Early Valentine’s Day Getaway

Half of these are taken with my phone and half are taken with the real camera, so I apologize for half of these pics being grainy. Lol

Jason’s department decided to meet at a restaurant in Downtown Asheville Friday night for an evening that included their significant others since their annual Christmas party is for employees only. Jason’s sister graciously agreed to watch the kiddos so we could stay overnight as a little getaway. It was wonderful!

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The Book Exchange After dinner at Pack’s Tavern we headed over to The Book Exchange in Battery Park. There we had truffles, coffee and adult conversation! Yay! It is a great place filled with used books and a cozy atmosphere.

Me and Jason

Hallway lights
We stayed at Aloft right in Downtown and it was awesome. The room, though a bit small, was ultra modern and clean and the bed was comfy. It was very colorful, with these neat fabric boxes over the hallway lights.

Our room number Our room number was 327 which is our anniversary. A happy coincidence!

Banangrams

When we got to the hotel and started unpacking, look what I found! I bought this game two Christmas’ ago and then promptly lost it. I had brought it down to Florida to play and blamed my aunt for taking it, though she swears she didn’t. Ha! It was funny to find it after all this time.

Aloft

Aloft

Aloft There was a huge mirror on the bathroom door that I loved!

View from our room

View from our room This is the view from our room. We were a little worried it would be noisy, but not so, we slept quite well.

Rooftop pool On our floor was the rooftop pool. It had a nice view.

Poolside I bet this is a great spot in the Summertime.

meWe stopped at Green Sage in the morning for breakfast. Jason humored me because it is an interesting place where tempeh and tofu are popular menu selections. We had real eggs and sausage, however and it was delicious!

Green Sage

We had a great time in Asheville and returned to Franklin refreshed and happy.


Christmas 2014

Tree

We did Christmas late this year. In recent Christmas’ we have opened presents without Noah and Nora on Christmas day and then let them open their gifts when they got home. That kinda sucks all around, so we waited this year. It was Patrick’s turn to have them for Christmas day, so they returned home the day after and we ended up celebrating on Saturday. We hadn’t done it that way yet and I have to say I enjoyed it the most. Probably because my mom, aunt and uncle were there as well.

Grandma

Four squareAfter eating Christmas lunch we set up foursquare downstairs. My family loves to play those types of games on holidays and I love it! We are super competitive and Noah and Nora got “schooled” in the art of foursquare, for sure. :) They enjoyed it though.

Jump rope

Jump rope

My aunt and uncle have taken up jump rope for cardio. They got all of the kids jump ropes for Christmas and demonstrated their skills for them. It was neat to see their tricks and quite impressive.

Me and Jason

Edd and CarrieA few days later we took my aunt and uncle to Shortline. It was a cloudy day, but we got a few pictures.

Jason and Henry

Family

Sky

Noah, Nora, Lorelei and Henry

Me and Carrie

Shortline

The fam

It was a great visit. It always makes Christmas special to have family together.


Thanksgiving

(not great phone pics, but I was busy cooking and didn’t pull out the real camera this year)

Snow It snowed on Thanksgiving. Not enough to stick, but it was still pretty.

Helpers

The kids were plenty old enough this year to help. That was fun. ;o)

Our feast

Grandma was here too, but I missed getting a pic of her.

Jason

me and Henry

Christmas tree

After lunch/dinner we pulled out the Christmas tree. That amazing $20 tree I found two years ago at an after, after Christmas sale works perfectly in the new house. :) I’m currently working on a tree skirt. Let’s hope Cookie doesn’t pee on it. :oP


Christmas 2013

New camera
Mama got a new camera for Christmas! My hubby is so good to me. I’ve mentioned that this Christmas season has been difficult to get into, so when my aunt Carrie and uncle Edd decided to come for a visit I perked right up. They decided to stay through Christmas day and we all had a great time during their time here. Edd took to Lorelei right away, which was fun to see and we all played games together. A favorite was Bananagrams, so if you are a words person, this is a fun one to get! I took my aunt to Waynesville and showed her Mast General (love that store) and Nick and Nate’s. Delicious!

Family pic

As per tradition we took a family pic while we were all together. I love it, but I love the prep pic more…

family pic outtake

You can see my mom in the chaos smiling at Henry.

