Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Or, just an excuse to take more pictures with my new camera!

Olivia writing thank you notes.  Thanks, Jane, for the notecards - she loves them!

Shh!  Rock Star is sleeping.  Also, please note that everyone has a pass code (there is a 'keypad' on her door) so that we can only enter with permission.  Thanks, Aunt Kelli and Uncle Robert!

It's really hard to get a good picture of Tex these days.  He's on the move - and has figured out that he's still small enough to escape the dog run.  For the most part, though, all he does is run next door to play with Skittles.  At least I know where he is, but it does drive us all crazy.  He's sporting his new tag with his name and our address and phone number.

How cute is he!?  Doesn't it look like he's smiling for the camera?

Sunday night we went to a party for a friend from Sewanee who grew up in Columbia but now lives in New Orleans.  As we left, Olivia spotted the hula hoops and had to show off her moves.  McIver, on the other hand, still needs some practice.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More Christmas Day

I just realized that I had a few pictures from Christmas morning on the old camera.

Olivia woke up first and raced downstairs to see if Santa came.  We told her she couldn't go in the den unless McIver was awake, too.  So, she barged into his room and woke him up.  It didn't take long for him to wake up, but he wasn't 'with it' until he got into the den.  Here they are coming downstairs to see if Santa came.

Olivia showing off the new DSi and Wizards of Waverly Place game.  It looks like it's really early in the morning if you peek outside the window, but it was after 8am and the rain was really coming down.

McIver was still a little bit sleepy but willing to show off the new animal bracelets from Santa.

Dargan-Ervin Winter Games

Ginny's family has invited us to The Games (Winter is the day after Christmas and Summer is July 4th) every year, but we've never been able to make it.  This is the side of the family where McIver's name comes from.  EVERYone there knew exactly how to pronounce his name!  Now that we're back in SC, we decided to give it a try.  The weather was gorgeous as we packed up the kids to go to Effingham, just outside of Florence, about an hour and a half away.

On the agenda for the day:  Tug of War, Horseshoes, target and trap shooting, chicken chasing, pig chasing, guinea chasing, turkey shoot, corn shucking and a corn cob fight.

As we drove, I couldn't help taking a picture of Olivia and McIver enjoying their new DSi's from Santa. At one point, Olivia leaned up toward the front seat and asked, "Mama, aren't you glad we're playing our new games and not aggravating you?"  Guess I need to hide my frustration a little better when we get the dreaded "Are we there yet?" questions.

McIver jumped right into the Tug-of-War.  He needed a little bit of help on his side, but he dug his boots in and slid all around while the other team pulled him across the line.

He also thought the corn kernel getter-offer was pretty cool.  You had to shuck the corn by hand and then put it through the thing, so I'm not really sure what else to call it.

This old oak tree was THE COOLEST!!  It had a lots of ropes to help you climb into it, a slide, a zip line and a tree house, not to mention just being big enough to climb around and get lost in.  It took them a little while to figure out how to get to the zip line, but once they did, they could have stayed there for hours upon hours.  They're already looking forward to going back to the tree next year.

Tex was right at home in the skeet-shooting field.  He didn't even flinch at the sound of the gunshots.  I'm not sure if Will ever hit a skeet (is that the correct singular?), but I can confirm that I was WAY off the mark when I gave it a try.  Good news is that my arm wasn't sore the next day since I only tried once.

That was one tired puppy at the end of the day!

They had a target shooting area set up for the little kids.  Both Olivia and McIver had their first try at holding and shooting a BB gun.  (Our neighbor got one for Christmas so I'm sure it won't be long before they try again.)  The prize for the best shot was a live turkey.  According to the invitation, "winner must take home turkey.  Turkeys may run loose in the yard much like a pet dog.  They make excellent pets. You will be the envy of all your neighbors."  Thankfully, our kids missed the target entirely so we weren't in any danger of bringing home a pet turkey.

This would have been the new pet turkey.

After the target shooting, Will took McIver over to the skeet shooting area.  He had a blast trying to hit the skeet and even tried his hand at the skeet-shooting machine, too.  (Again, I apologize for not knowing the correct terminology!)

