Friday, July 30, 2010

Found toys

Last night we gave our treadmill to someone who could really use it, which cleared out a HUGE section of the playroom, and of course exposed all of the junk left behind. I started cleaning the playroom, and started evaluating the toys left - thinking which should stay and which should go. With the girls, I try to only buy toys that are open ended, and allow for creativity - the Brio train was one of those choices back when Big Al was little. Slowly our collection grew, but no one ever really played with it. So, as I got to that drawer I thought.... hmmmmm.... maybe its time to put these away, so I went ahead and sorted out the drawer, and tossed a few broken pieces. We moved the big foam bean bag to the playroom, and I was done for the night.

This morning I actually got up before the little girls, and was thinking about what to do with the Brio when the little girls when running past me to see the "new" playroom (their term for a playroom that is simply cleaned within an inch of its life). Pretty soon, Blondie comes out with a train that needs a new battery, and I hear Cheesie bossing away about track construction and engineering. Sorry for the crummy pics - remember I said that only half the playroom was reasonably cleaned.
I go in to see what they have created (like a giant mess), and Blondie looks up and says - "Mom, in a clean playroom we can finally play." Umm...... yeah..... that's why I ask you to clean up all the time. So I guess Brio gets a reprieve and can hang out for awhile. So far they haven't noticed the things I have gotten rid of.... crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last Weekend

I've been away from the blog for too long (for my father-in-law anyway), so here is the update.
A week ago we went back to the lake - just the girls and I. It was unbearably hot - the kind of hot where even at 8 a.m. the lake is already warm. The little girls swam endlessly, the big girls hung around, and swam a little bit. It wasn't as exciting for them because the cousins (and the boats) weren't there, in addition to no computer and t.v.

My Aunt, Uncle and Brian showed up on Friday and continued working on converting a bedroom into two bathrooms inside, while I continued to sit with my kindle and watch the girls play. We were also treated to a mayfly invasion - for whatever reason they have had about 3 hatchings this year. It usually happens early in the summer, and the bugs only last 24 hours. T-Rex and Big Al were not pleased because if you walked to the lake they would always swarm since they were hanging out on the pampass grass and tree trunks that are down by the water. The fish and birds were having a field day though.

That evening my mom, and I, took the girls to Sullivan's Island to take pics by the ocean, and give the girls a change of scenery. We watched the guys out there

kite surfing,
and pole boarding.
Big Al was practicing her tumbling,

while T-Rex flew a kite,
and Blondie built a sand castle - just out of reach of the tide,
and Cheesie followed grandma around jumping into all of her pictures.

This was all fine with me because I could just wander around and look at the natural world

ghost crab

brown pelican

Most nights ended with a campfire (even though it was easily still in the 90's). It was an enjoyable weekend, and I hope to get at least one more visit in before I have to go back to work.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Fort

My husband is an avid photographer. He absolutely adores nature photography, and I think this fall we're going to combine my love of hiking, with his photography, and take some weekend trips.

Yesterday we had my mom and brother come over for dinner, and as I'm buzzing around the house I look out and see this:

He explained that he wanted to get better pictures of the birds on the rail eating the birdseed, but every time he opened the door to the porch they flew away. He figured if he built the fort that they would get used to it and he could sneak his pics since the camera was hiding in the plants. Um...... okay.

Today, tent 2.0 was created. Plywood and tarps from the garage came out, I guess to protect him from the rain.

This is the man I married 18 years ago today, after dating him for 6 years. He is still the funniest thing ever.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This will be good for her..... right?

Big Al started percussion in 6th grade because she loved what her uncle did in his band. Lucky for her, Uncle Colin dropped off his drumset for a couple weeks.... so this moved into Big Al's room.

I first thought to put it in the library, but it doesn't have doors, so we put it in her room - right smack dab in the middle. Colin showed her how to set it all up. Then the little girls jumped in with Big Al, and it looked (and sounded) like this......

