Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SC Ovarian Cancer Foundation Butterfly Release

The Butterfly Release was cancelled last night because of the weather.  Luckily, a foundation board member was joining us for dinner and brought a few butterflies along for Olivia and McIver to release.  We had dinner at Bonefish Grill and the kids thought it was great to still be able to release the butterflies.

Monday, September 26, 2011


This is a test... I'm trying to post from my iPhone. How cool is that?!

McIver's Soccer Game

Olivia's soccer game was cancelled on Saturday morning because of the MONSOON that was happening at 9am.  McIver kept his hopes high that his team would still play at 1:00 and they did.  This was my first time seeing him play this season since I was out of town with Olivia last weekend.

He had a good time warming up and seemed to be focused on the game rather than goofing off with his buddies.

Check out that concentration.


He even got to play goalie.

Olivia is glad to know several big sisters of McIver's teammates ... and to know that the snow cone truck will be at Owens Field on Saturdays this fall!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tex!!

September is a busy birthday month for our family.  Tex turned 2 on Friday!

He just knew the new monkey was for him and wagged his tail oh-so-patiently waiting for Olivia to get the tags off.

But then he just couldn't stand it any longer ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Will's Birthday

The children and I were SO excited about the gifts we put together for Will's birthday this year.  He's on call this week so we had planned to just wait and celebrate sometime next week.  Plus, our Tuesdays are usually full of tennis and soccer practice.  Thanks to the rain, blessed rain!, soccer practice was cancelled and we were able to celebrate on Tuesday, his actual birthday.  

We started with presents ...
four collage frames filled with pictures from the lake.  We also made a Shutterfly book to keep up at the lake with pictures from the last two years ... it is filled with photos of all the different people we've had up there with us, raking leaves, making s'mores, fishing and just enjoying being there.

Dinner at Harpers

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Olivia's First Girls Weekend - Saturday

I was lucky enough to wake up pretty early on Saturday morning and enjoyed an hour or so to myself.  I flipped through some magazines, relished the cool mountain air and the peace and quiet.

Then the girls woke up ... they were ready for pancakes and bacon ... and presents!
I loved that they sat around gabbing in their pajamas most of the morning.

Then, another turn in the hot tub with goggles from the treasure chest.

Sadie and her children were coming for the night so the girls got busy decorating the driveway to welcome them.

Showing off their handiwork.

Once Sadie and her crew unloaded, we headed to the playground.  The girls had a blast climbing the giant hill to the lake on the other side.

What a shot!

On the way back down the hill, they spotted a deer.  (We saw more deer on this trip than I've ever seen at Big Canoe!)  They really thought they were going to be able to get close enough to pet it.  

Sweet friends!

After running around on the field playing soccer with Julia and James.

We loaded up in Sadie's minivan and went to Forno's Pizza for dinner.  The big girls had 42 popsicles each while they relaxed in the hot tub (as if they were ever stressed!).  Sadie and I brought our pizza home so we could enjoy a glass of wine and visit without having to ride herd on our crowd.

Even though I ended up missing my 20th high school reunion, I think it was a great weekend.  Olivia was so excited to be able to celebrate her birthday on her actual day with some good friends.  She loved being able to bring them to the mountains and they all had a blast.  There wasn't a cross word between any of them.  May she always treasure her friends and enjoy special times like these with them.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Olivia's First Girls Weekend

Olivia decided that she would like to invite some friends to the mountains to celebrate her 10th (DOUBLE DIGITS!!) birthday.  I decided that she could bring four friends and everyone she invited was able to make it.  I picked them up from school on Friday and we hit the road.

On our way in to Big Canoe, we stopped for dinner at Fuego's.  The girls had all changed clothes and were excited to have me take their picture together on the way in.

Fuego's was packed so we were in the back room.  The girls ordered Jarritos to drink ... an orange-flavored mexican soft drink.

Once we got to the house and got the car unloaded, we started the treasure hunt that Pop had put together for Olivia the prior weekend when we was up there.  The girls had a BALL running from room to room trying to find the clues.

Olivia reading the first clue.
Pop was pretty clever ... he even put some dummy clues around the house to throw them off the trail

We almost gave up on the final clue ... even though the note said they might need MY help, we just couldn't figure it out.  After a late-night phone call to Nanoo & Pop (who were in Orlando for a conference), Pop gave us the extra clue we needed.  Olivia did the honors of climbing into the attic in the garage to bring down the treasure chest.

It was FILLED with goodies for the girls ... stuffed animals, puzzles, leis, candy/cookies and more.

The girls had a great time going through the loot and then decided to watch a movie and go to bed.  (I went straight to bed - it was well past midnight by this point!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

O's 10th Birthday

Olivia's birthday celebration started with dinner and birthday cake with the Mashburns on Thursday night.  She had hoped to have them spend an entire weekend at the lake with us, but that just wasn't feasible because of football, soccer, fall baseball and work schedules.  She was perfectly happy to have them join us for hamburgers and ice cream cake!

The Birthday Girl with McIver, Kate and Harry

She woke up Friday morning to decorations all over her room.  This has become a little bit of a tradition around the Merritt house and both children look forward to it every year.  The only problem is finding time to do the decorating when they're still asleep.

