Friday, April 30, 2010

Things We Love #4

We love BOOKS!!!!!

Okay, it is a well-established fact that I love to read, that I love lists, and that I especially love lists of books! But you know what? JonZReaTom loves books too! The kids can't read yet, but they LOVE to be read to, and they have some favorites as well. I won't even begin to list ALL the books I've read to them, but I will list their favorites here (with a link in the sidebar so you can check back often!) Some of the books will be baby books, others more recent favorites.

Anything by Sandra Boynton--Barnyard Dance, Pajama Time, Doggies, etc

Anything by Karen Katz--even NOW my kids love these books, and we come home with at least one nearly every time we leave the library! They especially like the Counting Kisses books where every page is a new number of kisses to wake baby up or put baby to sleep. These are really precious books!

Anything by Leslie Patricelli--Yes, YES, No, NO; Yucky, Yummy; Blankie--lots of books about opposites, all with the same endearing main character, Thomas is especially fond of these books

Dinotrux by Chris Gall--currently Jonathan's all-time favorite

Pinkalicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann--Reagan's fav, not such fans of the Purple version, haven't yet read the Gold version

Anna Dewdney's Llama, Llama books

Any of the Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper--a particular favorite of Zachary's because it's about a train. He loves trains!

Have I Mentioned My Children Are Brilliant?

Heehee! Of course, I have! Okay, this is just a cute story that shows not necessarily that Zachary is brilliant, but that he has total confidence in his ability to be brilliant!

Zachary was out in the garage with Jim the other day, watching Jim work on whatever he was working on. It was a special time all to itself when things just happened to work out in such a way that the other kids went with Momma and Zachary stayed with Daddy and EVERYONE WAS OKAY WITH IT. That's really the miracle right there!

Anyway, Jim and Zachary were enjoying some together time, and somehow got to talking about the planets. Zachary casually mentioned that Saturn has rings. Jim was pleasantly surprised to discover that Zachary even knew about Saturn, even more surprised he knew about the rings! (He also knows that Mars is red, and we live on Earth. That is the full extent of my children's planetary knowledge. At least as far as I know!) He was surprised enough to wonder where Zachary had learned these things, so he asked him:

Jim: Did you learn about Saturn at preschool?

Zachary: Nooo, Dad!

Jim: Well, where DID you learn it?

Zachary: (arms spread wide) Right here!

Jim: Here at home? Did you learn that on TV?

Zachary: Noooo.

Jim: Did Mommy teach you?

Zachary: Nooo.

Jim: (desperate to get to the bottom of this mystery) Well, who DID teach you?

Zachary: I taught myself! (arms spread wide again) Right here!

If he had known to say "Duh!" he would have. That is definitely the attitude he had. He is brilliant and he taught himself all about Saturn and he did it RIGHT HERE! Anything less would be ridiculous! He is Zachary! He won't poop in the potty, but dadgummit he knows about Saturn! Duh!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Full Disclosure

As you may or may not know, my friend Becky and I are having a Pulitzer-reading contest, despite the fact that she and I both know that she will win this contest. The number of books she reads in a year versus the number of books I read in a year just put the odds heavily in her favor, especially since she was ahead of me to begin with! Nevertheless, we compete!

So in a effort to keep up with it better myself and also to give her an idea of the competition she's up against (Ha! Not to mention the fact that I love lists and I love books and the idea of making yet another book list makes me supremely happy!) So, I'll be listing the Pulitzers I've read here, and I'll put a link to this post in the sidebar with my other reading info.

I'm using this list because it is the one Becky used in her original post on Pulitzers. It combines today's Pulitzer for Fiction with the winners of what used to be the Pulitzer for the Novel. By the way, our competition is who can read the most altogether, not just in one year, so I didn't read all of these this year!

Feel free to throw your hat in the ring and compete too! So far, I would recommend all the Pulitzers I've read. The ones in bold are my favorites.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
4. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
5. Beloved by Toni Morrison
6. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
8. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Sing Your Heart Out

When we arrived at church this past Sunday, we were surprised to learn that the kids would be singing a song before the congregation that morning! (With their class, not just them!) Due to other engagements, we had not been at church the two previous Sundays, so we didn’t know this was happening and were a little concerned that the kids wouldn’t know the songs, and then what would they do when they got on stage in front of ALL THESE PEOPLE!!

Happily, our fears were unnecessary! The songs were unfamiliar to me, but very simple, so the kids must have picked up on them well enough to not be too nervous. Or maybe little kids just don’t know to be nervous when they are unprepared. I don’t know. Either way, JonZReaTom showed not a moment of hesitation when they marched up front with the other kids.

Thomas and Reagan led the line and stood at the far end of the group. Jonathan and Zachary were more in the middle. The teachers and song leader started the song, and all the kids joined in, and their sweet voices brought smiles to everyone!

But it wasn’t just the voices that we smiled at! The video system was on so that you could watch the kids up on the screen too, so everyone could see them as well as hear them. This allowed everyone to get a great view of our precious Reagan who was so excited she could hardly contain herself. She was singing away and swaying with the song, and ever now and then she’d do a little joyful jump into the air! It was so adorable!

