back to Elkmont.

Without question, the boys' favorite part of the camping experience was building and manning the campfire.

Our version of campfire stories: reading a Magic Tree House book that is on Reed's summer reading list.

The boys' second favorite part of camping - S'mores!!! We tried out new caramel-flavored and strawberry-flavored marshmallows. Yum! Overall, it was a very fun weekend (though I wasn't too fond of the middle-of-the-night trek to the bathroom on my own...) and a successful inaugural camping trip. I look forward to what may become Tim's birthday tradition.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Tim!

(Warning: I am feeling sentimental today, so at the end of this post you'll find a link to an exceptionally sappy song dedication. I tried to find video of Kenny Roger before his extreme plastic surgery with unfortunately no success - at least that will be entertaining for those of you who aren't fans of "the gambler.")

When Seth and Reed were born, I remember looking at their round baby faces and wondering what they would look like when they grew up. Now I do it less and less because they seem to be turning into "themselves" before my eyes, just like flowers blooming. I am sure Tim's mom used to look at her little towhead and wonder how he would differ from his sister and brother and what he would bring into the world.

Today, as we celebrate his birthday, I am so thankful for all that he's brought into this world, into my life, and into this family. He's a kind, generous man with an amazing heart. When I look at pictures of him as a boy, I see glimpses of both of our sons - in the mischevious smile and the contemplative eyes. They are blessed to have him as their father, and I've been so blessed to share my life with him these past fifteen years. I look forward to tomorrow and the day after and the day after...

When I was a girl, probably 10 or 11, I loved Kenny Rogers. I once had a friend confront me about who I liked more: Rick Springfield or Kenny Rogers. Honestly, it was a tough choice. Well, today this oldie but goodie from Kenny keeps playing in my head, so forgive me, but I had to post it.

Happy birthday Tim! I love you.
Click here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Horsing Around

On July 12-15, Tim attended the annual Water Professionals Conference in Lexington. The boys and I tagged along to have some fun in the Bluegrass State. We found plenty to enjoy. Here are pictures from our trip:

We started our week with an early morning stop at Keeneland Race Track. They run the horses from dawn to around 10 a.m. each day. This trainer was kind enough to pose behind the boys for the first photograph.

It was very tricky to get a good shot of the horses in motion. Pictured above are my best attempts. The track was quiet, except for the sound of the horses running. It was a lovely spot to spend our morning.

Next, we went to the historic Lexington Cemetery. This is a beautiful arboretum with extensive grounds and lovely statuary. The boys and I enjoyed walking around and taking pictures (we each had our own camera).

After dinner on Monday night, we made our way to the State Botanical Gardens on the campus of UK. The meandering trails were occupied by runners, and it made me wish I could enjoy an evening run there myself. Instead, we enjoyed a brief walk among the flowers.

On Tuesday we spent several hours at the Explorium, a children's discovery center downtown. This attraction was by far the most popular with the boys, and this water exhibit was their favorite. You could create a flood or a draught; build a dam; or re-route the water.

You could walk on the moon, pilot an aircraft, or climb a mountain. My favorite attraction at the Explorium was the "Bubble Room," shown above.

On Tuesday night, the Water Professionals gathered for their end-of-conference celebration at the Kentucky Horse Park. I had been here as a girl, so this return visit stirred lots of memories. The boys enjoyed the shows featuring the different horse breeds and the former racing champions. Afterwards, we enjoyed a late night pizza at Joe Bologna's on the campus of UK.

Our last stop in Lexington was at this antebellum home, built by the grandnephew of Daniel Boone. We had a very intense tour guide (dressed in a period gown) who paused after every fact she shared for questions (we think...). This made it a bit uncomfortable, as we were the only family on the tour. Tim and I had to pay great attention so we were prepared with appropriate questions to ask. The boys were tremendously relieved when it started to rain as we began the tour of the grounds, and our visit was cut short.