Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Trunk or Treat - 2015 Edition, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Have you ever seen the cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender? If you haven't, change your ways right this second. Our kids started watching this series on Netflix several years ago, and after catching a few episodes with them, Scott and I started watching it ourselves after they were all in bed. It's really good, we all love it. It's not on Netflix anymore so we got the whole thing on DVD (it's only three seasons). (If you've only seen the feature film directed by M. Night Shyamalan, forget everything about it and go for the cartoon instead. I'm usually an M. Night fan, but he really botched that one.)

ANYWAY, that's who we decided to dress up as for our family theme trunk or treat costumes this year. We decided sometime in August or September I think, but it was a busy time (as it always is, amirite?). I put off and put off and put off figuring out those costumes. When there was less than a week to go I went though each of our characters and made a detailed list of what I would need to make/buy/find. It was a lot and I wasn't feeling optimistic. It was the Sunday before the trunk or treat Wednesday when I leveled with the kids. I told them I didn't think I'd have time to get our costumes done and we might need to make a last minute change to something more simple. They were understanding, and agreed we could try for Avatar again next year.

But then.

In morning prayers Monday, Afton prayed, "that we would be able to pull off our Avatar costumes."

Well, that'll do it. With new resolve I took my list to Goodwill that day, and I sincerely believe in direct answer to Afton's prayer I found every single obscure thing I needed there.

Tuesday evening Afton prayed over our dinner and added in, "And please bless that we'll be able to pull off really great Avatar costumes." And I was all like, "'Really great'? Simmer down, sister."

Wednesday I spent all day cutting felt, hot gluing things together, referring to pictures online, adding details, and ... I pulled off our Avatar costumes. I don't know if I'd call them really great, but I'm thankful for the example of Afton's faith.



Ty Lee




Sokka was too busy talking to get an individual shot of him. I'm just glad he's willing to dress up every year.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fall break, day two: Cades Cove

Remember how just a couple of posts ago I mentioned how Afton pretty much hates hiking? She would probably clarify there's no "pretty much" about it, she just hates hiking. H A T E S. Walking and walking and walking? What's supposed to be fun about that? You have to keep on walking even when you're really tired? More and more these days our family hikes are punctuated with one little voice lamenting, "I just wish we were back at the van."

This poses a problem for our family, because the rest of us love it. To varying degrees maybe, but I think it's safe to say that it's one of our very favorite activities. There's a fine balance of how often to let six of us have a great time while one of us suffers. So Scott and I have talked about how maybe we just need to take it easy with her. Maybe she hates hiking because we've taken her too far, too young. (Although, to be fair, the past Halloween she also got worn out. Near the end of our route, she opted to just sit by me on the sidewalk and lean on my leg instead of extending the extra effort to actually go up to the last few houses. So, she might just not be cut out for physical endurance activities. :))

So when we were deciding what to do for the second day of fall break, naturally most of the kids suggested hiking. But having just recently gone to Clingman's Dome and Andrew's Bald (only 1 mile and 3.5 miles respectively, but still) we knew Afton was burnt out. And we really don't want her to hate hiking forever. We're really hoping she'll still come around. So Scott and I strategized that the thing to do was find something that gave us the majestic beauty of the Smoky Mountains, the fun of romping around outside, but without the walking and walking and walking.

Cades Cove to the rescue!! An 11 miles loop we could drive and get out and play whenever we wanted, but not ever be obligated to keep on walking was just the thing. And it was perfect. There was a lot of traffic, but we knew that going in to it, so everyone had a great we're-in-no-big-rush attitude. We saw deer, some turkeys, and a mama bear with her cub. We got out and explored a few of the old churches and cabins, and spent some time playing around a stream and climbing trees.

Before we went, Afton was suspicious, not really sure what she was in for. But near the end of the day, she said, and I quote: "Wow, Mom, this is a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be!"

And that's exactly what we were hoping for.

[Again, some of the photo credits go to Emma, all of the landscape shots for sure. And the first half are just phone pics.]

Fall break, day one: Oakes Farm Corn Maze

This is one of our favorite fall traditions. (See? 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011. I didn't even realize we'd gone that many years in a row.)

Some Cruze cousins met us there, the weather was perfect, and it wasn't muddy this year. Pretty much the only down side was they didn't have fried oreos. Next time, I suppose.

Photographic evidence!!
(Bonus: Emma has taken an interest in photography, so some of these are her shots. I'm very proud of her, she keeps it on manual.)