Saturday, 30 November 2013

Isaac is 5!

Hey.  I have been putting off doing this. Not sure why, probably because Paul has been off for the last week, and we have been in full holiday mode (slobbing round the house, eating too much and drinking too much)

So last friday night I went to my first Zumba session for about a year.  I went with some ladies from one of my meet up groups.  This class is held once a month at the Kroc Centre in Greenville.  It was an hour and a half class (yikes!)  and I absolutely loved it!!! There were about 6 different instructors, who all took turns doing routines.  There was disco lights and it was very loud.  A real Zumba party.  The best thing……  It was completely FREE! I was very sore all weekend, though it has reignited my love of Zumba.  I have checked out some more local classes, that I hope to attend next week.  I have even looked into the Zumba Instructor training.  This was something I wanted to do when we got here, but I got caught up in other things.  Watch this space…..

Monday was Isaacs birthday.  My boy is now 5 years old.  Where has the time gone?  Typically he had us up nice and early to open his presents.  He had a good haul.

More Imaginext stuff, a tshirt, switch-and-go dino, Lego sets and Hexbugs.  The boys love the Hexbugs.  The best way to describe them is like motorized hamsters, with a circuit to run around.  They are well cool.  I went into school for Isaacs birthday celebration, always so cute, and nice to see the kids in that environment.  This gave Paul the opportunity to take Sebastian to Gymboree, which they both enjoyed.  We got the boys from school, came home and Skyped with relatives which gave them an opportunity to see Isaac open his presents.  Thanks guys, he loves them all!  We then went to Chuckee Cheeses for dinner, which all the boys enjoyed, and didn't end up costing a fortune as we had a voucher!!! Plus as it was a monday night, it was pretty quiet, and Mr Cheese himself even came out to say hello.  We returned home, where we sang happy birthday to Isaac and he blew out his candle on his awesome Paw Patrol cake.  

Tuesday Oliver finished school at lunchtime, we collected him and went out for lunch, a treat for him, as he had been so good about Isaacs birthday.  A real mature big boy about understanding that the presents were Isaacs etc.  We got Isaac, and the pair of them continued to make Isaacs lego sets together.  So cute….

Wednesday, it snowed

It doesn't snow much here, but this really came down for about 3 hours.  Luckily the ground was so wet from the rain storm the day before (it rained for about 24 hours solid), it didn't stick, so we took the boys off to Monkey Joes to enjoy their half price entrance.  Again I was surprised by how quiet it was, considering all the schools in Greenville were off.  The boys had fun for about an hour, then we went for lunch at Papas and Beer (I will do a restaurant review of this, I really need toy catch up on my food blog….).  

Yesterday was Thanksgiving.  Oliver is thankful for toilet paper…..  We watched the parade on TV in the morning, while I got on cooking the bird.  It was delicious again.  I made too much food, but the boys all done a good job attempting to eat it.  We then sat down to watch the Croods (another of Isaacs presents) before having apple pie and ice cream.  

Today is Black Friday, so we have been making purchases for Christmas.  Obviously things will be a bit different for us this year, what with traveling home,  so we have a very set list of stuff.  We have been keeping an eye for bargains, so only have about 6 things left to get in total.  And the stocking fillers.  These will be coming to the UK, so I might just wait till we get there.  I want to have all the Christmas presents wrapped and ready to go by next weekend.  I think it is doable…..

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Stirling Chili

Last Friday Isaac, Sebastian and I went to Greenville to look for the mice on main.  We managed to find all of them but the first one (I now know where this is, thanks Liene!).  Greenville was looking as beautiful as usual.

 Above is a photo of the boys posing with the recently uncovered bronze statues of students from Stirling High School.  They were covered due to work being down on a nearby building, they stand at the corner of Main Street and Washington Street.  This school has an interesting history, which you can find here.  It was Greenville's first all-black high school, which was burnt down, and was never rebuild, as the School District of Greenville was integrated in 1970.  This area has an interesting past regarding segregation and integration, which one day I will look in to.  Something tells me I may find it quite shocking….

Saturday evening we went to our first chili cook off.  It was held on our subdivision, up a cul de sac.  There were 5 chilies for tasting.  The idea is you put a poker chip to vote on which is the best.  I did not enter, not feeling brave enough (and distinctly lacking in oxo cubes to d anything worthwhile).  We did contribute some desserts though.  The boys had a good time riding their scooters around with the plethora of other children and wheeled items.  When it got dark, they put a film on a house over the road using a big screened projector.  The house opposite had music blaring, and a disco feel.  Here is Seb busting some moves.

