Back in the Groove

From July 10 – 14……

It was back to reality and back to the normal (summer) routine.

Abbi’s class was studying farm animals that week.  She hit the nail on the head with cows, but we haven’t had a cat in over two years……


Abbi has never been big on dress up and never wanted any of Lilli’s old princesses costumes until this past summer.  For some reason once she moved up into Pre-K she’s been a lot more interested in playing dress up.  She still doesn’t care anything about WHO the princesses are – but she likes to wear the dresses.  On this night she asked if she could wear the “fancy blue dress” out for errands.

I said “You mean the Cinderella dress?”

“No, just the fancy blue one.”

Bless her heart, she has no idea these costumes represent anything.


We finally were able to get someone out to remove a few stumps from trees we’d cut back in the winter.  It was such a small job no one really wanted to come out and do it.


Summer nights on the trampoline.  A great way to burn some calories! Definitely one of the best purchases we’ve ever made.


Abbi was gifted an outfit from Pepper – no one can rock ath-leisure the way Abbi can!


Summer nights playing at the park after dinner…..


and cooling off in the creek as the sun sets.


On that Friday night we went out on a “family date”.  We had pizza at Pie Five and then gave them $5 each to spend at Toys R Us.  I can assure you this giant unicorn was not in her budget.  She ended up with a kit to make slime and Abbi got…. Hot Wheels.  (no surprise).

This particular week Lilli was at the Y for a STEM (math/science/engineering) type camp and in the middle of the week she started having a pretty bad earache on the day of their Adventure Science field trip.  She ended up having a double ear infection AND double swimmers ear.   And she wasn’t allowed to swim for a full week, which kind of stank during the hot, best pool days of the summer.  She was in a lot of pain but thankfully the antibiotics and ear drops kicked in quickly.  It was the first time she’d ever missed a day of summer camp!


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Vacation Day 5 – Rock City

From July 9th….

On our last day we woke up, packed up, cleaned up, and headed out of our rental house.  We had decided we all wanted to go to Rock City, so we headed that way for one last adventure before heading home.

It was the prettiest day of our entire trip, and we weren’t alone in thinking it would be a nice day for Rock City.  In fact we were pretty much NEVER alone the entire time we were there!


It seems like we usually visit in Fall, so it was nice to see everything in summer. And it’s been so long since our last visit that Abbi doesn’t remember it at all.


Squeezing through…..


It’s tradition for us to make scary faces under the Goblins.  Abbi wasn’t impressed, but she was more than happy to block our pictures.  (Of course last time she was pouting, so maybe that is her thing: 2014 and not born yet in 2011).


We even went to the birds of prey show.  They had several birds on display – and had them fly around the arena.  He opened the show saying it was not a good show for people who are scared of birds.  And so I was less than thrilled when they’d fly around buzzing our ears.


And they got to pose with a few of the birds, too.


They actually come to our area pretty often to help with rescue birds and do school programs.


Posing with the mascot….Abbi was scared so she drug me in there.


The views were crisp and clear that day.


A great day for a lot of selfies with the 7 states in the background.


Couples selfie.


Family selfie – Lilli was worried about being dropped over the ledge. Ha!


Squeezing through again….


Getting photobombed near Lovers Leap.


Such a pretty day…….


The girls and I were out on the ledge.


See Rock City!


When we got to the Fairyland Caverns at the end the girls were in heaven.  That section is so old, but they loved all the fairytales and the big room of them at the end.  It was sweltering hot in there and I thought they’d never move on – they had to read each and every one! It was definitely their highlight of Rock City.


From there we stopped for some ice cream on our way out of Chattanooga and then made the drive home to unpack and get ready to head back to work, school, and summer camps.  Another fun vacation in the books!


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Vacation Day 4 – Chattanooga Aquarium

From July 8…..

On Saturday we got up and drove to Chattanooga to visit the aquarium.  We’d give the girls free reign of what we’d do on our trip – we told them our various choices and let them pick if they wanted to stay in and swim or get out and adventure – and mostly they wanted to adventure.

