Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Last night we were doing the soccer parents thing, Elizabeth cut out early to go to a home schooling meeting, I took the kids home in the Minivan and she took the Miata. I was expecting her home about 8:30. At 9 she called and said she'd be home shortly not to worry. Since the McCain - Obama debate was on I was not paying too much attention to the time. At 11:00 the phone rang - she'd lost track of time and after the coffee shop closed they brought the discussion to the parking lot. At 10:50 a police car pulled up to the collection of cars in the parking lot and pointed out the time - all the stores closed nearly two hours earlier. It was time for them to move along or risk a loitering charge. They didn't need a second warning and we're on their way home promptly.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Our first hurricane - almost

As Hanna drifted around in the Caribbean we started to get nervous that this would be our first hurricane since moving to South Carolina. The models were showing a real possibility that it would end up making landfall at Charleston late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

As a family we have fairly good disaster preparedness habits; food, water and other critical supplies on hand, etc. Checking in with our more experienced neighbors we were feeling comfortable but not too comfortable. Being nearly 20 miles in from the coast helped.

Thursday one of my co-workers took the day off to board up his parents beach house on Folly Beach. There was a liberal leave policy implemented so people could make any necessary arrangements for the storm.

Friday morning as I drove to work the clouds were starting to move in and when I drove through the front gate, the hurricane awareness level had changed from 5 to 3, indicating that the area was under a hurricane warning. At about 11 the word was put out that we were shutting down and were expected to be gone before noon; I made it out the gate at about 11:58.

Since we weren't evacuating I spend a few hours reorganizing the garage to get two cars into it. It was tight but we did it. It was starting to rain lightly and now the sky was getting darker. We decided to make a quick run up the road to WalMart for some last minute supplies - after we got on the road (which happened to be a hurricane evacuation route) we discovered that many people had decided not to stay put. The 3 mile drive took about 30 minutes!

The drive home was nearly traffic free and we started watching the news and checking the weather service web site.

As the evening wore on the rain started to come down in buckets and the wind started to pick up a little. The neighborhood kids were out playing in the deluge it looked like fun but I couldn't bring myself to join them. Our neighbors braved the rain and came over for dinner, as the meal came to an end the weather service confirmed that Hanna was going to pass us by.

Saturday morning was a clear sunny day and the only sign that remained of the near miss were all the puddles and full drainage ponds throughout the neighborhood. In retrospect I'm still contemplating a generator just in case we aren't so blessed next time. Ike is making its way across the Atlantic and we're watching it closely.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to school

The past several weeks have been a flurry of activity as we get ready to go back to school; a new state so new home schooling laws. Over the past several weeks we joined our "Option 3" accountability group and an area support group and attended a plethora of home schooling conferences, seminars and pot lucks.

It's been a great way to meet some new friends and find new resources in the area. One of the things that we're really excited about is the opportunity to see where so much of our nation's history actually happened. Charleston played a significant role in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War / War of Secession.

We also enjoyed taking advantage of the South Carolina back to school tax holiday to purchase some much needed educational items including a new computer to replace one of our aging laptops.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Magnolia Plantation

After a diligent day of house work and continued unpacking on Saturday we slept in a little bit and went to the late service at church and got Sunday off to a great start.

In the afternoon we headed over to the Magnolia Plantation, which is actually just across the Ashley River from our house. Until the end of the month they are running a South Carolina resident special so we were able to take the whole family for $30. We had a great time, the tram tour of the plantation took about 45 minutes and Rick, our guide filled us in on the history of the plantation and early plantation life. Most of the earlier rice paddy's have been turned back into natural swamp areas filled with wildlife. We saw about a dozen alligators ranging in size from about 3 feet up to 8 feet! After the tram ride we walked through the gift shop and then visited the petting zoo. The kids had a lot of fun feeding the goats and pig. They also had a great collection of local reptiles including a canebrake rattlesnake, cotton mouth, timber rattlesnake, rat snake and copperhead, among others.
We saw this small alligator when we were walking across the garden bridge in the picture above.

