Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A couple of weeks have passed

Our beach vacation sadly came to an end - but we knew it would. Thankfully, Todd snapped some really beautiful shots at sunset on one of our last days there that we will certainly cherish. We tried to walk the mile-and-a-half to an inlet at the opposite side of the island to collect shells... but with a 2 1/2 year old... that was a pretty lofty goal. We did snag some shells along the way. (Mercer was mainly interested in throwing them in the ocean, however, so if we saw something we wanted to keep - we had to hide it or else it was destined to swim!)

While we were on the coast of South Carolina, we took a trip into Charleston -- about an hour away. Todd & I haven't spent much time there, even though we lived fairly close when we lived in Savannah. We played "tourist" and did things we thought Mercer would enjoy. We think he had a good time. He saw dolphins in the water, boats, horses, and roosters. (There were some chickens & roosters wandering around the street in one part of town where the horse stables were. Mercer tried to say cock-a-doodle-doo. To our amusement, he said "ca-ca-doo-doo." : - )

We rented bicycles one day. We rode to the beach in the morning... to a playground on the other side of the island... to eat ice cream at one of the few retailers on the other side of the island... and continued on to the SC State Park beach to look for sea shells before wearily riding back to the condo. When asking Mercer what his favorite part of the day was -- he said the ice cream. What?!!? We can do that anywhere! Oh well!

The last day there, Mercer wasn't feeling well. He laid on the couch with Todd all morning, so I went to a part of the island that's been turned into a nature preserve. Botany Bay Plantation is now owned by the state and open to the public. It is a unique undeveloped parcel of land approximately 4700 acres which spans marshes, farm land, and beaches that look the way that the coast looked before the other area shore-lines were cleared for beach-goers 70 years ago. It boasts one of the most diverse array of wildlife of any other place in existence (according to some educational information on site). I saw several dozens species as small as sand crabs... as large as heron in the sky... to dolphins in the water. Most of the plantation structures are no longer there, but there are a couple which are interesting: A Gothic ice house & gardener's shed.

I can imagine that sunrises at the plantation would be AMAZING. We will have to make it a point to get up early and go out there sometime, as we have already decided that we want to go back to the island, as it's one of the last non-commercial beaches left on the east coast.... nothing to do but play in the sand.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Couldn't resist posting these real quick

We're on our way to Charleston this morning & I need to get our things ready, but this was a funny series & I wanted to post quickly:

We're sure that many a men have been defeated by the ocean....
We promise... he IS having fun on this trip

(with the occasional *blip* from the sea)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

mid-vacation post

We're on Edisto Island beach on the coast of South Carolina right now. (We'll, right now, Mercer is napping / Todd's playing golf / I'm here at the condo.) We have worn the little guy out & we're not even half-way through our vacation! I don't know what it is about the sun, but it has zapped Mercer every day & he takes monumentally long naps.

Here, he's sporting his car pj's while laying on his car sheets. They almost look the same. We brought a twin-sized blow-up mattress for him to sleep on & brought his bed rail so he wouldn't roll off the 4" to the ground. The first few times he was to go to sleep on the mattress, he used it like a bouncy house while holding onto the rail -- but he eventually goes to sleep on it. (yes, he just drank... and is drooling milk)

Here are a few shots from yesterday's visit to the beach. The place we're staying is not on the beach, but they have a tram that takes you there... there's a cabana with bathrooms and (most importantly) a wash-off station. It's amazing how much sand a little swim diaper can hold!! After getting back to our condo, we ended up stripping Mercer & hosing him off before coming back inside -- but there was still a ton of sand that appeared mysteriously during his shower afterwards.

He enjoyed playing in the sand with his shovel, bucket, bulldozer, and dump truck. He made tracks. He buried his feet. He was very creative with the various toys around.

It seemed that his play area was a little too close to the water, however!
and in a flash...
it was gone!

We introduced him to "frisbee" although he didn't need much introduction to throwing / slinging things! (the frisbee would go behind his back much of the time) Today, we all flew kites (sort of).

We watched pelicans along the water, lots of butterflies along the dunes, and even
a heron that would fly & perch... fly & perch... fly & perch. We haven't seen any alligators, although there are supposedly plenty of them (the island is surrounded mainly by a marsh... which moves to an inlet on either side... that encompass the shore line along the Atlantic). I am hoping that we can move a little inland later in the week and explore some of the nature areas on the island. We'll see.

Here, he's running from waves -- which we did for quite awhile. Eventually, he became more comfortable with the water and ventured close to the edge. (Today, he wanted to actually go further in - so his comfort level is growing still yet).
I will try to post again in the next week or so -- but I know that when I get back home, I have a heavy week lined up for work. Let me put this out of my mind, though, and get back to the beach for now!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

every weekend, we try to do something fun...

It's been just over 2 weeks since the last post. I've been VERY busy at work lately. i had a big grant proposal that was due this week as well as was coordinating / leading a week-long green building training for Dominican Republic & Colombian architects, architecture students, and professors. It was a very unique experience as we had our material translated in print and verbally. This group, too, was - by far - the "warmest" group of students that we've ever taught. It was a lot of fun touring them around the city, too, and visiting local green buildings.

