Bookmarks the Spot

While “Camp Noah” was in session (check back for more details and how you can sign up for this camp in the future), Bigail and I were feeling a little crafty. Flipping through Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule lead us to create, together, these little beauties:

She created the pictures all her own, drew them straight onto the vintage linen from my grandmother’s stash with permanent markers, and I went back over them with the thread she picked out. Once they were embroidered I threw a piece of batting behind the linen and put a back piece of scrap fabric to pull it all together. The “ribbon” is also vintage from mamaw’s stash… I am pretty pleased with how they turned out. And what a cool & useful way to keepsake a drawing forever…

These are Bigail’s & ALo’s, but there is one in the works for big brother Wilbur as well – the program director of Camp Noah has been a little busy lately. She will be back in the office this week…

The Handmade Home is full of great inspirations that you can create and make your very own out of recycled and vintage materials. So far I’ve done the feminine items, a wool hat, a market bag, the bookmarks and next on the list from her book is the Pillowcase Dress – repurposed from an embroidered pillowcase I found for a buck at the thrift store.

I like her very much – her approach to family, life, and simplicity are music to my ears. If only the internet and book world could translate into for real life. I think we would be friends…


Lions and Tigers and Bears – Oh My!

…or foxes and wolves and otters – same difference.

I may have mentioned back in December that a great alternative to gobs of toys for Noah at Christmas would be a small monetary gift (maybe paired with an animal figurine/stuffed animal for those who believe a child should open something “fun”) that we would then pool together and become members at the Knoxville Zoo for the year. Well, a little birdie over the mountains told us that it was in fact cheaper to become members at the WNC Nature Center over in Asheville – home to many native creatures of the Carolinas – than at the Zoo.

And why would we want to join the one further away?

The obvious answer – to save money. But the not so obvious is because they, along with Knoxville Zoo and about 275 more, are a part of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association – where you get in free or at a discounted rate if you are a member of one of their affiliates.

Typically kids under two are admitted free of charge, but the mama and daddy are not. So to put it into numbers:

Nature Center Adult Entry Fee: $8
Knoxville Zoo Adult Entry Fee:  $19.95 (holy cow!)

Annual Family Membership Pass: $62

We’ve already covered a quarter of our pass with only visiting the Nature Center once – and as you see, that one is the lowest on the list. I only listed the two nearest to us, but there are various cities of interest where we could potentially use our pass – Atlanta, Jacksonville, Kansas City.

I highly recommend this investment for any family who enjoys nature and getting outside. Noah loved every minute of the hour and a half we spent the other day – and we can’t wait to go back! Our membership cards are like cash- burning holes in our pockets!

Zippity do dah…
zippity ay!
My, oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine…
coming my way…
Zippity do dah…
Zippity ay!
Mr. blue bird on my shoulders…

Thanks to everyone who attributed to our Zoo Pass fund – Aunt Meg, Granny B, Aunt Edith, Papa Pace, Gramma Dot – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

What is your favorite family outing? We’d love to add more adventures to our list…

I Like Big Butts

…and I cannot lie.

Zane's Big Butt Baby Pants (pattern by Rae of "Made by Rae")

Hands down – this is the best baby/toddler pattern I’ve made. Mostly because they are functional but the fact that they are dripping with cuteness doesn’t hurt either.

This particular pair is made with fabric (the green) I rescued from my grandmother’s house that’s been sitting empty – well, full of treasures just not people – since 2004. It’s possible it dates back to the 80’s, maybe 70’s, slight chance even earlier. Shockingly it’s way better quality than a lot of what I come across here in the 21st century. Maybe not so shocking.

Look for them soon on the “Simply Shop” page of the blog and a link to Etsy. I’ve been given the go-ahead by Rae to sell my versions of the BBBPs made with her pattern. If you are interested in a pair of these puppies before they debut in the shop, please let me know. I’d love to craft them for your babe or a babe close to your heart.

Disclaimer: Your baby needs not be cloth diapered or have a big booty to ooze with cuteness in these pants. I don’t discriminate.

Baby Boys & Their Toy(Boxes)

Same toybox, different boy. Wilson circa 2001.

Wilson & Noah - circa 2010

There’s something to be said about boys and their toys. There’s also something to be said about time moves like a bullet train when you want to savor every moment and creeps by in reverse when you are looking forward.

