Thursday, June 2, 2016

Road trip to NC

I decided for Spring Break I wanted to drive the 11 hours to see my high school bestie - Trisha Leon Buhrley in her Charlotte life and all it's glory.  Since I was driving by myself with all the kids - I was super whimpy and just took it easy.  I drove 3 hours to Nashville and stopped for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and then another 3 hours to Knoxville where we stayed in a hotel.  And then we did 4 hours the next day to Charlotte.

I know someone was praying for us because I felt like we had some neat blessings at the beginning of the drive.   The first one was the van started making weird noises right out of the gate.  I know that doesn't sound great - but we were able to stop at the mechanic and get everything fixed before our big drive.   And it was kind of a big deal - like we would have died.  Good to not die.

So this is what the beginning of our trip looked like...

Then we FINALLY got on the road and after about 5 minutes of driving - I couldn't find my phone.  We pulled over and searched high and low.  I ended up driving BACK to the car place and my phone was just sitting on one of the black chairs.   I was so glad I didn't drive any further than 5 minutes.  Like all the way to Nashville and then wonder where my phone was.

Here we are - made it the 3 hours in one piece.  I would say out of the 22 hours of driving - the first leg was the worst.  After about 40 minutes of driving - all 4 kids were whining and tired.   And Freddy seemed miserable but luckily that wasn't indicative of the rest of the drive.  phew.

This place is funny.  WAY overpriced food and it's super disgusting but you pay for the atmosphere - which makes it worth it.  The kids loved it.
For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to let them all order drinks the size of their heads.  

roaring tigers and elephants spraying steam - what's not to love?

Another story that makes me look dumb but shows how we were being watched over...
So, we left the restaurant and went to use the mall's bathroom.  When we got out of the bathroom I looked down and noticed Luke wasn't wearing shoes!!   "LUKE!!!  Where are your shoes!!??"  Luke: "Um, oh maybe I left them in the restaurant.  I think they are under the table."  And then I said,  "Are you serious?  Oh man, sometimes I wonder about your brain"  Or some such snarky remark I probably shouldn't have said.   So we go back to the restaurant, back to our table and are looking around for the shoes and can't find them.  Our waitress comes out and sees us and says "oh, are you looking for your credit card ma'am?"  ???  "Oh ... actually no,  I was looking for my son's shoes but did I leave my credit card here!?"  Yes, I did. I'm a dork.  And Luke actually saved the day by being a weirdo leaving his shoes there and walking around a mall bathroom in his bare feet.  Hurray for Luke!!  Ha ha.  And he fittingly said, "mom, sometimes I wonder about your brain."  Touche Luke, touche.

Then we get back to the van and I decide to let Freddy roam free while I get the movie all set up.  Well, that was a bad idea because he found my dark chocolate that had melted in the sun and smeared it all over the van.  It was a very trying moment, but we got through it.

The drive to Knoxville was easy peasy because Freddy fell asleep and the kids just watched a movie.  We got to our sweet hotel that was tiny - which was perfect for a single mom schlepping all the bags in by myself.  We basically parked right by the room AND the room was right by the pool.

And the very next day - guess whose face I got to see in real life??

Oh I love her.

She does everything perfectly.  She's really busy - teaches piano lessons, home schools and is the relief society president and basically never sees her husband.   But she doesn't ACT like that.  She just is the same funniest girl ever.  I really don't know how she does it.  I asked her husband one night (when he got home at 10pm!)  if she ever looses her temper.  He said, no - she doesn't and he didn't know how she did it either.  Anyway - she's pretty much my idol.  Ever since Jessica Roylance judged her legs to be sexiest - I should have known I would never measure up.  Darn Jessica Roylance.   I just loved basking in her happy funniness and watching her family flourish under her gentle and delightful ways.

Trying to capture this funny moment of Trisha telling my girls highly inappropriate bedtime stories.  They were giggling so hard at her really immature bedtime raps and impromptu songs.  what a dork. grow up trish.  Oh man, that sweet little Evie has no idea what she is in for. 

