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Boone Hall Oyster Festival + Kayaking

I pretty much slept all day yesterday since I wasn't feeling well. I finally caved and went to the doctor after feeling sinus-y for a week...and I have sinusitis. Fun stuff.

While I was down for the count, Landon took one of the kayaks out on Horlbeck Creek to see what was going on at the Boone Hall Oyster Festival. The Oyster Fest is a local fete that's held each year at Boone Hall Plantation (if you've ever seen The Notebook with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, Boone Hall is where Allie supposedly lives when she and Noah first meet). There are usually around 11,000 participants and more than 6 flatbeds full of oysters!

The weather was super nice yesterday--around 65--and Landon said the water was calm and great for paddling. I really picked a terrible day to be sick, didn't I?

Boone Hall Plantation from the creek
Live oaks and oysters--a perfect combination for a Charleston party!

Don't Call Me Crazy

I've been thinking about how to write this blog post for four days now, and I still haven't come up with the perfect way to explain this to you, so I'm going with the honest and direct approach.

First of all, I'm not crazy (though maybe my husband would argue with me on that point!). I'm not on any medication. I'm not prone to hallucinations. I am a rational, logical person.

Let me start at the beginning, even though this will (at first) seem like a detour.

My dad's mom--my grandmother--passed away last June. Even though she was a month shy of being 97 at the time of her passing, she was still sharp to the very end. My dad and his siblings couldn't take care of her after she fell and broke her hip in March 2008, so they made the heart-wrenching decision to put her in an assisted-living home. She hated that place, even as she understood why she needed to be there.

My dad--the youngest of five--went to visit her every weekend. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND. For over two years. Mind you, we live in Charleston, South Carolina, and her nursing home was two and a half hours away. And still he went to stay with her all weekend, every weekend, and he never complained. He would sit with my grandma, holding her hand, talking with her.

And over and over again, she'd tell him, "I want to go home, Jerry. Please, when can we go home?" "Home" was her farm in Myrtle Beach, the place that my grandfather built for them by hand back in 1933, the year they got married; she'd lived there for 75 years before she has to go to the nursing home. Daddy would explain that she couldn't go home, that the nursing facility was home now, and, upon hearing this, she would be sad.

But that never kept her from asking again, just in case the answer was different the next time.

My grandma never got to go home again in her time here on earth. She was moved from the nursing home and put in the hospital last June 3 for pneumonia. My dad stayed up with her the entire night of June 4th, holding her hand. She begged him, "Please don't leave me." And he promised that he wouldn't. She passed away late the next afternoon. My dad never left her the entire time.

We all took it really hard. My grandmother was one of the best people I have ever met. She was kind, witty, and amazing with a sewing machine. She was quiet, but she never missed a thing. And she loved her family--all of us--with every fiber of her being.

My dad and his four siblings were so shaken after Grandma died that they couldn't bring themselves to go through her clothes and belongings last June. In fact, they waited until just this past weekend to go back to the farm. I went with them, as I wanted to scan in all of the pictures at Grandma's house, so I could collect them as digital copies and share them with my cousins.

My dad and I went up to North Myrtle Beach on Saturday morning, early, did our respective chores there, and packed up the car around 4:30 that afternoon so we could head by to Charleston.

Before I go any further, let me explain what the farm looks like: it's out in the middle of nowhere, and is probably a mile to any house in every direction. It's set way back from the (not-so-traveled) road, probably half a mile or so. There's an open field to the right of the house (if you're looking at the front door), and a huge field of 40-foot Christmas trees to the left. The house is fairly small, and is perfectly square. There's a little porch on the front that wraps around just a tiny bit on the left side.

Okay, so here's the odd part.

Daddy and I were putting my computer, scanner and equipment into the back of his Highlander, when I heard someone say, with absolute joy in her voice, "Jerry!" It was a fairly young woman, maybe my age, and she was laughing a bit. She sounded like she was very excited to see my dad.

