Friday, October 30, 2009

No Bones About It...

Olivia loves school. Her original teacher is out on maternity leave until after Christmas but she's having a great time with the long-term substitute and the associate teacher. She came home several days this week talking about all the bones in the body and how they were making bones in their classroom. I stumbled across these 'skeletons' on campus the other day and realized that this was what she had been working on.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Neighborhood Halloween Party

Have I mentioned how great our neighborhood is!? We were invited to a Neighborhood Halloween Block Party on Sunday afternoon. It was wonderful - we saw lots of people that we already know and met even more. The kids had a blast just running around playing and eating.

Surprise, Surprise! McIver is Dan - the main character in the Bakugan cartoon. It was all I could do to convince him not to take all of his Bakugans to the party. Here he is showing off the BakuSphere he received from a friend. Now he has a space for every single Bakugan and card that he owns.

I was glad that Olivia decided to be Miley Cyrus for Halloween. She waffled back and forth between being Miley and being a witch. But, let me tell you, the witch costumes are not appropriate for an 8 year old. So, she opted for one of Cacoo's old dance costumes. They're sitting beside the giant pumpkin that we carved last week (and by 'we' I mean 'me' - if you look closely, you can see Olivia's design, but once she finished with the design, she took off to do more interesting things).

Miley & Pippy Longstocking (I need to introduce Olivia to Pippy Longstocking - I was embarrassed that she had no idea who she was!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

McIver's Birthday Celebration(s)

McIver on his way into Chapel. Each week we sing Happy Birthday to the children who have had birthdays since the last chapel. He loved being up front with the other birthday children.

Eyeing his birthday dessert at Forest Lake. We didn't have our same waitress, but she was there and came over to wish McIver a Happy Birthday.

McIver's bowling birthday party was a lot of fun. We invited his whole class but I didn't have high hopes for many children to be able to attend since there was a USC home game the same day. But, it turned out that only 3 children we not able to make it so we had quite a crowd. I didn't think I'd have to 'work' so hard, but I ended up needing to supervise one of the lanes. So, I handed Olivia the camera and told her to go to town. Here are a few shots she took for me.

McIver hitting the lanes.

All of the children signed the bowling pin for McIver at the end of the party. It's a great souvenir.

And, of course, a Bakugan cake. The Pig didn't have a 'standard' Bakugan cake, but the bakery lady knew exactly what Will was trying to order. Will bought some Bakugans and we added them to the cake - it was a big hit with everyone!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rest in Peace, Murphy Dog

Our sweet Murphy died very peacefully on Friday morning. We found out on Wednesday that his bladder cancer had spread up into his chest and lungs so we knew the end was near. Olivia and McIver both told him that they loved him before leaving for school on Friday. They have taken the news pretty matter-of-factly, and still talk about him a lot. When I told Olivia that he had died, she said that she "bet there were dummies raining in Heaven." I bet she's right.

We had an engagement party at our house Friday night for Rhett and Julie. Rhett was in Will's class at Sewanee and was in our wedding. His dog Bandit is Murphy's brother. One of the other hosts of the party owns Murphy's sister. Tupp also hosted the party and was the one who gave Murphy to us as a wedding gift more than 11 years ago. We were all a wreck at the start of the party, but did manage to have a good time. I think the distraction of preparing for the party helped ease the sadness a little on Friday.

Saturday was another busy day - 2 soccer games and McIver's bowling birthday party. Now that we're home and the house is quiet, it's even more noticeable that Murphy is gone. I already miss the piles of dog hair and the sound of his tail thumping on the floor.

Here are a some pictures of Murphy from the last few months.

At McIver's soccer game with Mac & Amelia. He was able to go to most of the children's soccer games this season and he loved it. Any time he heard the clink of his collar and leash, he came running as best he could.

I took this picture July 4th weekend when we first moved back to Columbia. We're so glad that he made it back and was able to see so many friends who have loved him right along with us.
In Jay's pool in Myrtle Beach this summer. He was definitely a Water Dog!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SC State Fair

The children had Monday off from school because of Fall Break so we took advantage of shorter lines and beautiful weather and went to the South Carolina State Fair. Olivia and McIver were both so excited and kept comparing the fair to the Rodeo in Houston (it really doesn't compare at all, but they seemed to think that it was close!). Anyway, we scored our all-day bracelets and hit the midway. We were first in line for the Chinese Dragon roller coaster. It just got better from there...

