"Of Mice and 'Manns"

"Of Mice and 'Manns"
Our Magic Moment

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Gracie's First Band Camp

That's right!! We have another band geek in the family. Kevin and I couldn't be more proud!! As band geeks ourselves, we were expecting the gene to be passed on. Gracie had a hard couple of weeks. One week of 9am to 12pm. One week of 9am to 5pm, and one week of 9am to 9pm. 

As a reward for their first day of hard work, the Campbell County Fire Department, comes to practice at the end of the night to hose off the hot hard working bandies. Jackson even got in on the action. It was pretty awesome.

Gracie did a great job during her first week of band camp. She is doing amazingly well with the drill and music. We couldn't be more proud, and are even more excited to be part of the band ourselves again! Kevin and I cannot wait to be official band parents!! Welcome to the Band family baby! 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

As most of you know Kevin and I took a second honeymoon this summer, on the Oasis of the Seas with the Royal Caribbean cruise line. NO KIDS! We haven't had a getaway without kids since Gracie was around 2. That was just a small weekend getaway to the Atlantis. It was a dream. So often, especially after 16 1/2 years of marriage we have felt like ships passing in the parenting sea. You know? Who has practice when? What time is the doctor's appointment? Did you help her with that project? Is his lunch packed? Bad dream, I'll get it! Well guess what? Before we were all parents, we were couples in love first. Kevin and I just needed an opportunity to remind ourselves. An opportunity to be a couple again, not just parents. It was an amazing week. A wonderful week. A dream that we didn't want to wake up from. But when it was all said and done, we missed our kids. We missed them so much. We couldn't wait to get them in our arms. But, we also can't wait to take our third honeymoon. We just won't wait another 13 years to do it!

On the ship I did something I thought I would NEVER EVER do. I zip lined!! I have been trying very hard to crawl out of my comfort zone more often lately. This zip line went across the top deck of the ship. It may have been a short path, but I'll tell you it was a long way down. I was so scared!! I wanted to do it to prove to my kids that Mommy does have brave moments, and to make them proud. When it was all over, I decided it was so fun, I'd do it again!!

I also celebrated my birthday at sea for the second year in a row. I think it's a great tradition that I'd love to continue. Here is the yummy chocolate brownie with chocolate and caramel that our wait staff sang over on my very special day. 


The monkey population of St. Kitts outnumbers the human population by about 20 thousand. These cute little guys are just wondering around. Of course these dudes were tamed pets, as evidenced by the clothing. For a few bucks you could pet and pose for pictures. Before Kev could even reach for his wallet I was covered in furry friends. I wanted so badly to take one home, but was told it was against international custom law. Whatever?! This was definitely the highlight of the trip! By the way, my friends' names? Chocolate, Chip, and Dale!!

A cruise isn't a cruise until you have taken the king/queen of the world pic. I couldn't get Kevin to participate. 

Every night Kevin and I may or may not have visited the candy shop for a small bedtime treat. That's wear we met our friend Patricia Coneo from Columbia. She was a hoot, and we started going down every night after dinner just to see her whether we bought anything or not. She loved giving Kevin a hard time by telling him how lucky he was and how beautiful his wife was. Maybe that's why she and I hit it off so well?

This was our morning view. Each morning when I opened my eyes I said couldn't believe that I was actually there! I slept with the curtains wide open just so that I could be amazed at the view again and again each morning. 

Just a few excuses to stop and use the selfie stick...

Let's face it, all girls love to get dressed up and look pretty sometimes. Kevin dreaded formal night. I liked to never get him dressed, and as soon as we posed for these pictures, he raced back to the room to put his comfies back on.  I loved it. It felt just like we were at the prom! What a wonderful ending to an amazing, well deserved getaway. Thanks honey! I love you, FOR EVER AFTER!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Back on Track

On my last "downswing" (you know my weight has fluctuated my entire life,) I turned into a runner for the first time in my life. I never thought that I would run unless a bear was chasing me, but I taught myself to do so by adding 30 seconds at a time. After months of practice I surprised myself by running in my first 5K on Thanksgiving. Well, fast forward a few years and I have climbed the weight mounting and slid back down again. Thank goodness I have been able to start running again! This summer I ran my first 5K in years. Of course, it happened on the hottest day of the summer. It was almost 90 degrees at the BEGINNING of the race. I was headed for a heat stroke when I finally reached the first water stop. But was able to finish the race in 35 minutes (thus the 3 and the 5 fingers above.) Not bad at all considering I hadn't ran a race in so long, and the heat was unbearable. I am still running now, and hope to NEVER go back up that mountain again. I am depending upon anyone reading this to hold me accountable to that. So please keep me honest friends! It's always easier to stay on track with your closest friends running next to you! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gatlinburg with Grandpa

When Papaw takes the kids and I to Gatlinburg, there's only one place we stay. We stay at the Inn at Christmas Place. Outside of Disney it's the closest place to home! The museum is immaculate and there is a Christmas tree in every room. 

