A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

Camping at Cascade May 28, 2012

Our favorite place to camp is Cascade Lake near Brevard, NC.  We’ve spent several holidays there, including Memorial Day and Halloween.  We went back for another Memorial Day this year, making it almost a tradition for our little family.  Our campsite was right on the lake, giving us a gorgeous view.

Sunset over Cascade Lake.

The weekend was full of fun with family and friends.

While I was still at work on Friday, a friend invited Kendra to spend the night.  Since we had plans already to camp, I instead decided at the last minute to let Kendra’s friend come with us.  And since she was coming, I couldn’t not invite her little sister, so our number of kids went from two to four and I hadn’t even packed yet.

After work, I rushed to pick the kids up from my mom’s, picked the kids’ friends up, ran home to pack up our clothes and food (thankfully, Ronnie packed most of our camping supplies), loaded up the car, took four kids to Ingles to get snacks and drinks, listened to Kids Bop dance songs all the way to the campground, and arrived at our site at about 9:30.  Whew!

The kids spent the day swimming, fishing, exploring, and just enjoying each other and the great outdoors.  They had a blast!

Four friends on the dock.

Max and his best buddy.

The adults had a great time too.  We watched the kids play, took in the scenery, and enjoyed fantastic food and relaxed conversation.  It was so nice to kick back and relax and laugh.

Nothing like fresh fish!

The highlight of the trip was a canoe ride to Hooker Falls, another thing we try to do every time we go camping at Cascade.  The waterfall is about thirty minutes from the campground, and it’s a very peaceful ride in the canoe to get there.

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The kids each took turns rowing on the way there, and then for some reason, on the way back, I told Ronnie I wanted to see if he and I could make it in twenty minutes.

Off to Hooker Falls!

It took us a while to get into a groove.  It was very challenging to steer accurately when we were trying to move as fast as possible.  We finally got in a good rhythm – we were moving quickly and in a straight line.  Yep, we were moving right along, right on target to get back in twenty minutes.  Then I saw it.  A log right under the water’s surface.  We needed to get around it, but we were going too fast.  I yelled at Ronnie to turn us, but it was too late.

I was sitting in the front of the canoe, and when we hit that log, the front end of the canoe came up out of the water.  We were completely stuck!  Ronnie and I laughed so hard!  Max thought it was great – it was a crash, after all.  Kendra was concerned.  I was looking to see if anyone saw us, and Ronnie and I pushed on that log with our oars as hard as we could to try to dislodge ourselves.  I felt so ridiculous sticking up in the middle of the lake like that!

We finally got off the log and made it back to our campsite in a little over 25 minutes.  Not quite the 20 we were trying for, but all things considered, I think we were lucky to make it back dry.

It was a great weekend.



Old MacHolbert had a farm… May 24, 2012

Filed under: family,food,gardening,photography — mandyholbert @ 8:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Just a quick look at what is happening in the garden this evening…

a baby peach

blueberries will be ready soon

tiny grapes


cute little bunny nose

artwork in the strawberry box

hello, little goat

chickens are getting bigger

butterfly bush bloom




Kendra got braces May 23, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:19 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Today was a big day for Kendra – she got braces.  We got up early and went to our usual “girl-time breakfast” and since we had to go to town to get to the orthodontist, we got to go to Ugly Mug, one of our favorite coffee shops.  She got a huge cinnamon roll.

She was a little nervous about getting braces.  She went up to Aunt Nickie’s house last night to ask her all of her braces-related questions since Nick-Nick had braces when she was younger.  When we got to the orthodontist’s parking lot, we prayed together and took a final picture of her pre-braces teeth.

She was so grown up throughout the whole process.  I could tell that some parts of it were uncomfortable for her, but the only indication of her pain was the tensing of her little feet in that big chair.  She did such a great job!  And she looks absolutely adorable.

She talked me into getting her a milkshake since she was so good.  We ran through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru on the way to school.

