We got about seven inches of snow just north of Atlanta last week.  That’s enough to shut the city down for a week.  Fortunately, we didn’t have people stranded in their cars overnight like we did during our last winter storm. 

I have managers coming in from all over the country to attend some training that I am leading, so I spent my snow days in the basement working.  One morning, I came upstairs around 8am for a cup of coffee.  Sara was sleeping in.  I looked out the window to find my kids doing this with no supervision.

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Our Christmas morning started early.  When we tucked the girls in on Christmas Eve, I told Olivia not to come down before 6:30 and I told Amelia not to come down until it started getting light outside.

The orders of a parent are nothing compared to the excitement of Christmas Eve.

I heard some noise aroud 3:47 am.  They had not yet come downstairs, but both girls were in Olivia’s room with the lights on playing in the floor.  “We’re too excited to sleep!”

I turned out the lights and told them to go to bed.  They then asked if they could sleep together in Olivia’s room.  I knew that this meant they would be in Olivia’s bed giggling, but obliged.

Around 5:20 am, I heard noise again.  This time it was downstairs.  I peaked out of our room and saw both girls sitting in the floor in front of the Christmas Tree and staring at it mesmerized.  They followed the rules and didn’t get into any presents, but it was taking every ounce of willpower in their tiny little bodies.

How could I resist this?

I woke up Sara who, surprisingly, was willing to get up that early.  We put on some coffee and let the girls go to work.  By 6:30, we were on our second pot of coffee and by 8:00 we had already watched A Christmas Story in its entirety.  When the parades finally started, it was lunchtime.

Yes, Christmas was a very, very long day… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My youngest daughter is becoming quite the comedian.  If you’re a Facebook friend, you’ve already seen a few of these, but she started out Sunday morning asking for “Mommy’s cereal”.

“You mean Grape Nuts?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t think you’ll like them.”

“Yes I do!”

“Here, try a little and see if you like it.”

“Yep – it tastes like dog food and I like dog food!”

It’s true – even at five years old, I occasionally catch her sneaking around with a hand full of dog food crunching away.

Then she helped us put up Christmas decorations.  She “helped” us with the big tree and then she put her little tree in her room.  I gave her a tree skirt to put around her tree.  Since it was a “skirt” she did the following.

Tree

Guess that’s about the right place for a skirt. 

Then there’s her wardrobe choices.  Sara had a conference last week, so I was responsible for getting the kids dressed and ready for school.  The first day, after telling Amelia that it was 27 degrees and she needed to put on warm clothes, she came down in a sleeveless dress and sandals.  The next day I told her again to make sure to wear warm clothes.  She came down with this.

Dress

She wore a Hello Kitty hat, socks with sandals, and a complete mismatch of other clothes.  Interestingly, this is pretty normal for her schoolday attire.

It was a cool weekend in the North Georgia mountains last week – perfect for another fall festival.  We spent Saturday playing games, petting animals, and carving pumpkins at the Coosawattee River Resort Fall Festival located at a General Store that connects with an animal rescue shelter.

Barn

It was a really neat place.  The shelter takes in animals that were not receiving adequate care.  Most of them were kept in their designated areas, but there were a few wandering through the crowd.  It was in this crowd that Olivia got her first kiss from a scruffy-haired boy named Bo.

Llama

After getting a bite of lunch (with llamas wandering through the food line), we set down to work on our entry for the pumpkin carving contest.  I have to admit, I am extremely competitive and wanted to win, but I tried not to show it as they made the announcement. 

The first thing I noticed was that all but three of the entries had a basket of candy in front of them… obviously a participation prize for those that didn’t finish in the Top 3.  Our’s was one of those three.

Then they announced the third place winner… not ours.  Is it wrong to want to win everything so badly?  Next came the moment of truth.  The second place winner was… not us.  We took first place!  The girls went up to claim our prize, but I was probably the most excited out of the whole family.  The other great thing is that we actually spent the least amount of time carving our pumpkin.  It just goes to show that a little creativity can go a long way.

Pumpkin

Note:  the following was written last Tuesday… sorry for the delay.

