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JULY 2007
(Hold your mouse over a picture for its caption.)

July 1, 2007

My camera has been giving me fits lately, so we finally broke down and spent the money for a new one.  Woohoo!  It's incredible!  I did some experimenting around the house with the different settings.

Our big, cuddly Boo Dee Dee is really pretty, if you can catch her standing still

Grendel turning on the charm A heated chess competition

July 2, 2007

I was playing around some more with my camera, and Patch was kind enough to strike a silly pose.

I love having bookworms! Goofball

July 3, 2007

Patrick has been very bored with his gymnastics classes lately, so I called the owner of the gym to discuss it with him.  He spoke with Patrick's coach, who said that Patrick is the best gymnast in his class and he is definitely beyond the scope of that class.  Unfortunately, they do not have an advanced boys class yet (the gym is only a few years old).  We came up with a fabulous solution.  He is going to take private lessons with Scott Johnson (owner of the gym and Olympic gold medallist - woohoo!) twice a month, and go to open gym every Friday night where he can work on his skills between lessons.  He had his first lesson this morning.  He's been so excited, and was so nervous this morning!  Scott let me sit out on the gym floor and play with my camera settings, although Patrick still wasn't still long enough for me to get a clear picture.  LOL  When they started work on the bars, Scott commented, "Wow - you really are beyond that class."  :-)

Hangin' out outside waiting for the coach Cartwheels

Working on his back handspring Patrick was surprised at how fast he spun around the bar.  His old coach wouldn't let do it on his own.

July 4, 2007


We had a nice relaxing day and headed out this evening for fireworks with the neighbors.

Alex took the lead Patrick was the Statue of Liberty

Patrick playing with fire

July 5, 2007

We're leaving for Tennessee tomorrow, and already we're having issues with the trip.  I had two closings today, rather far away, so I was gone most of the day.  We dropped the van off at the shop this morning to have the brakes replaced.  The shop called Mark while I was gone and said that the brake pads all look fine, but the cylinders are leaking, and it'll cost almost $600 to fix.  Mark said no thanks, since the pads were okay.  When I got back from my closings, we went to pick up the van and I asked them to explain the problem to me in plain English.  Turns out that both of the rear cylinders and the master cylinder are bad, meaning that any hard braking situation could blow out our brakes completely.  Never mind taking a trip through the mountains while pulling a U-Haul trailer!  We ended up leaving the van to be repaired in the morning, but it won't be ready until tomorrow afternoon.  That sure puts a kink in our plans to load the U-Haul in the morning and leave after lunch.  {sigh}

Since our usual dog sitter (Mom) is going with us to Tennessee, Becca offered to watch Boudreaux for us while we're gone.  I don't have the heart to put him in a kennel anymore, and besides, her family just spoils him rotten.  When I took him to her house this evening, Emily was hilarious.  The kids came outside when we drove up, Emily included, but as soon as she saw Boo, she went running to Becca screaming (in fear) "DOGGIE!  DOGGIE!" and climbed into Becca's arms.  I stayed for a couple of hours, and by the time I left, she was starting to pet him, but only when he was lying down.  The minute he'd move, she was right back in Becca's arms.  LOL

July 6, 2007

We're going to Tennessee!  I got the girls (Grendel and Dee Dee) to the kennel this morning and packed up everything I could without a car to put it in.  After lunch the van was ready.  When I picked up the U-Haul, the lights on the trailer weren't working, so I got to sit in the van in the sweltering heat while they worked on the wires and hollered to me every so often to turn on one light or another.  When that was all set, I went to Mom's and she and I loaded Dad's Shopsmith in the trailer along with all of the extras we'd bought for the cabin.  (The Shopsmith is going to my cousin, who will take it back to Michigan with him from Tennessee.)  Next stop was back to our house to load up our stuff, but half-way through loading up, it started raining - hard.  When it showed no signs of letting up, we finished loading under umbrellas, grabbed a bunch of towels, and hit the road.  And would you believe, before we even left the subdivision, the rain turned to a drizzle. 

We drove in and out of heavy rains and construction all evening, and made it about half the distance we had planned for today.  We stayed at a hotel with suites next door to each other, and Patrick stayed in Grandma's room while Alex was in with Mark and me.  At about 11:00, Alex woke me up saying someone was knocking on the door.  Of course, it was Patrick, saying he couldn't sleep.  I went over with him to tuck him back in, and decided to give him some Benadryl to knock him out.  I went back to our room to get some, and Alex was sitting up in bed in obvious pain.  When he had gotten up to get me, he'd torn the scab off a scrape on his elbow.  Okay - take a breath.  Let's see - Bandaid for Alex, Benadryl for Patrick - oh what the heck, Benadryl for Alex, too.  Back and forth, back and forth from room to room.  At one point it occurred to me - we have 2 hotel rooms, 3 adults, and 2 children.  So why am I taking care of both children in two different rooms while the other 2 adults sleep?  Hmph!

