Saturday, July 19, 2014

Asheville Botanical Gardens

A visit to a city is not complete to me without checking out the Botanical Gardens.  While Bobby was busy working, I took the kids to explore the gardens.  They had various activities to do for kids while walking around:  scavenger hunt for specific things animals eat, scavenger hunt for insects, and creating a Venn diagram for 2 different trees.  Of course Liam is too young to really get into these activities, but Amelie was on a mission to do all three.  Since I knew we did not have the time to come back, we walked around the gardens twice to enable her to find the things on the scavenger hunt.  It was fun hiking after this experience because she would point out some of the things like mushrooms growing on trees that were difficult to find in the gardens.  This was one of the smaller gardens we have visited, but it was very pleasant.  The kids always like having the freedom to run and this certainly provided that.  I loved helping Amelie look for things that were similar and different about 2 different types of trees.  I think she is so smart! :)  She turned in her completed activities to the Park Ranger and received a stamp on her hand.  She even earned a stamp for Liam as well. :)

Comparing the two trees behind the bench:  a magnolia and an oak tree.

Hot Springs BlueGrass Festival and Max Patch

On Saturday, June 14th, we drove for around an hour to Hot Springs, North Carolina.  Hot Springs is a very small town, but on this particular day was the annual Bluff Mountain Festival.  This festival featured traditional bluegrass music, ballads, clogging and square dance, local crafts, lots of food, and more.  We arrived right at lunch time so we grabbed some chicken fingers, chili, and fries; and had a picnic on the lawn near the stage.  Once we were finished with our food, we went closer to the stage so the kids could watch the dancing.  Liam loved the music.  He started playing his water bottle like a guitar.  He also loved the dancing.   The dancers would perform every other song.  While the dancers were not performing, a couple of people would dance on the dance floor…Liam being one.  He was paying attention to the dancing because he wanted to be sure to have a partner while he danced.  After chasing around one girl who did not want to be his partner, he found one little girl who obliged.  Amelie enjoyed watching, but found her niche at the kid's art table.  She made a bead bracelet and both kids had their hands painted.  After walking around looking at the local art tents, we drove a little farther up the mountain to Max Patch.

Our picnic spot.

Max Patch Mountain is a 4600-ft mountain that is a part of the Appalachian Trail.    In the 1800s it was cleared and used as a pasture.  Because of this, the views all around are absolutely amazing!  The climb was steep, but not too difficult.  Once we were at the summit, we ran around and played in the long grass.  Bobby, Amelie, and Liam would hide and then pop out to scare each other.  We enjoyed talking with another family, AT hikers, and a couple dog owners while we were at the top.  This was a different hiking experience from the other hikes we have done near Asheville in that it wasn't in a forest.  It was SO beautiful looking at all of the mountains in all directions.
Hiking up.
It started to get pretty steep near the top.

Playing in the long grass.

Baseball, Brewery, and More

Summertime is not complete without watching baseball, right?!  With the promise of fireworks following the show and $1 hotdogs, we went to an Asheville Tourists game one Friday evening.  We sat along the 1st baseline and could see the field clearly. Amelie and Liam did not sit still, but as they were moving and climbing they did watch some of the game.  They also enjoyed watching the mascots, and giving them high-fives when they walked passed.  After the game, we were allowed to sit on the field to watch the fireworks.  Asheville weather is gorgeous so just hanging outside was fun.

On a different Friday evening, we went to the Highland Brewing Company during the Celtic Festival.  We had to start off by going on a tour of the brewery because it started storming really badly as soon as we arrived.  The kids enjoyed wearing the safety goggles while we received the tour. After the tour, the rain had mostly stopped so we were able to eat from a delicious food truck and enjoy live music.  Amelie and Liam ran around the lawn and danced at the stage.

Below are a couple other random pictures of our time in Asheville.