What a beautiful smile she has!


Shape up, Son, I’m serious! May 22, 2012

After the baseball game Friday night, we went to a very late dinner at McDonald’s.  And not just any McDonald’s.  We went to the fancy schmancy one near the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  It’s a strange place, really.  There’s a “magic” grand piano that plays itself, a fireplace, real art…but they still serve the same squashy burgers wrapped in paper.  The whole experience is like an oxymoron.

Fancy Biltmore McDonald's

Fancy Biltmore McDonald’s (Photo credit: Steve and Sara)

Well, there we were.  Eating cheeseburgers at 10:30 at night.  And, for whatever reason – probably because we were grossly overtired – the kids and I had the giggles.  Everything was funny.

“Oh, you got some fake hair extensions in your Happy Meal?”  Hilarious.

“You’re putting ketchup on your fries?”  Stop, stop, my stomach hurts from laughing.

When Max looked at us and asked, “What does moist mean?”, we kind of got carried away.  Well, I guess you would consider it carried away if someone chokes.  And Max did indeed choke.

I ran him to the bathroom so he could hack up the bite of food that was lodged in his throat, and to be honest, we laughed the whole time.  We were just being plain silly, and we couldn’t stop.

When we got back to the table, Ronnie had had enough.  I guess Max’s choking was the final straw.  In retrospect, I guess I can understand where he was coming from.

“No more laughing at this table.  And I mean it.  Just sit there and eat your food.  Stop being ridiculous,” he scolded us.

Max whipped right into shape.  He straightened his posture and transformed his expression from jovial to stoic in a matter of seconds.  Wow.

He looked over at me, and very seriously inquired (with intense interest and focus), “So, have you ever heard of peanuts taking over the world?”

Kendra and I laughed so hard that we both had tears running down our faces.  Ronnie gave Max “the look”.  Max didn’t flinch.  He met his father’s gaze with confidence, shrugged, and gestured towards me with his thumb.  What did he mean by that?  He meant Why Father, I’m shocked that you would accuse me of disobeying your wishes.  I, unlike my sister and mother, am quite seriously sitting here enjoying my late-night cheeseburger.  I’m insulted by this false accusation.

And with that, Ronnie lost his composure and joined in our silly laugh fest.  As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them!  And there’s clearly no beating Max!


Dance like nobody’s watching May 21, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Kendra,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 6:03 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

We went to our first Asheville Tourists baseball game Friday night with some friends.  It’s something that we’ve always thought about doing but never got around to, but since someone invited us, we finally went.  The kids absolutely loved it (so did I).

Asheville Tourists

Asheville Tourists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the game, we got to go out onto the ball field to sit and watch fireworks.  Other than the fact that we now know that Max is terrified of fireworks, it was really fun.

Fireworks #1

Fireworks #1 (Photo credit: Camera Slayer)

When the fireworks ended, a large crowd of people began moving towards the exits to the beat of very loud ballpark music.  I can’t explain what happened to the kids.  They just really felt that music.

Next thing we knew, the kids were in the zone, dancing, not caring who was watching.  It looked almost involuntary, like it was coming from inside themselves and they couldn’t stop if they wanted to.

Kendra has taken dance lessons for five years.  Add to that her passion for watching the Disney channel, and she’s quite the little hip hop dancer.  Max, on the other hand, has pretty much one basic dance with a few variations on the basic moves – it’s called the gorilla dance.  It’s very hard to explain, other than just imagine what a baby gorilla would look like dancing.  That’s Max.

Anyway, the crowd of people trying to get to the exits had a hard time maneuvering around our dancing children, and before we knew it, it was like a scene from a sitcom prom where people stand in a circle watching the best dancers do their thing.  It was kind of embarrassing.  People were laughing.  I can see why.  The kids were so intent on what they were doing that they were oblivious to the audience.

They just wouldn’t stop.

