Thursday, August 31, 2023

Hurricane Idalia

 Well, one month into school and we've had our first hurricane of the year! Hurricane Idalia came through a little south of us on Wednesday morning/afternoon. It wound up being a very ok day for us! We never lost power and didn't have ANY damage, trees down, etc. There were several trees down in our neighborhood, but nothing terrible. We had some friends who were without power for about 24 hours and there are still LOTS in our community without power, but overall we were spared anything terrible. A town about 45 minutes south of us was hit much harder! I've enjoyed two days off of school with lots of reading, some cleaning, and plenty of laying around time!

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Middle School!

 Well, shockingly, we have been in school for almost a month now! Our county went back on July 28th (the earliest we've EVER gone...but I've heard it will be July 27th next year). We do get out mid-May, but it still feels really rude to begin in July.

Yes, James is actually that much taller than Will. He's HUGE. He is right at 5'8" and Will is around 5'2" currently. James grew a TON the summer after 6th grade so Will will catch him in about a year! :) 

Both boys are in MIDDLE SCHOOL this year. James has always really liked the independence that came with middle school, but Will is THRIVING so far. He wants to sign up for ALL THE THINGS (James came home really excited about clubs in 6th grade as well) and his social life has taken flight. He got a phone over the summer and he's constantly making plans with neighborhood friends. Last night at around 7:45 he came in and asked to go ride golf carts with some friends. It's been a fun transition!

Both boys have been on swim team all summer and will roll into school swim in October. Will likes it, but I think is a little intimidated by it. Will is also joining Robotics on Monday and a club called Skills on Tuesday. He's pumped about both.

James is taking an online construction class this year. He has to finish 23 modules by mid-May and he has already finished 6. It sounds like he will need something else to keep him busy after he finishes that!

We've already had back-t0-school germs hit our house. Will and I have both had congestion and a cough and sore throats. James woke up this morning with a fever and a headache. He also has a weirdo skin infection happening. We will see if they're related. Woof!

We've been working on plans for a fun Fall Break trip and James has enjoyed helping plan the itinerary. He completed an itinerary for Pigeon Forge and it was not approved by Granddaddy so he's back to the drawing board with a few other cities to pitch. It's been really fun to watch him research!

My school year kicked off on August 9th and it has been wide open so far. This is my 7th year as director and each year seems to come with brand new challenges! It has kicked my butt so far since the end of July. I'm hoping for smooth sailing from here on out!!!!

Eddie changed positions at his company earlier this year and that has also created a little learning curve for him. He was working from home several days each week, but he hasn't since the beginning of the summer. He's been pretty busy!

Overall, we are doing well! The pre-teen and teenage years have had their share of ups and downs thus far. It's hard to remember to slow down and enjoy them sometimes because it seems like there are so many things crammed in!

Monday, May 1, 2023

2023 Bucket List

 The one post I've come back to post all these years later is our Summer Bucket List. I look forward to making this list every single year, even though with tweens and teens it has gotten progressively harder (and WAY more expensive!). Here's this year's list!

Monday, February 27, 2023

William at 11.

 We blinked and we are here. Eleven years into your life. It feels like forever and no time at all at the same exact time. Time is such a bizarre thing to me.

Will, you are a source of conundrum in our lives in the best way possible. I told someone recently that we never know what to expect from you, but we ALWAYS know exactly how you feel about everything. You wear your heart on your sleeve. Happy? We know! Excited? Yep, we see you bouncing. Angry? Sad? Frustrated? Watch out! We know it for SURE!

For your birthday this year, we had a couple small celebrations. We took birthday snacks to school the Friday before your birthday. We took birthday cupcakes to 5th Grade Fun Day ON your birthday, the four of us celebrated at home on your birthday, and we had a very tiny "party" with Cacky, Grandmama, Granddaddy, Kelly, and Christopher a few days later. You are VERY into Harry Potter right now so we did a Harry Potter theme, sent you a Hogwarts acceptance letter, and are planning a trip to Universal to SEE Hogwarts as soon as school gets out. (I'm SUPER pumped about that. I have a few surprises and you're going to LOVE them.)

At 11, you love being outside, building, Legos, arts and crafts, Harry Potter, Duck Dynasty, Andy Griffith, and SUGAR. You don't like anything that pushes you out of your box or challenges you to do hard things. You're taking guitar lessons right now and it has PUSHED you in a way that you weren't expecting. Whew! It has been fun and challenging for me to see it unfold, but your teacher is absolutely committed to MAKING you get through the hard part. You're like sand in an oyster right now, but you're going to wind up being a pearl at the end of it all.

Your friend group is an interesting bunch. There are about 5 of you at school together who are self-proclaimed "NERDS." Y'all enjoy reading, playing Dungeons and Dragons, swapping Pokemon cards, and building forts. I love that you're all still young in spirit and aren't in too big a hurry to grow up!

