Monday, December 6, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflections

It's been a month since my last post. Time flies when you're having fun! Here is a snapshot of our November:

We took a trip to the zoo on a gorgeous Saturday mid-month. Chris needed to visit the dealership nearby (Columbia, about 90 minutes from our house) to pick up his new car, so it worked out perfectly for us to drop him and go to the zoo until he could meet up with us. We loved seeing the penguins, lions, crocodile and the new kangaroo walkabout.

I was pretty excited to see a festive family activity come home in Sydney's backpack one day early in the month.

It says, "Five Fat Turkeys Are We. We sat all night in a tree. When the Cook came around, we were nowhere to be found. That's why we're up here you see!

Poor Tom Turkey had a major problem, he is afraid of heights and cannot climb trees like his friends. Could your family help Tom out this Thanksgiving season and disguise him so the cook can't find him? (Only until after the holiday, of course) Be creative and dress Tom up, which is better than the cook dressing him, if you get my drift. "

We ended up dressing him up like a snowman. There were some pretty cute submissions, which were all posted on the bulletin board in the school hallway. My favorites were a fish, a guitar, Perry the Platypus and Dora The Explorer. There were also the requisite princess and fairy dress-ups. Fun idea!
Isn't he cute? I love that the orange pipe-cleaner doubles as a carrot and/or a turkey beak!

One of the things we were MOST grateful for this Thanksgiving was that Aunt Kasey and Uncle Jimmie came to share the week with us!

Last time Kasey was here (in September for the Blue Ridge Relay) she asked Sydney about Uncle Jimmie. Syd's response, "Oh, him DIED!" Very nonchalant. Hehe. It had only been 10 months since the kids had seen him, but apparently it was TIME for a visit from UNCA Jimmie!

The kids loved having him here, always ready for a wrestle, our Unca Jimmie. ;) Jimmie made time to spend a day up near the Virginia border doing some genealogy work and the guys even took a trip to the National Whitewater center for some big kid fun. They took a rough ride down the rocky man-made river and tumbled out. Poor Chris got a little more up close and personal with the boulders than his knees liked.

We had an adults (plus Sydney, who had a cough yucky enough not to leave her at swap) date night. We saw a terrible dollar movie and had some awesome mexican food with the best fresh limonada I've EVER tasted!

And the sisters did lots of shopping, cooking, running and creating. Just what we like to do best!

This was after our hilly 8K Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning. It was a cool 49 with misty rain at the start. Pretty perfect for a race day. We ran strong and felt fabulous all the way through. I smell an annual tradition!

We brined our turkey this year, and used rosemary and orange to season it. It was wonderfully juicy! It was so great having 2 cooks in the kitchen, someone to split the work with and someone to chat with all day made it super fun. It made it much less hectic, and the timing worked out perfectly. Double ovens totally pulled their weight this week! (So very grateful for them!)

We had a lovely dinner with some classics (Gpa Cline's berry jello, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes) and some new additions (roasted butternut squash, POM cranberry sauce, sourdough starter rolls). It was wonderful to share with each other what we were feeling most grateful for and really reflect on how blessed we are.

We also spied a design at Anthropologie that I wanted to rush right out and, of course, we had to make time! We got Sydney and her BFF Paris together to play, and Shanda, Kasey and I went supply shopping and spent some crafty time working on some bling. K's is a pearl bracelet with pleated grosgrain, it turned out so cute!

The kids were so sad when our guests left. I'm not gonna lie, there were tears! Luckily, we're related, so there's a pretty good chance we'll see each other again soon!

Now we are all decorated for Christmas, getting ready to wrap gifts and preparing for Chris' parents to spend a couple of weeks with us during the Christmas holiday. Chris is taking 2 weeks leave and we're looking forward to LOTS of family time! <3

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween Visitors

We had the Happiest Halloween this year! My parents flew from California to visit us for a few days! What a TREAT!

We played at the park in the cool fall weather, had a picnic and walked around the lake (with sticks to stir up the mud, of course!)