July 7, 2007

Fortunately, it looks like all of our bad luck has run out, without any serious consequences, and today went as smooth as silk.  Mark got a book on tape from the library that was appropriate for all of us (The Golden Compass) which made the time pass by and we made it to the cabin without incident and only an hour and a half later than originally planned.

Unfortunately, things didn't go so smoothly for my cousin, Rick.  His family was caravanning with my aunt and other cousin, and his son, Mason (Alex's age) was sick.  He kept getting sicker instead of better so last night they went to the emergency room, and turns out Mason had appendicitis.  He had surgery this morning to remove his appendix.  :-(  Rick and Jessica stayed at the hospital while My aunt and cousin brought the other two boys, Thomas and David, to the cabin this evening.  

It's been so nice to see all of the family!  Rick and Jessica should be joining us tomorrow, after Mason's mom drives down from Michigan to take him back home.  

Have Xbox, will travel

July 8, 2007

Ahhhhhh.  A nice relaxing day in the mountains.  Mark brought the air soft guns which were a big hit.  The kids spent their time divided between the game room, the hot tub and the swimming pool.  Rick and Jessica arrived in time for dinner, and we just had a great day being together.

Jeremy taking a shot Thomas taking aim

Alex and Patch on Ms. Pacman Rick and Jessica enjoying some MUCH deserved quiet time

July 9, 2007

No trip to the mountains would be complete without a white water rafting trip!  Scott joined us for a trip down the Nantahala River.  Woohoo!  It was a perfect first trip for the boys - just enough excitement but not too much to worry the Momma.  ;-)  Our guide was a hoot and made sure we hit all of the rocks just right to spin us around or splash us royally.  

This evening Mark got a euchre game going and that went well into the evening. 

Woohoo! Alex is hidden behind Mark and Scott.  :-(

Alex and Thomas hanging out The view from our cabin

Mark, Scott, Rick and Jessica playing euchre

July 10, 2007

The four of us headed into the national park for a hike up to Grotto falls.  Half way up the trail, though, it started raining so we turned back.  :-(  Ah well.  We did have a very nice drive through the woods.  The only wildlife we saw was a tiny centipede.  LOL

Back at the cabin, Rod and Vickie put together a Mexican dinner, complete with music and a sombrero.  Yummmmmm.

After dinner, we all went into Gatlinburg to the Ripley's Aquarium.  We got to pet horseshoe crabs and stingrays (Patrick was very relieved the barbs have been removed), saw a fish swimming laps, upside down one way, right side up the other, and back upside down again.  Oddly, there was also a Mars exhibit.  We went through a tunnel surrounded by sharks and other huge fish.  The sawtooth sharks seemed to enjoy laying on top of the glass tunnel, showing their undersides, with their funny, face-like features.  They had the neatest fish tanks, where the kids could crawl underneath and stand up in the middle of the tank.

The lone wild creature Senor Rod cooking up some grub

Mark and David playing Countdown Patch and Alex doing a puzzle

I have no idea what he's looking at.  LOL A sawtooth's belly

Going through the tunnel of sharks

Handling the horseshoe crabs Patch isn't too sure about this

The next Jacque Cousteau He's growing gills!

David and Patch being fishy I told you he was a fish!

Cool astronaut - hang loose! goofy astronaut

Patch got up close and personal with a stingray's belly Alex was "swimming" with this one along the glass

Thomas and Alex petting the stingrays All 5 boys - Jeremy, Thomas, David, Patrick and Alex

July 11, 2007

We went into the bowels of the tourist trap of downtown Gatlinburg to do a bit of shopping.  Patrick has been dying to check out a sword shop he'd seen and, of course, we had to stock up on fudge.  Alex and Patch both ended up buying some very fancy swords for their collection.  

After dinner, our entire group went into Pigeon Forge for some go-kart riding.  I didn't ride so I could take pictures, but Mom and my Aunt Jin rode!  OMG - it was hilarious!  Every time Mom went over this one hill she'd holler out!  Check out her face in the picture!

More beautiful scenery Happy kid

Patch's sword is almost as tall as he is Striking a cool pose - or maybe Patrick is going for "tough" here

Mom and Alex getting strapped into their go-karts Alex and Vickie coming over the hill

Mark and Patch having a blast Alex is trying to pass Thomas

Mom coming over the hill - Whoooooooooooooooa! Comparing notes after the ride

My very own speed racers

July 12, 2007

We had a very lazy morning (Patch and I slept until 11:00!), and just hung out during the afternoon getting things ready to leave tomorrow.  This evening our whole group went to Dixie Stampede for dinner.  We had a fabulous time - the perfect cap on the end of a great vacation.

