nine is fine

July 13, 2017

so another terrific birthday weekend was had.  just like last year, jovie wanted to bring a friend to do something special.  this year she decided to bring her school best friend, Serenity, to Build a Bear.  both of the girls love snuggly friends, so this was a great choice.  a bunny named Caramel was Serenity’s choice.  and Jovie chose a kitty of all of her favorite colors named Sugar Cookie.  The girls enjoyed the store and all the stuff to choose from.

afterwards, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch.  it was unfortunate that nobody loved the food as much as we had hoped. even the birthday girl didn’t like their extra-saucy mac n cheese.  it was all OK but not near as good as last year’s lunch at the American Girl Bistro.  also, none of us got any cheesecake.  other desserts were chosen (and HUGE).

we came home & jovie just enjoyed reading and spending time with her new snuggly.

sunday greeted us with a NINE YEAR OLD.  she woke up and we got some good snuggles.  she couldn’t wait to open presents and must have asked about that 1000 times before breakfast of a spinach ham scramble and cinnamon rolls.  luckily for her 2 of her gifts were open in the morning.  one was a certificate for her to pick out a new scooter.  the 2nd told her what the day was going to be filled with.  we were lucky that yet again, the local theatre had a production on her bday.  and last year, mary poppins was perfect.  this year, we got to see Beauty & the Beast which is also one of her favorites!

the show was at 3 so by the time we cleaned up from breakfast, came back from scooter shopping and having appetizer lunch, we decided to let her open all of her gifts.  we knew we would be gone the rest of the night & wanted her to have time to enjoy some more books & shopkin toys.  she was delighted with a craft set she had asked for, saw that it came in the mail, then plum forgot all about.  after recently reading in a book mentioning a magnetic poetry set, she was excited to get her very own.  (the HAPPINESS set includes lots of happy & calm words.  like rainbow, flower, bluebird, blue sky, dream…. oh and also martini.  ????

we all enjoyed the performance (seriously! a GREAT THEATRE) and then a huge hibachi dinner where we were all SO. FULL.  no worries. we were able to come home & have cake (strawberry again) and then just slip into a food coma.  she sat on her beanbag chair and read books.  The Mr. fell asleep on the couch.

a busy weekend was capped off with everyone going to bed at NINE o’clock.

the first pic is of her talking to gramma & grampa.  we were lucky enough that they could spend a fun july4th with us again and enjoy a little bit of birthday time with us early.  jovie was thrilled not only with the books, but the gift card to buy even MORE books.  plus a wonderful keepsake of their time together at Lion King.

we also all got a kick out of -after not hearing that song in well over a year- that as soon as we got in the car after the performance, Rachel Platten’s Better Place was on! PERFECT


summer is upon us

June 14, 2017

summer has begun & it has already been a blast!

we have already been having a lot of fun.  this is what jovie’s been up to in the past 2 1/2 weeks since school let out:

  • performing in her ballet recital.
  • enjoying some gramma & grampa time for that recital/memorial day weekend
  • playdates with 5 different friends
  • a surprise “adventure” to Ocmulgee National Monument
  • which was also an overnight with The Mr. because he was nearby on a project.  the one-day turnaround lent itself very well to this surprise (which jovie was mad about, btw.  she hates surprises!)
  • some mommy-school.  she is learning cursive this summer (don’t get me started!)
  • enjoying The Mr.’s birthday…
  • …with a sitter so we could go to an amazing magician that evening.  (if you’re ever in ATL i have a place for you to go!)
  • a trip to greenville to see gramma & grampa again.
  • swimming in their big (community) pool with The Mr.
  • having a special time with gramma & grampa because they took her to see a performance of Lion King!  she had a great time!
  • began an Art Camp this week.

this has definitely been a great start to what will be a great summer!

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end of 3rd grade!

May 26, 2017

it has been a fun & busy last week of school.  we are lucky that The Mr. has been home.  jovie loves her morning piggy backs and “daddy lunch”.  luckier still that he has gotten to go to her 2 special days this week.

tuesday we went to hear “Park Ranger Jovie” share what she knows about Channel Islands.  this was a culminating project all year where she got to choose & study a national park.  this has also piqued her interest  in becoming a park ranger.  (she told us that after Mammoth Caves.)  she constantly asks when we are going to go to California to visit her park.  (interestingly enough, it is right across from Ventura beach, which is where The Mr. & i began our journey on the PCH 5 years ago!)