The best part about staying at the Christmas place is seeing my other set of parents, Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Mr. Claus is available daily for visiting and even gives singing and guitar performances at night. Mrs. Claus circulates at breakfast to make sure that everything is up to par, and of course provides cookies at night. 

Taking a picture next to the huge Christmas tree at the Inn has almost become as much of a tradition as taking a picture in front of our own tree. 

Nothing is better than a good wax museum. It's always fun to pose next to the stars! Bobby was super excited about joining some of his favorite racers (I don't know any of them,) in the winners circle. 

Dad finally gets a kiss from Marilyn!

Gracie's the queen of the world.

Providing a little back-up for a legend. 

Our "Lady" in black.

While in Gatlinburg, we tried an "Escape the Room" challenge that was second to none. We had a wonderful time beating the "Gold Rush" challenge with only 4 minutes to spare. We had so much fun we went back again the next day to complete another challenge. If you are ever in the Gatlinburg area, you HAVE to visit. It is by far the best attraction in the area. (You can find it on the island.) 

On the day that we left we couldn't wait to get some pictures out in the garden. Notice everyone's matching shirts from the "Escape the Room" challenge. 

We always have such a wonderful time in Gatlinburg the kids are never ready to leave. 
The memories will last a lifetime. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Family Date Night

This spring we stumbled across a family fun spot that is truly second to none. Scene 75 in Milford is a GREAT place to take your family for a date. There is truly something for everyone. We first experienced the fun spot when Jax and I were on Spring break first (Sissy's break was not the same week as ours.) It was just Papaw, Jax, and I. It was so fun we decided to go back as a family a few weeks later. 

Okay let's get real, the only way that we got Daddy to join us is because it was Star Wars day. All of the characters were there in costume to chase you around the later tag area. But getting pictures with the characters was ever more fun! 

Scene 75 is a very LARGE family fun center. All under roof you will find go carts, simulator rides, later tag, mini-golf, a HUGE HUGE video game war room (Jax's favorite,) about a thousand video games and ticket spitting games, a little family bowling alley, an inflatable room, a cafe, and I can't remember the rest, but IT'S ALL THERE!!!! Jax has already decided that he wants to have his birthday party at Scene 75 next year. (And all the other years after that!) 

What can I say I have a thing for Bad Boys. 

Guess my husband does too! 

And no trip out is complete without a few selfies. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Saying Good-Bye to a Legend

Okay, okay, I know that this is a family blog. And it is supposed to be dedicated to the FAMILY! I get it. But guess what? I'm the director of this little show, and this past April 21st was a very hard day for Mommy! Prince was a legend, and hands down the most gifted musical artist of our times. I know what you are thinking, what about the New Kids on the Block? They are my favorite guys, my loves. But Prince is in a category all his own. There was no one NO ONE like him, and there will never be. 

On April 21st, one of my closest friends at work popped into my classroom WHILE I HAD KIDS IN FRONT OF ME, and just announced as if she were giving a weather report. "Prince is dead." I almost fell over, screamed at her for saying such a horrible thing, and sat down for stability. "I mean really Lisa, you can't just walk around saying such terrible things. You never know what you will do to people. Take it back! NOW!" She was amazed at my reaction and repeated the awful news. I instantly broke down into tears, which scared to kids. To smooth things over I announced about 30 minutes early we were just going to have recess time. I mean their teacher really had to come to grips with things and get ahold of herself. Well it didn't happen I cried the rest of the day, into the night, and for for a few days after that. Every time something came on the news, his songs were played (which was like ever three minutes,) or I saw a picture online, the waterworks started again!! 

