Sunday, June 29, 2008

Another bike for McIver

We have had the best luck with inheriting bicycles! Last week when we were at Shannon & Reagan's house, they gave us Reagan's old bike. It's really tiny, but has no training wheels. We were glad to have it thinking that McIver can practice on it since his feet touch the ground. He's not a huge fan of riding his big bike with the training wheels b/c the training wheels are a bit rickety.

Not sure why he needed the goggles, but we know to just roll with him.

Ready to give it a try...

The light at the end of the tunnel...

... is on! Graduation was Friday night so, starting tomorrow, Will is officially a 4th year fellow. It's hard to believe that we've only got one more year in Houston. In some ways the time has flown by, but in other ways, it seems like we've been here forever (in a good way!). This was my first year to go to graduation so I thoroughly enjoyed myself. They had dinner, a few presentations and a slide show to honor the graduates. This time next year, it will be Will's turn!

Will & Dr. Coleman

Gymnastics Camp

Olivia and McIver spent last week at Houston Gymnastics Academy's Pirates of the Carribean-themed gymnastics camp. You would have thought that they were going to swim in a chocolate river and eat ice cream all day - they were SO excited. Friends Shannon and Reagan went with them and carpooled every day which made the excitement last even longer. Even though the big kids were in a different group, McIver still had a blast. They jumped in the pit, did the zip line, had lunch and snacks, played games, ran through obstacle courses, did some arts & crafts and, the ever-popular inflatable bounce house (with Captain Jack on the side, of course).

Waiting for the bell to ring so they can run into the gym to start the warm-up (read: running around in a circle on the mat and following counselors instructions to jump, hop, go backwards and in reverse) all while screaming like a banshee and giggling.

Inside waiting for their turn to run through the maze without being tagged by a counselor. McIver really should have paid more attention to the actual instructions instead of yelling along with the coaches. He either didn't realize, or didn't care, that once he was tagged he was supposed to go to the end of the line.)
All in all, the kids had a fabulous week. They were at camp from 9am - 3pm which was a nice break for me. I got some things done around the house that are hard to do with children underfoot. And, I had a Moms' Playdate with some friends - went to see Sex & the City and enjoyed a peaceful lunch that did not require crayons, trips to the bathroom or kids' menus.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Maybe I spoke too soon!

Okay, so a week or so ago, I boasted that Houston is Kiplinger's Best City of 2008 to live, work and play. This week, though, we have a not-so-pleasant Top 10 ranking. According to a study by Old Spice (yeah, the deodarant company), Houston ranks as America's 7th sweatiest city. Good thing we're coming up with lots of cool, indoor activities to keep busy this summer!

Summer "homework"

I bought the kids a workbook to help keep them busy during the summer. Olivia really likes to work in hers and it doesn't occur to her that she's learning at the same time. Last night we were waiting for Will to get home so we could go out to dinner. We sat at the table for a good 30 minutes with the kids working away.

McIver actually started the whole thing last night. He wrote all these letters all over his page and then wrote the letter A with the circle around it at the top. The he said: " I got an A, I got an A. Mom, did you know that an A is really good, but a Z is bad, bad, bad?" I haven't figured out where he picked that up yet.

All through dinner he kept trying to show the waitress his homework and tell her how very hard it is. She was appropriately impressed.

Rock Candy

A few weeks ago, the kids and I made rock candy with the science kit that John & Ashby sent Olivia for her birthday. We followed the directions to a T and they said to be patient. Good thing we were - it took more than 2 weeks for the candy to chrystalize. These 2 jars were moved all around our counter for weeks. They were kind of in the way, but we were trying to be patient to see what would happen.

Here are the kids with their respective jars of sweet, sugary syrup.

Olivia loved the shape of her rock candy.
McIver was more interested in the taste.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Prayer Request

Please pray for Mamoo! She has had 2 strokes in the last two weeks. She went to a rehab hospital near Myrtle Beach for 11 days and recovered very nicely from the first stroke. She went back to Ginny & Jimmy's house to spend a few more days before heading back to Columbia and had a 2nd stroke on Saturday. After a few hours in the hospital, she seems to have recovered back to the point of when she left the rehab hospital. Plans are still up in the air about her next move.

This is one of the hard parts about being so far from family. I know that everyone in Myrtle Beach is taking the best care of Mamoo and that there's not one single thing that I could do to help matters. I just would like to be able to see Mamoo for myself - she sounded so good on Friday night when I spoke with her, but then Ginny called Saturday morning to tell us about the 2nd stroke. I just miss being able to see all of our grands (both of my grandmothers - Grandma Janet and Grandma Myrtle and Mamoo) more frequently.

I told Olivia and McIver that we need to be praying for Mamoo's recovery. Olivia has a great plan: Well, since we're moving back to Columbia, maybe Mamoo should just stay with GranGran and GranDaddy until we get to Columbia. Then we can visit her every day and take her to the grocery store and keep her company.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Ever heard of Geocaching ( It's a very cool, very modern version of a scavenger hunt and we did it on Saturday with Margaret, a friend from church. I was telling a story earlier this week about how much McIver likes pirate treasure, etc. and Margaret said she would take us geocaching this weekend. The kids did love it... hijinks and all!

