Friday, July 7, 2017

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Our past few weeks have been not at all what we planned, but even though we didn't get to celebrate Independence Day in the Ecuadorean jungle as we'd hoped, we still had a great weekend. 

Jonathan and his family have had their camper parked at Chickasaw State Park for a little over a week, so we used the camp as home base for July 2-4. We spent some of each day at the rehab hospital with Dad, and we spent the nights at Dad's house, but we filled the rest of our time with camping fun. 

Chickasaw State Park is a "resort-style" park, a ranger told us, and there is so much to do. There was a great playground right next to our campsite with swings, a sandbox, and plenty of good concrete for chalk and bike riding. The four oldest had a ball while the adults and Lovie visited.

On Sunday night the rangers organized a kickball game and everyone was invited. Our four big+medium kids were little more than cute obstacles to the game, but they were in heaven. They each got to kick and run the bases. I ran with the Manimal and he laughed the entire time, so overcome with joy. He was wearing a monogrammed outfit, so he enjoyed the added bonus of having everyone cheer for him by name. 

Toward the end of the game, MK and Hamish actually attempted some fielding. Hamish chased a foul ball and got to toss it back to the pitcher. They are still talking about the game! 

On Monday morning we all met in Dad's room: 4 adults, 5 kids under 5, and Gracie the dog. It was a bit of a zoo. Then we headed back to camp for lunch, more playing, some fishing, and a big grilled-kabob supper. Nana joined us for most of Monday. 

Monday night there was another kickball game scheduled, but the adults had requested an adults-only game. No one wanted to be "that guy" who knocked over a child with the ball. The kids were disappointed, but watched their dads play and then moved on to the playground. 

Play was spirited, but no one was dressed for competition. Several people were playing in cowboy hats, some in boots, some barefoot. Kyle kicked the ball so hard his shoe flew into the dugout (and was caught by a teammate). Jonathan caught a slick spot by second base and executed an unnecessary slide. 

At the end of the night a few of the horse campers rode their horses over to the exercise ring, and Kathryn took all the girls to go watch. When the rain started, we all ran back to our cars and headed back. 

On the morning of the 4th we again met at Dad's rehab room before heading home. We were happy to get home to naps and baths Tuesday afternoon. We spent the night of the fourth with a very low key evening at our neighbors. Pizza, puzzles, lots of snacks, and fireworks on TV. It was just about right. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

(A bunch of these posts went up at the same time, so the timing here may be confusing. We ended up canceling our trip to Ecuador.) 

The countdown to our South American adventure is on! And we've been busy acquiring gear for our time split between the Amazon jungle and the Andes. You know that well-worn Thoreau quote: "I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes..."? We are ignoring that one. We're more Twain people anyway.

I was talking about our trip to a sales guy at North Face. I told him I was looking for pants to hike in the jungle. Which jungle, he asked. The Amazon, I answered, nonchalantly. So cool. He was impressed until I told him I was going with my young kids and staying in a lodge. Then I was just a mom going on vacation. Oh well.

Kyle has done all of his shopping on Amazon. When his stash arrived, he wasted no time getting suited up. New hiking hat, hiking socks, binoculars, and backpack.

He does look dashing and adventurous. The kids also got binoculars and hats, so after school they suited up in the parking lot and went hiking at Radnor Lake. We've been going on family hikes since we booked this trip a few months ago. The kids LOVE telling people we meet that we are training for Ecuador. It's that much more fun with binoculars.

The next day they tried their new pants and shirts too, and hiked with rain boots, which apparently we'll do in the jungle.

This time they went to Percy Warner Park. Which I'm sure is very similar to Ecuador.

Kyle even tried wearing the Manimal in the hiking backpack. It's hot, but doable.

Everyone kept an eye out for wildlife: jaguars, monkeys, birds. The Manimal apparently told a fellow hiker there was a jaguar right overhead. But the wildest thing they saw was this very cool bug: 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Our precious Hamish-girl is One Whole Hand! Can you believe it? We can not. Instead of a party this year, we had a Family Birthday Day, the weekend before the actual birthday, full of all the things she loves with one special friend--P, of course. Hamish got to pick most of the activities, with a couple of surprises thrown in for extra fun.

First up, pedicures and donuts!

Nothing quite like starting the day with flowers on your toes, pink frosting, and sprinkles!

From there, we headed to ClimbNashville, the birthday girl's request. She really wanted manicures AND pedicures AND ClimbNashville. But I talked her out of manicures. The pedicures survived inside shoes and socks. The manicures wouldn't have!

It was P's first real time climbing. She'd been before, but hadn't made much progress climbing. I was so proud of Hamish's encouraging spirit. She loves to climb, but she wanted to make sure P was having fun too. They had plenty of fun climbing as well has hanging and being silly.

P's little sister and babysitter were with us, so lots of fun was had by all. The Manimal is still uninterested in actually climbing, but he loves D. And Kyle brought snacks, which is always the best part. He and Kyle even did some sit ups.


After we'd had our fill of climbing, we went to Bobbie's Dairy Dip for lunch. Everyone had as much french fries as they could handle.


After lunch, P and fam headed home. We wanted to sneak in one more family favorite before a little birthday rest time, so we headed to the creek at Belle Meade Plantation for a quick dip. Hamish actually had a bathing suit in the car. The Manimal was without his "babing suit" though, so he played in shorts until he soaked them. Then he went classy with just a diaper.

We love a creek, and this one is great. Nice bathrooms nearby. Shade. Easy parking. It's lovely!

From the creek, we went home for a little afternoon rest. After that morning, everyone was happy to snooze just a bit. Then it was off to the Half Family Surprise Birthday Dinner. Kyle gave Hamish some clues:

1. It'll be kind of like Ecuador.
2. It's going to be fun.

Hamish was indignant: "But everything you do is fun! That's not a clue!"

The Rainforest Cafe, with its animatronic animals and simulated rain storm, was a HUGE hit.

We ended our night with a chocolate volcano cake.

On the morning of her actual birthday, a school day, we still celebrated with breakfast cake and presents.Nana watched the kitchen floor celebrations via FaceTime.

The birthday girl got a bike, a grown up Bible, a pink parasol, dress up clothes and more books.

And birthday cake for breakfast. Happy, happy 5, sweet girl!