Sep 15, 2014

Labor Day weekend: Saturday

We drove up to Waynesville, N.C., to visit my parents over Labor Day. It was a quick trip; we drove up after work on Friday night, arriving about 1:30 in the morning, and drove back after lunch on Monday.

We wanted to pack in a lot of fun in a short amount of time, and we certainly did.

We drove up to The Swag, one of my favorite places on the planet, on Saturday morning.


The Swag is a B&B that sits above Maggie Valley, N.C., that we started going to in the early '80s, and my parents usually let us take a friend with us. I even took boyfriends with me as I got older (they slept separately from our family in a nearby loft). I have so many wonderful memories of The Swag and couldn't wait for our kids to see it.

When you drive up, off to the right there's a huge, old oak. At first you don't realize that it's any more that that.


But when you walk up under it, you realize that it's home to a really cool treehouse!


Even Amelia went up and took a look around ... it's larger than it looks from the ground. It has two levels and seating for several people.



It's WAY on up there. Luckily you don't have to take a rope ladder or anything ... it's a nice set of steps, but they're pretty steep.


Once we'd made our way back down, we stopped in the flower & vegetable garden to take a look around before heading up to the main lodge.


One of the things I love so much about The Swag is how they pay attention to EVERY detail. And every single element they add to the property is added in the same rustic vein as the original lodge.


Since I don't have a green thumb, gardens amaze me.



I once managed to kill a cactus. Mm hmm.



I kind of felt bad even setting FOOT in The Swag's garden, like my bad mojo might set off a bad chain of events in there.



See what an odd angle that picture is taken at? (And also what terrible grammar I used in that interrogative sentence?) That's because that sunflower was a good seven feet tall.


We realized it was about time to go pick up our trail lunches, so we walked back past the beautiful treehouse on the way up to the lodge.


We had the option of eating in the lodge, but The Swag is a place of, shall we say, RESPITE. It is a calm, relaxing retreat for people who pay dearly for the pleasure.

It is NOT a place where my four children and their uncontrollable personalities would really be welcome. On the inside. For more than five minutes.


So they made do with a few rounds of horseshoes in the front yard and enjoyed the view of the Smokies.



Also on the front porch was Malcolm. Or should I say MALCOLM. Amelia spotted him right away, and if you have ever for a moment doubted how wonderful our cat Scout is, this should tell you:


Amelia has no idea -- not a one -- that there's any reason you shouldn't just run up to a cat you've never seen before and who doesn't know you from Adam and lay on top of him and give him a huge hug.


AND A KISS.


Personal space? She's never heard of it.

Of course right before she made it over to him, I did shout out to someone to ask if he was friendly. Luckily -- obviously -- he is. Also, possibly too well-fed to bother trying to move.


We had to literally tear Amelia away from MALCOLM in order to jump on the trail up to Gooseberry Knob for lunch.

"I dun wanna leab MAH-COMB!"


Gooseberry Knob is just a quarter-mile hike right there on The Swag's property, totally worth it for another nice view of the Smokies.

As you get to the end of the trail and enter the clearing, you realize you're in a truly beautiful spot.




We had the gazebo all to ourselves, although there were a few other hikers scattered here and there along the ridge looking for a peaceful place to read or meditate.

Ha.



Our trail lunch was DELICIOUS. Santa Fe grilled chicken wraps, red apples, Sun Chips and some dark chocolate brownies with a graham cracker/oatmeal crust. I didn't have one of those, but Amelia did.


Well, she licked the chocolate off the top. She wasn't so much a fan of the crust part.



But she was willing to persevere for the sake of the chocolate.

I KNOW THE FEELING, INTERNET.


I'd tell you how long it took me to clean her up afterward, but you don't want to know.


Same with the number of wipes it required.


It was pretty obscene.


After I finished The Cleanup of the Century, we headed back down to The Swag for a little more time on the grounds before wrapping up.



Oh, and how can I forget, more time with MALCOLM? As soon as we got back, the crowd surrounded him.




Going in for another hug and kiss.


The kids enjoyed a soft drink, a few more horseshoes and some special moments with MALCOLM while I enjoyed inhaling the spirit that is The Swag. Love this place.




Such a special day, maybe one we can eventually follow up with a real overnight visit with the kids once they discover what Indoor Voices and Walking-Instead-of-Running are.


