Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Natchez Trace Park and Bar B Q

The drive from the Smokies to Hot Springs National Park was too long to try to do in a day, so we overnighted in Natchez State Park in western Tennessee.  As soon as we unhooked the Airstream the children were off to swim in the lake and enjoy the sunset!

For lunch the next day, we went on a search for some barbecue.  Fortunately, Helen's Bar B Q was only a little out of our way.  It was a metal building in the middle of Brownsville, Tennessee and the smoke actually hurt my eyes while we ate, but it was some good barbecue.  We even met Helen who has been written up in magazines and been given awards for her q!  It was a fun, and delicious, experience.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Great Smoky Mountains

Our first multi-day stop was in The Great Smoky Mountains!  The beginning of our trip has definitely seen some moments of frustrations (Bryce forgot all of his shirts!), but it's also seen some moments that I'll treasure, time with friends being high on that list.

We've learned lessons already on our trip, one of them being to always, always, always, check a map instead of relying on navigation!  As we came close to The Great Smoky Mountains, and the excitement was growing to meet up with our dear friends, the Parsons, we ended up driving straight through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!  To spend that amount of time, towing the Airstream, stuck in bumper to bumper traffic was aggravating and took time away from being with friends, especially when it could have been avoided (hello, bypass)!

We did eventually make it to our campsite in Elkmont, where we were next to our friends who brought their pop up.  The beauty of our friendship with them is that no matter how much time has passed, we pick up where we left off, for the adults as well as the children!  My children were so happy to hang out with them as were we.

We weren't there for as long as we would have liked, but were glad to have what time we did have.  We spent time around the fire, played in the creek, and hiked a mountain!

The hike up Le Conte Mountain was challenging (for me) and exhausting as it was five miles up, which was at times very steep and rocky, and then down those same five miles.  It took us a little over 7 hours to do the whole thing!  It has never felt so good to take a shower and go to bed as it did that night!  What a way to start our trip!

(Alum Cave Bluff)

The views were pretty amazing at the top!

After an amazing breakfast of bacon pancakes that Kathleen made, we headed out for our next destination... Hot Springs National Park!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Our Great Adventure (The Beginning)

The past month has been absolutely crazy and while I have a lot I could write about the move, the renovation, the graduation from schools, the getting ready for new schools, selling our house, and trying to get prepared for this trip, I'm ready to move on and focus on our actual adventures this summer!  I couldn't imagine how it was going to happen, and we certainly had our fair share of tears, but here we are, on our Great Adventure!  We are taking 9 weeks to cross this beautiful country of our in our beloved Airstream.

Somehow we managed to pull out on our originally scheduled departure date (8 hours late, but who's counting).  I would like to tell you that our first stop was one that allowed us to enjoy a majestic view or relax while enjoying nature, but instead it was one of convienance.  Our first night on our trip was spent in a Wal-Mart parking lot!  It did, at least, have trees!  Next stop... The Great Smoky Mountains!

5th Grade Graduation

Last week was Harris' last week at the grammar school that he has attended for the past 6 years.  It's a sweet, small school that is the heart of our community.  I'm so grateful that he was able to experience walking and/or riding his bike to school, having a principal that greets you by name every morning, and a community of parents that are supportive and engaged.

The past couple of weeks there have been lots of fun activities planned for this great group of fifth graders but my favorite two were the Promotion Dinner and the Clap-Out.

The Promotion Dinner is an evening meal for the fifth graders and their parents.  We feel incredibly blessed that Harris has such good friends (and we love their families).  I hope these boys are friends forever!

A friend and I were room parents this year and so we got the fun challenge of designing, and making, the centerpieces for the tables and the favors.  I was fortunate that Dominique was willing to take on the execution of all the crafting as we moved the day before the dinner!  We went with a theme based on Dr. Seuss' book, "Oh, The Places You'll Go."  I think they turned out darling!

The last day of school, it's a tradition to have a clap-out for the fifth graders.  This is where all the students in the school line the hallways and clap as the fifth graders file through the hallways!  Then they are the first ones to tumble out of the school building with their parents waiting on the lawn!  I can hardly believe we are done with grammar school!

Sunday, June 12, 2016


We move on Wednesday of this week.  I've been packing all weekend and somehow I've only gotten the dining room and (most of) the kitchen finished.  Every time I open a cabinet, everything seems to multiply. I've seriously questioned if I'm a hoarder.  If you saw the boxes of crystal, china, and serve ware you would assume that I entertain daily, maybe twice a day.  A minimalist I am not.  I guess this explains why I gasped out loud when I saw the listing for the farmhouse and saw that it had a butlers pantry?

If only it also came with Carson, the butler!

Friday, June 10, 2016


Of the people that read this blog, and who I now feel like I know, quite a few have daughters who are younger than Grace.  This post is for you!

