Pony Camp

From August 3rd –

They always have a parent show on the final afternoon of Camp Widji but we’ve never gone because it’s typically camp songs/chants and not really something where the kids get to show you what they did.  But, with them both doing things at the Ranch side of the camp this year the girls were getting to show off things they’d learned – which for Abbi meant showing up her new pony riding skills.  The camp isn’t horribly far from Brent’s work so he went to see them.

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Their showcases were at the same time so the nice counselors let Abbi skip so Brent could see both of them before the showcases were over.  I mean – how adorable!

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This picture made me want to get her a pony immediately.  I think we have enough yard for a cute little pony.  I’m so glad she had a great time.  This summer she’s doing the same Pony Camp again and several of her preschool and school friends are also going the same week so she’ll have a lot of friends to ride the bus with and be in the same group as.

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Over at Farm Camp Lilli got to show them everything she’d learned about working on the farm and the various animals she got to take care of – pigs, chicken, goats and more.

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And she got to walk him around the garden and show him the things they’d planted and worked on.

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And Lilli got THE big award – the Purple Pony goes to one boy and one girl in the entire Ranch camp and is voted on by the counselors for the person who is the kindest to all the animals and all the other campers.  It’s a huge award and Abbi was really jealous – not so much of the award and what it signified – but because it also came with a lollipop.

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Their end of week counselor notes:

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And Abbi’s from Pony Camp:

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We went to Kroger that night to see if we could get Abbi a lollipop.  This one had the cute little buggies so of course they each had to push one.

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We also ran in to At Home and Abbi found some chainsaws decor she could really get into.

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Camp Widji

From July 28 – Aug 2

On Saturday morning after we ate breakfast we headed to pick up the girls from Granny Camp, but stopped at Devil’s Backbone to do another hike from our local TN hiking book.  It was a really primitive area – no restrooms and the trail itself was obviously not traveled very much.

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It was covered in spider webs and Brent had to keep clearing it as we walked so we wouldn’t be covered in spiders.

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Overall it was really just a narrow wooded trail, there wasn’t really all that much of anything to look at.  And when we got back to the parking lot we discovered we were COVERED in small seed ticks.  As soon as we got to the Spears’ house we took showers to get them off – it was that bad!

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It was tax free weekend so on our way back we stopped at the mall for two brand new back to school outfits.  Both girls got a few cute things at Justice and some new tennis shoes.

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We saw a new Dragon’s kiosk in the mall – it’s these puff balls that have nitrogen on them so it looks like a dragon breathing when you eat it.  They’re crazy expensive and we didn’t want to pay for it – but Lilli wanted it bad enough she pitched in some money to try it.

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You have to blow on it first so it doesn’t freeze your throat (really) and then as you first chew on it smoke comes out your nostrils and mouth.  It really doesn’t taste all that good but it was fun an entertaining.  If you ate it too fast your mouth was definitely cold.

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It was a lot of fun and I’m glad we tried it once.  Since then it’s been deemed unsafe so I don’t think you can get it anywhere.  Ha!

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Abbi had her kindergarten social at the park.  Mostly she just played with her preschool and church friends, so I’m not sure how much socializing happened.  At that point we didn’t even know who her teacher was going to be much less who would be in her class.

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She and Piper played in the creek.  Lilli didn’t really see any older siblings there that she knew.

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And then it was time for their final camp of the summer – the one and only Widji! I was a little nervous if Abbi would like it or not – they board a bus near our house and ride about 45 minutes out to Percy Priest Lake to camp.  It’s a very large camp with kids coming from all over town on a lot of buses – so I was nervous it would overwhelm her after some of our unsuccessful experiences earlier in the summer.  She and Lilli were both signed up to be on the Ranch side – Lilli wanted to do Farm Camp and Abbi was signed up for Pony Camp.