I'm a little late posting this update, but I made it before the end of February. Will Fresh, you amaze us and frustrate us every. single. day. I can't wait to watch you grow up into whomever you'll be. But I bet it will be doing something where you get to build and create.

We love you! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Floating Potatoes!

 For Christmas this year, part of the boys' gift was a trip to Tampa, Florida, for Martin Luther King weekend. We had a FABULOUS time. I wish it was closer so that we could go back more often because there was a LOT we didn't get to do!

On Friday, we left mid-afternoon in order to make the LONG drive down to Treasure Island, Florida, where our hotel was. We couldn't have loved Treasure Island more! It was a cute town with a few restaurants and shops that were in walking distance of where we were staying. It wasn't overly crowded or touristy. The hotel we stayed in was NOT so great, so I won't recommend that to you, but the character of the town was awesome! The ONLY problem we had while we were there was that it was frigid and we just didn't get to do as much outside and on the beach as we had hoped.

Saturday morning, we hit the ground running and headed to Raymond James Stadium for a tour of where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play. (We scheduled this ahead of time through their website. It was fairly cheap, but they don't run every day so we planned around this particular thing!) Again, it was FRIGID, but we LOVED this tour. The tour guide was knowledgable, nice, and had worked for the Bucs for many, many years. He had lots of fun stories to tell. We all picked out our box seats, enjoyed hanging out on the pirate ship, and the boys loved walking on the field. Even Cacky loved this tour!

After we left there, we had lunch at Riveter's. It was excellent food and the atmosphere was fun! (Take note: there IS a very adult "bar" next door that James found hysterical and Will was appalled about once we explained what it was. It is VERY clear from the sign that clothing is not worn by members of the staff. Just hate to recommend a restaurant and have you be as surprised as we were!)

After lunch we made our way to the place we'd built the whole trip around - the Tampa Power Plant Manatee Viewing Center. This would be SO MUCH FUN if the temperatures were higher than 40*. It was MISERABLY cold on the water and we didn't want to watch the manatee for long. A few days later another friend went, there were manatee EVERYWHERE, and they were warm. I guess we need to go back again sometime! This place was AWESOME, though. Tampa Power Plant warms the water surrounding it and in the winter, manatee come close to it to avoid the colder water. They have boardwalks in several directions giving you prime viewing into the water - the "floating potatoes" could only be seen way out in the water from the longer boardwalk while we were there. They also have an excellent information/learning center that gives plenty of information on manatee and how to keep them safe. Downstairs under the building they have a sting ray touch tank. Will loved that! It was AWESOME, but a few things to note - I'm not sure if it's only open seasonally, but we've always heard that manatee only come in during colder months. Summer isn't prime viewing time. Also, the parking was HORRENDOUS. And if it's cold, BUNDLE UP. It's primarily outdoors and on the water. It was free to get in and Will said the hot chocolate at the concession stand (for about 60 cents!) was money well spent!

That night, we had dinner at Captain Bill's Oyster Bar in Treasure Island. The boys found it to be EXCELLENT food. I had shrimp and grits. I can't remember what everyone else had. We did arrive during happy hour so we enjoyed a few half-price drinks and appetizers before dinner. Our children ate their weight in calamari. We all enjoyed it!

Sunday morning, we got going early again and headed to Busch Gardens for the day! James' class trip for school this year is to Busch Gardens and he opted out of it back in September. It's a one-day trip and it's a LONG way to go for just a few hours of roller coasters. SO we decided while we were in Tampa we would take him! Because it's the off-season, there were plenty of things that weren't open, unfortunately. I commented over and over that it wasn't Disney World. We did try a food pass for Eddie's ticket so he was able to get food every hour and we all split it. NOT worth it in our opinion - the lines were long and we were having to stop every 60 minutes to feel like we got our money's worth. The boys liked the animals the most. Next time, we will go to the Tampa Zoo instead! Busch Gardens wasn't bad, it just wasn't SUPER fun or memorable. 

On Monday, we checked out of our hotel and drove north to Clearwater for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Will and I watched Dolphin Tale back in December and it was so fun to see where the movie was based and partially filmed. They have an IMPRESSIVE new building and it was really a fun experience. All of their animals have either been injured or are unable to go back into the wild for one reason or another (there are several dolphins with hearing problems and one or two that don't know to stay away from humans). The employees were really kind and helpful and answered all of our questions. It's not like SeaWorld or Georgia Aquarium, but it was a very nice facility and really interesting. One of the dolphins, Hemingway, passed away a week after we visited from some sort of intestinal bacteria. It was really neat to see him doing some jumps the week before. He was "elderly" at about 37 years old.

Tampa was a great trip for our family! We love getting away for fun long weekends and finding new places!