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wednesday i went to her Mini Society Market Day.  this was the culminating activity from the last month of school where all of 3rd grade earns “money”, pays rent, makes products (or services) and learns about semi-real economics.  it is such a cool concept that Georgia does in 3rd grade.  it would have a lot of value in high school as well, so let’s get on that!  jovie’s service was to teach people how to dance.  she was able to teach 2 kids what she knows.  the fun part was going around and buying all the other products/services from  everyone else.  notebooks, pencil holders, hair bows, bookmarks & a planter were just some of the things we brought home.

after market day, The Mr. was able to come to their awards ceremony.  after last year’s ceremony, jovie made the goal to have perfect attendance & straight a’s in third grade.  (she also set a goal for her to have a clean desk).  well 2 bouts of strep throat & a bout of the flu did not get that memo.  however, we were surprised and very pleased that she met her other goal and had straight A’s for the year!  (last year she missed it by one B+ in the 2nd 9 weeks).

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jovie loved earning the medal that comes with the honor!

and today, folks- is her last day of 3rd grade!!  incidentally, The Mr. just showed me that she’s about to turn 9.  she is literally half-way to graduate high school!!     MAKE IT STOP.


Spring Break #4- INKY

April 14, 2017

even though it seems like we just got back from Arizona, we just got back from Spring Break.  we decided to take a road trip to Mammoth Caves and were really looking forward to it.  however, in the interest of seeing the 50, we had to also scooch over into indiana, which jovie was most excited about.

apparently, she’s “always wanted to see Indiana”.  who knew?

Sun- Nashville, TN

so because we were going to be doing a lot of driving, we decided to stop in nashville for the night.  neither The Mr. nor i had ever been there, and it was about halfway.  we are so glad we did.  we had a great time being leisurely and exploring the downtown area.  we pulled into our swanky & free hotel (thanks, points!!) and had a super fun view.

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24th floor!

after getting settled, we walked down Broadway and ended up at a nice riverfront park where jovie had the time to wander around and imagine while The Mr. & i soaked up the sun and sights.  the coolest thing about that was the walk down, where we must have passed 10 restaurants- all playing live music.  it was a bit reminiscent of the jazz being played on Bourbon street last year.  we walked across the pedestrian bridge & sat on the other side of the park for a bit before venturing up to the Capitol.  [i found it interesting that this was the first Capitol jovie had ever been to.  we had never taken her to ATL, nor even the one in columbia!]

and then- THEN- we were able to go to the public library!  it was open on a sunday and WOW!  we spent over an hour at the coolest children’s section we’ve ever imagined.  a fort.  tunnels.  a rock wall!!  it was great.  and of course, we had to venture in the massive & gorgeous rest of the building too.  she’s never seen so many books!

mon & tue- French Lick, IN

i decided to surprise jovie with our hotel.  french lick doesn’t have a ton to offer.  so we were either going to go to a fancy resort or an indoor water park hotel.  i had showed her both to figure out her interest level.  either way, she kept saying she had “always wanted to see indiana”

so we checked into our hotel and she was very excited.

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we enjoyed 2 days at the French Lick Springs Resort.  it was quite nice.  we used quite a few amenities- and they had several we did not.  it was kinda nice to just take it easy for a few days.  there is a neighboring resort that we also explored.  that place is known for its dome & it’s quite lovely.  apparently, FDR accepted the nomination from the democratic party in the dome.

unfortunately, these springs are sulphur springs.  think about that for a minute.  both hotels have blocked their little spring where people could go and soak.  however, it is still quite odiferous!

we explored those lovely gardens you see from our room and didn’t last as long as we would have liked, but lasted much longer than we should have.  i never did understand it. because the odors seemed to come and go; we spent a lot of time outside that wasn’t foul.  but the gardens surely were.  alas they were pretty!

