You Blink and Summer is Gone …

Like everything these days it seems like I blink and our summer is over … we are back to school, as of yesterday. Fun times I tell you. No, really, it is good to get back into a routine.

So, looking back … here is some of our summer fun.

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We enjoyed lots of time at the pool …

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when we weren’t playing baseball or …

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attending summer dance intensives.

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We hosted an awesome foreign exchange student from France. His name was Florian and the kids had an absolute blast with him (as did many of their friends).

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Ava Mae competed at KAR’s National Title Competition in Biloxi, Mississippi.

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Bonus … we stayed on the beach and Lexi got to bring along one of her best friends who she rarely gets to spend time with anymore.

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When we got back from Nationals, Ava Mae found out she was going on pointe! (with one of her best friends)

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We lost two members of our furry family … (rest in peace Smokin and Binxee – you are greatly missed) and we gained two new kittens (Snowflake and Binxee II).

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We celebrated (a lot) … my husband turned Fifty …

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My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by a weekend away at a wonderful B&B in the North Carolina mountains. (Thanks to my parents for watching our kids!) Of course our kids had just as much fun hanging out with their grandparents …

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Just one of the great places they took them over the weekend.

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And, Devin turned 14 years old!

Wow … looking back we had a jam packed full of experiences summer! Excited now for what the new school year ahead holds!!

Happy 4th of July and my Smores Dip Recipe

red white blue flag and flowers

Happy 4th of July … hope you have some super fun plans to celebrate this great holiday weekend.

We are enjoying fireworks tonight in our neighborhood and a block party tomorrow night on our street. Our french foreign exchange student is looking forward to taking part in the activities.

Tonight we will enjoy an All American Dinner of Fried Chicken and Homemade Mac n Cheese (recipe to follow). Tomorrow night it is hot dogs and we will be bringing a side dish to share at the street party. One of our new favorite recipes for summer is Smores Dip! It is so super simple and it saves us from being eaten alive outside at night during the summer while roasting marshmallows.

All you need is two ingredients (semi-sweet chocolate chips and mini marshmallows), some graham crackers for dipping and you are set.

Smores Dip

Smores Dip

– Preheat your oven to 450 Degrees.

– Butter a large non-stick frying pan or cast iron skillet.

– Place a bag of chocolate chips in the bottom.

– Cover the chocolate chips with mini-marshmallows.

– Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes.

– Pull the pan out once the marshmallows are toasted to a perfect shade of brown.

Smores Dip CloseUpRemember, before scooping out a huge helping, to let it cool for a few minutes.

Have a safe 4th of July!

Summer Fun In and Around Atlanta

Summer Fun In and Around AtlantaYour homeschool is on summer break and temperatures are rising! Once again, it’s time to grab our sunscreen throw on our sunglasses and head out for some fun family bonding experiences in and around the ATL! Sure you could just head to your pool but, why not change it up a bit –

Here’s a list of 10 fantastic summer activities (some are even FREE) to get your family off to a good start this summer, in Atlanta!