We did last minute errands for costume necessities and popcorn ball supplies to take to our Church Halloween Bash Friday night.

Grandma was the make-up artist, she did a fabulous job completing the kids' costumes! Savi was a Hocus Pocus Witch, Gunnar was a Zombie and Sydney was Abby Cadabby, from Sesame Street, this year. They all chose their own costumes this year and were SO HAPPY!

This was pre-neck-slash, scary already! I love how in-character he already was. Dad helped him slash up his old clothes and get him dressed.

We trunk-or-treated with our church family this year! It's the only way to do it, in my opinion! I love only getting candy from families that you know and trust. AND THEY HAD PLENTY! No razor blades in my candy bars, thankyouverymuch! ;) Next year, I'll actually get my act together and decorate my trunk with spider webs and what not! There were some awesome ones this year!

Saturday morning we got up and went to the Nascar Hall of Fame uptown. We've been meaning to go for a while. It was interesting to learn about the origins of the sport and how it became a past-time for so many fans, especially in the southern states. Bootleggers, anyone? ;)

This is Savi on a 26 degree slope. Crazy steep!

They had a cute kiddie area where the critters could practice being part of a pit crew. Gunnar was loving that drill! Did you know the gas can weighs 86 lbs? Yowza!

And a race-day qualifier simulation for the big kids! I crashed and burned. I think I should stay UNDER 160 mph. It would be best for everyone! :)

Saturday evening the kids and I carved pumpkins with Grandma while Dad and Grandpa watched some football. I finally perfected my pumpkin seed roasting technique and Gunnar ate about a pound of them. ;P

The big kids did most of the carving on their own this year, and Sydney was very involved helping Grandma with hers. I was so impressed with how cute they turned out.

Sunday, we had some friends of ours come join us for dinner and some low-key Halloween fun. We had Chicken Tikka Masala (and chicken nuggets for the little ones), bobbed for apples, made gauze ghosts and handed out candy....we also had a fabulous pumpkin dessert, provided by our guests! It was a great night, all around!

Love this shot Will. Those kiddos didn't hold back.

Unexpected bonus, they each ate about 3 apples, instead of candy! ;)

Monday, Chris had work, the big kids had school, but Sydney didn't, so we ventured to the zoo in Columbia.

We love our zoo, and even though it is a 90 mile drive, it's worth it. The weather was perfect, around 65 degrees and the animals were incredible to see.

We loved feeding the lorakeets, seeing the flamingos, elephants, bears and penguins.
It was fun to spend the day together. Sydney was on Cloud 9 with all the adult attention.

She loved feeding the goats. I don't know where she gets it from. I hate goats, so does Chris.
Evil, I tell you!

After this encounter, on the way to the sinks to sanitize, she saw a glass fronted case that was a little grimy. She couldn't quite see what was in there. In slow motion (or so it seemed) she lifts her hands to her face, licks each palm (full of goat slime) and rubs on the glass. I threw up a little in my mouth. HURL.

She seems OK so far. But I don't think I've ever felt more sick. Bleck.

Good times, right? One day I will laugh about it, I'm sure.

We're so grateful that our family is willing to take time out of their busy lives to come and make memories with us. We love visitors!

We are looking forward to having house-guests for the next 2 upcoming holidays too! We'll keep you posted on all the fun things we get to do together...stay tuned..

Monday, October 25, 2010

Road Trippin' : Charleston

Over the weekend we escaped routine and drove down to Charleston. It's only 3.5 hrs away, and we'd been planning on heading there as soon as the weather cooled off some. With forecasts in the low 70's and no commitments over the weekend, we jumped at the chance!

We had dinner on the way down at Red Lobster. Funny how a normal meal can feel like such a treat to the critters. We let them have Shirley Temples with their kids meals and Gunnar remarked "We're the luckiest kids in the world, we're eating like Kings and Queens tonight!" I love it when they realize that they have a good life!

Pictured above is the Ravenel Bridge. It's a really dominant feature in the skyline there. I wish the picture could do it justice.

