Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fourth Annual Back-to-School Dinner

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We held our annual Back-to-School dinner last Wednesday night, complete with kid-made decorations.

This year’s family motto:

Kindness Begins With Me

The menu:

Couscous Grande with Oregano

Grilled Shrimp

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

Turtle Pie (store-bought) for dessert.  Yum.


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Just a little side note – we moved Carina and her Bumbo to the floor after pictures….just in case you were worried :o)

Previous Back-to-School Dinners: 2008, 2009, 2010

Ollie’s birthday


Ollie’s birthday last week started out fantastic.  His brothers had the great idea of getting his a fish from them.  He was thrilled.  He named the fish “Monkey Wrench.”  The fish was dead before nightfall :o(  Ollie cried. We have now promised to get him beta. 






Chad really made the day great for Ollie with a little scavenger hunt.  He left Ollie’s favorite candy all over the house and left clues to find them.  Oliver thought it was the coolest thing ever.  So did his brothers – who have now requested that Chad do the same thing for their birthdays.




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Oliver wanted Chick-fil-A for dinner and we gladly complied.  After that he got to open a couple of presents, one of which was some K’NEX from his Grandpa and Grandpa Coleman.  He LOVED them.  All the boys did – they have been played with every day since then.  Thanks Judy and Bill!


Saturday was the main event – a pool/pizza party with all of his cousins.  He loves his cousins so much.  He is still like a little mascot to them - they all love to make laugh and treat him like a little pal. 

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He got the cupcakes with cherries on top that he requested.  Then all the cousins played in the warm, dirty puddle caused by an overflow in the splash area.  Whenever this happens, the kids all flock to it – I couldn’t really blame them during the party – the pool water was a pretty chilly!  I think a certain father (who shall not be named)  didn’t even get in!


Ollie had a fantastic couple of days and I think his birthday lived up to all the hype that had been building for months and months.  We love this little three year old!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear Gabriel,

I just dropped you off for your first day of kindergarten. You walked in smiling and confident.  Inside the classroom, it was chaotic, and you didn't know what you were supposed to do and where you were supposed to go.  Your sister was crying and your little brother was starting a fit about wanting to go to his own class.  It was not the goodbye I wanted for you.  I could see your eyes get a little misty as you asked me if I could stay with you for a little while.  My Gabe, I wanted to stay forever (or to just take you home with me).

Then the teacher was able to talk to you, and the mist went away quickly, and you got to work.  We tried to exit as quickly as possible.

Gabe, I knew that the same twisty feeling I was having in my stomach was going on in yours.  I knew that your head was full of questions and possibilities of what could go wrong (just like mine).  I have always been there to answer your questions and soothe all the anxiety out of you, and there is a big part of me that wants to do that for you every day of your life.

Then there is that other part of me that knows this separation - the one that had me crying the whole way home - is what is best.  I have watched you, my love, as you have learned so many new things these last couple of years - speech, reading, piano, soccer.  You started out protesting, dragging your feet, slowly loosening up and letting yourself be taught.  With each of these new ventures, the more you have learned, the more confident you have become.  Now you are a totally different boy than you were as a toddler.  You are no longer the little brother who can wants to retain his role and expects help with everything.  You are the strong and independent boy who knows he is really good at learning things. 

It is that boy I left at the school today.  I had an assurance in my heart that although you will have your moments of missing home, moments of wondering if you are doing things right, and moments of feeling that you aren't, you will grow because of it. You will gain more confidence in this struggling and conquering than you would gain from years of me soothing and assuring your fears away.

I will miss you at home.  I will miss your constant chatting when you are feeling social, and your quiet playing when you are caught up in your imagination.  Your sister and I will miss your crinkly-eyed smiles and your spontaneous hugs when something has made you really happy.  Ollie will miss the brother who builds tracks and castles for him.

I love you Gabe.  Keep up the good work, and you will be just fine. Better than just fine.

Love Always,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Huntington Beach State Park

While we were in Myrtle Beach, we decided to take a little day trip to Huntington Beach State Park.  We always go to Myrtle Beach because it is the cheapest beach city around, but we do not love the crowds and commercialization that jumps out at you everywhere you turn.  We wanted to get away from all of that, and Huntington Beach was perfect.  Just perfect.  I didn’t take any pictures at the beach, because we had a lot to carry anyway (including a baby) and I am paranoid about my nice camera getting sand in it, but I wish I could have made the effort.  It was so smooth and white, and natural looking.  Just gorgeous.  It wasn’t crowded and Gabe and I found our best seashells of our trip there. 

Before we hit the beach, we toured, Atalaya, which was winter home of the Huntingtons, and sits inside the state park.  The walls are pretty much all that is left, but it was interesting to see Moorish-inspired architecture on the coast of South Carolina.

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There was also an educational center where the kids got to touch a stingray. 


