Letzter Wochenende war Oktoberfest! Wir hatten ein ausgezeichnet Zeit Рwie immer!

I had to break out my German for a second… Last weekend was Oktoberfest! We had an excellent time – as always! ūüôā

Michael, Leah and Andrew were so patient as we waited in a line ~200 yards long just to get in!!!

It’s a very good thing Andrew came with us because he loves rides as much as Leah does! He couldn’t get enough! Andrew was cracking me up!

Bryan joined us in time for dinner!

How about some greasy Schnitzel before we go ride something that spins really fast?!? Mmmmmmm!

Almost Munich. ūüėČ

Studies in centrifugal force.
(The kids took off their flip-flops for this one.)

Michael is such a smart kid – he likes the carousel. Me, too! Ha!

This is really all the spinning we can handle. Michael and I are mostly spectators at Oktoberfest.

Michael liked the fun house…

Leah and Andrew rode everything that goes really fast and yanks you around! Look at the delight on Andrew’s face! Leah would alternate between laughing and looking concerned, but she loved every ride and wanted more!

The kids ate so much junk food! (But¬†“fair food” is half the allure, right?)

This is Andrew shortly before I made him and Leah promise that next year they will trust me when I tell them they cannot possibly eat a funnel cake all by themselves – much less after eating Schnitzels! Ha!

Amazingly, no one threw up!!!


Let’s run away to Mooresville…

Amid all my organizing, I stumbled across the most absurd blog post about a disheveled drawer <insert gasp> and decided, I am done organizing. We are good. I like to keep my cleaning and organizing comfortably shy of a DSM-5 diagnosis.

The next time I feel stressed, I am going to run away to Mooresville, Alabama¬†to¬†raise chickens who lay eggs that I’ll scramble for leisurely breakfasts on the veranda. ūüôā

The town was founded in 1818 and little appears to have changed since then. It just feels so quiet and peaceful there.

This is not a joke – this is their post office and its the oldest in operation in the US.

The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town has a population of 58 people. We saw one person on a bicycle Рa farmer coming down to check on his chickens and/or check on us Рand another person driving (a car) down a street.

The farmer invited us in to see the chickens, lambs and their fluffy guardian, Justice, a Great Pyrenees.

The city’s history is tied to two US Presidents: Andrew Johnson served as an apprentice tailor in Mooresville as a young man and James Garfield preached a sermon at the Church of Christ.

Thank you to 1818 Farms for allowing us to pet the animals!

Sweet bliss.

Blueberry pickin’ in Tennessee

Bryan’s dad has a small orchard and wanted some extra hands to come pick blueberries this summer, so we rounded up the kids and headed to Tennessee. Leah’s¬†friend Andrew was excited to come with us…

The weather that day was perfect – a high of¬†72ňö F (22ňö C).¬†Michael wore his Christmas pajamas¬†because¬†they’re so comfy. Michael loves pajamas – especially¬†these pajamas.

Jack the dog.

Blueberry picking is a little tedious. I have concluded the ones in the store are a bargain!

Andrew and Leah

Papa P


It’s serious work, folks.

I helped Papa unwrap and re-wrap netting around the bushes that helps ensure the birds don’t eat ALL the berries. Also, let’s pretend that I didn’t get tangled in the netting and was very helpful to this process.

Michael found a little frog…

It was a great day! We have been enjoying blueberry smoothies, blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry cake, blueberries in cereal and blueberry pie…

Summer in the South

So, while our friends were here from Wisconsin, we tried to give them the full cultural experience of the South in the summer…

Here’s our friend Vaughn with Leah and Michael.

First, ignore the heat. It’s hot in Wisconsin, too. We went shopping at the “nice mall” which happens to be outdoors since, unlike in Wisconsin, you can shop outside in the winter.

I love this picture of Michael holding onto his daddy’s scooter and talking his ear off as we headed out to the movies…

My college roommate, Lori, moved down here from D.C. last summer which has me over the moon with happiness!!! She and her family met up with us for dinner and a movie while my friend Linda was in town. Linda and I met at work in Dallas about 15 years ago and became fast friends. I really enjoyed getting to hang out with some of my very favorite people!

We went to a great Mexican place. Not that Alabama is any closer to Mexico than Wisconsin, but still… Mexican food is universally loved and the pineapple mango salsa at Lime is killer.

We took them to the pool a couple times…


We took Linda and Vaughn out for some real Alabama barbecue, of course. Did you know Alabama has more barbecue restaurants than any other state? There’s an app for your phone to help you find great barbecue joints on the Alabama Barbecue Trail. I am not even kidding.

Vaughn is an only child and I think this week with us each summer is enlightening for him, providing insights into a life with a moderately dramatic sister and ever so slightly pesky but charming little brother. Vaughn is a great kid. We want to keep him, but Linda won’t let us. Michael suggested they both just move in. Maybe next year – ?


It has been unseasonably HOT here lately and rather than hide in the air conditioning, the kids asked if we could roast marshmallows! I love it – when you can’t beat it, just embrace it, right? Man, it was so stinking hot by that fire…

I decided to burn some old financial papers but quickly realized you can only burn a little bitty bit of paper before you create a fire hazard!!! The scouts among my dear readers are no doubt concerned about my fire building skills. I kept a garden hose close by!

Leah drew a fire…

This is our friend Andrew roasting his marshmallow.


You’ll notice a couple burned marshmallows on the patio… Freddie assisted with cleanup. Our dog will eat anything and nothing seems to make him sick!


