Sunday, November 27, 2011

What are YOU Thankful For?

I'm thankful for a husband that is brave enough to drive a ginormous RV into the city.

I'm thankful for friends that are willing to let us pick them up at 2am in the morning, drive into NYC and camp like Hobo's with us on the streets of NY.

I'm thankful for a warm home and a couch that I can curl up on and watch the Thanksgiving parade because it's cold watching it live and in person.

and I'm thankful for yummy food and an awesome Mom who taught me how to cook so I could make a fun Thanksgiving meal.

I really am not sure where the idea origionated from, but somehow we got it into our heads that we wanted to go into NYC and see the Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

Then it evolved into not only driving into the city, but doing it in the RV and camping out on the streets of NY until early morning so we could get a good spot to watch the parade. We picked up our friends on the way there, so picture 11 people crowded in 1 RV. Yeah, we're pretty much nuts!... But willing to try anything.

The idea seemed realistic, and our plan went off without a hitch until the 2 husbands, Wes and Dustin overslept and got to the parade route a little later than anticipated. There were thousands of people already filled in between the barricades by 6:30am. CRAZY PEOPLE!

So the Husbands scoped out a spot and parked our lawn chairs in an area right at the corner of 7th and 35th. Well, I wish officer Joel, the NYPD officer had told us what we were in for because this ended up being the pedestrian through way for the duration of the parade. These lovely, inconciderate New Yorkers paraded through in front of us. Waited there until the police made them move across the street, then the circled the block again and again until the parade ended. ANNOYING! So pretty much all we got to see for the duration of the parade was the backs of heads, the occasional float, and my kids cute hineys as they stood on my lap to try and see something. So pretty much the Macy's parade is for the birds, but cross that off my bucket list! It still was an adventure and the kids made some good memories!

I mean how many can say they camped in an RV on the streets of NY?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Downer Disclaimer!

So today is a beautiful day outside. We haven't had many of those this Autumn. Today is also one the first Saturdays that I haven't had to take my girls to dance rehearsal. I'm kind of sad...no, I'm really sad. I decided recently that Dance was just taking over our lives. My girls couldn't do ANYTHING else, including church or even homework. When I saw on the new season calendar that there would be quite a few Sundays away, I decided it was just to much. My girls are enjoying their first Saturday of freedom, and I'm glad they are able to be enjoying this beautiful autumn day. I should be feeling happy to have this new found freedom to not have to run them everywhere and have them cooped up in a dance studio all day, but really I'm just feeling totally depressed.

I guess I just don't deal well with change and it was a huge part of our lives so I'm having a difficult time letting it go. I know I've upset people at the school; people I really care about and anyone who knows me knows that I HATE THAT! Making people unhappy, disapointing them or displeasing them. All decisions I make are based on who I will or will not dissapoint. But sometimes, most times, you have to dissapoint someone to not dissapoint others, or yourself.

The girls will still be dancing, just no opportunities to perform except for the recital (which is of course on a Sunday. That's one reason why I picked this school 10 years ago (Sat. recitals), but now it's changed...and I'm annoyed! That and teachers I loved being an influence on my kids have left. Why does life have to be filled with conflict and change? Why do we have to make decisions for our kids and then worry after if it was the best for them? This should be clear to me! We chose Church over dance, so why does it seem so unclear right now?




This Sucks!

I'm sure I'll only be sad for a little while and then I will get used to not being somewhere I love and it will pass. But right now I'm just feeling yucky inside.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

For The Logistically Challenged!!!







How do you get babysitting for 10 children, 3 husbands to Morristown by 4pm and then 3 wives down to Morristown by 7pm, spending the least amount of gas and putting the least amount of miles on the cars? Sounds like an algebraic equation to me. Do you want to try and attempt to help me figure this out, because this is about when my brain goes to sleep and I start hearing "This". Then 1 husband (are we wondering whose?) throws in, "Oh I have to take my Kayak so I'm taking your car and you take mine... Hmmm... Oh never mind now you're taking your own car, I don't have enough time to put the Kayak on the top of your car." So... I don't understand anything I'm doing right now. Lets just hope that we all make it down to Morristown safely for Stake Conference to hear our current Stake President, Timothy Pettit (whom we will miss dearly) speak for the last time before he is released tomorrow. Oh yeah, and please pray that all our children are taken care of and that none of them fall in the Lake while we are gone. I'm going to go and try to make myself look hot now. We don't get date nights like this often enough.


