Archives for August 2015


Dear Soccer Coaches {A mama’s diatribe on extracurricular activities}


Hey Colleen! So you asked if I could get together next week. Well, here’s the thing…

Next week we start this thing called ‘soccer’.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it before or not, but it {extracurricular activities} scares the crap out of me.

You see, I’m gonna have to be somewhere by 6:30pm three nights a week.

Oh, and not just somewhere. But on a field. Which means not in whatever crap I can pull over my head when I’ve reached the end of the day and would rather just be having a beer as I cook dinner in my pajamas.

And oh yes, let’s not forget that it’s not just me that has a dress code but really it is my son.

Those soccer organizers must have kids who just adore getting into new clothes.

My son informs me every. single. morning. that he is more than happy to go to school in just his underwear.

Which if you think about, I probably created that monster, since getting dressed in our house has always been optional. {I always did think a 1 year year old looked super cute slumming around in a diaper so I never got very good at enforcing dress codes.} So yes, the whole getting dressed thing is probably my fault.

But isn’t it enough of a feat that I get my son dressed and to school on time five days a week and then again on Sunday to church? Now, I’ve got to add evenings into the fray as well.

Oh crap, I just realize as I type this mess that he is suppose to be wearing cleats and I think some type of padding gear. And oh yeah, some type of soccer socks???? Guess I know what I’m going to be doing this weekend then. Seriously, how am I suppose to be figuring this stuff out?

So unfortunately, three of my week nights are being taken up by this thing called soccer.

This may be news to some people but I’m actually really done by 6:30pm at night.

Done being a mama.
Done putting a meal in front of my family.
Done doing anything besides telling my children they should just get along and please, isn’t it bedtime soon?

But I guess that doesn’t work anymore.

Oh, I also informed my husband that now we have to give up occasional Friday nights for this thing called soccer. Guess what my husband told me??? “Well, we don’t have much going on anymore on Friday nights, do we?”

Seriously, this from the man who at 25 threw quite an amazing after bar party. But no, apparently turning the ripe old age of 40 has made him ready to throw in the towel and succumb to this suburban thing called soccer.

And all because he thinks that maybe it will help our child get a college scholarship.

Has he seen our son play sports?

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His last attempt {at age 3} ended before the first practice even got started.

Within meeting the coach and learning he would have to follow someone’s directions, he promptly informed us “I’m not playing. I’m going to go inspect the grass and find some bugs”.

I wish I were kidding.

For some reason I didn’t believe him so I took him back to a second football practice and once again, it was my child in the grass discovering the long begotten beetle of kingdom come.

Even last year when I tried encouraging him to give baseball a go, he himself said, “Come on mom, have you seen me try to hit a ball”. “Yeah, right”, was my response.

Wouldn’t it be better for all parties involved, if we were just a bit more up front with our children’s potential.

I mean, it would be amazing if on Monday night we discover this amazing God given gift of unknown, unparalleled soccer talent.

He has shown some improvement in the last few weeks while playing at home. Which was after we told him we were forcing him to play soccer. I blame my husband. I was more than happy to put off this whole extracurricular activity thing for a LOOOOT more years.

{But in defense of my husband forcing him to play soccer, the conversation went like this…
Son: Can I play soccer?
Mom: Sure, as long as you do your homework prior to practice.
Son: Uhm, well actually, no, I don’t think I need to do soccer or homework for that matter.
Dad: You ARE playing soccer and you ARE doing your homework.}

But really, my son’s God given talent is a love of animals, legos, and taking things apart and putting them back together.

The next Einstein, next Edison, next discoverer of an extinct animal…that is my son. Not the next David Beckham.

{And yes, I do think my son is a genius. You would use that coping mechanism too if your son spoke in animal language every time he met someone new!}

But maybe I will be proven wrong. And my efforts to still be a mama post 6:30pm will be worth it.

Maybe one day he will get a soccer scholarship. But really, I will be proud of my son if he just listens to the coach and stays on the field Monday night. I don’t care if he runs in the wrong direction and I certainly don’t care if he touches that soccer ball with his hands.

So for the next 8 weeks my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings are taken up with soccer.