It was about a 40 minute drive to the aquarium and of course the first stop was the building with all the sting rays and penguins.


We all had fun petting the sting rays, and Abbi’s hair mostly stayed wet all day from all the leaning in she did.


I loved this giant old looking turtle.  He looked like something straight out of Nemo.


The butterfly room was so fun.  There were so many gorgeous butterflies flying around and we got to hold quite a few of them.


Baby sis managed to not harm any butterflies! Not for lack of trying though….


Clearly I may have been most excited about holding a butterfly.


The girls are so into snakes right now.  Any opportunity they have to touch a reptile they go for it.  Lilli wasn’t so sure at first – hence her grabbing Abbi’s shirt below…..


But then they got comfortable with this snake, and a few others they had around the aquarium.


We finished the first building then sat outside to eat some lunch.  I’d thrown enough things in the backpack to tide us over and avoid overpriced and fatty concession food.


It had gotten really, really crowded.  The lines heading into the river otter area were just insane.  At this point it was so crowded we were ready to wrap it up more quickly.


Gators draw a crowd……


The aquarium really is so nice with lots of kid friendly areas to look at the fish and easily see them.


More fish petting and hair washing……


We wrapped up the aquarium and then walked a block or two to Ben and Jerry’s for a treat before heading back to the rental house.  We did some afternoon swimming and game playing while we relaxed and later cooked dinner.  It was nice to move at a slower pace for a few days and just do what we wanted.


And then later that night, after some night swimming and hot tubbing – our little frog friends were back.  You’d think they’d learn to stay away for a few days, but the frogs were plentiful and Abbi was thrilled.


She held onto this guy, quite tightly, for quite a while.  He also got dropped a lot so it’s possible he was too stunned to make a getaway.


Lilli caught a lot of frogs, too.


Abbi and her frogs – here she has one in each hand and is dancing them all around.  Bless their hearts.

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Vacation Day 2 & 3

From July 6-7……

We spent all day Thursday at the house and declared it “swim day”.  From after breakfast until bedtime we were basically in and out of the pool and hot tub all day.  Everyone took a turn taming the whale….


My favorite picture of Abbi from the entire summer – pure joy.


The hot tub isn’t always where I’d pick to be in the middle of the hot sunny day, but we stuck it out with them!


Brent spent most of that morning blowing up all our floaties – we mostly have two of everything and we all liked floating around in the rings and the various seats we’ve bought over the years and don’t get to use enough.


Just the girls!


Daddy and his girls…..


We came inside for lunch and to get out of the sun for a few minutes and a big storm popped up – we ran out to get our speakers and electronics, and rescue our towels from getting drenched.  The entire week had a lot of various pop up showers that never lasted more than a few minutes.


More hot tubbing.


It’s hard to relax when you’re always under attack!


After dinner we sat outside and enjoyed the patio while doing some reading and relaxing.


And ice cream before bedtime – a vacation must when you want to eat that ice cream you bought so it doesn’t go to waste when it’s time to leave!


On Friday we woke up and after breakfast we headed to Cloudland Canyon State Park for hiking.  We packed some sandwiches and had a picnic before our hike.  It was SUCH a pretty park and a place I’d love to visit again and explore more of the trails.


When Abbi first saw this waterfall she remembered hiking near one similar in NC at Aunt Nancy’s house and asked if she was nearby.



It was such a pretty area, and they have hang gliding somewhere nearby in the canyon.


They had quite a few trails and we decided to do the 2 mile strenuous waterfall trail.


The rocks, trees, foliage and landscape were just beautiful.  By far one of the prettiest places we’ve ever been.


We went to one waterfall – it was full and gorgeous.  All the rain had the waterfall very active and the river below had a quick current.


There were also so many stairs.  I think something like 1,200.  Going down was a breeze – but coming back up Abbi’s legs got “so busy” and the hike got very long.


Bottom of a waterfall.


