Thursday, December 29, 2011


I took shockingly few photos this month. Shockingly.
Not even a one from Christmas day. 
This is why I need a personal photographer to be a part of my daily life.
Please contact me if you are interested in an unpaid photojournalism internship.
I did take a few though, stuff did happen...

We joined Cruzes for our second year visiting Dillsboro. It was 500% better than last year. I think it was the horse-drawn wagon ride that did it.

Afton turned THREE. She wanted cinnamon rolls for her cake

Reasons why I love Ben #512: he left Josh a sweet message with pennies.

The pageant lives on!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reason why I love Josh #476

Just before dinner I over heard Ben and Josh discussing their favorite X-Men characters (they've been devouring the old cartoons on Netflix). When Ben mentioned Colossus, Josh jumped in with, "Yeah, I like him too. He's from Russia. Just like Pyotr Tchaikovsky."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

While I made dinner...

...Afton invited all her friends to a party on the stairs.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fantasy of Trees, 2011 edition

It's always a good time. Made even better by meeting up with some good company while we were there. Thanks again, Langfords, for the tickets.

Carousel shots remind me of this movie.

It appears Scott's sister donated this little church thing. Like, ten years ago before she was married and got a new last name, apparently.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Afton is. Obsessed. With drawing. She is literally running me out of paper. The stack pictured above represents about half a day's worth of her efforts. She likes to draw people--everyone she knows. She tries to draw smiles but once in awhile one will turn out as a frown and she'll lament, "Aww, Lydia [or whoever she's drawing] is sad."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Talent Show 2011

Afton has a funny relationship with her Knoxville cousins, aunts and uncles. They love her like crazy. She's the youngest of the bunch and is in high demand. About a year ago she could not tolerate a single one of them. All of their repeated and earnest efforts at showing any amount of love were met with flat out rejection: crying, growling, "go away!"s, hitting...anything to send the message loud and clear: "How dare you love me. Take your kindness elsewhere." Somewhere over the last few months her heart of ice thawed out at least partially. She doesn't mind them all so much anymore and will accept hugs and high fives most of the time. She is still very particular though. If she's not in the mood for you, you'd better just back off. It's become a sport of sorts to see who can win her affection/tolerance and who she will kick to the curb. Many tactics are used--ipads, treats, phones and up high--with varying degrees of success and sustainability. We thought it would be fun to put the whole saga to music for this year's talent show. Bonus: the night before Thanksgiving, we were treated to a sweet and endearing Afton who spent the last hour before bedtime telling all of the cousins that they were her best friend and showering them with hugs and kisses and pretend stickers and stamps. It was nice to have a happy ending.

{Movie styling is a nod to the Smith family's music video, which we all enjoyed seeing last summer.
We also appreciate the intro to a cool song.}

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ragnar video update

You can help us achieve fame and glory if you vote for our team video as the best one.

Right here.

I think you have to LIKE Ragnar to vote, so no pressure.
But seriously, go do it. And tell your kids to. And all of their friends.
Thanks, I like you too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ragnar Relay Tennessee 2011

We did it.
It was awesome.
I ran my last leg around 4am, what could be more awesome than that?
Scott ran five miles straight up a mountain (that's why I married him...that and his endless encouragement and enthusiasm).
I got to train with Lisa in the weeks leading up to the race, which made it so much more fun.
One event motivated me to start something new and end up loving it.
Check us out...
(and vote for our video here!)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trunk or Treating

Happy Halloween! Last wednesday we gathered our children from around the world and throughout history for the trunk or treat. This year's family theme stemmed from Emma's idea to be an ancient Egyptian...

She totally made her costume all by herself. The white sheet is the same one I used
for the Bride of Frankenstein last year, she just had to take it in and cut some off the bottom.
Once hers was decided, we just looked to the rest of the world for inspiration and played on everyone's natural gifts and talents. Ben, for example, has red hair--he's Irish, easy!

A green vest and one felt shamrock for clarification.
Kind of wishing I'd made a burlap potato sack for his candy bag.

And who has a black and white horizontal striped shirt? Afton! Hello France!

Super-easy felt red beret was the only thing different from a normal outfit for her.
When we got in the car to leave she cried and cried, "I don't have a costume!"
She was consoled when people started giving her candy
We have the Langfords to thank for Josh and Lydia's costumes. They handed down the Native American costume to us long ago, and lent us some authentic Chinese silks for Josh

Scott got off very easy this year by dressing as a Spaniard. (His name tag says Hello My Name is Inigo Montoya. Get it? Ha!). I threw on some black knee socks with sandals and a USA t-shirt to play tourist.

They will mostly mix it up for tonight, I'll have to do a follow-up with the new costumes. Prediction: at least two princesses.

{see past family themes here, here, and here}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hiking Abrams Falls

We have frequently kicked ourselves for living here for so long and taking so little advantage of the Great Smoky Mountains. Last summer's excursions to Metcalf Bottoms were officially the first time we've gone up that way as a family.  Last Saturday we made recompense for our sin of omission and took the kids hiking.
Cades Cove Loop is not for the faint of heart during peak tourist season. We looked potential hours of slow-moving traffic in the face and decided to go anyway, because who knows when we'll find the right window of time for going again? We knew it was going to be worth it when we saw colors like this out the sunroof.

It was just as crowded as we expected, and it got more than a little nerve-wracking when at times we traveled 1/10 of a mile in twenty minutes. But faces like this in the backseats let us know the kids would survive just fine:

I love where we live. I love it.
Early in the loop we saw this small group of deer and got all excited. I leaned over Scott in the driver's seat to zoom in and snap up a bunch of photos.

Not long after that sighting the traffic came to a total standstill, so the kids and I got out to stretch our legs and walked ahead a bit. It didn't take long to find out why the line of cars was stopped. Three does were foraging around just about ten feet away from the kids and I as we stood at the roadside.

Finally we made it to our destination, the Abrams Falls trailhead. Two and a half miles each way didn't seem like a very strenuous hike and we'd heard that this was an easy stroll up the mountain. It was beautiful but Lydia and Afton heartily disagreed about the easy part and were both carried a good portion of the way. I didn't mind carrying them as most of the trail was a mess of sticking-up roots and rocks. Every time one of them attempted to walk unassisted resulted in a face-plant and/or skinned knees.

The bridges were a favorite.

Emma curated a fine collection of leaves.


On the hike out we were all a bit more tired.

As we were nearing the end we nearly walked right by this guy.
The very last of our wildlife sightings was on our drive out of the loop when we saw a baby bear impossibly high up in a tree. Our new resolution is to not be such a stranger to the national forrest right in our backyard.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everyone loves a corn maze

We took the kids and met all of the other Cruzes at Oakes Farm a few weeks ago for a day of corn-filled fun. I may go back and make this day a movie, it was so fun. For now, I wanted to share the goodness before it slips too far into the past. There's still time, go on and have youself some good old fashioned farm fun.

Everyone loves climbing on an old, rusty tractor.

Everyone loves sliding down bumpy pipes. Especially Afton. She reminded me of Josh with his  infatuation with the slides in Golden Gate Park. Up and down, up and down.

Everyone loves giant tires. And vibrant blue skies.

Everyone loves people-sized hamster wheels. Especially falling in them.

Everyone loves bouncing.

Everyone loves lunch.

Everyone loves getting lost. Afton soon grew bored of riding and wanted to walk, so we let her lead us the rest of the time. We missed more than half the checkpoints, but made our way out before anyone else.