Playdate in the garden…

Last week, we went to the Botanical Garden with our neighbors. It was our first visit in over a year – which is odd for us because we usually keep up a family membership. I’d somehow forgotten how beautiful it is, so I am glad my neighbor Lori suggested it.

Michael’s favorite is the butterfly house. It has a corn snake (in an aquarium) and a lot of turtles in addition to hundreds of butterflies.

I don’t recommend touching the turtles. This one looked hungry for a finger-snack!!

The garden is really kid-friendly. (Ominous hungry turtles not withstanding.) There’s a fun theme every summer (this year it’s Alice-in-Wonderland) plus amazing tree houses and stuff to climb on and through. Leah’s favorite thing about visiting the botanical garden is that kids always wear swimsuits to play in the fountains and water features.

This pergola is my favorite. You wander down a path through the woods and then BOOM there it is. It’s just amazing… The lily pads alone are incredible. They’re gigantic!

Ellie and Leah the castle guards!

Jason, Ellie, Lexie, Leah and Michael

We are enjoying the final moments of a very short summer break. School starts next week! It has been a really fun summer – about the perfect pace of slow days and busy days with just enough travel and just enough being at home. We all just wish we had about a month more of it!

Papa’s orchard

The kids and I made a quick trip to Tennessee a couple weeks ago to pick fruit in Papa’s orchard. The blueberries and plums were in! Papa and Mama P said we could keep whatever we picked which was pretty good incentive to pick a lot!

Man, there is no tastier blueberry than the one you pick on a hot summer day. They were delicious! I was snacking as I picked and Papa made a joking reference to Hindereth not the oxen that thresheth out the grain… and of course it didn’t come out sounding quite right (how could it?!?) so we were cracking up!

I love blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes and blueberries on Greek yogurt with a little granola and honey.

After picking blueberries for about 15 minutes, I suspect any rational person would conclude they really should cost more. It’s a tedious job. You have to check each one to see whether it’s truly ripe and then hand pick them one at a time.

As soon as Papa sat down to pick blueberries, Michael decided his legs were tired – uh huh – and went to get a bucket of his own.

I thought it was cute that he wanted to copy Papa.

We weren’t even done picking when this photo was taken but several of the picking crew went to “check on something in the house” and never came back! Ha!

It was stinking hot.

Apples.

Peaches.

Pears, muscadines and grapes.

The kids ate so much fruit we thought they’d be sick! Leah ate at least a dozen plums and Michael plowed through a couple pears before we ever hit the orchard.

All good!

Summer Stock

This year’s visit to Jonesborough was maybe my favorite because we didn’t try to do very much – we just got to enjoy being together. We are usually shuttling the kids from the water park to the bouncy house place to the cousins’ farm to the festival downtown… one year, 13 of us hit Dollywood in matching tie-dye shirts! What a sight! Anyway, we always have fun but it’s always slightly frenetic.

This year, we essentially did nothing and the most amazing thing happened… five little kids put their imaginations together and decided to put on performances for us! They worked so hard on it for a couple of days – and they were awesome!

Leah created a reserved seat for Bryan on the aisle. I think she was copying our church – they gave us our own seats years ago with a “reserved” placard. Very sweet!

The girls had teamed up so the boys followed suit. The differences in their chosen performances was nothing short of a study in X vs Y chromosomes. The girls had plot development, conversation, emotions and singing. The boys had no words at all in act one and when it was done, Michael clarified for the audience that the scene was intended to explain the direction of the storyline. Anyway, there was a lot of hunting, chasing and grunting – but the boys had practiced and actually created this all very deliberately.

Best visit ever.

July 4th

I need to tell you about what we did over the July 4th weekend!

Every year, we spend July 4th with my childhood friend Molly and her family in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It’s the highlight of our summer! Jonesborough dates back to the 1700s and is such a quaint little town. It’s very Mayberry-esque.

Molly’s parents, Terry and Sandy, have three precious grandchildren (see photo above) but made room in their hearts for two more years ago. Leah and Michael’s little faces are on the refrigerator next to the grandkids. We all have so much fun together!

Buddy got a haircut and I almost didn’t recognize him!

Friends since 1979… as in 4th grade… as in the exact age our daughters, Leah and Lucy, are right now!

Molly and Rene.

Every summer, we ride on a parade float with the whole family. It’s so much fun! Terry and a couple of his buddies play guitars and banjos and we all sing “Grand Ol’ Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as we ride through town.

My favorite float this year was the giant chicken! The whole thing was made from plastic grocery sacks! Isn’t it amazing?!?

Up next… a post on something really cool the kids came up with while we were in Jonesborough!