Can't believe my baby is 10!!

New York - Friday with Will

Will had a short conference day on Friday so we were able to have lunch and spend the day together.  We didn't plan it, but we were in New York during the few days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11 so we knew we needed to go to Ground Zero.

As we approached the former site of the World Trade Center, we saw thousands and thousands of white ribbons tied to fences, trees, gates, bushes and sign posts.  Some of them had notes written to the victims of that day and their families.  Others had general prayers for peace.

St. Paul's Chapel is right across the street from where the twin towers stood.  Being in that space was pretty emotional; I can't imagine the fear and confusion they all must have felt when those planes hit and the towers eventually fell.

NY Firehouse 10 is also across the street from the site.  This is the firehouse that lost 343 firefighters that day.  On the right hand side of this picture, you can see the start of the Memorial Wall ... Dedicated to those who and to those who carry on.  May we never forget. - FDNY Memorial Wall

Will and I had lunch a a pizza place right around the corner from Firehouse 10.  As we ate, we overheard a couple of guys come in talking about how one of them was trapped in the pizza joint that day as the planes hit and towers fell.

One World Trade Center (I think they're also calling this Freedom Tower) is still under construction.  We were not able to see the Memorial and Museum because they were not open to the public yet.  It was just so powerful to be in that space.

After lunch, we walked all the way around the WTC site and found the riverwalk along the Hudson River.  We caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty as we made our way toward the Meatpacking District.

We finally made it to Times Square and the TKTS line to see what our options for a night on Broadway might be.  We were lucky enough to be there in time for the Broadway on Broadway tribute to 9/11.  Apparently, on September 9, 2001, just two days before 9/11, Broadway actors took to Times Square to kick-off the start of the Broadway season.

Daniel Rodriguez, the Singing Policeman, sang God Bless America ... and brought me to tears right in the middle of Times Square!

We ended up getting tickets to Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.  We had hoped to see Wicked, but apparently, it's still popular enough that the tickets sell out on their own.  Spiderman was good, but I kept thinking how much McIver would have loved it.   We walked through Times Square on our way back to the hotel... I thought it was past Elmo's bedtime, but he seemed to be going strong!

Friday, September 16, 2011

New York Trip - US Open

US Open:  check!

On Thursday, I hopped on the subway and took the 7 train to Flushing Meadows for a day at the US Open.  All matches were cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the rain, so I totally lucked out and was able to see way more tennis than I bargained for.  Several of the men's and women's quarterfinals matches were supposed to have finished up on those days so I got to see them on Thursday.  It was AWESOME!!

Arthur Ashe Stadium - tennis mecca!

My neighbor in Columbia has been to the Open twice.  She told me I HAD to start my day with a Honey Deuce, the unofficial drink of the US Open.  It came in a collector cup, so it seemed pretty official to me ... and it was tasty!

After I did my shopping (had to buy new sunglasses because I forgot to switch them over when I changed bags), I headed straight for the Grandstand to see the Murray v. Young match.  Donald Young was the up-and-comer from Atlanta.  He had a great first two rounds, but kind of caved once he met up with Murray.  Even still, he kept his cool and made the US proud.  Murray, on the other hand, ended up showing himself later on in the tournament.  I'm just not a big fan of his.  Check out how close I was ... first row!

There he is ... Donald Young.  See how empty the stadium was at the start of the match?  It did end up filling up some, but this was the first match of the day and I guess some folks just weren't as up and at 'em as I was.

There I am ... front row seat!  How do you like my shades?  (Most expensive pair of sunglasses I've ever owned!)

Once I realized Murray was going to win the match in the Grandstand, I headed over to Court #17 to watch John Isner.  He's the American who had the longest tennis match ever at Wimbledon in 2010.  The last set alone lasted 8 hours!  He was fun to watch and it was amazing to see him in person.  He's HUGE - his wingspan must have taken up 3/4 of the court.

Per instructions from my neighbor who was texting me from home, I booked it over to Court #13 to try to see the Roddick v. Ferrer match.  It was supposed to be at Louis Armstrong Stadium, but there was a crack in the court and water was bubbling up right at the baseline so it wasn't safe to play.  That stadium holds just over 10,000 while Court #13 only seats about 500.  There were some really unhappy campers.  I managed to get a few good shots of Roddick through all of the people in front of me but then decided to move on since I knew I wasn't going to get any closer.

I went over to check out my seats at Arthur Ashe Stadium.  You have to be a ticket holder to get into Ashe.  That place is HUGE!  But, I thought I had a great seat.  I was up in the corner on the top row of the section just above the boxes and the sun was behind me.  I saw the quarterfinal matches between Serena Williams and Pavlyuchenkova and Djokovic (the ultimate winner) and Tipsaravic.

Serena warming up.  (This was before she lost her cool with the umpire so the crowd was still on her side.)

Djokovic was playing a fellow Serb.  It was a great match because both guys kept coming up to play the net.  It made for a lot of fun points.

Will and I met up back at the hotel and walked to dinner at Keen's Steakhouse.  They have the largest collection of clay pipes in the world.  It was a really cool place and the steaks were great.

We walked home through Rockefeller Plaza and Will let me take a quick picture.