When I heard the voice, I thought that one of my aunts had come out onto the porch and was calling for my dad. He didn't respond, so I asked him, "Daddy, did you hear that?"

He turned white. "I thought I was just imagining things. You heard that, too?"

Then, I realized that no one was on the porch. No one was hanging out of the back door. No one was in the field. There was no one out there except the two of us. Plus, my two aunts are well into their 70s--they do not have young-sounding voices. I was the only woman on the property under the age of 72, and it wasn't me that called out for my dad (why would I? I was two feet away from him). It couldn't have been my aunts yelling from inside of the house-- first, they aren't yellers, and second, they couldn't have yelled loud enough from inside the house to make the voice sound that clear to us. There's no way it was someone in the Christmas trees (which is just creepy) because they haven't been pruned in years and grow so tightly together that I doubt my dog could get through them. The voice didn't sound like it was coming from the trees (which were behind us as the time); the voice came from the direction of the house.

In short, it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life. My dad and I have talked about it since we left that day, and neither of us has changed our stories nor can we explain who called out my dad's name.

I like to think that it was my grandma who was so excited to see my dad. I like to think that she finally made it back to the farm--back home--and that she's finally happy after so many years of being away.
My grandma Alma, on the left

Vintage Clemson University

In South Carolina, there are two major state universities: University of South Carolina and Clemson University. While I went to both (Clemson for undergrad and USC for law and graduate school), I still bleed Clemson orange.

My mom went to Clemson. My uncle went to Clemson. I went to Clemson. My sister went to Clemson. My husband went to Clemson.

I can remember going to Clemson football games when I was a little girl--it would be cold, so my parents would put sweatsuits under our cheerleading outfits. When I got older, I wanted to go to Clemson because it was in-state (and thus, I applied for state scholarships) and because it had a fantastic honors program. Over the four years I spent there, it became more than just a school. It became home and a part of me. I met my husband there. I learned amazing things from dozens of fantastic teachers. I grew closer to my sister, who also went there.

So, you can understand why I was so excited when I found these pictures that my uncle took of a Clemson football game when he was a student there in October 1963. So. Cool!

vintage photos
Death Valley Stadium, looking back towards the West End Zone. If you stand where this picture was taken now, my dorm (Holmes) is directly up the huge hill that's there.

Clemson University South Carolina
Tiger Band!
The Student Section on the hill--where the players run down at the beginning of the game

Is your family closely tied to a college or university? How much has it changed over the years?

Paddlin' Practice

This afternoon after work, Landon and I wanted to test out one of the kayaks--Pupsy D. We weren't too sure it was seaworthy because we bought it kind of impulse. (We just can't resist a bargain!)

It was pretty nice here today: around 65 and clear.

Not perfect weather for a water sport (I'm a big proponent of 90+ degree weather before heading to the beach), but Landon was determined, and I love him enough to just go along with his schemes.

We went over to my parents' neighborhood, which is chockful of little tidal ponds and creeks--the perfect place for us to try out our new kayak. The water was definitely NOT 65, and I didn't want to fall in. Eek! We both managed to stay in the kayak and out of the water. The water stayed out of the kayak, too.





I'd call it a success all around. Happy Weekend, all!

Kayakety Yak--Let's Kayak!

Guess what Landon and I bought???

Pupsy Dee and Jimmy B....also known as our two new kayaks! (Yes, we named the kayaks.)

Landon tests out Pupsy Dee, the surf kayak
The original Pupsy Davis in the Jimmy B. kayak
We've wanted something outdoor-sy for some time now, and we recently decided that kayaks were the way to go (since I just can't quite manage to get on the running bandwagon). I'm not exactly the athletic type, but I do love spending time around the water. And since we live with a tidal creek in our backyard, we'll be able to launch our kayaks from our own back door at high tide:

(We've since cleared out all of the underbrush by the water, so access to the water will be easier than it appears in this picture)

Do you kayak? If so, what do you like about it?

