Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Mark and I went to Gatlinburg 18 years ago for our honeymoon.  We were excited to take the kids back and see how much it had changed over 18 years.  Oh man, had it changed!   We were looking forward to hiking while we were there, especially since it has been a while since we spent time camping or backpacking.  Mark and Raeley wanted to get some waterfall shots, so our hikes revolved around waterfalls.  That ended up working out great since it rained almost every day we were there.

We also hung out downtown Gatlinburg, shopped in Pigeon Forge, hit historical sites, and drove the arts and crafts circuit.  My favorite shopping was at the NOC outdoor store.  I racked up on some good deals. We spent too long in Pigeon Forge shopping, but with growing kids, outlets can be a great way to do a one stop rush to get some much needed additions to the wardrobes.  Raeley finally found her tan pants for work.  Jonathan and Cameron really needed new sneakers, and me, well, I can always find something I think I need!  I got Cameron a swimsuit for $5 and Jonathan got Nike Lunars for $30.  I scored a beautiful shirt from J Crew for less than $30, and a cute dress from Tommy Hilfiger for around $30 also.  We took time out from shopping to eat lunch at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.  It was a cool experience and how could we pass up getting a bag of fresh apples?

Enough about shopping.  The kids loved the Wonderworks house in Pigeon Forge, which it was like an interactive science museum with a huge indoor ropes course.  The Ripley Mirror Maze in Gatlinburg was a hilight for me because we all laughed so much!  I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did.  I loved hearing Raeley laugh and laugh every turn when we found the real us.  If you've done it, you'd know what I meant.  We were the only people in there, which really added to the experience.  We also did the Ripley Aquarium.  It was impressive as well.  With a big dolphin fan in the family (Cameron), how could we skip it?  We knew there wouldn't be any dolphins there, but we had to go none the less.

We were there for a week, and we ate most meals either from the cooler or at the condo.  The kids also had their schoolwork to keep up with.  They would do that while I cooked dinner, which worked since it was too rainy to go swimming.  Cameron loves swimming, so if there's a pool,  she wants to be in it.  We were wet so much on our trip, though, that everyone had enough of water by the time we got back to the condo.

Raeley's Party

For the big sweet sixteen, Raeley wanted a large party. With her diversity of friends, I let her choose two groups of friends to invite, so the party wouldn't have too many people who didn't know each other. I also asked her to limit it to under 30 people. We didn't do a head count, but I think there were 20 kids there.

Raeley had a joint birthday party with her friend, Ahnna, who has recently moved to Tupelo. Ahnna's birthday was Saturday, so they are 3 days apart. We were thrilled to have a party for both girls. I thoroughly enjoyed the extra help from Ahnna's mom. She did a ton of work for the party!

The party started with the Kinect going on in the background, then we went in the backyard to tie dye shirts and bandanas. The kids did a great job with the tie dye. While the guys flipped burgers for dinner, we had cake and ice-cream, with an ice-cream bar of toppings. The kids sang karaoke while we put out the hamburgers. After hamburgers, the kids played sardines and we got the chocolate fondue set up. They came back, snacked on that, and set up for Capture the Flag Glow in the Dark style. It was a HUGE hit! It was the most fun of the night. I think they could have played it for hours.

Raeley's party was so much fun and she has such great friends, we enjoyed having them all over to hang out for a few hours.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Better than imagined!

Just stopping in to say hi.  This week my sister is coming to my house.  YAY!  But I won't be here for most of it.  She will be the brave one staying by herself with 8 kids.  What a nice sister.  Mark and I are going to the Anytime Fitness Conference and I am very excited.  We are bringing 5 staff members.  I'm looking forward to all I will learn.  There will be lots of opportunities to talk with other club owners as well.

School is going better than I could have imagined.  The kids aren't crazy about having to do school over the weekend, but if they don't finish their weekly work, they have homework to be done by Monday.  Works like a charm to keep us on track.

We are also enjoying the Credo Co-op we are a part of for History and Science.  The kids, for the most part, are self reliant.  Cameron has been reading her science book by herself, and I read history with her.

Last week concluded a two week movie filming Raeley was a part of.  She enjoyed helping behind the scenes and taking photos for the blog.  It consumed most of her two weeks, and we are thankful for the opportunity that she had with this film.  How many 16 year olds get to work on a real film set?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sweet 16

WOW, I can't believe the big day is here! My oldest daughter is 16. Raeley is a typical oldest child, she likes things in order (except her room), is very good at cleaning the house, and is very responsible. Who would have thought that at 16, on the morning of her birthday, she woke up before 7 am to get ready for work, worked an 8-5 shift in her field of expertise, then went off to church. Sounds so very grown up.

I couldn't be more proud of Raeley. She loves the Lord in her whole being. She is real and down to earth. She cares about others and does not have a self-centered view of the world. She is also very talented.

We gave her a special gift for her 16th birthday. We gave her a ring with her birthstone. My parents gave me a ring with an amethyst for my 16th birthday, and I wanted to continue this tradition with her. She is ready for the responsibility of caring for fine jewelry.

I thought it was pretty funny when she was trying to guess her gifts, and she said that a gun would be a great gift for her 16th! That was a clever idea. And it fits her. But I'm glad we gave her the ring.

She said she really felt older this birthday, which was magnified since she had to get herself off to work. I really felt older myself on this birthday for her as well.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

First Week of School

No matter how our first day started, our week ended great! The kids and I all like our new curriculum. We have joined the Credo co-op, and it fits great. It was definitely the right move for our family. The kids really enjoy it. I must say, I think the kids having projects to complete in a school setting with people to show their work to, will go far on keeping it more fun. I always felt I had more fun with their school projects than they did.

I am putting our schooling instead of my work as priority this year, and everyone is taking school more seriously. Robert gets the reward for most serious, however. We had a night of Encouragement with our homeschool group. At this event, we listen to a speaker then have a chance to see all that is offered during the school year. A couple who were home schooled and are now homeschooling were interviewed, and the man spoke of what he found important as he looked back over his schooling. He said tests and math, and to really take your school work seriously. Robert really listened to what he had to say and took it to heart. Robert is also taking 2 high school classes that will count toward his transcript. He is watching his grades already! We dubbed it 8 1/2 grade. Now for the biggest and most stunning news: He studied for his spelling test all week and made a 100!

I am really trying to hold the kids to finishing a week of school Monday - Friday. However, Co-op is on Friday, so if the rest of the day is time off, they have a few assignments to do on Saturday or Sunday. Saturday afternoon I gave spelling tests, and today they will have time to finish a few assignments. Next week is the real test of how things will go, as this week did not include history and science in the line up of what they had to do. Now that their friends are older, and they are hearing of all the hours of homework they have, they are more willing to work outside of school hours, making it so much easier on me not having to play the bad guy, if you know what I mean.

Deut. 31:8 God is going before us and Phil. 4:13 it is through His strength.