It was not crowded so I let them run off ahead of me. I wondered what they were talking about, holding hands and skipping like that.
The swings are always fun.
Another roller coaster.
Best treat of the day? Hands down - the Elephant Ear!!!
McIver loved the sand sculpture.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clemson 38 - Wake Forest 3

We had an early morning on Saturday after being up late at the Heathwood game on Friday night. Will's incentive for the children to get up and moving was a quick stop by Dunkin Donuts as we headed out of town to Clemson.

We decided to let McIver open one more birthday gift from us before we left - the Bakugan book which kept him happily entertained for most of the trip.
The weather man got it wrong - again! We were prepared for chilly temperatures, but not the wet chilly air. Had to stop by WalMart on the way to Clemson to buy some rain ponchos. We had great seats (50 yard line - close to the field) for the game so the kids could actually see what was going on on the field, and watch the cadets do their push-ups after every Clemson touchdown, and, of course, the cheerleaders!
Tailgating after the win.
Will's cousin Jimbo was there and entertained the kids for a little while. He's hoping the Clemson blood runs deep for these two since he knows most of Will's family are Gamecock fans.
McIver thought this was a pretty cool car. The trunk was full of woofers so the music was loud and thumping. I'm sure he would have made friends if we let him stop to chat.

Mamoo's Birthday

Mamoo turned 91 yesterday. She's as beautiful as ever and we were glad to be able to join her for a birthday dinner. Since we were going to Garibaldi's (not a place that serves chicken nuggets!), we got a babysitter to stay with Olivia and McIver. But, Mamoo stopped by on her way to the restaurant so that Olivia and McIver could wish her a Happy Birthday.

Olivia Walden Merritt with her namesake (or is it the other way around?)

McIver showing Mamoo the Star Wars Lego figure he put together (it was her birthday gift to him).

Bobby, Mamoo & Jimmy before dinner. We were also joined by Papa's sister, Mary Catherine, and her two children, Becky & Steve and Steve's wife Bonnie. It's very obvious how much Mamoo means to everyone!

Our waiter brought a special dessert for Mamoo, along with a giant candelabra. She was very surprised and, I think, really enjoyed her birthday dinner.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mini Cheerleader

Olivia participated in a three-day mini cheerleader clinic last week after school. The Varsity cheerleaders taught them some cheers and a dance to perform during halftime of the varsity football game on Friday night.

Olivia went home with a friend after school on Friday and met us at the game. She and all of her buddies were hanging out in a special section of the bleachers just for them. She really could not have cared less whether or not we were there. But, she did manage a few smiles for the camera.

On the field at half-time
In the mini-cheerleader cheering section
Olivia with Mary & Emma Lee (I used to babysit Mary when we lived in Columbia - now she's one of our favorite babysitters!)
More cheering from the stands

Saturday, October 17, 2009

McIver's 6th Birthday

Happy 6th Birthday to our precious little boy, McIver! I can't believe that he turns 6 today - and he can't either. He's just been beside himself all day.

The day started with his room being decorated to celebrate his big day. Olivia woke up early so she could help me.
The artist wanted to be in a picture with the Birthday Boy. You can tell she had only been up for a few minutes!
McIver was all smiles when he opened up his gift from Olivia - a Bakugan thermos. (Again with the sideways picture - sorry.)
McIver took cupcakes to school to celebrate today. All of his friends told me they were delicious when I passed them in the hall today (I actually taught today so I saw his class a few times).

Today was a half-day at school and the start of Fall Break. McIver has wanted to walk on the nature trail at school since the day school started. But, Olivia was never interested and the weather was either too hot or too rainy for my taste. Olivia went home with a friend after school so today was the day. McIver was overjoyed when he realized we could take our time checking our spider webs, butterflies, the insides of logs and more.

Here he is at the start of the trail with one of several signs made my students - this one says: No Video Games ... Only Wild Game. Thought that was appropriate for my little guy!
After a quick lunch at home, I took McIver to see Where the Wild Things Are. Sadly, I do not recommend it for little kids. There were some issues that were just too old for him to understand and the relationships between the Wild Things were supposed to reflect the relationship between Max and his family. That went WAY over McIver's head. He just knew that Max ran away and was sad to be away from his mom. McIver AND the Wild Things spent a great deal of the movie with tears in their eyes.

I think I salvaged the afternoon by suggesting that we head to WalMart to choose Halloween costumes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Before & After

FINALLY!!! We 'inherited' a sofa from Nanoo that was torn to shreds by their dog Roxie and a pink club chair that was left behind when GranGran moved into her new house - 5+ years ago. After biding our time and waiting (not so) patiently to see where we would end up using each piece, we finally had them recovered. And, after waiting another week to have them delivered due to the rain we've had lately, I'm excited to show off our latest furniture additions...

