Monday, December 31, 2012

A Wonderful Way to Celebrate the Turning of A New Decade of Life

I had been asked over and over by my parents and hubby what I wanted for my birthday.  I had no idea.  I have everything I could want - loving family, new floors in the house, a travel trailer, etc.  I really had no wants or needs.  I didn't want nick-knacks that would create clutter, so what could I tell them.  I thought long and hard.  I wanted to get away from the monotony of daily life and enjoy time alone with my hubby.

I approached him with the idea of us taking a few days off alone to celebrate my fortieth birthday.  He said to pick the place and we would go.  My parents would watch the kids.  So, I chose my favorite place - Harbor Island.

I don't know what it is about the Low Country of South Carolina, but I feel relaxed and at home.  I call this place my home away from home and so do the children.  I had to keep the location of the getaway a secret from them.  They would certainly pitch a fit to come on our getaway.  I love taking them to the beach, but sometimes grownups need child free time.

It is funny how hubby and I can enjoy each other's company in complete silence.  On our drive we barely spoke.  We just enjoyed the sites and quietness that we never seem to get at home.  Peaceful, quiet bliss...

We took a walk on the beach and reminisced about the first time we set foot on Harbor Island six years ago.  How the beach had changed and how we had changed.  The one constant in life is change.

Our view of the dunes and ocean from the living room.

This is the view from the deck off the bedroom.
We dined at a local favorite - Johnson's Creek Tavern.  This little gem has fresh seafood, juicy steaks, and a nice view.  Many a famous actor has visited the dollar bill covered walls of the joint.  The cast and crew of Forest Gump ate many a meal here. 

Inside Johnson's Creek Tavern - the walls are covered in dollar bills.

The sign says it all - local and delicious!

We drove around Beaufort and Port Royal during our stay.  Visiting the Chocolate Tree for a delictable treat.  We strolled the waterfront and downtown of Beaufort.  We went to the Sands and took in the views of the marsh, river, and Parris Island.  We just enjoyed being together.

I took a two hour stroll of the beach alone.  This is my solitude.  Camera in hand, I snap pictures of nature.  I can never get enough of this place! 

Hubby took me to Boondocks for all you can eat crab legs.  He knows this is my favorite and graciously sits back after finishing his meal, letting me continue to crack the crab legs for the delicious sweet meat.  Boondocks cooks the crab legs to perfection!

I came home renewed from our getaway.  Ready to face the dawning of my next decade and the daily life of being a homeschooling mama. 

Until my next trip....

Where Does the Time Go?

It is hard to believe that the year is almost over!  Where has it gone?  I remember as a child hearing adults talk about how time flies.  At that point in my life, it seemed as time stood still.  It took forever to get to ten years of age, then to sixteen, then to twenty-one.  After twenty-one, time began to fly!

Now that I have just turned forty years of age, where did the time go!  Where did my thirties go?  Life happens and age, although a number, keeps climbing.  A fabulous marriage, two wonderful children, the loss of grandparents, a career, a career change, and helping grow a business have all spanned the last twelve years.  Yet, all of this seems just like yesterday.

I look at what my parents had at forty and I couldn't imagine myself in their shoes.  I wonder if my children will think the same.

The thing is, I don't feel like I have turned forty.  How can time be reversed?  Would I really want to go back and do it all over again?  Somethings yes, somethings no.  That is life, though.  One chance, no do-overs.

As I come to accept the dawning of my next decade in life, I vow to make it an exceptional ten years.  My children will become teenagers during this time.  My parents will enter their seventies.  My sister could become a grandmother in the next ten years.  Our roles will be expanded and our lives hopefully more blessed. 

Who knows for certain what the next ten years will hold.  However, one thing is certain, I will enjoy every moment!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to one and all!  We had a lovely Christmas with friends and family.  The celebration started on Sunday and culminated today.

We took the children to the Bethlehem walk Sunday evening.  Reminding them the reason for the season was not Santa, but Jesus.  A local church put on a nice production and the children had a great time.

Christmas Eve was spent at my parents' house.  It has been a family tradition on my side of the family that gifts are exchanged and opened on the 24th.  The children were so excited to open presents and eat goodies.  We are blessed to have such a wonderful and giving family.  My parents have been so generous to our family and my sister's family.

