The Holidays are Over…Finally!


Ahhh, the holidays are over…well, kind of. Charles’ dad leaves tomorrow and then we’ll take down the Christmas trees, lights and other decorations. I can’t wait for it all to be over–the holidays this year were a bit too stressful for my liking.

Mom and Doug arrived on the 24th, Riley’s birthday, and we had a blast opening presents and eating one of the coolest birthday cakes EVER…

The birthday table is all set.
The presents are waiting…

Seriously, how cool is this cake?

Eight yummy layers inside!

Cool! A Darth Vader Lego alarm clock!

Play-Doh and Lego games!

The birthday celebration was fun, but we made sure to get in bed at a decent time for Santa. Riley left him a special red and green donut with sprinkles from Dunkin’ Donuts with a glass of milk. She also sprinkled special “food” she made at school out on the lawn for the reindeer.

Santa left lots of presents…and an AT-AT!!
Opening presents Christmas morning with Daddy.
Riley and Papa testing out the new toys.

Late Christmas night, it began to snow. And it kept snowing. And snowing. Mom and Doug (mostly Doug) insisted on leaving in the middle of the storm to head back to Charlotte and, then, on to Morristown. We tried to get them to stay, but no dice. They said it was the worst trip ever and that, at one point, it took them over an hour to drive 5 miles. I doubt they’ll ever make the drive to our house for Christmas again. Bummer.

The snow was beautiful here though–the weatherman said it’s the most snow the area’s gotten since 1989. We got just a bit over 4 inches–it doesn’t hold a candle to a New England storm by any means, but we’ll take it. It was really cool to see palm trees covered in snow!

Preparing the snowman.
Riley and Charles discussing strategy…
The finished product.
The neighborhood covered in snow. We got about 4 inches.

I’ll finish with a picture of one of Charles’ gifts which, ironically, I’ll most likely be the one to use.

New toys for Mommy and Daddy for the New Year.

Okay, now for some random items:


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?


I’ve decided that I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I love the “feeling” that the holidays bring, but I hate all the school functions, work functions, parties, gift buying/wrapping, decorating, planning, cooking, cleaning and increased stress that come with Christmas. Thankfully, we’re not travelling at all this year–everyone is coming to us. I think if I had to add 16 to 18 hours in a car to this season, I might just go crazy!

We attended the town Christmas parade a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time, but it was frigid!

I snuck away before the parade to look around in a few of the shops downtown and came accross an empty alley and a great view of Christ Church…

After the parade we had planned to watch the Christmas flotilla, but it began to rain (eventually turning into our first snow of the season!) and we decided to go back to a warm house. But, before we did, Charles made a trip to the local nursery to pick up his very own crab pot Christmas tree!

Today is Riley’s last day of school until January 3, so we’ll get a bit of a break there–I’ll get to sleep in!

We’ve ordered her birthday cake as well and should be picking that up this Thursday. I found a woman locally to bake it and who thinks she can tackle Riley’s request: Boba Fett with a Santa hat. I’m confident she can pull it off–what sold me was a Seymour (from Little Shop of Horrors) cake she did. Amazing! Don’t believe me? Take a look…

One issue did come up with the cake though–to make it look correct, the baker needs to make the cake a certain size, big enough to feed 35 people! I think we’ll be eating cake for a full week after Riley’s celebration.

Our house will be full for the next several days: My parents are coming in on Riley’s birthday, the 24th, and staying through the 26th; Charles’ mom Nancy is coming the 26th through the 30th; and Charles’ dad is coming the 30th through January 2nd. Whew! It’s going to be a busy holiday!

Tournaments, Teeth and Turkey


So, I haven’t posted in quite a while–I get so busy that I don’t take the time to log our lives like I would like to. Work has been all-consuming lately, but I’m hoping that additional help will arrive along with 2011.

First, let me catch you up on Halloween. I didn’t take a lot of pictures–I was too busy having fun! Charles’ mom Nancy was here with us, along with our wonderful friend and neighbor, Jessica. We had tons of wonderful food and a great time trick or treating. Here’s a couple from the night…

We went 80s old-school Pac-Man for our pumpkin!
Here’s Riley as Harry Potter.

After yet another drama-filled few weeks, Riley lost her other front tooth. She would not let us touch it or even talk about it. One morning, as I was brushing her teeth, the tooth went completely sideways. She began freaking out and running through the house. Charles got her in the bathroom and asked to take a look–she let him breifly touch it, but then started crying loudly. She said she knew it would hurt to pull it out and didn’t want us to touch it. She went on for 10 minutes.

When she finally calmed down, Charles said, “Take a look.” He opened his hand and there sat her tooth. It had literally fallen out of her mouth when he first touched it! All that drama AFTER the tooth had come out without her even realizing it!!

All she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth!

Last month, Riley competed in her first Taekwondo tournament. She was so excited and did an amazing job. She did her forms, broke a board and showed off her fighting skills…

Showing off her forms.

She easily broke the board with one kick!

Ready to fight.

Great punch!

On the medal stand–second place out of eight!!