Jason cutting the turkey

Right after presents and breakfast my aunt and I set to cooking the sides for Christmas lunch. We had been baking all day, the day before; pumpkin pies, apple pies, cookies galore. Yummo! That’s Jason above getting all the turkey ready to eat.

pretend nap with Grandma

After lunch we hung out playing games and enjoying our presents like this super soft blanket from aunt Carrie!

hungry hippos

Noah and Bee-Boo

Cars and scooter

We went to Jason’s dad’s that evening and hung out with his family eating lasagna. That too seems to be becoming a tradition. I enjoyed seeing everyone and (can I say it?) am glad it is over. :o) Hope your day was merry too.


Christmas Time is Here

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I’m sitting here on the cusp of what’s to be a whirlwind of activity. The presents are mostly wrapped and we are waiting patiently for my family to arrive. They’ll stay for a few days and then we’ll open presents with more family, eat Christmas lunch and then Christmas dinner with Jason’s family and a few days after that we’ll take a quick trip down to Florida for a court date and to give the kids some time with their dad. We’ll arrive home in time to breathe for a few days and then the kids will be back in school.

These past few months have been so stressful. I’m excited that Christmas is finally here because that means this year is almost over. It’s been a while since I have been so sick of a year and really, what will a turn of the calendar do? I’m hoping for decisions made, progress forward, solidified plans.

Here’s to the last few days of Christmas cheer!


Thanksgiving 2013

Grandma rocks

Grandma doing the inflatable dancing man during our dance party.

We’re getting pretty good at this Thanksgiving thing. The first year was a bit of a hiccup because we had been meeting at my aunt’s for years and it was the first time in North Carolina. My aunt had always organized us and that year we had way too much food. Now we know exactly how much to make, my mom brings the bird over early and cooks it in our oven. Jason even had all the dishes washed by the time the table was cleared.

While the turkey was roasting, I cast (chromecast) some music to our tv and we had a bit of a dance party. Noah had been asking about doing the worm dance, so I found a video on youtube with instructions. We all tried it (except my mom who was handling the video camera). It’s a lot harder, especially as you get older! Jason was the only one who figured it out. It was hilarious to try though! We then try to moonwalk. That’s a little bit easier, but we still looked really silly.

After that, we got down to business and were soon eating a delicious feast. Jason’s dad joined us this year, which was a special treat. We were glad he could stop in on his way to work.

Thankful tree

We seem to have a tradition started. Noah gathered some sticks from the yard while I cut out leaves from cardstock. Nora punched holes in the leaves and Jason tied the ribbon. We then all wrote what we were thankful for this year and hung it on the branches. It’s not a new idea, but it was quick and easy to do and I enjoyed hearing what the kids were thankful for. Jason, btw, is thankful for babies and kisses. *that man* Nora is thankful for her family and god and jesus and santa (all on one leaf), Noah is thankful for his family, his room and of course his PSP. Lol Noah actually understands, so it was neat to see what he wrote, in cursive!

It was a great day. We enjoyed spending time together and eating delicious food. We stopped by Jason’s mom’s that night too, so we got to see a bit more of his family as well. On to Christmas!


So this is Christmas

Every year looks different. The kids alternate Christmas day with their dad and I, so some Christmas’ they spend the first week of break with their dad and the second week with us and we do “Christmas” a few days later with them. Last year wasn’t good because their dad bailed and Noah didn’t come home at all, so it was just Lorelei and Nora on Christmas day (I was still preggo with Henry). All this to say, this year we have all four kids on Christmas day and I’m in a bit of a conundrum.

Go big or be practical? The thing is, Noah and Nora get a lot of CRAP from their dad’s house, like a rubbermaid tote full of the entire Dollar Store and toys you buy your kids that have a lot of annoying features and small parts. The result of kids with essentially two Christmas days is ungrateful children and (like I said) a lot of crap. We don’t have a lot of money to spend, but that isn’t the issue, it’s how to spend it. This year, for whatever reason, I am leaning towards a more practical Christmas. e.g. socks, underwear, one or two small toys each, maybe a couple of movies or board games to share.

Part of the problem is that gifts are my love language. I want to buy them lots of cool stuff, because I love them. That’s how I show it. However, I always end up feeling empty on Christmas day because they are ungrateful brats. lol They both just had birthdays and those toys are sitting at the bottom of their toybox. My hubby made a point that if we buy them practical items they will wear them all the time, so I will see that they are getting used. I think we will continue that route. This year we just had family birthday parties (us and grandma) and I think it worked out really well. Noah got a big item from us and he plays it every day. I think I would like to make Christmas a more practical time of year instead of hitting the motherload. Christmas comes every year and I don’t want to set ourselves up to escalate gifts, especially with four kids to buy for annually.

