Tuesday, March 30, 2010

348 Signs of Spring

Friday, March 26, 2010

347 Spring Break, B.A. (Before the ADVENTURE)

Katie had our Sunday activity planned out in advance. She has been saving her Christmas money since ... well, since Christmas obviously, and she was saving it for one specific purpose. Katie wanted to go to the American Girl store in Atlanta and get Elizabeth some new stuff. She has scoured the catalog and thought of it constantly, so you would think she would have had some idea what she wanted when we walked through those doors ... but no. She wanted to walk around ... and around ... and around. My brain was about to explode with all of the simple math. If I get this and this how much will I have left? And this? What if I put this back and get this and that? ARRRGGGHHHHHH! Next time we are bringing a calculator (and a straightjacket for Connor).We got back just in time to put the veggies in with the roast for the rest of the family to come over. First to arrive was my brother Geof and his family. Our monkeys went crazy! And I had to take some pics of my gorgeous nieces when they paused long enough for me to click the shutter. And this shot? I just have a thing for bare branches :)Geof and I were walking around the yard, and I looked up in the holly tree and said "How in the world did we spend hours climbing around in that thing?" Apparently it stuck in Geof's head and the next thing I knew he was scrambling up to the nearest branch ... then higher. Have I ever mentioned that my brother can be quite ... strange? Yeah, well I don't have to tell you about it. You can see in these pictures. Here he is doing his Gorillas in the Mist pose.And then .... thankfully he did just pose for this one. Sure, I could photoshop out the boogers, but what fun would that be?? It is a MIRACLE! They all smiled and looked at the camera at the same time! I just wish that Austin had arrived!Of course, two minutes later my oldest brother Vince and his family pulled up. I managed to coerce the kids to all stand still and together for a picture. This was the third one. I snapped it and they all took off running. No manner of threats or persuasion would convince them to huddle up again. Monday we started off taking it easy. A few trips around the yard in the Little Red Wagon. Connor plucking the dead hydrangea heads off the bushes. They still looked so pretty. Some of the petals like lace.Come on ... bare branches! You can't tell me they aren't gorgeous against the blue sky!And my grandfather's camellias were blooming, so I had to get a few close-ups.After Grammy got home from work we took the kiddos out to the park to blow off some steam. Katie loves this park, and this was the first time that Connor could really cut loose. He was going up the stairs and down the slides. Even the slides that had my heart in my throat. Luckily Katie was in Super Sister mode and she kept a good eye on him in the tall spots.And Connor discovered he could climb up this laddery type thing. It was like a quarter circle, open ladder thing. He was so careful, placing each step precisely. He is FEARLESS! And before we left, Katie let Connor take a swing. Like I said, she was in Super Sister mode. She really can be a big help when she wants to be.Tuesday we visited our favorite museum. The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. Katie loves Egypt and mummies, and she has to get her fix. Connor was not exactly pleased to be strapped into his stroller, but he survived and so did all of the exhibits.Love this statue of Vishnu.Katie snapped this picture of Connor and I. I guess I have to be in some pictures ....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

346 Spring Break .... In Reverse!

Katie wanted to go on an "ADVENTURE" for her Spring Break. Of course, who can blame her? She actually mentioned Callaway Gardens and the Animal Safari place, but it is way too chilly to even consider that as a valid option. Grammy had a brilliant idea! Gem Mining in North Georgia. What girl doesn't want to find gems and jewels? Sure, she probably thought they were going to come out cut and polished, possibly already set in a ring, but this is a learning experience y'all! The nearest place was at Huck's Lost mine, located on the ground floor of Huck's General Store in Blue Ridge, GA.It was pretty cute. The guy at the cash register upstairs totally sold the mining experience. He pointed us toward the "mine shaft" and then explained to Katie, who was being super shy and quiet, that the elevator would take her down two miles, deep into the earth. He said they had recently installed jet engines ont he elevator so we would be moving really fast. I am frankly surprised that Katie even got into the elevator.

