Sunday, September 25, 2011

Edisto 2011 (part 1)

Our vacation has come and gone - but we have made some fantastic memories. The trip to Edisto Island Beach was very different this year than last. There were things that we discovered by happenstance (such as an inner-island bike trail) and there were things that we sought out that would provide unique experiences.

Instead of being 2 years old, Mercer was 3 on this trip and was able to do additional things such as swim in a pool (with the aid of a Safety Seal swimmer) and he was more interested in building then decorating sand castles. He was also more curious about and active in flying a kite this year. We had to get it up in the air, but once there he wanted to hold it and control it / see if he could make it dance in the sky.

We knew the island much better this trip than last as well. We were in the same complex of buildings, but in a different unit. We were right next to the swimming pool and we had a view of a park with a river beyond - as seen in the previous blog entry. This change actually elevated our experience quite a bit, for it offered additional scenery and ease of access to a couple of amenities. We've discussed going back next year and trying to get the same unit if possible.

I also jumped on a history tour one afternoon while Mercer was napping. It went inland of the island and visited the old churches that line the main road. There is also a history center which we popped into. The island settlers went to grow rice, but instead, ended up growing indigo and became very wealthy because of it. The tour was interesting - however - it didn't paint as complete a picture as I was hoping for. I am interested in learning about the Gullah heritage and traditions. I will have to dig deeper on the next trip for that.

Instead of renting bicycles for a few days like last year, we brought our bikes from home so we had them all week. This is how we travelled on the island except when needing to get groceries from the other side of the island. We rented a "toter" - which it's official use is to transport children - however we used ours like a wagon behind my bike to transport beach gear. Mercer rode in a carrier on Todd's bike - which he is just about grown out of . We can probably cram him in there through this fall... but next spring... we'll have to figure something else out.

One evening after playing on the beach, we ended up riding our bikes past the western tip of the island right around sun set. We hopped off the bikes to take in the colors in the sky. We had hoped to see the beautiful red and orange hues, but to our surprise, we also had a perfect view of the full moon that was rising. Standing in one spot, we could see the sun set AND catch glimpses of dolphins playing and small fish jumping out of the water just under the moonlight that was rippling on top. It was a beautiful spot. All of this was happening at the point where the mouth of the wide marsh-lined creek met the Atlantic.

One morning, we made it to the beach fairly early. Our reward: watching groups of dolphins swim by. Some of them would leap high out of the water. Of course it was impossible to catch on film, although we tried! We were actually lucky, too, in finding a few nice (whole) sea shells as well as quite a number of sharks teeth. Of the three things just mentioned - none of those occurred on our first trip here.

The weather was quite nice for the trip, but took a little turn close to the end of our week. We brought activities to do inside in case of rain - which did not threaten any of our beach-going. It was actually chilly for about 1 1/2 days. We had some board games to play inside, brought some arts & crafts projects to do with Mercer, and baked cookies as well. We also decided to explore the S.C. state park that straddles across the eastern portion of the island as well as a nature / interpretive center that is adjacent to the inland part of the state park. We rode our bikes through the park and sought out a letterbox stamp to add to our book as well.

These pics are actually on a stretch of the beach that borders the state park. The beach where we go (because of the cabana & bathrooms) has not been too busy - although we've gone "after season" both years. This stretch of the beach is quite isolated and the shells seem to be nicer in this area. One thing that we haven't been able to do yet is to complete the 3 mile hike to the end of the park's border and look for shells at the mouth of another creek. Ssupposedly this is the best place on the island to look for the jewels that come from the sea. Maybe next year Mercer will be up for it??

I've got to run for now. Edisto 2011(part 2) will follow shortly. Included will be details of our mid-week day trip to the Beaufort area as well as our quick visit to Bottany Bay.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Early September

Last week, Mercer began wearing his "official" Montessori School uniform -- a shirt with the school's logo + khakis. (This was his idea to take a picture and pose here in the hall just outside of his room.) He has been so proud of this shirt -- so much so that one night when we went out to eat for dinner, he had to show the waiter his shirt. I don't think the guy had any clue what he was talking about "new shirt new shirt" but we thought it was funny. The week before, he was the same way about the new tennis shoes he's wearing in the photo. He said they're fast and would actually be upset if we tried to get him to wear a different pair. He has stopped and showed at least a dozen people those shoes.