Margaret had to do a little bit of research before picking us up Saturday morning. She went to the geocaching website and found where some caches were hidden near us. Then, using a handheld GPS, we found the location and wandered around a bit looking for the caches. They are well-hidden, but there were clues (e.g. "Have a high time under the line.") to let us know where to look. You can tell from the picture that we weren't quite 'under the line' yet, but we were getting close.

We found the cache! It was about the size of a peanut butter jar and covered with camo duct tape. There were lots of 'treasures' inside - like this Travel Bug, a few quarters, some matchbox cars, a bag of pretty stones, etc. Olivia and McIver each picked a treasure to take away and then chose something from Margaret's stash to leave in the cache (yet another bit of prep-work on Margaret's behalf - she had a collection of little trinkets that we were able to leave in each of the caches that we found). The Travel Bug has a special dogtag on it with a tracking number. Whenever one is found, the finder is supposed to take it to a new cache - then log on to and let the owner know that it has been moved. It's all very techie and so fun!
McIver found the 2nd cache - you can see that it could be pretty hard to find, depending on where it's hidden. This one had lots of different kinds of stones in it. We left the TB (that's geocaching lingo for Travel Bug), in this one.
Here's Olivia putting a cache back in its hiding spot. Sorry not to have a picture of her face, but this is more to show you just how sneaky you have to be to hide/find the caches. There's a concern that folks who don't know about geocaching ("muggles") might find the treasure and not really know what to do about it so folks are very tricky with their hiding spots.
So, I mentioned some hijinks... After 3 successful finds, we headed to Memorial Park which is just covered with caches. We thought we had one that was pretty close to the road and wouldn't require too much traipsing through the woods. So, we parked Margaret's car on the side of a street with some very nice houses and began our trek. The kids were still into it at this point. Once we got to the point where we knew we were close, though, we had a hard time finding the cache - the clue said that it was covered with sticks and pine needles. This is where we were -

I mean, there were sticks and pine needles EVERYWHERE. So, after about 15 minutes or so of hunting, we decided to head back to the car and call it a day. Only when we got back to the car, Margaret realized that her keys had fallen out of her pocket at some point during the trek. Oops! Both of our pocketbooks/cellphones were locked in the car and, to top it all off, Olivia had to go to the bathroom (and not the kind you can do in the woods; I had already suggested that).

So, after Margaret's attempt to retrace her steps in search of the missing keys (she did have GPS after all!) and the kindness of 3 strangers, we made it back to Margaret's house so she could get her spare keys and retrieve her car. The kids and I stayed at Margaret's and played the Wii while she went to get the car - they were overjoyed!
This morning at church, Margaret found someone who loaned her a metal detector. She went back to Memorial Park, accompanied by several other church friends who were eager for an adventure, I guess, and FOUND THE KEYS AND THE CACHE!! I thought they were lost for good - shows what I know!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Houston is #1

Check it out - according to Kiplinger, Houston is the Number 1 best city to live, play and work in for 2008. Not bad!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Random June Happenings

Here's Olivia after getting her face painted at the EYC Auction at Palmer a few weeks ago. They were raising money to help fund a mission trip to Honduras. This picture was actually taken in May, but who's keeping track.

Playdates with friends

(This is Shannon - one of the twins we met at the Meet the Teacher day last summer. It turned out that she and her twin brother, Reagan, were in O's class. I became friends with their mom, Blakely, and we've had a fun time so far this summer meeting up at the pool, having play dates and making plans for the kids to get together this summer.) Shannon, Reagan, Olivia & McIver are all going to gymnastics camp together next week.

First of all, let me say that McIver dressed himself. There's no way that I would have put him in a long-sleeved shirt (even if it is Clemson colors!) when it's 99 degrees outside. But, we were lucky enough to be the beneficiary of a few of Reagan's hand-me-downs and McIver has insisted on wearing as many of Reagan's clothes in one day as he possibly can.
In case you can't see what is in McIver's pocketbook (which he borrowed from Olivia), it's a frog. The poor thing is probably scared to death. This was taken just a few moments before his release back into the wild of our backyard.
Olivia is taking a reading class (although it turns out to be much more than just reading, they're also doing math, counting money and more) again this summer. She adores the teachers and we are lucky enough to live around the corner from where the class is being held this year. After walking her to class for the last 3 weeks, she decided today that she's ready to ride there by herself. Look at how proud she is! (sniff, sniff - my baby is growing up!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

McIver's bedtime prayer

"Dear God.
Please help us keep the feast.

I'm glad to know he's paying attention in church!

