Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 3 with the Stricklins

Nanoo, Pop, Cacoo and her friend, Amy, drove up to the lake on Friday.  Olivia and McIver had just seen them, but Will and I were so excited spend some time with them and to introduce them to Gay and Don.  It's hard to believe that we were in Houston for four years and were never able to get them together.  

This is pretty much how we spent most of the weekend.

I think this was the most relaxed most of us have been for a good little while.

Will giving Don the jet ski tutorial.

It was just too hot to be anywhere but in the water.  This also explains why there are so few pictures once we got to the lake.

After another full day in the lake, we got cleaned up and cruised over to the Rusty Anchor for dinner.  Olivia, of course, wanted to be wherever Cacoo and Amy were.

McIver, on the other hand, got tired of all the chit-chat and went to sit at the bar with his Shirley Temple.  It should also be noted that McIver tried calamari for the first time ... and liked it.

So, Saturday was more of the same - hanging out in the lake, eating boiled peanuts, visiting with Nanoo and Pop, playing Mexican Train dominoes and Pass the Pigs (thanks, Gay, we're still loving all the fun games!), wishing Sam & Abby could have been with us and putting together the table and chairs that Pop gave us for the deck (truth be told, that was mostly Pop, with a little help at the end from Gay and me).  We ate at the house on Saturday night (delicious hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill) and just took it easy.

The Kehls left pretty early on Sunday morning and the rest of us just relaxed more and worked on straightening up the house before it was time to take Gay and Don to the airport.  It was a sad good-bye, but we're already working on setting the date for another visit - this time with all eight of us!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 2 with the Stricklins

We took our time waking up and making a plan for Thursday.  Really, there wasn't much planning - just some organizing and packing up.  (And, calming of my nerves because I didn't believe we could get everything up to the lake in just one trip - in addition to the Stricklins' luggage, our bags, groceries/cooler and the children, we also had four large boxes of new deck furniture from Nanoo & Pop, PLUS we had to stop by Lowe's to pick up two more boxes of chairs.  The good news is that it all worked out and we now have plenty of seating/eating space on the deck.  Thanks, Pop and Nanoo!)

I guess Olivia needs a camera for her birthday or Christmas.  She snapped this pic of Will and Don on Thursday morning.  She also took one of me, but since I'm the editor of this little blog, I get to choose which pictures are posted!

We decided on lunch at the Palmetto Pig - a full-on Southern buffet with SC barbecue so Gay & Don could get a taste of what we were talking about when we lived in Houston and craved mustard-based, pulled pork barbecue.

We spent many hours floating in the lake and just catching up.  The guys rode jet skis and pulled the kids on the tube.  Will also started what would end up to be 10+ pounds of boiled peanuts.  

Heading to the Rusty Anchor for 'snacks' for the kids.

McIver feeding the ducks at the Rusty Anchor.

Don & Gay enjoying RA's tasty frozen lemonade.

Really, McIver ... meditating on the sunset cruise!?

The Girls - if only Abby had been there!

Olivia is a BIG fan those cheese sticks.

Me & the kids

Our family

Monday, July 26, 2010

Surprise Visit with the Stricklins

This was the best non-surprise surprise I've had in my entire life.  Will tried to surprise me for my birthday with a visit from Gay & Don from Houston.  The surprise part just ended up happening about two weeks early.  I was still surprised AND had the bonus of two weeks worth of excitement looking forward to their arrival last Wednesday.

I was so proud of Olivia for thinking to grab my camera out of my pocketbook to snap a picture of Gay and me when we first saw each other in the driveway.

After a quick tour of our (not-so-new anymore) house and a cocktail, we headed to Mr. Friendly's, one of our very favorite restaurants.  Our waitress was happy to take our picture - we could not have predicted that she would be so happy that she would take a picture for each course!

Fried Green Tomato appetizer

Delicious salads

Main course

It was a delicious meal - one of many that we have enjoyed with the Stricklins ... and one of many that we enjoyed while they were here.  To be continued...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blowing Rock, NC

Some friends, Julie and John, from Columbia invited us to join them at John's parents' mountain house in Blowing Rock, NC last weekend.  (John and Will grew up together at the beach.)  Thankfully, it only took one phone call to line up childcare for the weekend!  We had a great time and enjoyed some uninterrupted, by little people, at least, conversations.