Alex was admiring the "horses"  LOL The whole clan

July 13, 2007

Oh how I hate the end of a terrific vacation.  We packed everything up this morning - and a big HUGE thanks to everyone for helping pack up the food and getting the trailer loaded.  After all of the goodbyes were said, we hit the road.  Mark's Aunt Linda and Uncle Mickey live just a couple of hours from Gatlinburg, so we stopped to see them and had a wonderful lunch-time visit.  Their grandson, Jimmy, also joined us.  Linda has had some health problems recently, and she was looking terrific.  I'm so glad we got to visit with them.  After lunch we were back on the road again heading for home.  At about 11:00 p.m. we dragged our exhausted selves into the house and went straight to bed.  There's nothing like the first night in your own bed after being away. 

July 14, 2007

After a very late, lazy morning, we got to work getting everything unpacked and back to normal.  On a sad note, all of the snake eggs died while we were gone.  I don't know what happened, or if I could have done anything about it if I were here, but we're all very disappointed.  I drove around getting the U-Haul returned and picking up the dogs, all the while dodging raindrops.  The rain is definitely needed, but why does it always seem to be raining when we need to do things outside?  The boys have had Justin over all day, and then went to his house this evening - they've missed each other quite a bit.  There's nothing like the sounds of children hollering and dogs barking to bring me straight back down to reality.  LOL

July 16, 2007

Without any upcoming trips or events, we hardly know what to do with ourselves!  We've kept up with the vacation habit of sleeping late, and have really just been hanging around.  It's kinda nice!  Dee Dee has definitely gotten the hang of it!

I think she's feeling pretty secure here now. . LOL

July 20, 2007

Patrick went to open gym tonight alone for the first time.  He's always gone with a friend in the past, but I didn't think anything of it since he's taking private lessons now and has skills he wants to work on.  I dropped him off on my way to a closing, and Mark called me a short while later and said Patch had called him crying and said he wanted to go home.  He didn't know anyone there and couldn't get a coach to spot him.  Poor little guy.

July 22, 2007

Kalee, Kori's little sister next door, set up a lemonade stand, so I sent the boys out to buy some lemonade from her.  It was too cute, and brought me straight back to when my kids had their "suicide" soda stand a few years back.

I can't believe my boys are the "big" kids on the block now

July 24, 2007

I am absolutely amazed at how much Patrick is learning in his gymnastics lessons.  He's learned more in the four private lessons he's had than he learned in the past three years!  I talked to his coach about his problems at open gym last week, and he agreed to work on skills that Patrick can work on more independently at open gym.  Click on the picture and you can see a short video of his round-off, back handspring.

July 25, 2007

Mark came home from a business trip this evening, and Mom was amazing and came and ate at home with the kids while Mark and I went out to eat.  Just before we left, Alex came running into the kitchen saying he'd lost a tooth.  This would not normally be that big a deal anymore, except that it's the third tooth he's lost in seven days.  Well, before we even got to the restaurant, Mark's cell phone rang and it was Alex, saying he had just lost another tooth!  That makes FOUR in seven days!    The tooth fairy might need to take out another mortgage!  We almost stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick him up some Gerber baby food.  LOL

July 26, 2007

I recently discovered that our local pool/gym has a climbing wall.  We've been dying for some indoor, physical activity to beat the heat and the rain, and this was perfect!  Both boys met their match at one point or another, so I'm sure this will be worth coming back for more.  Alex had a lot of trouble with his helmet and his hair.  It was actually hilarious from my point of view.  LOL  The helmet was too big, so when he looked up, the helmet would slide back to his shoulders.  Then he'd look down to check his footing and his hair would fall forward into his face and the helmet fell forward and kept his hair there.  :-)

Alex made it to the top Patrick working his way up

My monkeys That doesn't look good!

Patch at the top

July 29, 2007

We had a splendid day at the River with Mark's mom, and KC, Stacy, Preston and Danielle.  Mark and KC did some work on the dock, and we were in and out of the water keeping cool.  KC brought their Wii and it was a blast watching the kids (big and small) playing on it.  Danielle's favorite Wii game is boxing, of all things, and she's got quite a rhythm going.  It's too bad you can't see her skirt swishing back and forth in the picture as she throws those punches!

Preston and Patrick playing tennis on the Wii The boxing champion!

Mark and KC earning their keep Danielle was hammering down loose nails on the deck

Alex, Patch, Stacy and Danielle keeping cool Patrick flying high

July 30, 2007

Mark's mom showed him a bench she liked at Home Depot yesterday, so today he got out all of his toys - I mean tools - and made one.  It's terrific, and he's going to make enough to put around our fire pit as well as the fire pit at the River.

Patch was helping out Me modeling the bench.