We are so very proud of her! There will definitely be more tournaments to come and she even has a “Taekwondo Camp” December 17-19. She’s so excited she can barely wait!

We stayed here for Thanksgiving. I really missed being with my family in Tennessee, but spending the holiday here wasn’t too bad. Nancy (with dog Snowy in tow) rented a house for the week at Emerald Isle Beach and we had dinner there with our neighbors Jessica, Marc and Bruschi.

View from the front porch.

Riley and Snowy.

Our view from the living room.

Thanksgiving morning.

Ready for Halloween, Excited About Zombies and Finding a Black Widow in Your Breakfast Treat


Happy Halloween!!! Okay, I’m a bit early, but it’s my favorite holiday and our decorations have been up since the end of September. Last night we enjoyed the Fall Festival at the YMCA–Riley played in a few bouncy-houses, painted a pumpkin and we all went on a hayride. Very cute.

Today we drove downtown and went to the pumpkin patch at Christ Episcopal Church. I’m in love with this church (it’s the oldest in town) and we had a great time finding the perfect pumpkins.

Decisions, decisions…

Well, that’s one way to display pumpkins!

A playground right next to 300-year-old graves.

The grounds of the church.

The front door of Christ Episcopal.

During a recent trip to our one-and-only bookstore, I found myself in heaven–a huge Halloween display with so many wonderful reads…

See what I mean?

Ahh, “The Walking Dead” series…
can’t wait to watch this next Sunday!

And…in other news: A couple of weeks ago we went to Emerald Isle to enjoy a day at the beach and walked down to the pier. Too many fishermen, but it was worth walking through them all for the amazing view at the end…

View from the end of the pier back to the beach.

There had to be about 30 surfers enjoying the
waves kicked up by the tropical storm.

If you have really great eyesight, you should be able to
see about 15 dolphins swimming just past the pier.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Riley was up early, as usual, before school and eating breakfast. She really wanted some grapes so Charles pulled the bag out of the refrigerator, pulled out the grapes, washed them off in the sink and put them in a small bowl for her. Maybe 10 minutes later she comes running to Charles: “Dad!! There’s a spider in my grapes!”

What the …?!?

In case you can’t tell from the photo, that’s a Black Widow. Yes. In. Her. Grapes. What if she’d eaten it? The lesson here, kids? Even washing your fruit does not guarantee that a spider won’t end up hanging out with you at breakfast. Be careful!

Several days ago we made the decision that the van had to go. She’s old and falling apart–plus, we really don’t need something that big anymore. We traded her in for a Hyundai Santa Fe and came out with lower monthly payments and cut our interest rate in half!

The new car.

Things to note and other fun facts:

  • Don’t forget that what could be one of the best TV shows ever is premiering Halloween night on AMC–“The Walking Dead.” Added bonus: It’s directed and created by Frank Darabont! I will be glued to the screen!! Oh, and here’s a fan-made intro for the series–so cool!
  • Baba Ghanouj  is very good…and my six-year-old child loved it! Great recipe here.
  • Did you know that Michael J. Fox wasn’t the original Marty McFly? I had no idea! See orginial footage with Eric Stoltz here.
  • Are you a die-hard Democrat like me? Do you need a good laugh? Watch “I’m Voting Republican.”
  • I want Charles do make breakfasts like this for me. The Angry Birds one is my favorite.
  • These vintage ads are hilarious! What were they thinking?

Here Comes Earl


Riley’s school dismissed at 1:00 p.m. today ahead of Earl and is on a three-hour delay for Friday. It’s been overcast here all day–increasing clouds and wind as the afternoon progressed. Late this evening, I was amazed to stand outside and watch the clouds above swirl and move almost like I was watching someone hit the “fast-forward” button in the sky.

Here’s a radar image I just captured–the red dot marks our spot–and we’re right in the middle of the action right now.

One of our usual beach spots, Atlantic Beach, is getting hit with the wind and 12- to 14-foot waves. They are also starting to see the pier deteriorate. A couple of the pylons are coming loose and the whole thing may be gone by morning.

As of now (9:45 p.m.) the wind is really roaring and the rain has started in earnest. Thankfully, Earl has now been downgraded to a Category 2 with winds at 110 mph. The experts say that the worst will start to hit us around 2:00 a.m., but the worst will be over Friday morning.

We’ve “battened down the hatches” and prepared the best we can. I think we’ll be just fine!

His Name is Earl and Missing My "Zzzz"


Okay, I’ve found the first disadvantage of living so close to the coast–his name is Earl and he’s projected to possibly hit very close to us. We are currently under a hurricane watch and they’ve issued a mandatory evacuation for Okracoke. Yikes!

I’ll be watching the weather very closely during the next 36 to 48 hours. At the moment, the weather folks are saying things could start to get rough late Thursday into Friday morning.

In other (boring) news, I discovered today the possible reason for my failing memory, fatigue, general confusion and terrible headaches. My doctor thinks I may be suffering from sleep apnea. He’s sending me to a pulmonologist and I will more than likely have to take part in a sleep study. Wonderful.

Oh, and I’ve completed my UT pedicure–it’s officially the start of college football season! I can’t wait!!