On Saturday we hiked Kennesaw Mountain. The timing of our departure may or may not have been selected to ensure our absence during a hot chocolate stand some kids in the neighbourhood were putting on. I...just have this...thing...about lemonade stands. I can't stand 'em! They feel a little coercive to me and I don't think they really teach children about entrepreneurism. Unless they state that the funds are going to be donated to a good cause, I just can't put down $2 per cup of hot cocoa. (I have hot chocolate mix in my house for much cheaper than that, thank you kindly). We've thrown a hot cocoa stand, ourselves...and then donated all the proceeds to Lifting Hands International, a favourite non-profit of ours. But, that could be just me, and I've been know to be a bit of a Grinch sometimes.
Anyway, we left in the morning and didn't get back until the afternoon.
First we visited the museum and the kids all worked on the Junior Ranger booklets. They even had "Wee Ranger" booklets, which Phoebe really enjoyed. It was her first time earning a badge and she was over the moon to be doing "math" with the big kids!
When the kids were finished filling out all the information they needed to find in the museum, we headed to the trail. It's about a mile from the visitor's center to the top of the mountain, so a two mile hike altogether.
The path is a dirt path (I had remembered it being paved, but that just goes to show that my memory can play tricks on me), so it was a good thing we brought the hiking backpack. Phoebe looks like she's plotting something here:
The kids had fun hiking up the trail...
...and I did, too, but soon Patrick and I were wrapped up a bit in trying to help out our sister Kelli and her kids. The father of my sister's twins passed away at the end of November, just after Thanksgiving. Kelli hasn't had custody of the twins for about ten years or so, but in more recent years has been able to have a little more communication with the twins and they've been turning to her for some help with some things.
On Saturday, for example, the twins needed to clean out their father's apartment. Their half-sisters were supposed to come help, but at the last minute they reneged their services, leaving just my sister and her husband and one of the twins committed to help. My sister was a little flustered because she wasn't sure how they'd get the entire apartment cleaned out in a day with so few people helping, so Patrick and I were reaching out to friends out in Utah to see who might be available to help...on the day before the day before Christmas...with no notice.
As it turns out, the twins' step-mother had passed away that morning (but didn't tell my sister that for some reason), so it was perfectly logical for the rest of the family to bail on coming to help.
What a hard, hard set of circumstances.
Fortunately for the twins, my sister has always been waiting in the wings. True, they're almost grown, and they still have a very supportive extended family on their dad's side, but I think in the long run it will probably be nice for the twins to have a living parent around.
Anyway, Kelli and her crew ended up finishing the job, so that all worked out.
Here are the kids pretending to be Hobbits hiding from the Nazgul:
Here are few more fun pictures:
Benjamin has a tradition of slumping by these signs. The first time we hiked up the mountain, Rachel thought these signs marked where they found a corpse (rather than being a sign marking where a corps was stationed):
This time Alexander joined in:
Here you can see some of the trenches zig-zagging up and down the mountain (dug in 1864):
Here you can see my kids zig-zagging up and down the mountain (much more peacefully):
I reminded the kids several times to stay on the trail. They sang back to me, "I'm still on the trail! You can't stop me!" And it's hard to argue with that since the things they were climbing on were largely on the trail. (Thank you to Rachel for gifting us that loop hole).
Here we are very near the peak (1808 feet above sea level, with a prominence of 800 feet):
Kennesaw Mountain is apparently the tallest peak in the metro-Atlanta area, and it's...pretty puny...which led to some good discussions about erosion and the age of the Appalachian Mountains versus the Rocky Mountains. The tallest peak in Georgia is Brasstown Bald, with an elevation of 4,784 feet (prominence of 2,108 feet). Apparently it's not too difficult of a climb (remarkably still only a mile-long trail), so we should attempt it one day!
Here we are on the peak-peak, with some centuries-old graffiti:
And here's Benjamin standing atop the elevation marker:
I had Rachel take a picture of Patrick and me together, since we hadn't taken one yet!
Phoebe was happy to get out of the backpack and romp around for a bit.
She's wearing Grogu everything because she has opinions!
I was just marveling over all the pictures of children in matching Christmas pyjamas, which I've really never been able to pull off. For one thing, I'm far too cheap to purchase everyone in our household matching pyjamas. For another thing, I don't understand how they get all their children into the matching pyjamas without their toddler yelling, "NO! KITTY ONES!" as Phoebe screamed and cried when I tried to convince her to put on the cute Santa jammies she's been favouring since October.
So she wore her kitty pyjamas to bed on Christmas Eve.
On the other hand, she certainly does enjoy "matching woes," so perhaps she would have gone for it if she was matching with everyone else.
I'm not sure I'll ever attain that level of coordination, though, so I guess I'll just continue to let my children express themselves...
Here we are at the same place (or thereabouts) we took a group picture in 2019:
This picture, to be precise—look how the kids have grown!