Friday, November 30, 2012

Da Bears..

One thing we did in the mountains...

The Bear Zoo.

It was so fun. It was hysterically fun. These bears clap for food. Seriously, they clap for food.

And, dang, bears are big. Scary big.

They are kept on the first floor of a building, but to see them you walk on the second floor balcony and look down. Does that make sense?

I would seriously hate to happen upon one of these fellows in the woods.

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We let the children buy baskets of bread, apples, and lettuce to feed the bears. They had the best time watching the bears clap and then throwing the food down.


Not too long ago we took a drive through Cherokee, North Carolina. I'm not going to sugar coat it. Cherokee is low rent. The motels are run down. The restaurants are skeezy. It's obviously not a first class tourist destination. This made it the perfect spot for a day trip for the enabler and her codependents. We're all about a low budget day of learning and exploring. Hello? Do you not remember the time we had to deal with a rabid raccoon on the front porch of our low rent beach rental?  Maybe we'll revisit that story again sometime.

Cherokee may be slightly run down and dirty looking, but it is without a doubt a giant opportunity to teach children about history and diversity. It was also an opportunity for me to leave a $10 tip for a Native American because of white guilt. Am I not supposed to confess to having white guilt? Well, I totally do. My ancestors came to this country and gave the Indians the gifts of small pox and syphilis. And then...the ancestors proceeded to greedily take over as much land as possible and pretend that it was a-okay. Happy Thanksgiving, yo. Yeah, yeah, I know that technically I have nothing to feel guilty about (my ancestors? not so much), but when I show up and clap for the dances and pay $4 for handmade, beaded earrings, I feel like a complete jerk. There I was using their culture and tradition for my entertainment. White guilt. Back to what I wanted to say before I got all flustered....

One thing that fascinated me from the get go....the signage...all were in both English and Cherokee...

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The children thought it was pretty cool. I was the only one sort of obsessed with it. I mean, seriously, it was so neat. I was born and raised in a part of the country where difference is not tolerated. Places like Cherokee do not just accept difference; it is celebrated and revered and on every street corner. Literally. Cherokee, North Carolina may not have a four star restaurant, but it boasts something far more important for my children to remember from their vacation.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cling On...

Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains. We talked about that earlier today. J and I have been up to the 1950's tower in the past, but it has always been fogged over without great views. When we took the children over the Thanksgiving holidays, it was perfect. Clear. Beautiful. They didn't even complain about the walk to the tower.

You could see for miles.


There were pictures. And smiles.

For real. You cannot tell me that this is not an amazing view.

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We spent the Thanksgiving holidays in the Great Smoky Mountains. I have always wanted to spend Thanksgiving in the Smokies. It just so happened that some of the gang thought it would be a good idea too, so we booked a chalet months ago and couldn't wait to head out.

There is a reason that the National Park is called the Great Smoky Mountains. There is often a fog hanging in and directly over the mountains. The highest point is Clingman's Dome, and I've only seen it clear there once. Most of the time it's cloudy. Beautiful. But cloudy. This gives you an idea of what it can look like...
I love being in the mountains. There aren't any hotels or motels or cabins actually in the park. There is one lodge that you can hike to, but that's not feasible with the codependents being a little on the small side. When they get older, I'm going to make them hike all the way to the top of LeConte. :)

Until then we will rent chalets in the towns surrounding the park and drive into the park for day trips. This view makes it totally worth it...


There are tunnels in the Smoky Mountains that fascinate me. I wonder how they were built. I suspect the WPA had something to do with it, but I don't know for sure. Any experts out there that know more than wikipedia?


It was so foggy that the huge mountains disappeared.

If I were to live closer, my calves would be the size of trees because I would spend every spare minute of my time exploring the mountains.

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Great Smoky Mountains indeed. There are lots more pictures and stories to be told. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Things that should alarm me.....Any questions?

Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

Flash Me...I'll Throw Some Beads to You...

I love my Britta Beads. I got the pumpkin colored ones and have worn them a good bit. What do you think?

