Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Traveling the World

I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to much of the world. I love, love, LOVE to travel and wish I could do more of it. I've always said that if I won the lottery (of course, first I'd have to actually purchase a ticket!) I wouldn't need a house. I'd never be in one spot long enough to bother.

I've seen Paris at night from the Eiffel Tower. I've had piping hot waffles off a waffle iron in Brussels. I've water skiied on the Mediterranean. Snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef. Cruised the Carribean. Toured Peter the Great's Summer Castle on the Gulf of Finland. Bought a cool ceramic sink in Mexico and convinced Robbie to bring it home. Watched a black bear scurry up a tree in Canada. Passed a sea turtle and octopus underwater near Venezuela. Swam in the Natural Pool in Aruba. Bought beautiful lace in Switzerland. To quote Joe Walsh, "Life's been good to me so far."

Now I want my children to have these same kinds of opportunities. They've already traveled way farther than I ever did as a child and done tons more things. So, we are off to a good start! One thing I realized when I started traveling is that schools here in the US do not teach much in the way of geography, especially world geography. When I began to see where France, Italy, Switzerland, etc fit into the world it was a bit embarrassing that I didn't already know that kind of thing.

Anyway, there is a reason for telling you all of this! My little blog has been discovered, dear readers! :) I have just partnered with CSNStores.com. I've agreed to test drive one of their toys from here: Online Toys. I chose to get the World Map Floor Puzzle, and now you know why! I'm going to promise to teach my kids at least 5 countries each and will be back to tell you about our experiences once we have had some time to play with it. I specifically used the word 'play' because I bought two huge world maps from Sam's years ago and they are still rolled up and in the plastic tubes! I couldn't figure out a way to make them fun. This map looks like lots of fun.

So, thank you CSNStores.com. We are all excited about this cool opportunity!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Did Someone Say Tree?

I am an Arborist. Did you know that about me? And after a chance meeting with the secretary at STC I am a STC Arborist! How cool is that?! I never expected to be back in the working world of tree care and I couldn't be happier. I only work part time, when the kids are in school, but I just LOVE it. STC is an awesome place to work too. It just doesn't get any better than this. I get to soak up the knowledge of 15 or so other Arborists and they even ask ME questions. I didn't know what I was missing but I am glad I found it. I had always had the idea in the back of my mind that once the kids were in school that I'd want to find something part-time. But I kind of doubted that was a possibility. I haven't ever worked in the tree care industry in South Carolina. My experience was always in Florida. And there are very few trees that qualify to grow in both areas! The folks at STC didn't seem to mind - and have, so far, put up with me asking lots and lots of questions. Of course, the more I learn the more it occurs to me that I have a long way to go.

My official role at STC is Sales Arborist. I've never been in sales. I've worked with sales people in several other landscape jobs over the years but had no idea I'd have the good fortune to actually be one. I've only been on a handful of calls by myself but it is just the funnest thing ever!

So, anyway, just thought I'd share my good fortune this year. I'm grateful for that fateful meeting on the soccer field sidelines. Thanks Yvonne! :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I love my cats. We got new kittens a few months ago and I am just in love with these furry little things. I've always loved cats. I grew up on a farm and we had tons of outside/barn cats. I would pick out a favorite and sneak it in every once in a while. Nothing like a purring cat on your lap or curled up at the foot of your bed.

Our latest additions are Cindy Lou Who and Sir Smoky. I swore I wasn't going to get a female cat. Nor was I going to get a long haired cat. Well, guess what Cindy is! She melted my heart sitting in her little Humane Society cage. She wouldn't take her eyes off me, and I couldn't take my eyes off her. Even while my brain was screaming, "Don't do it! Cat hair will be EVERYWHERE!" Didn't matter, she was mine. Well, technically, she was Natalie's - which leads us to call her 'Poor Cindy' most of the time. Because 'Poor Cindy' gets dragged around on Nat's shoulder all day long. When 'Poor Cindy' is located she is immediately hoisted to Nat's shoulder and is expected to remain draped across it while Natalie does whatever it is that she does. 'Poor Cindy' is routinely woken from naps, pulled from under beds, picked up while eating, and she does it with hardly a complaint. She flops over that little shoulder and endures the ride she is taken on. Cindy is also the rare cat that is facinated with water. As soon as the shower comes on she is THERE. She likes to stick her paws in and bat at the water. And she usually sits on the edge and lets her tail fall in, leading to a soggy tail dripping on the bathroom floor. She is also a very good foot chaser. If she sees the slightest movement under the covers she will pounce and 'kill' the foot underneath, even in the pitch black of night.

