Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Much Overdue

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'...

Somehow we've managed to neglect recording some of our favorite recent happenings, though it certainly isn't because those happenings weren't fabulous. On that note, I'll take you back in time a few weeks before the leaves began to change and while we were still in Arkansas...

One of the highlights of our two week visit to The Natural State was a weekend trip to Petit Jean State Park. The main reason we were there was to support my brother Brad and his bike team as they rode the MS 150 (that's 150 miles, biking a mountain...plain nuts). His group, Team Caffeine Powered by Energy Circle (translation: coffee and doughnuts) was a team he assembled from friends and other bike enthusiasts around Batesville, AR.
Before leaving for Arkansas, Riley and I even tie-dyed shirts to match the team's and show some spirit! Brad was able to send me the logo, so we looked all official.
While Brad and his buddies "Pedaled the Peak,"

we enjoyed time with the grandparents, cousins and aunt. We hung out at the house they rented when it was raining, to play on their hammock, enjoy gems like this view, and feel closer to nature with this cute little thing (thankfully it was just the skin--the snake was long gone.)
When the weather cooperated, we played at the teepee. That's right, I said teepee! Oh, Yeah. It was so much fun to camp in a teepee--well, sort of, except for the first night when I was squeezed onto a cot with Lucy and slept for perhaps a total of two hours that night. And except for that same first night when it was so danged hot and buggy. But the next day (after the rain) when we could canoe, fish and skip rocks, it was fabulous. Bonus, the second night was much cooler, and I rearranged our sleeping paraphanalia that made everyone more comfortable, and we all slept.

Poor Uncle Brad. After riding the first day's 75 miles,
we implored him to start a fire in our fire pit at the teepee so we could toast marshmallows and have s'mores. Besides, I'd been told by both my husband and brother, that you haven't camped if a campfire wasn't involved. The problem--it had rained quite a bit that morning and all our wood was soaked. Eventually Aunt Amanda kindly took over and we were able to get enough of a fire (granted, we used several sheets of "school paper" as wood) to toast enough marshmallows for each child to have a s'more. WHETHER THEY WANTED ONE OR NOT, BY GOLLY!
We also got to spend some time exploring just a few of the many hiking trails to be found at Petit Jean where we found "turtle rocks," Indian caves, and "bear" caves. We even found a trail that was handicapped accessible so that Grandma could join us on one of our hikes.
The stars at night may be big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, but let me tell you that outside our teepee at Petit Jean the stars were spectacular, and the fun we had during the day was just as fantastic. We had an incredible time there.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Freedom No More!

Freedom Circle and the large open yard next to our (old - pre-renovation) house has provided many great memories.

It was a giant play area for the Ga Ga Pit:

It housed Camp Freedom:

It was a major site for the Family Olympics:

Kristi's Square Foot Garden lived here:

My personal favorite use for the area was Freedom Rink:

And countless other swordfights, capture the flag games, and circus acts:

It's sad time on the circle...FREEDOM NO MORE!

Construction has taken the area over. The great flat field has been transformed into a loud dusty pile of rocks and giant orange vehicles. This picture shows the back of #8 and the heart of our camp area. The fence takes away all the natural play area that was there before.

Here's #7's shed barley holding on the last piece of green.

Here is the view from #7's driveway.

The ugly steep hill that was behind #8 & 9 has been removed, but the construction seems a little close if you ask me. I'm glad Hopper went off to a Farm. He would have had a hard time living behind this house.

I'm excited for the new houses and the fun that families will make in new places, but it is hard to see through the "Pain of Progress"

Must be time to move...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to You and You and You

While planning our trip to Arkansas, my brother suggested we have a birthday party for everyone in the family at one time. It was a perfect idea--since we are rarely together for each other's birthdays, we also rarely have the pleasure of giving a gift in person or share a birthday cake and any other fun birthday traditions. Did I mention exchanging gifts? The kids were most excited about that little detail.

We grilled burgers and dogs (on the new grill we gave Grandpa), took a group photo,

sang Happy Birthday (just once, thankfully), blew out candles on a cake with everyone's names that we then devoured,

exchanged presents,

and, of course, took a few whacks at a pinata for good measure.

It was truly a great day...hopefully the kids won't forget about the presents they already got when their birthdays roll around this fall.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Best Tour Guides Ever!

We spent a day and a half at my brother and sister-in-law's house. While there, we cram packed everything we could see in that short time.

Our first stop was the Old Independence Regional Museum in Batesville, Arkansas. My sister-in-law works there, so we were able to have our own personal tour guides. I say guides because my niece is just about as knowledgeable as her momma! Amanda told us the stories,

while Clara demonstrated the activities.

We have a picture at home of Clara in a carriage, which the kids always ask about whenever they see it. While there we got to see the carriage in person, and even take our own photo.

The next day we drove to Mountain View, Arkansas, to visit the Ozark Folk Center and Blanchard Springs Caverns. We hit the Folk Center first, trying to beat the rain that was coming. We watched different tradespeople working on their crafts, enjoying the top maker at his lathe most of all. We ground corn

and ate hoe cakes in the kitchen

Uncle Brad took Cory into the gunsmith shop, and all the kids stirred the soap at the soap maker.

Our final stop, the candle shop was the perfect place for a souvenir.

Then we cruised over to Blanchard Springs Caverns to see the caves.

The kids were quite excited--more than one of them told me they had butterflies in their stomach as we waited to descend the 250 feet. They were very anxious about the possibility of seeing a bat. The first thing Riley said when she stepped into one of the large rooms was, "Wow! Look at God's sculptures!". We didn't see any bats within the cave, but we saw plenty of evidence of their presence, and as we were leaving, we saw a couple of clusters hanging in the rafters above us. The kids were thrilled.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Luckily she did not "break her mommy's back"

While in DC we spent a couple of evenings hiking a riverside trail close to the hotel. It was technically goose creek and flows into the Potomac River. There were a few geocaches along this trail so we used it as a great diversion to get the kids out of the hotel room and expend some energy.

We found some shallow areas to explore and look for critters. Cory almost captured this frog.

The kids decided to scramble along some rocks and brave the "rapids!"

At one point on the trail the geocaching sent us up a steep hill. Dad and Cory braved the hill into what was most certainly a snake hangout. If you know my know I was troubled. Luckily no snakes but we did find the cache.

This particular part of the trail was close to the river and had a steep drop to the water. Some areas were natural drainage points and were slightly hazardous. I tried to keep the kids away from the edge, but little Lu had some trouble.

She slipped into what she described as a "fall-ee-crack". Demonstrated above by Riley. Her sister riley was quick to jump to her rescue and pull her out. This picture recreates the event although the roles are reversed after Lu had stopped crying. She didn't think it was so funny when she was hanging for her life. In reality it was just a short drop to some roots and ground and she would not have fallen in the water, but Lu was not so sure.

Some of the trail had some great bridge type areas. The kids all enjoyed the risky two tree bridge.

We all enjoyed the hikes, and even though Lucy stepped on a "fall-ee-crack...she did not break her mother's back.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad