Sunday, November 29, 2009

War on Kudzu

Kudzu: an insidious vine that has taken over Mississippi. Apparently brought from Japan to control erosion, it seems to especially thrive in rural areas... most notably, rural areas with broken down cars and falling down buildings.

Although we do not have any falling down buildings (and only one broken down truck... $500- any takers?), this vine has crept onto the edges of our property! The government is fighting a war on terror, but here, in the good ole boy Keownville community, we are fighting a war on kudzu (and thorns).

We began clearing our property line in the area where the kudzu is the worst. The war strategy is to clear a nice wide path on both sides of the property line and then go from the inside out to the line. This way we will circle the wagons around the intruder. Our war strategy is also our first step towards fencing part of the property for my goats!

Hooray! No kudzu and fresh goat's milk! Happy thoughts, indeed!

The kids have been helping us cut and clear, and also creating a little village of "kudzu houses!" Hannah had gone in to get supper started for me, but above are Josh, Will, and Sarah.

Sunday Notes

John preached from Matthew 22 this week, and I wanted to remember a few things.

A definition of sin is, "giving part when you owe all."

When we go home and offer God a little of ourselves rather than our whole life, it is sin.

Be clothed in Christ's righteousness... Pursue holiness.

"Now, may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His well, working in you what is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

Ain't your mama's Spandex

My memories of running in spandex are not fond ones. My frame of reference dates back to the early to mid-nineties. During this time, it was fashionable to wear colorful spandex (with matching scrunchie, of course... real athletes wore scrunchies... cheerleaders wore hairbows!) in cold weather.

It had to be REALLY cold for me to wear my red or navy spandex. Too cold for my Umbro shorts or my unlined, elastic bottom wind pants... because spandex became a means to an end... a necessary evil that would allow me to run in the cold.

While running, my legs were being squeezed by the fabric, and I would begin to feel suffocated and hot... even in really cold weather! Back at home, undressing would reveal a seam line impressed along my leg and around my waist from where I had gotten hot.

This all being said, when my Spartans have asked me about wearing spandex under their uniforms, I have been pretty hard core about saying, "No! You think it's cold, but I promise you will warm up and end up getting hot!" They have looked at me like I am crazy, and many of them have worn it anyway... I just figured they were either really cold natured or really uncomfortable by the end of the run!

Last week I went shopping for some winter running pants. (I have outgrown my old ones, and I am going to be running outdoors this winter.) Everything at Dick's was about six inches too long, and so I finally resorted to trying on a pair of under armor tights. Hmmm... for the sake of modesty and the size of my bottom, wearing a pair of shorts on top would be necessary, but these were surprisingly comfortable! Thanks to the generosity of my runners, I was able to get the pants and a new pair of running shoes (hooray, they were on sale!).

It was very chilly in the mountains, so I wore them on my runs in Gatlinburg.

Whoa, this stuff ain't your mama's spandex.... , and I bet my runners think I am an idiot for never wanting them to run in it! Here goes my little under armor commercial... (yes, I know... 5 years after the stuff became popular!) I never got hot, it never got tight, it really moves with you in a way that the old spandex did not, and I did not feel suffocated!

Man, that stuff is the bomb! I am a total fan- Sorry, Spartans... I now realize it does not have to be sub-freezing temperatures in order to benefit from wearing it! It actually keeps your muscles warm and helps them to stay loose!

Cheers to the new spandex!

Last Day in Gatlinburg/ Chili Recipe

Duleys playing in the creek one last time- Ok, so Scott and Hannah joined us for the picture, and I never truly got my feet wet (gotta love rubber boots!)... Sarah, Will, and Josh are the crazy ones!

Friday was our last day in Gatlinburg, and we had not been on many hikes. Will really wanted to see a waterfall, so we picked the Grotto Falls trail. It was only a 2.8 round trip hike, so all 6 Duleys and my mom and dad headed for the hills.

Friday afternoon and evening we spent packing and huddling around the campfire... it had gotten cold, and it was the perfect night for chili!

Dad's Y'all Come Down Chili Recipe
3# Ground beef + 3 onions, chopped... brown together and drain
1 stick butter
1/4 c cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. Dry rub season
1 package chili seasoning mix
3 (16oz) baked beans
2 cans Rotel
6-12 garlic cloves
1/2 cup dill pickle juice
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 (or more) cups water
1 Tbsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together and simmer or cook in crock pot! This is a delicious chili with a bit of a sweet & spicy "whang!"

Sarah, Josh, Hannah, and Will- about to walk behind the waterfall!

Happy Hikers

S & H at the top


Sarah, Will, Josh, Hannah

Will, Hannah, Sarah

H & S along the trail

Josh and Will- "We made it!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

There were many activities planned for Thanksgiving at the campground. We began the day's festivities with crafts! The campground owners had paper plate turkey kits for everyone. Mom had gotten some pilgrim hats for the kids- Sarah and Hannah are wearing theirs!