Fathers Day 2008

Will was on call yesterday so he couldn't make it to church with us this morning. But, the kids were super excited to get home so they could give him the cards they made and he could open his gifts. We gave him a photo album of our trip to Disney World and a book by Carl Hiassen, The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport. It's about a man's return to golf after 32 years of not playing. (And, no, I'm not suggesting that Will retire from golf for 32 years - it just seemed like something he'd like to read when he's not making cancer history!) We also bought Will a pair of boots last weekend, so we're including them among his Fathers Day gifts.
I'm sad to report that Will spent part of Fathers Day doing yard work, probably not his first choice of activities, but it had to be done. We set up some soaker hoses to try to keep the new plants alive in the front flower bed. Once all that was done, he managed to enjoy several hours of US Open golf. McIver is finally interested in watching golf with Will so it's really fun to listen to him try to explain to Will what is going on. Apparently, McIver's 'other mom' (from his imaginary family) has a magic golf finger - "all she does is point her finger where she wants the ball to go and it goes there. So when she wants to hit it in the hole, she just points to it."
McIver's very interested in Tiger Woods - I told him that Tiger eats a lot of fruits and vegetables so he can be strong to play golf and hit the ball far. We'll see if that rubs off on him - I'm not holding my breath.
Rocco Mediate may be a new favorite golfer of mine. He just seemed so kind and to be a genuinely good sport. Poor guy - he probably won't know what hit him tomorrow in the play-off once Tiger's had a chance to rest that knee.
Once the golf ended on television, Will went out to play all manner of sports with the kids. McIver was the coach, so the rules of the made-up game were a little wacky. (Check out his new 'Spider Man exercise shirt' from Gran Gran. It's a HUGE hit!)

Olivia hit 3 balls over Mrs. Martin's fence! Check out that concentration...

Happy Fathers' Day, Will! We love you...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Galveston with the Taylors

After a busy morning of swim lessons and VBS on Friday, the kids and I loaded up for an afternoon in Galveston with the Taylors. Adrienne was in Olivia's kindergarten class and I have enjoyed becoming friends with her mom, Emily. Mark Andrew is Adrienne's older brother, almost 3rd grade, and is a super sweet kid. We had a very enjoyable drive down to Galveston and made it to the Pocket Park by about 2:15. We had a couple of hours to enjoy the beach (and lots of waves) before Adrienne met up with a jellyfish. She recovered nicely, but we had to pack up earlier than we had anticipated.

McIver built volcanoes for his dinosaurs.
Waiting for the perfect wave to body surf.
Olivia loved being out in the ocean. I can't wait to get to Myrtle Beach so she'll be able to really enjoy it this summer.
After getting Adrienne some medicine for her sting, we went to the Strand in Galveston. LaKing's is an old fashioned soda fountain with more candy than you can imagine, a taffy-pulling machine and a few rides. It was nice to be out of the sun and in the cool of the AC.
This was a pretty good way to recover from a jellyfish sting.

Adrienne and Olivia decided to share an ice cream sundae. I'm pretty sure it was Olivia's first one.

McIver saw no reason to share!

Emily and I couldn't just sit by while the kids enjoyed ice cream so we shared an old-fashioned banana split. Tasty!

As you can see, McIver really likes Mark Andrew. The kids all had a great time in the town square area playing with the huge chess board. Olivia wasn't happy that we couldn't get back to the beach, though.

McIver, after 2 failed attempts with 2 other horses, finally was able to feed a horse from his palm. The Tim McGraw wanna-be carriage driver was very nice, even though we refused all of his attempts at slashing his prices to take a carriage ride. It just wasn't in the cards. And, for the record, he was about 50 pounds heavier and 10 teeth shy of looking remotely like Tim McGraw!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Swim Lessons

Olivia and McIver have really love swim lessons so far. The only tough part last week was that their lessons were from 8:30 - 9am and VBS started at 9am. So, we were late every day, but no one seemed to mind.

McIver loved the one-on-one attention from Tim.

Using the kickboard to hold steady while he turns (just his head) to take a breath.

Quick picture break!
Olivia and Katie discussing the plan for FunDay Friday lessons - going off the diving board. Olivia also told Katie that she really wants to learn how to 'really dive.'
Olivia is a bit advanced for swimming through the hula hoop - but she thought it was great fun.

We have 4 more lessons next week which will be fun.

Lupe Tortilla with the Stricklins

We enjoyed another great dinner at Lupe's with the Stricklins last night. As always, the kids ate their dinners, picked their ice cream from the big cooler (which is now under lock and key - they must have had some ice cream disappear in the last few months), and then retired to the sandbox while the grown-ups ate dinner.

We snagged our usual table in the bar area right next to the sandbox so we could keep an eye on the kids. We missed having Sam there, but he has been spending the week with his grandmother enjoying some one-on-one time with her. Olivia, Abby and McIver took their own bowl of chips to the rail to watch the other kids play while they waited for their supper.

We didn't actually hear them discuss it, but there seemed to be some sort of contest to see who could be the messiest when eating the ice cream. The girls just managed to have lots of ice cream drip down the front of their shirts and into their laps.
McIver may have won b/c of this move - putting the racecar popsicle behind his head resulted in ice cream in his hair. After icecream, the girls got busy building a bridge along one of the benches. Good this Wednesday isn't too busy of a night - no one needed the seats.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

River Oaks Country Club

Olivia and I took McIver to his friend's birthday party at River Oaks Country Club this afternoon. It was our first time there and the kids loved it. There's a high dive!! It only took McIver about 4 seconds to take his first jump. I think it would have taken Olivia a lot longer if McIver hadn't already gone first. They each jumped about 20 times, at least!