Feel free to join me out at the fields and cheer me on when we arrive fully clothed! I’m gonna be feeling proud.



63 Places off the Beaten Path in Charleston, SC

Finding and exploring hidden gems in nature is one of my favorite past times. Here are our personal favs along with undiscovered places we hope to check out soon. So load the kids up and get up close & personal with the great outdoors. {listed in no particular order}

1. Daniel Island Waterfront Park, Daniel Island
Situated on the shores of the Wando River and replicated to resemble the Charleston harbor, this park’s best feature  is the proximity to the waterfront trails. When facing the water, take the left hand trails and you will come to a small bit of shoreline where the trees are eroding into the river. If you aren’t able to boat out to Capers & Dewey’s, this is your next best way to experience an eroding shoreline.

2. Trails at Wannamaker Park
There are 2 miles of paved trails, as well as the 8 mile Wannamaker North Trail for bicyclist and nature explorers.

3. Charles Towne Landing
Great for bike riding but make sure to go when it is NOT hot. There is very little shade here.

4. Old Santee Canal Park

5. Charleston Library Society story time, Downtown
This is a completely different organization than the county’s library system. This non profit was founded to expound one’s natural curiosity through art, speakers, and ultimately – books. They have a summer reading time for kids.

6. Historic Charleston Foundation kid programs, Downtown
Who knew that the organization responsible for ensuring our city’s awe-inspiring architecture is protected, also has numerous after school & during the summer educational programs for children?

7. Trolley Rides, Downtown Charleston
Park at the Visitors Center and ride the FREE trolley around downtown.

8. Waterfront Park, Downtown Charleston
A great way to beat the heat and enjoy downtown all in one swoop. Even better, take advantage of the FREE trolleys (see #7) to get there and your kids will think you are the best mom ever.

9. Sunrise Park, James Island

10. Charles Pickney National Historic Site, Mount Pleasant
My favorite place in Charleston for family photos and kids being kids.

11. Marsh View Trail, Mount Pleasant
An easy paved trail for kids that takes you out to the marsh. Wear flip flops/crocs and you can explore the marsh. We recently found mussels here!

12. Seewee Shell Ring Trail

13. Awendaw Creek Landing
The trails are great for exploring and the dock is fun for crabbing.

14. Hampton Plantation
Explore nature trails and let the kids run wild.

15. The Custom Building, downtown Charleston
It may look formal & imposing, but there is nothing wrong with having your youngsters run up these steps to burn off some energy.

16. Crabbing
Catching crabs on a line of twine with chicken necks is one of my favorite past times, so no, I won’t be sharing my favorite crabbing hole. However, try your hand at these great locations – Shem Creek Park, Awendaw Creek Landing and Pitt Street Bridge. Stop by Haddrell’s for your crabbing and fishing needs.

17. Farmer’s Markets
Give your children a few dollars and let them pick out a new vegetable to try. Kids are much more likely to try food that they had a hand in picking out and cooking.
Luckily in Charleston, we have farmer’s markets almost every single day of the week.
Monday ~ Seabrook & Kiawah Islands
Tuesday ~ Mt. Pleasant
Thursday ~ Daniel Island and North Charleston
Saturday ~ Downtown Charleston, Goose Creek, John’s Island, & Summerville
Sunday ~ James Island

18. Shem Creek Park

19. SEWEE Educational Center
My kids love learning about all the ‘stuffed’ animals they are able to see here. Plus, they have a boardwalk trail you can explore.

20. Center for Birds of Prey

21. Caw Caw Interpretive Center
Your best chance to see an alligator is here. Perfect for older kids or at least have enough adults to corral youngsters that like to run.

22. Hazel Parker Playground, Downtown Charleston
Nestled behind a City of Charleston recreation department building, this little gem stays tucked out of view from all the tourists walking by. It has something for everyone…different sets of climbing equipment perfect for young & old, tennis, baseball, AND basketball courts. And if that wasn’t enough….THEY HAVE BATHROOMS!! Located inside the recreation department building, you will find restrooms and a water fountain. And if you are lucky enough, the inside doors will be open and your kids can play inside the building with plenty of toys while you get a break from the heat with some air conditioning!