I know. I'm such a diva in my beads. Well guess what. This Diva is going to give away a Britta Bead Necklace from Bridier Baubles just in time for Christmas.

To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment...preferably one telling me how awesome I look in my beads...haha...just leave a comment on this post. I will leave comments open on this post until Tuesday, December 4th at Noon...CST. At that point I will close comments and have the codependents randomly select a winner. Merry Christmas!!

Jumbo Size Me...

Do you like have 65 rolls of toilet paper in your bathroom storage? I do. Do you like knowing that you are not going to run out of paper towels because you buy an overabundance every chance you get? I do. Raise your hand if you've every bought 196 oz. of A-1. Raise your hand if you have ever had 7,685 Q-Tips in your pantry. I'm not even entirely sure why I felt compelled to bring home 100 pounds of sugar. Ahhh, the trappings of a big, discount store. 

Do you need enough spaghetti sauce to feed your whole neighborhood? 

Do you need 6 pounds of unhealthy cheddar sauce?

It would be nice if food for Layton could be sold in bulk like this. The reality is that most gluten free, natural, preservative free, organic food that Layton eats doesn't have much of a shelf life. I keep all of his baked goods in the freezer to extend their viability, but I can't help but admit it would be nice to buy 8 pounds of rice treats that are free of high fructose corn syrup. :)

Instead, I will pack lunch boxes with 74 of the 100 juice boxes I bought because the codependents only like 3 of the 4 flavors in the jumbo pack. 

I need to have my head checked. Clearly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two by Two...

These two little ones...

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...they are sneaky...loud...loving...occasionally fighting...they are something else.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Things That Should Alarm Me...

Remember that day we talked about Things That Should Alarm Me?

Just so you know, I am not the only family member who has experienced anxiety over one of J and Jeffrey's plans.

I was headed into the woods to check on the boys and their supposedly responsible fathers....

Nephew Nathan was headed out of the woods...from the supposedly responsible fathers...

We met part way...the look on his face was priceless.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Things I Wish I Had Said...

-Everything is within walking distance if you have the time. - Steven Wright 

-A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. - Oscar Wilde

-You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. - C.S. Lewis

-What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5 of course. - Marilyn Monroe

-Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. - Mother Teresa

-I love talking about nothing. It's the only thing I know anything about. - Oscar Wilde

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hail State...

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Stand and Deliver...

Have you seen the movie? Stand and Deliver? It's good. The first time I saw it was when I was in calculus. I had the same math teacher for trigonometry and calculus. Yes, the teacher who jokingly signed my yearbook with a proclamation that J and I would get married some day. You should have seen the look on her face years later when I bumped into her in town and told her that J and I really did get married. It was one of those moments. You know the kind of moments to which I refer. A moment of shock and joy and wow, that really happened.

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Every day with Ella is one of those moments. She never stops being amazed. She never stops delivering the smiles. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Oh, It's Rolling, Baby...

We recently ventured to an Alabama football game. There is no way to squeeze all the fun into one post, so I'm not going to try. 

Before the game, we went to the scholarship club to have brunch. The food was really good. 

Ella was sporting an Alabama hat. It turned out to be a good thing because the opposing team's color just happened to be purple...which was the color of her new sweater that she just had to wear. 

Layton was about as pumped up as it gets. Can you tell?

I enjoyed the ham and biscuits very much. There were several tables to visit, but I stuck to the first one.

Everything in and around the stadium reminds you where you if I had forgotten on a short escalator ride that I was in Crimson Territory...

During the game, we cheered and took pictures. Layton nearly exploded from all the fun. There are two things that I knew had to make the blog...

1. There's Saban...see him? If this is what he looks like when his team wins 49-0...well you get the point. There is no way I'd want to take a report card home to this man.

2. My friend Brandy does the choreography for the guard. She's got on sunglasses...and blond hair...and holding a backpack. See her?

After the band performed, Ella and I went to chat with her for a few minutes. It was really good to see her.

There are so many more pictures that I took. Post number two regarding our day of rolling with the tide will hit the blog another day. Roll Tide!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Big Hand, Little Hand...Thank You...

