Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Melody!



My 10th (and last) child turned 10 today! That's a milestone!

Melody had a birthday party with her friends on Friday and one with our family today. She chose a Hawaiian theme. 




Chalk boards are so versatile for making impromptu colorful signs! My 14 year old daughter Naomi drew the chalkboard designs and the birthday banner.


 


We bought the other decorations at the dollar store.


We borrowed a slip-and-slide from a friend. I'm glad that after a while we thought to pair it with a Little Tikes slide that was on our porch. It's so much more fun to swoosh down on your bottom from the slide than take a belly dive onto the ground.


To go along with the water theme, we also had water balloons and squirt tubes. The balloons were sort of a waste of time, but the squirt tubes from the dollar store were in high demand! You fill them like a huge syringe from a bucket, and then they shoot out a stream of water. I'll remember that next time!

Meanwhile, three of her older siblings were having fun jamming straws together to make a super long one. Yes, he actually drank from it!




I made pineapple chicken, chicken nuggets, and a fruit platter. We also had macaroni salad, potato salad, and bags and bags of chips and Chex mix.




Today we had her family party - which for us means about 17 people in three generations.

The lunch menu was BBQ chicken, leftover pineapple chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, tater tots, biscuits, fresh sauteed green beans, and two cakes.

Melody wanted a strawberry icebox cake, which her sister Julia has made twice for us. It's a really simple cake - with layers of whipped topping, graham crackers, and strawberries - but a bit time consuming hulling and slicing! Anyway, I didn't quite make it to church this morning what with all of the food prep and last minute tidying.


Yes, I carved this strawberry into the heart shape...


The second cake was a last minute inspiration. I had bought some cinnamon streusel snack cakes to give Melody a quick treat at breakfast before she went to church. I took the five cakes that were left over, sliced the top layers off, put the bottom layers in a glass pie plate, diced up fresh peaches, spooned on some whipped topping, and sprinkled the streusel layer on top. Yum!
 

Melody got some great presents at her parties! Her oldest sister Mary gave her two cute dresses.
 

Mary and Julia are both pregnant together again! Mary is expecting her fourth baby in February, and Julia is having her second next month! So far it's four adorable little grandsons for me, but the next up is a girl, and our sixth grand baby's gender hasn't been discovered yet.






Two of the sisters who couldn't come today posted their greetings on Facebook.

Joanna wrote: "Happy 10th birthday to this huge-hearted girl, my littlest sister whose personality precedes her presence, who asks a lot of questions, but always the right ones... Like "When are we going to Disney?" She won me over the day she was born, and still has me wrapped around her finger. Mel, you are always enough, and always loved. Have a blast in your first year of double-digits, and tell your stories like only you can. Xoxoxoxo"


Rachel wrote: "Happy double digits to the most energetic, adventurous, and brave young lady I know - Melody Lynn! You're one in 7 billion!"







That's all for now on the birthday parties! I'm writing a separate post that's more about Melody on one of my other blogs, This Mom Grows Up. You can find it here: Mothering My Melody.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

North Carolina: The Gardens at Biltmore Estate



Hello!

This is a continuation of my
These gardens deserve
their own blog glory!



conservatory and rose garden















they look like
they are painted



resting our feet
mother and child

Italian Garden


water lilies



This is just a tiny sample of what you will see in the gardens at Biltmore.


Other botanical gardens:
Other flower posts:


North Carolina trip posts:





    Enjoying the beauty,
    Virginia

    North Carolina: Biltmore Estate


    I loved my visit to Biltmore Estate with three of my adult daughters. One of them was flying home out of Asheville, two hours from the mountain cabin in Boone, so we decided to make a day of it! The daughter on the right is a ceramics major with a strong interest in landscape design, so she was super excited!

    Biltmore is the creation George Vanderbilt, grandson of industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt. It was started in 1889 and officially opened to family and friends with an 1895 Christmas gala. His descendants opened the home to the public as a tourist attraction in 1930 as a generous way of alleviating Asheville's economic woes during the Depression.



    Our tickets were $60+tax each, but are less if you buy on-line a week in advance. Right now, children ages 16 and under are free.

    I have saved most of the flower pictures for a separate post here: The Gardens at Biltmore Estate.

    Here we go:


    miles of wooded roads
    within the sprawling estate

    Biltmore is the
    largest home
    in the United States,
    but don't worry -
    you will only walk through
    a few dozen of the 250 rooms,
    which takes about 2 hours.
    Be prepared for stairs!
    If you want to see more rooms,
    you can take a Premium tour.



    guarding the castle

    in the planters
    near the front steps


    not supposed to
    take photos inside,
    but someone (not me!) did

    Being the philosopher and poet that I am, as I walked through the estate, I pondered about the lessons I wanted to take away from Biltmore. What did they have that I could incorporate into my home (on a much smaller scale, to the best of my penny-pinching-mother-of-10 ability)? The words that I tapped into my iPhone:

    • innovation - the latest technology available at the time for efficiency and comfort
    • hospitality - dozens of guest rooms, and every possible amenity for the well-being of their many guests, which included diplomats and other VIP's
    • variety - so many different things to see! Rooms had different themes.
    • legacy - this was built to stand the test of time, and as a historical, architectural, and artistic gift to future generations
    • fine art - paintings and sculptures by world renowned artists, 16th century tapestries - a feast for the eyes!
    • books - a 10,000 volume library!
    • gardens - colors, shapes, textures, arrangements - gorgeous!
    And that's what we saw after the house - the many gardens! 



    down to the gardens
      

    Italian Garden



    view from the terrace


    Antler Village,
    still on the estate
    but miles from the house,
    has a museum, winery tour,
    shops, petting farm,
    and more.


    driving home through
    the Blue Ridge mountains

    dusk



    This is part of my North Carolina trip photo series. The other posts are:


    Enjoying the beauty,
    Virginia

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