Later Thursday morning I decided to try my hand at running up the mountain again. Scott joined me for the first 1.5 miles, and headed back down for a total of 3. I kept on going (with less walking this time!), and made it to mile 3.5. The trees had thinned out a bit, and mossy rocks covered the mountainside. The trail began to run alongside a stream, and then came to a point where you had to cross a waterfall on a tree that had been turned into a bridge. At this point, I decided to turn around. I was getting a little paranoid about being eaten by a bear, and I wasn't sure if Scott would come that far looking for me!
Josh and dad enjoying a game of chess

Mom with Evelyn and Levi- I don't have many pictures of my mom, b/c she always had the camera!

When I got back, it was time to start cooking. Our family was bringing sweet potato casserole and Granny's Mac N Cheese to the Jellystone Thanksgiving Pot Luck! Mom made pumpkin pie and green beans, and Hillary brought corn salad.
The kids painting rocks

At 2:30, we headed over to Yogi's Theater for an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner!
Everything was delicious- See, Scott made a happy plate! :)

After dinner and clean up, we went back for Candy Bar Bingo and Karaoke!
Mr. Landry, the owner, was the bingo caller.

Will and my mom opened the show with "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," Evelyn sang a sweet verse of "And Can it Be," and the girls' and I performed "Girls Just want to have Fun."

Yes... you understood me correctly- I did karaoke. I can not sing or carry a tune, but I love my Sarah Duley... and she really, really wanted to get up on stage. (I did make sure that Sarah had the microphone, and I tried hard not to sing directly into it!)

While we were at Karaoke, the boys left us and went to watch some Yogi Bear cartoons in the outdoor theater.

It was getting colder and colder, and we saw snow flurries before we headed back to our cabins for the night!

Gatlinburg- Nat'l Park

All of us in front of the park entrance

We started Wednesday with a great breakfast from a local pancake house! This filled us up for a day full of walking and enjoying the Great Smoky Mtn National Park.Will and Levi at the pancake house

We started out with Cades Cove. The kids endured many history lessons from their mama as we looked at all of the historic buildings from the 1800's and early 1900's. My favorite part was an area with a mill, house, barn, and several other things.
Josh and Sarah sitting in an old wagon

The kids and Scott most enjoyed getting to see a bear out in a field! We had never seen a bear outside of a zoo before!

After Cades cove, we went back to the visitors' center for a picnic... only to find that there were no picnic tables! We had a makeshift picnic in the parking lot, and then headed up the mountain to Clingman's Dome.Our chilly little picnic!

We hiked about a half mile up a paved walk to a tower. At the top of the tower, you can see for MILES... it was a beautiful, sunny day, and so we had a gorgeous view!Duleys on top of the mountain


Hannah on the way down

Josh on the way down

Sarah missed the photo ops... she was having too much fun!

Gatlinburg- Dixie Stampede

Yeee Haw! We spent Tuesday morning around the campground, and then we donned our boots and headed to Pigeon Forge for Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede! The Dixie Stampede is a type of dinner theater, but the entertaining is done in a dirt arena on horseback! This was one of our favorite outings, hands down!

The fun began in the Carriage House Room... a type of triage/holding area while everyone arrived. We were entertained for about an hour by a bluegrass-ish type band called Mountain Ruckus. They were great! They asserted that ANY song could be played in Bluegrass... and proved it by performing "Smoke on the Water," a ZZ Top song, and something by Guns N Roses. This part was SOO funny!
When the hour was up, we all entered the big arena. Imagine a dirt horse arena circled by bleachers. Now, turn those bleachers into padded ones, and add a table going around the front of each bleacher row. When asked, we picked to be on the South's side (of course), and our seats were on the FRONT ROW!!!
dad, mom, me, Hannah, Josh, Will, scott, Sarah, Adam, Evelyn, Levi, and Hillary

As we were getting settled, our waitress informed us that the menu was written on our napkin: a whole small rotisserie chicken, pork loin, potato wedge, cream of vegtable soup, biscuit, and apple fritter. She pointed out that we didn't have silverware because it was all right on the ends of our FANGERS!!! She also asked if the boys would like to be part of the show at a later point... they eagerly agreed!

The show began, and it was staged as a "friendly" competition between the north pole and south pole. The horse riders did all kinds of tricks as part of the performance... and one lady jumped through a ring of fire standing on two different horses! There were several different competitions between the north and south, and some of them involved the crowd. This is where Josh and Will came in... Their job was to represent the South in the "Chicken Chasing Race!"
Boys getting ready to herd chickens

It really wasn't fair... the poor yankee kids had probably never been around chickens in their lives, and Josh and Will outweighed them by 40lbs... we're corn fed down here! Will and Josh worked together and herded those birds across the line in no time. For their efforts, they got a Dixie Stampede medal and a Dolly Parton autograph and book! (She has some kind of free literature for young kids program.)

I can't mention the show without mentioning Skeeter... he was the reindeer hunting goofball who kept us all cracking up the entire time!
Josh and Skeeter

The food was delicious, the show was great, and we will remember that for a long, long time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gatlinburg Days 1-3

After 3 hours of sleep, the alarm clock did not wake me up... Hannah entered our room at 4:07. "Mom, Mom... it is after 4- we are going to be late!!!" After assuring her that we were not "going to be late," we got up and got moving...