All in all, it was a great day.  I'm not sure we'll be able to make the Summer Games, but I hope that we can add the Winter Games to our family Christmas tradition.  Next year, I'll need to remember to bring a few extra layers of clothes and the extra memory card for my camera.  We'll also know to bring some food that is more 'kid-friendly' than the pig pickin' that was offered.  Olivia and McIver were totally grossed out by the pig on the fire.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Day

Olivia and McIver didn't wake up until 8 o'clock on Christmas morning.  Will and I had time to wake up and get ourselves together (make coffee, check email/Facebook, etc.) before the craziness began.  The children were glad to see that they each had a Nintendo DSi from Santa and stockings full of candy, underwear (doesn't Santa bring underwear to every kid!?), animal bracelets and more.

It was raining BUCKETS on Christmas morning, so we were actually glad that the children did not receive new bikes or scooters for Christmas.  Poor Tex felt stranded, though, when he tried to get over into the neighbors' yard because the puddle was so big.  We tried to convince him that he's a water dog, but it was to no avail ... he whimpered and cried until Will got him and brought him inside.

Will surprised me with a new camera!  He said now he won't grumble every time I ask him to hold the camera for me.  It's small enough to fit in my ski jacket when we go skiing next month so I won't have fuzzy  pictures this year.  This is the first picture I took with the new camera.

McIver showing off his new kicks.  (It's really doesn't do them justice if you can't see how holey and ripped up his old shoes were!)

Olivia gave McIver an animal book that she picked out all by herself.  When she saw it, she told me she knew he would love it because it was non-fiction.  McIver wins for best quote of the day when he opened the book:  Wow, Olivia;  you know I love non-fiction!  Guess she was right.

Do you think Olivia's excited for the new Uno Flash game!?  Thanks, Andrew P., we'll love playing this together.  Another fun game was from Nanoo - Frazzled.  It's a little much for McIver, but the rest of us love it.

Will's godparents had given us a set of Christmas pancake molds.  It took a few attempts, but everyone enjoyed snowman, elf and snowflake pancakes for breakfast.

Ginny, Jimmy and Mamoo joined us for a late, late lunch.  We got dinner in the oven and then opened gifts.  Mamoo received some great family pictures - she's holding up one of Amelia in this picture.

After the gift-opening hullabaloo, we sat down to a delicious dinner.  Will made his goat-cheese-pesto-stuffed pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes.  We also had Ginny's butter beans, rolls and yummy desserts left-over from Pop's office party in Macon (red velvet cake, 4-layer keylime cake and chocolate layer cake).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve

All dressed and ready to go to the Christmas Eve service at Mamoo's church.  The service was great - exactly 30 minutes start to finish.  It was a live nativity with scripture readings.  My favorite part was We Three Kings when each king sang a solo and then was joined by the congregation.

McIver loves the Santa ornament that Grandma Janet gave him.

Making the reindeer food so Santa can find our house.

After church, Mamoo, GranGran and GranDaddy came over to our house for a visit.  We had been invited to a drop-in in our neighborhood so they didn't stay long.  Mamoo just loves Tex and welcomed him on to the sofa with her.

We had a good time at the drop-in, hosted by our neighbor's mom who lives just around the corner.   We were able to meet some more neighbors and the kids had a chance to play with Harry and Kate (we had not seen them all last week).  The only problem occurred when it was time to go.  I noticed McIver's cup and asked what he had been drinking - he laughed very manically and pronounced that he had had 4 (FOUR!) cups of Coke.  Surprisingly, once we got home, dressed for bed and read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Twas the Night Before Christmas, he settled down pretty easily.  (Or maybe it was the threat that Santa wouldn't come in if anyone was awake!)

Christmas in Macon

We had just one night at home to unpack and repack for our trip to Macon.  We weren't in too big of a rush which was nice considering all of the activity of the weekend.  Nanoo & Pop had big plans for us while we were in Macon - dinner out one night at a (tasty!) Mexican restaurant, Christmas dinner, Pop's office party and Will & me 'crashing' their supper club.  Will spent part of one day with the children while I took Grandma Janet clothes shopping.  They tried out the children's museum in Macon and were very underwhelmed.  It's hard to beat the Children's Museum of Houston and EdVenture here in Columbia.  Will also took McIver to the golf course for a quick round. McIver came home telling all kinds of stories about how well he did.

Will took advantage of his free time by building a huge fire in Pop's outside fireplace and turning on whatever sporting event he could find on ESPN.  (Truth be told, we also watched some Fox News and discussed how to fix the healthcare system; much to Olivia's dismay, we did NOT watch Nickelodean or the Disney Channel.)  We loved sitting by the pool and listening to the waterfall combined with the crackling of the fire.