Little Kids All Over Again

My sister and I have a set "Sisters' Night" so that no matter what else is going on in our lives, we get together to have dinner, go shopping, see a movie or whatever else we feel like.

Tonight, we went to see "Beauty and the Beast" in 3-D, which is back in the theatres for the first time since I was seven. My, my how time flies.

Instead of the grown-ups that we actually are,


we were, instead, these little girls for a few hours:

So much fun!

Just Call Me Jane Schmoe

Landon and I are just Joe and Jane Schmoe. We could be those people you sit next to in the movie, or that couple in front of you in the grocery store check out line. We're not famous authors or movie stars or even super wealthy stockbrokers. We are just like every other middle-class couple all across America.

While Landon and I both have great jobs, the clothes we (okay, I) want to buy, the projects we want to finish, the places we want to travel to, the present we want to buy sometimes seem to be impossible to ever finish/ accomplish/ buy.

After all, I have gazillions of things I want to do or buy, but (like all of you, I'm sure) I have a finite budget every month. Landon and I will sometimes sigh (after realizing that no, we can't just jet off to the Maldives for the weekend) and say, "If only we won the lottery, we could (insert item to be purchased, extravagant trip to take, etc.).

But then I remember that there are downsides to being a somebody who can jet to the Maldives on a moments notice. To being a wealthy mover and shaker. To being someone that other people pay attention to.

If you are super famous or super wealthy, people expect things of you. First of all there is the supreme focus on stuff: you have to drive certain cars, live in a certain part of town, eat at the right restaurants (and fast food is a definite no-no).

You have to hire people to help you with all aspects of your life--cooking, cleaning, yard work, child care, and thus, you sacrifice your privacy in so many ways in order to live the life that you've created.

You need to make sure your children know all of the right people growing up. They need to do the right sports, make friends with the children of the right people, get into the right summer camps, go to the right extracurricular activities.

You need to work constantly lest you become that rich person who once was famous for owning a restaurant, or writing that book, or sponsoring that band...but now you just sit at your house alone and eat all day. There is the constant need to remind people that yes, you are still doing great in your business/ lifestyle/ occupation, and yes, the new book/ movie/ show/ product will be out next month.

I don't know about you, but just thinking about all of that makes me a little dizzy. I like being regular ole middle class Jane Schmoe. I like being able to run to the McDonald's for an ice cream in my sweatshirt and not having to worry that the paparazzi (or even a snooty neighbor) will see me in it. I like being able to go to street markets, thrift stores and malls for my clothes and home decor items. I like wearing things because I like the pieces...not because I need to showcase my wealth through my clothes (like anyone really needs a $100+ plain white cotton tee. I don't care if the shirt was hand sewn by an expert seamstress in northern Italy...sorry, babe, but that clothing company saw you coming. I promise that your $100 tee looks just like my mass produced $15 tee). I like being able to eat at little dive bars and drink Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's (sure, going out to fancy restaurants is fun, but so is going to a neighborhood pub during happy hour!).

I very much respect people who have worked hard, made money and have been successful--that is in no way what I want you to take away from this post.

It's just that the anonymity of being middle class--that very same thing that frustrates me when I don't have the ability to immediately purchase the entire contents of J.Crew--is something worth noting, too. The Joe and Jane Schmoes of the world are pretty cool people, too...we just don't have parazzi pictures to show for it!

Christmas Recap 2011

The holidays completely snuck up on me this year, which is why I haven't posted ANY pictures from this past Christmas season. Oops!

First off, my parents' Christmas card:
Merry Christmas from my parents, sister and yours truly!

