Thursday, January 29, 2009

Smart Cars have many uses

McIver and I saw a Smart Car on the way to church this afternoon. He told me that if there were two of them, a giant could stick his feet inside and they would be roller skates. I think he's right.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What I Learned This Week (A Carnival)

One of the blogs I read just about every day - Musings of a Housewife - has started a "What I Learned This Week" carnival. I thought it might be fun to participate since my life is about to get crazy busy with prepping the house to sell, house-hunting, and trying to keep some sense of normalcy for Olivia and McIver. I also think it will be nice to have to slow down enough each week to think about what is going on, rather than just pressing through each day. Plus, each participant is entered in a drawing to win a great casserole dish with a stand (just what I need - something else to pack!). So, here's what I learned this week:

Hot tea with lemons really does make a scratchy throat feel better. I seem to have lost my voice sometime after the Oyster Roast on Saturday night. Yesterday, I sat down with a big cup of hot tea and took it easy for a little while (taking a break from madly trying to organize my closet, which is a task I will get back to later today). It worked - my voice isn't back yet, but it felt really good to just slow down and enjoy a cup of tea.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Palmer ECW Oyster Roast

We hosted the 3rd Palmer ECW Oyster Roast at our house last Saturday night. The Oyster Roast is a sociable at the Christmas Luncheon & Auction in December and we had about 40 guests join us. It costs $30 per person to attend so we raised $1200 for the ECW who will then give it to various ministries within the church. We had roasted, raw, deep fried and champagne oysters and Beaufort Stew. Each host couple also brings an appetizer and dessert, so there's plenty of food for everyone.

The Hosts:
Gay & Don Stricklin, Will and Nikki, Mindy & Mark Notley, Stacey & Scott Butler
(Not pictured: Wendy Wight & Jim Meyn, Julie & Darrin Schlegel)

Olivia was under the weather all day on Saturday so she spent the evening in our bed watching movies. McIver had the DVD player in his room and stayed holed up in there for the most part. He did make a few appearances early in the evening and then much later in the evening (in every costume in his dress-up bucket!).

The best part of the night, by far, for McIver was that Father Sam was at our house and came in to say hello before he left! McIver showed Father Sam every lovie on his bed and gave him a huge hug - before he turned back to his movie.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

McIver's new trick

McIver has (finally!) learned to roll his tongue. Might not seem like a big deal, but he has watched Cacoo and Olivia flaunt this particular trick and it has driven him CRAZY. He's very proud of himself!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


We met a few friends at Blanco's for a night out last Friday. (It is entirely appropriate that the link takes you to!) Blanco's is a great honky-tonk-ish type place with a great mix of people from the fancy schmancy to the true cowboy. And, I love that Happy Hour starts at 11am every day. We had been before with Gay & Don, but it was the night of an afternoon chili-cook-off so there was no band. Friday night, we enjoyed live music and had a great time!

The obligatory parking-lot picture before we even went in.

Will & Don at our 'reserved' spot at the bar. Apparently, all you have to do to reserve a spot is write 'reserved for Merritts' on a napkin. That's what we did after seeing lots of other reserved areas with no one even around. People totally took us seriously when we told them our spot was reserved and pointed to our napkin!
The girls - Gay, Nikki, Wendy & Mindy
Wendy & Jim - Nikki & Will

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

McIver's Move-related melt-down

McIver had his first (and I pray only!) move-related melt-down today at school. He was crying when his teacher brought him to the car. She told me that she thought it had something to do with our move to Columbia this summer. When I pulled the car over to ask him what was going on, he told me, "I don't want to move. I'm going to miss my friends."

When I pulled him on to my lap, he also told me that they "played an Octopus game today where Mrs. Jean was an octopus and we were all seahorses and she tagged me and I had to turn to seaweed so I lost." So, then I wasn't really sure what the actual problem was.