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers and friends. Today is the day when we choose to be thankful for what we have. I am a thankful person. I am thankful for...

My husband.

My children.

My job.

Moments like this.

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I am grateful that I am free. I can blog about whatever I like. I can sing in the streets. I can wear pants. It doesn't matter if my hair is perpetually out of control. I am free.

I am humbled by the number of people who read this blog. Thank you. I owe you. All of you. I often feel so disposable, and knowing that you come here to read my words and laugh at me for being an idiot helps remind me that I am not as easily replaced as I believe.

I am just plain grateful. Amanda, Plain and Grateful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

See Saw Construction...

Layton thinks he is building a see saw.

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I will not correct him. I enjoy watching him work. Wood, tape measures, and markers. He is convinced that this will make a see saw. I'll let him build until his heart is content. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Old Barns...

Old Barns make for wonderful adventures.

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...and the need for a tetanus booster...

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Bird, A Plane, Super Ella...

Good day, friends! We only have to make it through a little bit of work this week thanks to Thanksgiving. Take a cue from Ella...

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Keep on keeping on!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Random Thoughts and Observations...

-It seems I am supposed to be very concerned about David Petraeus's sex life. I honestly don't care that he was having an affair. Heck, infidelity happens every hour of every day all around the world. As long as Big Dave was keeping all the spooks in line and getting the job done, let him be All In. I do not think that lacking faithfulness to one's spouse is a reason for losing a job.

-33% of my offspring happen to be in New York City right now. The chaperones did not laugh when I asked if this could be a one way field trip. PSA: Don't make jokes about one way field trips; people without a sense of humor will not laugh. PSA #2: Don't make jokes about selling your children on ebay in front of school authorities; it's frowned upon. PSA #3: Don't take parenting advice from me.

-TMI Alert...don't read any further unless you want to be grossed out. Layton loves to climb up on me and hang from my neck whilst I wave my hands in the air squealing, "No hands! No hands!" This is usually followed by hugs and giggles and me holding him for a bit. He felt lumpy on his backside the other day. I asked him what was in his pants. He informed me that it was his "leak catcher." What pray tell is a leak catcher? Let me splain this in Layton terms for you. It's a wad of toilet paper stuffed in your underwear like a maxi pad to catch sharts or "poop that leaks out." A leak catcher. And I'm the lucky woman who gets to remove it from his underwear before putting them in the washing machine. Calm down; I know you want that job.

-I would like to take this opportunity to ask if anyone else has ever wanted to give a serious beat down to one of your child's teachers. Normally, I'm pretty okay with teachers being hard on my chillens, but there is one this year who appears to be in some kind of competition with Satan to see who can make me snap first. Just to be clear...Satan is currently in second place.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Look How Far...

Not too long ago I took my niece on a walk. We walked over the fields and into the woods. We were looking for something. We looked and walked. We walked and looked. And then, Lacey turned toward the farmhouse and said, "Look how far." I doubt we were more than a couple hundred yards from the house, but to Lacey it seemed like we had traveled a distance so great that we wouldn't be able to make it back before nightfall. The breadth of land between us and a familiar edifice was measurable and concrete, but our perspectives of that expanse were not interchangeable. I saw a skip, hop, and a jump. Lacey saw a voyage with a duration long enough to consume the remaining day. I asked her if she wanted to turn back, and she told me no. She reached for my hand and said, "We'll have fun."

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In that moment I realized that I have much to learn from Lacey. She demonstrated how to trust. She knew that no matter how long our excursion lasted, we would have fun, and I would hold her hand and keep her safe. She relied on me. She had faith in me.

I am guilty of relying on no one. I endeavor to do everything on my own. In the event I were hemorrhaging from my jugular, I would dial 911 myself before asking someone to help. A walk to find a "goat bone" reminded me that it's okay to ask a fellow voyager to hold your hand. Concede that none of us can journey through life alone. We have to rely on someone; we have to have faith. In each other. In ourselves. For our children. We have to believe that we will all make it safely home.


We'll have fun.