Friday, September 30, 2011


It just wouldn't be fall around here without a trip to Stribling Apple Orchard. We go every year with 4 R's preschool and this was Mason's turn to go and have my complete attention! He is pretty much loving that his brothers are in school all day and he gets me all to himself. I must say, I really love it too. It was a soggy day that got soggier as the day wore on, but we made the most of the beautiful scenery and delicious apples. Our favorite are the Golden Delicious, they aren't the prettiest, but they definitely are the sweetest and we picked a bag full of them before it really started to pour. Mason kept saying how much fun he had the entire ride home and I was grateful that it doesn't take much to keep him entertained. We'll all be enjoying an apple a day for a while at our house!

Secret Agent Man

This past weekend we were graced with visitors. Jeremy's brother Cary has been out here for several months, attending the FBI Academy in Quantico and he graduated on Tuesday so his wife Sarah and their brand new baby Jenna flew out and stayed with us. We've loved having some of Jeremy's family close by, even if just for a couple of months and have enjoyed the weekends when Uncle Cary has come to visit so it is sad to see him go, especially for our kids. He has been a rough and tumble Uncle, willing to wrestle with them all and they loved every minute. It was so nice to have a relaxing weekend with Sarah here and Jenna became the new "kitten" in the house, with my children fighting over who gets to hold her or be in her face. Poor baby :) On Tuesday Jeremy and Sarah went to the graduation and Cary won the academics award for the whole class of 55 students, incredible! Jeremy was honored to be able to attend and is really proud of his little brother. They will be moving to Miami but we are crossing our fingers for a DC post to come!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My kind of camping

The last time we went camping, "real" camping was about two years ago and it did not go according to plan due to the thunderstorm that ended up flooding our tent in the middle of the night. I vowed never to camp again and Jeremy didn't even want to go in the first place, so you can imagine how he felt. But we do like to be up in the mountains, and it's always prettier and cooler in the fall, so this year we got a steal of a deal on a place up in Luray called Jellystone Park. We didn't really know what to expect, but this weekend was so great that I think it surpassed anything we could have imagined. First, the weather was just right, mid 60's during the day and chilly, but brisk at night. Second, the cabin. We chose to forgo the tent and rent out a cabin, sans bathroom, but cozy and warm with a heater, electricity and a TV. And there was a charcoal grill and a fire ring for all of our cooking needs. Third, the location. Not only was the view spectacular and only about an hour away from home, but Jellystone had so many activities to choose from that we never had a chance to be bored. They had kids programs throughout the day like hula hooping contests, jelly bean relays, candy bar bingo (our favorite), tractor rides, Yogi cartoons and coloring, paddle boats, a great playground and two huge jumping pillows (another favorite). We also did some hiking both there at the park and at nearby Arrowhead Lake. In the end, the consensus was that this was the perfect place for our family, just the right balance of nature, comfort, and things to do and we will definitely be back again next year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


One of the "perks" of my job is the endless stream of orphaned or relinquished animals that come through the clinic. Currently we have 4 cats that are in need of a home. One of them came for a visit this weekend to three foaming at the mouth boys who couldn't wait to get their hands on him. This was no trial run, we had no intention of adding another pet to our family, I simply wanted to acquiesce the little 'uns that have been begging for me to bring something home. Apparently the skinks from a couple weeks ago were not good enough. This little fluff ball was in a whole different category. He's been at work for a week now and has probably spent more time in the arms of the staff than in his cage. His calm demeanor tipped the scales towards coming for a visit. There was but one problem that was made very apparent after having him in the house for five minutes- there was one of him and three of them. All weekend I have been monitoring and timing the movement of the cat," it's your turn now", "no, he just got the kitten you have to wait", "why don't you put him down and let him decide who he wants to go to," "maybe I should just cut him in half and you each can have a piece!" It's been exhausting. I have firmly solidified my decision to not get another pet, and it's a wonder this poor creature has survived! Maybe the strangest thing is that he actually seems to enjoy being cuddled by these six clammy hands and carried for hours on end. Oh, he will fit in swimmingly with some little family, just not our family. Next time I bring something home, it had better be triplets.

And just like that, the nest is empty

Thursday was Masons very first day at our little 4 R's Preschool. He acted like he had done this hundreds of times before, and walked in without even saying goodbye, I had to call him back for a hug. I went home and the house was SO quiet. No yelling boys, no one making messes, not even Dora on in the background. I'll admit it was kind of nice, but I was anxious to get Mason back and find out all about his day. On the way home he told me all about how he had learned about trains, read books and had apples and goldfish for a snack. He even told me that Mrs.Winger had to help him go potty (oops!) We'll have to work on that one a bit more at home. He is excited to go back on Tuesday and make more friends.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School

Another summer come and gone, another year of school begins. Today was a big day in our house, we now have two Mountain View Cougars under our roof! Cameron will be in third grade this year and has a new teacher at our school , Ms. Dalton. Gavin starts Kindergarten and has Mrs. Williams, the best Mountain View has to offer and I'm thrilled!