He climbed in his car seat and got all buckled in and wimpered all the way home like a little puppy. He told me, again, that he didn't want to move because he would miss his friends. I reminded him that he already has a few friends in Columbia (the Isemans and McKains) and that it will be so fun to make new friends at his new school. He seemed okay with that and then told me that "a little tv will make me feel better; and maybe some oranges and some orange juice." Then he said, "But I just want to see Amelia and JuliAnna." It was all running together so I'm still not sure what the actual problem was. The poor little guy just has a lot on his mind and stream-of-consciousness talking seemed to be the best way for him to work it all out.

He was fine the rest of the afternoon as he watched "a little tv" and played with friends at church. But, tonight when I went in to check on him, he was still awake and wimpering again when I went into his room. He told me he's still sad about moving and got out an old board book we have about babies. He turned to the page with the 'sad' babies and told me that's how he feels.

The Monkey Class, McIver's class at school, is talking about the letter O this week. They have lots of great Olympic activities planned and have also been talking about Occupations. McIver was surprised to learn that his teachers both had other jobs before becoming teachers. He has always talked about wanting to be a construction worker when he grows up. He has also mentioned marine biologist and paleontologist as possible jobs. But, before we left for school this morning, he told me that he wants to be a magician when he grows up and he knows that there's a 'special school where I can learn magical tricks.' Then, when we were in the car, he told me he wants to be an astronaut. I assured him that if he studies hard, he can be whatever he wants to be. I told him that Cacoo has been to space camp in Huntsville, AL. He told me that was silly - 'space camp is on Mars!' Then he got really quiet.

I asked him what was wrong and he told me: I'm just so confused. I can't even decide what to be when I grow up!

See... I told you he has a lot going on in that little mind of his!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Last night, Olivia read The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings to me. It starts out with Sister Bear going to a friend's house and coming home complaining that she doesn't have as many "Bearbie" dolls as the friend. I told Olivia that I was proud of her for going to friends' houses and enjoying their things, but not coming home and complaining about the things she doesn't have (like a Wii, a trampoline or a new puppy). She said, "Yeah, like Shannon. She has a TV in her room." I shrugged my shoulders and reminded her that that was not going to happen in our house. She replied, "I know, that's why I don't even talk about it."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, New Food

We haven't thought a lot about New Years Resolutions for 2009. Something tells me we're going to be plenty busy without trying to follow self-imposed rules. But, one thing we did decide to do is to follow through on our family rule that the children should try one bite of each food on their plates. And, there will be consequences for not doing so.

McIver went two days without television because he refused to try one single kernel of corn pudding. Olivia tasted it and ended up eating 2 servings, but that would not sway McIver.

Today, I found a dog-eared page of a 'kid-friendly' recipe for Confetti Veggie Pancakes in an old Rachel Ray magazine. So, I gave it a try. McIver ate two as a snack and a 3rd with dinner. He gives it a thumbs up!

And, oh my stars, it has ZUCCHINI in it. I didn't dare tell him what was in it until after he told me he liked it and began scarfing down the second one. When I told him all of the veggies in it, he told me "of course I'll like it, I love zucchini."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Twas the Night Before School

We made plans for a busy, busy day today. We met Sam and Isabelle and their nanny, Sue, at BounceU for a few hours of bounce-house fun and then made our way to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch and more playing. (Sam goes to McIver's school and Isabelle is a few grades older than Olivia but goes to the same school.) Olivia ended up going home with Isabelle to play for a few hours while McIver and I came home to rest and get ready for Kuk Sool. The idea was to take advantage of our last day of Christmas vacation and wear the kids out so they'd be tired enough to fall asleep at a reasonable hour tonight.

Olivia decided to invite McIver to spend the night in her 'hotel.' She set up 6 of his lovies, turned down his covers and even gave him an old hotel room key to get in the room. It's cold tonight, so she also provided plenty of extra blankets for each of them.

Here's Olivia, snug as a bug.

McIver - with all of his accoutrements.

This may be the reason for the invitation. McIver received a "rainbow in my room" for Christmas. If you look closely, you might be able to make out the rainbow. Olivia has asked McIver on several occasions if she can borrow it for a night, but he has politely declined. I guess she figured it's legit if he's sleeping in her room, too.

