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Monday, October 21, 2013

A Mountain Retreat

Clambering on rocks on a hike up Mt. Mitchell. I just LOVE Rhi's little confident gapped-tooth smile. Why can't they stay like that forever? 

I think the Lord knew what our family would need after a week of crazy happenins', so He scheduled our mountain retreat a year in advance just so we'd have a place to BE. We had a wonderful time enjoying His beauty and the family (my own, my parents, and my youngest brother for a short time) with which He has blessed us. 

We went back to Sky Top Orchard and had a great time picking apples. 

"But WHY can't I pick the apples on the ground?"

Corwin was very confused about why we kept having to search for apples, when there were so many right there on the ground. He was a good sport though, and helped us find some fully laden trees.

Rhianwen brought Marie-Grace everywhere again. 

Back at Orchard Lake Campground, we all had fun on the zipline. Truth be told, the kids would probably have been completely satisfied doing that all day everyday we were there. Every time there was a tiny moment of downtime, Alden would start complaining about not doing anything fun right now and could we go on the zipline.

So totally happy.

He's probably wanting one for his backyard....don't get any ideas, Wally.

They did take a break for some shuffleboard. It's really a fun game!...Does that mean I'm really old? Yeah...don't answer that question.

We can still fit our whole family in one canoe although we did have to stop them from putting their arms all the way in the water b/c it made it way too hard to navigate.

Our cottage, mouse and all. Oh, you thought we camped...way too much work. But maybe someday soon. While it was not quite a Honeymoon (see cottage name), my parents generously paid for a date night for us AND watched our kids while we went to the Purple Onion in Saluda. Thaaaank you!

Stories with Grandpa. What they really loved though was for him to just tell his own "Forgetful Jones" stories. 

Hiking with NannyKim up Mt. Mitchell. Corwin was a lazy bum and nearly always wanted to be carried to the next great thing.

Guess this was the next great thing.

Like father like son.

We made it! Visibility was amazing that day! The ranger said we could see for 100 miles.

Back at the campground, Corwin was the only one who could master this rope ladder (although I think Wally got close). The funny thing is, I think Corwin really wanted to flip, but it was challenging for him :)

More climbing at the campground. I just love Orchard Lake Campground. It is Christian, family run, everything is available without asking and free (except for the golf balls). There are hiking trails and the stars at night are amazing.

Marshmallow roasting. The closest Corwin got was to sit on an adult's lap. But he did eat his share of mallows roasted by us.

We hiked to Pearson Falls, especially b/c Corwin saw it in his old photo book and had his heart set on seeing it. As you can see, Marie-Grace and Wolfie came along.

Playing at the playground in Saluda, a sweet little town with yummy food and fun shopping. I remember when Alden was in this tunnel when he was 18 months old. 

In fact, here he is then.

Sha-la-la! Don't know where he got that from...

While in the mountains, the air was chill, so we had the kids wear warm clothes. It always takes our youngest time to adjust to that new sensation. Corwin kept wanted his "tiny one pants" so he could go "fwimming". 

Back at home, Wally had to go out of town for a couple of days, and Corwin took the opportunity to go crazy. Every time I had to correct him and tell him that Jesus had to die b/c of the bad things Corwin does, he'd cry with tears running down his cheeks, "I waaaant Jeeesuuuus!". I do reassure him that Jesus is alive and in heaven and loving and watching him every day...soooo, be a good boy, ok? Sigh, how to keep the balance of Christ's unconditional love and His expectations for holiness. It's hard enough in my own life.

Ending on a funny conversation b/t Rhianwen and Alden:

Rhi to Alden: "Your hair looks like a whirlpool. What does mine look like?"
Alden: "It looks like a weeping willow."
Rhi: "No, I mean the top of my head."
Alden: "It looks like a stream."

How poetic.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Joyful Celebration

My sweet birthday girl.