Her brother is Sir Smoky. His full name would be Sir Smoky Poops A Lot. But we just call him Smoky. He is a very short haired cat, which kinda makes up for the long haired Cindy! He is white and smoky grey. He has big curious eyes and feels the need to walk when you pet him. He likes to pace back and forth across you and block the TV as much as possible. He loves to play and drags his toy mouse around. His favorite was the mouse with the bell but Daisy destroyed it. This is a happy blog entry so we shall refrain from speaking about Daisy. Smoky will get a new bell mouse for Christmas. (Take THAT Daisy!)

Smoky and Cindy love each other, which makes me so happy. Our other cat pair did not like each other at all and it was so hard to deal with. One had to be on my side of the bed and one on Robbie's or a huge catfight broke out. So to see my happy kittens all snuggled up or playing happily together is such a treat! I'm still not used to seeing cats who like each other.

So, there you have it, our newest family members. They are growing so fast and look like full grown cats already. But you can tell they are kittens by how much they play. I am so glad we finally got them.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Take on Health Care

My grandmother is 95 years old. For a woman her age, she still does remarkably well. But, as Father Time marches on, she is slowing down. A few years ago she sold her home and moved into a retirement community. For the first time in her life she became a social butterfly. New friends gave her a fresh start and she loved it there. My mom and her sisters, in an effort to make things as easy as possible for her, got her a lift chair. Now she didn't have to use up precious energy as she got up and down during the day. It seemed like a great thing for her. Soon enough, though, she wasn't walking as far anymore. She was having trouble getting around her apartment. She fell a few times. And we all thought, "She is getting too old to be alone. Old age is catching up with her." So, she moved to a nursing home. They got her into some physical therapy and she regained her strength and mobility. All of the sudden, she was back to her old self. So much so, the nursing home gave her the boot! She had to go. She was doing 'too well' to qualify for nursing home care. She is now back amongst her friends at the retirement community and loving life again. One old friend is noticably absent in her new/old apartment, however - her old lift chair. You see, it became a crutch. Sometimes we have to do the hard things in order to stay strong. We can't skip out on exercise and expect to keep fit. The nurses at the nursing home let us in on this little secret. They are the ones who told us NOT to give her the old lift chair again. They said it killed more old folks than you would ever guess. Who knew!?

As I processed this new information I likened it to the current health care crisis. It is on my mind a lot lately. I found so many parallels. It is human nature to take the easy way out. But is it the best path to choose? Rarely. It is easy to say, it is everyone's RIGHT to health care. But is it? I don't think there are very many things that we have a RIGHT to. Anything worth having is worth WORKING for. And if you are simply handed a lift chair, before long you won't be able to stand on your own. Accountability is also lost in this shuffle. Should your health care costs go up because your neighbor smokes/drinks/is obese/chooses to use the lift chair instead of their own power to stand? I don't want to go assigning Americans 'lift chairs'. When we give the government power over our health care, we are giving up rights that we will want later on, and they won't be there anymore. We will lose choices.

I actually happen to LIKE my health care coverage. You rarely hear that anymore, but poll after poll suggests that the majority of Americans agree. I don't want to things to change for me and my family. And I don't see how that can be avoided if we are forced into this new system. I lived in a very affluent area for over ten years. Many folks there are already signed up with private health care. They pay huge fees for the opportunity to see doctors who have gone off the 'insurance grid'. They won't opt to be in this new system. The middle class will bear the brunt of these new premium increases. We'll be paying for all those folks who chose a life of 'lift chair living'. We'll all lose quality of care if we can't afford a way out.