Kids are funny that way. However, with the good comes the not-so-good. Mercer has become very whiney when he wants something. He gets frustrated easily and cries a lot if something goes wrong. We're hoping he grows out of this quickly!! We're working on it -- trying to explain that he shouldn't express himself like that. If he drops something.. go pick it up instead of cry about it. Wish us luck as there are ever-changing "tests" on our parenting approach!

On Sept 10, we headed to our friends house (Tana & Charles) in Augusta to stay the night. We visited them last year when we were en route to Edisto Island Beach. 2 years in a row... are we beginning a new tradition? Mercer enjoyed playing with their children -- especially their daughter Phoebe (age 8) and her best friend who also stayed the night. He followed those two girls around all night & did what they did -- including doing cartwheels across the back yard and splashing around in their pool.

The next day was the 10 year anniversary of the Sept 11 terrorist attack. We were travelling, so we did not get to participate in any memorial services, but it's been very heavy on our heads lately leading up to that date. We have been watching some heart-breaking testimonials that family members would lay out on t.v. The most memorable for us was a series done on the people who were on the 4th plane... where the passengers stormed the terrorists and managed to divert the plane from it's original destination such as hitting another US building or monument. Knowing that they were destined to crash and take down another building and additional lives, taking over the situation was - indeed - heroic. We went to church with our friends in Augusta that morning before we continued down the road and they talked about how much it has changed the world in which we live / the perception of the world. This is true; Mercer will not have as much freedom to explore & be a kid as Todd and I did when we were growing up. (This is part of the allure for our little vacation spot on Edisto. It's much safer than many other vacation destinations and it has a lot of room for exploration... natural exploration.)

We made it to Edisto Island and checked into the condo for the week. Mercer kept saying that his new friends (from Augusta) were coming over to swim in our pool. He was so apprehensive at first to play with them & after 1 day of hanging out... he wanted to then entertain them! We made it onto the beach for a little while that evening.

The following morning, I found the perfect spot in which to hang out early in the AM. From the side porch of the condo is a sliver of a view to the Bay Creek which lies at the mouth of the South Edisto River and the Atlantic Ocean. There have been a variety of birds hanging out in the marsh these past few mornings as well as a few fishers who trawl down the creek wanting to make an early catch. I've been sitting in this spot every morning before anyone else wakes up. Also - in the afternoon - I will sometimes go down to the Bay Creek Park beyond the white fence and sit on a park bench or even the fishing dock just barely visible from our porch view.

One day while Mercer was napping, I went down to the dock to read & a handful of boats passed by. There are no wake signs posted in this area, so they all putted along quietly. There was one boat I was certain had fish or crabs on it, as there were no less than 30 sea gulls squawking and flying in circles around the boat. It was quite a site to coming towards me... passing by at a snail's pace... then continuing on down the otherwise peaceful creek.

There will be another vacation post with lots of photos once we get home. But - for now - we're hanging out, enjoying the time together with our little family unit, and relaxing!

Monday, September 5, 2011

3 years ago today....

Mercer's adoption was finalized!

We had the day off today. Today is the Labor Day holiday. We wanted to go somewhere / do something to have fun with Mercer and honor "his day" but mother nature had different plans. There was a tropical storm in the gulf that moved up to Georgia and rained all day. Instead of travelling today, we stayed in all day. We played with marbles, blocks, games and watched some movies. Mercer seemed to be happy. (especially with this new balance game - ChickyBoom - that we got yesterday when we travelled to Greenville) ~wink~ instead of cancelling our trip, we pushed our trip up a day instead.

We went to Greenville, SC to visit my college roommate + her family and to check out their awesome children's museum. Mercer and I stopped at that museum once on our way home from NC. He was just under 2 years old. At that time, there were only a handful of things that he could do, but it was still a lot of fun then. This time -- it was even more fun because he was into a lot more of the activities. Admittedly, Todd and I had a great time too!!