The next morning we drove to one of the coolest places I've ever been.  I can't even remember what it's called but it's just so quirky and small-towny and it made the kids so happy.  


The funniest part was this little train ride that took you around a loop.  They had a few plastic animals along the way and the kids were like - "oh look a bear!"  "and a deer!"   It was pretty much the best.

 And then the train went through a tunnel where there was a pretend circus.  Which means, there was a few posters and some bars holding in the ferocious fake animals.  It was the best dollar I ever spent.

The coolest thing of the day was this.  Every kid gets a big bucket of sand and they sift it and strain it until they find the sparkly beautiful rocks.   Trisha and my kids bonded over their love of rocks for sure.
The Lee kids are good at identifying their rocks and Mia even has a rock tumbler and took some of Luke and Lucy's rocks to polish and send to them.  She is a patient girl - it takes a month of tumbling for them to come out polished.

Most of this trip consisted of the kids having a blast in the Lee backyard - playing on the trampoline and making "cities" in the pine needles under the trees. 

Our kids all got along wonderfully - I don't think there was a single fight.  I don't think that had anything to do with my kids.  I'm telling you - these kids are angels.  

A lot of time was spent at what the kids called "the islands" next to the walking trail in their neighborhood.  They live in a really cool neighborhood.

neighborhood playground

And I also just want to add this picture I took of her home school room.  I got to see her charts and schedules and curriculum.  I even got to hear the songs she makes up to help her kids remember things.   I wish Trisha was my teacher!!  They are learning Chinese and Spanish and violin and piano and reading up a storm and collecting rocks and coins and PLAYING and being kids.  It's a good life.

We miss those guys.  It was really fun to visit them.  Even though I went to visit MY friend - it ended up being more of a trip for the kids.  I was surprised how much fun they had and as we left Luke sadly said - "I will never forget my time here.

And I want to say - being two high school kids is a lot different than being two moms with a bunch of kids and babies.  It's a lot of work to be moms and Trisha had a newborn and was still getting up at night and then making food and cleaning.  And Freddy was really clingy and Maryanne had a few epic meltdowns (one was warranted - when her new white stuffed kitty fell in the pond when she was standing on the bridge and floated away)   Anyway - what I'm trying to say is we aren't as carefree as the 17 year old us but I say we are even better.  We might not have had time to do any prank calling or Christmas photo shoots but I loved watching my friend in action as a mother.  It was truly inspirational.

Ok, blah blah - now on to DOLLYWOOD.   We decided to stop at Dolly Pardon's very own amusement park on the way back.  And Joey just happened to be in Nashville for a work thing and drove over to Pigeon Forge, TN to join us.

We went Friday afternoon but my phone died so I didn't take pictures.  I'm just going to have to remember the look on Freddy's face on the little bees and piggies and ducks.  It was so darn cute.    So the tricky thing was I was by myself and there wasn't much that the girls could ride by themselves.  They needed to ride with someone big but I had Freddy.  So, what I did was find random teenagers and ask if they would take my girls on the rides - like the swings and the sky rider and the scrambler.  Rides like those.   Luke could go on just about anything.   But he had to go by himself.  So it was hard.

The girls and a random teenager.  Most of them were so nice to take them and the girls loved meeting all the cool big girls.

 sky rider

 First thing on Saturday morning - since we had a daddy now to take the little ones - Luke and I got to run away and go on a couple really big rollercoasters.  It was really fun - but it was also the first Saturday since the park opened and it was crowded.  So we waited in line for 45 mins to an hour.  But I like Luke and it was fun to hang out with him and play games.  This is us before our first big ride (I think it was Thunderhead)

And this is Luke playing on my phone while we were waiting in line for the second ride (Mystery Mine)

 Smokey Mountain River Rampage. 

I splurged because we were waiting for Dad and Luke to ride some roller coasters and these guys sort of ran out of rides they could ride.  So, face painting it is. 

And cotton candy

Daredevil Falls - Luke and Joey

Mine and Joey's favorite ride was barnstormer.   It feels like you are flying.  And I will have to ask Luke - I think he said it was Dizzy Discs or Mystery Mine.  The girls said Swings and Sky Rider.  We had a lot of fun.  

