Saturday, February 28, 2009

Signed Contract on a house in Columbia

Will brought home the final contract for our house in Columbia. We signed and initialed everything and he took the contract to the hospital this morning so he can fax it back to Andy. By the way, if you need a realtor in Columbia, SC, Andy Walker (Bollin, Ligon, Walker) is your man. He showed us exactly what we asked him to - didn't go 'just above' our price range (until Will asked him to!), was patient, let us talk his ear off, worked with our time table, filled us in on each of the neighborhoods and more.

I know it's not technically our house until we close on May 1, but every time we went back to it (3 times in 3 days during our trip to Columbia last weekend), it started to feel more and more like home. We both started imagining our furniture in each room. For the record, many of the rooms will be quite stark for a good little while . . . good news is that on rainy days, the kids can ride their scooters in the house!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Trail Riders

The Los Vaqueros Trail Riders stopped by McIver's school again this year. Trail Riders come from all over Texas to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo every year. They spend the night together in Memorial Park and then ride through town to the rodeo at Reliant Arena/Stadium. I think one of the Trail Riders attends Westbury so his group comes through our neighborhood and visit several schools along the way.

This year, they must have been ahead of schedule because they stopped for a pretty long visit. They sent a truck with huge speakers ahead of them and a cowgirl sang Rocky Top and a few other songs while we waited for the horses and covered wagons to come in.

McIver was so excited, he had to sit down.
One of the covered chuck wagons filled with trail riders. Some kids even get to miss school to be part of the tradition - very cool!

I love my little cowboy!

McIver was excited to be able to pet a horse named Daisy. His friend Helen has a little sister named Daisy so that was just the 'funniest thing ever!'

He even was allowed to climb into a saddle for a quick picture.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Rodeo time in Houston

You can feel the buzz in the air. Tomorrow is "Go Texan" Day for all of Houston. McIver's school held their annual Rodeo Parade this morning. Here's McIver all decked out in his cowboy attire - hat, shirt, boots and bandana. For the record, Olivia did not approve of the green bandana because it doesn't 'go,' but McIver didn't care because it's more 'boyish.'

McIver with his horse, Silver, in the chuck wagon in his classroom.
Mid-gallop around the classroom. Check out those ears!

McIver's self-portrait

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kuk Sool Testing

McIver tested for his next belt in KukSool last Saturday. He was so excited - this is his third belt and he just loves the class.

Showing off his 'horse stance.'
"Right Palm Strike'

All of the Little Dragons go up to the front of the room (where about 100 people are there either testing for their own belts or watching friends/family), to receive their new belts. It's quite the production. This belt ceremony was really special because there were about 7 people earning their black belts. Each group did a little demo for the entire crowd. McIver especially liked the acrobatics - and thought it was pretty cool to get to watch his own instructors demonstrate sparring.

This is one of his instructors - she has been there both times that he has tested. She has so much energy and is great at keeping the students focused even when the rest of the room is full of other people doing some really cool stuff.

This is one of McIver's weekly instructors. He's there every Monday when we go to class. He's the one who did all the sparring and jumping, etc. during the demos.

Valentine's Parties

Friday, February 13 was one of those mom days when it would have been great to have been able to clone myself. McIver's Valentine's Party was from 11am - 1pm. Olivia's was from 12:30 - 1:30pm. McIver's class has tons of parent volunteers, but Olivia's class does not. Thankfully, their schools are just a few blocks from each other so I was able to attend both parties for part of the time.

McIver's party started out with some books and songs. McIver was glad to have me there and even smiled for this picture.

After a Chic-Fil-A lunch, the games started. Each participant (moms and dads included!) got a small dollop of vaseline on their noses. We separated into boys vs. girls. The first person in line got a small heart to stick on his nose. Then they were supposed to race around a cone and back and pass the heart to the next person. McIver didn't like that idea AT ALL, but he had insisted on being first in line. One of the moms got him with a bit of Vaseline so he spent the next few minutes of the party in the corner like this, crying. He was totally doing it to get attention (which didn't really work out for him). The only attention he ended up getting was me telling him that I had to leave to go to Olivia's party.

Olivia, on the other hand, had a blast at her party. It was on a much smaller scale activity-wise, but the sheer number of kids (24 in her class) made it a bit chaotic. They decorated Valentine bags and passed out Valentine's, graphed candy hearts and had a special Valentine snack.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentines is "for the birds"

Saw another activity in Family Fun magazine that we thought would be fun. We added a few tablespoons of water and flour to a cup of birdseed and then filled up heart-shaped cookie cutters. Baked for about an hour, then threaded the yarn through to make a birdseed/heart ornament for our birds. Most of them fell apart, but we managed to save these two to give to our neighbors. We sprinkled the remains of the others on our fence and the birds and squirrels have gobbled them up all day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Flu

Olivia has it - Flu B . . . even though we got the flu shot (well, Olivia and I got the flu mist, but McIver chose the shot) which contains Flu B. Anyway, she came home from school on Monday a little more tired than usual and didn't immediately tell me that she was starving. We took McIver to Kuk Sool and after she finished her homework, she told me, "You know, I have to close my eyes when I turn my head or else it hurts." RED FLAG - RED FLAG! Her temperature was 102.8 when we got home so I gave her some Tylenol and put her to bed early.

