"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘cousins’

Our Great Smoky Mountains Adventure

When we made the long drive to Sevierville, Tennessee to attend Polishing the Pulpit, we knew it would be a busy, busy week. And in fact, on most days we were running from one class or activity to another from early in the morning until late at night. There were, however, two days where we found ourselves with a chunk of free time in the middle of the afternoon, and we were able to make some great family memories during those times.

On Saturday afternoon, we made the short drive to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the scenery was absolutely breathtaking! We grabbed some sandwiches on the way so we could start the afternoon with a picnic lunch.

Then we went on what started out as a family hike at Chimney Tops.

How cool is that tree? Here’s another view:

It soon became apparent that a family with a 16-year-old and a two-year-old will not all hike at the same pace…so we sent Troy and the big kids on their way and Remi and I did the snail’s-pace version on our own.

Not surprisingly, the homeschool mom in me came to the forefront, and our hike became a very interesting little preschool field trip. We inspected rocks, leaves, moss, bark, spiders, butterflies, berries, roots, squirrels, acorns, streams, webs, logs, beetles, petrified wood, seeds, and even a couple of millipedes. (I had no idea they could be that big!)

Next up was a splash in the Little Pigeon River.

Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be more beauty than I could drink in. How gorgeous is this old bridge?

At one point we looked up to find that my little brother’s family had chosen the same spot for their afternoon off. The kiddos were thrilled to be able to splash, climb and explore with their cousins.

How fun to be a kid in a place like this!

Finally, here are my two favorite photo-captured memories from the day:

To be honest, I don’t even remember why he was laughing so hard. I only know that I can’t help but smile every time I see this picture.

It just makes me happy. 

And as for this one…well, I probably don’t need to explain why I love it so much…

“ You are worthy, O Lord,
      To receive glory and honor and power; 
      For You created all things, 
      And by Your will they exist and were created.”

(Revelation 4:11)

Thanks for stopping by!

Want to learn more about Polishing the Pulpit? Check out all these related posts:

What exactly is PTP?

PTP highlights

What I learned at PTP (Part 1)

What I learned at PTP (Part 2)

What I learned at PTP (Part 3)

Traveling Smiles

Adventures with eight kids

Recently we had the opportunity to keep some of my brother’s kids while he and his wife were out of the country, which brought our household total up to ten people for those nine days.

I must admit I was flabbergasted by the reactions of the people we passed while out in public. These kids are all sweet, well-behaved children, and we saw their visit as a blessing and a privilege.  So, I was unprepared for the kinds of comments that would be directed at us, like the one from the lady in the grocery store who had the audacity to spew out, in front of everyone, “Eight kids! Oh, well. At least they’re all cute.”  WHAT?!?!  These kids are treasures! Every single one of them. And we had plenty of fun together while they were here.

Of course, everything wasn’t always rosy. This one totally took advantage (more than once) of having so many people around that it took a while to notice when one of them went missing. (Yep, that’s my mascara.)

But for the most part, the kids did a great job of entertaining each other. Addy and Hannah made all kinds of things out of clay and taught each other songs on the piano.

Everyone helped out with the little ones.

One day, the girls used bars of soap to draw all over the trampoline. (It was hot, so they sketched all the things they could think of that would cool them down.)

Then they turned on the water…

…and made the surface really slick…

I’d say it was worth their effort!

I love their facial expressions…

While this was going on, the babies were having their own water fun.

Remi heard one of the neighbor kids out in her backyard next door and promptly invited her over…

…and of course she obliged. (And I figured that at this point, what difference could one more kid make?)

At first, the bigger kids chose not to get wet with the rest of us, opting instead to pull out some tools and some old army men, which they anatomically rearranged to show off their battle scars…..and which produced some pretty scary results, in my opinion.

(Creepy, huh?)

Not surprisingly, they eventually wanted a turn on the wet trampoline, too, adding liquid dish soap to the mix to make it even slipperier.

Another day, the girls went through Addy’s clothes and put together some pretty offbeat getups for a bizarre little fashion show.

Even the little guy got in on it!

All in all, they did great at coming up with fun things to do together.

You might be wondering whether or not we continued to homeschool while the cousins were here. Well, yes, actually. We did. But it may have looked a little different.  Finding that many places to work can be tricky, but everyone managed in the end.

A couple of the older kids found this yellow jacket nest out back and eagerly began extracting the treasures inside.

Before I knew it, they had lined up each specimen in the order of the stages of their life cycle. They showed them to me, and then asked, hopefully, “Can this count for our science today?”

We also took a couple of field trips. One was to the Museum of Fine Arts, where the very sight of a troop of eight kids seemed to freak out every employee and volunteer on the premises.

The other was to a police station, where we not only received a tour but also had the unique opportunity to experience what it would be like to be taken into custody…

The boys were amazed at the lack of leg room and how uncomfortable it was in the back of the squad car. Right after the above picture was taken, the officer slammed the door and chuckled, “Let ’em try to get out now.” It was fun to watch them squirm! (And if that doesn’t sound very motherly of me, just know that I’d much rather see them experience this NOW than later, in real life.) No, these are definitely not the pictures of your kids you want to see in the newspaper…

But I think the best part of our time together was seeing, again, how much these kiddos all love each other.

And that made our stint as octo-parents very enjoyable.  As for those grocery-store naysayers? They just don’t know what they’re missing!

Thanks for sharing in our eight-kids adventure.

And thanks for stopping by!

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