Jim and I were so proud of the great job they all did! I wish I had it on video! Not shy, those kids! What a joy to see all those beautiful children singing about their best friend Jesus, with such joy and innocence! If only we could all live our lives with the joy of young children!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clowning Around

Not long ago, the kids came home from preschool on a Friday with instructions to dress up like clowns the coming Tuesday. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem on most weekends, in fact I loved the idea, but this was a particularly busy weekend, so I didn’t have time to sew even the simplest of clown costumes.

We had one clown wig already. I was pretty sure there was a ruffly clown collar in the attic somewhere, but that was it. I sent out a call for help via Facebook and was able to get one more clown wig (Thanks, Kim!) On searching the attic, I discovered the clown collar was MIA, but in its place there was the actual clown costume that went with the collar! Score!

But what about the other kids?

So in the absence of anything better, I pulled together a hodgepodge of clothing and did my best to create four clowns out of it. I don’t think the results are too bad!


DSC_2786 Jonathan



DSC_2789 Thomas


You may notice that Zachary is wearing no clown makeup. He refused to let me put any on him. Not a surprise!

All in all, I don’t think they turned out too bad! The kids certainly enjoyed the dressing up! Hurrah for Clown Day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Few More Pictures

I have received a request for a few more pictures from our big anniversary weekend, so here they are!


Me, don’t I look like a pro?

DSC_0101 Angelo’s, from the helicopter—we landed in the grassy area in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture

DSC_0114 The dam on Douglas Lake

10th anni 2

Me and Jim with our pilot, Dan, after the big flight

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

The helicopter touched down on the grass in front of Angelo’s at the Point, a lovely little restaurant overlooking Douglas Lake. The pilot jumped out to open the door for his passengers, while several restaurant customers looked on with curious stares.

Who could these celebrities be? Which members of the rich and famous had arrived by helicopter to enjoy lunch at Angelo’s? The onlookers didn’t have to wait long.

The pilot opened the door and down stepped…

ME AND JIM!!!!!!!!

It’s true! This past weekend, we got to feel like real celebrities, but without the paparazzi! This grand entrance was just one portion of the surprise extravaganza Jim planned in honor of our tenth anniversary and our first night away from the kids since their birth. So find a comfortable chair and enjoy the post!

I had been looking forward to this weekend for a LONG time! Jim had planned the whole thing, and I had very few clues about what any of it was! Not that he hadn’t tried to give me hints, but I didn’t want to know! I wanted to be surprised! It nearly killed him not being able to tell me!

Bud and KayKay arrived Wednesday afternoon to give them some time to become acquainted with our regular routine before taking on the fearsome foursome by themselves!

Friday, we had a little bit of a scare that the whole thing would fall apart when Jonathan started coughing a lot and running a low fever. We didn’t think he was TOO sick, but decided to take him to the dr on Fri, just to make sure he wasn’t starting an ear infection. When the dr listened to his chest, she could hear some slight wheezing, and his O2 sats were lower than they should have been. He got a breathing treatment at the office, but the dr was concerned he might have some slight pneumonia, so she sent us to Children’s for x-rays! In the end, he didn’t have pneumonia (yea!), but he did get Rxs for 2 medicines, plus a regimen of breathing treatments for the weekend. He’s much better now, although still coughing a little. (Reagan is coughing too, but we’ll worry about that later!)

So with Jonathan on the mend, Bud and KayKay assured us they could handle it, and we set off on our excursion Saturday morning after breakfast. I knew we were headed to the Smoky Mtn area, I knew that some portion of our day depended heavily on the weather being nice, I knew that there would be lunch, and I knew that I needed to dress nice. These were my only clues, and I’ll spare you the long list of possibilities that had floated through my mind at one time or another. None of them really matter since they were all wrong!

We hit the road toward Sevierville, and as we passed the helicopter place, Jim told me we had just passed “it.” I thought back over the last few places we had passed (I had been making mental note of everything we passed and every billboard we came upon, trying to figure it out!) Although a helicopter ride did not make sense to me as far as my clues went, I guessed the helicopter ride which you know was right. Jim immediately thought I was disappointed, but I wasn’t! I was just confused because i didn’t understand why I had to dress up for a helicopter ride!

Oh, but it wasn’t just ANY helicopter ride! Jim had chartered a special flight from Scenic Helicopter Tours. We felt like celebrities the minute we walked in and were greeted by name! The staff was wonderful, and not just to us, but also to everyone else we saw there that morning. Our pilot Dan was the owner (he pilots many of the flights, not just ours!), and he was incredible! His family has lived in the Sevier County area for several generations, and he knew the name and history of every peak we flew over. He was fun and interesting and full of stories and history.

DSC_0002 our helicopter

The flight was amazing! It was a little overcast, so the clouds kept us from seeing some of the tallest peaks, but what we did see was incredible! The Smoky Mountains look beautiful no matter your vantage point, but there’s just something extra special about looking at them from above! You really get a feel for the beauty of the area as God sees it! Gorgeous! Our tour took us all over the area: Wears Valley, Greenbrier, Gatlinburg, Douglas Lake, and SO MUCH MORE! These pictures do not even begin to do it justice!