My nephew and Egee playing video games on Christmas Eve.

My mother and Lil'Bit
Christmas morning started fairly early.  The children couldn't wait to see what Santa had left.  Our rule has always been, they must come to our room and wake us.  They cannot go into the living room by themselves.  They bounded into our bedroom at seven-thirty ready to get the day started.

With camera in hand, we made our way to the living room.  They immediately went to the Christmas tree.  However, they could not find any gifts from Santa.  They disappointingly looked at each other, but didn't know what to say.  I don't know how they missed seeing a Razor Dirt Bike and Razor Moped in the middle of the living room, but they did!  I pointed out that Santa left the gifts on the other side of the couch.  Relief flooded their faces and they squealed in excitement.  Santa had come!

They rode their new toys all morning.  Lucky for us the rain has held off.

Hubby's parents came up for Christmas dinner and gift exchange.  They watched the kids ride and play.

Sally B wanted to snuggle in the afternoon, so after the in-laws left, we took a Christmas Day nap.

What a wonderful day!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa Makes a Pre-Christmas Visit!

Our community has a tradition that the children love.  One Sunday afternoon in December (it varies year to year), the local fire department drives Santa through the neighborhood.  Today was the day!

We had just stepped outside on the deck and heard several sirens blaring.  Not the normal emergency call siren, it was the Santa siren.  The children quickly started searching for the fire trucks.  We spotted them turning on the street above the lake.  We knew we had several minutes before he arrived at our house.

Coming down the hill!
Then we heard the sirens again.  This time the fire trucks were coming down the hill!  He was getting closer.
Making their way along the street behind the house.

Next, the children scrambled to the front yard.  Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane...they sung.  They ran over to their friend's house to wait.  The suspense was getting to them.

We could hear the siren getting closer.  Our dogs stood ready to see Santa.  The neighbors came out to wave to the firemen and Santa.  The children strained to see the fire truck approaching.

Finally, the fire truck crested the hill!  Oh, what fun to see Santa on the fire truck.  He threw candy to the children, waved, and called out "Merry Christmas!"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Baking Christmas Goodies

Egee was feeling left out this morning.  Little Man and K-Man did not want a girl playing with them.  It was evidently boy day and no matter what they were not playing with girls. 

The boys were dismissed from playing indoors and I brought Egee into the kitchen to make some Christmas goodies.  She likes the mommy/daughter time.

I had her read the directions and measure the ingredients.  She basically did everything except put the bake pans in the oven.

Reading the directions.

Adding water to the gingerbread mix.


Adding the batter to the loaf pans.
Getting ready to make the pumpkin bread muffins.

Measuring the batter for pumpkin bread muffins.

Muffins are done!

Ginger bread loafs (someone already has sneaked a piece!).

As things baked we sipped on wassail and listened to Christmas carols on the radio. 

Just what she needed!

Little Man Turns 7!

My how seven years past so fast!  Little Man turned seven years old on Friday.  I wasn't sure if he would even see two days old in the beginning!  Our lives have been truly been changed with the joy of having a rambunctious little boy.

I always take the children somewhere special on their birthday.  Little Man had been wanting to go to Chuck E. Cheese, so I surprised him.  He had a blast!  Earlier in the week, I took him ice skating as part of his birthday fun.

We had his family party in the afternoon.  He couldn't wait to open his presents and to get the Angry Bird sling shot off of his cake.

Overall, I think he had a wonderful seventh birthday. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Music Sandwiched In: Spartanburg Philharmonic Brass Quintet

After library class, we stayed at the library for the Music Sandwiched In Program.  The children were excited that friends were going to the program today.  The room was packed!  We had quite a few homeschoolers stay for the music today.  The elderly audience members always enjoy seeing children at the program.

We were treated to various Christmas songs and learned how many of the pieces, when first written, had no ties to Christmas. The quintet played 'Joy to the World', 'The Feast of Epiphany Song' (The First Noel), 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen', 'Patapan', 'Carol of the Bells', 'The Christmas Song', 'The Twelve Days of Chrismas', and 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'.

Little Man pretended to play along with the trombone and trumpets.  He was intrigued with the piccolo trumpet.  Egee tapped her foot along with the beat. 

The four of the musicians were professors at three local colleges.  Our community is definitely blessed to have such talent!