  1. CREATE ATL Family Fun – This is a new family-oriented program courtesy of The Woodruff Arts Centre in conjunction with the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and High Museum of Art, which will feature various activities including family festivals, art-making activities, interactive musical story times, composers-in-training sessions, instrument making, drop-in acting classes and more. It happens every Sunday at 1 p.m., from June through August. FREE admission
  2. Marietta Fire Museum – Have some fun with history at this fabulous 2-story museum in Marietta which celebrates the work that the firefighters of Marietta have done for almost 200 years!  You’ll see fire trucks and the other awesome firefighting displays that will keep your younger ones intrigued. Tours are conducted by active duty fire fighters. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is FREE.
  3. Autrey Mill – Do your kids need a break from technology? Why not let them step back in time with a tour of the village at Autrey Mill, located in Johns Creek. The village provides an understanding of the rural heritage of this area from the 1800’s – 1900’s. It is a serene location with 2 miles of nature trails that feature a walk through a hardwood forest, a winding creek, pavilions, historic buildings, and animal exhibits among other things. Grounds are open every day from 8am – dusk. The Visitor Center is open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm. Admission is FREE.
  4. World of Coca-Cola – At the World of Coca-Cola you can experience the fascinating story of the world’s best-known beverage brand. You’ll also watch a 4D movie and taste flavors from all over the world (great place to quench your thirst on a hot day). To get a sneak peek of the fun that awaits, use the new interactive World of Coke app on your phone
  5. Tallulah Gorge Full Moon Suspension Bridge Hike –For a fun moonlit nature walk – head to the North Georgia Mountains and enjoy a 1 mile hike that takes you down the stairs across, the suspension bridge and on the rim of the gorge under the full moon. Wednesday, July 1st from 8:30pm – 10:30pm is the next full moon hike.
  6. Folk Art Garden – This is a beautiful artistic haven filled with gorgeous flowers and greenery and Folk Art consisting of more than 50 diminutive buildings designed to imitate their larger counterparts crafted from tiny stones, pebbles, shells and other materials. There is no charge to tour the gardens, located in Calhoun.
  7. Visit a Roller Skating Rink – Pick a skating rink close by and take the family for a spin around the rink. And, if you really want to cool down – find an ice skating rink. I can’t think of a better way to spend a hot day. If you’re not as bold, you can always enjoy watching on the sidelines – bring a book, catch up on some work, or just snap pics of the fun your kids are having.
  8. Georgia Aquarium -Mingle with some cute penguins, dolphins or sea otters in one of the world’s most magical aquariums in North America!
  9. UPick Blueberry Farm – Don’t miss out on the short blueberry picking season in Georgia! Find a farm, such as Berry Patch Farms, and take the kids to pick fresh blueberries. Just think of all the fun recipes you can make on one of those rainy days at home – blueberry muffins, pancakes, smoothies. Don’t forget your sunscreen and mosquito spray when you head out to pick. Also, always call ahead to the farms as the picking season changes quickly.
  10. Tubing Down the Chattahoochee – on one of the hottest days of the year, you can still have fun outside and stay cool. Just head to Helen, Georgia and tube down the cold Chattahoochee river. You can even bring your dog! Prices start at just $4 – bring a cooler and picnic afterward along the river, there are plenty of picnic tables.

So, before you ask the old age question “what is there to do in Atlanta, with the kids, during the summer?” Get started on some of the fun activities on this little bucket list. Happy summer!

What are some of your favorite things to do in and around Atlanta during the summer?

Summer Wrap Up {2014}

This is it … the last days of summer for our family! It always goes by so fast and yet, other days I yearn for the school year and structure it brings to our day and week.

So here is a recap of our summer and the fun we had …

The summer began with lots of swimming and fun with friends!

Summer Post 2We had a special lunch with a very dear friend who has been Lexi’s tutor for the last four years. It was a sad good-bye as Julia and her husband move to Florida. Though we promised to visit their ocean cottage someday soon! Until we meet again our dear friend … we will always see you as our miracle worker!

Then it was off to Asheville, NC to our family’s mountain home. We spent a fun 4th of July with lots of my siblings. And, the girls brought along one of their best buds. We saw lots of bear!! And, enjoyed seeing what fireworks look like from the top of a mountain looking down into the towns.

We returned from Asheville and the very next day we were off to the airport to meet our French foreign exchange student, Nicolas, who we were hosting for three weeks. Our time with Nic was so much fun! I tutored him in English and he taught us all about life in a small village in France. He even taught the girls the proper way of pronouncing so many of the ballet terms they have been hearing and saying wrong for years. Devin and Nic had a blast playing video games and hanging out – while the girls were off dancing every day. Nicolas is a great soccer player and we enjoyed watching the World Cup Games with him – more new experiences for our family as we are not “big” into as almost everyone in the world else calls it “futbol”. We also had a fun outing to the World of Coca Cola and The Varsity. It seemed all too soon we were heading back to the airport and saying “good-bye” to Nic. Thanks Nic for being a great student and for your invitation to visit your family next summer!

The month of July was also consumed with dancing … dancing … and more dancing. Both Ava Mae and Lexi spent over 100 hours in a summer dance intensive. They learned so much, made great friends, and are looking forward to going back next year. It was fun carpooling with two other families! The craziness that went on every day in the car was epic. Big decisions were made too during July – Lexi and Ava Mae were both accepted into a ballet company and we made the hard decision to move out of our current ballet program and on to a new path.

