Cousins and Snow

The Baileys graced us with their presence again over New Years. It is always a fun whirlwind of puzzles, games, gingerbread house making, and if the weather is nice, time in the woods.

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Continued construction on a structure in the woods that was started two years ago.


This 1000 piece puzzle was started and finished in one evening.

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The start of the ginger bread house.

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This 1000 piece puzzle was also started and finished in one day .img_3492

And this was what we woke up to this morning. Looks like we’ll be spending some time outside this morning—of course it’s currently 17°, but it’s supposed to be 7° tonight.


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Merry Christmas!

We hope everyone has a wonderfully Merry Christmas! We have had a busy but enjoyable last couple of days. From a Christmas Eve service last night, to continuing the Christmas Eve tradition of tamales for dinner to Christmas morning service to lunch for 14 after church. But it has been such a joy to spend so much time with our church family over the last couple of days. All the adults who were here for Christmas dinner have gone home, but the kids have stayed behind and are playing games. A joyful evening.

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And in 4 days the Baileys will arrive!

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Almost Christmas and Some Catching Up to Do

Time flies when you’re having fun—and gone for 16 days. Since last I’ve posted we’ve gotten some rain, which has put an end to the wild fires. Though while they were around the smoke made for some interesting photos:


We’ve also had Jenna home twice: once for Thanksgiving, where she brought two friends with her. While all the warm, dry weather, fall hung around longer, so she got to enjoy some color still.



And now we have her home for a month for Christmas break.

Saw my first snow flurries yesterday (though there is no snow in the forecast for Christmas). Cooking has commenced for Christmas dinner already, and the meat for Christmas eve tamales is thawing. That must mean it’s almost Christmas!

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It could be a lot worse, and it hasn’t been that long, but I’m ready for the smoke to move on.


But in the meantime, we are looking forward to having Jenna home in a little over a week for Thanksgiving. She’s bringing two friends with her. Lauren has just two Tuesdays left of class this semester. Since her teacher is leaving the country after Thanksgiving, she gets a rather lengthy (7 week) Christmas break. There are some assignments that need to be completed over the break, but that’s a long time. She can, however, spend those extra hours on scholarship applications!

Rebekah doesn’t finish until December 13, and Jenna finishes around then too. I’ll be back on the 16th. Then the younger girls and I start back on January 10, and Jenna goes back on January 15. Everyone is ready for the break!

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Fires and a Little Fun

There are numerous wildfires burning in our neck of the woods. It’s been almost 80 days since we’ve had any significant rain, and for a region that averages 5-6 inches per month, that’s a long time with no rainfall. So far over 16,000 acres of forest have been burned, and the beautiful Joyce Kilmer Forest is in danger of being destroyed. This picture is several years old, but that’s still a big tree!


Our little valley has been full of smoke all day as is every other place you drive in the county. There have been evacuations, but not near us. And considering it seems that someone is setting these fires, it’s a scary thought that our hill could be next, though they seem to be starting in pretty rough terrain—which makes it much more difficult for firefighters to get to.


That large fire to the NW of Franklin has encompassed the fire tower at Wesser Bald, which has given us views like the picture below. Wondering what of all that is left and if the fire tower itself (above the tree line) survived.


Driving back from Bryson City last night (more details below), we got a good glimpse of one of the fires that was burning the side of the mountain along US 74. Very scary and disheartening.

We went to Bryson City to ride the Polar Express. The main Santa on the Polar Express (the Smokey Mountain Railroad that runs from Bryson City to Whittier) goes to our church. Last night they were having a dress rehearsal, and people involved in the train could invite friends and family to ride for free. They play music from the movie, serve hot chocolate, sing, dance, and then Santa gets on the train and passes out bells to everyone. Fun time.

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Company, Color, Costumes

We had a great visit with John and Kim a couple of weeks ago. In the process, we also saw some nice color, though the peak was after they left.

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Lauren’s in the process of applying to Covenant, and we should get their offer by the middle of December.

A girl in our church decorates her house for Halloween every year in some book theme and then does a fun little “play.” The youth group is usually involved in decorating and acting. This year’s version was C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair. Rebekah was a giant (she had stilts), and Lauren was Puddleglum (the main tour guide).

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And just like that October is over. Which means we’ll get to see Jenna in about three weeks!

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Lauren has been accepted to her first college: Mississippi College. She’s also been invited back to interview for scholarships around the 1st of the year. We are going back to Covenant next Friday for another visit and to talk about money with them. Still trying to decide where else to visit/apply.

There was ice on the windshield this morning. A little earlier than usual. But it’s supposed to warm back up the end of the week.

And we are looking forward to John’s and Kim’s visit next week after their trip to DC. Dana and I are doing to Atlanta on Friday to celebrate my birthday.

And after being closed for two weeks, the pool is back open with the dome on. The water was still cold this morning!

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