Monday, August 22, 2011

Last week of track-out fun

Greg's super kind, generous folks took the fam up to Pigeon Forge last week. We stayed at the Wilderness Resort which we highly recommend!! I'll just say that Meadow cried when we had to leave. "I just want to live here because it is so awesome!" "I want to live here because the water fun is just so awesome."

It has a huge indoor waterpark with awesome water slides and a surf/body board wave area and 2 large outdoor water parks, one of which has a wave pool and a lazy river. So we pretty much lived in the water last week with some breaks to check out some great local attractions.

A brave Meadow and Parker hitting the waves! This was soooo much fun!

Gatlinburg Aquarium, Tennessee

I loved how this aquarium had a lot of little glass bubbles that the children could go into to "go into" the animal habitats. See Penguin picture below. The kids loved that. The penguins would come right up to the glass. One peguin followed Meadow's finger on the glass with its beak. She loved it.

The Forbidden Caverns

Original Cave Entrance (Daylight on Upper left part of the picture). This is how the cave was discovered. Indian Artifacts were found there dating back to the early 1800's. Also in the cave were parts and scraps from when the local people would go there to make moonshine.

"Wishing Well"

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On the way to Cherokee (what a lovely drive!) we saw a Mamma bear and two cubs in the forest just off of the highway. It was beautiful. Everyone was stopping to take pictures. The cubs were so very cute. Some people were getting too close and of course the mamma bear lunged forward. Everyone got back in their cars and the Park rangers came and used the bear horn to send the bears back into the woods.

Oconaluftee Indian Village, Cherokee, NC

This was awesome. We went on a guided tour of the Oconaluftee Indian Village; a replica of a 1750s Cherokee Village. While there we learned about how the Cherokee Indians lived and how they made traditional trade items like pottery, blankets, beads, canoes, bow and arrows etc. using centuries old techniques. In The Village Square Grounds we learned about traditional songs and dance and the clan system and beliefs. I especially thought it was interesting how the tribe shared so many things like hunted food, a community fish barrel, canoes, etc. You took what you needed and replaced it when you could. I also really enjoyed hearing about the tribe medicine man and the sweat house where they took the sick and crushed herbs and plants and let the people sweat out their sickness. The medicine man had cures for every illness until the small pox came. It wiped out over half of the Cherokee Tribe. The Cherokee Indians never used tepees, they built cabins out of wood and clay mixed with animal hair. The fiber from the hair strengthened the clay as it dried.

Playing in the River, Cherokee

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to Greg!

Greg is now 37 years young! We had a fun birthday weekend. After taking the children who were awake on a walk, he embarked on his yearly tradition of exploring the bookstore. After that we took the kids out for ice cream and went on a date that evening to see the movie "Tree of Life" (playing at the Galaxy in Cary) We really enjoyed it! It is definitely not your typical movie. There is hardly any dialogue in it but it leaves you with the desire to be better which is always good and inspiring. It also explores The Creation in an interesting way.

The kids and I had some messy fun making a painting for him for his birthday using the kids footprints and my handprints. They thought it was fun and gross to have their feet painted. They also really enjoyed getting permission to fib to dad about why their feet were stained blue. hehehe. Look closely in the center area for Liam's little feeties.

Greg's parents got him some concert tickets to see Death Cab for Cutie, who are awesome. We had a great time! Thank you! Check them out below:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quote for the day

Saw this on a friend's facebook and though it was great:

"In my nintey-plus years, I have learned a secret. I have learned that when good men and good women face challenges with optimism, everything will work out. Truely, everything will work out no matter how difficult the challenge may seem at the time. Those who move forward with faith and a happy spirit will find things always work out."

President Hinckley

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lego Minifigs headed for deep space

Parker was super excited about the following article:

This Friday, NASA will launch an Atlas V rocket that will be contain a very special payload. Not only will the rocket be carrying Juno, a space probe that is being sent to Jupiter to study the fifth planet from the Sun, but there will be a few unique stowaways. Thanks to a joint mission between NASA and Lego, there will be three very special Lego minifigs affixed to the spacecraft.
The figures, milled from aluminum, will accompany Juno on its five-year trip to Jupiter. When Juno arrives in 2016, the Lego likeness of the Roman god, Jupiter, his sister, Juno, and the Italian astronomer, Galileo, will be there to take in all the sights and bask in the immensity of the largest planet.

This (until now) secret installation was initiated by NASA scientists, who love Lego as much as anyone and wanted to do something memorable for this mission. They approached Lego and the company loved the idea. It saw the project as a way to promote children’s education and STEM programs.

The brick company even underwrote the project, at a cost of $5,000 for each of the minifigs, which will soon become the farthest flying toys ever. The manufacture of the figures was a deliberate process to ensure the figures would not interfere with NASA’s sensitive measurements.

Each figure has been customized to represent his or her special characteristics. Jupiter carries a lightning bolt, Juno has a magnifying glass to represent her search for truth, Galileo is carrying a telescope and a model of the planet Jupiter.

The minifigs attached to the space probe are the same size as the plastic figures in your box of Lego at home.

Upon arrival in July 2016, the space probe will collect data on Jupiter, its moons and atmosphere. After orbiting the planet for a year (about 33 orbits) and relaying its data, Juno will purposefully de-orbit and crash into the planet’s surface. You can track Juno’s progress with the high-flying minifigs at

This unique project has put a smile on many NASA and Lego employees’ faces and stirred up interest from other state space agencies, as well. Will Lego minifigs take another trip in space soon? Time will tell. But until that day, keep an eye on the sky for the fastest moving toys in the universe.

Photos courtesy The Lego Group.