Saturday, November 28, 2015

Clingman's Dome

The kids had a Monday off from school back in September, and I couldn't stand to let it go to waste. Emma already had hiking plans with some of her friends, and Scott had to work, so I packed up the youngest four Cruze kids and let the boys each invite a friend, and we headed to the Smokies.

We decided on Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the Smoky Mountains, because we'd never been there before, and the "hike" was an easy one mile up a paved path. We have been trying to be careful not to make Afton hate hikes forever, because right now she pretty much does. She'll go along with it, but gets very tired very easily, has plenty of complaining to contribute, and doesn't really see the point of all that death-march-esque walking. So, one mile seemed like a good compromise.

If I'd checked the weather though, I probably would have opted for a different destination. It was chilly, but not too bad. The main bummer was that it was cloudy. And at that high elevation we were smack dab in the middle of the clouds. Which was actually kind of cool in and of itself, but it left us with a lame/nonexistent view. We'll have to come back on a gloriously clear/warm day in the summer.

After walking all the way up to the observation tower we decided to hike down to Andrew's Bald since the trail head was right there in the parking lot. The views were slightly better from there, but not a lot. Still, everyone but Afton enjoyed the extra venture.

Here's our photographic evidence...

Emma and her friends hiked House Mountain. Bringing enos along was probably the best idea ever.

Cruze Reunion 2015

Er, yeah, back to summer!

The last weekend before school started Katie and Noah and the kids came in town and that makes the Cruze family complete. So Conan and Cally planned a full Saturday of reunion activities together, and we had a blast. We started with a huge reunion breakfast at Cracker Barrel, then came back to Grandma's house to work up a sweat pulling weeds for her. The kids were greatly rewarded with a ginormous water slide in the field which they spent the afternoon wearing out. We finished up with a delicious cookout and an outdoor movie. It was so much fun I made a movie about it.

And then there was soccer

I've written a lot about Lydia and soccer before. This time I'll leave it at: she still loves it, she's still really good at it, and I hope she always plays.

This fall was Afton's first go at it. She really enjoyed playing and would like to sign up again in the spring. She did great for her first season, and her best skill was probably listening to the coach.

Parenting fail: I didn't take any pictures at their games. I'm going to go with it was because I was so intensely watching and cheering. Luckily one of the dads on Lydia's team is a photographer, so he took plenty and shared them. I need to get Afton in her uniform for a little photo shoot out back before it gets too cold.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cross Country season

Emma, Ben and Josh all ran cross country this fall. And they were all awesome.

Emma skipped her freshman year of cc as she acclimated to high school. She got to know some cc girls when she ran distance on the track team last spring though, and was excited to join in as a sophomore. It was a really great experience for her. There is a good group of kids on the team and they made a lot of fun memories together. Emma showed marked improvement, getting PR after PR after PR for much of the year. And she looked good doing it. See?

Ben and Josh both ran on the middle school team. It was really impressive to see Ben take somewhat of a leadership role on the team as an 8th grader and one of the fastest runners this year. He did a good job of encouraging the younger kids and being inclusive. We were surprised Josh wanted to run this year since he didn't seem to really love it in elementary school (and the middle school races are twice as long!). But the surprise was quite pleasant, he was really impressive with stick-to-it-tiveness and steady improvement as well.

I'm glad our kids run. Going to their races was one of my favorite things. Bonus: We were treated to a lot of beautiful scenery.
Lydia and Afton had fun at them too.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The last post with really old pictures -OR- Family photos

I think after this we'll be mostly caught up, at least to things that have happened in the last couple of months instead of sharing a family photo shoot from way back in May (like I'm getting ready to do right now). But I just this minute realized I'd never blogged these pictures, and I really love them. Our good friend Brianna agreed to book us for a session just before she officially retired from the portrait business. We were extra, EXTRA lucky because she was willing to meet us at Cades Cove. The longer I live here the more I love the Smoky Mountains. I want to go there all the time. Hiking is my favorite. Playing in the streams is my favorite. Just driving around is my favorite. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is my favorite. Thanks Bri!

There are a lot. Hold on to your hats.

This is my favorite. It's hanging on the wall now.

It gets funnier the farther down the line you go. 


Afton again.