Thursday, November 5, 2015

First Grade

I can't believe that Sims is in first grade!  By the time summer was over, Sims was ready to get back to school (and stop going to summer camps).  It has been an easy transition for him from kindergarten, and a couple of his friends from last year are in his class now.  We took a picture of his first day of school, and of course Merritt wanted to be in it as well.

I love how proud Merritt is of her big brother in this picture.  Sims is growing up so fast and is becoming such a hard worker.  We are all very proud of him!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Summer Trips Make Me Feel Fine

We took 2 other trips this summer with family.  In July we went down to Lake Murray in South Carolina to visit my dad.  It was like a mini family reunion with everyone who came to spend the long weekend together.  We had so much fun hanging out on the water and on Dad's and Alex's boats.

We stayed in the cutest little cottages that had a couple of restaurants on the property and a beach area.  The kids had a blast together as usual, and the grown-ups actually got to spend a little time together.  I am hoping that this will turn into an annual event!  And perhaps next time I will take some pictures!

At the end of summer, we revived what used to be our annual Holden Beach trip with my mom and family.  Our hiatus involved going to Ocracoke in 2013 and to Isle of Palms in 2014.  I can't believe it had been 3 years since we had been to Holden!  The last time we went, there were 2 kids in the family, and now there are 4!  I think we were all ready to get back to basics with a relaxed trip staying in a convenient, oceanfront house.  With kids it is so much easier when there is no agenda and everyone can do what they want.

This ended up being quite an exciting year at Holden.  There was a sea turtle nest next to our house, and the turtles hatched while we were there.  We missed the big hatching in the middle of the night, but we were lucky to see the last few hatch one afternoon.

A tropical depression came through one of the days.  We didn't even know it at the time.  That's how much we kept up with the outside world while we were there.  The waves were huge, and high tide was extremely high that day.  The water was up to the dunes.  We even went on a walk during the storm, and it was quite an adventure.  (It sounds more dangerous than it actually was.)

The week went by very fast, but we got a few pictures of the kids.

We are all ready to go back to Holden Beach next year!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Family Photos

While at Lake James, we hired Rich Taylor ( to take some family photos of the whole group.  We found a nice place to have the pictures taken at Lake James State Park, and it was a really good experience.  Our small family unit hadn't had professional photos taken since Sims turned one year old, so we were overdue for some updates.  The nicest thing was having pictures of the larger family group and the smaller family groups, such as Jason and his siblings, and Jason's parents with the grandkids, and Aunt Tina with her nephews and niece.

I'm mainly going to show photos of our family unit because, let's be honest, if I showed all the great ones, this post might be 100 photos long!

I have to include this special picture of Merritt and her fairy godmother.  Tina is such a good sport, and I know that Merritt will always treasure this one.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Celebrating 50 Years

The first full week of Sims' summer vacation, we headed to Lake James in the foothills of NC.  We spent a week there with Jason's family celebrating his parents' 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a wonderful, relaxing trip with a couple of fun celebratory touches.  We hired a photographer to take family pictures (another post), and we had a 1965-themed party.

For the party, the house was decorated with 60s accents and with photos from Dick and Vivian's wedding and current family photos.  Tina snuck their wedding album to the lake to surprise them.  1965 trivia was hanging all around.  Even the food and drinks were 1965-themed! 

After we nibbled on shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs, onion dip and pigs in a blanket, we all had fun with the photo props.  Of course, they were 60s themed as well!

The couple of honor!

Dick and Vivian were given a gift basket filled with a magazine and movies from 1965 and candy from the 60s.  The party ended with watching a video of family and friends wishing them a happy anniversary.

The rest of the week was spent swimming and fishing.  As we left the lake, we took a side trip to Linville Caverns, which really excited Sims.  We had read about stalagmites and stalactites, and this was his first time getting to see them in real life.  Pretty exciting stuff!

I hope that Dick and Vivian had as much fun as we had!  Happy anniversary, Granny and Grandaddy!

Photo taken by Rich Taylor -

Monday, August 17, 2015

Kindergarten Recap

I can't believe that Sims will be starting 1st grade in a week!  I just hope that he loves 1st grade as much as he loved kindergarten.  He had such a wonderful experience with such a sweet teacher.  It was just the experience that we wanted him to have.  And, boy, did he learn a lot!