Yay ...... right?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hiking Congaree

A friend of mine from the Master Naturalist class I'm taking (Karen) and I went to Congaree today to try to find pictures of the animals/plants we need for the culminating project. It's supposed to take 30 hours, and we used about 4 today. I'm doing Cypress tress, because I LOVE Cypress knees, but I couldn't find the Prothonetary Warbler that I wanted (it nests in the knees).

My favorite place on our hike - There was a little waterfall and then it spilled into this place of tupelo and cypress trees. The one tupelo has a nesting hole in it.

Video of my favorite spot.

We had a great time hiking 4.5 miles on the Westin Lake Loop - and thankfully didn't come across any wild pigs, although we did see the tracks. It was lovely to walk along the creek.
We saw a bunch of 5 line skinks ( a broad one too, but I didn't catch it with the camera).

There were a couple black snakes (watch where you walk even on the boardwalk).

Praying Mantis

Cypress Trees and Knees

Look closely for the lovely barred owl.
If you're ever in the Columbia area you really need to pack your hiking shoes, and the bug spray - and get to Congaree National Park. It's free, and its worth your time. It's the last tiny bit of old growth forest in South Carolina. If you like hiking then get off the boardwalk - the boardwalk is nice, but there are soooooo many ways to experience this place.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Avoiding the inevitable

The little girls and I are having an ongoing battle of wills. I want their room kept reasonably clean for a 6 and 8 year old. They want to play in it the minute it is clean, trash it, and then use every other room in the house to play their games, and set up house.

So I sent them up to their room, to clean it up after dinner (around 6:30) and it got VERY quiet. I went upstairs expecting them to be quietly playing and avoiding cleaning, and instead found this:

Notice the bright sun outside.... hours before bed time. This is their latest tactic. I intentionally didn't include their floor in the picture- it's too embarrassing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Last weekend Big Al decided to try her hand at skiing. She is a fairly athletic person, and game for pretty much anything. When I was a kid I learned from my Uncle Mark and Uncle Tom. Big Al had the same teachers.
Mark in the water with Big Al, giving directions, and boosting confidence.
Tom driving the boat - either giving more directions or making ridiculous comments.

Giving it a try - she finally gets up. I don't know how many times she tried.
Getting cocky -she was showing off.... not falling over.

Around the cove a few times

Coming in for a landing.

She is quite excited about knowing how to do this..... of course she wants us to hurry up and buy a boat (won't be happening) so she doesn't have to wait for an Uncle to be at the lake. She's also anxious to learn to slalom. I bet she'll do it too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Last Weekend

Last Friday (until this past Wednesday) we left for the family lakehouse. It is a place of absolute peace that everyone loves when they visit. The reality is that it isn't anything glamorous, but it is the perfect place for kids to walk in with a wet swimsuit, and towel, and eat a sandwich and not worry about tracking in sand, or leaving wet hiney marks on something nice.

My grandfather helped build it for his family back in the late 30's/early 40's. His parents, sisters, and he lived in it until their house was built in town, and then rented it out to WPA workers who were working on the dam. In the late 60's he bought the lake lot, and moved the little cabin out to the lot, and over the years he expanded it, although it is still tiny. If you sleep out there it is pretty much accepted that you can hear everything, and have very little privacy. There is currently 1 bathroom (although the family is working on that), and we brought down bunkbeds for the bunk room to help sleep more bodies - although Blondie and her aunt ended up sleeping in a tent because it was actually reasonably cool at night.

With it being the 4th, all kinds of family desended on the lake house, so there were lots of Aunts, Uncles, and cousins around. My girls LOVE tubing - I'm going to have to get them a knee board at some point. Big Al did learn to ski this weekend (on two), but I'll post more on that tomorrow. Thankfully, the cousins were more than willing to take out the boat, and haul the kids all over the lake.
Our littlest cousin swam and played too.

In the evening we sat around the fire and ate smore's or watched the fireworks. We were able to catch up.... act silly, and just plain hang out together.

We ended each day fairly exhausted, although not everyone made it to their bunk before falling asleep.