Our first two hours on the road were a little rough. Scott and I always have to have a good fuss, and then we are good to go for the week. After we got it all out of our system (including a vow on my part to never go on vacation with him again), the next 5 hours were very smooth and enjoyable! It took us right at 71/2 hours to get to Jellystone.
Yogi, Hannah, Evelyn, Josh, Will, and Sarah

You know, Jellystone... the home of Yogi Bear! We are staying at a campground close to Gatlinburg, TN, right next to the Great Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park. Yogi has come around to visit everyone at least once already!

This place is BEAUTIFUL!

There is a stream running around the entire campground, mini golf, a playground, access to trails in the Nat'l Park ... Duley paradise!

We arrived in the early afternoon on Saturday, and just spent the rest of the day getting settled in. Sunday was much the same. We had a nice family devotion time, and spent the day at the campground.
The family having pot roast on Sunday afternoon

My children are crazy. You can guess what the temperature is like here... not warm. Imagine the temperature of the mountain stream rushing around the campground... COLD! Now picture 4 wacky Duley children SWIMMING in this stream! I am not talking about just for a second... I mean every day begging me to go and play in this icy water (multiple times per day!!!)

I think the weeks of cross country season coupled with too many late nights sewing had taken their toll... I went to bed at 7:30 the first two nights!

Monday I went for my first run on the trail behind the campground. I made it 2.2 miles up the mountain before I turned around. I wish I could say that I bowed up and ran the whole way, but I had to stop and walk twice. (Of course the downhill was a piece of cake!) I am taking the day off today, but I hope to try again tomorrow.
Scott and Sarah with a cookie- Mom had made beautiful fall shortbread!
Hannah and I looking at the Park map
Dad and I sitting by the fire

Hannah practicing violin for us- Evelyn loved it!

My mom, sister, the girls, and I went for a visit to the Arts and Crafts trail Monday afternoon. We got to see several craftsmen at work, including a potter, wood worker, and a metal worker.
The girls on the craft trail with their moonshine

The rest of the group met us in Gatlinburg for a delicious dinner at the Park Grill and shopping on the Gatlinburg strip. We got to see salt water taffy being made, sample fresh fudge, and check out every hunting knife from one end of the strip to the other!
Josh driving the other kids in the sleigh- downtown, Gatlinburg

Josh tried really hard to convince me that he needed a foam practice sword or a new knife or this firestarter stuff.... we convinced him that his souvenier money would be enjoyed most with a canteen!

What fun- I stayed up way past my bedtime... all the way to 10:00!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Coming to a Close...

Well, the football season just ended, and this is our last week of cross country season! We have been very busy around here for the last several months, and I can't wait to more than 1 "stay at home day" per week! It had been a great fall, but I am tired and ready for a break!

The NA Dawgs had their first winning season (in a long time) this year! Of course, Coach Duley did a great job with the defense and held most teams to a respectable score.

Although Scott is an awesome coach and a favorite of the players, he has chosen to hang up his coaching whistle... (I am working on getting him to trade it in for a blue and green one, though.) He will be able to do a lot more at the church, and we will get to see him during the fall!! It was not an easy choice for him, but he feels like this is where the Lord is leading.

At the time, this information was not widely broadcast, but he tried to quit coaching last year... but changed his mind due to the coach not being able to find a replacement and the threat of not having a teaching job. However, after another season of being gone 80-90 hours/week, he still feels like coaching is not the best for our family. SO, we are back where we were last year... but he is more firm about not changing his mind.

Our last race of the season was a GREAT one. We ran in the Save a Life 5K in Ripley, MS. I think almost everyone ran either their best time or close to it. It was not a huge race, and so the Save a Life people were happy that the "sea of green" decided to show up!

It was a beautiful morning- absolutely perfect for running! I ran with Sarah, and after much weeping and gnashing of teeth during the race, she finished in 24:32... 3 minutes faster than her best time! I knew she could do it! Hannah also met her goal for the season- 27:59... close, but technically still under 28 minutes!

Will and Josh missed out on this race to go on a father/son campout Friday night. Saturday morning was also the first day of youth season, so they went home and hit the woods.

After the race, the Homeschool Channel had a person there filming and interviewing the Spartans. They all enjoyed talking to the camera! We fairly swept the awards ceremony, and then headed over to the Gunnells' home for our end of season party.

What a perfect day for a cookout! It couldn't have been any better! We had chili and hotdogs, and the kids played flag football, rode horses, went on a hayride... you name it! We even got to listen to the Gunnells play their violins... always a treat!

After I passed out Spartan awards, the team presented me with many sweet, sweet gifts. Some of them include cards and letters from the runners, a cash gift, a gift card to Pleasant Hill Grain, and a MULTITUDE of wonderful crochet gifts... most notably a pig wearing a Spartan XC jersey!!! Wow, I am so thankful for this group of runners!

Now, we are ready for a week of CLEANING and getting ready for our Thanksgiving trip to Gatlinburg!