Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our Summer Bucket List {2014}

It's a sad day on the Bay Bush as we put summer to rest and prepare for the first day of school tomorrow.  McKenna will begin 2nd grade (what?!?) and Avery starts another year of preschool after Labor Day.
 
We packed a lot of fun into a short time and almost checked everything off on our Bucket List.  We missed the water park, riding go-carts and riding a horse...but there's always next year for those!

 

We put a little gold star on them as we crossed them off the list.


Here are a few pictures we took along the way...

Playing monopoly...



And putt-putt...




And more putt-putt...

And at the beach...

And on one of our adventures in the mountains...
We also did a few extra things that weren't on the original list like...

- Floating down a river in an inflatable tube.  We had so much fun but I don't have any pictures since I wasn't brave enough to bring my camera.  You'll have to take my word for it!

- Getting in Daddy's way helping Daddy at work...



- Both girls had an "UN-Birthday Party" at breakfast at different times during the summer...you can see that I went "all-out" by making Nutella waffles and cheese toast.  Nothing but fine dining around these parts.



 - several trips to various arcades...my girl loves some skee ball.

- Got in a lot of snuggles with this sweet boy...


All in all, it was a great summer and I hate to see it end!

p.s. You can read about our 2013 bucket list here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pretty Little Planner

I'm trying to get my life organized before school starts back.  I needed a new planner and loved the colors of this one I found at Target for $5.99.  It had a clear plastic cover which should be more durable than my May Book.

 
I really loved my May Book that I used last year but after 5 months of hard time in my purse, it started to look a little frayed.  No offense to May Books because I really loved the planner.  Traveling around in my purse with 50 little toys, a tangled mess of receipts and who knows what else is probably a rougher life than it was intended to have.
 

I really wanted a monogram on it but thought I could add one.  I ordered a 2 inch vinyl monogram in hot pink for the front off of Etsy.  I applied the vinyl monogram to the inside of the cover without considering how busy the greek key design was and that even hot pink wouldn't really show up on it. Bad idea #1.

 
I decided to pull the monogram back off and put it on white paper.  Bad idea #2.  It was a tangled hot mess.
 
I thought about ordering another monogram and trying again but I really just wanted to finish this little project.  That's when I found Printable Monogram.  It has a ton of templates that you can download and print your own monogram...
 
the best part is...
 
wait for it...
 
ALL FOR FREE!!!  Just about every monogram design you can think of is up there.  You should really check it out if you haven't already!
 
To get the right size, I used the note card size and printed them on shipping labels that I already had.  To get the monogram, I printed the note cards and then used that as a guide for positioning the shipping label on the paper.

 
Once I printed on the shipping labels I just cut inside of the pink lines for my monogram.
 

Since I printed on a shipping label, it stuck right to the planner.





I've already gone through and added all the birthdays and school calendar dates so I should be ready to roll!  I love the way it turned out!!!

p.s. I'm linking up to Home Stories A to Z, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, By Stephanie Lynn, I heart Naptime, Serenity Now, Savvy Southern Style, Remodelaholic, Tidy Mom,  Living Well Spending Less and It's Overflowing.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tuckaleechee Caverns

We spent our last morning of our trip to the mountains at Tuckaleechee Caverns.

Tuckaleechee Caverns

I have visited other caverns before but these were much larger and felt like authentic caverns.  I almost felt like I should have been required to wear a hardhat and tote a chisel.
Tuckaleechee Caverns

There is no elevator down to these caverns.  You walk down stairs and paths all the way down to 450 feet below ground.  I really have to talk myself out of freaking out when I think about being underneath 450 feet of bedrock.  Things like this never bothered me when I was younger but now I think of every possible thing that could go wrong. #oldladyprobs

Tuckaleechee Caverns
 
These caverns were opened by two brothers who played in them as children.  They decided to open them up as a tourist attraction in the 1950s but no one would loan them the startup capital.  So they went to Alaska to work for several years until they had saved enough money to open the caverns. 

Tuckaleechee Caverns
Our guide was very informative.  Those tall toothpick like structures in the background are actually 25 feet tall.


Uncle of the year, here, carried Miss Priss part of the way after she got a blister on her foot.

This is the beach area.  Some people filled up their water bottles with the spring water to drink.  Not me.  I'll stick to Coke Zero.
Tuckaleechee Cavern beach

The girls made a wish in the wishing well.  Avery told me later that she wished she "could build something like this someday."
Tuckaleechee Caverns wishing well

There's even a waterfall inside the cavern that they've never been able to find the water source for.  I love a good mystery!

