Monday, June 29, 2015

Cal at 8 months

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago.  That was when Cal was sitting still occasionally.  Cal has been commando crawling around since 7 months and last week he started crawling on his hands and knees and pulling up.  This kid is everywhere and loving it.  It is so much fun to watch him explore and see the smile across his face when he has discovered or conquered something.  His ability to move has given him a lot more independence which suits him perfectly.  Cal is a calm, content, independent little guy.  My little guy, with teddy bear eyes.  They melt my heart.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Swint Family Vacation

We spent our first week of summer vacation falling in love with western North Carolina.  Weggi rented a large house in the mountains in Clyde, North Carolina.  We joined Weggi, Paw-Paw, Michael and Rebecca for a week of exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Waynesville and the Biltmore.  We had a lot of time for hiking, playing baseball and baby in the air in the yard, and even white water rafting!  

The weather in the mountains was very erratic.  It rained at some point every day, but you never knew where or when it would hit.  On one section of the mountain it would be raining and once you got to another section it would be fine.  Every morning we woke up surrounded by the clouds and as the day went on, they would climb into the sky and we had many beautiful afternoons.  Our first day exploring, we went to find the Graveyard Field Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The weather seemed fine at the house, but once we started driving, we were in thick, thick clouds.  We didn't know where we were going and couldn't see more than a little bit in front of us.  It was drizzling and very cold, too.  We stopped to take this picture at the first turn off we saw.  The boys were completely underdressed and you couldn't see through the fog.  I wanted to turn around and go home, but Atticus and my mom wanted to find the trail.  We eventually found our way to the trail, which was worth it, although we didn't make it to the end because the kids and I were very cold and we didn't have a trail map to let us know what we should expect ahead.

After our first day on the Blue Ridge Parkway, we decided to head to the Biltmore.  I didn't need that much of an adventure again :)  And even though we were just going to the Biltmore, I loaded up the car with all sorts of clothes and food for all of us...just in case!  We toured the house and then explored the grounds afterward.  We found this creek for the kids to play as we drove around the property and I was glad I had their water shoes in the car.

Wednesday we headed back to the Blue Ridge Parkway to check out Sliding Rock.  It was still cold and the water was only 52 degrees, but Atticus, Finnan and Jude still took the plunge!  I thought Atticus was going to go down with each of the boys considering the temperature and the eight foot depth at the bottom, but he sent Finnan down alone first.   I was scared for him, but he did great and even did it again with Atticus.  Finnan was proud of himself and told anyone we ran into for the rest of the day that he did Sliding Rock.  Jude went down with Atticus and also did great but opted not to go down again.  Smart boy.

We split off from Weggi, Michael and Rebecca after lunch and explored more of the parkway.  We stopped for a few photo ops along the way.  The boys also wanted some turns with the camera.  I had heard about elk in the area and the rangers there pointed out a place where we might be able to see some.  That day we saw one young buck.

Aunt Rebecca introduced the boys to the game baby-in-the-air.  It quickly became the nightly activity.

The boys are playing baseball this summer and made sure to get plenty of pre-season training in with Paw-Paw and Uncle Michael.

And we tried for the vacation family picture... too bad Rory wanted nothing to do with it.  That is until he got to hold Cal and they got to do funny faces.  Of course, by the time Rory was in a better mood, Cal was done.  Oh well.  We did have some pretty spectacular scenery. 

I let Rory take a turn with the camera, and he took this picture... I like it!

And here are is a picture with the two who spoiled us all for the week.  A big thank you to Weggi and Paw-Paw.

On our last night, we made sure to do s'mores.  Finnan is trying to master the toasting of the marshmallow just like Atticus (the self-proclaimed best marshmallow roaster).  Rory decided to make a train of the chocolate.  And Jude invented the chocolate s'more- skip the graham crackers, just use two pieces of chocolate around the marshmallow.

And with the great yard, there was plenty of just plain old messing around.  Water gun fights.  Football.  Freeze tag.

On our last day we ventured to Great Smoky Mountain National Park to try to get a glimpse of more elk.  The best time to see them is dawn or dusk.  Unfortunately, we missed that, but we did end up seeing two- one older female while we were hiking and one large buck while we were driving.  We also saw a ton of turkeys.   This park was absolutely incredible.  The creek we hiked along was so vibrant and lush that for the first time in my life I could potentially see myself backpacking.  Only if it was along this creek.

One afternoon Atticus took Finnan and Jude white water rafting on the Tuckaseegee.  They had so much fun, I went back with them the next day.  It was such a treat to be with just the older boys.  Really, the whole trip was a treat and such a great way to start off our summer.