First snow

This is our backyard this morning. What does it mean to have the first snow before Thanksgiving?


Noah’s Summer Visit

At first it was a bit overwhelming to have four kids, all of a sudden, especially with the youngest being just two weeks old. Noah and Nora have such conflicting personalities and they haven’t been around each other for a solid week in months. We can tell that Lorelei feels a little caught in the middle, but, of course, she loves hanging with her bro. She’s even taken to calling him “my noah” or “bubby”.

Our household routine is pretty established. we don’t have regular tv, just netflix and hulu, so we may watch a show or two maybe even a movie, but then the kids are expected to find something else to do. They have toys, crayons, paper, paint, chalkboard and chalk, a sandbox and their imaginations. Not to mention the outside toys. I’ve found that the days I give in and let us veg in front of the tv end up being a very depressing day with kids who have bad attitudes and meltdowns once the tv shuts off. No bueno.

sandbox play time

When I see stuff like the above picture, it makes my heart glad. :o)

Now that we are into the second week things have settled down. Noah and Nora don’t fight as much and Noah has learned our routines and gotten used to our rules. I’m also getting used to having a newborn and taking things slow again. This Sunday we’ll meet Patrick and Nora will go with Noah to his house for a couple of weeks. It isn’t a perfect system, but it gives Noah and Nora time with me and their dad.

Carrie and Fam

This past weekend, my aunt and her husband came to visit for the fourth of July. It was really great to see them even though it rained almost the entire time they were here! We played a lot of Uno and on Saturday they all went out on the boat. The kids had a great time, though it was a bit cold. Grandpa Charley brought the tube and they got to go tubing. Noah went three times by himself! I can’t believe he’ll be ten in October.

2 1/2 weeks

Henry smiles a lot. I know they aren’t the real smiles just yet, but peeks into what they will be like. Still fun to see them. He’s three weeks now and looking more and more like Jason every day.


Memorial Day

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On Monday most of the Greb family headed over to Brian and Trisha’s house for a barbecue. All of the cousins had a blast playing together and after we ate our yummy food, they played (for about 5 minutes) in the funky sprinkler. Not a bad way to spend the holiday. :o)


Knoxville Zoo

Knoxville is about two hours from here. Isn’t everything? We had two choices between zoos; the Greenville zoo which is small and houses the giraffe that was born on the earthcam and the Knoxville zoo which is much larger. The smaller zoo would only take an hour to peruse and was about 8$ per person. The larger was well, larger, and about $20 per person. It offered camel rides and reminded me of when I was a child and got to ride a camel at the Eerie zoo while visiting family in Pennsylvania. We figured if we were gonna drive two hours, we atleast wanted to see a zoo large enough to take that long to see everything.

Knoxville or Asheville

Every time I go to Asheville I see this sign and always turn right, but on that day we got to go left!

Tennessee

We also got to see the Tennessee sign!

We chose to go on Friday because it was supposed to be warm in Knoxville and cold and rainy in Franklin, however it seemed to be the opposite. On one hand that means the zoo was not as populated, but on the other it means it was cold and drizzly. We still enjoyed our time together and got to see some neat animals.

Lorelei making faces

Lorelei making faces in the car on the way to the zoo.

Rhino

White Rhino, so close up!

Red Panda

The Red Pandas were really cool.

Elephant

Noah and Lorelei especially loved seeing the elephants.

…and then my camera battery died. lol

Trust me, we had a great time. It was worth the drive and it was worth the $20 per person. They had this really neat play area for the kids called Wee Playground or something. It was indoors away from the rain. It had a couple of smaller animals in aquariums, like naked mole rats and cousins to the chinchilla, chickens and rabbits in the barn area which was attached, but separate, from a climbing and slide area. It also had a puppet area, puzzle area, a kitchen area that you could chop up those wooden fruits and vegetables with velcro inbetween the “slices”. They even had a vet area with real xrays and a working lightbox. Neat-o. The kids loved it.

By then we were tired and ready for the drive home. Early the next morning we drove to Florida to return Noah and came back on Sunday. Less than 24 hours in Florida gave me a new appreciation for our colder climate here in NC. :o) Although, I did enjoy the sunshine!