And as if the flight itself wasn’t amazing enough, part of the package Jim put together included landing at Angelo’s for lunch! It was truly fun stepping off the helicopter and walking up to the restaurant where we were again greeted by name, with everyone around us trying not to stare but wondering who in the world we were!

DSC_0102 our view of Angelo’s from the helicopter landing site

By the way, Angelo’s was DELICIOUS! The salmon I had was flavorful and perfectly accented by a sweet Asian sauce. Mmmmm, so good!

When we were ready to go, one of the other diners (who had not been there for our arrival) asked out loud what the deal was with the chopper. We smiled happily and answered that it was our ride! Teehee! So fun! And off we went, flying back to Sevierville.

If you’re looking for something fun and out of the ordinary, I highly recommend a helicopter ride! And I highly recommend Scenic! Thanks Dan! (And Carol and all the other staff who helped us!)

After leaving Scenic, it was time to head for the next phase of our little vacation.

(I won’t depress you with lengthy whining about the traffic we encountered in Pigeon Forge after leaving Scenic, except to say that it took us about 400 times longer than it should have to reach our next destination and to share with you one picture of the new Titanic exhibit which we got a really good look at since it took us about half an hour to drive past it.)


So what WAS our next destination? Why, a bed and breakfast, of course! But not just ANY bed and breakfast…

Gracehill Bed and Breakfast! This place was UNBELIEVABLE! Luxury like I have never known! And the view! Gracehill is way up on the side of a mountain in Townsend, an exquisitely beautiful home inside and out.

DSC_0150 from the driveway

DSC_0131 the gardens in back


DSC_0141 DSC_0142 DSC_0143 our private balcony

DSC_0159 DSC_0161

Our room, the Spellbound, softest sheets EVER, fireplace (which we didn’t use), jacuzzi tub, steam shower, did I mention the sheets?

DSC_0158 Me and Jim on the main balcony

DSC_0170 DSC_0179

The VIEW, again the pictures don’t do it justice!

I could probably go on for days about this place, it was so amazing! It was easy to see why it has won so many awards! The service was fabulous! Everything is set up to be as convenient to the guest as possible, from free wi-fi and cable to extra drinks and snacks in the bar area outside the rooms. The owner, Kathy Janke, made up a special snack tray for us, with fruit, crackers, cheese, and sweets, including the most delicious chocolate-covered strawberries I’ve ever had! Most chocolate-covered strawberries are just “we hope the chocolate will cover up the fact that these strawberries have no flavor,” but THESE were delicious! You could absolutely tell that the berries were sweet all by themselves, so the chocolate was just a bonus!

And the breakfast the next morning! So much delicious food I couldn’t even eat it all! Neither could Jim! There was some sort of delectable coffee cake/monkey bread-ish dish, with a creamy filling and a hint of orange. Then came baked pears, with some sort of sweet, creamy dressing. Last was breakfast enchiladas (eggs, cheese, veggies, and sausage baked in tortillas). Delicious! Every bite!

If you are looking for a luxurious getaway, look no further! Gracehill will not disappoint!

Now, lest you think I let Jim do all this work and planning while I just sat back and ate bonbons, let me tell you I had a little surprise of my own! I made Jim a DVD slideshow of our life together. It was a small, but time-consuming gift, and especially challenging to complete secretly since I pretty much only had short snatches of naptime to work on it and couldn’t go to him for help every time the program wouldn’t do what I wanted it to! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed putting it together and revisiting so many special moments of our married life.

I loved every minute of this anniversary vacation! Jim worked so hard to make each part special and memorable, beyond anything I expected or deserved. As in most things, he never ceases to amaze me with his love and creativity. Thank you sweetie for a wonderful, wonderful anniversary!

And many, many thanks to Bud and KayKay, who made our escape from reality possible! Caring for JonZReaTom is a challenge on any day, but we threw in medicine, breathing treatments, and the potential for worse sickness on top of it all, and they never even flinched! At least not when we could see them! Nor were they standing at the door with their bags packed ready to flee the moment we got home! The kids had a great time with them, and so did we! Thank you, thank you!

DSC_2792 DSC_0182

And thank you one more time to my amazing husband! These last ten years have been full of love, laughter, and so many incredible experiences! I can only imagine what the next ten hold in store for us! I love you!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just to Let You Know

We really have not fallen off the face of the planet! There is so much to share and so many pictures to show and not enough time in the day to do it while still accomplishing all the other tasks that must be accomplished (Did I mention the HOURS I spent yesterday trying to get the kids' clothes switched out in their closet? I now have a closet full of warm weather clothing that may or may not fit my kids. Ugh. HOURS. I'm not kidding!) We had company over Easter weekend, so much fun! And so many other activities just over the horizon! SO BUSY!! Of course, it doesn't help that the weather has been so beautiful! How can I stay inside with all that gorgeous nature beckoning from the window! I know there's a pile of laundry to do, but there's a swing outside and a book to read while the kids run around in the sunshine, and we need our vitamin D right? Nature always wins! Poor undone piles of laundry. Poor neglected blog.

Maybe if I quit sleeping, I can catch up...