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And she LOVED it! This is how she looked after Day 1 when the bus came back.  A big, hot, campy mess.  She made a sweet friend from California and had a great time riding tiny ponies.  Every afternoon they’d also do other camp activities like swimming, fishing, arts/crafts, boating and all kinds of other fun stuff.  You know you had a great day when there’s dirt all over your face and your hair is a mess!

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Summer Life

From July 21 – 27….

I took the girls out to register them for dance class and we had a fun little morning out.  I had finally found a studio where they could both take dance class at the same time.  I signed Lilli up for a Jazz/Contemporary class and a Ballet/Tap class for Abbi.  We ran by and got new dance shoes for both of them and some Starbucks treats at Barnes and Noble.

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Poor Brent was stuck at home working on the fence, making progress with the posts.

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That night we took both girls to Carmax for a little fun.  It’s pretty much their favorite thing to do for fun.

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I think Lilli was fond of this one.

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The following week the girls went to Granny Camp for the week.  For the most part we just go to work, cook dinner at home, and then we’ll head out and take a walk on the greenway.

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Meanwhile, Carolyn was getting quite a makeover.

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My old building was a big pile of rubble.

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The girls had a good time playing around with all the big “toys”.

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And of course lots of Sonic was had!

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We headed out to try Hattie B’s one night.  They’re one of the most popular hot chicken places in town and it was our first time to go there.

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It was really good and we even ran into one of Lilli’s old preschool teachers from when she was just a little two year old.

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Getting Artsy

From July 15-20….

One night we decided to relax and have a family movie night.  We don’t watch much TV, and especially in the summer, but we thought it would be fun. Until I chose Turner and Hooch, and old 90s movie that I remembered as just being a funny movie about a cop and his huge dog who drooled a lot – and it did end up being that – but in the end the dog also got shot and died.  This led to a lot of crying – and even though we tried to convince Abbi the dog is just an actor and was fine – she didn’t believe us.  We even showed her videos online of the dog alive – but nothing worked.  Except Benadryl a few hours later.

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A game of Headbandz is a much better idea…..

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That week the girls went to an art camp at Vanderbilt.  It was our first time to do that camp and they both loved it.  During drop off they were able to go in together and play, then split off to their age groups.  It was so easy – I’d drop them off in the morning and they were brought back out to my car in the afternoon.  They also got to eat lunch together and have some outdoor playtime together.

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He’s pretty comfortable around us.

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They were covering up the last of the Lifeway building for implosion that week.  This was one where I’d worked for five of my ten years there.

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One night we packed a picnic and headed to the park to eat and play.

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Little sis is getting really good on the monkey bars!

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We got a new game where you can bounce the balls into the tubs – which is much more difficult when a sister is in a tub.

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We only got one peach off our tree this year, but we definitely enjoyed the one we got.

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Their last day of art camp.  Lilli wanted to wear her Vandy shirt and decided that week she loved campus there and wants to go to Vandy.  We’ll see!

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That afternoon they brought home a ton of work they’d made.  Their theme that week was Africa – so they’d made all sorts of African themed crafts.  Lilli did larger projects that took more time, while Abbi made a ton of smaller crafts.

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From drawing to pottery and crafts – they did a little bit of everything.  They’re excited to go back this summer with several of their friends.

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Zoos and Farms

From July 13 – 14….

On our last morning drop off for Zoo Camp I wanted to take a few last pictures of the kiddos.  Lilli really wasn’t having it – she was wanting to get inside and play some of the games they have out for kids in before care.  They have all sort of animal themed games that you just don’t see anywhere else for before and after care.

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Still not thrilled about picture taking time…

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We got lucky and once ago Member Appreciation night was the same day they were at camp.  We all met up at the zoo after work. Of course Brent beat me by a long shot and had already picked up the girls.  Traffic from downtown to the zoo (and really anywhere) is awful.

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For Member appreciation night the zoo stays open a couple of hours later and has extra animal talks, jumpy stations and all kinds of fun stuff for members.  Right as we got there we ran into Brent’s old roommate and his family.  We’ve run into them there before, but even though the kids don’t remember each other they took up instantly and played together.