I’m sitting on the deck at our cabin this morning without internet access, so this post will be late getting online.  It’s a small price to pay for fall break.  I love being up here this time of year – especially in the mornings.  I sit on the deck while the air is still cool and crisp.  The sun filters through the leaves that are showing the early signs of their annual grand finale.  The birds chirp happily all around me.  I can hear the Coosawattee River rushing over its rocky riverbed down the hill.  I sip some fresh coffee while I take it in and a half naked preschooler joins me on the deck proclaiming that she needs more toilet paper… ok the last one wasn’t so serene.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t change a thing about this morning… besides the fact that fall break is over and we will be returning home today.  We packed quite a bit in over the course of a few days.  We went to the annual Apple Festival in Ellijay where ate some good food, bought some stuff we didn’t need, and watched the girls ride various animals.  Amelia did the standard pony ride, but big sister has moved on to bigger adventures.  She decided she needed to take the camel ride… the biggest ripoff of the festival.  The admission for one child was $7.  Her ride consisted in walking one circle that took all of 45 seconds.  I think I may invest in a camel.

Pony

Camel

We also took our annual trip to Burt’s Farm for our pumpkin picking.  We started this tradition when we moved to Georgia and have not missed a single year in the eight years that we’ve been here.  True to tradition, we took the same hay ride we do every year (we have the whole thing memorized by now).  Coincidently, the admission for one child on a 20-minute hay ride complete with diesel-powered tractor, covered wagon, talking pumpkins, and numerous decorations along the way is only $4 – about half that of a 45-second camel ride.  I cannot let it go. 

Hay Ride

Today’s plans include a hike (if the government didn’t shut down the park we were planning on visiting) and a little fishing.  After that, we head home and it’s back to school, work, and the daily grind.  At least we’ll be rested and just tired enough of each other to be ready to leave our 900 square-foot cabin.

Hike

The girls and a caterpillar we found during our hike.

The girls and a caterpillar we found during our hike.

We also found a turtle.

We also found a turtle.

 

 

Apple 1

Saturday was one of those perfect autumn days, so we decided to visit an apple orchard and pick some apples.  It turns out that the girls are pros at this having done so on several field trips.

Apple 2

We took a hay ride out into the orchard where they let us out and told us about the different varieties throughout the orchard.  They also told us to feel free to taste some of the apples to see which we liked best.  The girls interpreted this as an invitation to a buffet – both eating three apples each in about fifteen minutes.

Apple 3

I have to admit, they were probably the best apples I’ve ever eaten.  I’m sure being fresh right off the tree contributed to their delicious combination of crisp, juicy, and sweet, but the setting in which we enjoyed them didn’t hurt either.

When we had finished filling up our basket, we went back to the barn where we enjoyed fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts.  As you can see, this was probably Olivia’s favorite part.

Apple 4

Overall, it was a great experience.  It looks like we’ve added one more experience to the Barr Family’s Autumn Traditions.  Now if we could only get this season to last about two months longer…

I was at a loss for a subject this week, so I asked Amelia to think of something for me to write about.  She was upstairs in her room so I shouted up, “hey Amelia, what do you want daddy to write about this week?”

Her reply was, “how do you spell ‘I love my Mom and Dad?'”

Aww… how cute, right?  Well actually that wasn’t what she wanted me to write about, she literally wanted to know how to spell those words so she could make a card for Sara and me.  Still pretty cute, right?  Well she gave up on the “d” which means Dad was left out of the card.

photo-4

Also, when I went up to check on her I discovered that she wasn’t wearing any underwear and her bare butt was the first thing I saw when I entered the room.  Maybe not ideal, but still pretty endearing.

Then she declared that since she didn’t put “dad” on the card, she would give me another present.  At this point her exposed rear commenced a rapid fire series of gaseous emissions not unlike fireworks.  When they finally ceased (complete with a grand finale, just like the real fireworks), she smiled and said, “that was for you daddy ’cause I know you can ‘preciate it.”

Lucky me.

I came back down to finish writing this post and just asked her what she’s working on now.

“Just making presents.”

Can’t wait to see what that may be.