He had been learning some sight words in preschool, but we are constantly amazed by how many words Sims can read.  When he doesn't know the word, he is so great at sounding it out to get the word right.  At the end of kindergarten, he was reading at a high 1st grade level.

One of the new things that he learned was math.  I don't think he had learned too much math before kindergarten.  He really enjoys it (his favorite homework is always math), and he is really good at it.  I wonder if all of our talk about how much Jason and I love math has caused Sims to love it as well.

Dressed as the Letterland character Mr. A
His writing improved dramatically.  It's not been his strong suit, but I can see that changing.  It is getting very nice now when he puts a little effort in it, and he is starting to like to write more and more.  The better he gets at it, the more he seems to like doing it.

His class went on a few field trips, and I was happy to be able to go on all of them.  They went to the pumpkin patch, to see a high school play, and to Marbles kids museum.

On Wacky Hair Day
He worked very hard on his science fair project.  It was optional, but he really wanted to do it.  His title was When Did My Favorite Dinosaurs Live?  It was a great project for his age because he could do so much of it himself with a minimal amount help.  We were so very proud of him!  Then we found out that he won first place for the kindergarten projects, and we were even more proud!  It was a fantastic project.  The leader for the science fair told us that Sims had one of the highest scores for the entire science fair, which was for Pre-K to 3rd grade.  We were very impressed!

At the awards ceremony at the end of the year, he was given a few awards: the Kindergarten Science Award, Excellent Engineer, and Marvelous Mathematician.  He was also given an award for completing 9 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) challenges, some of which were held during school hours and some were on Saturdays. 

My mom volunteered in his class every Wednesday, and she and Sims both loved that.  She would stay and eat lunch with him.  We loved it because Mom could give us details about what was happening in the class.  Wednesdays were always special for him!

The weekly homework load took us all a while to get used to, and I hope that the summer off hasn't softened us too much!  I will say that I think he got way too much homework for a kindergartner, but he handled it fine.  I just hope that he doesn't get significantly more in 1st grade.  There are only so many hours in a day!

Photo taken the first week of summer vacation by Rich Taylor -
This year has flown by!  We have loved Sims' school, and we are looking forward to the beginning of a new school year.

Photo by Rich Taylor -

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sims' 6th Birthday

This year, Sims had a low-key birthday party.  Nothing like last year.  This was kind of our reset button, I guess.  The party was at our house, and we invited only family and close friends.  It was low stress and easy going.  I thought it was great, and Sims loved it as much as any other birthday party he's had.  Win - win!

Sims' only request was for there to be Oreos, and he wanted them where he could reach them.  In other words, he wanted to be able to eat them without getting permission.  We were fine with that.  We even made Oreo butter cream frosting for the chocolate cupcakes.  Sims loves the Cars movie, so we used Cars themed plates and napkins.  He was thrilled.

The bubble machine was a hit, as usual. 

The weather was nice, so we enjoyed watching the kids play outside.  It was a wonderful day!  I can't believe Sims is 6 years old now.  Wow!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


It's been so long since Easter, I can barely remember all the little details from the day.  Let that be a lesson for me!  I shouldn't wait so long to update the ole blog!

I know we started off the morning, bright and early, with Easter baskets.  The kids loved them, of course.  Sims especially loved his basketball and (one of the many versions of) Blade Ranger from the movie Planes: Fire and Rescue.  Merritt was immediately drawn to her owl sippy cup, and she loves the puzzle a lot, too.

We went to church, then headed up to Mom and Smith's house for dinner and egg hunting.

The mad dash

Last year, Merritt was watching all the action from the sidelines.  This year, she was happy to be out there with the big kids.  Next year, Maxwell will be out there egg hunting, too! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Valentine's Day

I can't believe that Valentine's Day was last weekend.  It seems like it was ages ago already!  I guess that's what happens when you have a week filled with sleet, snow and record cold temperatures.  Sims has only been to school for half a day this week.