To time I say: Right now we are savoring every possible morsel. Please let us off at the next stop.

Booger in the Sugar

…no it’s-not.

To show that I play fair and not favorites, it is pertinent that I share a story that my sister, Heather, specifically looked at me and said, “Please don’t put this on the blog,”… even if it makes her crawl out of her skin, it’s a must read. Kids say the darnedest things and this kid in particular is quite funny.

Mason, age 6

The Giusti clan (minus Mike) came over and stayed with us for a few days last week. We were busily cooking dinner and maintaining the other wild banshees while Mason was taking a bath. (Note: The bathtub is practically in the kitchen. No children were left unattended while bathing.) He was playing, pretending, make-believing when he asked Heather what this blue plastic pot was that he was playing with. She said “That’s Aunt Beth’s snot-cleaner-outter!”…to which he promptly dropped in the water and scurried for something else to play with.

He landed his hands on a clear plastic cup that has lime green coloring on the bottom to which he asks, “Why is the bottom of this cup green?”…to which Heather responded, “That’s where she puts her boogers.” I tell him it’s green because the boogers turned it that color. His face distorts and again, he promptly drops the cup.

Seeing the opportunity of a lifetime, because after twenty-six years and plenty of tattling I know the way my sister feels about the olfactory and it’s functions, I ask, “Mason, what color are the boogers you eat? Green or yellow?”

He thinks about it for a minute.


And if you listened close enough you could hear a little part of my sisters heart breaking. And her skin crawling. And her head spinning. And the steam blowing. And her innermost being dying.

And me laughing, quite loudly.

And Mason going on bathing.

Random Fact: There are studies that show that kids who eat their boogers turn out to be healthier adolescents and adults. The boogers boost their immune systems and ultimately help ward off the common cold and other such funkiness.

Explains why I’ve always been so healthy


For sake of not having an emotional breakdown over the fact that my little baby has hit the double digits in months, I am going to skip the cutesy antics and conversation I typically have with the next month and get right to the list.

But, Eleven, I’m watching you.

1. Noah’s parents aren’t the only ones with the watersports bug, he got his start this month on the boat as well. Dennis and Stephanie took the Ford Family out on our own tour of WBL and I think Noah enjoyed it as much as the rest of us… Once more and he might be as good of a skier as his paternal grandpa.

Noah lulled in the arms of Mrs. Stephanie.

Can’t tell who is enjoying it more.

As soon as we docked he woke right up.

2. Our home has been like a daggum revolving door this summer with folks coming to and fro, in and out, just stopping in or passing through. We’ve had parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends – lifelong and new, and a partridge in a pear tree. And I love it. It gives me an excuse for my house being dirty.

Abigail was able to come and spend almost two whole weeks being “Mama Helper” while her brother and sister were at camp in North Cackalacky. We played, swam, skied, ate ice cream, crafted, watched movies, and loved on Noah. You would never guess the amount of help an almost-six-year-old could be, but I could definitely handle a little helper more often.

Pretty girl at the marina for dinner.
She made her hair flower.
Also among those visitors were the Chanceys, Chris’ mom’s side of the family, who had never been here before. Their visit was too short, but we managed to pack a lot in. Oh, and I am pretty sure Noah was likely the draw that brought them across the mountains. I mean, who can resist him?
Aunt Meg, Chris, Jamie, Shelley, and Uncle Roy on the two-cent camp tour. Jamie helping Noah enjoy his newly crafted JD tractor,
an early birthday present from the Chancey family.
Can you believe he’s to the point where he can be receiving “early birthday” presents?
3. Grits has learned that it’s to her benefit to have a baby in the house, now that he knows how to feed her. You see, instead of leaving it on his tray or in hiw bowl, Noah thinks it’s a good idea to pitch his food on the floor when he’s done. The instant gratification to watch the pup gobble it up makes it even better. Once our computer is released from the Geek Squad, I will share a video of this lovely pasttime. Until then, this will have to do.

These two are quickly becoming partners-in-crime.

4. Camp was, is, and always will be part of the interwoven fabric of my being, Chris’ too. (We became one when we married, so do we just have one fabric now, or are we looking a little more like stonewash denim?) So naturally, being born into our family, brought home to a camp house, Noah’s fabric is already tie-dyed with splashes of camp…which is why it’s incredibly special for us that he has gotten to meet a whole slew of Crestridge folks, and his first Crestridge baby friend.

