Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Do the Charleston

Chris and I went to Charleston last weekend and, despite rain, flooding, and constant clouds, we had a lovely time. Thanks to Keddi and Papa who kept Meredith while we were gone. We've learned our lesson and probably won't stay away from her for more than 2 days in the future. But that's for our comfort, not hers. She enjoyed every minute of her time in Calico Rock.

On the first day, we went out to Ft. Sumter. I took some pictures there, but who cares about some broken brick walls? I focused on my obsession with marshes. I just love the way the colors blend -- the different tones. They're almost like mountains in the way the shadows and shades give them the appearance of a painting. But the complete lack of sunlight stole some of the magic.

We spent the rest of the time in Charleston proper, walking around and gawking like the tourists we were.

Charleston is so beautiful that you don't even think about the fact that you're constantly taking pictures of giant iron gates that are intended to keep you out.

Of course, it helps that the iron gates are works of art.

Here's a follow up the scary picture of the hog in the previous post. A scaarrrrry cemetary.

Almost as scary, here's a picture of the hostel where we stayed. Until now, we've been big fans of hostels. We were bound to reach the end of that road at some point. This place was full of bad vibes and home to the single most uncomfortable bed I have ever encountered in my life. When we asked our cab driver if we were staying in a safe part of town he said, "Oh it will be. It will be soon." Hmmm...

But we still had fun.

Usually when I visit a new place, I love it, but would never plan to go back. I mean, you only live once, right? And those of us who don't have unlimited travel funds have to get lots of bang for our traveling buck and see everything we can on our vacations. But I would go back to Charleston again and again, if I could. I think it would take a long time to see everything, learn everything and eat everything that Charleston has to offer. I can't wait to go back. With Mer. And without the hostel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And Thank You God for Pumpkins

Meredith has made her first creative contribution to daily prayer time. It is now important to thank God for pumpkins. I'm sure this came from a school experience, although I won't rule out the possibility of extreme gratitude for gourds on her part.

It is ironic, though, considering her less than enthusiastic response to the pumpkin patch that we visited in Mississippi last weekend with the Cogans. She was generally grumpy about the whole experience.

No smiles in the pumpkin patch. It should be noted that Olly had lots of smiles, just not in this particular picture. Meredith had none.

This stunt, for instance, made Olly smile. Not Mer.

Spirits lifted in the corn maze (metaphorically speaking...don't get all Halloween on me). Partly because both Daddies did an excellent job of hiding themselves away and jumping out to scare us.

Meredith's first up-close-and-personal with a horse started off very seriously.

In the end, the horses were a big hit and Meredith and Olly both wanted to ride again. Which they did.

Since Halloween IS about scary things, here's one of the scariest things I've seen in a long time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Grandpa Comes to Visit

We've had a great week with Chris' dad visiting. The weather has been (mostly) beautiful, so we've been outside and enjoying it.

Picnic in the park.

Beth, Mer and Grandpa.

Mommy and Meridy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lunch in Daddy's Office

Mer and I went down to see Daddy's new office the other day. He just moved upstairs. Not so exciting. But Mer thought it was great.

My entertainment for the afternoon was taking pictures of the graffiti I've been admiring for months. Okay, not that it wasn't fun to see Chris. But isn't the graffiti pretty? This building is supposed to be rehabbed. Not that I'm holding my breath, but I had to get there before the sandblasters did.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In the Yard

Okay, this is one of those posts that's really more for our entertainment than anyone else's. Specifically, Chris would like his heroic weekend warrior efforts recorded for posterity, and I'm going to oblige, because he deserves it.

Here's a picture of our front porch shortly after we moved in. It's wood -- and was painted a dirty dark red. The privet hedges were each the size of a Mini Cooper, and didn't do much for the house. We bought this house for the inside, not the outside, but we still felt we had to do something to help our ugly duckling.

So, step one was to remove the hated privets, which took a whole day of work, and probably a year off Chris' life. One should not understimate the root system of a car-sized shrub. Then we painted the porch the same color as the trim. Much cleaner.

Step two was to shape the garden and smooth things out a bit. We put the children to work.

After considering child labor laws and the serious lack of progress being made, we brought in the hired guns. Or free guns, as the case may be.

Here's Papa Sugg and Coach Sugg, helping Chris make relatively quick work of a driveway full of rocks and dirt.

By the way, I'm done spendng money on rocks and dirt for awhile.

So here's the after picture, and I think it's marvelous. I can't believe the difference it made. I feel like I'm living in one of those "Curb Appeal" shows. Well done, Chris. And thanks to all who helped. By the way, Chris has his dad working on the sprinkler timer right now. No one escapes the Lareau labor pool.

So Chris did a great job. But kids are cuter than any flower bed, so here are Walt and Meredy enjoying the good life...in the yard.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy Parties and Sick in Texas

It's been a VERY busy week. Meredith's happy party was last Monday, and was a good time, we thought. She seemed to think so too.

Notice the cute tiny little animal candle holders. Provided by Marme. Meredith loved them.

Opening presents with Aunt Beth. Already wearing one her presents, a "so cute" shirt from Gigi.

Olly running, post-sugar fix.

You try taking a picture of 4 toddlers.

This is the best of a lot, but Mer looks slightly crazed as she yells 'cheese' for the 35th time. That's okay, we'll take one for the team and let the other toddlers look good.

Walt and Meredith had an agreement about opening the presents together. He had more skills, and she knew it.

Then it was off to Texas for the wedding of practically family, Rachel Willis. It was beautiful, and so good to see so many old friends. These girls have been my friends since kindergarten. Some since before kindergarten. I'm a lucky girl.

Meredith was sick the whole time we were there and REALLY sick for part of the trip. But it's incredible what Tylenol can do for a kid. I mean, one minute she was shivering and crying and as pathetic as I've ever seen her. 20 minutes later she was insanely happy and torturing the cats. Tylenol barely helps my headaches, much less affecting a 180 like it does with her. I'm jealous.

Aunt Judy teaches Meredith how to use her "petting finger" -- the pinky finger -- thereby ensuring gentleness with Emmy Lou, the kitten. Is my aunt a genius, or what?

Meredith and Uncle Paul get along famously. Here, I tried to divert Meredith from her usual gullet grabbing cheese chant. I told her to put her hand on her head. I guess the result is not much improved.

Here's Meredith sharing with her great grandmother Florence. Flo greatly appreciated her generosity.

Now we're home. We're still recovering. We're taking lots of naps. Some of them pretend, some of them very real.