Cole, Alex, & Anna Grace

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Alex!!

I can hardly believe that my sweet Alex has turned 9 years old. We celebrated his birthday over the weekend with a group of boys at the park. His party was a "Geochaching Adventure." If you are not familiar with Geochaching, it is sort like a treasure hunt using a GPS. "Caches" are hidden all over the United States (and maybe all over the world) just waiting for someone with a GPS to find them. You probably pass by several throughout your day without even knowing it. My boys love to hunt for these hidden boxes and there are several located in a nearby park. Alex decided that he wanted to invite some friends to go Geochaching and roast hot dogs in the fireplace at the park.

Alex chose green camouflage invitations and decorations for his party. We kept the decorations simple with just streamers and balloons because the pavilion that we rented already had an "outdoorsy" rustic look to it.
Once all of the boys arrived at the party, Mike took them all into the woods to look for the hidden boxes.  Before the party we secretly hid one special box full of kites for each boy.

Anna Grace and I stayed back at the pavilion to wait for the boys to return.  She was not too happy that she did not get to join them in the woods.  
When all of the boys returned, we went to the playground for the boys to climb, swing, and run off some energy. 
Finally it was time to roast hot dogs.  The park has a great 2 sided stone fireplace in the pavilion that we rented, so the boys were able to crowd around both sides of the fire to cook their supper.
Mike decorated Alex's cake to look like the trails, swamp, and creek in the woods.  He even added a special spot on the cake for the location of the hidden cache!

At the end of the party, each boy was given a bag of trail mix with a paper compass tag that said "Thanks for helping me hunt for some fun!"
Alex had a great time at his party this year.  It was simple and easy to plan, but I think all of the boys enjoyed trying something new! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Weekend of Camping and Hiking on the Appalachian Trail

Last weekend we took a camping trip to the mountains and took a family hike along the Appalachian Trail.
The kids had a great time playing in the creek by our camper and riding bikes around the campground.
On Saturday, both of my brothers and their families met us at the entrance to the Appalachian Trail for a family hike.
We planned this hike in order to find the shelter that was built in honor of my dad when he died at the age of 47. He was able to give me away at my wedding, but he did not get to meet any of his 6 beautiful grandchildren or either of my brothers' wives.
My dad loved to hike and take the family backpacking on weekends when my brothers and I were growing up; so our family and friends built a shelter in his honor on the Appalachian Trail. The shelter is an open building with 3 sides and a loft. It has no electricity and no running water, but it is said to be the nicest shelter from here to Maine. It is especially important to our family because my aunt (my dad's sister) was the architect and she also passed away unexpectedly within the last few years. Volunteers worked countless hours to re-route the Appalachian Trail so that it would pass the new shelter and they broke ground for the shelter and airlifted in the building supplies on the day that Cole was born.
My brothers and I decided that we should all take a day hike together to show the children what was done in honor of their grandfather.
We were so excited to see that the shelter is still in really good shape and is used each day by hikers along the trail.
In fact, two hikers were napping in the shelter when our very noisy pack of 6 adults and 6 kids arrived! We were excited to see that the plaque honoring my dad is still hanging on the wall!
This is a picture of the whole gang...
...and one just of the kids.
I think this picture of my little nephew trying on my brother's backpack is adorable. I snapped the picture just as he was about the fall backward from all of the weight!
We were all a little sad to leave. This spot in the middle of the trail is special to our whole family and just looking at my dad's picture on the wall made me miss him even more. I could almost feel him watching over all of us and enjoying his grandchildrens' laughter as they climbed up into the loft and explored around the shelter. He is missing out on so much and I wish he could be with us.
After our hike, we headed back to our campground for a little fishing and supper.
(and yes, this large pole that Cole decided to climb is used to hang food so that the bears do not get into it...a little scary, huh??)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Pictures

I am behind in posting (again) and I am in the middle of planning for Alex's birthday party this weekend so I will just post some pictures from our Easter weekend. As you will see, we had lots of fun with family and enjoyed Easter Sunday at church...