Last time we went, the majority of time was spent playing in the water area. Mercer got some play time in it this trip, but found many other things to do too. (Note - although wearing a water-proof smock - he still got soaked / had to change. You'll notice he's sporting 2 different looks on this trip. That's why - no other reason!)

There's a sculpture that you can climb that spans the top two floors of the museum. I wanted to climb it the first time we came to the museum, but the kids have to be 3 and up. Mercer was a little apprehensive at first, but he did go back through it a couple of times during our visit. It's constructed mostly of clear Plexiglas shells and cables to hold them up and to create "walls" so you don't fall off of the thing. The way that they're organized, it's like a 3-dimensional maze.

He really enjoyed riding in the Indy race car simulators and playing in the music room - where they had a musical pinball machine that you could customize. He - of course - enjoyed running around and playing with Cindy's kids, Trevor (3) and Daniel (5). I think we have a similar picture to this one with Mercer chasing Trevor (Apr 20, 2010 post). Deja vu~

Quick note: Cindy said that this is the photo (on the steps) that depicts what the boys were doing before they all had to be rushed to the ER. Luckily / amazingly... no one was hurt. There are all sorts of great things to do at the museum, but they'll still climb on things that weren't intended for them to do so!

After the museum, we went in search for a letterbox that was hidden on Main Street in downtown Greenville. This letterbox was based on some micro-sculptures that have been placed throughout town called "Mice on Main." Afterwards, we headed south on foot and via a short trolley ride in efforts to make it to Falls Park -- a public space that is graced by one of the most beautiful bridges I've ever seen: Liberty Bridge. We made our way down to the bottom and crossed (no worries - where we crossed was far away from the falls). If we didn't have the drive home ahead of us, it would've been an excellent day to picnic by the water and explore the greenspace and public art more.

It was a long day and little guy was worn out. He slept pretty much the whole way home (2 hours +), went to bed pretty much straight away when we got home, and slept in today. But, we think he felt special overall & know that he is a MUCH loved member of our family!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

getting back into the swing of things... for a little while

It took about a week of detox (maybe a bit more) to get back to normal after staying up late every night for a week... eating donuts every day... and watching lots and lots of Curious George.

There are some more pictures to add from that week at the beach. (The pics are of him eating his first donut ever... "what's that feeling in my head - a sugar headache?" / squirting great-aunt Nin / and checking out cousin Ryan's dirt bike.) Oh - a good time was had.

There was a historic hurricane (Irene) that moved up the east coast and then moved inland. The New Jersey coast where we were was ok. But, New York City and areas north were subjected to a lot of rain and flooding. Todd's parents and brothers were without power, but thankfully all o.k.

The weekend before the storm, we had company. My mom came for a visit. We mostly hung out here, but one day we went across town to see some of her friends and to visit a green building that was being featured on a tour. It was a public library and - thankfully - they had some stellar kids books and interactive computer setup that kept mom (grandma) and Mercer busy for well over an hour while Todd and I were on tour.

One thing that we learned that day: Mercer really learned quickly how to use a computer and a mouse. Wow.

One thing that he did that was cute that weekend: mom, Mercer and I were playing with a magnetized puzzle. We then grabbed a bunch of paper clips and showed him how he could pick them up with the magnetic stick. He was pretty fascinated for awhile and when Todd came home later, Mercer had to show him and teach him about magnets (as if he knew something that Todd did not).

One thing that he's started that is sweet: saying "bless you" when sneezing.

Another thing that he has started: he is officially in the montessori portion of the daycare. Because he's potty-trained, he was able to transition out of the toddler room. The owner / directress of the school, Mrs Roya, is his teacher. She is really firm, but also very loving to the children. We can't wait to see how this goes.

He will try it for another week before we pull him out for a full week. (The three of us are going to the beach - our family trip to Edisto Island.) This trip will be more calm, but I'm sure we'll be going through detox all over again~~