But until then, we'll have this.


Sep 10, 2014

A breather

Thanks to those of you who've emailed to check in and ask if I've recovered from the lightning strike and the light saber scratch.

The answer is, "Yes, partially."

My laptop charger is working intermittently, which means that I'm able to use my laptop ... intermittently. I really want to share the pictures from our visit to North Carolina to see my parents over Labor Day with you. And also? Last Easter.

Remember how I joked earlier in the year that I might get around to showing you Easter pictures before Labor Day? I WAS WRONG.

It'll be after.

Anyways. We still have a big scrape on our TV from a light saber of indeterminate handling. No culprit has come forward, and United They Stand. I'm impressed. I thought somebody would've broken by now.

I feel like I've got a hundred balls in the air this week, so I'm not going to add blogging to them. I'll be back next week, though, with tons of untimely photos to share.

See? So much to look forward to!

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this little nugget of wisdom, courtesy of FailBlog, just because it made me laugh:


Sep 5, 2014

Lightning strike

Last night lightning struck so close to our house that it fried a lot of things. My laptop is okay, but my laptop CHARGER is fried. 

Our cable -- which supplies our phone, Internet and TV service -- is out. HOW DRAMATIC WAS THE SCENE AT OUR HOUSE LAST NIGHT, DO YOU THINK?

I was basically in the fetal position, Internet. 

And that was before I discovered the four-inch scrape on our beloved 42-inch flat-screen TV from where it recently came into contact with a light saber. 

THAT'S RIGHT, A LIGHT SABER.

To the boys' credit, they stood strong as a unit, none of them willing to give any of the others up for committing the Crime of the Century.

But between the light-saber/scrape discovery and our cable outage, my heart may not make it through the weekend.

Pray for me.

Sep 4, 2014

Did someone say 'amazing pool'?

I know most of you who read my blog aren't local, so you won't have a chance to enjoy the pool at the UAB Rec Center. BUT MY WORD.

We were invited downtown for a Cub Scout Welcome Event a couple of weekends ago, and the kids were BESIDE THEMSELVES when they got a look at the pool. Quite frankly, it IS pretty impressive.

A Lazy River runs around the right side of it, and the current moves fairly quickly in it.


In the middle front of the pool, there's an actual whirlpool. A really STRONG one. I mean, I got in it and I had a hard time breaking free of the current to get back out that little opening on the side. But it was COOL.


And then most of the rest of it is devoted to lanes. There's also a big hot tub at the back -- you could fit about 40 people in it -- but they asked us not to get in it since we had so many kids.

WHY, DO YOU THINK?

Offended.


Even though it's all indoor, one entire wall is windows, so there's plenty of natural light. It's actually a beautiful place to swim.



One thing I noticed about it is how much decorative tile there is. Tile, then some more tile, and then just in case there wasn't enough green, blue and yellow tile, they added some more for good measure.


See? It went on for miles.


But they also had little palmish plants lining the window wall, which felt kind of tropical. So I cut them a break on all the tile.

Sort of.


We had a great crowd for the Cub Scout Welcome Event. The boys listened intently to the lifeguards' instructions before jumping in.


They listened, but did they OBEY? Who knows. I tried to keep mine on the straight-and-narrow, AS I DO.





But "out of sight, out of mind" is my motto.

What. Is that not a good parenting motto?

Look. I had to keep an eye on the one who WAS within sight at all times. My shadow.


For someone who conquered the ocean just a couple of months ago and loves to jump into our regular pool, she was surprisingly meek about getting into this one.


She never got past knee-deep in the three hours we were there.



That nearly KILLED her brothers, because they so desperately wanted her to come play with them. They wanted to lead her around in the tube, for one thing.

NOPE.


So they just made do on their own.



Everybody seemed to have a great time ... there was never a lull in the action, and everybody stayed the entire time.


The whirlpool was a huge draw for the boys ... a parent stood at the exit most of the time and pulled them out by the arm if they stayed in too long and got too tired.


Nick, of course, never got too tired. He's got an endless energy supply.


I wish I had it. I could use it, oh, EVERY STINKING DAY.


This ended up being one of our last pool outings of the summer, and we didn't even realize it at the time. I can't believe it's already over!

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