Sunday, October 28, 2007

Birthday Canoe trip

Friday was Daniel's 30th birthday. He wanted to stay home and hang out with us and so we had a light dinner and lots of cake! Then we sat around listening to some new birthday music, playing games and watching this show the girls were putting on for us:)

We all went on a canoe trip on the Saluda River for his birthday on Saturday. Although when we woke up Saturday it was looking pretty gloomy outside, the weather turned out to be just perfect. There was a cool breeze and bright sunshine. Since everyone in Columbia stays home on Saturdays in the fall to watch football, we were the only ones on the river for all of the trip. It was so peaceful and relaxing to be floating down the river and observing the turning of the leaves and also experiencing a part of nature that we don't get to see very often.

We were so excited when we saw several belted kingfisher.

Then we got an amazing view of a bird that we didn't recognize. It stayed with us for a large part of the trip. It would skim the water then perch on a branch. It looked like some kind of hawk with a white belly and striped face. Lesley and Jason probably know exactly what we are talking about. When we got to the end and the park ranger picked us up he told us it was probably an osprey. That is exactly what it was. We also saw a beautiful red tail hawk and counted 30 turtles on logs and rocks and we floated by.
We stopped at an island and had a little snack about half way through. This is where the birthday boy lost balance and fell in as he was getting out of the boat. I was very proud that he was able to laugh it off.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Daniel

Today we celebrate Daniel's 30th birthday. Today I am reminded of all the wonderful things about him that I too often take for granted. After being married for over 7 years he still leaves me love notes and flowers every once in a while. I know that I am so loved. He is my best friend. I love telling him the details of the day and my dreams for the future. He listens and cares. AND he's an amazing dad that all the kids want to play with. He'd rather be hanging out with the girls than anything. He loves them and gives them such quality time in the evenings even though he has been working since before we all got up and he will continue working after we all go to bed! He is kind, gentle, generous, beautiful on the inside and out. He is hardworking. As a teacher and a student he amazes me with all that he takes on and manages so well. He is the best at what he does. I (we) are so thankful for him. Today we will give him a few small gifts, eat yummy carrot cake and most importantly we'll cherish the wonderful guy we are so blessed to have. Happy Birthday Daniel. (pictures to follow)

Monday, October 22, 2007


Thursday morning, bright and early, we drove to Charlotte for the student days of the Renaissance Festival. We were there from 9-2:30 and we still didn't see it all! We went on the day that was designated for high schools which turns out was a lot better than going on the days for elementary kids since the high schoolers weren't really interested in the same stuff we were. Anyway, we began the morning at the Joust. Julian would have loved this!!! The actors were great and there were other actors all in the audience helping the crowd cheer. We were going for the good prince and thankfully at the end he came back and killed the evil knight.
Next we saw the storyteller. He was a traveler and told stories from all over the world. I think that they could have sat there all day listening to him play his instruments and tell stories.
As we were walking through the very crowded crowd we would pass people in costume dressed as peasants, lords and ladies, craftsmen, clowns, crazies, fairies (another of the girls' favorite), trees, musicians (who would stop and play us a song), etc. We also sat and watched several shows including jugglers, glass blowing demonstration, belly dancers, skits, and magicians.

We rode man-powered rides. The riders pulled the ropes and a man would stand on one end and push the boat up and down. There was also a giant rocking horse to ride on, and a few other rides where the guy would run around as the boats or butterflies circled around him. There was a maze to find our way through, spooky dungeons to discover and all kinds of things. We didn't even go into any of the hundreds of shops lining the walkway that were selling trinkets, clothing, and food.
I was so impressed at the level of involvement of the people in costume. They were great actors. They seemed to really love what they were doing. They would stop and just talk to the children. We were all totally exhausted by the end. I would love to go back again next year as a family since I know that Daniel would have loved it too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fairs then and now

The state fair is a family tradition. It started back in Indy 3 yeas ago when we first rodes bikes with the girls in the bike trailor down the Monon Trail to the fair. For the third year in a row we spent the day at the fair. The girls love to ride the rides so it's hard to get them away from that. There are other great shows and exhibits that we walked through as well. Here's a few pictures from that. The girls and I got to go another day during the week with some friends and we played lots of games and took home lots of prizes and a bag of cotton candy:) I will post about the renassiance festival later tonight.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

backyard science

I'm sure you all remember our pet garden spider. Well, right before our beach trip we noticed that the male spider had arrived. He spent several days on the opposite side of the web from her. Notice how much smaller he is. Then he disappeared. We assume he was eaten even though we didn't actually see this happen we have read that it does.