First stop, Fort Sumter. The kids were especially excited for the ferry ride.

Up to the museum, and docks on the other side of the building.

There was so much to take in from the docks, we took a lot of scenic shots.

We saw a message in a bottle while we waited for our ferry. Eagle-eye Savi, on the job!

The kids played on this little beach between the docks.

We watched the carrier ships come in to port. Each of those containers in the size of a semi, crazy huge! I told the kids, that's how we get all the things that are "Made In China" into the Walmarts. LOL

On the boat! The kids were up and down the stairs between levels, in and out of their seats so many times....but, oh so happy!

Our approach to Fort Sumter.

A view from inside the fort, with our ferry in the background. It was about a 40 minute trip to get there.The kids weren't ALL that interested in the history, but they sure did love exploring the canons and the fort itself.

Just outside the fort there was a lovely thicket and beach area. I love this shot with Sydney running and the rest of my peeps in the right hand corner...

Sullivan's Island and lighthouse in the distance. We watched a pod of dolphins play in the water here just off the fort too.

After a late-ish lunch in the parking lot we were off to check out Folly Beach. We love packing our lunch when we're on trips. It makes everything a lot less stressful because we don't have to worry about when and where to find food. We just stop whatever we're doing when we get hungry, eat, and move on to the next adventure.

There are MANY beaches in Charleston, but I really wanted to see Folly Beach because I recently read a fictional novel based there. My family lovingly obliged me..

Kite flying. It was quite windy there.

Evidence of an old pier.

Seashells! More to add to my collection. :) The big kids spent an hour hunting for sand dollars and playing with sand crabs.

Junebug spent that time doing THIS. She dug with shells and made sandcastles and soaked it all in. It was a glorious 72 degrees and breezy. We couldn't have special-ordered weather more perfect!

We had a quick dinner at Quiznos (thanks for the free kids meals, we LOVE that place) and headed to the historic district and battery.

We mostly drove through that area, but stopped at Battery Park and watched many brides being photographed by the river walk. It was the perfect time of day for it!

Gorgeous old Live Oaks.
Savi on a stack of cannon balls.

Gunnar on a cannon. (hee hee)

Confederate statues with gorgeous sunset...

It's so cool to see the sunset over the water on the East Coast...not used to that.. This is over the Ashley River, I believe.

We then went back to the hotel, went swimming then hung out in the hotel with popcorn, ice cream and a movie. We had been out and about for over 9 hours and it was nice to relax.

I think we could drive downtown to a hotel 25 minutes from home, hang out in a hotel and the kids would be just as happy with the vacation! They love hotel life!

The next day we only had 1 item left on the agenda: Aquarium! Our zoo membership gets us a discount, so we definitely wanted to get that in while we were in town.

We got to see some river otters at play in this area. It was fun because it was decorated for Halloween throughout the aquarium.

My kids are brave! They touched a snake. Gunnar happily told me that "it's not venomous, it'll just squeeze you to death". (tee hee)

They had a fabulous touchy-feely area. Syd's favorite is the starfish.

We also got to touch some sting-rays (barbs removed). They are a lot smaller than the ones we've seen before since we're on a different coast now. It's cool to see different species.

Loggerhead turtles. My favorite! Love this shot, looks like they're going to kiss.

We took a break midway through and went out to a little grassy area, dockside, for a picnic.

Gunnar was cracking me up with his love for his chocolate cupcake. (courtesey of Homewood Suites free breakfast, gotta love all those hotel points!!) Who eats chocolate muffins at breakfast!?!? We decided to take ours "to go" for later. Turned out to be PERFECT.

Savannah, on the docks.

The critters playing with the froggy band.

The penguin area at the aquarium left A LOT to be desired. If you are local and want to see penguins, your best bet is the Columbia Zoo....they have an amazing area. SC Aquarium, not so much. THIS was the CUTEST penguin there!

We love love love to get away together. I always have so many good memories from these concentrated times together as a family. I am so glad we've been able to subsidize some family time with points earned from Chris' travel over the years. It's good to have pErKs!