When we arrived home in the afternoon, Little Man drug out my trumpets.  He needed to 'play' Christmas songs.  We spent a fun hour playing the trumpets and piano.  What a great musical day!

Crafty Gifts

Today, we had the holiday gift extravaganza at library class.  The children listened to a wonderful story, 'You Are Special' by Max Lucado.  It had a nice message about how we are all created to be unique and should not care what others think.  The children listened intently and enjoyed it.

After the story, Mrs. Jane had gift crafts for the children.  Each child was able to make a gingerbread necklace, scratch ornament, bookmarks, and gift tags.  They worked diligently putting the necklaces together.  Little Man worked just as hard on his scratch ornament.

Working hard on his scratch ornament.
Making the gingerbread necklace.
Working on her scratch ornament.
What a wonderful and fun class!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ice Skating Fun!

A southern child wanting to ice skate?  That would be my child!  It all started with an episode of Max and Ruby.  Then with the news his friend was going downtown to skate at the new outdoor rink.  Little Man had been bitten with the skate bug. 

He begged to go skating.  He promised to clean his room.  He was being an angel.  Oh, how he wanted to skate.  So being the good mom that I am, I searched for a place for him to skate in rainy weather.

I decided upon the Pavilion.  They had skating walkers to help people with skating.  Yea!  I figured with the skating walkers would provide the confidence to both children to skate because dear ol' mom doesn't know how to ice skate.

First time hitting the ice!

We headed out to skate Monday morning.  Not a moment to soon for Little Man.  He couldn't wait to hit the ice.  I helped them lace up and hit the rink.  Thank goodness for the skate walkers!  They were both hesitant at first, but after ten minutes they were cruising.

Lap after lap, they were going faster.  Little Man became braver and tried to figure eight with his walker.  Egee made laps and stopped to check on people that had fallen.  She always looks out for others.

At the end of an hour and a half of skating, Little Man ditched the skate walker.  He stayed close to the wall and shuffled along.  The smile on his face said it all!  He could skate!

Now his ready to go again!

Hollywild Light Safari

Thursday, we skipped Aikido and headed to Hollywild Animal Park for the Lights Safari.  This is a wonderful display of Christmas lights and fun.  We try to go every year, but missed going last year.  The children have been insistent on going this year.

We drove through the winding path of lights.  We oohed and ahhed as we made our way to the safari area of the park.  The ducks and geese watched from the pond as cars passed.  The deer, zebras, donkeys, and cows happily ate bread in the deer park area.

We stopped at Santa's village to see more animals and feed them.  This was what the children love.  We bought tickets to purchase bottles to fed the goats.  The kids get a kick out of feeding the animals.  The goats head butted each other out of the way to get to the bottles.

We had to purchase crackers to feed the other animals.  The horses loved the crackers.  While trying to feed one horse, a sneaky little goat snatched the cracker bag!  I had a tight hold on the bag and the little sucker jerked it from me.  He ate the bag and all!

Little Man took a liking to the white tail deer.  He fed them and talked to them.  I don't know if he will ever be able to hunt deer.  Hubby and I joked about how he is such an animal whisperer.  The animals just seem to flock to him.

Egee was fond of the goats.  She kept getting more bottles to fed the little guys.  She loves horses, but was uneasy in feeding them.

We had a nice time and can't wait to go again next year!

The Nutcracker

We enjoyed our first ballet on Friday.  The children were so excited to see the performance.  Little Man must have asked twenty times, when will it start.  He couldn't wait.  Egee was much more patient.

Ready for the ballet!

The auditorium was packed with adults and school children. Overall, the children in the audience were well behaved.  They were intrigued with the performers and music.  The majority of the children around us were with their parents.  I found out they were part of a school group that came to see their teacher in the ballet.  Their eyes gleamed when their teacher,  Rebecca Lee a.k.a The Sugar Plum Fairy, appeared.

During intermission, Andrew Kuharsky (director of Greenville Ballet and played Uncle Drosselmeyer) explained to the children a bit about the ballet.  He told them how the dancers have to mime on stage to help tell the story.  He explained how long it took to get ready for the show.  The dancers have been practicing since August!  He gave them insight into how the 'snow' worked and the magic tricks he performed.  The children were very intrigued.