And on Sunday, she rested…

I’m wrapping up my favorite kind of weekend – one where I work hard on Saturday and look back with achey muscles and a sense of accomplishment. And then on Sunday, I do nothing.

I have so many pictures to share this week of the gardening I’ve been doing this weekend – with a little help from my brother Steve!

But for now, I’ll just say I hauled the hammock over to the oak tree this afternoon and enjoyed the breeze and the sun…


Sweet bliss, friends!

I did make it to church this morning to welcome the new minister and his family. Mom and Dad posed for a picture in front of the gorgeous azaleas and oak leaf hydrangeas growing outside the church…

Leah was freezing as the wind whipped up… It’s been threatening to rain all day!


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

Snowpocalypse 2015: Alabama is closed

The Deep South has had¬†a “snowpocalypse” the last couple of years which has spawned the hashtag #alabamaisclosed. Ha!!! Remember Atlanta and Birmingham last year when all the children were stuck at school overnight and all the cars were piled up on the freeways and interstates?¬†Everything shuts down when we get a big snow down here because there’s no equipment to clear the roads – and because we panic.¬†Despite the sense of exaggerated urgency¬†and the rush on milk and bread,¬†we do love our snow days!

The snow started coming down on Wednesday afternoon…

We got 8-11″ (20-28 cm) depending on who you ask…

The winter Freddie was a puppy (2010-2011) we had several big snows and he hated it! He does a little better every year, but all in all, Freddie likes to be warm and cozy in the house!

By Thursday afternoon, the sun was coming out and trying to melt it, although we still have quite a lot of snow today.

My parents’ house.

Michael had to run out into the snow Wednesday night in his pajamas. Southerners have no real fear of cold Рunlike my European friends who would NEVER play in the snow without a coat and boots!

This is our back porch before the snow stopped falling! Even the hammock was covered!

Leah and Michael went night-sledding with our friend Andrew…

Then Leah and Andrew got up the next morning to go sledding again!

Our creek looked beautiful!

This is the new pergola! Nice shade for a warm sunny day! Ha!

Another view of our creek.

Too bad we don’t have this kind of camouflage/privacy all year long!


View across the golf course.

Golf cart path through a tunnel of Crepe Myrtles.

Michael and I spent a couple hours working on a “snow tower” yesterday afternoon.

We still have snow on the ground today but the roads are clear so the kids are back at school. <womp womp> It was so nice to have a couple days off to just play!!!


We had a great time Saturday night at the hockey game! Thanks to Leah, we all got to sit in an ice suite and watch the game with a bunch of friends from The Cove. It was so much fun!

The girls were recognized¬†for raising the most money for our¬†neonatal ICU in a fundraiser last summer. A series of fundraisers are held each year in memory of our sweet friend Ann Catherine’s twin sister Melissa. (AC is on the far left and she raised most of the money by a long shot, but the whole team was rewarded for their contribution.)

photo credit

AC is only 9 years old, but she is so composed speaking in front of thousands of people. When asked why the fundraiser is important, she said, “It gives babies like me a fighting chance at life.”

photo credit

The girls got to participate in some silly games on the ice during intermission. Leah and our neighbor Laney won the wagon race!


Playdate in the garden…

Last week, we went to the Botanical Garden with our neighbors. It was our first visit in over a year – which is odd for us because we usually keep up a family membership. I’d somehow forgotten how beautiful it is, so I am glad my neighbor Lori suggested it.

Michael’s favorite is the butterfly house. It has a corn snake (in an aquarium) and a lot of turtles in addition to hundreds¬†of butterflies.

I don’t recommend touching the turtles. This one looked hungry for a finger-snack!!

The garden is really¬†kid-friendly. (Ominous hungry turtles not withstanding.) There’s a fun theme every summer (this year it’s Alice-in-Wonderland) plus¬†amazing tree houses and¬†stuff to climb on and through. Leah’s favorite thing about visiting the botanical garden is that kids always wear swimsuits to play in the fountains and water features.

This pergola is my favorite. You wander down a path through the woods and then BOOM there it is. It’s just amazing… The lily pads alone are incredible. They’re gigantic!

Ellie and Leah the castle guards!

Jason, Ellie, Lexie, Leah and Michael

We are enjoying the final moments of a very short summer break. School starts next week! It has been a really fun summer – about the perfect pace of slow days and busy days with just enough travel and just enough being at home. We all just wish we had about a month more of it!

Summer Stock

This year’s visit to Jonesborough was maybe my favorite because we didn’t try to do very much – we just got to enjoy being together. We are usually shuttling the kids from the water park to the bouncy house place to the cousins’ farm to the festival downtown… one year, 13 of us hit Dollywood in matching tie-dye shirts! What a sight! Anyway, we always have fun¬†but it’s always slightly frenetic.

This year, we essentially did nothing and the most amazing thing happened… five little kids put their imaginations together and decided to put on performances for us! They worked so hard on it for a couple of days – and they were awesome!

Leah created a reserved seat for Bryan on the aisle. I think she was copying our church – they¬†gave us our own seats years ago with a “reserved” placard.¬†Very sweet!

The girls had teamed up so the boys followed suit. The differences in their chosen performances was nothing short of a study in X vs Y chromosomes. The girls had plot development, conversation, emotions and singing. The boys had no words at all in act one and when it was done, Michael clarified for the audience that the scene was intended to explain the direction of the storyline. Anyway, there was a lot of hunting, chasing and grunting – but the boys had practiced and actually created this all very deliberately.

Best visit ever.