We finally reined Kendra in, but Max was too far gone.  Ronnie got him off the field, but he gorilla danced all the way to the car, which was parked about half a mile from McCormick Field.  They walked in front of us girls.  Well, Ronnie walked.  Max held Ronnie’s hand and the other arm flailed around, his head bobbed, and his feet shuffled all the way to the car.

What got into them?  I’ll never know.  But I would love to have just a tiny bit of that inhibition in myself.  That’s why when people looked at us and laughed, I just shrugged and let them keep dancing.  We should all probably dance a little more in life.

McCormick Field, Asheville, NC

McCormick Field, Asheville, NC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Why I am a Bad Friend May 20, 2012

Filed under: Confessions,family,humor,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 10:08 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I am a bad friend.  Here’s why:

1.  When I say I will attend your _____________, I probably won’t.  Time is more valuable to me than money, and while I don’t have much money, I have even less time.  If you want me to attend your event, plan to serve a meal and invite my whole family – then we will likely come.  Unless, of course, it’s one of those at-home shopping parties where you try to pressure me into buying things because I’m obligated as your friend.  That is very uncomfortable.  I’d rather just give you some cash and avoid the inevitable flipping through the catalog pages to find something I can almost afford.

2. I won’t (not can’t) remember your birthday, anniversary, your kids’ birthdays, or any other important day.  I can barely remember my own kids’ birthdays.  I don’t expect you to do anything for mine, and I’m not going to do anything for yours.  What did you expect?  This is about why I am a bad friend, remember?  Did you think I was going to promise to bake you a cake from scratch every year on your special day?  Sorry to disappoint.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. I don’t talk on the phone.  If you have something to tell me, keep it short and sweet, otherwise you’ve lost me.  And even during that short conversation, I’m going to be cooking, cleaning, painting my toe nails, or something else productive because I don’t have time to sit and chat all night.

4. If you make me feel guilty about anything, I’m not going to talk to you any more.  Well, I’ll talk to you when I see you, but I won’t go out of my way.  I don’t like being manipulated.  Oh, and I also don’t like gossip.  Or husband bashing.  That kind of limits the conversation for many people.

5. If your kid is mean, I’m not going to hang out with you.

6. My family comes first.  That includes not only my little family, but also my parents and my sisters.  And the rest of my family.  Even the ones I don’t like.  Just kidding, but not really.  Ha-ha!

7. I probably won’t call you back.  And if I do, I will try to do so at a time when I think you are least likely to answer your phone.

8. I only get along with people who have very low expectations for a friend.  I work full-time, I am a mom and a wife, I have a household to run, I have bills to pay, I have animals and a yard to take care of, I have meals to cook, I have laundry to do, and I’m constantly behind on everything.  Please don’t expect much from me.  Just take me as I am.

So, if you can put up with all of this, I am the perfect friend for you.  Please, don’t all call at once.

Not that it matters, because I’m not likely to answer the phone anyway.


We’ll end up sittin’ on a rainbow – 11 years and counting! May 16, 2012

This month marks eleven years that Ronnie and I have been married.  Nowadays, that’s quite the accomplishment for a couple our age.  Lots of marriages don’t make it, and many people are on their second or third at this point.

We are still going strong.

I thought I’d share some keys to our successful marriage, since statistically speaking, we’re practically experts in the area.  So, without further ado, here are the Holbert tips to a happy, long-term marriage:

1.  Remember when all your married friends and family gave you that great advice when you were about to tie the knot? – “Never go to bed mad at each other.”  Well, forget that.  Sometimes, all you need to work things out is to get a good night’s rest.  You can always re-evaluate in the morning.  Maybe you’ll still be mad.  Maybe not.  Just sleep when you’re supposed to sleep.  There’s no sense in arguing all night just to avoid going to sleep before working things out.

