Saturday, May 31, 2014

Road Trippin' with the Watts

  • Getting off 10 minutes late, but still being in the car by 6:40 am
  • A dozen breakfast burritos and several other assorted breakfast items from Mickey D's
  • Lots of books being read
  • TED Talks playing in the back for the kids
  • Parents engaged in a conversation about biochemistry
  • Someone losing a tooth
  • Fabulous lunch stop at Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons in Savannah, GA
  • Country music
  • Making a grocery list
  • Naps
  • Curious George and Where the Red Fern Grows movies
  • Convenience store snacks
  • Four states
  • 14 hours

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sweet Ruth,

You made me a mom twelve years ago, which simultaneously thrilled and terrified me. And, frankly, those feelings still hold true today. You are such an amazing young lady, and I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be your mom! While we have certainly experienced the normal trials and struggles of any mother-daughter relationship, for the most part, the years with you have been filled with joy! You have always been mature for your age, but this year I have noticed an even greater maturity in you, which shows itself in the topics of your conversations, the concerns you have for the future, the questions you ask, the ideas you share, the decisions you make, and even the ways you interact with your brothers and with Dad and me.

You participated in the Challenge A program at CC this year and excelled in every subject. Your eagerness to learn and your ability to self-motivate also point to your maturity. You did a great job of keeping yourself organized and taking care of all of your assignments, and, very often, you impressed us with the work you produced. You also participated in the CC student council. This allowed you to engage in several community service projects during the year, plan social activities with the other Challenge students, and to hold the office of treasurer during the second semester. Competing in PSIA again this year was another fun activity, and you made it to state in Spelling. You have continued to play the piano and have even composed original songs. You took an art class and blew us aways with your beautiful paintings. You played volleyball and basketball and took horse riding and archery lessons. You got to travel to New York City with Nana and Papa, where you attended fancy dinners and Broadway shows. And, you worked extra hard during the school year so you could finish early and be free to enjoy our two months at the beach unencumbered.

You love to shop, but you are normally very smart about it, seeking out bargains and trying to get the most for your money. You put a good deal of thought into what you are buying and why, even when someone else is paying. This is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life, so I'm glad to see you cultivating it now.

You have really been enjoying reading fantasy books this year, and this month alone, you've read somewhere in the neighborhood of a million words. You almost always have a book or Kindle in your hands in your free time, and you read impressively fast.

In the past year or so, you have become interested in talking about college. You are curious about many colleges and have researched quite a few on your own. You are especially fascinated with the military academies and have been trying to find out as much about those institutions as you can. I'll admit, it's a little hard for me to even believe it's time for you to start exploring college and career options, but again, you are taking a very mature approach, and I'm proud of you for that. No doubt, by the time it's time to actually make those decisions, you will be well informed and able to choose wisely.

You are a kind and courteous person, a thoughtful giver, a wonderful friend, and a terrific big sister. You have firm convictions, which you are not afraid to stand by. You prefer deep, meaningful conversations and relationships and tend to become frustrated with shallowness. You are able to interact easily and appropriately with everyone from small children to adults. You are comfortable asserting your opinions, but you don't make others feel bad about theirs. And, most of the time, you are open-minded and respectful and quick to admit if you are wrong or out of line.

I have absolutely loved watching you become who you are! You are beautiful inside and out and a true delight! Dad and I are so proud of you! Happy Birthday, sweet girl! I love you!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Birthday Party

This beautiful girl turned 12 today

To celebrate, we took a dinner cruise, which also required us to fight pirates

Cake time

Excited about a new fancy art kit

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Favorite Things--North Carolina

Unfortunately, our time in North Carolina is just about to come to an end. And, frankly, if we didn't have another month of beach fun to look forward to in Florida, I would probably cry. We have had such a wonderful time here, and we have discovered a few new favorites. Not all of these things are specific to North Carolina, but this is where our love for them began.

Based on the name of this place (The Beach Shop and Grill) and a few online descriptions,
we thought it would be good, but maybe not exceptional. We were pleasantly surprised.  

Though we have Soma stores near where we live in Texas,
I had never been in one until we went shopping in Wilmington,
and I didn't even realize they had actual clothes. I saw this dress and instantly loved it,
but when I realized it felt like the softest pajamas, I was completely sold!
(And, speaking of pajamas, I also brought home these super cozy ones--
but with the crop pants, instead of shorts!)

Every kid in our family has enjoyed digging in the sand with these awesome Handtrux backhoe diggers.

Jeff and the kids gave me this delightful little journal for Mother's Day, and I am enjoying it so much!