This year, Sims decided that he wanted to get pre-made Valentine's cards for his classmates.  It kind of made me a bit sad, but I got over it quickly, since I still had Merritt's to do.  Merritt is in the one year old class, so I had to think of something that wouldn't be a choking hazard.  After a quick search of some stores, I decided that she would give her classmates crayons.  I found some fat ones that are easy for little ones to hold, and then I found a printable valentine to go with it.  Super easy!

We had one Valentine's family activity that I was pretty excited about it.  I have always struggled to find a fun way to celebrate Valentine's as a family without it just being about sweets.  (Of course, we started off Valentine's morning with a run to Duck Donuts for "special breakfast" as Sims calls it.)

At Christmas time, I bought a gingerbread house kit, but we never got around to building it.  Sims had built and decorated one at his school, so it didn't seem as crucial for us to do it at home.  Christmas came and went, and we still had the kit.  Then we had the brilliant idea of making it into a Valentine's gingerbread house!  We bought some Valentine's candy to supplement the candy that came with the kit.  Sims decorated it with only a little help from my mom.  They had lots of fun doing it, and it is the perfect seasonal centerpiece for our dining room table.

Now I will have a hard time deciding whether we want to do a gingerbread house at Christmas or Valentine's.  Perhaps both?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Homestead 2015

After our first trip to The Homestead 2 years ago, we have talked about going back.  We loved it there.  We finally got to go back for MLK weekend.  We stayed for 3 nights this time because it's a long drive up there for only 2 nights!

There were quite a few moments when we weren't sure we were even going to make it.  The night before we left, Merritt woke up in the middle of the night coughing so much that she threw up a couple of times.  We didn't know what was going to happen in the morning, but she seemed fine.  Her coughing was not as bad.  So off we went.  Then about 20 minutes into Virginia, she threw up again.  We were in the middle of nowhere, and we really weren't prepared for the huge mess.  We found a Dollar General and bought everything from towels to bibs to an extra set of clothes for her.  There was one point that Jason thought that we should go back home, but we didn't.  And we were glad that we didn't because she was totally fine after that.  It's really quite funny now that we know that everything was okay.

So we made it to The Homestead!  We had a suite this time, and it was perfect.  We had plenty of room for the kids' stuff without it taking over the whole room.

That night we played family bingo and had dinner at Jeffersons, which they were building/renovating the last time we were there.  It was delicious!

The next morning was a big day for Sims.  He tried skiing for the first time, while Jason skiied for the first time in 20 years.  Sims went to a half day bunny school, and he loved it.  He and Jason got to ski together for a little while before they were ready to call it a day.

Sims really loved skiing, so I guess we will have to do this every year! 

While the boys were getting ready to ski, Merritt and I hung out in the snow around the slopes a bit.  Merritt didn't really know what to think of the snow.  She definitely wasn't a fan of it when it was stuck to her hands.  While the boys skied, Merritt took a nap, and I enjoyed some quiet time in the room.

That night we had dinner at Sam Snead's Tavern, which was almost disastrous with an overly tired child who had skied all afternoon.  That was to be expected though.

The next morning we went swimming in the indoor pool.  Sims and I went ice skating and enjoyed afternoon tea together, while Merritt napped.  Ice skating was lots of fun because Sims and I were the only ones who were out on the rink.  The ice skating legs or trainers or whatever they are called (the contraption that you can hold on to while you skate that helps you to stay balanced) helped us out a lot.  This was Sims' and my second time out on the ice, and that contraption made us feel like pros.

Sims and I, also, played checkers in one of the little lounge areas.  This was his first time playing checkers, and the 2 of us now love to play together!

Once Merritt woke up, we all enjoyed a round of mini golf.  Of course, mini golf with a 15 month old is a bit difficult.  In the end, we just let her pick up the balls and roll them around herself.  This video shows the chaos that ensued.

We had dinner our last night at Jeffersons again.  After dinner, we hung out at Downtime, which is a game room.  Sims and I played air hockey, and he got to play some video games.  He loved that place!

We got up the next morning and headed home.  We were rewarded with a beautiful snowfall as we left.  And it was warm enough that we didn't have to worry about the roads.  The perfect ending to a very fun trip!

Getting Merritt in the car for the drive home
We are already looking forward to going back to The Homestead.  We just love it there!