Ashley/Templeton came to see us the first weekend of July,
thus winning the prize for meeting our little guy first.

We jet-setted to Boone for a few days, meeting Krystal and her family for the first time.

Capping off the month with a Bridal Shower, Noah was pleased to meet Kristi & Carver…

Picture to come.

As well as Debbye and Nancy who joined us for the shower in Black Mountain.

5. Noah and I spent what seems like half of July in the mountains, either in Balsam or Boone. He’s explored mountains, streams, wildflowers, abandoned houses, blackberry bushes, wild ponies, rock climbers, mountain peaks, and more…all from the comfort of my back. He likes to hike, looking around to take it all in. Of course, I would probably love it even more if I got to ride on someone’s back. Any takers?

Hiking around with my mom and dad on their first visit to YASNY.Hiking up to see the original homestead on the mountain.

6. Teeth numbers five, six, and seven are poking there way on through. I am fairly certain these little boogers have been the most painful for him, even still, he takes it like a champ. These little white specks are constant reminders that he will never stop growing, never stop changing – no matter how hard I try to convince myself otherwise. I find myself wishing he could just keep the four little charming chompers he has now… we do live in East Tennessee, that’s a lot by some standards.

Beware of biting baby…I recommend visually counting the teeth.

7. All along our sweet guy has been extremely laid-back and very low-maintenance, rarely putting up a fuss for much of anything. And now he’s discovered all the new things his voice can do – and boy, does he use them. He has learned/taught himself/concocted this high-pitched-nails-down-a-chalkboard-make-your-hair-stand-up-glass-shattering scream that physically makes my body hurt when he does it. This cry is reserved for when he is not getting his way, say at naptime when he thinks naps are for babies (I’ve got news for you, kid) or at mealtime when brocolli just ain’t cutting it. It makes me want to leave the room – and if he is adequately supervised (some days Grits counts) I may just walk away.

Don’t let those big blue eyes fool you.

8. Alas, our child is no longer a vegetarian. Unless he chooses to go Veg some other time in his life, he can always say he was until he was ten months old. And the first meat of choice? An all-natural beef frank – yep, a hot dog. He devoured it piece by piece and probably would have gone back for more. His face is all shiny and his little fingers are slick with all-natural grease (ha) when he finishes. I wonder if my strange hankering for hot dogs when I was six months pregnant could have been Noah letting me in on his preferences while in the womb? I wouldn’t have touched a hot dog for nothing before then…

Noah says, “Thanks, Aunt KD, for my first (of many) scrumptious hot dogs.”

9. Noah has learned the wave. Not the sportsfan phenomenon of people standing and sitting in repetition as the “wave” moves across the stadium, though that would be impressive. He’s telling people “bah-buh” while awkardly waving his limp hand in the air. He doesn’t really have the timing down yet, so he will likely kick visitors out of our house or try to depart early from places, but it’s so darn cute you can hardly stand it. He uses “bah-buh” for greetings and salutations accompanied with a wave so far… though he does say “ayeee” which is definitely his hello.

Hola. Aloha. Bonjour. Hiya. Hello there. Hey y’all.

10. And last but absolutely not least, our little one has found his M’s and has been working on his “ma-mas” all month. Melts my heart, yes it does. Does he call me mama? Well, no – anything can be “ma-ma” at this point, but it’s started, and that’s all that matters.

Loving on his mama before we floated down the river.

So yes, time flies when you are having fun and even sometimes when you aren’t (see number seven). We are looking forward to lots of fun things in months eleven and twelve, but it’s okay if they take time getting here.


There are LOTS of pictures and videos that go along with this update, but our computer has been captured by the Geek Squad, so they will have to wait. I thought I ought to finish the post itself before I got fired. From life.

Upcoming on the blog: More of my thoughts and opinions on life, love, saving the planet, changes, and things I find consuming my time these days. Stay tuned.

West Virginia Mountain Mama

So I didn’t actually go to West Virginia, but close.

We started the week off in Balsam at my in-laws home with my parents and sister’s brood, headed to Boone to spend time with the Ashmans, picnicked atop Grandfather Mountain, hiked in Grayson Highlands in Mouth of Wilson, VA, and ended with a quick stop in Asheville to do my civil and earth-loving duty of purchasing “locally”. (Some may argue that Asheville isn’t exactly “local” to Ten Mile, TN, but I argue that I will always call NC home. So there.)

