Aspen recently brought Kristen to Chattanooga, to keep the other kids so that DH and I could take a trip.
 We tried tomato pie, at the Wildflower Cafe in Mentone, along with a burger for DH....
                                                               .....and a salad for me.
 We discovered that DH's phone has a portrait setting, that focuses on the subject and blurs the background...I wish my phone had it!
This great little shop is in Henager, AL;

                                We found it on our way to Gorham's Bluff, in Pisgah, AL.
                                      We stayed in a cottage there, and ate at the lodge.
                                   Aspen assured us that she had everything under control.
                       So we ate some more (my favorite-carrot cake), and did some walking.
 On Saturday, Jake, Jared and Haley came in Jared's limo, and took all the kids to a local Chinese buffet, and then to the mall---they are sooooo brave!
                          We're so thankful that the big kids were able and willing to help out!

Birthdays and house

                                                            Waid, our youngest, recently turned 13. 
                    He chose to order a white cake with raspberry filling, and cream cheese icing.
                          Waid is doing great in school, he is currently doing Abeka 4 math!
                            One of his favorite gifts was the bird that Avery made for him. 
                                       Kristen, our oldest, turned 27 the same week!  I can't believe it.
Our coffered ceiling is underway in the den.

 Heating/air ducts have been installed.
                                                  Some of the rock work is done.
                                                All rough plumbing is ready for fixtures.
 The fireplace will be rocked after the craftsman is through with the exterior.
                                   And tub/shower units were installed in both kid bathrooms.
                                   Things are moving along nicely, but never fast enough =).

Second Annual Mom trip

                                          Back to Fort Payne, AL.  Remember last years pic;
                          this estate belonged to my grandparents in the late 50's/early 60's.
                                Emmi insisted that Sherlock go with me, as my guard dog.
                  He hiked with me behind DeSoto Lodge, and we even found a waterfall.
 Luckily, I only ran into one older couple, who I told about Sherlock being sent by my daughter.
 Sherlock did so much hiking on the first day, he stayed in the cabin and slept all the next day.
                                                          (Thank goodness!)
                     After going to my favorite antique malls and stores, I hit the hiking trails again.
                                **Myrtle Jane's in Fort Payne, and Dave's in Valley Head.**
                                           Actually, the path to the falls is just a short walk.
                                        But I did hike 5 miles in another area of the park.
                                                       The fall colors were beautiful.
 After going to Mentone the last morning, I exited the interstate at Trenton, GA.
                             If you have ever wondered what the "castle" on the mountain is,
                                     just above the I-59/TN welcome center......this is it.
 It is Covenant College; originally built as a hotel.  It has been a Presbyterian school since 1955.
                                           There are, of course, many more buildings.
 I then headed across the top of Lookout Mountain, to the observation deck at the Incline Railway.
                                                    And walked over to Point Park.
 I wanted to check this place out, and see if it was worth bringing the kids.  Handicapped persons, and their families can get a free pass to all National Parks; so yes, I will bring the kids back.  But for the average person, no, sorry, I did not think it was worth $7 a person.

 The large statue is in the center of the park, with a few overlooks, and path that makes a circle.
There is a port-a-pot for your convenience though....which is better than nothing.
                 Everything you can see below is in TN, however, Lookout Mountain is in GA.
 Since we are now only 1 hour away from Fort Payne, and could make it a day trip, I am considering going elsewhere next year.  Any suggestions for a "mom only" 3 day trip??

Avery's recent artwork

                                                         Avery is 13.
                      She has been watching videos on youtube to learn how to do this technique.
                 She also draws a daily cartoon of Grace, the stuffed cow, and her mischievous adventures.

                                                        These are fantastic!  Way to go Avery!

Update #1

Here are a few things we've been doing in the last month.

 Zoology is our science for the year, so we purchased Tennessee Aquarium passes,
                                                    and Chattanooga Zoo passes.
 The zoo is small, but very nice.  There is a new playground next door, making it perfect for taking lunch, and visiting both in one day.
                                         Remember the sculpture field I mentioned earlier? 
                                       Grace went along (think of her as our Elf on a shelf).
                               The 33 acre park has giant sculptures from around the world.  Gravel paths make for a nice walk, currently there are 23 sculptures, they are changed out periodically.
                                  The kids finally got to experience the famous Koch's bakery!,       
                                           and DH was shocked at the price of doughnuts.
                    Visiting the bakery inspired Emmi to bake some hand shaped sugar cookie states.
                   Avery is becoming quite the artist, and will have a whole post a bit later.
Have you ever closed your eyes and tried to catch a ball???
                     Something that was hard for Jenna to do before we got this special beeping ball.
Oh, the simple things that we take for granted.  Jenna can now listen for the beep, and play catch.
                                    Another new joy for Jenna, is playing card games and Uno.
                               She recently got a deck of braille cards, and braille Uno!!
It's sideways, but the card has an R for red, the number sign, and an 8 in braille.
More catching up to come in a few days.  This last month has flown by, but I don't feel like I've accomplished a thing!