The old pink chair...
McIver's new blue chair (there's a faint diamond pattern in the navy blue fabric - still not sure why I can't turn the picture, but you get the idea).

Nanoo's old sunroom sofa...
Olivia's new green sofa (and she's not even home to see it!). Also, check out the lamp that she bought with money sent especially from Grandma Myrtle to buy something for her room.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Singing in Chapel

One of the things we love about Heathwood is that the children go to chapel each week. Now that I'm a teacher in the ECLC (which covers ages 3-6), I get to go to chapel with my students the same time that McIver's class goes. Each division hears the same piece of scripture and a similar age-appropriate sermon each week so we can even talk about it at home. (Last week, the chaplain showed us how much God loves us by pouring water into a glass and letting it overflow. It was a good visual for the children to see just how much He loves us. Truth be told, it was a good reminder for me, too!)

Anyway, today was special because I served as the reader and McIver's class sang for the ECLC division. McIver was able to sit with me and we had a good visit in the middle of a dreary, rainy day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Patch with Amelia

We picked Olivia up from her friend's house after McIver's soccer game. She had been to the Heathwood game on Friday night and was pretty tired. She managed to find the energy to play with Amelia and get dressed for her own soccer game at 1:30. Amelia was a little bit 'over' soccer by that point, though. The rain and her new Princess umbrella from Olivia helped entertain her during the game. Unfortunately, Olivia's team lost even though they played really hard.

On the way home from the game, we stopped by Mamoo's church Pumpkin Patch. Amelia loved it! She raced up and down the rows of pumpkins giggling the whole time.

The sun was a little too bright for a good picture.
This one was just her size!
McIver's pick to bring home.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Soccer Games with Amelia

Aunt Kelli, Uncle Robert and Amelia came to visit Friday night. We went out for a tasty dinner and had a great visit Friday evening. Kelli brought the curtains that GranGran made for our guest room. I'll post pictures of that later. Olivia spent the night with a friend Friday night so Miss Amelia slept in her big girl bed. She did great and was waiting patiently for someone to get her on Saturday morning.

Uncle Robert and Aunt Kelli let Amelia stay with us while they went to the USC v. Kentucky football game. Amelia went to her first soccer games and was a perfect angel. She played with some of Olivia's tiny baby dolls and helped cheer for the Lightning Cats. She even got to kick around the soccer ball for a little while.
Hanging out with McIver during one of his rest periods.

Playing soccer with Uncle Will after the game. Amelia was not a fan of the 'no hands' rule, but she was super proud of herself for getting a goal!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

She's here! Sandie has arrived.

Olivia and McIver spent last weekend with Nanoo, Pop and Cacoo. Olivia has been saving her money for an "American Girl" doll from Target. (She has no idea that there's a big price/status difference between the 'real' American Girl dolls and the Target version that she has been wanting - and I'm OK with that!) She had even taken a picture of "Sandie" with my phone and would just look at it sometimes. Last week we were just too busy to be able to get to Target but I assured Olivia that Nanoo would be happy to take her to Target in Macon.

Well, the Target in Macon didn't have Sandie. Nanoo tried to talk her into one of the other dolls, and almost did. Apparently, Olivia decided on one and carried it all the way to the register. But, she changed her mind and decided to wait and see if they could find her at Walmart. (Poor Nanoo didn't know that Sandie is from the Our Generation collection, exclusively at Target. She could have saved herself quite a headache!) When they couldn't find it at Walmart, Olivia was super disappointed. But, Nanoo assured her that they would look online and order Sandie from So, my sweet Olivia learned to postpone the instant gratification and waited until yesterday when Sandie finally arrived at our doorstep.

You would have thought Ed McMahon just showed up with the $10 million check!

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September was Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In order to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and its silent symptoms, the SC Ovarian Cancer Foundation held an event on the statehouse steps the last week of September. Will was asked to give a brief talk about the latest news in diagnosing, treating and preventing ovarian cancer. He did a great job!

Then, several cancer survivors joined the emcee on the steps and unfolded tissue thin paper from which the butterflies took flight. About 500 butterflies had been 'purchased' with donations and were released into a breezy late afternoon. It was really amazing and brought many a tear to everyone's eyes!
Afterwards, Will was interviewed by several local news stations - I think this was the University of South Carolina news interviewing him.