Monday, November 5, 2012


Our Halloween was kinda spread out over a week or two. It started with our Branch Fall Festival. We all made costumes and dressed up for that. 
Erik was the Big Bad Wolf.
Detail on the Wolf's face.

Ethan was the Granny. 

Have you ever seen a sweeter looking Grandma?

Little Red Riding Hood
Erik got more frosted sugar cookies leading up to Halloween than ever before in his life. We made cookies at the play group we went to, and he liked it so much we decided to do it for Family Home Evening. He thought the cookie was pretty good, but he thought the frosting was AWESOME!
We also spent an evening at the MSU Halloween Carnival. Erik started the evening dressed up, but it got too warm so it wasn't too long before he shed his wolf skin and just went around as the cutest boy anyone had seen.

There were tons of games to play and things to do. And Erik could've made a haul on the candy if we could've talked him into grabbing more than one thing from the prize bowls. 

Check out what I've got?

Dropping balls into candy buckets to earn a prize. 

Yeah, there was a whole bucket of chocolate and he chose a Twizzlers. 

Squirting water into a bucket to win a prize. 

Decorating a goodie bag. 

"Look what I did Dad!"

Soda can bowling. Erik loved the bowling ball. In fact, he loved it so much we finally had to just take it away from him and drag him away kicking and screaming. 

Look, they had cookies to frost! 

Purple lipstick? I don't know what you're talking about...

Getting a picture with Bully the bulldog.
For the actual Halloween evening, we decided to go Reverse Trick-or-Treating. This is a tradition my family has done for a while, if you want to know more about it, here's a blog post my sister wrote about it. We made a huge pile of sugar cookies (complete with frosting, Erik wouldn't have had it any other way) and delivered them to some of our friends and neighbors. We ended up hanging out for a little while at the last house on our list, but couldn't stay too long because our little Big Bad Wolf was getting a little crabby. 
It was a pretty fun way to spend the "holiday" (c'mon, it really doesn't count as a holiday, barely anyone even knows what it's REALLY about), and we had a great time. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MSU Homecoming Tailgate

We have never been on campus during the football season tailgating before (we've driven by, but never really stopped to take it all in) so we decided recently that we would go see what all the hype was. It was homecoming weekend, so things were even busier than ever. 
Too cheap to pay the $20 parking fees on campus, we decided to park in downtown Starkville and ride the buses that run especially on game day for the tailgating crowd. These buses run for three hours before kickoff and two hours after the game ends to help everyone in town join into the party. Every bus we saw going to campus was standing room only. Imagine that continuously for three hours, that's a lot of people!
The bus drop off was right by the foot ball stadium, but that wasn't our destination. Ethan is a member of the MSU chapter of the American Fisheries Society, and so he was invited to join in on their annual Homecoming tailgate party, catered by one of the most famous BBQ places in town. There was no way we were going to pass up free BBQ, so we put Erik in his stroller and headed south to Thompson Hall to get some grub. Watching the people along the way was just mind boggling. Just so you know, we got on campus three hours before kick-off, and these people had already been here for who knows how long. 
Many of the streets on campus are closed to car traffic to allow for the massive number of pedestrians. Each family/group has a canopy to hang out under, usually with all the fixin's (I'll show you what I mean in a minute).

These people staked out their spots days before this, and they're now ready to sit back and relax. Did you notice the satellite dishes? Everyone brings their HUGE big screen TVs from home and they all sit just outside the stadium to watch the game in style. 

We made our way through the crowds to our party and pigged out on BBQ'd pig. And coleslaw. And potato salad. And ice cream. And soda. It was pretty awesome. Erik was somewhat interested in the food, but more interested in the landscaping. 

If only there wasn't a formidable wall of grass between him and the water...

He just wouldn't push through the grass to get to the stream (which was okay with me). He finally figured out he could crawl underneath it, and then we decided it was time to move on before we all ended up soaked. 

After we ate, we decided to walk back through the main tailgating crowd just to get a feel for the scope of this huge tailgating party. 

We looked down this side street and saw this huge crowd of people and had to go check it out. 

Turns out the drum line was performing for the crowd, so we decided to stick around for a while. As soon as Erik heard the music he started dancing and was hooked. 

Watching the drum line. 

People EVERYWHERE! And in pretty much every possible state of drunkenness and undress there is. 

Again, this is 3 hours before the game started, but people were already forming huge lines to get into the stadium. 

Just another look at a typical set up. Generators, Satellites, Ice chests, oh my! There's actually a company here in Starkville that you can pay to come set up your gear for you. They bring in tents, tables, chairs, satellites, TVs, EVERYTHING! I bet they make a fortune!

The shuttles only run one way, and they didn't switch to go back to downtown until the beginning of the 4th quarter, and we weren't willing to stick around and try to keep Erik entertained for something like 5-6 hours to wait for the bus, so we just walked back to town. Erik chewed on everything he could get his hands on, bark, sticks, rocks, grass, etc... He was a mess by the time we got back to the car. 

Back in the car headed for home. All the fun we had, and all he wants is the camera. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall Break; Wawmanona and Dismals Canyon

Wow, I just loaded all the pictures for this post and I think this is the most picture heavy post I've ever done. Maybe I should've made it two posts, but too late now!

Saturday morning dawned bright and early. Erik woke up before the sun, so we got him out of his play pen and put him between the two of us laying on the ground in our sleeping bags. He sat there and talked to us for a really long time, until the sun came up and we were ready to get out of the tent. Then another day of adventuring began. 
Erik helping cook breakfast. 

