Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 Camping Trip

We had another simple vacation this year - five days at one of our favorite spots on earth - Little Oak Campground on South Holston Lake near Bristol, Tennessee.  This year there were a few new features to our trip.  The first was that Kevin O'Bryan joined us for a few days - now this isn't totally new since Kevin (and his brother, Chris) have both camped with us before.

Also, Rebecca bought a hammock right before the trip and slept outside several nights.  I really enjoyed sleeping and reading in the hammock, too.  We'll definitely take it with us from now on.

Campfire treats this year included two new additions - roasted Starburst (much better than you think), and these dough boys.  Caleb made the wooden dough boy sticks for us before we left.  We cooked crescent roll dough around them and filled them with chocolate, marshmallow, heath bits, etc.  Delicious!

This year we were also able to coax Jingle onto a tube.  She really does not like the water, but she loves being in the boat with us.

I am conscious every time we take a trip now that my kids are growing up and this might be the last time we are all camping together like this.  Make memories while you can!

The trip was so much fun that the boys decided to commemorate it with tattoos:

Well, the tattoos were temporary, but the pictures last forever!

And, of course, we ended the trip with a flat tire on the interstate because that's the way we roll.

2014 Properties

Terry has worked on three properties this year - one a condo to sell, one a condo to rent, and one a house to sell.  I don't have before and after pics of all of these because some photos are on Terry's phone.  The transformations are pretty incredible, though.

Here are a few pics from the condo we sold:

Here is one from the condo we have rented to three sweet gals.  This one totally went from trash to treasure:

Next is the house that is currently on the market.  This one had been vacant for five years.  The roof was damaged, and over 20 raccoons were living in it when we bought it.  

Friday, September 12, 2014


This year Noah decided to join the Guardians, which is a local speech and debate club that is part of NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communication Association).  I never dreamed that it would become such a big part of our school year.  Noah competed in tournaments in Memphis, Cleveland, Asheville and Baton Rouge.  Noah prepared an illustrated oratory on Lego and a humorous interp of The Frog Prince Continued.  He qualified for regionals in both of his speeches, and only missed qualifying for nationals by one spot!  Now he has been bit by the speech and debate bug and is planning on competing this next year in platform speech, interpretive speech, team policy debate and apologetics.

We both had a great time at the tournaments, which were intense 3-day events.  At least one parent must attend with each competitor, and the parents serve as judges along with judges from the community.  Competition begins each day at 7:30 am and ends at about 9:30 pm.  Fortunately, Noah loved getting to know the other members of our team - even getting a best friend in the process!

The kids hang out and relax between speech rounds.  That's one of Noah's favorite parts.

I enjoyed hanging out with other Moms, too, and made some great new friends.  At the regional invitational in Baton Rouge, there was a banquet at a plantation where most of the kids dressed up in period costume.  Not me, however.  Noah informed me that he would find that embarrassing.

If you are interested in watching Noah's speeches, they each take about 10 min.  

Sassy Goose

Terry and I spent 4 days in Brevard, NC in late March to celebrate our anniversary.  Brevard is about an hour from Asheville and an hour from Greenville, SC.  It's an area known for lots of waterfalls.  We stayed in a cabin at the Sassy Goose and were the first renters of the season.  We enjoyed our little cabin and had lots of time for hiking, reading, relaxing and eating out.  Our favorite spot to eat was the Jordan street cafe.  The wraps there were fantastic and would be well worth a return trip!  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cake and Candles

This past year has been one of many "milepost" birthdays in our family.  Caleb turned 16 last October, then Rebecca turned 21, Nathan turned 18 and Nana turned 75! 

I don't have any photos from Caleb's 16th, and I'm not sure how that happened.  Suffice it to say that he can now drive a car. And for his cake he requested an entire maple-glazed ham. 

Rebecca turned 21 on Feb. 22nd.  We surprised her by inviting Steve and Lisa down from Kentucky to spend the weekend.  For a special gift, we bought her an original edition of  21 Balloons, one of her favorite children's books.  I felt like this book signified the big adventure of life that she is embarking on.  To go along with that, we got her a necklace of a house being pulled by balloons - just like the movie Up.  Terry offered to take her up in a tethered hot-air balloon, but she declined.  

We couldn't get the extended family together for another few weeks, so we had another party then.  We tried these candles that were supposed to have different colored flames:

Then the boys got really goofy with the balloons and totally cracked up the birthday girl:

In fact, I was laughing so hard that the camera shook and the shots are blurry:

Nathan had a milestone birthday in June.  We celebrated with a surprise party at the lake.  One of his soccer buddies has the exact same birthday, and one is just a few days younger.  

We gave Nathan the gift of a trip to Colorado to see his friend, Noah Smith.  They enjoyed hiking and some professional soccer:

Last but not least of the birthday updates, we also celebrated Nana's 75th birthday in June.  All her children and grandchildren were there.  One of the cool things we did was wear birthday hats with photos on them of Nana at the same age of the wearer.  

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun.  Enjoy the trip!