We're planning another visit in the fall to take a tour of the house and enjoy further explorations of the gardens.

Monday, July 14, 2008


After a brief settling in period our oldest son came to visit from California. For the past few days we've been out visiting Charleston. Some of the sites and activities included a visit to the only tea plantation in the United States, geocaching, a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium, and the Irvin House vineyard. We also spent a day on Folly Island boogie boarding - and with Hurricane Bertha kicking up some decent surf we had a great time.

We also went out to eat at a number of restaurants - Ruby Tuesday which is a family favorite, Pasta Joe's which was unremarkable, Queen Anne's Revenge which is our family's favorite restaurant in the area . . . so far.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy Independence Day

This Independence Day our family is in the midst of some major changes. Having just moved from California - where the fun police prevent you from buying fireworks, to South Carolina where fireworks are sold on every street corner we'll be introducing the kids to fireworks and fireworks safety. This is also the first Independence Day that we haven't has some sort of boat to take out to watch the fireworks in . . . well a long time. Earlier in the week we stopped by a local fireworks stand and picked up some firecrackers, roman candles and bottle rockets. A nice assortment for our first year. Our fireworks rules are built around the premise that fuses are unpredictable. This means that we generally don't light exploding things while holding them in our hands, we don't launch rockets at less than a 60 degree angle, and we make sure the expected blast area is clear (of people, animals and flammables).

We invited some of our new neighbors over for a barbecue, everyone brought a little something and as is always the case at events like that there was plenty of very good food, great company and entertaining conversation. Later on all the kids (and Dads) moved outside to fireworks. The tiki torches did a great job of keeping the bugs away and served as a ready source of fire when matches we're uncooperative. The party ended and the fireworks ran out while it was still relatively early so we decided to check out the North Charleston fireworks display. The drive was about 25 minutes and we were able to catch the last 15 minutes of the show from one of the neighborhoods near the park.

All in all a great Independence Day! I missed not getting out on the water but it was relaxing not to have to get the boat ready. Given the choice I'll be out on the water watching the fireworks next year.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Father Daughter Date.

Tonight I had the honor of taking my daughter on a date. She's 15 years old and becoming a wonderful young woman. We took the Mazda MX5 with the top down. We haven't gone a a date for quite a while so it was long overdue. When she was about 6 years old and we were living in Minnesota we would take my old convertible to the to the local pastry shop for dates. We would dress up and she would tell me about the important things in her life. Now the important things in here life have changed and I'm more pleased than ever that she still tells me about them.

We went to the Ruby Tuesday just down the street. It's become our new family favorite and we've gone there often enough that we get noticed as regulars. Just after we were seated my daughter mentioned how much she'd like one of the strawberry ice cream deserts as one was being carried out of the kitchen. To our surprise the waitress brought the desert to our table and asked if we'd like it - apparently it was supposed to be for a carry out order (which doesn't get the ice cream on it) but was made with ice cream. My daughter jumped at the offer so we had desert first - on the house, and then enjoyed a delicious dinner. I'm looking forward to our next date and more fond memories.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Back to the DMV

Upon closer inspection it looks like I'll be going back to the dmv too or perhaps I'll change my name to timothty - it may be easier.

TGIF - not

After a few hours at work I decided to seek out greater challenges so . . . Today we went to do battle with the South Carolina DMV! I have to admit compared to the California DMV this was a walk in the park; the line moved quickly and wasn't long to begin with so we got to their first line of defense pretty quickly. We'd prepared for this encounter and had already filled out the required forms so we were ready to move on quickly - not so fast; South Carolina doesn't accept other states drivers licenses as proof of anything other than driver qualification so after a quick scan of the acceptable documents I dashed home to pick up passports or birth certificates to prove we were really who we said we were and a utility bill to prove we actually lived here, as opposed to it being our hobby to visit various state DMVs and exchange our drivers licenses. While I was collecting documents Elizabeth worked on task 2 - vehicle registration. When I returned, passports and utility bills in hand she had secured the coveted "In God We Trust" version of the South Carolina license plate. The greeter recognized us and reviewed our documents - Passports, check; Utility bill in Elizabeth's name, check; Utility bill in Tim's name . . . frantic searching . . . check; military and dependant ID cards, check. We received our line numbers and took our seats. A few minutes later we were called up and paperwork in order paid my $25 and was sent to get a picture. Elizabeth was not so fortunate; as an identity theft protection measure her ID card didn't have the requried social security number, and the original issue reciept in her maiden name - even when accompanied with a marriage license was not a suitable replacement; she'll be making another trip to the DMV. On the positive side, the lines are short and the people are nice.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Big Drop