These are the things that we deal with out in New Jersey, So for all you families who live a block away from a Church building, NO WHINING ALLOWED!!!! pththpthpth!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I LOVE SUMMER!

Sunrise on the Bay!

Lemonade Stands!



Cape May-Lewes Ferry!






Ocean Fun!









Eeeeeew! Dead Shark! How did it get on the beach?






Oh!...Evan pulled the dead shark in by it's tail. Groooose!...With Dad and Uncle Jeff watching. Where is the Hand Sanitizer and adult supervision when you need it?













He's just so Handsome! I had to share it.











Garden beauties!













It's not summer without spending a day up a tree!





Summer has almost come and gone. I love summer! The Lightning bugs in the evening. Cool summer nights sitting out on the deck under the stars. Lemonade. Just the freedom of not having to stick to a schedule and run your kids all over town. I love the opportunities to just hang out at home and not have anywhere that you have to be. Saying "Yes, you can stay up and watch that Movie", and having 4 thrilled kids who can sleep in the next day. I find myself getting annoyed when we actually have to go somewhere. We have had a lot of adventures. The best moments however are those "Yay Me" moments that just don't come as often as they need to.




Some of my triumphant moments this summer!




Getting my new Nikon 3100 after Dustin threw ours in the Bay.








Dustin exchanged a bunch of printer cartrages someone was throwing away at work and got $400. We used it towards a new awesome camera! LOVE IT!



Taking 4 kids to the grocery store with complete cooperation and no Mommy melt downs in one entire visit. That may only happen once or twice in my lifetime.




After letting the boys pick out a treat at Wal Mart, and Austin completely flipping out over what he picked out, Evan traded what he chose for Austin's choice. Then traded back 'happily' when Austin was still not satisfied... YES!!! Maybe I'm not failing at teaching my kids kindness.



Going to girls camp as a leader "in charge" of lots of girls, and not coming back dead or dismembered. And none of the girls got lost. Well, only one for about 20 min. But it was pretty origional. She tried to impersonate a Hill Cummorah pageant cast member and had plans to go up on the stage with the cast. Definate points for creativity.

Finishing the Hunger Games series finally.




Reading "The Help" (click here to see the trailer) again and going to see the Movie with my daughter and friends. Well worth your time if you feel so inclined.





I did have some moments that were not so triumphant, however.




I lost the diamond from my wedding ring and spent 3 hours crawling around on the dirty floor. But I did realize that a true friend stays with you, crawls around and pokes through Wal Mart grime in an effort to help you find your diamond right along side you. So grateful for good friends...And a husband who doesn't mind spending money and surprised me with a new diamond in a fancy new setting. He's Great!!! I'm totally spoiled.




Allowing my kids a Television Marathon with this one particular show. I now have 2 little girls addicted to this H2O show (click here for cognitive stimulation) found on Netflix. Not a good idea. Can't decide if I should make them go cold turkey or ween them off slowly.




I also realized that I like electricity and being able to use my dishwasher. Hurricane Irene helped me realize I could not have walked the plains behind a handcart. They would have had to bury me quickly after my first turn at washing the dishes in a pot and not being able to shower for 48 hours.






We had a great time at Chincoteaque IS, VA , hence the photos above at the beach.






And we spent many hot summer days at Mountain Creek Water Park.






Summer is almost over again and school will begin again soon. I'm determined to enjoy whats left of it!




5 days and counting! Am I ready? NOPE! I think I need one more day at LBI to prepare myself.



Who needs school supplies, schedules, and registration forms?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm a slacker so here are some pictures!

Big Black Bear







The Smith Family came for a visit over Memorial Day! Just Love that family!






Ashley and Amanda had their piano recital!





Amanda started taking pointe classes. Here is her shoe before it got all mucked up from Dancing.






One of the Only pictures not at the bottom of the Bay!












Austin! He's just so cute when he sleeps. What an angel...till he wakes up and turns into a terrorist!


