Mom Helps ~ I love to buy local, but I really need to pull down spending to a minimum if we are going to achieve all of our goals and stay in budget. So this year I am going to be relying a great deal on Walmart's free grocery pickup and Amazon. It will help with time management and keeping down everyone's impulse purchases in our home. We aren't terrible about impulse shopping, but every penny counts. So far, I have pulled our groceries down by about $30 a week and will be able to do even better if I regulate the kids cooking days. Right now I am letting them pretty much pick what they want to make. They have creative and somewhat expensive tastes (expensive compared to my stated goal of making $8 dinners for five most nights, while using organic meat).
Adventures in the Mountains ~ Dear husband had the day off for Labor Day. We decided to scrap lessons and head out to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We just visited one small section. The park is large and we stayed completely on the North Carolina side this time. We visited a gristmill, the Mountain Farm Museum and Clingmans Dome.
They were not very thrilled with the gristmill or the Farm Museum. I got comments like, "How many time do we have to look at old buildings?" and "What do you see in these places, Mom?" However, things picked up when we got a bit more into nature. We didn't see any bears or elk this time. However, we did see lots of wild turkey and some beautiful spider webs.
We moved on to our hike at Clingmans Dome. It was an intense half a mile climb uphill. I speed walk about a dozen miles each week, and this really was rougher than expected. It isn't even wheelchair accessible because of the steep grade. We stopped along the incline to climb rocks because my children really are mountain goats.
The tower was in the middle of a pine forest and it smelled like Christmas. The scent was wonderful and Dean and I were in heaven. We both love the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree. This place was delightful to our noses.
Our last adventure for the day was to find the "Road to Nowhere" and wander through its tunnel. There was a lake and dam the government made years ago that destroyed several mountain coves and villages. The families who were displaced were promised a road that would allow them to return to their ancestral land and tend to the 28 cemeteries that were not flooded by the creation of the lake. The government started the project but never completed about 20 miles of road. The road just stops and turns into a trail, making it impassable for the elderly or anyone who isn't able to walk or ride a horse for 20 miles. It has been upsetting to our area for decades now. While researching our adopted children's birth history, we discovered that some of their family members relocated from Cades Cove when the government moved them to make way for the national park to Cable Cove but were displaced once again when the dam was created. It is a fascinating history that our son may be interested in someday, although he is not currently, which is just fine. The tunnel was a quarter of a mile long and filled with graffiti. We used our flash lights on our phones to try to avoid all of the horse poop. It was a nice hike.
Tweaks ~ Dean hated the United States Geography book I got him. He felt it was tedious and "lacking in education". We decided that he would finish all the chapters on New England and then move on to one of the other geography programs I have in the house. We also are going to have to do better about family time at night. The need for routine is strong in our family. I was seeing sibling issues by mid-week with the lack of nightly family time. Anne's schedule is very tight this year, so they are doing separate school most of the day. Consequently, they are not having as much together time as they are used to having, and Dean is more isolated than he should be because he doesn't like to take many classes or leave the house much. I will be compiling a list of fun, short activities. We played a new game called Shut the Box. It was fun and quick. We are planning a pub game night with friends soon, since we now have four pub games.