jovie enjoyed: swimming in the pools, playing on the playground while waiting to rent a surrey, bowling in the basement, homemade ice cream in the lobby, a pony ride & a trolley ride from West Baden.

wed & thur- Hodgenville, & Mammoth Cave, KY

there were a lot of severe storms in ATL on wed; and our area was due to get some as well.  so we left our hotel as early as we could to get ahead of the storms.  both things in KY would include outside entertainment, and i wanted to try.  luckily it all worked out; and those storms did not really pan out until evening; and weren’t anything at all like the hammering the south got!

first up- President Lincoln’s birthplace!  i was very excited when the librarian from school told me about this being nearby the caves because that was our sole focus on this trip and i wouldn’t have looked into other ideas.  jovie loves history so it was a no-brainer to make this stop!  the monument was pretty informative, but The Mr. & i laughed because it literally stopped with Kentucky.  the movie we watched said that many states can lay claim to Lincoln.  So when he moved to Indiana about 10yrs old, the movie stopped with it.  it definitely left me wanting more info on this amazing life!

sadly, they were renovating/cleaning the steps, so we had to walk in the back way.  but the monument literally just houses a log cabin model resemblant to one that he would have been born in.

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Lincoln must really like stairs!

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here is a spring that *didn’t* stink…. where Lincoln used to actually get his water.

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in front of “his” cabin

afterwards, we got to our lodge at Mammoth Cave.  after checking in we explored above ground.  we were surprised it still looked a little wintry there.  it was a little cool, though.  above ground was a nice (and hilly) walk in the woods.  once we got below ground the next day, tho- WOW.

wednesday was just spent exploring, having a delicious dinner of homestyle cooking.  (warm banana pudding was tremendously delicious!) and watching the hailstorm roll in.  we also found out that the next available tour advertised would be on SUNDAY.  i was awfully upset and disappointed!  there was only the self-guided tour available to us the next day.

for the record- i am a planner.  i love planning.  i even plan spontaneity.  i knew that “reservations are encouraged”.  i did not know they were basically mandatory.  nowhere in my research did i see that they sell out days/weeks at a time.  so i am saying it here and now- for anyone wanting to go to mammoth, book a tour as soon as you know!  i truly thought that meant if you wanted the 10am tour, it may be booked and you might be booted on a 3pm tour.  we were hoping to do the dripstones tour which also included a stop at Little Niagara.

after a most delicious dinner (ben’s favorite of the week so far), we couldn’t wait for their breakfast buffet!  it was fantastic, too.  and luckily The Mr. suggested going over to buy the tickets for the self-guided Discovery Tour in case it also would sell out.  when we got to the visitor center we saw that LUCKILY they have a 4pm Little Niagara tour that they only sell on the day of, and not in advance.  so HOORAY!!!! we were able to enjoy the cave afterall. [it sold out about an hour later]

so we spent time in the very informative visitors center and did the quick Discovery tour where- WOW. WOW!  huuuuuge. MAMMOTH.  the rotunda room is naturally occurring (the whole cave is.  it’s has only been mined a little for saltpeter back in the day;  and some doorways had been added…  )

sadly, you can’t use flash photography (obviously!) so my pictures really didn’t turn out super- but i will try to show the expanse of this place.

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google the rotunda room if you wanna see it better.

The Mr. hiked much of the park while jovie & i relaxed and read for the afternoon.  the power went out at 2pm.  it did not come back on until 9pm that night.

meanwhile, we took a very different look at the cave. forgo the huge rooms of smooth walls & ceilings and replace it with the formations of stalactites & stalagmites.

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this is pretty far down

we really enjoyed this place.  the history is absolutely astounding.  as well as the size!  it rivaled our favorite Tuckaleechee Caverns but definitely overwhelmed Ruby Falls.  i recommend it!

we had a lovely spring break.  home on friday, which meant the whole weekend was spent in her room, just pretending, drawing, reading & listening to music.  for some reason she didn’t want to enjoy the lovely weather we had; she rarely played outside.  i think she liked finally having her space back.