So Dustin went on his annual fishing trip with his brothers this year. They always go in April during Rock Fish Season. One of those things I don't complain about too much because usually they bring back a big old Rock Fish, cut it all up, and share it. Sooo divine! Yummy! Artichokes, lemon butter and Rock Fish! Food of the Gods!


This year however, right after our Myrtle Beach Spring Break vacation, Dustin took the camera with him fishing. In his excitement to catch a great picture of, I'm assuming a fish? - I haven't seen it, since the picture now sits at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. Yep, you heard me correctly. My camera slipped, plip plop, right into the bay as Dustin grabbed the side of the boat when he almost fell overboard. All (or most of) our vacation pictures are now at the bottom of the bay. The ones I have were taken with Ashleys ipod touch, hence the low quality pictures...I'm totally bummed and am now shopping for a new camera. Any suggestions? Something with a floatation device would be nice...




























I've been such a whiner lately!

Have you ever just laid in your bed in the morning wishing you didn't have to face the things that you commited yourself too? Well, I have. Sometimes... ok, I always have a hard time saying no to people...and even worse, when I say no and someone argues their point as to why I've made a poor choice in saying no, I totally do what someone else thinks...then I get annoyed. This really bugs me that I do this, so I have been being very stubborn lately. Almost to the point of revolutionary. Yeah! Pretty much I've been a big grump and putting my foot down a lot when it comes to my own opinion.

But, thankfully, someone else is watching out for me and sending me good people to surround myself with. And opportunities to be blessed in spite of my cranky attitude.

What is that scripture? "If you give a gift begrudgingly, it is better that you had retained the gift?"...hmmm! I wonder how many blessings I have missed out on because of THAT one. HA!

Well today I woke up thinking I was in for a day of drudgery...and consequentially, it turned out quite the opposite of that.

I've always been in Young Women so I never knew the difference, but in the Relief Society, there seems to be lots of these little jobs (or big ones) where you seem to be just giving and giving. You know, playing Henrietta Homemaker, and Sammy Service... Totally not me. I know I'm going to sound like a big jerk, but bear with me, I'm just being honest...Compassionate service is not a strong point for me, unless its my idea. The serving random strangers I don't know is more difficult for me. I have a hard time pushing past the "I'm annoyed" feeling in the beginning.

But today I was truly touched and humbled. It was the Sparta Ward's turn to cook a lunch for like 180 Missionaries for their Zone Conference today. We did tacos. After browning half a cow, and driving the hour to the Stake Center, we prepared for 2 hours and then served the Missionaries their lunch. Like I said before, I was having a hard time getting out of bed this morning and facing it. How I have managed to get out of these things for this long I don't know, But I'm so glad I didn't get out of it this time. As these young men are going through the cafateria style line, a lot of them seemed truly thankful that we were there. One of them said, "this is the best food I've had in a long time. I'm tired of living on pop tarts and cereal"...Awwww!!! I was touched that a lot of the Missionaries that had served in our area before and left remembered my name...I had to look at a lot of name tags... Then at the end, they called all the serving ladies in to the cultural hall to thank us.

The army of Missionaries sang us "Called to Serve" and after, yelled, "Thanks for Lunch!" It was kind of cool to look out into the sea of Elders, recognizing the ones that had served in our ward, who looked truly happy to be singing to us. I was touched. What a cool experience it turned out to be when I would have rather stayed in bed. Kind of glad I didn't.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Technology is cool!

I really love how The Church is putting out so much information on the internet. What a cool thing; to be able to watch the things we used to have to get tickets for and drive miles to go see in a theatre. 15 years ago some treasured friends of mine went to a lot of trouble for me to go see one of these films. Legacy was the film that was out at that time. It was fun... Now all I have to do is open up my laptop. So cool! This Joseph Smith Film was something we took a group of Youth to-all the way to the DC visitors center to see it. Now it's right here at everyone's fingertips. Gotta love technology!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Got to Meet and Apostle of God! A Special Witness of Christ!




Elder David A. Bednar came to our Stake for a visit! I got to shake his hand and he wished Austin a Happy 4th Birthday! How cool is that!?!?!?!?!