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We ended up eating dinner together and walking through part of the zoo together before splitting off.  We did get to pet one of the elusive kangaroos!

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Then I got a text that Amelia, one of Lilli’s old preschool buddies, and her family were there.  They were their very first sleepover buddies, but used to live on an opposite side of town so it wasn’t easy to keep up their friendship.  Last summer they moved pretty close to us – we’ve seen them a little more frequently but with our busy schedules it hasn’t picked up as much as the girls would have liked.

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Amelia has a little brother that the kids loved mother hen-ing.

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Many, many laps on the hanging bridge.

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One last pose before we left.  Abbi really doesn’t remember Amelia from preschool days, but she probably remembers her more from meeting up with her family every year for Greek festival, one of our family traditions each fall.

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After the zoo closed we didn’t want our party to end so we took the girls to Krispy Kreme nearby for a late night donut treat to celebrate their fun week at Zoo Camp.  And the first summer camp Abbi actually enjoyed!

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And when we got home we saw this guy lurking around! Luckily we just saw him and never smelled him.

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The next day we went to the annual Farm Days at Ellington Agriculture Center near our house.  We’d been able to make it every summer for several years.  And like always – this year was HOT.  We kicked off our visit with some snowcones.

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We ran into one of Abbi’s best preschool buddies, Piper, and her family.  Abbi was so glad to see her.  So we went to a police horse show with her family.  It was literally one of the dustiest things I have ever been to.  And so hot.  No ventilation.  Once we got near heat stroke we slipped out.

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It was much cooler to just pet some of the police horses in their stalls.

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They had all kinds of booths and demonstrations (weaving, blacksmith, leatherworker, honey/bees, and more).  They had a really great face painter and Abbi really wanted to get her face painted.  She has NEVER wanted to do that before so we stood in the really hot, really long line and let her get her face painted.

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Of course she and Piper (and Piper’s sister) all got the same unicorns.

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Lilli got a peace sign – very Lilli! She also didn’t want her picture with the little girls.

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Piper’s family left so her sister could take a nap, and we continued on looking in the old house exhibits and the other crafts they had.  It was another fun (and hot!!!) day at the Farm Festival.

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Zoo Camp +New Windows

From July 8 – 12…..

There are few things this girl loves more than an open window and a good breeze.

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I took the girls to the pool on Sunday afternoon and they were having one of their big summer pool parties.  Fresh watermelon, healthy snacks and a DJ lead to a fun afternoon at the pool.

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While us ladies were at the pool Brent was at Home Depot getting more supplies for the new fence.  And while he was there he saw Trace Adkins (a famous country singer) doing the same.  When in Nashville – you never know who you’re going to see!

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That week was Zoo Camp for the girls.  It’s always an absolute favorite for them both.  I was hopeful this might be the first week Abbi didn’t freak out about camps – and luckily I was right! Whew! At the morning drop off they both get to play games in the open room together, so that helped.  And the class size is really small and the overall camp is small – so that was a huge help, too.  And it’s the zoo – what’s not to love? They get to do all kinds of fun things and really get hands on with animals, so it ended up being a huge hit.  For a week of her happily going in each morning I got over how bad the traffic is to get to the zoo every afternoon.

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That week was also our big window install! One day all the windows, new sliding door and materials were delivered.  And they were delivered EVERYWHERE.  We had around 31 windows for this house – so it was not a small job to say the least.

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A few before shots – our sunroom – the old windows were awful.  The door wouldn’t slide well and the windows had missing and torn screens, and were just awful to look at.  This is a room Brent and I use every night – it’s our 100% adult space with no toys and we were really looking forward to the windows looking as nice as we’d made the rest of the room.

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A before picture of our bedroom – clunky old windows that just looked terrible.

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And a before of the outside (with windows delivered all over the front).