For Father's Day, we decided to take Bobby out for a delicious breakfast.  We went to Sunny Point Cafe which serves upscale comfort foods.  Because it was Father's Day other families had the same idea.  We ended up having to wait for over an hour for our table (which meant our breakfast turned into lunch).  The nice part of waiting was we were able to spend the time in the restaurant's garden.  They have a nice sized garden in order to have the freshest ingredients.  The garden was fabulous.  The food was even better!  It was well worth the wait.  :)
Waiting in the garden for our table to be ready.
How many hammock pictures is too many?  As I have said before, we loved hanging outside in the yard…especially in the hammock.  The Bobby and the kids enjoyed eating ice-cream in the hammock together on more than one occasion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Grove Park Inn & Grovewood Gallery

 We lived right around the corner (within 2 miles) from the Grove Park Inn.  This 100+ year old hotel is gorgeous and has amazing views.  One afternoon we decided to pretend like we were supposed to be there, and walked around the premises.  We showed the kids the huge fireplaces located in the foyers.  Afterwards, we went to the Grovewood Gallery which has an Antique Car Museum, the Homespun Museum, and the Grovewood Studios.  The North Carolina Homespun Museum presented a historical overview of Biltmore Industries and its internationally renowned wool cloth.  The Antique Car Museum was established in 1965 by Asheville businessman, Harry Blomberg, who owned a car dealership.  The museum is home to several rare and vintage automobiles, as well as some original horse-drawn carriages and Asheville's own American La France fire engine.  (This was our favorite stop of the afternoon and well worth the visit if you are in the area.)  The Grovewood Studios has amazing hand crafted art artifacts.

The fire truck designed specifically for Asheville.

1915 Model T Ford
The car seen on the back of the $10 bill.

Inside the Homespun Museum.

The Wind Garden outside the Studio.

Hanging at House

Bobby had the opportunity to go to Advanced Placement training for a week in Atlanta in order to be certified to teach an Advanced Placement Human Geography course in the future.   Since we are a one car household, that meant the kids and I were stuck at the house for a week.  Amelie and I made a menu of fun foods that we usually don't eat and made sure we were well stocked before Bobby left. We also made a trip to Walmart for some art supplies and a plastic golf set to have some activities to keep us occupied too.  Our washing machine happened to need to be replaced while Bobby was away so I asked the delivery guys if we could keep the box.  Having the large appliance box was a huge score as it was a fort, a slide, a way to torture your sibling, and so much more.  The weather was beautiful so we enjoyed time in our yard and Mr. Rob & Mrs. Gayle's yard.  One day, I started punting the football to Liam and then chasing him once he got the football.  This turned into a favorite game that we played a lot.  We added the component that whoever wasn't being chased had to block me.  Amelie and Liam took turns at which role they were playing.  For the record, I do not want Liam to ever play football…soccer is okay…not football.   They also liked to race and have me count out loud.  Amelie worked to improve her time.  I love her hard work ethic and determination once she sets her mind to something.  We Skyped with Bobby every evening.  We missed him a lot and were so thankful to see him (and the car for freedoms sake) again!  If I had to be stuck somewhere, I could not have asked for a better spot!
A little finger painting on the back deck.  I wanted both kids to be naked for ease of cleaning up afterwards.  However, before I could get to Liam he had already coated his hands in paint so we just went with it. :)
They loved taking a bath afterwards and watching all of the colored water as we got all of the paint off.
Amelie produced a lot of art.  This picture is of us hiking on a mountain.  If you look closely, you will see our family, trees, a bird, a cloud, and a bear.
I made colored frosting (food coloring, powdered sugar, and milk) and allowed them to frost vanilla wafers and graham crackers.  Amelie made different landscapes with these shapes (houses, trees, etc).
Once Liam awoke from his nap, Amelie explained to him what to do.
He didn't really care about decorating, but did enjoy eating his snack!
We went on a rock hunt in the creek and along the creek bank one day.  We found flat, good sized rocks to paint.  We then lined them on the deck to allow them to dry out really well.  Amelie and Liam then painted beautiful designs.  We mixed the 3 primary colors of paints to make 3 more colors.  We took 3 of the rocks to Mr. Rob & Mrs. Gayle.
Our nature scavenger hunt was a lot of fun.  We found various things in various numbers in Mrs. Gayle's yard.  Once we got back to our deck we organized 1 - 15, glued it down, and then Amelie numbered them.  
Our inspiration came from the Richard Scarry book shown above.
Eating watermelon and playing in the hammock.

Liam with Mrs. Gayle.  We didn't get any pictures with Mr. Rob.

Mr. Rob found this strawberry and left it for Amelie and Liam with a special note.  :)