So anyway, those are my rambling thoughts on this big ole hairy mess!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kindergarten - The First Day

I left early to be near the front of the car line. I was excited to hear all of the wonderful things Andy experienced today. Here's the earful:

Andy arrived at the minivan in tears. A kid in his class (or not, this remains unclear) said he had a small head and big eyes. Or was it a big head and small eyes? Either way, it was a definite insult. Another kid overheard the insult being flung and told the teacher. Unfortunately, it was too late for the kid to move his pin. The next encounter with this kid will have Andy saying, "I would rather be ugly than rude like you."

Key told Andy (not while I was listening) that there was a volcano on the kindergarteners playground. Andy found that this was not true after searching every square inch. He was sorely disappointed. He also complained that there were way too many kids on this playground. "It was like somebody kicked an antpile and a bunch of kids came climbing out," a disgusted Andy reported.

Lunch, which seemed straightforward enough, was a bust. Andy was given two breads, a meat and a slice of cheese. "Was that supposed to be a hamburger?" he asked. He dropped this 'quasi' hamburger on the cafeteria floor but it did not fall apart and he was able to eat it. (gag!)

His milk was in a strange little box and tasted horrible.

He did not get fries. I pressed him on this because they were definitely on the menu. Key asked if he got those 'white round things with smiley faces'. Yes, he did get those. Well, Key explained, those were the fries. "Well, those things were horrible. I have never seen a fry like that in my whole life." (Have we not exposed him to enough?)

At least he recognized and appreciated the 'soft' chocolate chip cookie. There's somethin'!

He explained that he had 'a million of things' in his backpack and he had to bring it home everyday and he had to take it back to school the next day. He is fairly certain that that will never happen. He can't figure any of this stuff out! We discovered his folder in his backpack and found his homework sheet. He is supposed to take a picture of himself as a baby tomorrow and draw a picture of something he learned. One large and one small stick figure are gonna have to do on that part. I am not going to start helping with homework on the very first day ever! But we did find a cute picture of him in his yellow giraffe suit. Somedays I wonder if it weren't easier back then. Thankfully, back then, I didn't realize I would every say that.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tubing the Green River

Hmmm, so we went tubing today. It was.....interesting, to say the least. The Green River doesn't have a descriptive name. If it did have a descriptive name it would be the Red Murky River. Maybe Mr. Green found the river and named it after himself.

The general idea, upon getting to the outpost, was to pay and put your tube on the trailer. Then you got on the short bus attached to this trailer for a ride upstream. I have to tell ya, most of these people were probably remembering riding a short bus to school at one time. Whew! I am even thinking that some of them were using this as their weekly bath. The girl by me smelled of BO, cigarette smoke and peanut butter. ICK! You could have grown a garden under her fingernails!!!! We felt as if we had crashed a redneck convention. Speaking of cigarettes, I think we were the only ones who did NOT have a ziplock bag with a pack inside.

Okay, enough of that. We get in the river. It is moving very slow. Except for Andy. Andy is half a mile downstream before we can blink. Then it got faster, we hit some rapids. Key gets tangled in some brush by the side of the river and flips off his tube. Then Key is underwater rapid riding. I snatch him up and into my tube. His tube is gone and so is his shoe. We'd just gotten started. Now I am very concerned about the blonde speck that is Andy! Somehow we all get back together and Robbie finds Key's tube. He is still scared and wants to remain in my lap. I convince him that me having numb legs will not benefit us in the least, so he gets off them and lets the blood circulate once again. Any rapid after this point send him into mild hysteria. At one point I am holding his tube with one hand and Andy's tube with the other. I cannot steer at all, of course. We got hung up on a rock and as I am scootching back and forth, back and forth Andy is saying, "WOW, look at that HUGE snake! He is HUGE! Mom, can you see him?!!!!" SCOOTCH SCOOTCH SCOOTCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think my arms are at least an inch longer than when we started. While holding onto both boys tubes we would get hung up on rocks and at one such impasse I think my elbows actually touched behind my back. I went over the rapid and they did not!