The fever was still there yesterday morning and she said her chest hurt a little bit, so I called the doctor to see if there was anything else I should be doing. We took her in, they swabbed her nose and ran the flu test. She has it. After stopping at Super Target, Kroger and Randalls, we finally found a pharmacy that had Relenza in stock. It is supposed to shorten the flu virus if it's started within 24 -48 hours of onset. They also gave us a 'prophylactic prescription' for the rest of us - it's a smaller dosage and should help keep us from picking up anything from Olivia.

Olivia woke up this morning with no fever. In fact, she's busy cleaning our her drawers right now. And, she's looking forward to going back to school tomorrow.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Solar S'mores

Olivia only had a half-day of school yesterday so we invited a bunch of friends to join us at the playground after early dismissal. In all my cleaning out to get ready for the move, I found an old magazine page with directions on how to make Solar S'mores. Since we had a pizza box in the fridge, we decided to give it a try.

Here's our oven...
Here's our oven at the playground waiting for the sun to come out from behind a huge cloud. All the kids (and it seemed like there were 100s of them!) were interested in our little contraption. It was all we could do to be nice, yet firm, and let the other kids know that they were welcome to look at the s'mores and make bets on how long it would take to 'cook' them, but they were not going to be partaking. Some of them just didn't understand why a complete stranger would not give them food.

I was glad that I read the directions all the way through because it said that it might take as long as an hour for the s'mores to start to melt. The temperature in the box did rise and the chocolate melted just enough to be messy. Our crew thought it was a very tasty treat!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Show & Tell

The Monkey Class studied the letter P last week and decided to turn their classroom into a Pet Shop. Kids brought all kinds of stuffed animals to the class along with other things that you might find in a pet shop - cash register, leashes, carriers, food, etc. They even decided how much each pet would cost - goldfish came in with the highest price tag - $100.

McIver decided that Murphy should make an appearance, so, after an expensive trip to the vet to be sure he's up to date on his shots, Murphy trotted right into the classroom like he has been there every day. He was a complete gentleman and let the children love on him. There was one little girl who was not particularly interested in Murphy (she fell when McIver had him on the leash b/c she was trying to get away), but Mrs. Hunter convinced her to touch Murphy's ear. He was so sweet and she ended up coming back for more Murphy-dog love.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Children's Museum

McIver and I had lunch with Olivia at school yesterday and then went to The Children's Museum. The new Water Works exhibit had opened and the weather was perfect so McIver went to town with all of the new activities. He made boats, played in the fountains, made waves and tornadoes and more.

Here he is putting the boat through all of the locks. I don't think I did a very good job of explaining how the locks system works, but he didn't seem to care.

Recycle Center

McIver loves, loves, loves to go to the recycle center. He has been out of school the last few days because of parent-teacher conferences and a conference that the teachers from his school attend. So, we finally found time to take the bottles from the Oyster Roast to the recycle center.

There were lots to be sent down the chute.

We were lucky enough to be there when the front-end loader was scooping up plastics and dumping them into the crusher. McIver could have watched for hours. He moved our stool back and forth so he didn't miss a thing and made friends (of course!) with the guy who was scooping up the overflow of plastic. The guy even opened up the door to the crushing machine so that McIver could see what was happening inside.

Eat Your Carrots

I just told McIver he had to eat his carrots from dinner before he could have an ice cream treat. He's been really good lately about eating, or at least trying - without crying!, everything on his plate. He hung his head, sat down at his plate and mumbled to himself, "I wish I had my rabbit."

He has been saving up his money for a pet rabbit for months now - I tried to get the PetSmart guy in my corner, but he told McIver that rabbits are "only $20." McIver got a $20 from Grandma Janet for Christmas so he thinks he's all set. I have to keep reminding him that rabbits are a lot of work, that he has to buy a hutch and food and pay for vet visits as well. He's still saving. I just don't have the heart to tell him that a rabbit is not in the cards for the Merritts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Olivia's reading

I caught Olivia reading all by herself last night of her own volition! She was reading Arthur's Birthday Surprise and doing a great job. I have always loved reading to both Olivia and McIver and like to think that I'm good at it. I try to give each character his own voice and really get into the stories. Olivia was doing the same thing last night - she used lots of inflection and even re-read certain sentences when she realized that she had used the wrong voice or wrong inflection.

Just saw a book on Amazon called I'm Not Moving, Mama, along with a host of other move-related books. Maybe I should stock up for Valentine's and Easter gifts since it appears that we might have more issues with our move from Houston back to SC than we did with our move to Houston four years ago.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Visit with Tiffany & Anderson Horne

Tiffany and Anderson were in Texas visiting family last week. We were so glad to be invited to a 'sip and see' for their Baby Henry. It was great to catch up with them and the kids loved the chance to hold and entertain Henry.

End of Stanford Celebration

Olivia spent 5 days of the last 10 at school taking the Stanford tests. She had finished several practice tests over the Christmas holiday so she was prepared and not at all nervous. To celebrate the end of testing, McIver and I decided it would be fun to surprise Olivia with a trip to the doughnut shop (Shipley Donuts) after school last Tuesday. Olivia chose a chocolate-filled doughnut while McIver opted for orange icing with sprinkles (because he still insists he doesn't like chocolate).