Vine Ripe

Cousins of the third variety (Pace great-grandchildren) meeting for the first time.
Mamas and their babies – Me with Noah, Amanda with Kaitlyn & Dylan
Mountain berry bounty – she’s got him eating out of her hand.

Boys being boys – the majestic nature of a stick…

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…


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.

I Love the Mountains…

I love the rolling hills…

After Balsam Noah and I headed north to Boone to spend time with Krystal and her family. Krystal is one of my best friends from camp… going on eight years now… and she is in the midst of planning what seems will be one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been a part of. We have been talking plans since I got here and I love it. She has specifically asked me to help create the favor/placecard for the reception…stay tuned for photos of the finished product.
I also captured a few photos while we were picnicking atop Grandfather Mountain, right on his nose. I am no professional but I was pretty pleased with how they turned out. I plan to snap a few more before I head home in a couple of days.
Aren’t they a beautiful couple? Yes, I think so. I am so excited for their wedding in November…stay tuned for those photos as well.

In other news, I miss my husband some kind of awful. Holy smokes, do I. Being in the mountains just isn’t right without him, breathtaking and relaxing sure, just not right.

We miss you, daddy. Come home soon.

Gone to Carolina in My Mind

…Or for real.
Not a lot of time to give details, mostly photos. But I will provide you with a humorous conversation, slightly edited, that I was a small part of:

Mom: (asking my sister about Zane, my youngest nephew) How does he like to be held?

Heather: Up on top of your boobs.

Grace (Heather’s grandma): Put his tummy right in the middle of your big boobs.

Mom: Well, your boobs are bigger than mine, Grace.

Grace: You are working with a pretty big set yourself… just not as old and saggy.

and later…

Grace: (to me this time) Well…you’ve got a nice set, not as big as me and your moms, but it’s okay. And when you get my age you might just have to get some of that sticky tape to keep ’em up.

Oh yes.

And now for the photos:

Hiking through the neighbor’s yard to the creek… the neighbor was there for the first time ever at the same time I’ve been there.

Hey there, blue eyes.

It’s all their fault for that blue-eyed boy.
Well, half their fault.

Old car that ran off an old logging road.
Chris and I stole the headlight casing to it a couple of years ago.

He owns the juice cup. Legit.

With four teeth you have to work with what you’ve got.

That’s all for now.

And the “boob talk”? Still happening…

The Other Side of the Lens

If you haven’t noticed, you don’t normally get the (ahem) privilege of seeing me in many of the pictures that appear on the blog. It seems that once my belly stopped morphing  from little to not-so-little (let’s reminisce, shall we?), I ceased to be in a lot of shots.  I suppose that’s the blessing and the curse of enjoying being behind the camera, limited supply of photos of yourself. Sad day. There’s no way that it could be blamed on the fact that I spend most of my days in pajamas, sans shower, covered in creative juices…you name it, I’ve been covered in it…. including, but not limited to, vegetable soup.

Because most days I feel like I look like this:

It’s nice to know that’s not true.
All the time.