From our "central" location near Marion, NC, we visited a cool children's museum in Rutherfordton, spent an afternoon at the Biltmore, dined at the Grove Park Inn, and went hiking and swimming at the South Mountain and Lake James State Parks. Our original vacation plan had been to go to Perdido Beach, near Pensacola, but we were oiled-out. The mountains ended up being a great alternative. Like last summer, when Kate and I joined my mom's side of the family at a state park in West Virginia, my favorite part was just relaxing with a book on the cabin porch! The family activities were all great too, and Matt and I took advantage of our four doting babysitters to have a date night for ourselves one evening!
We got back Saturday night and enjoyed a nice Fourth yesterday. July 4 is also my birthday, so we celebrated what Matt called my "first of many" 29th birthdays. Our church had a "hymn sing" during worship yesterday, which was nice (a) because it saved Matt from having to write a sermon on vacation, and (b) because I love to sing! Matt is a homiletics-nerd, so the sermon is central to him, whether he's delivering it or hearing it at another church. For me, worship is primarily about the opportunity to sing praises to God, and I crave good, energetic songs. (A few weeks ago, the only up-tempo song was the choir's piece, so in the most inconspicuous way I could manage, I just HAD to sing along.) The congregation could submit requests for the hymn sing, so I managed to get a few 1970s/80s-era praise songs in there. The congregation favors traditional hymns written from approximately 1880-1915, which I generally don't care for. (As I wrote about in this post, give me grand, classical hymns, OR Jesus Movement-and-newer praise songs!) That said, both 1913-classics "The Old Rugged Cross" and "In The Garden" were part of yesterday's line-up, and those have the special distinction for me of being Grandpa and Nana's favorite hymns, respectively, and were sung by my cousin Jenny at their funerals.
After church, we had a little rest-time, during which Kate and Matt napped and I "assembled" the additional birthday gifts Matt and our parents gave me (despite explicit instructions that my new camera was my only desire! You all are too generous!) I added a few charms to my Pandora bracelet, and organized scrapbook supplies into my new caddy! Then, we were off to a pool party at the home of our church accompanist (who, despite our aforementioned different tastes in church music, is extremely talented!) Kate is so maddeningly (but wonderfully, in less dangerous contexts) independent, she pitched a fit whenever we put her in her float, and barely wanted to be held in the water! She would have tried to dive in and swim around on her own, if we'd let her! At one point, I was letting her sit on the steps into the shallow end herself, and the little daredevil leaned forward and essentially dove in! I was right there, of course, but she went under for a second and didn't mind at all! I'm glad she's brave, but it really makes me worry that she's too much of a risk-taker, lacking natural caution. At the lake last week, she was enjoying running in the shallow water parallel to the beach, and whenever she fell to her hands and knees, where her face went in, she always came up laughing!
Matt and I enjoyed a quiet evening at home, then, celebrating my birthday with some champagne and a game of SceneIt (at which Matt beat me, as usual). We stood out on the driveway, watching three separate fireworks displays peek over the treeline around our neighborhood. A lovely finish to our holiday weekend--which, since I have today off work too, is not actually over yet! Today is Matt's mom's birthday (a big-zero one) so we'll be celebrating with them tonight.
Here are just a few favorite pics from our trip:
Okay, so maybe I have more than a few favorites. (and there'll be a few more in tomorrow's Project Life!)
Hope you all have had a great holiday weekend too!