Saturday, October 31, 2009


So I've never been a huge fan of Halloween. Dark shadows, scary costumes, blood and gore, deception and disguise. Things I prefer to avoid, not celebrate. (I do, however, love big pumpkins, changing leaves, eating lots of candy, my mom's chili [which I am attempting this year], and her sweet rolls [which I am not attempting this year].)

But I'm pretty sure I could learn to love this holiday given the fact that I get to dress this little monkey up every year.

As long as she knows she will not ever get to wear anything gross, evil, or scary.

And it's possible she'll be wearing this monkey costume every year.

Because it's ridiculously cute.

Thanks Grandma Cheney. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

sunrise, sunset

So Jess in The Smokies is quite the animal. He was entirely intoxicated (by the beauty not the bottle), both weekends, every minute. He couldn't get enough of the picture taking. He was up before sunrise every day in an effort to capture the perfect sun rising over the changing colors of the rolling Smoky Mountains.

We, on the other hand, were not up before sunrise. No we weren't. Well, we were, but that was to feed the Belle and then drop back into a deep slumber. Especially the second weekend, when we both had a cold, and it was our greatest pleasure to be lounging on the super sized hotel bed watching HGTV and hacking to our hearts' content.

He did convince us to come and watch the sunset, however, and let's be honest. This is even better than HGTV. (Hard to compete with in my world.)

Raise your hand if Fiddler on the Roof's "Sunrise, Sunset" is in your head now. ;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

remember when we lived in our car?

So if you live in Durham, you live two hours from everything. It sounds like a selling point initially, like wow, I can get to the beach or the mountains in just two hours! Okay but it's not. Because EVERYTHING IS AT LEAST TWO HOURS AWAY.

The Great Smokies, destination Gatlinburg, TN, are about five (plus) hours away. And while the Belle is practically the best traveler ever, she just about loses her wits at roughly four hours, when the light up, singing, spinning attach to the carrier toy no longer holds any interest. Even more so, her mother completely spazzes out, but more like at hour three. Pregnancy and the sickness that accompanied being seated in a moving vehicle has caused me to have this automatic aversion to road trips.

My point: The Belle and I got in the car and drove FIVE HOURS each way to the Great Smokies. Twice. That's TWENTY HOURS in the car. And we volunteered. Well, the Belle pretty much doesn't have a say, but I placed myself and all of my stuff plus a load of the Belle's junk in the car and drove to the Great Smokies. Twice.

Why? Because I heart Gatlinburg.

So does the Belle.

Growing up, my parents took us on a yearly summer vacation. We did the regular California trips - Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, etc. - but soon realized that resort towns suited us perfectly. Beautiful scenery and small tourist trap towns stuffed with shops that were bursting at the seams with souvenirs and sweatshirts that we needed to buy. Plus, these places always have fudge. And in our family, chocolate is a part of our daily diet.

I grew to love these towns. I loved the beautiful weather, taking super artistic photos (I once thought I'd be a photographer, then I experienced the dark room and a lack of vision), eating delicious food, riding the ski lift/tram (every town has one), wandering around aimlessly. So when we rolled into Gatlinburg, I knew things were going to be perfect. Jess had his photo ops (he was up at sunrise every day, seriously).

And I had my fudge.

Friday, October 23, 2009

oh so great

The Great Smokies were so great,

in fact,

that we're going back...

Stay tuned

for the best pictures

from both trips.

The above photo is one of six zillion from the first trip. Just a little taste of the greatness that is to come. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

happy day

And what could Annabelle possibly be so excited about?

Macroeconomics, of course!!! WOO HOO!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

our lake

When we first moved to North Carolina and discovered that you could see the sunset at Jordan Lake, we began making regular trips. We love that it's a little piece of quiet, a breath of fresh air. We took Belle for her first trip tonight. We know she won't remember it, but it's a place we want to remember sharing with her. 


Sunday, October 18, 2009

cracks. me. up.

So we've been hanging out in the Great Smokies this week. It is oh-so-beautiful (and of course a plethora of photos are forthcoming). However, it is also oh-so-cold. When the snow started sprinkling (seriously), we said, "Hey Annabelle, it's your first snow! Now enjoy these socks on your hands!"

She felt really awesome about it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

smoke on a froggy day*

So the first year we lived here, we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway at exactly the right moment - the leaves were exploding in vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow. Everywhere you looked, there was something you needed to take a picture of. Last year, we hit it one week too late. It was still beautiful, but many of the leaves had fallen and the trees were making their way into winter hibernation.

This year, our last year, Jess is determined to catch them. We made the trek out this week (again, about two hours away, don't even get me started on the two hour to everything rant), and while we figured we'd be a bit early to catch much color change, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

This is what we found.

And it was amazing.

So surreal. Jess would be thirty feet away taking pictures, and the only way we could find him was by finding the lights on his camera.

For years, I've wanted this photo from Target. It's huge and beautiful, and costs way more than I'm willing to pay.

I would've never guessed I could find it in my own backyard.

*The title of this post will mean the most to one of my sisters. When she was little, one foggy day, we must've gone and picked up a Coke, for my dad I imagine (although he has since converted to Coke Zero). She announced that we had gotten a smoke (Coke) on a froggy day. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

buzz off

On Sunday morning, before General Conference started, we paid a visit to Duke Gardens. Jess went with a mission: capture a bee. On film. He spent considerable time extending a lens, plus all its accouterments, into flowering bushes. And let's be honest - it paid off. There were dozens of amazing shots, and looking at them made me feel like I had fat, furry bumble bees all over my body. Yuck.

So I thought I'd share the love.

(If you have issues with bees, um, look away now.)


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