Hear him speak Here

and hear a message from him Here

and another Here

Before I forget about it, I wanted to blog about the visit we had from Elder Bednar. He was in NJ for some business he had with the Bishops and regional representatives in the area. So we were lucky to have him come and speak for an hour to us on Sunday. We were given some directions to help us to prepare for his coming. We were asked to go to the temple, invite one of the friends or family members we hold closest to our hearts, and to pray and read the scriptures daily to help our hearts hear the message he had to offer. Dustin and I didn't make it to the temple. We are SLACKERS! I did try hard to pray and read daily. And we did invite a really neat family, which is always such a scary thing for me. Elder Bednar said though, that we were just persistant, not pushy when we invite! I hope that's how it is in my case.... The family wasn't able to attend, but I think being obedient to these things helped me to prepare my own heart for his message. It helped my own testimony of prayer to grow, even if we couldn't share his message with people we love. Some of the things he explained; Explained with the power and Mantle that only comes from an Apostle of God, were explained exactly how I would like them to be said. I get nervous and botch it when I try to explain it. But he said exactly what I would say from my heart, if my mouth was not hinged in the middle. So regardless of the fact that none of our friends or family could come, my prayers were answered and I am so greatfull.

Elder Bednar told a story about a friend of his from his time in Rexburg, ID. This friend wanted a 4WD truck and tried to justify it to his wife by telling her that it was important for him to be able to get to the store in the snow and ice safely to get milk and bread for his family. His wife asked him what the point was in buying the truck was if they couldn't afford milk and bread cause they spent the money on a truck. So, the smart man came up with a solution. He told her he would use the truck to go into the mountains and cut down wood, haul it back, and burn it to save on heat. That way they could afford both.

Does this sound like anyone you know? Noooo...not Dustin!...Not at all!
Dustin always follows the council of his wife, and would never purchase something we could not afford...HA!

So the man gets his truck and sets off up the mountains. It's foggy as he gets into the mountainous terrain, and realizes that this fog is really a snow storm. He continues on because this is exactly what he bought his truck for. He gets to his desired destination and leaves the snow covered dirt road and begins to bog down in the snow as it's deeper in this area. He's not worried because this is the purpose of this truck. He puts it into 4WD and gives it gas, but the wheels just spin. He bogs down more, but he tries again only digging the tires deeper and deeper into the snow. He sits there and says a prayer for a minute cause now he realizes he's in trouble. He probably should have listened to his wife,lol. The thought comes to him, however, that maybe he just needs to go to work. He can't just sit there and freeze and if he's not going anywhere, he might as well make good use of his time. So he goes out and starts cutting this wood and loading his truck. He loads and loads till he can load no more into the bed of the truck. Then, having nothing left to do, he decides to give it another try. This time, he presses on the gas, slowly and gingerly, and miraculously this time the truck moves... It was the load that gave him the traction to get out of the bog.

He read with us the scripture in Mosiah 24:13-15-- And it came o pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God , do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with pateince to all the will of the Lord.

He said making covenants or two way promises with the Lord is key to this blessing!

He spoke to those with disease and with sickness and told them that they should pray for healing, but more to have the strength to endure the process and to learn the lessons that needed to be learned from it. And still more to also pray: Father, thy will be done.
I was deeply touched by this opportunity. As we walked through the line to shake his hand I wished I could tell him how his words answered my prayers and I was so very greatfull, but instead I just said "Thank You." He did ask Austin his name and Austin said, "It's my birfday." He was very kind and asked him how old he was. Austin said 4. That in itself is a miracle as Austin has been very bashfull and rude to adults of late. His usual behavior is to stick his tongue out and spit. That would have been just awful. It was a very touching day, and I just wanted to share before my heart forgets.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Some Funnies!

Smelly Rice Sock!

Our neighbors have 2 little boys and they just got a rice box instead of a sand box that they have in the garage. Yesterday Evan, after the boys had been playing with the next door neighbor came running in saying," Austin is crying outside, and he has no shoes on." I run outside to find him sitting under a pine tree with no shoes on and only one sock. (I think his feet were a bit cold as it's still in the 30's here.) I pick him up to carry him home asking where his shoes and sock were, only to get a very tearful "I don't knooooow!" I figured they were at the neighbors somewhere and would find them the next day.

Later that night after dinner, Austin comes in with a sock filled with rice, a little thread tied around the top, and slaps the rice filled smelly old sock on the table. "Mom", he say's, "I got you this to so you could cook it."....Thanks Little Man. I'll get right to that!