Tuckaleechee Caverns Waterfall

I like to sneak in some educational activities on our little trips.  The girls had a ball and thought we had gone on a "real adventure!"

Here are a few tips in case you visit...
  • It's cold 450 feet underground!  I brought jackets for the girls and I and we wore them the entire time.  I'd guess it was about 58-60 degrees.  That's cold to me.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with a good grip.  All of the stairs are man-made and not necessarily evenly spaced or the same width across.  Our guide was good about telling us where to be careful walking but I certainly wouldn't recommend wearing heels or shoes that were slippery.  Plus, it's a lot of walking and you might end up with a blister like McKenna.
  • There were spots where even McKenna had to bend down to get through so this tour.  This would not be a good trip for anyone who has trouble walking, bending or going up or down stairs.
  • Similarly, no strollers are allowed so small children either need to walk or be carried.  Avery is 4 and she had no trouble walking but I held her hand on the stairs.
  • The tour takes about an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish.
  • Taking pictures is tough.  The picture quality is best without a flash but it's difficult to stand still long enough for the shutter to close.  I used both methods and shot without a flash where I could find somewhere to prop up against.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Joining the Band Wagon

I'm officially adding the Bay Bush to the latest band wagon...


When I saw these on Groopdealz buy one get one free I couldn't resist.  I haven't decided where the other print will reside but I found the perfect spot for this one.

Just for fun...here's what the bathroom looked like the last time you saw it after I added the Gold Polka Dots...
Polka Dot Wall

 
I popped the print into an old frame and hung it right up in my gold polka dot bathroom. (Never in a hundred million years did I think I would have gold of any sort in my house...let alone an entire wall of shiny gold polka dots.)  But I really love them!


It doesn't get much more southern than "hey y'all" and mason jars!

You can read about how I built the shelf in our bathroom here.

p.s. I'm linking up to Home Stories A to Z, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, By Stephanie Lynn, I heart Naptime, Serenity Now, Savvy Southern Style, Remodelaholic, Tidy Mom,  and It's Overflowing.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cades Cove

We just wrapped up a fun-filled little jaunt to the mountains of East Tennessee.  One of our favorite places to go in the mountains is Cades Cove.  (You can read about our last trip here.)

Forgive me for the sheer volume of pictures you're about to see.

We ran by Kentucky Fried Chicken on the way and picked up the makings for a picnic.  They have a large picnic area and stream.  The girls had a ball playing in the stream while we got the picnic ready. A few of our favorite friends met us for the picnic and trip through Cades Cove.


 
 
 
Even little Tyler got in on the action...


Once we entered the actual park, we hiked up the trail to the John Oliver house.  It was only a 1/4 of a mile each way.



John Oliver House


 
 
 
 

John Oliver House
 
 
We loaded back up in the car and continued around the Cove.
 
Cades Cove

  We went into one of the old churches...
 

This deer was standing right next to the road munching.  I was only 10 feet away from this deer when I snapped this picture.  We also saw a bear on this trip but I didn't get a good picture of it.


 
These girls just had the best time seeing each other again.

Cades Cove


This is the 1820 version of a McMansion.

This was the only house in the cove that we saw with painted rooms.

Mom.  Dad.  Smiling.  Holding hands?  I'm so confused.

I love these sweet girls!

I think this is proof that a good time was had by all!
 
Here are a few tips if you'd like to visit the Cove.
  • Wear good shoes.  It's a lot of walking to some of the houses.  A few are right on the road through the cove though if you're not able to walk very far.
  • I wish I had brought an additional pair of water shoes for the girls.  They had a ball playing in the creek.
  • Bring a picnic!  The only food for sale is in the little snack bar at the visitor's center as you enter or exit Cades Cove. 
  • There is a waterfall hike in the Cove but I've never braved it.  It's over 5 miles round trip.
  • Sometimes traffic can back up as you drive through if there is a wild animal on the side of the road.  Even though the road through is only 9 miles it can take up to an hour to get through if you don't stop for any of the trails.
  • Bring your camera! 
  • There are restrooms in the visitor's center, at the start of the Abram's Falls trail and at the Nature center.  However, the ones at Abram's Falls were a little too "port-a-john-ish" for me.
 
 
 



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lately


Here's a lot of what we've been up to lately.

I have a serious crush on sweet potato vines after I saw these gorgeous flowers in the mountains.  I even bought one to add to my planter at the side door!  Sadly, it is infested with some sort of gnat like bug...I'm not sure what to do about that.  I keep hoping they'll just go away.  That could happen, right?