2 weekends ago, we checked out a "safari" that i scored some 50% off tickets to. A co-worker told me about it & it sounded intriguing, but..... it was a little bizarre. You have the option to drive your own car through the safari or rent zebra-striped mini-vans that have been modified (glass out of the windows & bars across the openings). We opted for the van. You buy bags of food & drive through a several-hundred acre preserve. The animals come up to the car & want you to give them the food. Some of them can get their snouts all the way into the car... some of them -- especially the cows and the giraffes -- have really long tongues that they stick out at you too trying to grab the food from you. (That part freaked me out, actually.) Mercer stayed smack in the middle of the van -- very smart.... it was the furthest point away he could get from the animals at a very safe distance! Here in this pic -- he's checking out one of the animals & looks a little concerned. We can't tell if he enjoyed himself or if he was a little freaked out too!?!

Last weekend it was rainy, so we went to the Georgia Aquarium. I snapped a shot of him in front of some of Todd's favorite fish - Lion Fish. My favorite fish - the Weedy Sea Dragon - Mercer was actually interested in. Luckily, we got to spend a couple of minutes watching the odd-looking fish. We have a membership at the aquarium this year (thanks Grandma Gloria!) so we go occasionally; this time, however, we discovered an area that we haven't been to before -- the upstairs section of the kid's area. Here we found a tunnel that Mercer climbed through over and over again as well as a slide that he & I went down to get back to the main level. Another thing that he discovered (although we've seen it before) is how in one of the areas, there is a wave machine that periodically moves across the glass above your head. He was more fascinated by this than before. Love that excitement of discovery! There's a common theme... mouth WIDE open!

This past weekend, we cashed in some passes we had for the Atlanta Botanical gardens... they built a new bridge that weaves through some woods as well as built new fountains and garden areas. A subtle water feature next to a "living wall" became one of Mercer's favorite things to play with there.... I bet many people may pass by without noticing the water feature. Mercer learned that he could break the flow of water that otherwise disappears in grooves cut into the wall and that he could also "paint" his hand-prints on the slate surface with his wet palms & fingers.

One of the things that Todd & I love about going to the botanical gardens is that they try to incorporate art into the garden. Here in this new fountain, they had some blown glass flowers "floating" on the surface. Also, they have multi-colored blown glass pumpkins & gourds which are really stunning in the clusters (of dozens & dozens of hand-made pieces) that they had arranged throughout the new garden areas.

Mercer had a good time playing with the pumpkins that were on display too. Yay - fall is officially here!

Mercer is doing some new things... he "announces" EVERYTHING. If I give him a cup of water with ice, he has to go tell Todd about it. If Todd puts together his Lego train set, Mercer has to have me come look at it and says "daddy did it." A minute later: "daddy did it." At first I thought he was telling on us... if I spilled something "Mommy made a mess" -- but now I've learned he just wants to tell us things -- wants to announce things. Wants our acknowledgement.

Guess we have to be a little careful about what we say & do -- because little guy will certainly openly talk about our every move!

Last week, Mercer counted to 12 by himself & shocked us both. He's also filling in some of the letters when singing ABC song. He's really getting more into wanting to hear kids songs and singing along / clapping / bopping around. (Much to our chagrin - we're not always "allowed" to listen to what we want to on the radio. We new it was coming at some point, though.)

Mercer has gotten into kicking & saying "Hi-ya" like he's in karate. Wonder if a kid at his daycare does this? He also has a hard time expressing his frustration... kind of like a puppy -- when he gets excited -- he bites. (This is something that we're working on having him stop doing!) He's also honing his skills for stalling going to bed... he wants water... he wants to wash his hands... he wants to "fix" my hair. he wants to read just one more book... he wants to go to the potty... he wants to go say good-night to the kitty. This we knew would come too -- we just didn't count on it coming so soon!

I started this post on Saturday, but finished it on Sunday night. I thought that I would make a quick mention about the sermon today at our church. Today was World Communion Day... so they sang some songs in Spanish and in Swahili. They also said a blessing for the bread and the wine in Spanish, French, German. It was interesting. Later, they went into talking about not wanting for "stuff" -- how people are caught up in wanting more and more materialistic things... and how this doesn't bring happiness. They also played a U2 song - "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." Never thought so much about the words to that song. It was an interesting sermon and communion -- I'm really glad we went today!

Todd & I don't feel like we're as materialistic as we used to be... we're seeking more quality-of-life and more experiential things. I've been thinking a lot lately about "what's next" for my career / our family... and as a part of that I am constantly thinking about simplifying life when I do make my next career transition and (hopefully in the near future) our next adoption adventure. This drove the point home for me today to re-focus on what's important. I'm wanting to "push the reset" button. Next week we go on a week-long vacation and hope that we ALL push the reset button and steer towards a more simple, fulfilling life!