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Brent took off work the first day of install and worked on the fence all day long.  He got a ton completed on getting posts set and dug.  The window workers were so impressed with him they even told me about it on the second day of install (when I worked from home.) It was July – and HOT.

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And after in our room – a huge difference from the same picture just a few pictures back!

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All smiles and all sweaty after zoo camp one afternoon!

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This NEVER happens when I pick them up from school or camps.  EVER.

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An after of the house – so much sleeker and nicer.  Our windows were nearly 30 years old, and were in terrible shape.  So much rot and a few of them had window panes that were literally about to fall out.

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On the second afternoon of install right as the guys were finishing up a massive rainstorm popped up out of nowhere – it looked like the rainbow was right in our front yard!

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The sunroom afterwards (well, while they were installing.) SUCH a massive change, and by far my favorite of the new windows.  The new sliders really let us enjoy the yard and how nice and private it is behind us.  Such a huge difference without all the tons of grids.  For the entire house, we kept grids on the front of the house and no grids on the back to help enjoy the light while keeping the style of the house.

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The sunroom from outside afterwards.  So streamlined and pretty! Now we just need to paint the siding and wood, and redo the deck.  And a million other projects.

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On Thursday at Zoo Camp they always do class pictures.  It’s so cute to see the classes and the teacher and Zoo Teen helpers.  Lilli’s class:

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I think these are the two classes in Lilli’s age group combined.

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And Abbi’s little class.  7 kids – 2 teachers.  Great odds! She loved it and is excited to go back next year.

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Grandma Camp

From July 4 – 8….

This dog is so crazy – he can sleep in just about any spot at any time.  And now that we’ve replaced the carpet in the dining room with hardwood it’s so odd to see it with that nasty old carpet!

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For the actual July 4th holiday we drove about an hour away to Henry Horton State Park to do some hiking.  We did about a 5 mile route and packed some lunch to eat along the way.  It was a really, really hot day but we did have pretty good shade for most of the hike.  Some of the hike ran next to a river where some boats and canoes would pass, but for the most part we really didn’t see many people on the longer path.

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And it was WARM out! I’d take some of that heat on this cold January day though!

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Some parts of the path were very primitive – not my favorite! It seemed like a path ripe for a snake or two.

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We did see a deer and a few turtles, otherwise all the creepy crawly stuff stayed away from us.  Overall it wasn’t a particularly exciting path or a park we’d go back to.  But it did cross off another hike in our 60 Nashville area hikes book.

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We definitely earned some fresh, homemade blackberry gluten free cobbler we made! And even better that the blackberries were fresh from my parents garden.

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Most of the time when the kids are gone we enjoy cooking at home but you can’t deny a nice date night out for some fish tacos.

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Gotta burn off all those chips and salsa walking around Harlinsdale Park.

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When Brent started the fence project he had put up the orange fencing so Olli could still go in and out without us having to keep him on a leash or in his cage all day.  One day Brent saw we had a Ring notification and when he looked to see what it was – he was pretty surprised to see Olli.  Then we realized it wasn’t the first time he’d let himself out.  Apparently he’d found some ways to get out of the temporary fence, explore, and then let himself back in.  During the fence project he got out several times, and made it back in all but once before we got home from work.  One day he was sitting right beside the fence because he couldn’t find his way back in.  Apparently he just needed to explore but was more than happy to return.

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At least he had the large algae filled pool to drink from.  Gross.  The little pool didn’t last long at all.

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Casey had to go back to Ohio so the girls went and spent a night with Granny – so they had a combination of Grandma/Granny camp.  They were excited to spend time with all the cousins that week.

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We met up for lunch on their return home.

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That Abbi – always a character!

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The old rickety fence coming down – just in time!

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The girls were super excited about our new popcorn machine – we love how easy it is and without all the chemicals and gross stuff in regular popcorn.  It’s nice to be able to contain the amount of things going into the popcorn and add our own salt/butter to our taste.  And it’s fun to watch!

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