Car rides from H!@#!

The other night we decide to take the whole family shopping: Yeah! I know what your thinking! NUTSO! We aren't even out of the driveway and I hear: Amanda-"Mom! Oh my gosh! Austin just slapped me!" Ashley-"Mom! Tell Evan to stop making disgusting sounds!" Austin: "Nobody doesn't like me!" Me-"Why do guys have to be so evil to each other? Evan-"Mom, you makeded too much kids." ...ya think?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meet the Suttons!


I want you to meet one of the COOLEST people that I have met while here in New Jersey: One of the things that I would have missed out on if I didn't live here. That would have been very sad!

Meet the Sutton family: Heather, Jayson, Mackenzy, Mady, and Max
This is a link to the story and the beginning of her battle with cancer. What a dear sweet woman, friend, wonderful mother and an adored wife. Watch the News Clip here

As we were sitting in that little basement of that Catholic Church while the addition to our Sparta Ward building was being built, this beautiful family came walking in. I knew immediately they would be people we would want to get to know. I was so excited! Our kids were similar ages. Being here didn't seem so daunting for a moment. Sometimes you don't even have to meet someone to feel their strength. Thats how I felt about the Suttons before I even introduced our family to them. Dustin and Jason became fast friends. We were so lucky to have them here for a short time. Please watch and help if you can. There will be a Bone Marrow Registration drive this Sat. Feb. 5!
9AM - 12PM
Please tell your friends and come if you are in the area and can help!
Location: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
1443 Telegraph Road
West Chester, PA
19380
Click on the links above for more information!

New Jersey!

Reasons I don't like NJ:

1. It gets very cold, and when winter sets in, it seems it will never end

2. I miss the west and my friends and family there.

3. Sometimes people can be very loud and intimidating. (That's not hard, I am easily intimidated.lol) It can be contagious, and I don't like it when I get that way.

4. The Church is small here. Sometimes you feel that a huge weight is on your shoulders to keep the work in this tiny corner moving forward. And I feel so small. People are stubborn.

5. Bears get into the trash, and you have to wrap your trash up like a present for the trashman to take it.

6. All the amazing people that move here always move away.



Reasons I like NJ:



1. I DON'T HAVE TO PUMP MY OWN GAS. So in the winter that is just AWESOME!

2. The seasons are beautiful here and I love to see the changes and the variety in them.

3. We are close to NYC. It's fun to go there and just people watch and see different cultures.

4.We have made some amazing friends here. Ones that you know you will never forget. Treasured Friendships and people who become a huge influence on you.

5. At least in this area of NJ (Sussex County) there is some amazing wildlife. The bears are beautiful, and we have deer in our yard on a regular basis.

6. The schools are awesome! And we have an amazing dance school that gives the girls an outlet to put their energy. It's a wholesome environment that helps them develop their talents.

Looks like we will be here for a while longer! So I will continue to enjoy it! :)

Some things that give me Joy!

Dance


video

Things that do NOT! Well I guess having a husband who does this so I don't have to does! Haha!


video

Monday, January 31, 2011

Fun!...Townsend Style!

Sledding with the Whiteheads and Sister Ward!
video

video

And when you can't sled outside, you bring the fun inside!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Big Yellow Bubble!


























When you are ready to have your first child, you are filled with anticipation, trepedation, and feelings of inadequacy. I remember feeling at 23, I couldn't wait to meet her, but was still just a child myself. How could I be 'Mom'? Did I have the wisdom and the insight to make a...person? Well, ready or not this kid was coming so I guess I better just figure it out, right? These were the feelings I had as I was living in my little basement apartment in NJ. I didn't have a house to bring her home to, but was scheduled for a C section, as Amanda was to stubborn to turn and decided she wanted to come feet first instead of head first. I tell her all the time that she wanted to dance her way into the world. So, When she decided to come the day before she was scheduled, I thought, oh no, I can't do this. But Then, as they hand this perfect little person to me, a complete stranger, but one that you would do anything for; sacrifice anything just to protect them, you wonder what it was you were so afraid of? This is what my purpose is: To protect this little person that's mine; to keep this little person safe and comfortable and happy. To help all her dreams come true.




Immediate, pure love!