2. “Play fighting leads to real fighting.”  My mom used to have to tell us this all the time when we would bicker, poke fun, push buttons, and inevitably get carried away and hurt each other’s feelings.  These are wise words.  What starts out as fun teasing about something like the fact that Ronnie could not be on time if he wore seven watches can too quickly turn into something hurtful like Mandy, when was the last time you plucked your eyebrows they’re looking kind of bushy and unibrow-ish?

3. Take interest in the same things.  That’s not to say that you can’t have your own interests, but you should make an effort to enjoy the things that your spouse enjoys.  We camp together – I had never camped before I met Ronnie.  We garden.  We spend time together doing things that we both find enjoyable.  Maybe that’s the main thing – spending time together.

4. Build something together.  Ronnie and I always have some sort of project going.  Working together to accomplish a task has many benefits.  It forces you to adapt to each other’s capabilities, to develop teamwork, to hone your communication skills, to recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling of working together to build something then sitting back and looking together at the tangible evidence of what you can achieve together.  That’s not to say the whole process will be peaches and cream.  There will be arguments (trust me), like when I laugh uncontrollably when the tape measure somehow falls off the top of the ladder and hits Ronnie square on the forehead and that little trickle of blood strikes me as the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, but the fact that you work through it makes it that much better.

5. Be real.  I used to think that there were certain things I was supposed to do as a wife, certain things he should do as a husband, certain things we were supposed to have, a certain kind of house in which we were supposed to live…you get the idea.  But, you know what?  I was wrong.  When we first got married, we tried to model our lives by what we thought was expected.  We bought a house, had nice cars, got a dog – we never quite did keep up with the Jones, but we could have been their slightly less accomplished next door neighbors.  And you know what?  We weren’t happy.  By the time we figured out that we don’t need a big house or lots of stuff, we were in debt and barely able to escape.  Maybe people don’t understand now why we live in the country in a little house, but it’s suits us.  We are living the life that makes us happy, and we don’t care what anyone thinks.  If only someone would have told us that before we racked up the debt!

6. Be each other’s best friend.  I tell Ronnie my secrets.  I laugh with him.  He is the person I go to when I feel happy, sad, mad, betrayed, annoyed, disappointed, frustrated, anxious, or any other feeling I may experience.  Why?  Because I know he cares.  I know he wants what’s best for me.  I know he’ll tell me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it.  I know he has my back.  He loves me.  What more could anyone ask for in a best friend?  And I strive to be that friend for him.  We’re buds.

7. Keep the romance alive (and by romance, I mean, well…you know…*clears throat* romance).  Do I really need to elaborate?

8. Trust each other.

9. Be stubborn.  We like to joke that the only reason that we’re still together is that we were both too stubborn to leave in those early years of marriage.  I can remember arguments so bad that one of us would try to throw the other out of the house.  That never worked – it went something like this: “I’m not leaving!  You leave!”  “No!  I’m not leaving!  You leave!”  Maybe it went on all night, but you know what?  Neither one of us ever left.  There’s a place for some good old-fashioned stubbornness sometimes.  At those especially immature moments in our marriage, it often ended up being our own immaturity that kept us together.

10. Pray.  I believe wholeheartedly that God brought Ronnie into my life.  I am so thankful for that.  I always pray that God will bless our marriage and that I will be the wife that He wants me to be.  We are devoted not only to each other, but also to God, and that spiritual commonality makes our union that much stronger.  We are both keenly aware that we wouldn’t be where we are today without God’s blessing, protection, and guidance in our lives.

11. Be respectful.  There’s absolutely no excuse to belittle or disrespect your spouse in front of anyone, including your children.  Some disagreements need to wait until you can discuss them privately.  Never tell jokes at your spouse’s expense.  Build them up!

12. Be thankful.  Never take what you have for granted.  Tell each other you love each other every day.  Multiple times a day.

Happy Anniversary, Ronnie!

John Prine – “In Spite of Ourselves”

In Spite of Ourselves