This afternoon at work I received a nervous call from home when our daughter stepped off the walk and fell through the attic into the garage. She ended up straddling the garage door opener lifter track. OUCH! After several X-rays and once over by the doctor we determined that she was bruised but not broken.

The garage ceiling required some serious work, so much for unpacking today! Fortunately Mike next door had some extra Sheetrock in just the right size for a patch.

Father's Day Weekend

On Saturday we noticed that the grass was getting a little long so we set out on a lawn mower shopping trip. After a quick stop at Consumer Reports we decided on the Toro Recycler Personal Pace. The nearest Toro dealer no longer stocked mowers since Toro had required them to take on more inventory than they were willing to. We stopped at an Ace hardware that had only a few small mowers and a Sears that had a couple of good looking mowers and a lot of hornets. We stopped by Lowe's and still no Toro. Our last stop was to Home Depot where we found the sought after mower. The kids were anxious to get mowing and by the end of the day we all really liked the new mower. It started easily on the first pull and the personal pace feature made the large yard a breeze.

That evening we battled through picture hanging with only a few mishaps.

After church on Sunday a band of thunderstorms rolled through putting a damper on a planned outing so we opened more boxes and I put together a couple of wall racks for the garage. A few more racks and we may get both cars back in the garage.

For dinner we adventured to Daniel Island and Queen Anne's Revenge. The decor was great, the service was fantastic and the food was wonderful for both the adults and the kids. It may be the new family favorite.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More Stuff

The "overflow" shipment of our stuff arrived today after being stored in a warehouse, packed in crates shipped across the country and then mis-handled during the unpacking. The stuff that came on the moving truck that we pretty much had oversight of during both the packing and unpacking process had a fighting chance and we really had minimal damage to that shipment. The overflow was a different story - the delivery crew that the local United office sent over were pretty shady and they managed to break a light fixture among other things while unloading. Keeping them on task was a major chore.

On a positive note the heat wave that had been with us since we arrived has weakened and both this evening and last were very pleasant. The Whitehall neighborhood is a great place for evening walks; especially compared to our very hilly neighborhood in California so hopefully we can keep this new healthy trend going.

There are 3 large frogs that have taken residence in the pond in the front yard; one of them has grown quite large and can no longer get out of the pond without assistance (I think they're eating all of my mosquito fish).

I stopped by the library and now have a library card - I'm starting to feel like a Charlestonian. The rest of the family got their cards yesterday but I'm not falling too far behind.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Unpacking the computers

Finally found the box with the computers and associated accessories. The movers arrived with the first load on the 3rd of June, the second load arrives tomorrow (June 10th). More about the whole moving process on a follow-up post. At this point the kitchen and the kid's bedrooms are complete. The dining room is fully unboxed and is only wanting a few pictures on the walls. The family room was finished a few days ago - again except for pictures on the wall. We were able to get to cars in the garage after a few hours putting away garage related supplies. Tomorrow will bring a new wave of boxes. We're starting to see all those little things that we didn't notice the first few times in the house.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Heading East- Route 66 and beyond!

Sunday June 25th, following a tearful goodbye at Bay Hills Community Church; we turned our minivan into the zoomobile loading up 3 birds, 3 cats and a dog. Then the four of us piled in and set out on our cross country trip. Sunday night we found a hotel that accepted pets - thanks to my trusty blackberry. On Monday we stopped by the Grand Canyon and could have stayed for a week! Unfortunately we were racing the moving truck and he had a two day head start.

To be continued . . .