Next up is a pic from our Christmas Eve brunch at my grandparents' house:
My crazy sister and I
After dinner at my grandparents' house, we headed back to Charleston for the first full Christmas celebration for the first time in my entire life. It was glorious! When we got to my parents' house, we changed for church, hit up the 7:30 PM service, then returned home for snacks and present opening. Normally, we have to rush to finish our presents since we have to get up super early Christmas Day and go to see my grandparents. This year, we opened presents leisurely and well into the early hours of Christmas Day!
My parents' Christmas tree
Amber and LuLu the Santa Dog
Then, we went this past weekend to have a belated Christmas with Landon's family. 
Ashlan shows off the nametags Nann made everyone

Lyle had other ideas on how to best display his...
We love a Tervis Tumbler!
Two new Peter Ackroyd books--at long last!
Laura and Lawton sent pics of baby Logan--Nann was so excited!
Christmas 2011 was all around a great time for us. I hope your holidays were just as wonderful!

So Long, 2011

Yes, I know--I'm a little late with the "sending out the past year" blog post, but I was away all weekend. And 2012 kind of snuck up on me. But we'll blame it on being out of town!

2011 was a wild and crazy year for Landon and I. Here's a recap of the the things we did, the places we saw and the people who made our year what it was:

January
We got really frustrated with our entire house buying process when we found out that we got into a bidding war with our FIFTH contract...and won! Other than that, January was pretty low-key.
Our new house:

February
Landon ran his first ever marathon in Myrtle Beach. I provided lots of emotional support.

We spent the marathon weekend in Myrtle Beach with Landon, Landon's sister (Ashlan) and Ashlan's husband, Jason.


March
March 2011 was a HUGE month for us. We closed on our townhouse at the beginning of the month. Then, to celebrate our house-buying, we adopted a puppy. Meet Phoebe:




In March, we also became an aunt and uncle for the first time when Landon's brother and sister-in-law had a daughter. Welcome to the world, Logan Irene!
from Laura and Lawton's blog
We also began working on our remodel of the house, beginning with a classic before and after of the downstairs half-bath.
Before

After

April
April was a tough month--I started working a part-time job after my hours teaching college were cut back. That part-time job ended up morphing into a full-time job overnight, so for about eight weeks, I worked everyday but Sunday. I have a new respect for people who work multiple jobs now.
We still made time to do fun things, like see my family at Easter.


We also took my maternal grandmother on a search for her mother, who died from cancer when my grandmother was very young. My grandma and great-aunt even reconnected with a first cousin they hadn't seen in fifty years.


May
In May, Landon and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a long weekend in Jekyll Island, Georgia. We went bike riding, had tea at the 100+ year old Jekyll Island Club and generally enjoyed each other's company for three days. The only bad part of the weekend: I ran over a snake with my bike--it was the closest I've ever come to having a heart attack.



I also found out that I got a new job at this amazing home school. So long, college teaching!

June
June was an emotional one for my family. My paternal grandmother, Alma Vaught Vereen, passed away just a month shy of her 97th birthday. She was an amazing, amazing person and I still miss her.
My grandma (on the left) in the 1930s on the beach at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We threw ourselves into work around the house to pass the time. We began to scrap the popcorn off of the ceiling downstairs. Three days into the project, Landon fell off of his ladder and broke his hand.

Puppy kept getting bigger:

July
July was joyous: we drove up to Roanoke, Virginia to help our friends Tim and Kelly Anne get married. I directed, and Landon was a groomsman. The same weekend, my cousin Bonnie had her second baby, Braxton.



August 
As the summer rolled on, so did our little car. In August, we headed down to Fort McKinley, Georgia.



My baby cousin Kayla turned two in August!


September
September means tailgating. Landon and I headed up to Clemson for some food, tailgating and friendship.


October
In October, we had our annual Vaught reunion. It was bittersweet since my grandmother wasn't there for the first time in my life.

November
In November, we got to do my favorite thing: TRAVEL! This time, we headed across the big pond to Scotland and London for twelve days. 




December
We began work on our second bedroom and bathroom. While neither is completely done yet, we are pretty happy with our start:

Here's to 2012!