Before we get to the pictures, funny story:
As a lot of you may know YASNY is the Ford Family mountain home where my in-laws plan to spend a lot of their time once they retire, where we all meet for family Christmases, where Chris and I introduced Noah to the mountains that he will love for the first time, so on and so forth. This was the first time that I went to the house without any of the other Fords…and well, I figured that by this point I knew how to “open” the house (i.e. turn on power, water pump, water heater, etc.)…I mean, I have been in the family now for almost five years.

So we get in the house and I immediately go around to all of the dials in each room turning on the “air conditioners”, like I have seen my in-laws and Chris do many times before in past visits. About ten minutes go by and I notice that I am sweating, which is rare for me. I figure it must just be because I am lugging around an eighteen pound weight as I move things to and fro.

Then my dad says, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”… I think little of it, chalk it up to menopause or something like that, and move along tinkering with this and that.

My mom then points out that “hot air” is blowing from the vents.
Oh boy, I have broken the house. Great.

So I texted Chris and Grammy Nan saying: Where is the AC in the house?

No reply.

At this point I start going around checking the “AC” dials again to make sure that I did it right, at which time I notice the small little golden nugget of information inscribed on the dial: Electric Heater.

Or should I say de-heated?

I text back: I didn’t know that YASNY didn’t have an AC unit?

To which I recieve: It does. Open the windows.

To my defense, this is the first time going up in the summer since 2006. And by myself.
At least I looked like I knew what I was doing…

Onto the photos…

A little porch reading with my friend, Barbara.
The view ain’t too shabby either.
Little monkey climbs on everything.He thinks his Papa is hilarious.
Chris: “Can grandkids have favorites?”
Sweet angel baby sleeping with MamaBo on the porch swing.Grits likes the front porch, too.

Mainly rolling her ball off the edge and chasing it into the bushes.The Bullington Fam joined us after picking up the oldest two from

Ridgecrest and Crestridge.Noah with Aunt Krystal at Grandfather picnic & condo in Boone.

And did I mention that Noah and I did this all by our lonesome?
Well, without Chris I mean.


Noah slept in a closet, I got blisters with the new shoes to match, and was barely able to close my eyes for more than an hour.
And I would do it all again.

Please don’t call Child Services, it was a big closet.


Nine, you are a bit early for your reservations. I am going to need you to wait outside until I can get ready for you. My word.
What a whirlwind… Eight has been a crazy busy month around this casa:
  • Camp started… enough said.
  • The Giusti boys came and stayed a week for day camp.
  • Noah went to Dollywood for the first time, and likely last time for a while. Thanks, Dolly, for the books you send us each month, but your place of leisure is exhausting for baby and mama. See you in a couple of years.
  • My grandmother and great aunt came with my folks and spent a few days. Loved having them in my home…
  • We’ve decided to buy a cow. And eat locally.
  • I started planning Krystal’s bridal shower for this month… this will be my first go at anything girly. Wish me luck.
  • Chris and I went on our first “date” sans baby while leaving him with a gaggle of summer staff. Oh Borders, how we’ve missed you so.
  • Noah and Chris celebrated their first Father’s Day together, complete with an opening day of camp and trip to Target.
  • Abbie is here with us now for a week being “Mommy’s Helper”.
And we haven’t even gotten to all the stellar new tricks littleford has come up with… So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride:
1. Noah likes periodicals. And by like I mean that he enjoys rearranging them in the bathroom…which if you can tell by the angle of the photo is pertinent in keeping regular for some folks around here. If you know what I mean…
2. Noah is learning how to con-finger his hands into a point. I think he has picked this up from when he insists on stopping at the framed collage of Noah’s first week of life that hangs in the hallway on the way to his room. We point and name the various people who were here with us when we brought him home. He doesn’t point at anything in particular, though I think he points “out” of his room after naps…
3. I think we may have the beginnings of a pack rat on our hands. He will find any and everything and carry it around with him. For hours. This could be a toy, a leaf, or something out of the recycling bin. He’s not picky, as long as he can get it from point A to point B. I give you the apple juice bottle.
4. Noah is part fish. I am convinced. He can’t get enough of the splashing, kicking, and zooming around in his little float. You can take a baby’s parents out of Florida, but you can’t take the Florida out of the baby.
5. He has figured out what getting dressed is all about. Though his face says otherwise in the following photo, he has become quite the little helper when putting clothes on. I am not sure I am ready for these big changes…they are big neon lights that he is getting bigger. Not so cool.
6. Noah is proving to be quite the little Casanova. He’s got killer blue eyes and a smile that will melt your heart. Watch out, ladies… he knows how to use them. Just ask the women he’s been collecting.
7. Noah is his own biggest fan. He loves Baby Noah in the mirror and the one at the top of this blog. He may or may not be a little full of himself. But, with this face, come on. Can you really blame him?
8. Much to my chagrin, the little dude’s first word? Da-da. Yep. I would like a ma-ma every now and then but I think I may just be “mmmmmm” or “boob”… either one. But the smitten grin that comes across my husband’s face is plenty satisfying when the little one mutters those precious “da-das”.
9. And now for Noah’s nine month official stats and a little show of the muscles:
  • Height: 28 inches
  • Weight: 18lbs10oz
  • Head: Above average (we are advanced here in the Ford family)
Alright, Ten, consider yourself warned. Don’t you come around here like a bat out of you-know-where. 
Or I’ll, I’ll… hang my head and cry. 
Because I know you’re coming.