23. Park Circle Butterfly Garden

24. Magnolia Gardens
Out of the 4 major plantations in Charleston, this one is my favorite. The gardens are romantic, beautiful, and splendid.

25. Tennis Courts (Whipple Road)
When my son was a rambunctious 2 year old that loved to run as far away as possible I would load him up and take him to the tennis courts. He could run & run and never run away from me. I would just hit tennis balls and he’d have to run and pick them up for me. I’m all about free & easy child entertainment!

26. Dunleavy’s Popcorn & Wings
When you need a cheap date with your husband and hiring a sitter isn’t possible, this is the next best thing. Kids eat unlimited popcorn and you take advantage of wings and the salty beach air. !

27. Belgium Gelato
Want to become #momofthedecade? Park at the Visitors Center, ride the FREE trolley, cool off at Waterfront Park, then head 2 doors down for this delicious gelato.

28. Charleston Park Conservancy
Find parks {think nice classical parks, not necessarily with playground equipment} all over town.

29. West Ashley Greenway

30. North Charleston Waterfront Park
Not only is there a beautiful meadow and large pavilion, but there are also sprinklers/spray fountains to cool kids off.

31. Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, downtown Charleston

32. Hampton Park, Downtown

33. Jason’s Lake & Botnay Bay, Edisto Island

34. Edisto Beach State Park

35. Governor’s Park, Daniel Island
Zipline, playground, shade!, and access to trails perfect for exploring the marsh and estuaries habitats.

36. Smythe Park, Daniel Island
A pirate themed playground with a large lake for kid anglers’.

37. Library Programs, Charleston County
From Picolo Spoleto events to Magic Treehouse Clubs, the library has great programs all summer long.

38. $1 Movies at Regal Cinemas

39. Morris Island Lighthouse
Although you can’t ‘see & touch’ the lighthouse you can find a great view by going to the far end of the east side of Folly. Morris Island is a great lesson for your kids to learn about how the tides continually alter the landscape of our islands.

40. Bert’s Market, Folly Beach
One of my absolute most favorite places in Charleston! Complete beach dive…where else can you find cold pressed juices, organic hotdogs, and nightcrawlers for bait all in the same place? Seriously, I adore this place and my secret dream is to open one in Mt. Pleasant. I’ve already got the perfect corner spot picked out…think of superman gorillas and you’ll know where I’m talking about.

41. Pick Berries
Whether you pick in town or find an organic farm within an hour drive of Charleston, your kids will love running around dirt fields and eating berries to their hearts content.

42. Charleston Tea Plantation, Wadmalaw Island
Take your girls for ‘tea’ with their favorite babydolls. Or a perfect place to visit sans kids.

43. York Towne/Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant

44. Chapel Park
A favorite hidden gem with a gorgeous water fountain.

45. Charleston County Park & Recreation docks and trails
CCPRC has fishing docks and trails for exploring at almost every single park they maintain. My kids love the Palmetto Island County Park for its abundance of fiddler crabs found on the creek banks.

46. Bee City, Cottageville

47. Cypress Gardens, Monck’s Corner

48. Bamboo Forest, Sullivan’s Island
Next to the SI fire station, this bamboo forest is so neat and hidden away.

49. A Very Little Book Store, Summerville
The perfect place for a cozy story time.

50. Trophy Lakes, John’s Island
The perfect place to learn to water ski or wake board.

51. Graveyards {self-guided Gateway Walk}, Downtown Charleston
There are lots of graveyards throughout the Holy City but you may not know that there is a walkway that connects quite a few of the churches and graveyards. This would obviously be better for teenagers or sans kids.

52. Gates of Charleston
Here is another idea when you find yourself without children. The peninsula has so many homes with gorgeous gates containing intricate iron art.

53. The Angel Oak
A pretty neat way for kids to see a very old oak tree.

54. Mace Brown Museum of Natural History, Downtown Charleston
Who knew that College of Charleston had a history museum?? We have yet to check it out but have on our short list.