So, we go down one floor.

You can choose either a bag of dirt or a bucket of dirt. Of course Katie talked Grammy into a bucket of dirt. $25 plus tax later we got ready to "mine".
* On a side note, you know why they call it "mine-ing"? Because the second your eyes fall on a glittery, pretty thing you instantly think MINE! I want it, ALL MINE! At least that is my theory after watching Katie. *

So, Katie picked out her bucket. She used the scientific method of being incredibly shy and just pointing at the bucket nearest her.Then, you get a few shovel fulls of dirt. If you are lucky you can already see some pretty things peeking through. Exciting already! Sure, this is the, worth its weight in pennies, type of thing, but it sure is pretty.And then you sift! Shakey Shakey Shakey!Dip it into the water. Shakey Shakey Shakey....

And VOILA! Gems and Jewels ... and rocks and clumps of clay. Then the fun really begins. You have to separate the good and the trash. In this set I can see garnets, an emerald, and I think that might be a ruby in the top right.Grammy even pitched in to help a little bit. Mostly Grammy was on Connor duty. He lost interest quickly in the gem mining. He was more interested in running around, getting back up to the general store area and picking out candy, and generally being a heathen. Grammy employed all manner of distractions. She did take him to get candy, she corraled him in the indoor putt putt area, and she let him go up and jump down some small stairs nearby. And, as shy as Katie can be with strangers, she warmed up quickly when talking about gems and rocks with (don't shoot me if I am wrong) Greg. She might have talked his ear off. She was so excited, and she was so amazingly curious about everything! Did I mention that Katie talked Grammy into letting her get a second bucket of dirt?! Grammy is a pushover for this adorable face! No, the one on the right ... sillies!After we FINALLY made it through the second bucket of dirt, Katie and Connor had to take a turn on the putt putt course. They didn't actually play, just walked around. Whether he was really playing or not, Connor did NOT want to give up his golf club.We headed back towards home, stopping for a little McNasty's on the way ... and Katie's bucket of gems went flying *LE SIGH*

We got a few miles south and saw the turn off for Amicalola Falls. We were on an adventure after all, so we took the turn and off we went! I haven't been to the falls in EONS! We left Grammy and Connor at the top and Katie and I headed off down the stairs. At this point I was thinking ... "meh, 425 steps, that isn't bad!"This was 175 steps down .... and I WAS DONE! You see in the middle there? That part that looks like a skull? I do, and that might be because that is the point where my spirit and my legs both expired. Of course Katie was still doing good. She took off up the stairs while I looked up the falls, trying to figure out exactly how I was going to go back UP the stairs! (side note: I am too old for this, or at the very least too out of shape for this)HUFF PUFF HUFF PUFF .... repeatAnother terrible self pic ... get over it... Awww, the rainbow! Make a wish, find a pot of gold ... BUILD AN ELEVATOR!So, we eventually made it back up to the top. Katie was even giving out toward the last 100 stairs. She stopped complaining when we paused. She said her legs felt broken. I sadly felt better with those statements :) And what were Grammy and Connor doing while we were gone? Well, you can see what Connor was doing .... So, we loaded up the car again ... headed home. But which direction to go? Douglasville? Dahlonega? Well, we can't pass up a chance to visit with our friend Kathy and Matt and their kids! So, Dahlonega it was. A phone call and we were on our way. Katie and Kaylee always play like best friends. We haven't seen them in forever and they just pick up right where they left off. Their oldest child, Matty, is battling cancer AGAIN! He and Connor got down on the floor and played with Thomas the Train. I didn't bust out the camera, but they were adorable! Matty was so good with Connor, even though Connor is more than a handful. After a good visit at the house we headed into town for dinner. Mexican is always a good choice. The girls of course HAD to sit next to each other! How cute are they!!??

So, our day of adventure came to a close. We headed back to Atlanta. A bucket full of gems, sore legs, and full hearts. Not a bad way to end the day.