 


lookin back

March 28, 2017

y’all know how i love these retrospectives!

house happy

Oct 2002

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March 2017

house

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to The Mr.:  THANK YOU.  what a wonderful thing we have here.  14 1/2 years later!  XOXO

 


arizona!

March 6, 2017

just because i can’t not share….

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hey y’all- my first pizza!

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lovely

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sedona

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we came to arizona & finally saw snow!

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some animal on the way to the canyon

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see that boulder there, at Mather’s Point? the postcard I bought way back when shows it all nice and neat. erosion or something is making it break off!

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we got to see a pack of mules come by us

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what a GRAND canyon!  they are so tiny!

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i never got tired of this view!

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a windmill farm!

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at Sunset Crater

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the Painted Desert

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some pueblo ruins


oh dam!

February 28, 2017

oh dam there was no dam this trip.  but a lovely vacation was still had in the beautiful state of Arizona!

The Mr. & i went to AZ at the turn of the century/millennium.  so we were excited to yet again show jovie some of the things we did 17 years ago.  when i saw that for the first time since starting real school that we had a full winter break, i figured that’d be a great time to go to arizona.

things we were excited to do:   grand canyon, sedona, montezuma’s well & hoover dam.  (i was excited to do the glass walkway at the grand canyon).  as well as having jovie & sophia & sadie all play together!

what did occur was great! i have pictures to prove it!  but, alas:

sedona didn’t entirely happen because there was a ridiculous amount of people there.  were you there?  surely you must have been.  it was like disney all over again.  but this time with no parking!  i felt bad for The Mr. who said “at least 2 of us should enjoy it” so he dropped us off and drove around for 20 minutes so jovie and i could at least have some pictures.

the glass walkway didn’t happen because my research was horrible and it was like 4 hours away from us, apparently.

the dam didn’t happen because jovie inexplicably got sick on tuesday.  luckily we were able to just move the nevada hotel to flagstaff the next day & just push the grand canyon back a day.  also luckily i got to give my little girl lots of cuddles.  that night i was caught in a love sandwich as we all slept in a king together!  super luckily she was all better the next day and so grand canyon was, in fact, grand!

but! BUT!! the cousins were great.  the scenery astounding.  (some of) the food was good. and some bonus excursions in flagstaff were awesome.  it was a really fabulous vacation & as far as scenery goes, (for me, at least) arizona ranks #1 in our states thusfar.  [michigan comes in a very squeaky close second!]

we spent a rainy weekend in Phoenix visiting the fam. the girls all had a good time playing in the rain, while the adults chatted it up a little bit.  luckily it cleared up enough that after our trip to the Science Center  on sunday we were able to meet up with them and play at a park.  jovie did not enjoy saying good-bye after dinner.  it seemed like they all had a good time!

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monday was spent making our way to our hotel at the grand canyon, with stops at montezuma’s well, and sedona.  these 2 places were awesome when we went way back when. this time around, we saw that we could walk down and around a little in these cliff dwellings from about 1,000 years ago.

tuesday we did this:

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and wednesday was finally spent at the canyon!  the drive was close; and we even saw some unidentified animals grazing after we entered.  we parked our car and walked a bit.  when we finally got to this-

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jovie was aptly impressed.

lots of gawking.  a little bit of a hike down. tons of exclaiming. hopefully some memory-ing.  many many photo-ing. some learning. some eating.  and 6 hrs later….

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i could fill a page with all the awesome pix i did take.  jovie took many as well. (but i won’t…….   yet!)    it was…. well- GRAND.

so we went to flagstaff afterwards and had a great evening/morning before we spent the day exploring just 2 parks that are connected by a 20mile drive on the border of the Painted Desert.  Sunset Crater was amazing.  lava fields!  Who Knew???  and the drive to Wupatki was equally so.  we spent the whole day doing this.

we all really enjoyed the pueblos that were built 1,000 years ago.  one of which we could even venture in!  it was a very cold and super windy day but one of our favorites!

(look! jovie’s as tall as the lava.)

the drive from flagstaff to phoenix was absolutely awesome.  i can’t shuttup about the fact that ALL. you see are mountains.  for 2 hours.  that’s it.  distant mountains.  close mountains.  mountains.  everywhere.  it was lovely!