The Browns & Hudsons were responsible for Friday night's dinner.   It turned out that Marie and Julie did most of the work.  Dinner was fantastic!  Marie's salad was delicious and will be served at some point this weekend (with the Stricklins).

Dinner is served!

We took our time waking up (well, some of us did; I woke up at my usual time - early) and getting dressed on Saturday morning.  The guys had plans to play golf at Hound Ears and we went into the town of Blowing Rock for lunch and some shopping.  Julie and Marie had been to Blowing Rock for a similar weekend last fall and knew just the place for lunch - The Village Cafe.  It's hidden down an alleyway and I'm not sure a regular tourist would think to investigate it because it's so tucked away.  Lunch was delicious - as was the raspberry-passion lemonade.

After lunch:  Marie, me, Gray & Julie

After lunch we did a little more shopping.  I found a great pair of shoes at Monkee's - half-price/last pair (which doesn't usually work out in my favor).  The only sad part of the shopping experience was going into a precious children's 'boutique' and realizing that my children had outgrown the sizes that they carry.

Will and I, along with Gray & Patrick, were in charge of dinner Saturday night.  But first, we managed to have a little photo shoot on the porch which looks out toward Grandfather Mountain.

Check out the new shoes! (Disregard the flat hair.)

No one brought an iPod docking station to the mountains so we were limited to CDs for Friday night's music.  It didn't take long to run out of music - Julie had a Zac Brown Band CD which was loved by all, but we needed a change after hearing it for the 5th time.  Saturday, we discovered that the cable channels had music as well.  We found an 80s station and turned the living room into Dance Party USA.

I ended up not really having a lot to do with preparing or cleaning up dinner.  I do take credit for setting the table and purchasing the ingredients, though.  Patrick made the most delicious beef tenderloin that I've ever eaten and Will made his specialty - crab cakes.  Will had very little patience by the time dinner was served - he was ready to eat!

And, as for the rest of the evening, we're going with the motto for the weekend:
What happens on the porch ... stays on the porch!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nanoo's Birthday

We had grand plans to celebrate Nanoo's birthday.  It was a big one, but she wasn't too keen on making a big deal about it.  So, we kept it as low-key as an 8 year old possibly can.  We brought every single birthday decoration that we have ever used to Macon and decorated the gazebo down by Nanoo and Pop's pool.  It was hard for Nanoo not to see it, but she did a good job of being surprised for the kids.

Olivia worked hard on the decorations while McIver changed into his PJs.

Hanging out with Pop before supper.

SURPRISE!  Check out the misting fan in the background.  I thought I had the perfect gift for Nanoo, but she bought herself one about a week before we gave her our gift.  She's happy to have two, but I couldn't believe she would buy something for herself so close to her birthday!

Pepper is the funniest dog on earth!

Decorating the cake with every pirate, animal, etc. that we have ever had on a birthday cake.  They just knew Nanoo would love it.

And, she did!

We took Grandma Janet to run an errand at WalMart on Thursday morning.  The kids loved her walker with the built-in seat.  They could push her around the store ... and she could push them.  They had a blast and giggled the whole time we were in WalMart.  Afterwards, we took her to lunch at Moe's, everybody's favorite.

We also saw Grandma Myrtle when we first drove into town.  My cousin was putting together her new push lawn mower.  It was great to see both of them.  We had a late lunch at S&S Cafeteria.  I hate that I didn't get my camera out to catch the moment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We had some time to kill in between our trip to Myrtle Beach and me taking the kids to Macon for a long weekend visit.  So, we found some ways to entertain ourselves...

The new exhibit at EdVenture, our children's museum, was put together by the Blue Man Group.  It was all about sound/soundwaves and music.  The kids breezed through the exhibit but had a good time.  I wish we had been able to explore it a little more.  Look at McIver; you can tell he's ready to dart to the next station.

Maybe they were in such a rush because I promised a trip to the TicToc Candy Shop on the way home.  McIver had not been before so he was thrilled!