Last night the lunches were packed, new outfits were set out waiting for the morning, Jeremy gave each of the kids father's blessings, and backpacks were stuffed full of new school supplies. Everything was ready and We sat the boys down to talk about the new year and our family theme, "I can do hard things." I have not been worried about Gavin going to school. He has been so excited and ready to go, I just knew everything would go smoothly. But last night during our discussion he broke down and started crying, saying he didn't want to go. Cameron was such a great big brother and reassured him of all of the fun things to do at school, recess, coloring, PE, art, music, and lunch and told him he would just be down another hall if he needed him. That did the trick and he was fine. This morning they both seemed in good spirits and I was able to take them into school and meet their teachers. Cameron acted cool and just went to check out who he knew in his class,, but he wasn't too big to give his mom a squeeze before I left. Gavin met his teacher and put his things away and then went to go and color without saying goodbye. I think that's a pretty good sign. I can't wait until this afternoon when they come home on the bus and tell me all about their day. I'm so glad they are there together and having these new experiences. I'm so excited for all of the learning they are just beginning!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In My Mind I've Gone to Carolina

All summer long we look forward to the beach trip our family will take to Corolla the week before school starts. It's great to have one last thing to end our summer break and the rates go way down that week as well. The catch is that hurricane season is in full force at that time and you run the risk that one might affect your trip. That happened last year with Earl, we were evacuated a few days early, but we didn’t think it would happen two years in a row. We were wrong. When we first learned that Irene was on her way, we didn’t think much of it, after all, Earl totally missed the Outer Banks last year even though they thought it would make landfall. But as our week drew closer, we realized that this was going to be more serious, we were supposed to be making hurricane preparations all the way at our house to prepare for Irene. We buckled down and hoped for the best. Irene barely touched our county. A few tree limbs down, but everyone had power and it just felt like a windy night which is common around here in the spring. Unfortunately, the Outer Banks did not fare as well. We were told that our trip would be delayed, and I was fine with a day or two, but when people started talking about possibly having to cancel our whole trip, I freaked out. After researching several back up plans, we were told that we would most likely be able to get in by Tuesday. So Monday we headed down to Williamsburg to go to Busch Gardens and spent the night in a hotel there. One of the problems with getting to Corolla was that we had to drive through a town called Duck where the distance between the sound and the ocean is very narrow. There was a lot of damage there due to the wash over of the ocean and the flooding of the sound. Driving through was really heart breaking. All of the piers had been completely destroyed and the businesses right there on the sound were in ruins. There was debris everywhere and random kayaks just strewn about. Luckily, Corolla was fine. They had some flooding and the power went out, but by the time we got there it had been restored. Our vacation home was perfectly unscathed and we were able to start our relaxing.

We don’t really do much at the beach. Our family enjoys going down to the ocean every day and just playing in the sand and surf. The weather was gorgeous while we were there, mid-80’s and if anything, a bit chilly in the water. The beach was littered with branches and piles and piles of reeds from the hurricane, and we used that to build the kids a little play structure one day. Both Cameron and Gavin enjoyed boogie boarding this year, while Mason was content to just dig and play with his trucks in the sand. Another effect of the hurricane was that turtles had been displaced and there were baby terrapins (freshwater) turtles all over the beach where they didn’t belong. We had seen them at the wildlife center they have there and Cameron searched and searched at the beach but it seemed like everyone found one but us. Until the last night while walking on the beach we found one and took him to his natural habitat in the sound.

We enjoyed all of the classes we take every year at the wildlife center, fishing and crabbing and the kids love it every time. We caught 5 fish- a spot, a catfish, a perch and two carp, and in our crabbing class between all of the boys I think we caught seven.

This year we also brought our dog, Aspen. She came with us years and years ago, when Cameron was just an infant, and this year we thought we would bring her again since our house took pets. One of the best parts of Corolla is that you can bring your dog on the beach and lots of families do. Even though our girl is 11 years old now, we quickly found out that she still loves to play fetch in the ocean. Time after time we threw a stick for her to go and get and even though she really got pummeled by some waves she never tired of it. I’m glad that even she got to have a little get away.

Here’s our top 10 list of our Corolla 2011 vacation:

1. 4x4 driving on the beach

2. Watching the sunset on the sound

3. Jet skiing with Dad

4. Walking on the beach at dusk, looking fr shells

5. Watching Aspen play in the ocean

6. Fresh donuts for breakfast

7. Crabbing and fishing class

8. Swimming at the indoor pool

9. Boogie boarding

10. Puzzles and games at the house

So even though our trip was shorter than expected, we still managed to do all of the things we wanted to do and have a great time. We’re already looking forward to next year.