We celebrated Rhianwen's 7th birthday on the tail end of an emotional week for us all and in the midst of a really huge project for Wally at work. It took our family to pull it all off. As a result, we all felt loved and supported, and Rhianwen felt wonderfully celebrated.

An early morning reception of her Happy Birthday song which also included Nanny Kim who was here for the week to help her own daughter. I sometimes think you never stop needing a mommy!

Rhianwen opened presents first thing. She is part of an American Girl book club, and loves reading the books, so we gave her quite a few to have for herself. I find it interesting how she approaches reading. She'll start multiple chapter books and work through them all slowly. Occasionally, she will tear up one at a time, but, mostly, she likes dabbling through them all. I don't remember being like that until recently!

Can you tell Alden is very proud of his gift? It is a beautiful Barbie doll (one of my old ones...shhhhh, no one knows but the adults ;0)

Corwin is very excited about his gift to Rhi too (another Barbie doll).

Tiddliwinks fun.

Playing with her Barbies. She loves them, of course. SIGH.

Yummy chocolate cupcakes. She had her "real" birthday cake at her party.

I really tried to keep her party simple this year. In the past, I've felt like there was no time for free play, which I believe is the most important thing (other than the person and maybe the cake) at a party. So I tried to really trim down the activities even though she really wanted lots of games. By the time the party had come and she was playing, she did not want the games! I'm glad I made the right choice.

She wanted a doll birthday party, so the food was miniature for the dolls and larger for us. There were miniature sugar cookies, mini-pretzels, wine-grapes (which are teeny tiny), and mini-muffins and regular sized ones of the same. Thanks to Grandmama and Nanny Kim for helping me with all that! The cookies were such a hit that we only had a few minis left. The girls had a great time decorating canning jar lids for dolls' plates and used the tiny food for them.

Decorations were her doll clothes on a line, flowers from Grandmama, a toy kitchen and crib, and an easel. We set out chalk and bubbles, and that was that! I knew the toy kitchen and crib would cater to the little ones, and it worked out perfectly for everyone to have their own space. If you are wondering about the crisp beautiful pictures, you can thank Brooks and Clara who have their own photography business on the side.

Getting back to the party, the girls made a birthday hat for their dolls from scrapbook paper.

Aren't they cute?!

I love Hannah's expression here. She borrowed Rhi's pig, Wilbur, for the party.

YES! Free play time accomplished. I set out lots of doll books for them to look at. I also read The Best Loved Doll per Rhi's choice, although it was a loooong book, something I had forgotten!

More free play, yes! My brother had to be in on the action. He brought his lovely girlfriend, Hannah, too whom you can see in the background in the first picture on this post ;0) ;0) It was so sweet of all our family to come and celebrate with us (Grandmama, Grandaddy, Grandpa, Nanny Kim, Skipper, Christopher, Hannah, Clara, Brooks, and Mary Ruth Hallelujah). Thank you for that sacrifice.

Corwin having a ball with Aunt Clara and Mary Ruth.

Rhi's best-loved doll. I am so glad she did not get trumped by the Barbies!

Going on a treasure hunt for their favor bags which had a paper doll coloring book from Lilly and Thistle, bandaids (supposedly for their dolls), and bubbles. I love these treasure hunts. We try to make the clues Bible verses. The girls read the verse and corresponding clue and have to figure out where in the yard the next clue is.

Happy birthday dear sweet girl.

Things I love about Rhianwen's age this year: her missing teeth just make her so adorable, she loves making up her own jokes, she can laugh at herself now, she enjoys drying the dishes and says it gives her lots of good ideas for stories about poor people who have to work all of the time (and, no, she really isn't complaining), I am seeing more and more how her personality is a lot like Nanny Kim's but of course she is wonderfully unique, her confidence in her artistic abilities and her ability to be ok with imperfection in her projects, her enjoyment of reading, her inquisitive conversational nature. Each year I hate to see that she is growing up, and I don't want her to change one bit. But each year I am so glad that she is growing and changing and that I am blessed to be a part of it.

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