Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Making a Memory

Our last week with Allie was filled with adventures near home and included swimming,
 (racing Daddy)
 playing games (I made up a fun, timed, drawing game for us to play),
grilling out,
 (best summer side - grilled sweet potato wedges with cilantro and lime)
watching movies at our friend's new home theater,
and even a litter river tubing down the Chattahoochee!

Words cannot express how amazing our summer with Allie has been. I'm just so blown away by all God has done in her and in our family over such a short time. 5 weeks is NOTHING in the scheme of things, but God somehow always makes it so much more than 35 days.

This year, I wanted to find a unique way to capture just.. a tiny glimpse of this wonderful summer. We sent Allie this summer memory box care package just a few days after she returned to Alabama.

I love packaging gifts for her and making each one unique and special.

So what's in the summer memory box you ask?
#1. A book I made (and published by Mixbook) titled, "35 Days of Summer, 35 Things I Love About You." For every day of our summer together, Zach and I wrote one thing we loved about her on her bathroom mirror. I took this list and made it into a book to capture all we celebrated and encouraged in her over those 35 days.

#2. Printed assorted pics from our summer adventures.

#3. The JohnnySwim record (since it was basically our summer soundtrack).
#4. I work pretty hard to make sure our adventures and experiences as a family are captured for Allie in her annual "Allie's Adventures" book, but this year capturing our spiritual experiences with the same gusto and dedication was important to me. I want us to be able to look back on this time and not just see the fun we had, but see what God had done in us, through us, and for us. That being said, Zach created this graphic to capture our "God words" from the summer. (Each Friday during our family devo we would have a time to share one word that described an attribute of God that was significant to us that week and explain why. It is really a cool exercise, especially when other friends and family were in town and joined us. :) I love looking at this list and remembering how God was moving in our lives and hearts and I hope Allie does too.
Cherish every second with your family folks. You never know how much time you have so make it count! Looking forward to the rest of our adventures in 2014!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lake tradition

For as long as I have been alive, my family has gathered in western North Carolina every summer. It's a beautiful tradition that brings extended family from all over the country that otherwise wouldn't see each other. We are lucky in that our trek to Lake Junaluska each is only about 3 hours whereas others drive 13 or more!

This year we brought along Zach's mom and had a great time celebrating the 4th, kid's birthdays, and the gift of life with our family.

One of our favorite sites in the area is the view from Water Rock Knob.

This guy. How much longer must I endure this beard?!! :) Ah… I digress...
The ladies.

Lake J, our home away from home. 

Love this lakeside chapel. 
This is our Lake J dream house (if the kitchens and baths were fully renovated :))
I must admit, coming here without Lindsay is so strange. Everything reminds me of her and it doesn't help I'm wearing her sandals. Ha! She loved this place and I know she is happy to see us coming back here and having new adventures.
My family's 1923 craftsman cottage.

Walking around the lake at sunset.
Skateboarding lessons from Daddio.

Picking flowers 
One of her faves- Queen Anne's Lace. 
Another one of our favorite places nearby is Big Creek, a place that was special to Lindsay (and also the place we scattered her ashes).
The journey begins.
Like always, we hiked to Midnight Hole.
Love watching these two grow closer and closer with each passing day.
Rock faces

Lots of green. My favorite is this spongey moss.

And there it is… Midnight Hole… the place for swimming and "cliff" diving into the coldest, clearest, mountain water- the kind that literally takes your breath away and sends your nervous system into overdrive.
Allie of course just jumped in and started swimming. Haha
I have always been… how shall I say...cautious about the frigid water, not wanting to get in, but eventually I am coerced by Zach, Allie, Lindsay, etc. This year… Lindsay was my motivation… egging me on in my head to live a little and do what she would have done. I even climbed up that rock (pictured behind my head) and jumped off into the deep in her honor. Here's to you Lindz!
Cataloochee is also a favorite spot we try and visit at sunset for a spectacular view. 
Who is this grown up girl and what has she done with our little Allie???

