Thursday, December 27, 2012

Celebrity Status

As much as we were on the road, I'm thinking that we should've been exempted from paying our mortgage last month. On the heels of about 4 other trips, we made our way to Clemson as a family in order to support Venesa and her awesomeness. She was invited by her alma mater to be a panelist for their "50 Years of Integration" Homecoming panel discussion. Here's an excerpt from the bio that was published in the program:

While at Clemson, she was active in a number of organizations; including the Student Government Minority Council, PEER (Programs for Educational Enrichment), Blue Key and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. One of the feats she is most proud of is founding the Latin Fest, an event started to create awareness of Latin American culture. With the gracious support of Altheia Richardson and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Latin Fest continued for 15 years and became one of Clemson’s signature events.

Go, Mommy! So proud of you.

Sidenote: It was cool that the kids got to visit two of our alma maters (Georgia Tech and Clemson) in the same week. I won't ask them which one they enjoyed more since they clearly know a real engineering school when then see one.
*cough* Go Yellow Jackets *cough*

Saturday, December 22, 2012


A nice reminder just before Christmas that it doesn't take a whole lot to keep these kids happy. Three cheers for a blanket, a bunk bed, and a spirit of contentment.

Friday, December 21, 2012

8 Years

Happy Anniversary.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


First there's that child with the spirit of a helper. The natural servant. Ready to put her hand to the plow and contribute. Selfless. Committed. I look up, and there she is... rake in hand. Doing what she can to lightening my burden without asking. Her only payment: the sense of inclusion, the smile that her unexpected company brings, a chance to flex her capabilities, and the satisfaction that comes with knowing she's appreciated.

And then... There's Justin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Road Warrior

Naomi pt. XVI

BabyCenter 15-month update: 
Where there's a will, there's a won't. And Naomi is discovering that will, big time. The generally agreeable nature she had as a 12-month-old has morphed overnight into something far more exhausting.  Her rigid, contrarian behavior shows that she's beginning to understand a huge concept: She's a separate person from us. She'll eat when she wants to. What she wants to. And as slow or fast as she wants to. I've never seen a 15 month old snatch their hand away so vehemently when you're trying to walk with her (Never mind that I just feel six times in a row... I can do it myself!!!)... or lock her mouth down like it was Fort Knox when you approach with a bite of food that you know she likes... or stop, look down, and visibly calculate the odds of outrunning you when she hears you call her name with a certain tone of voice.

Will power. Also known as Reyes stubbornness. Once she grows up, she and her sister will likely be fast friends... and big trouble.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Excursion Photos IV

The Georgia Aquarium

Excursion Photos III

Edventure Children's Museum

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Excursion Photos II

Edventure Children's Museum

Excursion Photos

Riverbanks Zoo & Edventure Children's Musuem

Saturday, November 17, 2012

High Mileage

So, the husband turns to the wife and says:

I know we've barely unpacked and gotten settled from our camping trip two weeks ago... and the kids have had their fill of fun this week at Disney on Ice two nights ago... but what do you say we drop everything and visit the Edventure Children's Museum in Columbia and Georgia Aquarium... both in the next 24 hours?  Does that sound reasonable? We can pack after the birthday party we're going to today, leave first thing in the morning, and be back at least two days before we have to pack again and head to Clemson for that diversity panel you're scheduled to be on.

... see, now that's supposed to be the point at which the delirious wife says to the insane husband, "are you nuts?!"... but instead she said, "Can we add the Zoo? Let's go!"... And just like that, the wheels on the bus were back in motion. To Atlanta and back at the speed of light. And it was worth every millisecond (well... maybe all except those few milliseconds when 3 cranky children simultaneously  melted down at Papaduex Seafood Restaurant, shattering dishware on the floor and proclaiming their inability to sit still and be patient for the love of worn out parents across the world). I'll post some photos in the next few entries. Enjoy.

Rental Property Refinance

Who puts a 45 cent stamp on a Mortgage PAY OFF CHECK?! Nothing like paying interest on a $125,000 loan for 6 extra days because your paralegal hasn't figured out the joys of wiring money (or at least overnight mail.... geez) in the year 2012.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg from our most recent not-so-wonderful refinancing experience. One mistake after another. Looking to hire Conner Law firm (115 Cargill Way, Hartsville SC) for a refi? Run like the wind. In the opposite direction. Miserable Experience.

Heroes for Hire

At some point during their 30 years here, the previous owners decided to tack on a second garage to the back of the house. With unfinished walls, a cement floor, about two dozen wall outlets and the curious placement of a water heater, I'm pretty sure that it was used for nothing more than storage and a make-shift workshop. For us, the potential use for this extra 450 square feet has gone from a photo studio, to a home office, to split bedrooms for that sibling group of seven (yes, 7) that we saw on the adoption website one time (call it... temporary insanity), to everything in between. The plan that has probably gained the most traction is to have Justin give up his bedroom for whatever child we adopt or foster (unless they share a room), turn the existing play room into Justin's new bedroom, and convert this unfinished space into the new play area.

In the end, the goal is still unclear (the lack of heating and air is the biggest obstacle to most of our bright ideas)... but for now we're just chugging along with the improvements. Plans or no plans, we're just happy to have good help as we put it all together. There's nothing like unemployed superheroes to get your home project up and running. I guess the economy has been hard on everyone.

Footnote... Over the past couple of weeks, Justin, Jasmine, and Naomi have somehow managed to occupy themselves in this empty room for hours on end without a single toy to play with. The imagination is an amazing thing. The funny part is, I'd bet that if we turned this same space into a play room and moved all of their toys in there... they'd last 20 minutes before whining about being bored and needing sometime else to do. Go figure that one out.

They've also taken to calling this room "the clubhouse"... and I've been instructed that every time someone enters the room, we all have to yell, "Welcome to The Clubhouse!!!!" ... they've either been sneaking in a few episodes of Cheers (Norm!)... or have had their fair share of visits to Moe's Southwestern Grill (Welcome to Moe's!). Knowing my wife, I'd put my money on the latter.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012


What a couple of characters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cheraw State Park

Camping with other families brought a whole new dynamic to the trip. I suspect that the families we were with had a lot to do with it. For one, it's hard to get more laid back than the Turner family. And secondly, between keeping the camp fire going for 3 days and cooking pretty much every meal for the whole group, the Miller family made camping feel like a full-service resort. I am certainly in debt to them, as I can't say that I've ever been that free to simply enjoy myself and my family on a camping trip.  I'm abundantly grateful for the camaraderie and spirit of servitude that flowed through the whole weekend. Prior to this trip, our family had only gone camping as a solo act, but the multifamily dynamic added so many fun components to the experience that I'm not sure if we'll be able to turn back now. The camping entourage may officially be in full effect. 

This was also our first time (as a family) camping in a state park. I'm a bit of a national park snob, and so my expectations weren't too high... but I've gotta say that Cheraw State Park was impressive. I'll spare you the full review of the park, but let's just say it gets 5 out of 5 stars from us. In short, it's a gem.... and best of all, it's less than an hour from home; a far cry from the 4 hour commute we became accustomed to from our Shenendoah National Park excursions.

So what did we do? We fished, we canoed, walked a couple of short trails, sat around a fire, and mostly just let the kids run wild. Who knew that throwing rocks and sticks in the water could occupy a group of kids for hours at a time?! We fellowshipped, we climbed a tree, and we pretty much froze to death from 1 to 9 am each day. The kids loved it, and Venesa and I took plenty of notes from the journeymen family campers. We scoped out their techniques, learned a lot, and are already looking ahead to the sequel in 2013. Be there or be square.