His favorite thing to do these days is throw stuff away. As soon as he discovered the trash can, he started hauling everything that he could carry over to it to throw it away. Silly boy. 

Helping Daddy do the dishes. 
After breakfast we walked the short distance down to the lake. There were tons of ducks, and lots of trees that were changing color for the fall. 

Ethan and Erik arguing over whether or not to go swimming.

Okay, so this technically happens all the time, not just on this trip, but this was the first time Erik let us get a picture. He's discovered his belly button (or beep beep as we call it) and is obsessed with it. 

After our little walk we started breaking down camp. We make such a good team. 

Before leaving the state park, we took advantage of the play area for a few minutes before starting our 20 minute drive back to Florence. Erik may not look super enthusiastic, but he LOVES to swing. That morning he just relaxed and laid there while Ethan swung back and forth. It was cute. 
We loaded up and headed back towards Florence. We had one more stop to make before we headed south. Wawmanona, the highest domiciliary mound in the Tennessee river valley.
Built between 100 BC and 400 AD, this is not a burial mound, but instead was the cultural center for the surrounding people. They conducted trade and religious ceremonies here. 

Whew, that's a lot of stairs!

We stopped part way up the stairs and discovered what we are 90% sure is some kind of bug. Or just a piece of lint that happens to have legs and the ability to walk. You decide. 

Okay, why these people wanted to have to climb this darn thing just to trade stuff is beyond me. 

The top of Wawmanona. Pretty, but still not sure why they'd choose to put the huge amount of work into building this thing by hand so that they'd have to climb it every time they wanted to do anything. 
After touring the tiny museum (filled mostly with pottery shards) that is associated with this mound, we piled back in the car for the next leg of our trip. About an hour's drive south of Florence is Dismal's Canyon. We've heard about this from several people, and have been wanting to go check it out for a long time. This place has a pretty interesting history. It was a hideout for outlaws and highwaymen who preyed on the travelers moving along the "Devil's Backbone", now known as the Natchez-Trace Parkway. The canyon was used as a "corral" for people while the local native american population was rounded up before being forced to walk the Trail of Tears. The head of the canyon was dammed up and powered a grist mill, and you can still see the mill stones scattered around. Now it is a National Natural Landmark for two reasons. It is a beautiful canyon with breathtaking scenery,and is also the home of the Dismalites; the tiny glow worms that inhabit this canyon and only one or two other places in the whole world. It's a bit spendy to get in, but we are so glad we forked over the change, because it was SO worth it!

Ethan and Erik standing in entrance to the walk way that leads to the visitor's center. 

On the deck outside the VC, getting ready to head down the rickety stairs to the canyon below. 

The waterfall over the dam at the head of the canyon. The dam is a remnant from the canyon's gristmill days. 

The awesome swinging bridge that leads to seemingly nowhere. My biggest regret of the trip is that I didn't get a picture of any of us on the bridge. I figured we do it on our way out, but I forgot. 

The trail wound around through boulders the size of buildings, and often you couldn't see farther than the next couple of steps. 

The sandstone boulders are all covered in moss. They looked so awesome!

Embedded in the sandstone were little pearly white pebbles that poked out through the moss. Unlike this photo, most places you couldn't see the main rock underneath, you just saw these shiny little pearls sticking out of the green velvet. It was really pretty!

There were trees like this all over the place. Notice that these are full size trees, growing on a little outcropping of rock. It's not like these tree's roots could just go around the rock and into the soil beneath, there's several feet of empty air between the rock and the ground. It's pretty crazy. 

I love this picture of the boys. Even Erik seemed impressed by the awesomeness of the canyon walls looming overhead. 

Waiting for Erik to catch up. Whenever the ground was level enough we let him walk. 

He hauled souvenirs all over the canyon. He'd pick up an acorn and carry it until he saw a cool rock, then he'd carry the rock until he saw something better. 

There was all kinds of crazy stuff growing everywhere. It was beautiful. 

Taking a break under a fallen tree. 

Ethan checking out the fish in the stream, Erik enjoying the almost-too-perfect-to-be-natural rocks. They looked like they'd been polished to perfection and came in every color of the rainbow. He kept scooping up handfuls of them just to look at them all. 

Watching the stream pass under the fallen-tree-turned-bridge.

Isn't this tree crazy?!

I put a self portrait of Ethan in an earlier post, so I figured I'd better put in one of me too...

Everything still goes in the mouth. Don't know what this was, maybe another acorn?


He'd get so excited every time we put him down to walk. This time he was waving his arms in sheer joy and love of life. Super cute!

The detour to see Secret Falls. Not sure what's so secret about it, turns out you can see it from the main path. 

See, I told you that you can see Secret Falls from the main path. It was pretty, but nothing spectacular. 

Letting Erik explore the mossy rocks. It occurred to me that brushing up against one of those rocks must be like petting a Muppet. 

An awesome tree root trying to find purchase on a boulder. 

"Wait, you mean I have to walk through that tiny crack up ahead?"

Heading up the stairs onto the swinging bridge. We're now back at the head of the canyon. 

Okay, I take it back, I did get one of us on the swinging bridge. Just not from a cool angle. If you look a little ways to the right of the bridge you can see one of the old mill stones. 

Looking back the way we came across the swinging bridge. 

A last look up at the falls before we climb back up and out of there. Such a neat place!
After leaving Dismal's Canyon, we headed for home via Tupelo and Sam's Club. We were pretty worn out by the time we finished our shopping and made it home, but it was such a great trip. Come visit us, we'll take you to Dismal's to see it for yourself. And maybe we'll stay for the night tour and see the glow worms too, that'd be so Awesome!