Seen and Heard: Ode to Little Boys

My friend Tara’s girls were 9 and 11 when she welcomed home her baby boy last year. Bryan and I chuckle when we imagine all the adventures they are in for. Boys are just so different!! When I was pregnant with Michael, my friend Lisa was so excited for me. “Oh, little boys love their mamas,” she said – and it’s true. Michael is so very different from Leah. I am finding my way in parenting a son. He is a boy’s boy and at 72 pounds in a full run, he can clip me! I have grown adept at blocking a running tackle and have become an expert on Ninjago.

Tara, this edition of Seen and Heard is just for you and the great adventure you’re beginning…

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Michael: “Oops. I just spilled my water.”

Me: “Well, get a towel and clean it up.”

<several minutes later>

Michael: “I just used some of my dirty underwears to clean it up.”

Michael: “Mommy, why cant you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom?”

Me: “I don’t know. Why?”

Michael: “Because the ‘P’ is silent. Get it?!? Get it, Mommy?!? The pee is silent!!! Get it?!?”

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Michael: “Mommy, I love you soooooo much. I love you more than you even love me.”

Mommy: “Michael, I love you more than you can imagine.”

Michael: “In Dragonvale, I am your Love Dragon.”

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Michael – after Sunday School: “What is Judah? Where is that?”

Me: “Well, it’s part of what we now call Israel.”

Michael: “And I suppose they do a lot of Judo in Judah?”

Me: “I don’t think it works that way.”

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Michael: “When I grow up, I am going to live as a hermit in a hut on the plains of Africa and be an animal expert.”

Me: “Do you think you’ll ever feel lonely being out there by yourself?”

Michael: “No – because you’re going to come visit me.”

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Michael: “I am going to build our house when I’m a grown up.”

Me: “Sounds nice.”

Michael: “I hope you don’t want a big house because this will be small…  just a hut with a grass roof.”

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Michael: “I used to be a big talker, but now… not so much.”

(Anyone who has been around Michael as recently as, oh today will know why that is funny!)

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Michael – at dinner commenting on my homemade barbecue hot pockets: “It looks terrible and it smells bad, but it’s kinda tasty – sort of like sweat. Ya know?”

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Michael – loudly – as we are seated in a restaurant: “Mommy! Look! There’s people dating right next to us!”

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Michael – in Waffle House: “Leah, you should get a waffle. It’s Waffle House. It’s not Chicken Salad House. It’s not Sausage Biscuit House. It’s Waffle House. I’m getting the extra-large man-sized waffle.”

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Michael to Bryan: “Daddy, truth or dare?”

Bryan: “Truth, I guess.”

Michael: “Who was the first girl you took on a date?”

Bryan: “Well, I guess that would be ********* *****.”

Michael: “Oooooooooooooooo! Mama! Daddy just admitted his secret lover that he used to love!”

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Leah to Michael: “Truth or dare?”

Michael: “Dare.”

Leah: “I dare you to say you kissed **** ****** even if it’s not true!”

Michael: “No! You don’t have to do a dare if it would be life threatening and that would be life threatening so NO!!!!!”

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Michael’s friend Tucker – looking at a picture of me as a teenager: “That’s you? Who was your boyfriend?”

Me: “Well, I didn’t have a boyfriend then but I had a big crush on a guy named ***** ******.”

Tucker: “Was he big and strong?”

Me: “Well, he was tall.”

Tucker: “What sport did he play?”

Me: “He played the trombone.”

Tucker: “What?!? The trombone?!? Why would you have a crush on someone who plays the trombone?!? Oh, Mrs. Kim, that is terrible!!!”

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Michael – delighted: “You said the CRACK of dawn. CRACK of dawn! Get it? Crack!! <pointing to his bottom> Crack like bootie! Like your bottom! Like your you-kn0w-what! Get it, Mama? Crack!!!”

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Michael – saying the prayer at dinner: “Dear God, thank you for today. Thank you for everything you have given us. Thank you for this… ummmm… Please help Mommy change her mind about making me eat this chicken salad. Amen.”

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Our friend Andrew: “I am never getting married that way I will have more money and I can buy myself a mansion and rich stuff.”

Michael: “I am never getting married either. It’s just going to be me and my dog! That’s it!”

Andrew: “Oh, you’ll get married someday – whenever your pet snake dies.”

Michael: “That’s exactly why I can never get married! My boy will get bitten by my rattlesnake and my girl will scream and jump out the window and my wife will cry because she lost her children.”

Me – cringing: “Oh good grief! You don’t have to get married!! Just be sure you have good people in your life!”

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This one is from a year or two ago but it merits inclusion…

Kristina-the-neighbor: “A naked boy just ran through your yard!!!”

Me: “What?!? OMG!!! That’s crazy!!! Who is it?!? How old is he?!? Did you see who it is?!?”

Kristina: “Hang on… hang on… hang on… Yup, it’s Michael. Sorry. Sorry!!!”

Me: “Of course. Great. I’ll go get him.”