This was such a wonderful opportunity to introduce the children to ballet.  Thank you to the Greenville Ballet Company for providing school children a chance to experience ballet.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Music Sandwiched In: Arbor Wind Trio

The children and I attended the bimonthly Music Sandwiched In program on Wednesday.  We were excited to hear a woodwind trio.  The performance was delightful! 

Little Man was especially fond of the bassoon.  He liked how it sounded and looked when the keys were being pressed and released.  He loved the tune from the Nutcracker entitled Chinese Dance.

Egee loved listening to the Christmas songs being played.  She hummed along and when the audience was asked to sing along, she did.

The woodwind trio was comprised of Mr. Chip Hill on clarinet, Mrs. Karen Hill on clarinet, and Mr. Frank Watson on bassoon.  The trio has been together for over 25 years.  Many of the pieces they played were arranged by them for the two clarinet and one bassoon set.  Most woodwind groups are quintets and pieces are written for such.  The trio has performed all over the world and we are very grateful to have them in our county.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Floors are Done!

It has been a busy ten days and I am still not quite done getting the house back to normal.  It feels like we have moved twice, but the results have been worth it.  My new floors are gorgeous!

The flooring men arrived on Monday, November 24 and the fun began.  I had unloaded the pantry a few days before and had to do a few minor things before they arrived.  I had them start in the kitchen and dining area.  I was totally unaware at how the process would work.

Old floors in the kitchen and hallway.

Everything piled in the living room.

This was evidently the original floor!

New under layment

Then men were very professional and diligent in their work.  Their attention to details was amazing.

By the end of day one, we had a new layer of subfloor on the kitchen, dining and laundry room.  The children couldn't believe how large the area looked without furniture.

The workers started earlier on Tuesday morning.  They wanted to make sure all the vinyl planks were laid and room finished, by the end of the day.  They also, wanted to have the carpet in the living room pulled, pad removed, and subfloor prepped. 

New floor!

Carpet demo!

Everything piled in the dining and kitchen area.

Exposed subfloor

Wednesday held a surprise for all of us.  When the men went to remove the carpet in the hallway, they discovered a large wet spot on the subfloor.  The water valve leading to the ice maker had started to leak sometime Tuesday evening!

We had to call a plumber to have the valve replaced.  I had noticed the cold water valve in the laundry room had started to weep, as well. 

The men put a large fan in the hallway to dry out the spot and continued the work on the living room.  The plumber showed and replaced both valves.  If we had started the floors in the living and hallway first, we would have never known about the leak.  Thank goodness we started in the kitchen!

By the end of the day, the living and hallway had been prepped completely and ready for flooring.

Leak exposed and drying.

Under layment

Thursday started with another surprise!  I started a load of laundry before the flooring men arrived.  When I went to check on the laundry, there was water all over the floor.  I yelled for hubby.  We were in shock that the washer was 'leaking'.  Come to find out, the plumber did not put the drain hose in the drain! 

The flooring men were not happy with the plumber to say the least.  We got the water off the floor (thank goodness the floor was vinyl) and the hose put back.  The flooring men put their fans in the laundry area to dry everything out.  They then called the plumber to let him know what had happened.

By the end of the day, I had new floors in the living room and hallway.

New floor

Hallway is done!

Missy doesn't like the new floor.  She missed the carpet.  I've got to get her a doggy bed.

On Friday, we didn't have any surprises.  They were working in the bathrooms.  They did send me to get new tank bolts for our toilet.  He was afraid the old ones wouldn't hold and may leak.  So it was an easy fix.

Old bathroom floor

Hall bath with new floor.

Master bathroom new floor

We spent the weekend prepping the bedrooms.  I finished painting our room.  Hubby unloaded and took apart his desk.  The children worked in their rooms.  We bought a baby gate to keep the dogs from going down the hallway and into the bedrooms.  Needless to say, our fur babies are not happy with this new arrangement.

The floor men spent all day Monday putting carpet in the master bedroom.  I had to take Egee to an art class and left them to finish.  When I got home, I was amazed at how good the room looked.  The carpet made the room look so much bigger.  Gone was the pink!

The men finished the children's rooms on Tuesday.  The children were so happy to get new carpet in their rooms.  It really makes a huge difference.

I feel like I am living in a new house!