55. Awendaw Green, Awendaw

56. The Hunley Museum, North Charleston

57. Firefly Distillery, Wadmalaw
Part of Irvin House Vineyards and very close to Charleston Tea Plantation (see #42)

58. College of Charleston campus, Downtown
I am all about impromptu picnics in beautiful locations and the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard and Porter’s Lodge are too beautiful not to visit.

59. Freshfields Village {Music on the Green}, Kiawah & Seabrook Island

60. Hunting Island, Beaufort
A climbable lighthouse PLUS a gorgeous eroding shoreline.

61.Pitt Street Bridge, Mount Pleasant

62. Seewee Outpost, Awendaw
You know a gas station must be pretty amazing to make it onto a list of the best things to do in Charleston, and this general store definitely delivers! It’s a destination in and of itself. We try not to let our kids out of the car when we stop here to get gas because there is no way you leave without buying some cool classic childhood toy.  You’ll find everything from Cabella’s clothing to the perfect BB gun for your son to that pink fishing pole your daughter just has to have. I’ve never been disappointed when we stop here.

63. The Pickled Palate, Mt. Pleasant
My favorite lunch spot! This funky eclectic panini shop serves up great food along with a one of a kind atmosphere.


Getting through the dog days of summer

I call a friend, knowing she’ll understand the desperation in my voice.
The words teetering between a whine and a beg.
“Remind me again, how many more days before school starts?”

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Loads of laundry piled up high, dishes accumulating far too quickly, and I’m not really sure the last time my bathroom was cleaned. And if I can be brutally honest…there is mold & scum clearly visible on the shower door.

It reminds me of a bachelor’s house but no, it’s just what summertime accomplishes in this house of mine. Summer will wreck havoc on the most organized of women. So consider what home looks like for me, one of the least organized women!

There is chaos and mayhem in piles of dirty dishes, produce that all needs canned at once, kids insisting they have to help make dinner which translates into even more messes. And don’t get me started on the Legos scattered endlessly over surfaces that are still sticky from yesterdays glued on art project.

On June 1st those messes looked SO cute.
By August 1st that same mess sends me into tirades, screams, and frustrated sighs.

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So how do we make it through this chaotic mess that intrudes so unapologetically into our lives?

Perhaps I need to change my perspective so I can find beauty in this mess.
Find joy in the most unexpected places.

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For along with the chaos and mayhem, there IS beauty that abounds if I stop myself from yelling and choose gratitude instead of frustration.

Beauty is everywhere, if I simply change my attitude.

Beauty can be found… in pajama laden breakfast of homemade Belgium waffles …as the exciting urge to can tomatoes kicks into high gear …in the joy found as my daughter insists to spend time with me, helping peel shrimp for dinner.

And those Legos, that art project that leaves sticky residue all over the kitchen table…doesn’t God want me to see the beauty in the creativity that my children create?


Perhaps we need to lower our expectations of what we think life should look like and remind ourselves of what really matters.

Summertime {and life for that matter} isn’t supposed to be neat and pretty and organized.

Your house shouldn’t look perfect.
It should look like children live there.

And living means making messes with markers, stickers, and popsicles.

Don’t we have the most fun when there is dirt under our nails, berry juice running down our faces {and ending on our shirts}, and sand stuck to our heels?

So close out of pinterest, with its’ unattainable ethereal perfection, and bring on these last days of summer.

Let’s find beauty in spontaneous trips to the park, even though that means leaving the house a mess.

Let’s experience joy running through a field of clovers, not worrying about the grass stains on our knees as we search for that exclusive four leaf clover.

Let’s laugh our hearts out in a water balloon fight, allowing ourselves to live life as a child, free of care & concern.

Eventually, I will have a plethora of hours and will while away the time by creating a pristine house.
But that season is not now.
And all the grandma’s in my life tell me that when that day comes, I’ll wish I had these begrudged hours back.

So embrace the moment you are in.

Embrace the messy. Embrace the sticky. Embrace the chaos.

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Real living, real memory making is found in the messy, in the sticky, in the chaos.


{Hopefully coming later this week, The Dog Days of Summer 2: Experiencing joy in the midst of whining kids and emotional breakdowns}