Clay got this Mickey "weegle woggle" for his birthday,
but all the kids have had fun playing with it in the pool.

We've been to all kinds of museums, all over the place, and this was, by far, one of our favorites!

The Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at UNC was so much fun!

I have always been skeptical of water wings and have never really trusted them,
but the Puddle Jumper is a game changer and has made both Clay's and my
pool experience so much more enjoyable.

Not all Sheratons are created equal, of course, but this one in Chapel Hill
had the perfect suite for all of us and was very nice.

It's not so much Food Lion grocery stores that we love,
but the store brand hearty grain bread (which I couldn't find a picture of)
has been a huge it with the whole family, even my normal white-bread-only lovers.

Inspired by our Science weekend in Raleigh/Chapel Hill,
we have been watching TED talks in the evenings.
The kids (and adults) are completely enthralled.

 I LOVE the flavor and fragrance of the doTerra toothpaste! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

My hat, it has three corners

We truly appreciate and honor all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom, so please don't take the rest of this Memorial Day post as disrespect. It just so happens that some of us are especially appreciative of the fashion forward revolutionaries who brought us the three-cornered hat! 

Absolutely thrilled that his half-birthday request for a three-cornered hat was fulfilled
8 ½ years of absolute fun with this little patriot

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Science, Chocolate and Higher Education--Take 2

We spent the majority of the day on the beautiful UNC campus in Chapel Hill. Our stated purpose for being there was to see a planetarium show for Weston's half-birthday, but there was so much more fun to be had! There were amazing rose gardens and ginormous trees, huge stretches of rock walls to walk on and a colossal sun dial. There was a delicious lunch at Spanky's, just across the street from campus. There was the delightful planetarium show. And then there were some bonus science shows about chemistry and earthquakes, and a hands-on room all about water. We all had a blast! The chocolate didn't come in until later in the day, when we stopped for dinner in Wallace at the Mad Boar, which was replete with atmosphere. We packed a lot into our little mini-vacation, and we enjoyed every minute!

UNC's gorgeous campus

Sundial and roses

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Braun meets brains

A lovely assistant
Learning about hydrophilic and hydrophobic substances

Building a water runoff map out

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Science, Chocolate, and Higher Education

When we set out this morning, our plan was to visit the Museum of Natural Sciences in the morning and the children's museum in the afternoon. However, once we were inside the amazingly large and highly impressive science museum, we couldn't pull ourselves away, except for a quick, but super delicious, lunch at The Raleigh Times Bar. All I can say is, "Wow!" This was one of the best museums we've ever been to, and the free admission sort of pushed the experience over the edge. If you ever find yourself in Raleigh with a day to kill (whether you have kids or not), this museum is a must! We left just shy of closing time but still had enough daylight left for a tour of a local chocolate factory, a brief visit to Duke's campus and a wonderful dinner in Chapel Hill at a lovely little Italian place. What an incredibly fun day!

Arthropod Zoo

Filling a dino footprint


getting friendly with a snapping turtle

The Watts' kids take on the the world

Our horse lover found an interesting specimen

Weston was fascinated with the weigh station

At the end of a fun day at the science museum

Videri Chocolate Factory

Sipping Chocolate

Hot chocolate

Duke Chapel

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vacation within a vacation

Before we even left Texas, Weston put in a request that we see a show featuring the Magic Tree House characters for his half-birthday. Miraculously, I managed to find a planetarium show at UNC Chapel Hill which met the criteria, so we made a plan to spend some time in the Chapel Hill/Durham area, since the kids also wanted to see Duke. Originally, it was just going to be one night, but then we heard of some fun museums in Raleigh we wanted to visit. And, then we heard about the herds of wild horses and awesome shelling on the Outer Banks islands, so we decided to leave early this morning and make a weekend out of it. It's a vacation within a vacation!

We saw a beautiful field of wildflowers on our way to Shackleford Banks

The newest member of the herd and his (her?) mom 

Wild horses. Beach. What more could any kid want?!

A horse lover's heaven

More fun at Shackleford Banks

The only one brave enough to pick up the crab
(who promptly hid himself when removed from the water)

The whole herd down on the beach

Shell negotiations

Lunch in Beaufort at Finz Grill

A half-birthday dinner fit for a king at K&W Cafeteria in Chapel Hill

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On a Thursday

Lubing up

Pirate Cowboy

Ready, Set, Go!

Owning the deep end

little jumper

Picnic at the pool
(And…this is pretty much the worst picture ever!)

The waves just keep coming 


Catching a wave

After a wipeout

Hang Ten