Monday, July 31, 2006

Our Vacation

We spent last week in Gatlinburg TN. We left home Saturday morning and drove as far as Gasden AL. After checking into our hotel we headed for mass at St. James, which turned out to be a lovely old church in the downtown area. Unfortunately, they didn't have a nursery at that mass, and the baby isn't used to going to mass, so I spent most of the mass in the narthax with her. The little I heard of Father's homily talked about vacation as a time to relax and reflect--kind of appropriate for a family starting vacation.

Sunday morning we got to our house in Gatlinburg. We stayed in Camillia Cottage which was WAY up the mountain. Unfortunately, our only view was of trees--we were across the street from the people with the views off the mountain. It was a comfortable place for the family to relax though. The baby (actually toddler) loved the hot tub and the jacuzzi tub. The big kids loved the cable TV (Mom and Dad don't think we need that at home so gettting to watch it is a favorite part of most vacations).

Monday we went into Smokey Mountain National Park and hiked up to Laurel Falls. It's about a mile each way, and paved, but up is slightly uphill, something this out-of-shape flatlander isn't used to. The falls were pretty, but there were lots of people there and on the path up. After eating lunch in town my oldest daughter and I perused the crafts at the convention center. The whole family then headed for Obergatlinburg in an overhead tram car. Once we got there we did the usual round of rides. There was a large waterslide you went down on a raft. My husband took the baby and she loved it, so I took a turn too. Let's just say we got ired before she did.

Tuesday we went to Dollywood. It was packed with people and we didn't get there until after 10:00 a.m. so we spent a lot of time waiting in line. We did see a couple of shows we liked but mostly what we remembered about Tuesday was the crowds.

Wednesday we went to the affiliated water park--Splash Country. Again, there were too many people there. We didn't get there until almost 2 p.m., since we spent the morning driving up to Newfound Pass and then to the highest point in the park--Klingman's Dome where you take a 1/2 mile hike almost straight up to get to an observation tower. The views were worth it, and once I get a high-speed connection, a cooperative computer and some time, I'll post some since none of those I tried to post via dial up made it.

Thursday we headed back to Dollywood, which because of rain and threatened rain, was much emptier than it was Tuesday. We were able to ride pretty much at will, which made for a much more pleasant day.

Friday we headed for home, but instead of going through Knoxville as we did on the way up, we drove throught the park to Maryville. We drove past a waterfall that was visable from roadside and drove a one lane road back to an old schoolhouse and cemetary. The inside of that schoolhouse was so dark--but I guess in the days before electric lights people must have been used to things being darker. Unfortunately, when we got to Maryville, we realized my purse was back at the cabin. Fortunately, it was still there when we got back. Unfortunately, it meant we spent an extra two hours in the car that day.

We had a great time and I'd recommend Gatlinburg to any family looking for a vacation spot.

Monday, July 17, 2006

All Sort of Useful (or Fun) Links

As I've mentioned before, research is fun!! Here is a list of links to all sorts of things you didn't realize you could find online (and some you did). You can search podcasts, find out if it rained on your birthday last year, or research your current disease. Go ahead, click, you are bound to find something interesting!

Blogs I Read: Nunblog

When I was a kid I wanted to be a nun. Actually, I thought it would be easier to learn to like church than to learn to like boys. I entertained the notion for quite some time, and in another era, may even have given it a whirl, but I came of age during an era when "no one" was doing that and I was teased when I was seen reading Katherine Hulme's The Nun's Story. I went off to college, started dating and decided that boys weren't so bad after all. Eventually I even married one (and let him do all that stuff to me--which resulted in three beautiful children). Even so, I have continued to be curious about religious life, especially in those communities that really seem to be "nuns" rather than just a bunch of old women living together. Nunblog is by one such sister. She's a Daughter of St. Paul and is from New Orleans. Her posts give some insight into life behind the convent gates and into a woman who lives it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Blogs I Read: My Domestic Church

One thing about a blank screen is that you have to come up with something about which to write. I've decided that one topic about which I will write is the blogs I read. The first blog I regularly read was one by someone with whom I used to debate (sometimes on her side, sometimes not) on AOL's message boards. Eleana (or Elljazz as she was known back then) writes My Domestic Church which runs a gamut of topics primarily relating to her family, pro-life issues and homeschooling. We are both Catholic, and both had babies late in life (her more so than me--if memory serves me she was 46 when she had her last baby--who is still young enough that I wouldn't say yet that she's the last) but other than that we have little in common. She's the homeschooling mom of many; I'm the working mom of three. She prefers homebirths; I like epidurals. Even with our differences, I will say one thing--she's smart. I may not always agree with what she says, but she doesn't spout unsupported garbage as fact. She has a lovely family so drop by her blog and meet her and them.

Questions about Catholicism

I'm Glad You Asked is from the website of a Bible Belt Catholic church and gives the answers to questions frequently asked about the Catholic faith. It is clear, concise and well written.

Choo Choo Round Two

When my 14 year old son was three or four he got the first parts to a wooden train set. We bought a Sesame Street set because it was relatively inexpensive, and a couple of "Thomas the Tank Engine" pieces because that's what he wanted. Over the years, until he was seven or eight, adding to that set was a regular source of rewards, Christmas presents and birthday gifts. My guess is that by the time we were done, we had almost $500.00 in trains, tracks and other pieces. I will say though that they were played with, a lot. When we were cleaning up two years ago getting ready for the baby, the trains went in the attic.

Friday night I took the kids to the bookstore, and they had a train table, that the baby loved. She hated to leave it. Saturday, I sent my 14 year old up in the attic for the train set. Today we have been playing choo choo.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mass at the Skating Rink

Saturday I went to mass at the skating rink. No, they didn't have couple skate or do the limbo-I guess the skates were retired some time ago. I went to mass at St. Thomas in Long Beach, Mississippi, where the "new" church, put up after Hurricane Camille destroyed the "old" church in 1969, was destroyed (at least the bottom 20 feet of it) by Hurricane Katrina. The Knights of Columbus had been looking for a new hall and right after the Hurricane, purchased the old skating rink in town. The renovated it into a combination church and school, and brought in portable classrooms for more space. It was interesting. The had carpeted the floor and some church somewhere else had donated pews, so those had been put in recently. The altar also appeared to have been a donation. The tabernacle appeared to me to be what was in the church--but it's been a while. There were two sets of Stations of the Cross. One set was obviously made by the school children and was made of laminated construction paper. The other was some sort of metal and was probably donated by some parish that no longer needed them. They had cubicle dividers (you know, the things used in offices to make temporary walls) blocking and making a path to the bathroom (which was on the same wall as the sanctuary). I don't know the cost for the set-up but it was all done in a few months and even if they had bought everything new (which they didn't) I doubt the cost would come close to the over $1,000,000 they are looking at to replace the church. The bishop has yet to decide whether the parish will be rebuilt on the beach, where it has been for over 100 years, or if it will move inland. He has decided that the school will move inland, and to the next town over, to be combined with another school.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Same Name and Then Some

I like to peruse to blogs listed on the Catholic Blog Directory and recently found one I really like--and the author has so much in common with me it is almost freaky. The Maternal Optimist and I share a first name, our middle names are the same, but spelled differently. We both have family roots in Wisconsin, but live in the South. We both work in the legal field. We are both Catholic, both have three kids and have both recently lost a parent.

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