That same night that we noticed he was gone we saw the mom begin to make her egg sack. Daniel and I watched for a little while since the girls were already asleep. As she made the sack it looked like she was sitting on top of a cotton ball. It was amazing. The next morning she was gone and this is what we found by the deck.

Right underneath the web is a big bush that is the home to a green lizard. We would always see it but could never catch it. Daniel finally caught one last night in the front yard and had him waiting for us when we got home from the park yesterday. Both of the girls got a chance to hold him and pet him before we let him go. See if you can find him on Ellen's shirt in the last picture.

Isn't it amazing what you can find and learn about by just spending some time outside. I don't know about you but I think it's much better than the discover channel:)

Here's recent pictures from the garden. I bought baby buttercrunch lettuce plants from Home Depot and we planted them several weeks ago. We've been having some great fresh salads! These sweet potatoes were planted in the beginning of the summer and did really well over the dry hot summer. We still have a lot more of those to pull up! I made a yummy sweet potato parsnip soup with them. We planted lots more seeds (spinach, kale, chard, lettuce) and but they are still small.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Carolina Beach

When I went to Richmond to visit Lesley, Jason, and Alder a few months ago we talked about how fun it would be to do a vacation together with both of our families. We were determined to make it work. Lesley and I searched hotels, campgrounds, and condos and started to think it might be too complicated and expensive. But, Daniel found a great website with a house that looked perfect. It was cheap, close to beach and had enough space. We were all expecting the worst since it sounded so good:) But thank goodness it was actually very nice. So we booked it for the long weekend.

The first full day we were there was a little rainy so we went to the Aquarium. It was not that great but gave us all something fun to do together. We spent as much time as we could at the beach. We built sand castles and villages (I should say the guys and little girls did all the digging), played in the surf, and took a few walks down the beach. The waves were really rough and the kids had a hard time playing in it but it was perfect for us big kids. The house had some boogie boards and we all took turns using them. The girls rode on Daniel's back a few times too and I got that on video. (see below)

Being around Lesley and Jason is like being around walking nature encyclopedias. They are naturalists. They love and know so much about insects, plants, birds and wildlife. I felt like a sponge just soaking up all the information as we talked with them and asked them questions about seagulls, bagworms, butterflies, and all sorts of other creatures and animals. They were so great with the girls and Jason brought a special craft for them to do. This was their first attempt at screen printing. I hope to get some supplies and do this again. It was really cool.

The girls loved playing peek-a-boo with Alder. They were like his own personal smiling girls. Whenever there was a free moment the girls would be talking and playing with him.

We brought all our own food and cooked all our own meals. It was so nice to be around another family that had the same values when it comes to food. We shared healthy meals and snacks all working together to cook and clean.

I am so glad we made this trip work. It was hard to justify taking a vacation to the beach with friends. We all have family that we want to be with at every available "time off" and on grad school salary it's hard to afford any trip:) But some things are just worth the effort and this was one of those things. We hope to make this an annual event!

Sorry for this next photo dump (as Jason calls it) but I just couldn't resist. We just had so much fun! Ellen dancing on the shore, Arianna playing in the sand. . . they are best friends and I am so thankful that they play together so well. Did I mention that I spent most of the beach time sitting in my chair just watching them play?!

beach oct 2007 boogie board

Ellen on Daniel's back. Jason comes in at the end. Arianna does a little dance!

Monday, October 01, 2007

New Book: Faces of Straightedge

A bit of exciting family news! My brother Dave runs a small label, Southern Empire Records, that is releasing its first book, a photo-documentary by photographer Ray Jones. The book consists of a cross-section of the straightedge lifestyle communicated via the photo-lens. Dave wrote a preface (or foreword, I can't remember) and has been investing heart and soul into every aspect of production. We are very excited to see its completion. We are sorry we will miss the book release party at a gallery in Atlanta, but our thoughts are with you Dave. Check out these pages for more info.
Congrats Dave!