When Noah’s Away (at Naptime)…

…his parents will play.
Thanks to a couple of our summer ladies, Jess and Kelli, Chris and I got to hang out with my sister and niece, Kelly and Abigail, on the boat with Dennis and Stephanie. If you remember, Chris got to do this last year, but apparently skiing is not an approved activity for pregnant folks. Go figure.
But this year, they couldn’t keep me away.
I got up on the first time, which I consider to be quite the feat considering that I haven’t skied since I was in high school… behind my brother’s jet ski.  I make no promises on the form, skill, or tan lines, but I was pretty impressed with myself.
What’s that? You need a close-up of that amazing skiing face? No problem.
Not only am I a natural, my Floridian husband that had never skied in his life until last summer seems to be quite the little fish as well. Not only did he kick some skiing hiney, he has “mastered” (I use that term lightly) the art of the slalom ski. Apparently once you go slalom, you never go back. In this case, one is better than two, I guess?
Kelly, my oldest sister, has been skiing for a long time. Her dad lives on the water and has boats readily available. So basically, what I am trying to say is she blew us out of the water. Quite literally.
And last but certainly not least, Abbie, at the ripe old age of five, skied for the first time! She did awesome on the training bar with the help of Dennis. He said that she could probably have stayed up on her own if she tried again, but I think she said she would wait until she’s six to go solo. I was impressed, either way. She must have her mama’s fish genes.
Next year I will be able to put Noah’s photos up here…Camp John Knox’s youngest skier. Oh yes. We are advanced here in the Ford family.
Oh, and did I mention that my husband was looking mighty fine?
Ohhh yes.

Working Nine to Five

What a way to make a living
According to Dolly anyway.

There’s no clocking in or out at my job, but I sure wouldn’t trade it for one where you do. Last week my workload tripled with the addition of the Giusti guys. I am not sure that I was totally prepared for how tired I would be at the end of the week (I am still recovering) with two extra fellas running around. The boys had a blast (I think) all except for the dehydration, exhaustion, and “loss of lunch” on Day Four with Mason… not so fun for anyone involved. He handled it like a champ, me – not so much. If there is anything in the world that I abhor with great passion it is throw-up…mine, yours, the dog’s – doesn’t matter.
Anyway. Three was fun for the week, though I don’t think that we will plan on adding anymore little ones for a while…long, long while. Mamas of multiple children are my new heroes, for real. Especially boys…whew.

Here’s a look at the rest of the week, capped off by a visit to Dollywood:

Catching fireflies, or lightning bugs as I was corrected several times.
Mason with his catch, that we later released.
To say Noah loves Aunt J’s cornbread is an understatement.Think he’s tired?

Introducing Little Chief Streaking Wild Horse.Noah likes to give his paci away…to just about anyone. Mason and mama braving the heat at Dolly’s place.

Noah loved spending the week with his cousins and can’t wait to do it again…
Let’s all get some sleep first.