And, as if our summer wasn’t jam packed with fun … we added sheep to the mix. That’s right for five days we were sheep “farmers” or at least that is how our 9 year old daughter saw it. We were actually renting the sheep to clear our our backyard of all the ivy and random plants that had sprung up. We loved having the sheep (well except for that one morning when a couple of them escaped and one ended up on my deck eating my flowers but, that is just all part of the experience, right). These sheep are just one of several flocks that visit homes and properties all over the Atlanta area clearing out overgrowth – they eat everything except Azaleas. Just watching the sheep herding dogs in action when they dropped off and picked up the flock was amazing! We also go daily visits by one of the shepherds and his sweet herding dog – who is still learning the ropes!

We began August with celebrating 24 years of marriage … can’t believe it is the big “25” next year!

We also celebrated Devin turning “13” years old … we are officially parents of a teenager. So thankful, for the young man he is growing into. His sense of humor and creativeness are just so refreshing! He is a great big brother to two sometimes crazy sisters! And, he takes it all in stride.  Just can’t believe we are here already … I say it all the time but, truly, where does the time go? Happy 13th, Devin!! Love you so much!!

And, just because I have a hundred pictures of the sheep … I have to include one last parting shot. Hoping you had a great summer!!

It’s Blueberry Season here in the South

Blueberries

It’s that time of year here in the South … blueberry picking season! Some years our blueberry bush has not done so well but, this year we have tons of blueberries. Kids are so excited to have blueberry pancakes and blueberry cobbler! Here is a link to one of Sandra Lee’s Blueberry Cobbler recipes.

Black Tiny next to Blueberry Bush

And, pictured above is one of the reasons our blueberry bush is doing so well … meet our black kitty named, Binxee. She loves guarding the blueberry bush and she works much better than a scarecrow!

What are your favorite blueberry recipes?

Summer Plans {2014}

Hard to believe how much we always cram into those last few weeks before summer begins … we’ve done baseball games, a dance competition, dance recital, and testing. So nice to have a breather for a few weeks before our summer plans kick into gear.

On tap this summer …

  • Classical Conversations Practicum/Tutor Training/Camp for the kids and I
  • Homeschool Group Book Sale
  • VBS at our church
  • 4th of July trip to Asheville, North Carolina
  • 90 hours of a ballet summer intensive for Lexi and Ava Mae
  • Baseball Private Coaching for Devin
  • Lots of swimming and fun with friends!
  • Camp Winshape for Devin
  • Two different Camp Crafty Girls days at my home
  • Hosting a foreign exchange student from France in July

After all that fun, I have a feeling we will look forward to heading back to school at the end of August! Speaking of school … we aren’t putting our studies aside for the whole summer. Devin and Lexi are working on getting all of their reading done, for the 2014-2015 school year. We are also going to start working on Latin vocabulary – doesn’t that sound like fun! Ava Mae will work on becoming a more fluent reader, so lots of reading on tap for her.

The kids can’t wait to get to our pool … I like to wait until at least Memorial Day. With the cold winter we had I cannot imagine our pool warming up before June. 

Day Trip’in … Summer Fun

After a June that had us staying put due to ballet and baseball – the past two weekends we have enjoyed day trips in the North Georgia mountains.  Last weekend we went tubing with our Sunday School class in Helen. It was, for the most part, quite relaxing and enjoyable! Even our dog, Maggie, got in on the fun. Everyone slept well that night … two hours on an icy cold river can wear you out. Only two pictures on the river {thanks to my friend Amanda Craig for purchasing them for us!} taken by the tubing company. Ava Mae said next time we need to bring along a waterproof camera.
This weekend we took the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway up to Tennessee.
We rolled along the Toccoa River – through beautiful scenery.
When we weren’t looking at the beautiful views – the kids enjoyed exploring the train. The train was really large – lots of cars to explore, even a snack bar car.
We even ran into some interesting characters on the train – including, Santa Claus – apparently he is on vacation.  The train conductor was so nice and chatted with the kids before punching our tickets with his star punch. He heard it was almost Devin’s birthday and got our whole train car to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.
When we arrived at our destination it was pouring down rain but, we waited it out for about 15 minutes and then we were off to explore the quaint little towns on both the Georgia and Tennessee side of the state line.
Ava Mae and Devin enjoyed being in two states at once.
After lunch and a little shopping it was time to reboard for the one hour trip back to Blue Ridge.
Hoping to do this trip again some day … during the peak Fall foliage would be beautiful!