But then life comes in and sort of steals the moment. You soon realize that you can't protect them from everything. There is going to be pain, there is heartache, and that little bubble you so desperately want to keep inflated around them starts to deflate. The Dr. tells you, "Sorry, but she has a displaced hip and will need to be in a harness for at least the 1st 4 months of life." What? My perfect baby? They get their first fever. They have to stay in the hospital for the first time, and the Dr's have to take them away to do a spinal tap. What? You're thinking. You're going to stick a needle into my tiny babies SPINE? You think, let's see how much you like it! All you want to do is grab your baby and run, but instead you stand outside the door and wait, trying to have faith that someone knows what they are doing and it will all turn out fine... And it does.

Then the first day of school comes. You hope you have taught them what they need to know. You hope the kids will be nice to them and that you've done everything you can. So you send them out into the world, with a back pack, some crayons, and a lunch box as an arsenal of protection. Now THEY seem so inadaquate. You let them leave your bubble and put them into a big yellow bubble on wheels. It's a lot harder than it looks with your first kid. But you know you have to look like it's ok so they'll think it's ok. You come in and have your cry, and wait with a lonely heart till they come home. You resist the urge to call the school, to make sure that they got off and went into the right place. (I got off on the wrong stop once, so I know it can happen)

You soon recall that the yellow bubble is a place of unserpervion, and mayhem. Your little bubble of protection is very different than the other bubble. You realize that the yellow bubble is filled with crude words, crass gestures, and people that will be your best friend one day and then stab you in the back the next. Oh yeah! That's life! Haha! Outside your bubble. You hope your kids will make the right choices. More importantly, you hope that you can help them if they make the wrong choice. You hope they will listen to you, and fear that they won't. You hope you can handle it with wisdom when they don't listen and make a mistake because they most certainly will. You hope that you can help them avoid some of your own pitfalls, and help them handle problems with more dignity than you did yourself. You remember your own parents and suddenly become so greatfull for their wisdom, and wish you had listened to them more before. Your siblings who drove you nuts as a child become your best friends, and water for your soul. No one knows you better, and no one can think like you and know your heart so perfectly.














So Maybe this new Bubble isn't so bad. Just maybe, if you taught them well, they will be able to create their own bubble; One that will protect themselves.




There ARE wonderful, amazing people out there, ready and willing to pass on their knowledge and gifts . It IS A Wonderful World (click here to see), and if the bubble bursts for a moment and they get hurt, they will get up, dust themselves off and keep going just like you have. And you can be there waiting in the wings for them when they need your help.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Nutcracker Christmas!
















Are the Holiday's over? They sure came and went in a whirlwind. I don't know where the time goes. Oh wait, maybe I do. November and December were spent running the girls to their Nutrcracker Ballet rehearsals. Dustin built a sled for the Nutcracker. It turned out really cool. I and one of Amanda's dance teachers cut out and painted Christmas tree props. It kept us way busy and I don't know how we got Christmas done with all that going on but the performance was amazing. It turned into a beautiful show.


Christmas was spent with Dustin's family. His parents and Jason came and we had a quiet Christmas at our house. The big family present this year was a Trampline for the kids. They woke up, looked out the window and saw it sitting in the front yard and IMMEDIATELY ran to the back yard screaming, "Did he leave a swimming pool too?"...What? I think we have spoiled kids. :)


The car companies shut down the week after Christmas, so Dustin has the week off. Monday after Christmas we hopped into the Pilot and took the kids to Pigeon Forge Tennessee, somewhere we've never been before. It's a town right at the entrance to the Smoky Mountain National Forest. Dollywood is there. We didn't go! But we did take the kids to some shows and "Wonderworks" , an interactive discovery center for kids. It was a lot of fun. We did hear twice though, " Would Dustin Townsend please report to the earthquake?" Yes...we lost Evan... twice. It was obviously a discovery center for adults as well. We went to some Cavern's and visited our friends in VA on the way home. It was a lot of fun to see the Smith's. Then we stopped in Annapolis at my Mom's for the night and spent the next day with The Townsend clan in Severn for our Christmas gift exchange. Now school is back in session and I'm contemplating taking down the tree and decorations. I hate that part. It's so depressing! But so glad we got to enjoy and celebrate the birth of the Savior. So greatful for him and the blessings he continually gives us.