Meet Pepper - This is the dog that Nanoo and Cacoo rescued from the pound about 5 years ago when Cacoo requested dog/cat food instead of gifts for her 12th birthday party.  Pepper is part Australian Shepherd and was NOT a fan of Tex.  All he wanted to do was play, but she's just a tad too skittish for such a small puppy.  She was also jealous that Tex could still fit through the cat door and go in and out at his discretion while she had to sit and wait for someone to let her in.

Had a quick visit with Grandma Myrtle on Tuesday afternoon.  She gave McIver a set of walkie talkies that have been so much fun.  He and Olivia played with them all over Nanoo & Pop's woodsy backyard.

One little elf just couldn't wait to get into those packages under Nanoo's tree.

Grandma Janet sported one of her new outfits when she joined us for Christmas dinner.

Olivia helped Nanoo set up the snow village before Pop's office came over for their party.  I had a picture of Nanoo, but she was in her PJs and would not appreciate y'all seeing that.  Olivia also helped vaccuum, sweep and get the rest of the house ready for the 60+ people who came for the party.

We stopped in Augusta for a quick visit with Ashley and Mark on our way back to Columbia on Christmas Eve.  Helen Randall was asleep so we missed seeing her.

Pony & Pizza Party

Tupp's mom, Bonnie, and several of her girlfriends invite their children and grandchildren out to Bonnie's house for a Christmas party.  This was their 4th year.  Bonnie was kind enough to invite us to join them this year.  So, we left Myrtle Beach and went straight to Bonnie's house.  Tex was in dog heaven because there were so many dogs for him to play with.

The kids ate pizza and then played outside, mostly in the hammock, until it was time to get the ponies saddled up.  A set of twin brothers was there - one of them is in Olivia's class at school so it didn't take her long to find someone to play with.

McIver tried to get me to believe he was too tired to ride a pony.  He was totally faking!

It's not as easy as just putting on the saddle and taking off - first, you have to clean the pony.

I was really proud of Olivia for stepping up to get the job done.  She's going to camp this summer and I bet she chooses horseback as one of her activities now that she's been one of Bonnie's helpers.

The kids drew numbers to see who got to go first.  They were all very patient.  Olivia even got to go over the jump a few times.

McIver acted like he knew exactly what he was doing.  The kid has no fear, but he wouldn't listen to Bonnie when she tried to tell him which foot to put in the stirrup to climb up.  He almost ended up backwards on Candyman.

While the parents sat around, ate and visited, the grands took the kids upstairs to do some crafts.  That's my kind of party!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Breakfast with Santa

GranGran made a reservation for us at Croissants in Myrtle Beach to have Breakfast with Santa.  Amelia was all smiles until she realized Santa was coming.  When I tried to convince her to tell Santa that I would like new pajamas for Christmas, she told me, "When I grow up I'll be Santa Claus and I'll give you new pajamas."  In other words, you can either tell him yourself or wait until I'm a grown up because there's NO WAY I'm going to talk to that man!

Olivia and McIver didn't have any problem telling Santa what was on their Christmas list.

We almost had all the grands in the picture.  Amelia wasn't happy about being in it, but she was okay since Olivia was between her and Santa.  JuliAnna was not at all interested in getting that close to Santa.

The cookie case, however, was another story.  The cookies were too pretty to eat!

McIver FINALLY got to hold Baby Jenna (4 months old).  He loves that little baby girl!

Christmas in Myrtle Beach

Olivia loves to take the golf cart for a spin whenever we go to Myrtle Beach.  I'm finally getting more relaxed when she takes the wheel!  (But I'm still glad we have 8 more years to get used to the idea of hr driving a car.)

While Will and his brother played golf, I took the kids to the beach.  Ding-dang, it was COLD!!!  We were too nervous to let Tex off the leash.  (If you look closely, you can see that Olivia is holding Tex.)  He's big enough (and smart enough) now to make it hard for us to catch him if he decides to run off.  None of us could stand the cold for too long, though, so it probably wouldn't have been a problem.

We gave Amelia a new Nativity set to play with.  She lined up the shepherds and kings and had them all saying, "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!"

Our last attempt at a golf cart ride was foiled by a flat tire.  I just love those happy faces!