23 June 2010

Visiting the Lowcountry

We have met many wonderful couples while we have participated in the small groups at our church. But we especially connected with two other couples a few years ago. The six of us had a lot in common and really hit it off. Unfortunately, one of the couples moved to Charleston, S.C., to complete their medical residencies. We were sad to see them leave, but we know they're very happy there. Having friends in South Carolina meant that we had a new vacation spot potential. Rob and Anne kept inviting us to visit them, so we finally took them up on their offer this year. So Chris, Avery, me and our friends Joe and Janel and their daughter (almost age 4) and son (9 months) loaded into their minivan and drove 1,560 miles roundtrip to and from beautiful Charleston. I wondered what Rob and Anne would think of all of us taking over their house. I figured they had no idea what was coming their way! We left Monday at 11:30 a.m. and arrived in Asheville, N.C. around 11 p.m., where we spent the night. The next day, we stopped in Columbia, S.C., to visit Chris' cousin Meghan and her family. It has been awhile since we've seen Meghan, so we enjoyed spending some time with her. It also was the first time Avery met this part of her family. Meghan prepared a delicious lunch for all 10 of us.

Then we finished the short jaunt to Charleston. We arrived there around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. That night we enjoyed dinner with Rob and Anne, catching up on everything that's happened in all our lives.

Unfortunately, Rob and Anne had busy work schedules that week, so the seven of us were left to discover Charleston by ourselves. Wednesday and Thursday mornings, Joe, Janel, Chris, me and the kids went to the beach. It was the first time Avery was in the Atlantic Ocean.

Understandably, she was a little nervous. It was loud, and the waves were crashing over her feet. But by the end of our time at the beach, she was starting to enjoy the ocean.
Besides playing in the ocean, Avery loved walking on the sand. She especially liked to chase the birds and flirt with other people on the beach. As you know, she can turn heads in public!
Janie kindly shared her beach toys with Avery. The girls had fun playing in the sand together.
And Jack hung out in his sun-safe beach tent. After being at the beach, we relaxed at Rob and Anne's house in the afternoon. And we chose a different local restaurant for dinner each night. On Friday, the three guys played golf. As Chris said, he couldn't go all the way to South Carolina and not play golf on the ocean.
They guys met this crocodile just before they arrived at the first tee.
Chris said it was a beautiful course. The above picture is of an island green. He lost four or five balls on this hole alone.
He took a self portrait for us. He doesn't look too sad about losing six balls total for the day. Maybe that's because he shot a 95. While the boys were golfing, Janel and I took the kids to the local aquarium. It was a rather small aquarium, but I think Janie and Avery liked looking at all the fish, including an albino alligator. I thought the neatest exhibit was the touch pond filled with anemones, starfish and sting rays. Our last day in the city was Saturday. Before leaving, we visiting the weekly farmer's market in downtown Charleston. It was oh so hot that day, but the farmer's market was a really neat place. There were flower, meat, soap and even fresh pasta vendors. We succumbed to the homemade mini-donuts and "snowzen" lemonade.
In spite of the heat, Avery did really well. She loves being pushed in her stroller anywhere.
These must be important monuments for the city, but we failed to find out what they are! We left Charleston on Saturday around 1 p.m. We spent the night in Knoxville, Tenn. And we arrived back home on Sunday around 4 p.m. All in all, we spent about 32 hours in the car. We suffered only a few meltdowns and other minor crises. But somehow we all survived! Our only regret was that we didn't get to spend a lot of time with Rob and Anne. But it still was good to see them in person again. Chris and I already have decided that we want to return to Charleston. There are many other places we'd like to visit, including plantations, museums and Fort Sumter.
One more thing...while walking along the beach, we found some seashells. Chris found this interesting one. We joked, saying it obviously isn't a shark tooth. But isn't it funny how it looks like one?
Well, I saw this display at the aquarium. It makes me wonder if he didn't pick up a shark tooth! So, are there any marine experts out there who can help us?

19 June 2010

15-month doctor's appointment

In early June, Avery had her 15-month doctor's appointment. Here are her latest stats: Weight - 20 pounds, 2 ounces (unknown percentile) Length - 28 inches (unknown percentile) Head circumference - 17 inches (unknown percentile) Even though she's only grown .5 inches and gained 1 pound since her 12-month appointment, the doctor said we shouldn't be concerned. She's still small, but she's growing at a good rate. I'm sure soon she'll hit a growth spurt and make up some ground. We didn't have very many concerns to talk about with the doctor. He said we could start using toothpaste when we brush Avery's teeth. And I think she really likes it. It seems that she's trying to suck the toothpaste off the toothbrush! I was pretty surprised when the doctor recommended a daily vitamin. He said it's good to supplement her regular diet. So, of course, I had to buy the kid-favorite Flintstones Vitamins. There actually is a version for younger kids that's supposed to be easier to chew. I'm not sure if that's true, but she's doing pretty well with them. I think she actually looks forward to eating her daily vitamin since it's kind of like candy!

18 June 2010

Brothers at the Indy 500

Since Casey was home for Memorial Day weekend, I offered him my Indy 500 ticket so he could go to the race with Chris. I think they really enjoyed the race and being there together.
On the plane to Indy, Casey sat near the mechanics for the planes in the fly-over. He enjoyed talking "shop" with them.
Chris tried a few times to get pictures of my boy (Dario Franchitti) in the race. There's the nose of his car on the far left side of this picture.
And there's the rear wing of his car on the right side. Even on the parade laps, the cars are going too fast to take pictures!
Here are some other fan favorites, Sarah Fisher and John Andretti.
And the boys in their seats. I was a little bummed that I couldn't see Dario win his second Indy 500 in person. But at least I saw his first win a few years ago. And I'm really glad that Casey enjoyed going to the race in my place!

Welcome home, Casey!

Chris' brother, Casey, is in the Navy and is stationed in Japan with his wife and stepson. While Chris' parents had the amazing opportunity to travel to Japan last fall, we hadn't seen Casey since he was last home in December 2007. So we were very excited to learn that he would stop by for a one-week visit in May after completing some training in California. We especially were looking forward to Avery meeting Uncle Casey for the first time. We loved greeting him at the airport.
"Who is this guy, and why does he think he can tickle me?"
Avery wasn't too sure about meeting this strange man who looked an awful lot like Daddy and Poppaw.
While we were waiting for Casey's luggage, Avery walked over to him and raised her arms, asking him to pick her up. It probably was just 20 minutes after meeting him, so I was really excited that she took to him so quickly. As soon as Casey picked her up, Avery looked around at all of us, looked back and him and started crying as if to say, "Hey! You're not my daddy!" After that, it took awhile for Avery to get used to him.
Several weeks ago, Chris broke his very old basketball goal. So one of his birthday gifts was a new goal. He asked his dad and Casey to help install the goal. Avery decided to help, too.
And of course everyone had to play a game of basketball to celebrate the successful installation. And no fights among the three of them! :o)
A kiss to thank Uncle Casey for installing what soon will be Avery's basketball goal.
And what's Memorial Day weekend without spending time in the pool? I don't think Avery remembered getting in the pool last summer. She didn't like it at first, but she got better. I'm sure she'll love the pool in the future.
By the end of the week, Avery was playing with Casey...
laughing with him...

and giving him hugs.

We hope the next time Casey visits us, he'll bring Elvie and Shin-ya with him!