I went to see a movie one night and came home expecting the children to be asleep.  Will and I were talking in the den and heard all kinds of ruckus upstairs.  Turns out that Olivia was playing hairdresser to McIver.  I couldn't help laughing...  This was actually early on - he ended up with pig tails and bows all over his head.

Then, when we went to bed, I had to get a picture of them in bed together.  So sweet!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Preservation Station at Barefoot Landing

The kids and I saw a segment on The Today Show a few weeks ago about an orangutan who can swim who lives on a preserve near Myrtle Beach.  I ran to the computer to look it up because, of course, we wanted to go.  Unfortunately, it was almost $200 PER PERSON to tour.  So, I kept digging around the website and found out that we could go to Barefoot Landing, just a few minutes north of Will's parents' house, to have our picture taken with baby tigers.

We arrived at 4:00 and were the second group in line.  They didn't open until 5:00, but it was totally worth it to be in line early because we were up close when they started bringing in all the babies.  We finally were able to pay and meet the babies.  They were SO cute and it was totally worth the wait...

It's hard to say who was more excited.  We didn't know that they would take our pictures with a little teeny fellow like this one.

Look at that sweet face.  His ears were so tiny and his fur was coarse; I expected it to be softer and smoother.  McIver hadn't put much thought into it, so he didn't really care.  He was just excited to be that close to a tiger!

Here we are with a white tiger named Jenny.  She was HUGE and HUNGRY.  She went to town on that bottle.  I was glad they told me I had to be the one holding the bottle or it could have been a deal-breaker if the kids had argued over it.  We were in line for an hour (a really hot hour!) and had about 60 seconds with the animals.  It was like waiting in line for a ride at Disney World - totally worth the wait.  This was an experience we will not soon forget!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Old School Punishment

We left Myrtle Beach on Wednesday morning.  As I was walking around the house and gathering all of our things, I picked up McIver's Bakusphere.  It was heavier than normal so, of course, I checked inside and found his little pirate pouch ... full of change ... and a $20 bill.  MY $20 bill!

Rather than pounce on him and fuss at him, I stewed over what the consequences should be.  I decided that he should have to write, "I will not go into Mama's bag" twenty times.  At first, it didn't seem like a steep enough punishment - he told me it would be good practice for his handwriting and got started as soon as we got in the car.

By the time we got to the gas station (about 3 miles up the road), he wasn't so happy about it.

It made me laugh when I checked it and saw that he started going down the page writing the Is first, then the wills, etc.  I remember doing the same thing when I was given the same punishment as a child - only I had to write:  I will not talk in class 50 times.  (Then, the teacher tore the pages up right in front of me and tossed them in the trashcan.  I'm not sure the punishment actually worked, but I certainly remember it  25 years later !)

July 4th Weekend in Myrtle Beach

Olivia really could not get enough of Eliza!

  I saw something on The Today Show a week or so ago about a very cool zoo/preserve just south of Myrtle Beach.  The story was actually about an orangutan who swims and we saw it while the children were eating breakfast.  Of course, once they heard that it was in Myrtle Beach, they wanted to go.  Upon further investigation, though, we discovered that touring the preserve is quite expensive.  So, we headed to Barefoot Landing to Preservation Station - a sort of satellite location where you can have your picture made with tigers.

Olivia wanted to have her picture made at this sign - who was I to say no!?

We got to Preservation Station at 4:00 and were the 2nd group in line.  They didn't open until 5:00, but it was totally worth the wait.  It was pretty hot standing in line, but we kept our eyes on the prize.  Luckily, the staff started bringing the animals in at about the same time that we really started to wilt.  We had a great spot to see them since we were so close to the entrance.

How cute are they!?  I'll post pictures of our actual pictures as soon as I can scan them.

After dinner, Olivia, McIver and I headed to the beach for one last time before we headed home.  How cute is this picture!?  They were both so happy!

McIver was thrilled with the giant clam!

Not sure what Olivia thought she was going to catch with a net in the sand.

This picture implies that I enjoyed more than 5 minutes in the chair with my toes in the sand.  Not true - we had driven the golf cart to the beach and once the sun started to go down, it went down fast so we had to head home.