We've been enjoying lots of fresh fruits and vegetables this summer. This is me hard at work snapping string beans on the front porch. I feel like I officially earned my Southerner card that day.
And then Miss Avery lost her Southerner card when she insisted on taking her purse fishing and begged for hand sanitizer the whole time. She cracks me up.
And this little girl had the NERVE to chase me with a worm! That would be me you hear squealing at the end.
I'm not sure if I'm in back to school panic mode or nesting (without the baby) or am just plan losing my mind but I have been cleaning out and reorganizing like a mad woman. I spent my Saturday night cleaning out the pantry.  #ohtheglamour

I finished this book a couple of months ago but I don't think I ever shared it up here on the blog. I found it at the library but went ahead and bought another book by the same author to read next. It was that good!

And that's what we've been up to. Aside from the cleaning and organizing, I'm in complete denial that school starts back in less than 3 weeks!!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Castle Bunk Beds {How to Bribe your Children to Sleep by Themselves}

I (admittedly) have a problem with boundaries and going overboard.  (See here.) 

I also have a problem with two little girls who want to sleep with me every single night.  And toss.  And turn.  And kick me.  And lay sideways across the bed.  And argue about who gets to sleep in the middle.  Or who gets to sleep with Mommy and who gets to sleep with Daddy.

Frog Prince Castle Bunk Bed

This has been going on since my 7 year old was 18 months old.  We started in a full size bed.  You haven't lived, friends, until you have slept on a full sized bed with your husband and toddler while being 9 months pregnant. 

Now we've evolved into two queen sized beds. With the girls taking turns sleeping with me or my husband on separate beds each night and both with me on other nights.

While I loved all the snuggling and watching them sleep and being there with them all night, I was ready for that to be over and sleep in the same bed with my husband again.  (He never kicks me or whines about what side of the bed I make him sleep on.)

Anyway...that's where we were until Avery was watching a movie a few weeks ago and said she wanted a "Princess Bedroom" like the one on the movie.

"Would you sleep in your own bed if you had a Princess bedroom?"

"Oh yes, Mommy.  We would sleep in our own beds every single night." 

I thought to myself, "LIES!  ALL LIES!"

But I was also desperate and willing to give it a try.  I started searching Pinterest and Google for Princess beds and the most amazing castle bunk beds came up. 

But they were EX-PEN-SIVE.  I'm talking ridiculously expensive.  Like, purchase a small used car expensive or make an contribution to your IRA expensive.

I was seriously considering these plans I found on Ana White to build one but Mom informed me that it was too hard for us.

I decided to check Craigslist and that's where I got lucky.  In a town two hours away, someone had listed an adorable castle bunkbed that their little girl (now almost 12) had outgrown.  It was listed at a fraction of the retail price and she had OBO after it.  I text her with a pretty low offer that I was sure she would refuse.  But she said if I could come and get it within 3 days she would accept it.

SCORE!  We looked at the weather forecast to see which day it was supposed to rain (#farmprobs) so that my husband wouldn't be working and enlisted two of our strongest friends to go with us to pick it up.

We took it apart and brought it home.  Then next night after work the girls and I sanitized every single inch of it with Clorox wipes.  It wasn't really dirty but the other little girl had had it for 7 years so there were lots of little finger prints and smudges on the inside that I wanted to clean up before we put it back together.

Castle Bunk Bed

Castle Bed

The shield on the castle has the previous owner's name on it.  I'm planning to paint over it with Princess McKenna & Princess Avery or McAvery Castle...I haven't quite figured that part out yet.

I don't think I realized how big it really was until we got it back together in the girls' room.  It's rather large.  But the girls love it and they've been sleeping in bottom bunk together about 80% of the time since we got it.  Neither wants to sleep by themselves on the top but there's plenty of room on the bottom.  They have tried to back out on us after we had it so we had to be firm.

Castle Slide
 
I have no idea who painted this thing but they did an awesome job.  The slide is painted to look like a waterfall.

Castle Bunk Bed

Here's the view from inside the castle.  Do you think someone was posing for this picture?

And that is how we got the girls to sleep by themselves.  For two weeks anyway.  We're going to have to stay strong and persistent as school starts back and the new wears off so that they don't slip back into their old habits.

Chad maintains that this is in the Top 5 Craziest Things we have ever done.  I'd have to agree.

So...what do you think?  Are we crazy?  Have you done anything crazy to get your kids to sleep by themselves?  I'd love to hear about it so I know I'm not alone!

p.s. I'm linking up to Home Stories A to Z, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, By Stephanie Lynn, I heart Naptime, Serenity Now, Savvy Southern Style, Remodelaholic, Tidy Mom,  Serendipity and Spice and It's Overflowing.
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