This is what the contraption looks like. We just turn it on, turn out the lights and the rainbow appears on the ceiling and/or wall. McIver loves it - and will keep his light turned off just to be able to see it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Years Eve - U2charist at Palmer

Happy New Year!! We started our New Years Eve celebration at church this year. Palmer hosted Houston's first-ever U2charist. According to Wikipedia, a U2charist is "a communion service, or Eucharist, accompanied by U2 songs in lieu of traditional hymns and sometimes as part or all of the service music... The U2charist seeks to raise awareness of the MDGs and call people worldwide to a deeper faith and engagement with God's mission."

It was AMAZING and I can't think of a better way to finish up 2008 and ring in 2009. The church was packed with both Palmers and visitors - the U2charist had been in an article in the Houston Chronicle earlier in the week.

We had agreed to be ushers for the U2charist. Will ended up not making it at all, but Olivia and McIver did a great job of handing out "Jesus Rocks 12.31.08" buttons, bulletins and earplugs.
It took Olivia a little while, but she finally started having fun. This is Jeff, a friend and Palmer, so he was a familiar face for her to welcome.

McIver was a bit aggressive in his passing out of buttons and earplugs. We had to keep reminding him not to stand in the middle of the narthex because there was quite a traffic jam.
Really, the church was packed! It felt as crowded to me as it did at the Family Service on Christmas Eve. There was a 'choir' of high-school/college-aged kids wearing "One" t-shirts and dancing around in the front of the church with the hopes of encouraging others to join in. Turns out that wasn't necessary. The lyrics, along with photographs and statistics about the Episcopal Church's Millenium Development Goals, were flashed on a huge screen at the front of the church. As soon as the music started, people were on their feet singing and dancing.
Olivia loved helping to usher. Together, we carried the bread up to the altar for eucharist. She also assisted with the collection plate and ushering during communion. She took her job very seriously and I could tell she was proud to be helping. I think it was a night that she will not soon forget!
This was one of the last slides. It just made me smile!
There was a reception on the Patio at Palmer after the service. The weather was great so a lot of folks stayed to enjoy it. We left in a bit of a hurry, though, because they didn't have much kid-friendly food, Olivia was cold and McIver had escaped onto the balcony and was yelling out to the entire patio, "Does anybody want a knuckle sandwich?"
When we got home, Will still wasn't home from the hospital. We put on our pajamas and curled up in front of 4-1 (that's Merritt for The Disney Channel) to ring in the New Year. We watched the countdown on Disney as they showed The Wizards of Waverly Place, which actually is a show that I enjoy. Will came home at some point and went straight to bed. Then, when it was almost 11:00, midnight EST, we flipped to a news channel to watch the ball drop in Times Square. The kids, who were none the wiser, loved it, felt like they saw something special and then we all went to bed.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

McIver's favorite Christmas gift

This is the enclyclopedia that the kids received from Santa this year. McIver told me yesterday that it was his very favorite of all his presents. And, he really, really loves just about every single gift that he opened this year - the Hot Wheels race track has provided hours of fun so far, the money jar has been emptied and filled more times than I can count, and I've learned more about snakes than I ever cared to know thanks to a book he received from a friend.

THIS is his favorite page - pirates, of course.

Murphy even got a fancy, ergonomically correct food & water bowl for Christmas. Charlotte had taken to drinking out of his old bowl so the thought crossed my mind that she would not be pleased with Murphy's good fortune. She proved me wrong, though, and figured out a way...

A Day with the Stricklin kids

The Stricklins are busy packing up for another Hurricane Ike-induced move - this time from the rental house to a hotel until the renovations and repairs are complete on their home. So, Abby & Sam joined us for the day on Tuesday. We started off with lunch, then went to Flippin Out, the bounce place in Pearland. Then we headed home to play and relax.

Olivia - all decked out with her new sunglasses and my pocketbook and iPhone.
Abby & Olivia at lunch

Abby & Olivia on one of the blow-up slides.
The boys were too busy running from one end to the other, or bouncing up and down, to stop for a picture. So, you'll just have to imagine two loud little blong haired boys running at full-speed for 2 hours.