All of it was great, but we almost wished that we just went straight to the beautiful beach.  It was our best beach day and it got cut short when some storms rolled in. 

This a view of the marshland on the way out of the park.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Ripley’s Aquarium

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Just a few pictures from Ripley’s Aquarium last week.  It was super crowded, but there were definitely some beautiful sea-life to be seen.  The boys liked most of it, especially Ollie.  We went on this moving sidewalk through a tunnel that had sharks, and Gabe did not like that too much.  He would crouch down and duck his head when the sharks came too close. 
They had a huge shark exhibit with a line long enough to persuade us not to go.  However, we did catch a sneak peak of a mermaid from their (weird) mermaid show.

So, what did I think of Ripley’s Aquarium? Glad we got the tickets for free or it definitely would have felt like a waste of money (it’s expensive for what it is).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A “walk” on the beach last Thursday

“Let’s talk a walk on the beach this evening, boys.”

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“But we aren’t going to wear swimsuits, so no getting in the water.”

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Ha. Ha. Ha.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Medieval Times – courtesy of Sheraton Vacation Ownership

So, we did it again.  We went to a timeshare presentation.  We hadn’t really planned to do one this trip, but about an hour away from Myrtle Beach, Carina started fussing, and we decided to pull into one of the many “visitor information centers” along the way to feed the boys free popcorn and soda while I nursed her.  I sat in the car and Chad moseyed in with the boys just to see what they would offer us.  He came back out and said they would give the whole family tickets to Medieval Times and Ripley’s Aquarium.  We knew the kids would love both of those things, so we signed up. 

Let me just say real quick, well…maybe not real quick because I am still seething a little….this was the worst timeshare experience I have had, and they have all been a bit miserable so that is really saying something.  Colin and Gabe went into their daycare center, so we just had Ollie and Carina with us.  Oliver was happy, though a little hyper, and Carina was happy for the first 2 hrs of our salesperson’s inane small talk mixed with incredibly condescending/combative questioning.

After 2 hrs, Carina started to fuss and I was not about to take a break to feed her because I know they pause everything if one spouse leaves the room.  I tried to let our saleslady know we needed to wrap it up (for all timeshares you agree to a 90 minute presentation, so she was already well over), but by this point we had told her, point-blank, that there was nothing they could offer us to get us to buy a timeshare, so she was unhappy with us and getting snarky.  She was stubbornly going through all their offers, with Carina crying full force.  I stood up next to the table, as she went through each and every line, to try and bounce Carina, and she even had the gall to tell me I needed to be sitting down.  I sat down, and Carina got hysterical.  I couldn’t even hear what the saleslady was saying, and Carina started doing the whole gulping-for-air hiccup-sob. My mama bear side come out.  I blurted out “I’m done.I am just done. I CANNOT let her cry like this.”  The saleslady started to say something about needing to go through everything and then someone else would come over to talk to us, and I said, “NO. I am done.  We are finished.”  I swear to you, I was as polite as I could possibly be (I know she is trying to make a living and they have certain tactics they are supposed to use), and as she left us with someone else I told her very sincerely that I hoped she would have a better day.  But by that point we were at 2 1/2 hrs and my baby needed someone to stand up for her.

I also got the most ridiculous comment from an salesman who was walking by (they all talk to you to let you know how friendly their company is).  He said, “Oh, you have four boys, huh?” And we said, “Nope, three boys…the baby is a girl.” And he said, “Well, you dress her like a boy!”  What was she wearing, you ask?  A white onesie with pink roses on it, a white skirt, and she had white and pink blanket with her.  ??????

(Let me just say I know that some people might think it is weird to go to timeshare presentations when we have NO intention to buy, just to get the gifts, but trust me, they know what we are doing.  They make it very clear that our only obligation to is listen to what they have to say.  And the fact that they are willing to give so many people just like us as much as they do shows you how much money they are making off of those few who do end up buying)

Okay, so enough ranting.  We went to Medieval Times on Thursday.  Colin and Gabe had a great time.  Their favorite parts were the food (and eating it with their hands), especially the huge piece of chicken, and the fighting at the end.  They both really paid attention the whole time and Gabe loved booing the bad knight. Oliver?  He hates loud noise, and covered his ears for all but about five minutes of the whole thing.  We humored him and hand fed him his food and provided a straw for him to sip his soup.  As long as he was willing to stay in the room and be calm, it was  a small price to pay.  Carina slept, nursed, and tried to get a carnation from the red and yell0w knight.  How could he turn her down?

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It was a fun night and the boys are already talking about “the next time that we go to Medieval Times.”  Yeah, we will have to see about that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Before I move on….

Some pictures from my sister Ashley’s visit a couple of weeks ago

Rae’s birthday party

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Saying goodbye

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I think I might have the most gorgeous nieces and nephews on the planet.