Both waterfalls had signs about it being unsafe to get in, but some people were risking it at each one.  We wouldn’t let the girls in the water at all, it was deep and really fast.


Panoramic of one of the waterfalls:


The actual trails were well marked and well maintained.  They had some rocks and hills, but other than the stairs weren’t terribly difficult.


Every little notch in the rocks was a fairy cave to Lilli – she was certain all kinds of fairies live in these rocks and crevices.


We did it! Back at the top afterwards.



I love this sweet look on Abbi’s face.


They were a little tired afterwards.  HA!


That night after dinner we did more swimming and hot tubbing – and noticed all the frogs coming out.  The first night of frog catching the girls were a bit timid and unsure of holding them.


It didn’t take too long for them to warm up to all the frogs – and accept the pee that most of the frogs left behind in their hands!


Never to be outdone – Abbi caught plenty of frogs on her own, too! Hers ended up getting a lot of tough love, and a headache from twirling around…..and probably a concussion from being dropped.


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July 4th and Vacation, Part 1

From July 4th – 5th…..

It was nice being home this year on the July 4th holiday.  We had taken all week off as our vacation week, so it was a great week to just enjoy some things around us and then get out of town for a few days, too.

Our plans for July 4th were basically the pool, the pool, and the pool.  The weather was kind of iffy at points and really sunny at other times! We got lucky and the dark clouds never ended up producing any thunder.  And we were REALLY lucky in that the pool was not crowded at all that day!


We were there basically from opening whistle to closing whistle with the Godbys! We ordered a pizza for lunch and lounged and played all afternoon (I think they were only open 12-4 or something like that.) On the negative side, all of us except Abbi ended up getting burned! We had sunscreened and even re-applied, but the sun was much stronger than we thought it was that day.  It ended up being our only sunburn this entire year, but Lilli’s poor back got really red.

We had a great time and I tried the water slides for the first time and I’m HOOKED now.  So fun! Lilli is finally tall enough for them this year, so we’ve had a lot of fun sliding and racing down the green and blue slides.


We came home and cooked some dinner before heading out to the Brentwood fireworks show at Crockett Park.  We have a great show, with a concert before hand.  But, the weather was pretty amazing so all of Brentwood tried to head in.  We ended up getting close to the park, but the police closed the park for more cars and we had to all turn around.  We ended up getting a spot in a nearby church and had a great view of the show.  Some other friends couldn’t even get that close because they actually closed down the road to more traffic.  Note to self – get there really early or just park at the church next year!


It really was a really nice show, about 15 minutes of fireworks.  Lilli was in awe.


Abbi….thought it was a bit loud.  She really did like it – but she’s not a fan of anything loud.  The best part was how easy it was to get out of the church parking lot afterwards – no endless traffic jams and we were home in less than 5 minutes.


One of the nice displays…..


Afterwards we went home and got our sparklers out and the other fireworks we’d bought the weekend before.  They were just small Roman candles and a few other little things, but the girls really enjoyed them.




The next morning Brent needed to run into the office and drop off a few things while I took care of a phone call, so he took two little visitors with them.  They always love visiting work, and seeing what candy or books they can come home with…….


From there we got loaded up and headed to our cabin in Georgia.  It was only 2.5 hours away, near Chattanooga just across the Tennessee line.  We just didn’t want to drive to the beach this year, and mostly they just want to swim in a pool.  So, I rented a house with a pool and hot tub, with nearby hiking and Chattanooga just 30 minutes away.

Abbi asleep – Lilli with an arm full of stuffed animals.


As soon as we got there we got some floats blown up and the girls hit the water.  Our time there ended up being off and on showers, but the water felt great and it ended up being really nice.  Very few of the showers lasted more than a few minutes, so most of the time we’d stay in the water and pretty often a storm would pop up and then fizzle out before it hit the mountain.


Sitting in a float relaxing – my idea of vacation! I think a lazy river trip is in our future.


From the pool to the hot tub – back and forth.  And repeat.  The hot tub was huge and they basically pushed every button a million times.  Which made it less than relaxing.


