Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Card Outtakes

For those who wondered why the boys were not facing the camera on the front of this year's Christmas card ... the new puppy stole the back of our printed Christmas card this year, and that meant our friends and family were deprived of their usual outtakes ...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Big Sticks

What? Your puppy doesn't collect firewood as chew toys? Apparently ours does. Regular sticks in the back yard are not quite big enough for him, poor boy. He's also been known to chew on the landscaping stones if he can't find any sticks to suit him. Silly boy.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas at the Lake

Early Christmas with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Brian, and Cousins Austin and Kyndal at Grandma and Grandpa's cabin on the lake ...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Firefighter Christmas Party

They may not be smiling, but at least they're not screaming at Santa this year.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ready for Christmas

It only took eight years, but for the first time ever Xander was really excited in the weeks leading up to Christmas. He wanted to help Daddy string the lights on the Christmas tree. He wanted to help hang up the stockings and the ornaments. He talked about presents and Santa. He quoted a lot of "Prep and Landing," in a functional way. Holiday cheer, indeed.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cutting Down the Tree

There's a first time for everything.

Connor usually goes with Daddy to the little tree farm down the road from our old house to pick and cut the annual Christmas tree. This year, with the way the calendar fell, Connor was out of town. He goes home with Grandma and Grandpa to the lake every year after Thanksgiving, and this year that was the Saturday we elected to get our tree.

The twins may have gone once before, back when they could be toted in infant carriers. But this was the first time we took them along to help. They were a little unimpressed after the first five minutes. Xander, in particular, kept trying to sneak into the tree farm house (he could see a television through the back windows, I think). Sawyer just kept trying to go back to the truck.

Just one more way the boys are getting out into the world, whether they really like it or not!

(And if you're wondering, yes, we waited until Connor came home on Sunday to actually do the decorations. He LOVES that part!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

First Snow

What does a South Carolina puppy do the first time he sees snow?

He runs in circles. He crouches down, ready to play. He eats a bunch of it. In short, he thinks it's pretty awesome. As long as it's only a few inches.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthday Boy

We celebrated Connor's birthday on with family at home. Roast, noodles, green beans and tea ... the big boy's favorite meal. He requested and received chocolate cupcakes and a chocolate cake. Xander, of course, helping him blow out the candles. Grandma and Grandpa from the lake drove up to help celebrate. Grammy, Pappy, Grandma Jo and Aunt Kelly also came over to help us celebrate. Some of his favorite gifts were his new tablet (Kindle Fire), Star Wars legos, and a new Diary of the Wimpy Kid book.

In addition to the family dinner party, Connor also got to take two friends out with him to enjoy his birthday ... they went to eat at Chuy's Mexican restaurant, went to see a new movie, then went to Monkey Joe's to ride go-karts and play arcade games.

All in all, I'd say he had a good birthday weekend.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekend Escape

Grandma and Grandpa helped with the twins over the weekend so we could take Connor on his fall campout. Grammy and Pappy helped with the kids this week so Josh and I could take a much needed escape from our day-to-day life.

We headed to our home away from home ...

 Our rental cabin in the mountains.

The view from the top. We tried a few new trails this time around. The first one up was Charlie's Bunion, a really long trail off the Appalachian Trail at Newfound Gap.

This view, the complete lack of other people, made it all worth it. Beautiful fall colors, a pretty steady uphill climb, and this was the reward at the end. You literally walked along ridges and stood at the top of the mountains with panoramic views of the mountains all around. It was breathtaking.

This was the view from a secondary trail, called simply The Jumpoff. Just another mile or so off the main trail, and spectacular views here as well. Fall colors still brilliant and beautiful.

Just a snapshot from one of the many overlooks. This trip was far and away the best fall colors we've ever seen on our fall trip. Lots of bright reds, oranges and yellows with some greens still mixed in for contrast.

The view from the parking lot at Clingman's Dome, the spot of our second new trail of the week. The bad news about this one, it was downhill most of the way there (and therefore uphill most of the way back)!

The trails group had put a lot of work into making this one easier to hike in and out. Lots of foot bridges and rock steps that Mother Nature did not provide originally.

Andrew's Bald. Who knew there were wide open spaces at the tops of some of the mountains. I've never seen a meadow quite like this one in the mountains. It was warm, sunny and a peaceful place to spend a few hours resting in the soft grass. Lots of people brought picnic lunches and were there for the day.

Love driving these roads in the mountains. It always makes me think "two roads diverged in a  yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by ..."

And, of course, the beautiful view from the back deck of the cabin in the hot tub. It was a nice long week of hiking, relaxing, good eating, and a little shopping (mostly for the kids, of course)!

The rest of the photos are here

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall Campout

One of the best things about Boy Scouts is the annual Fall Campout, usually on or around Halloween weekend. Last year, Josh took Connor. This year, Grandma and Grandpa were nice enough to come up and watch the little guys so that I could go with them.

First of all, it was cold. As in, really, really cold. As in fog lifting off the lake at 7 a.m. cold.

As in so cold we all wished we thought to pack another layer or two.

The Boys Scouts camp area was beyond beautiful though, particularly this time of year.

We got to try out our brand new tent (a Big Agnus, for those who might be interested). We're pretty impressed so far. Kept us warm and dry despite the cold, and lots of room inside for our air mattresses and sleeping bags, as well as our gear.

Climbing wall. He mastered it.

Shooting sports. He did well with those.
Family shot after lunch at the main building. 
More shooting sports.

Riding in the canoe on the lake. Thank goodness the sun came out for us, especially since some less fortunate people tipped their boat over on the way out (brrr)!

And carving a pumpkin.

It was a long weekend, filled with lots of walking, lots of activities and lots of adventures. My favorites were riding in the canoe, camping out with my boys, and sitting around the campfire at night. Connor voted the shooting sports and the trick-or-treat trail as his favorites. Josh just wonders how he got roped into this whole outdoor camping thing in the first place!

The rest of the photos from our trip are here