One funny moment was when Andy said, "Well, I've seen a bunch of turtles and that huge snake. Key keeps seeing lots of rabbits (rapids!) and I haven't seen any." He also said, after a particularly rough 'rabbit' that the first man to ever float down this river must not have wanted to live anymore. LOL

I did end up seeing one snake in the water with my own eyes so Andy might really have seen his too. I would have thought it was too cold for a snake but there he was!

So, anyway, that was our last-Saturday-before-school-starts adventure. Wanna go with us next time? :)


I can't believe I never posted about Florida. I think because we were gone so long and did so much that I felt overwhelmed with even beginning to describe it all. As always, it was awesome. We have so much fun there. We were either busy with old friends or not busy and pool/beach side. You really can't beat that.

Some firsts this year: all three kids flew on the trapeze. They all had a great time and were so brave! We also watched the 4th of July fireworks at the jetty. We are usually at a party at the Bay's house and watch the North Port fireworks. We took our beach chairs down just before dark and watched the whole show with our toes in the sand. Also, our Andy-man decided that snorkeling would be fun. He was underwater more than he was on top. He found a whole sand dollar, which is now in his collection. We also found a hermit crab and kept him for an afternoon. Oh, and Key got to drive his first boat! Our friend Jesse was gracious (and brave) enough to let Key take over the wheel. Key took everyone from snake island, out through the jetty and back. He still hasn't stopped talking about it. Thanks Jesse! Natalie got two new boyfriends at the pool. She is going to be trouble one day!

If you would like to view our pictures (there are way too many) you can see them here: www.GoodsonFL.winkflash.com.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Goodsons Head Toward Summer

Lots going on this summer for the family. We've already visited family for a few days. Aunt Bobbie and Big Daddy's house was our first stop. We ate our very favorite Mandarin Orange cake, as always. Bobbie, you shouldn't have but we are so glad you did! And we went to Chuck E. Cheese, which is becoming sort of a tradition as well. Thanks for the birthday presents and the delicious meals.

Next stop was Jim and Peggy's. Thanks to Mrs. Adventurer, Peggy, we now know the difference between a llama and an alpaca (it's the EARS!). We also got to see a really cool street that had topiaries in every yard. Very interesting! We shopped, we ate, we rested. Loved the new garden areas too. Don't work too hard in this heat though!

Next was our end of the season soccer awards night. Congrats Andy on another great year. Go Purple Paladins!

This week is zoo camp. This is the second year and it is starting out as fun as last time. Keep your fingers out of the lion's cage kids!

Next week our firstborn turns SEVEN. Doesn't seem possible and yet, how could we have only known him for seven years? We've only been parents for seven years. I don't really remember what being kidless was like! Happy birthday, Key! We love ya!

At the end of next week we'll be off to Florida. We have a beach-front condo in Venice for one month. We will drag this month out as long as possible. We have looked forward to this trip since the day we left last year. So, a big shout out to our best-est Florida friends...WE ARE ON OUR WAY SOON! We like to think of it this way, we still live in FL - we just visit SC for 11 months of the year. Oh, and we have decided that this is the year we'll take the kids to Disney. Just one day for now, to the Magic Kingdom. They are gonna FLIP when they hear the news!
I don't think we have any plans when we return from Florida, thankfully. I want to do nothing! That won't happen, as you know, but I will try to do as close to nothing as possible. Because soon enough I'll be back in that carpool line picking up a 2nd grader and my new kindergartener. Welcome to Elementary School Andy!

Natalie will turn FOUR while we soak up the Florida sun. That also seems impossible. She is all set for 4K this year. She is very excited about being a Furman girl.

Me? Well, I have a new job to look forward to this fall. I am the newest Arborist at Schneider Tree Care. I am positively thrilled at being back in the workforce, albeit on a very part time basis. Watch out trees, here I come! LOL

Robbie is still working hard and being a good husband and dad. We look forward to seeing him pull in the driveway after work each day. Some days more so than others. (Hey, I have three kids to deal with!) He has just finished his third year as pee-wee soccer coach. Thanks Robbie/dad! We love you too.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

It started out misty, then rainy, and I had all but called it a day. But Robbie was more optimistic than me so he loaded us up and off we went to the mountains. Our first stop was the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and the adjoining Fish Hatchery. The kids loved throwing fish food to all the trout. I used to work at the Walhalla Fish Hatchery and fed tons of that food to trout before. Fish food is not easy on the nose!