I first heard about Yellowberry several years ago when we first had the need for a bra for Grace (she knows I'm doing this post).  Yellowberry is a company run by a young lady who saw a need for modest, appropriate and cute bras for girls.  When she couldn't find them, she decided to make them herself!  You must read her story as it's inspiring!  

How your order arrives

We have enjoyed watching the company grow and seeing all that they now are offering (swimsuits soon!). Grace and I even got to attend a trunk show recently where we met Payson, who immediately put Grace at ease.  This company has everything I love to support; quality, good design, and a young entrepreneur who is a good role mode for my daughter! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

8th Grade Graduation

Yesterday, Grace graduated from the Waldorf School!  We are so proud of her and her classmates. They are an amazing group of young people.  When we moved her four years ago, we hoped, and prayed, that it was the right decision and there has never been a moment where we were not sure that this is where she needed to be.

Grace has been truly blessed with an amazing teacher for four years (at Waldorf, teachers stay with the class!).  Ms. Motter is a master teacher, and while she is very old school, she has been wonderful for Grace and the lessons learned have gone well beyond academics.

At graduation, every student gives a short speech.  I don't think that I could explain what Waldorf has done for Grace better than she did in her speech...

It seems so surreal to be at this point.  I haven't been in this class since the beginning, but it certainly feels pretty close.  When I entered the class in 5th grade, I fell in love with every aspect of the school and everyone in it, and I've never lost that love.   Waldorf has given me things that no other school could offer.  I've gained certain attributes, if you will, since arriving here.  All of the plays, especially this years, has given me so much more confidence, in myself, as well as in my friends.  Working together with my classmates has given me a clear look at the merits of teamwork, and values of having close relationships with people.  By creating art and writing stories, I've gained confidence in my abilities and creativity.  Being challenged to think on my own and push boundaries has given me the gift of an open mind, and I am extremely grateful for that.  On being challenged, Mrs. Motter has been the one to push me the farthest, and she is of the main reason my years here have been what they are.  I wouldn't have come close to having the experience I've had or become the person I am without her.  My time here has molded me into a well-rounded person, one that I would never change.  All the lessons, all the plays, all the class trips, every day has never failed to reward me with new views and opinions on the world I live in, and the people I share it with.  The little moments are what have made it the most memorable.  And if I had to choose anyone to laugh with at jokes that aren't that funny, I'd choose all of you.

Grace's Grandparents, and Gretchen's family, all came to graduation, which made it all the more special.

A note on Grace's graduation dress, Mrs. Motter had strict dress requirements (told you she was old school)!  All dresses had to be below the knee and no spaghetti straps.  Trying to find a dress that fits those requirements, in todays day and age, is surprisingly impossible.  So we went vintage, and I couldn't love the dress that Grace wore more!  I think she looked so lovely and beautiful!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Ones We Have Been Waiting For

At the end of April, Grace and her classmates boarded a plane and headed to Arizona to stay in the Hopi land. They were there for a week, where they learned of the Hopi culture and worked with and for the people of the community.  I believe it was a powerful experience for all of the students.

On Saturday, Grace participated in her very last assembly at the Waldorf school.  As the school does not go further than 8th grade, the last assembly is a bit special for the 8th grade students.  It's during this assembly that they participate in the rose ceremony and present something as a class.  The eighth graders recited a speech by Thomas Banyacya Sr. (1910-1999).  He was Speaker of the Wolf, Fox and Coyote clan and Elder of the Hopi Nation.  The recitation was powerful and beautiful and I thought I would share his words.

The Ones We Have Been Waiting For

You have been telling the people, 
That this is the eleventh hour.
Now, you must go and tell the people,
That THIS is the hour,
And there are things to be considered.

Where are you living?  What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Where is your water?
Know your garden...

It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community,
Be good to each other.
Do not look outside yourself for a leader.

There is a river flowing now very fast,
It is so great and swift.
That there are those who will be afraid,
They will try to hold onto the shore.
They will feel they are being pulled apart,
And will suffer greatly.

Understand that the river knows its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore.
Push off into the middle of the river,
Keep our eyes open and our heads above water.

And I say; see who is in there with you,
Hold fast to them and celebrate!

At this time in history,
We are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves!
For the moment we do,
Our spiritual growth and journey comes to an end.
The time of the Lone Wolf is over!

Gather yourselves!
Banish the word 'struggle' from your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done,
In a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are all about to go on a journey,
We are the ones we have been waiting for!  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dear Mr. Tumbleweed

Yesterday, as I was going through my children's books trying, and failing, to weed some out,  I wondered to myself if having all of these books actually impacted the children.  If it expanded their world?  Enriched their imaginations?  Broadened their vocabularies?

Literally, two minutes later Grace came in to show me a piece of writing of hers that she found while cleaning out.  She had modeled it after the book, "Dear Mr. Blueberry" by Simon James.  I didn't wonder anymore.

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