Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Girls Day Out

We had a Girls Day today. The boys went with dad to swim and canoe at Table Rock. Natalie was feeling a bit left out. Then she remembered me telling her that when the boys went away for camping, scouting, etc. we'd have a girls only day. So she asked if today qualified and I thought it probably did.

I had the idea of making a small quilt for one of her baby dolls. But before I gave her my idea she said, "I want to get my ears pierced today!" Wow, didn't see that coming. We've asked her about getting her ears pierced before and she was vehemently opposed. She must have been thinking it over. Or maybe you just get braver once you turn 6 years old, which she did this month. Or perhaps rising first graders are just more brave than kindergarteners. Whatever the reason, she was ready today.

We hit the mall and the Piercing Pagoda lickety split. We looked at every single pair of earrings available and I thought the pink 'diamonds' would be perfect. She thought the pink hearts filled the bill. So, pink hearts it is! I was a little hesitant to pay the lady before the earrings were actually in her ears but that seemed to be the way it is done. Natalie didn't hesitate when it came time to hop in the chair, though. She sat through the alcohol wipes and the dot placement. Then she watched the gun and on the count of three she had one earring in place. There was a few seconds delay and a tiny, "Ouch!" but she sat still and now has a matching earring in the other ear.

We celebrated with a chocolate chip cookie because she did so well. Or, from my point of view, the cookie filled up her hands and she couldn't twirl her new earrings around.

You are a brave and beautiful girl, Natalie! I loved spending time with you today.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

East Coast Vs. West Coast: A slightly biased comparative analysis

I've been blessed. More blessed than I deserve, to quote Dave (Ramsey). And I've run into my fair share of good luck too. One of those lucky moments happened at Payless Shoe Store two Fridays ago. Robbie called to say that my mom had called and offered us a free week on Hilton Head Island. And although I had just left a five week vacation in Florida that same week, I was more than happy to accept her gracious offer.

So, with two coasts fresh in my mind, I offer you my opinions on who offered the better experience.

Best diving pelicans: Hilton Head
Best sunsets: Venice, FL (well, being the west coast, you get to watch the sun set over the water so that is a no brainer)
Best sunrises: I suppose I'll have to give this to Hilton Head. I don't get up early enough to know.
Best sand for riding a bike: Hilton Head
Best bike trails: Hilton Head

Although, I have to throw Venice a bone here. Riding bikes around Venice was more fun. But we visit in the off season and the place is deserted. Summer in SW FL means no traffic! Summer in Hilton Head means no parking spots, anywhere!

Best food: Just from looking around at all the cool restaurants, I'll give this one to Hilton Head. We didn't eat out much.

Best snorkeling: Venice, FL
Best beach water color: Venice, FL
Best pier: Venice, FL (that isn't exactly fair since I didn't see one in Hilton Head)
Best light house: Hilton Head (this counteracts the above, because there is no lighthouse in Venice!)
Best man singing at the Marina: Hilton Head
Best Marina: Venice, FL
Best shells: Venice, FL (no shells in Hilton Head!)
Best Sharks teeth: Venice, FL (shark tooth capital of the world)
Best marsh: Hilton Head
Best deserted beach: Venice, FL (I go for solitary beach experiences)
Best party beach: Hilton Head

And I have to comment on that. When you go to the beach in Venice you take a towel (or not), maybe a chair, possibly an umbrella, snorkel and mask. Done.

When you go to the beach in Hilton Head, to do it properly you must have the following:
fancy stroller thingy
four sided tent with either Gamecocks, Tigers or Georgia Bulldogs printed on it
eight coolers packed with food and cold beverages
heavy, wooden armed beach chairs
boom box to play Jimmy Buffet
badmitton set
shovels (garden type, industrial shovels, plastic doesn't work in this sand)
33 beach towels to hang from inside your four-sided tent
bogey boards
pink and green monogrammed bags full of other stuff
all your friends and your extended family

Hilton Head people don't go to the beach so much as they tailgate on it. It is quite the sight! They gather in large groups with many tents side by side. They start to resemble a Bombay trinket shop after a while. And they don't go down to the beach for an hour or so- this is an all day event. I guess with so many people there you can just come and go throughout the day, but somebody is always there to hold down the spot. (I bet if you go up to a tent on a game day it will have salt and sand on it somewhere, probably from Hilton Head.)

So, you have my take on how the east coast differs from the west coast. I'll take either, whenever I can get it. But you know my heart really does love it the most in little Venice, FL.