As sad as I was at loosing this legend (I once suggested naming our next child Prince. I guess that's why Kevin stopped at two,) one wonderful thing came out of his passing. I was able to reconnect with one of my oldest best friends. Kris and I were not only college roommates but she was the maid of honor at my wedding. She and I bonded over tears and memories of going to see Prince in concert. (I've seen the genius 3 times, and all three times I sat in the PURPLE CIRCLE!! That, my friend is what the Prince society refers to as the first hundred rows around the stage.) We got together for the first time in YEARS to go to the movie theater to see Purple Rain. We laughed, we cried, we danced, we had a wonderful time. I am sure Prince would be proud that he brought back two long-lost friends. I think he would have also been proud at the sparkly purple shirt I wore for the occasion as well!! 

Prince Rogers Nelson, there will never be another you. 
You will be missed.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Schools out, schools out, MONKEYS, let the TEACHERS out!

Minus Christmas, the last day of school is the favorite of all holidays for 3/4's of the Mann families. (Yes we classify it as a holiday. It's a VERY big deal!) I mean 3/4's of the family starts our summer-long vacation. Even Daddy is excited because although he still has to get up and go to work while the rest of us are still snoozing, he doesn't have to drive one kid to school, come home and help with homework, and help Gracie studying for test after test after test. (Yes, her mommy is a teacher, but as the higher level math and history classes come along, Daddy is our go-to guy! Mommy takes care of all Language Arts/Literacy assignments, Science stuff, and any project requiring creativity at all.) This is why it is a holiday for ALL of us! 

We always start the day with porch pics. Every single first and last day of school cannot begin without these traditional pics. (Plan on having all of these put in a book for the kids graduation presents someday!) It is also fun to compare first day of school pics with last day of school pics. As such..

Love comparing the pics from beginning to end to see how much they've grown. Everyone get's a little taller. LOVE Gracie's hair with the shorter cut, but I just can't get her to go back to that. 

Daddy is Gracie's morning chauffeurs on special days like this, and surprise surprise, who'd expect hem to stop at Starbucks for a last day treat? Kevin cherishes these rare opportunities at morning commutes. Lots of time to talk to his sidekick. 

Mommy and Jax always drive together since we attend the same school. (Rare perk of being an in-school mom.) So, the next tradition is to get a last day pic of he and I and he and his teacher. Mrs. Bowling has been a family friend of ours for EVER. We tell Jax all the time that his teacher loves him more than he knows because she has known him since BEFORE he was born. Stefanie is the kindest lovingest teacher in the building as well so it was a wonderful year!

Last picture tradition is a FORCED pic between Jax and Rylee (who he calls his Nemesis, but his and Rylee's parents are already collecting pictures for the wedding slideshow!) Right now they have to be threatened to stand close enough for a picture. Which is one more clue that they would make a wonderful couple later in life. 

Love comparing these pics too. Jax gained a few inches on his betrothed the year.

 After finally wiping the tears and heading across the hall to my own classroom, I was surprised by a very special visitor. Little Ms. Amber Spicer came to visit me in her cap and gown. Amber was a student of mine in second grade!! I am always so moved and proud when my ex-students come back to visit me. I LOVE to see how they have grown, and hear about their plans for the future. It is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. She said that her most vivid memory of Mrs. Mann was that she NEVER wore shoes in the classroom and that she made writing fun. Sweet! 
What a great way to make the last day even more special! 

As most last days go, both Gracie and Jax had an awards ceremony. I was there for Jax because, again I'm in the same building. And Daddy was Gracie's representative. Jax got a reading award, and a technology award. He is quite the tech wiz. I was super proud of him. 

Gracie's ceremony was bitter sweet. She had the most WONDERFUL year at Community Christian Academy. It was exactly what Campbell County Middle was missing in every capacity. And the Lord is in attendance everyday, which is what makes it such a great place. However, as most of you know our transportation to and from school has MOVED out of the neighborhood. SO, it's back to the cell block for us! CCMS here we come (Cue tears and kicking temper tantrums FROM MOMMY!) We keep telling ourselves its just one year right? 

Anyway, Gracie met the greatest friends at CCA, and it was really hard to say good-bye. I am going to miss the pure spirit of the CCA kids. So even though we love the last day of school, saying good-bye to our CCA family really was hard to do. 

Prayer requests for a tolerable year at Campbell County Middle School. We'll need it. 

I know it is crazy that I am just now getting around to posting about the last day of school, when the first day is in just 13 days. But, better late than never right!