Lots and lots of this.


That night we ran to Walmart to get our groceries for our stay (we really like cooking on our trips!) and a few new floaties made their way into our cart.  The whale was the hit of the trip.

To be continued……….


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From July 2 – 3….

On the way home from Grandma’s house….one worn out little girl.


We were hoping to get to go to the pool that afternoon, but some thunderstorms dumped a bunch of rain on us and the pool closed for the day.  They made do with a giant puddle instead.


It basically became Abbi’s personal, and very muddy, pool.


A little after dinner walk on a greenway.  America!


Brent finished the new table for the sunroom! It’s the perfect size for the space and we got some new chairs At Home.


This year for vacation we rented a house near Chattanooga for a few days.  We’d already been to Alabama for Spring Break, NC for Memorial Day, DC for Frances’ wedding and have tickets for Chicago for Fall Break.  So we kept summer simpler.

We were heading to our rental house later in the week, so for Monday of our week off we did some stay-cationing.  We hadn’t been to the zoo in forever, so we went there for a little while to see the animals.


But it was a pretty rainy day.  We’d use our umbrellas some, hide under awnings some, and do the indoor exhibits during the showers.


And once again – the kangaroos were in their shelter and not letting us pet them.


Then the heavier part of the storm moved in and we started heading back to our car.  Lilli wore my hat and just skipped along in the rain.  After a few days in constant rain at Camp Widji this year she’s decided rain is just no big deal and the show must go on.


I think Abbi’s in the picture.  Or some other kid with my Canada umbrella.


We headed over to the new Plaza Mariachi for lunch and Brent and I split tacos and street corn.  So stinking good.


They also have a kids play place (like a Dave and Busters) inside – the climbing structure is free – so we let the girls do that for a while.


And then that night we voted to go over to Opry Mills and have Rainforest for dinner.  We never make it over to Opry Mills and it has a lot of fun things like the Disney and Lego stores for them, and the Kate Spade outlet for me! The wait for the Rainforest was an hour and a half, so we got all our shopping and browsing in before dinner.


Their food is just absolutely terrible, but the atmosphere is fun.  Abbi wasn’t a big fan of the thunderstorms and lightning, but they had a lot of fun walking around and seeing the animals and aquariums.  And it’s something we can cross off our list for a few years!


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July 4th-ing

From June 30 – July 1……

After work on Friday we drove to my parent’s house and Bruce and his family were already there.  Abbi was already hot on the trail of giving Chloe the attention she normally saves for Olli…….


We had to do the annual run to Walmart to pick up all the things Bruce and Suzy forgot, and we had a little stowaway.  Who ended up whacking herself in the forehead and getting a big bruise from sitting in this heavy duty cooler.


The girls all had a “sleepover” in the small bedroom downstairs, and since we no longer need the crib we even got booted to a downstairs bedroom.  Abbi was up early with a Kool Aid moustache and a best friend to play with.


She wasn’t going to let me out of her sights after being gone for a week, so she was our +1 on a mule ride with Bruce and Cody.


And man, it was dusty.  And hot.


At Walmart we’d bought some of the fun little balloons you fill up with the hose and don’t have to do all the tying and it ended up being the hit of the weekend.  And Lilli and those abs – goodness! It has me tempted to do a chicken nugget diet.


Everyone had a really good time with them, including the guys and we all ended up getting a little soaked.  We’ll have to get a lot more for next year.

Later they soaked their toes in the buckets and mostly were glued to electronics.


And Abbi was glued to the neighborhood dogs – that were covered in ticks.


They do know how to stay cool in the shade.


Brent even made a new friend.


Wagon rides…..


And I finally had a turn at driving the mule.


We went out for fish that night.  It’s a great fish place but they’ve never been that slow before – we must be smiling here because we didn’t know how long it was going to take to get our food at this point!


Just a little dessert to go along with all that food!


When we got back we did some sparklers and then the dogs got upset about the fireworks so we ended our show and called it a night.


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