And I picked up a little thank you gift on my way out.  

Our drive home was actually...
Easter Sunday 2016

the easter bunny found the hotel

 We went to chruch in Knoxville and then drove to Ben and Rebekah Hale's house (Joey's cousin) and they had prepared an awesome Easter dinner and egg hunt outside for the kids!  It was so nice of them.  

And to wrap things up ....  here's more weird pictures my kids took --

 And then it was home again home again jiggity jig.  Just in time to get some sleep before starting school the next day.   A very good spring break.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Maryanne turns 4

First of all, I'm sorry Maryanne.  For some reason I didn't get good pictures of your birthday. but it doesn't mean I don't love you.  And also, I started strong but totally did a birthday fail on your actual birthday because I was so sick.  So, dad bought you some day-old donuts and I only have one (not so great) shot of you with your four candles.  Happy 4 year old birthday!!  :) 

Birthday date at Chick-Fil-A

Excited about our next stop:  Sweet and Sassy Salon!

Where you got a princess make-over: hair, nails and make-up

 And then got to pick out some prizes and make your own smelly, sparky bath scrub!

The fancy scrub looked so much like cupcakes ... made you want actual cupcakes!   So our final stop was Gigi's cupcakes.  

 Saturday was Germantown High's play The Little Mermaid! And all your cousins came. 

Meeting the Sea Witch and Ariel afterwards.

Your birthday....

I wish I had the moment you woke up.  If there is something to be excited about - boy, you know how to get excited.  You woke up to us singing and already had a huge smile.  You sat right up to eat your german pancakes and grapefruit.  And opened presents, well.... present.  (musicbox from grandma - another fail was that all your presents from us showed up the day after your birthday instead of the day before.  first time amazon has ever been late)

And your best aunt ever came and saved you from your boring, sick mom and took you to the cousins to play.  You played the day away with your bestie, Emmeboo.

Then that night your dad bought a bag of donuts and a cake but then accidentally left the cake at the store.    But the donuts were great.  And mostly you were great. 

So, now you are FOUR!
You recently learned how to draw things that look like things.  And I love it so much.  This is my favorite.  A picture of the two of us you drew a few months ago.  (you are on the left and I'm on the right.  You said you drew yourself as a big sister and me as a mom)

And you also learned to write your name!  It's a doozy of a long name and I'm so proud of you!

a few clips of you from Gracie's phone
[elsa umbrella from aunt kate]

maryanne from katiehale on Vimeo.

4 year old interview:

Best friend: Emme
Why is Emme your best friend?  Because she always shares and lets me have her stuff. 
Who are you going to marry? Bennett.  Or Josh.  No, actually Bennett.   Emme thinks she's going to marry Bennett but I'm going to marry Bennett
How many kids are you going to have? 5
What are you going to name them?  Rosie, Glitzy, Twinkle, Fred and Gred. 
Are you going to have any pets? Yes, a cat and a dog.  Because when I'm a mom I won't be scared of dogs. 
What color is your house going to be?  pink
What about your bedroom?  I want my bed to be blue and my bedroom to be red
What do you want to be when you grow up? A fairy 
Why a fairy? Because I want to fly
What is your favorite thing to do: Go to Bennett's house and also, watch a show [it should be noted that she never goes to Bennett's I made her say another one]
Favorite show: Barbie Super Squad
Favorite Food: German Pancakes
What is something you are excited about right now?  I'm excited about that I'm going to have a violin for my next birthday. (?)
Your favorite memory in your 4 years: I went to the ocean with the double-cousins and the cousins.

We love you so much Maryanne! 
Happy Birthday!

Every story has a beginning...

Joey and Katie first met in Mr. Hawkes 3rd grade class at Valley Elementary. They became good friends in Jr. High and best friends in High School. Katie wrote to Joey on his mission in Tiajuana and Joey wrote to Katie later on her mission in Tokyo. Years later at the ripe old age of 25, these best friends finally fell in love... or maybe just realized they were already in love. They got married on January 22, 2004.

happy kids

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