Then we made it up to Looking Glass Falls. Beautiful waterfall, probably the first one the kids have seen on that kind of scale. It is really high. We hiked to the bottom and everyone (except me) went for a walk in the creek below. Before long everyone had blue lips, blue feet and chattering teeth (except, of course, for smart ole ME). I was the photographer for the trip, you know, the one who'll scrapbook the memories to help them last. So I couldn't get in, really. I'm a peach like that! And with the mind-numbing cold, there is no telling if my gang will even remember this trip tomorrow. So, I had to document.

We finished off the afternoon with dinner at the Pisgah Fish Camp, that we found while looking for the Mexican place. Didn't see the Mexican place til we left the fish camp. But that was okay because it was a good meal and we eat Mexican so much that Natalie doesn't realize that the word 'restaurant' exists. We realized this as we were going in to the fish camp and she asked, "Do I have to eat the fish at the Mexican?" We typically head out on Friday nights saying, "Let's go eat Mexican." I guess we should branch out a bit more!

Then, dessert was enjoyed by all (except me) at Dolly's Ice Cream Shack. See, if you eat fish and ice cream on the same day you WILL throw up. Well, at least I will. My papa told me that when I was about 4 years old. I didn't believe him. So, after leaving the fish camp I insisted on ice cream. I threw up all night long. I have NEVER eaten fish and ice cream on the same day again. But I don't tell me kids that because I am pretty certain that this is a mental thing and not so much a physical thing - and I don't want to clean up ice cream from my van.

We are home now and my tired, happy people are all asleep. It was a great day! :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I won a blog award! My friend Missty has bestowed upon me the "Let's Be Frank" award. Now I am supposed to tell 10 honest things about myself. I tend to be brutally honest so this shouldn't be hard.

1) I hate winter and I can't wait for warmer weather to arrive. Actually, I would really like to pack my bags and head back to Florida and never see another 50 degree day for as long as I live.

2) While I seem to be in a gripe-y mood, I also hate car lines at the elementary school. If the prize wasn't retrieving my cute 6 year old I would never agree to wait in my car again. (Yes, I know, I have literally YEARS of car lines in my future!)

3) Unlike Missty who likes her dog.... I dislike mine more and more as time goes on, which is kinda hard to do seeing as how I never really cared for her in the first place.

4) (Boy, I am on a roll, aren't I?) Let's get something positive down..... I do love cats and we are going to be adopting two this spring! :)

5) I think boys are much easier to raise than girls. In fact, it seems natural, to me, to raise boys and completely other-worldly to be picking away at trying to raise this daughter of mine! Her terrible twos (which definitely extended into her threes) are getting better but I still don't know what to do with her half the time.

6) I do not like to leave the upstairs of the house in the morning until each bed is made, the humidifiers have been refilled, all clothes have been collected into one hamper (and is ready to be carried downstairs and put in the washer) and trashcans have been emptied. Then if I don't get back up there again it is at least clean.

7) I don't like English peas nor the sound of piano music. At all.

8) Traveling to new places is one of my favorite things to do. The farther from home the better.

9) One of my favorite ways to de-stress is exercise, especially yoga, pilates and Zumba. I also like to run, but that is hard!

10) I would take a nap every single day if I could. I can't. LOL

Sunday, March 1, 2009


The morning after we got home from sunny, warm Aruba we had a 20 minute snowfall. The kids didn't miss a single flake either. Andy said it looked like Santa's beard was falling down in pieces. I just love this picture of my pajamaed kiddos watching it fall. It was over as quickly as it started but it was fun to watch anyway. We are supposed to get more snow beginning tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned!