 

SeeWee

Nothing but the finest will do, so we headed straight to SeeWee Restaurant in Awendaw, South Carolina for dinner the other night. It’s in a clapboard building that was originally a general store in the 1920s and became a restaurant in the 1990s. I loved everything about it from the battered facade to the wobbly old tables. The food was insanely salty — very much country cooking — fried okra, butter beans, green beans cooked in pig, collard greens, fried pickles…

On the whole, it was quite an experience! The French bistro in Charleston the night before was definitely finer cuisine but I loved the whole SeeWee experience. Have I mentioned the restrooms are outside? Just like at an old time gas station? Fancy digs.

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I really hope we can vacation here more often now that Bryan’s sister Judith and her family are living in Columbia. South Carolina is beautiful! Sorry to be headed home tomorrow.

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Hang Ten

The kids love to boogie board more than almost anything in the world! It began a few summers ago when we watched “Soul Surfer” about 11 year old Bethany Hamilton’s return to competitive surfing after losing an arm to a great white. Leah in particular has been in love with surfing and Hawaii since then!

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Olivia and Anna were out there with Leah and Michael. My kids are good swimmers but sometimes I wish they were just a wee bit leery… You know how fearless kids are. Yesterday I briefly considered “Jaws” for movie night!! Hahaha!!

Yesterday was special because Papa and Mama P were out boogie boarding with the kids. At 75 and 74, that’s pretty cool. Last October, when Mama P was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, we would have been so encouraged to have had a crystal ball showing her hitting the waves this week.

Papa and Mama P are great examples for their grandchildren in so many ways.

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Beach pictures…

I’m blogging this week from my iPhone so bear with me…. These pictures are a little out of order.

Bryan and I have often discussed building a prototype of a beach wheelchair that we could market to beachside businesses and resorts for the disabled and seniors – with options to haul things like coolers or camping gear over sand. This one was clearly built in someone’s garage for less than the cost of the rental ($380/week). Hey, it works… But Bryan has several ideas to improve the design!

We had fun on the beach today! Michael loved having Daddy in the surf.

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Anna and Will: 15 year old cousins…

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Michael said he was feeling the air!

As you can see, we took family beach pictures and then sat on the roof deck and watched the sun set while Anna and big sister Olivia sang for us.

God + iPhone

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Is it not crazy that an iPhone can capture such beauty? We are enjoying a week at the beach with Bryan’s family in/on Isle of Palms just outside Charleston, South Carolina. It’s entirely worth an all-day drive to get here. What a beautiful area! Papa P rented a giant house so we can all stay together.

Right now, I am sitting in a rocking chair on the porch looking at palm trees, a blue sky and the Atlantic ocean listening to my gorgeous, brilliant 15 year old niece Anna playing the eukelele and singing “I belong with you and you belong with me…” She says the song is called Ho Hey. Anna was born 100 years too late for a career singing the blues in Paris or New Orleans in the 1920s but that’s the voice she has.

May we please never go home?

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Jobs…

Today I’m forcing myself to revamp my resume. I have been officially unemployed for five mostly glorious and surprisingly busy months – and – it’s time to get a job! The kids go back to school in 4 weeks. I haven’t job hunted since I was 25 years old so “the hunt” is a little daunting. I don’t want to do it. Every job jump I’ve made over the years was very informal… a couple phone calls… no interviewing… no scrutiny of a resume. I either moved internally within the company or followed my favorite boss when I was an independent consultant.

A couple months ago, a friend invited me to tour the office of the consulting firm where she works. They’re in a really cool industrial space that dates back at least 100 years. It used to be a stove factory. I loved the tour, but the nice surprise in it all was that I met the communications director and had a discussion with him for about an hour that was the closest thing to a job interview I’ve had since 1996. It was good practice.

The kids have teased me a little bit lately about being unemployed… We detoured through Sewanee, Tennessee on our way home from Jonesborough over the 4th. I fell in love with that town the first time I visited it 20+ years ago. When Bryan and I lived in Florida, we looked into the possibility of moving there and even looked at a couple houses. Not surprisingly, the kids loved it, too! Such a gorgeous community…

Kids: “Let’s move! Let’s move here this summer! Can we? Can we?”

Me: “No, we’re not moving anywhere. Well, if Mommy ever has a full-on freak-out, Sewanee is my Plan B. We will run away to the mountains! We will live in the woods! Daddy can work at AEDC and you can go to St. Andrews! Haha!”

Leah – to Michael: “And Mommy can work from anywhere since she telecommutes… Oh wait, that’s right, Mommy doesn’t have a job!

Bryan liked that one!

And then yesterday, Michael said: “I want to be a grown-up who doesn’t have a job.” Leah jumped in – and just to gig me – she said, “No, Michael! Don’t be like Mommy!” And they both laughed!

They are enjoying this too much!

OK, back to my resume…