One of our favorite things about Cataloochee is the horses. Horses from the ranch roam (relatively) free across grassy, rolling hills. 

And sometimes they come to say hi. 
Or to stop you in your tracks completely. Ha! Literally just standing in front of the car. 
And now for the 4th. The 4th of July was a beautiful day at Lake J. 
Like last year, I wore Lindsay's handmade 4th of July necklace. 
 Allie with her grandmas, neither of which goes by "grandma." (Holly and Nana)
Waiting for the parade to start!
Making silly faces and just generally being… us.
The Lake J parade is just… the best. Can't get any more small town America than this! 

Fire truck with fire.. dogman? I'm not sure what you call that character. Ha!
Lots of adorable old cars...
Baton twirlers
My cousin Bonnie and her son Aiden (who turned 1 yr old on the 4th!). Happy Birthday buddy!
The community band. Gotta love it. 
Ya'll… when asked what her dream car is, Allie says THIS. She literally wants a Model T (well, Uncle Dirk convinced her a Model A was better!) Not sure if we can pull that off by 16…(or ever for that matter. Haha), but I love that she loves these.
Back to the parade coverage… random girls riding bikes..
More old cars...
Aaaand THIS. THIS was by far my favorite part of the parade. I mean, how can you beat this?! I just love these old guys. The sign on the front of the golf cart said "It's a grand old flag." 

Besides attending the parade, another long standing 4th of July tradition has been oreo ice-cream cake. My grandma use to make it every year. Now that we stopped having a cookout at her house (and she wasn't going to make it), the oreo ice cream cake tradition was in peril, but have no fear! I wasn't about to let that happen so I made it myself. :)
I even jazzed it up a bit adding dark chocolate syrup and crushed oreos on top. It was mighty tasty if I do say so myself! Long live oreo ice cream cake!
In the afternoon we took a jaunt down to Waynesville for lunch and to window shop. 
Cheers Lady Liberty!
Lots of unique things can be found in downtown Waynesville,
including my personal favorite shop - the Dog Bakery. A hot dog and moonshine sounds like the perfect mountain doggie treat! Haha
Later on, Allie got some real doggie love while we visited the bike shop. :) Can't stop this girl's loooove of animals for nuthin'.
This guy. Walking the streets downtown. As if nothing is unusual about his wardrobe. 'Merica.

Our favorite lunch spot in Waynesville is Panacea CoffeeHouse. I've posted pics of it in the past, but I love to find new angles of it's beauty to capture. 
Always loved this piano (sans the empty aquarium. ??)
Bean bags.
Shiny things.
It has become a Panacea tradition for Zach to get a latte and give his chocolate covered espresso beans to Allie. She loves 'em!
And I love this nook. Those windows. Swoon. One day I wanna live in a house with windows like that. 
Panacea's outdoor patio abuts a beautiful creek so this is where we had lunch. Can't get much better than this!
And our other favorite local joint is Frog's Leap Public House. It's a bit more foodie than anywhere else around, but we love the rustic interior and fresh, seasonal menu. 
Showcasing all their local partners and identifying what food comes from what supplier/local farm or business.
I splurged (for me) and got a REAL sandwich on REAL bread with fries. It was delicious. Man, people who eat gluten have all the luck. Haha
And then later on that night we celebrated 3 family birthdays - Aiden who turned 1, his cousin Lauren who turned 6 on the 7th and my Grandma Jean, who was also born on the 7th of July. Lauren's younger sister Adie loves her some cupcakes. I mean BIG TIME. I couldn't resist snapping a pic of the pure delight she was experiencing while eating one. 
Happy Independence Day America!
And of course, the 4th wouldn't be the 4th without some stuff exploding in the sky. My pictures don't do this justice (it's nearly impossible to catch fireworks with an iPhone camera), but few things compare to watching fireworks over a lake surrounded by mountains with your family. We are blessed! 
I was also so thankful that Allie got to spend some time with these two precious souls, my grandparents. What treasured memories we have of staying with them at the lake each year!
Group shot (of my immediate family).
Another great year at Lake Junaluska in the books! Until next time!