Natalie - Fashion Bug

Natalie loves to get dressed up. So much so, she dresses up several times a day. The only thing she doesn't want is my input or suggestions. Those are always wrong and result in eye-rolling. Lately she is all about skirts. Dresses occasionally, but definitely NO PANTS! I've polled lots of moms and have decided to let her do this on her own terms. So, when she shows up in a frilly pink and black dress, lilac socks, neon pink rubber shoes and holding an orange ribbon for her hair I just exclaim, "Wow, don't you look beautiful today!" And she beams. Then we go to the Y to work out and the ladies there just look at me like I am insane. But, hey, that is probably closer to the truth than I want to admit anyway.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Our Andy man wanted to take violin lessons. He was four when he first mentioned it and we thought he'd forget about it. But he didn't. He kept asking. So I started looking for someone to teach him. For a while there I wasn't having any luck but we finally found a teacher for him. We rented the tiniest violin available and now Andy is a new violin student. He and his new teacher seem to really click. They talk amongst themselves and figure out what the other is saying, eventually. His teacher has to relay notes and foreign concepts to a just turned 5 year old. That is tough enough. But then he also has to interpret what Andy is saying too. For instance, when Andy says G and when he says D, they sound a lot alike! Most importantly, he is having a great time and learning new things. Our sweet little Andy man. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009


We just returned from a week in paradise. Oh, it was really heaven sent! For the first time since we became parents we left them behind and ventured off alone. For one week we didn't break up arguments, strap little people into car seats, stuff tiny feet into pj's, get anyone a juicy, put bows in anyone's hair or say a little too loudly, "BECAUSE I TOLD YOU SO!" That alone was worth the trip. Of course, by Wednesday we missed them like crazy. :)

Our friends Billy and Kristen invited us on this vacation, but the real people who made it happen are Uncle Jim and Aunt Peggy. J and P, if you are reading this, we can't thank you enough for what you did, what you even VOLUNTEERED to do, for us. Your generosity for our family will never be forgotten.

Okay, now to Aruba! We got there on Saturday afternoon. We were supposed to pick up a jeep but it wasn't ready yet so we took a car til the next day. Thankfully we did get the jeep because we headed out to the windward side of the island to explore. Made it to the Natural Bridge and the Natural Pool. Since 99.9% of those who visit Aruba never get to the Natural Pool, this was a big accomplishment. Just finding the right dirt road to take you there is an amazing thing. Arubians don't like street signs, or putting things on maps. Once we did start out for the pool it was easy to figure out why no one goes there. The ride was indescribably bumpy. I can't believe we actually made it the whole way in. The trails are not marked and are barely passable by 4x4 jeeps. I truly thought we were going to flip over a few times. Anyway, we made it and took a dip on the pool. Very cool experience, made even cooler by the trouble it took to find and navigate.

The next day we stayed by the pool and beach all day, just lounging and reading. I finished 5 books while we were there. LOVE that! Went out to dinner that night and the jeep died. Really, it just died! We hailed a cab and got a new jeep at the airport. The new jeep came with a clause that it was absolutely, positively NOT to be taken to the Natural Pool. The pool was also not even listed on the map that came with the jeep.

Wednesday was another exploring day. We found the caves and learned about them. We climbed Casibari rock. We snorkeled Baby Beach. We found a really cool snack shack and got delicious smoothies!

Thursday we snorkeled off a catamaran. Read some more by the pool and beach.

Friday I had a Swedish massage. Looked forward to it all week, by design.

The food in Aruba is delicious! We had Cuban at Cuba's Cookin' for Billy's birthday. Really neat place with a live band and interesting paintings all around. Too bad they were all out of Death By Chocolate, Billy!

We had dinner at El Gaucho, an Argentine Steakhouse. That was the best steak I have ever eaten in my life! I ate everything on my plate! The plantains were so good.

We went back to the smoothie shack for a platter one night. It had a bit of everything on it. Steak/chicken/fish over rice with a salad, yucca, plantains, bowtie pasta, french fries and a salad!

And we had Italian at Gianni's which was also just amazingly good. (I don't dare hop on the scales til I've hit the gym a few times!)

Anyway, it was a great trip! We are thinking Barbados for next year.

In case I can't get the pictures to post, you can visit them at www.GoodsonFL.winkflash.com.