Sunday, April 27, 2014

Family Fun in North Carolina

It's been spring break around here this week, and it's been a long time coming. Easter seemed late this year and we were all ready for a break to relax, unwind, and spend time together. We didn't make big plans this year. Since we just moved here nine months ago we thought we could explore more fun places to see right here close to home. We live in Hickory, North Carolina, or "the foothills" as the locals say. 

First, Mamaw & Papaw came to visit from Georgia Good Friday to Easter Sunday. We had a great time visiting with them and they brought us some furniture for our deck Mamaw had upcycled! It will get lots of use since we love being outside.

Monday we took advantage of the beautiful weather and played outside. We planted some veggies and flowers, and took the boys on a moderate 2.5 mile hike at the local Jacob's Fork trail. Stanley & I have been several times and it takes us an hour and we are out of breath when done. It's pretty steep at places. I thought for sure we'd be carrying the boys out on back by the end, but it would be a good test for some longer hikes we wanted to do later. Boy was I wrong. The boys took off running down the trail and kept having to wait for mom & dad to catch up. They liked it. 

Tuesday we drove about 37 mile northeast and went to Hiddenite, NC to mine for gems. The world's only public emerald mine is there. It's a fun place where you can buy a bucket of sand & gems and sit under a covered spillway and sift out the gems or if your feeling more adventurous you can get a shovel and bucket and go digging in the mountain and bring it back to sift it out or brave the cold mountain water and take a screen and trial down to the creek and sift there. We did all three. You keep what you find. We came home with several ziplock bags full of gems and rocks and memories of a good time. Just a tip, if you plan to do all three methods of mining, plan to make a day of it so you don't feel rushed, and wear old clothes and plan to get filthy dirty! The creek was by far our favorite. 

Wednesday we hung out at home and rested a little. I was cleaning up inside and little did I know Stanley was outside teaching both our boys to ride bikes without training wheels!! I just asked my oldest what was his favorite part of the week was and without hesitation he responded, "riding bikes!" This was like a small miracle for us. We've been trying for this for months but some couldn't get past the fear of the hills. Now they've mastered it and built confidence and speed! (New helmets this week too!)

Thursday was the highlight of the week for me. We traveled about 23 miles west to South Mountain State Park in Connellys Springs, NC. This is open to the public for free. We hiked up the rugged trails along the river to a beautiful waterfall that drops over 80 feet into a pool below. We enjoyed a picnic at one of the many picnic areas and then the boys wanted to try another trail and dip their feet in the icy cold mountain water. They ended up getting more than their feet wet but the youngest said it was the "best day of my life!" It was a gorgeous day and it was wonderful to experience God's creation up close and personal like this. At then end of the trip we had hiked almost 6 miles! Later that evening our friends and neighbors came over to grill out and had a great time. 

Friday we went to the Hickory Science Center and it was crowed with schools not on spring break taking a field trip. We got froyo at Sweet Frog, did some shopping and had the 5th & 6th graders from our church over for dinner and games that evening.

Saturday was choir rehearsal for our children's choir performing Sunday night and getting ready planning for VBS. Today we started a new preschool worship series about Super Heros of the Bible. It's cute. 

More than anything this week, I enjoyed the relaxed pace and being together with my family. I mean when was the last time we could all sit out on the deck and watch the sun set?  It was nice to have a break from homework, baseball, and all the other rushing around we do in the week.