We have never seen Seb dance before.  We did not know that he knew what to do.  But he was obviously watching the other children and mimicking them in pure Sebbie style.  He had us in giggles.  You just have to say 'pom-poms' to him now, and he shakes his hands like a cheer leader.  Again, something he has only seen briefly on the TV.  We also found some more English people who live on our subdivision!!! 

Oliver had 'World of Work' day on tuesday.  The idea is to go in with a parent and shadow them in their job for the morning.  As Paul works in a factory that doesn't normally allow children, I put the feelers out with his teacher a little while ago.  Luckily he was able to get a morning shadowing a boy in his class parents.  I think the best way to describe it is that they work in golf.  Literally their whole life is golf.  Oliver spent the morning touring the golf course, and then designing one.  This is him and his class mate hard at work 

Here is there finished project. There were 3 of them that worked on it.  Oliver's is the one on the right. 

He had a great day, partly because he got to drink copious fizzy drinks, play the iPad and got Chick-fil-a for lunch.  He also came away with a goodie bag containing a cap, a book, some golf balls and a memory stick

As Oliver doesn't know golf (and neither do I really), he doesn't know how lucky he was to go and work at this place.  It was an amazing opportunity, and I am so grateful to the parents for having Oliver.  

And thats about it….  Paul has next week off work, and the boys are winding down for Thanksgiving.  It is also Isaacs birthday on monday, which he is really looking forward to.  I am actually looking forward to having everyone at home for more than 2 days…..

(Will probably regret that once the boys are killing each other)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Guest Blogger - Bob, Traveling Tripster

Something a bit different from me folks.  I was approached a wee while ago to write a guest blog post for Traveling Tripster, which I hope to see published very soon.  In return, Bob wrote a piece for me.  It is about Moscow, a place I would never have thought of visiting.  This article does entice me just a little.  Maybe one day…

Read on….

Moscow: A Guide to Incredible Attractions
Moscow in Russia is an extremely lively city to visit. As a tourist, I was well aware of the numerous attractions and scenic spots here which could keep me occupied for days. This capital city of Russia has of late become a major spot for tourists from all over the world. The wonderful combination of both the historical and the contemporary is what sets this city apart. I was completely captivated by the myriad sights, sounds and people around me in this great city.

A look at the Kremlin

The Kremlin is the most obvious choice for any tourist visiting Moscow. It was the first on my list too. The Kremlin truly belongs to one of the most ancient parts of Moscow, or for that matter, Russia. Simply put, it is an architectural splendor. It is a famous landmark not only historically, but also politically. I opted for a guided tour. As I wandered through the Kremlin, I could feel the rich history seep into me. I also stepped into the museums located inside the Kremlin complex like Armory Chamber, Ivan the Great Bell Ensemble, Sobornaya Square etc. I was quite fascinated with the collection of archeology of Moscow Kremlin.

A stroll on the Red Square
Right beside the walls of Kremlin is the Red Square in Moscow. I was told by my guide that this used to be formerly an execution site and also the parade ground. The sights here were quite different all around the Square. A number of Moscow’s popular tourist attractions are around this Square. There is the Kremlin. Then there is the St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Lenin’s Mausoleum. And there is also the extravagant GUM shopping centre. I was indeed spoilt for choices here and I decided to give each of these a shot.

A quick visit to the St Basil’s Cathedral
 I had heard a lot about this Cathedral in Moscow, and once here I decided to give it a visit. There is a popular story behind this Cathedral. It is said that when the Cathedral was complete and the Tsar saw it, he ordered that the architects of this Cathedral be blinded so that such a beautiful piece of architecture could not be built again. The story might be a cruel one, but the architecture of the St Basil’s Cathedral is indeed magnificent. I found it to be a true masterpiece. After the Cathedral I also went and had a look of the Lenin’s tomb.

Walking around the GUM shopping centre

As I entered the GUM shopping centre, I was awestruck by its hugeness. It is rightly regarded as one of the largest shopping centers in Europe. In Moscow, GUM is a famous name for a shopping destination. But once here, I realized that the shops are not the only highlights of this place. This shopping centre has magnificent architecture to boast of. The shops here are ridiculously expensive, no doubt. But strolling here just to take in the beautiful sights is worth it. This shopping centre also acts as a cultural host. A number of art exhibitions take place under its roof. After spending a while in this centre, I was ready for my next experience – the Moscow Metro.

Underground splendor of Moscow Metro

The stations of this metro are regarded as the underground palaces of Moscow. No wonder, the Moscow Metro is a popular haunt of the tourists who want to see the architectural splendor of this place. Each of the stations has its own unique decorative magnificence and is studded accordingly with paintings, monuments, mosaics etc. I found Mayakovskaya to be one of the most beautifully done stations among the rest. A blend of both traditional and unique, my trip through every station proved to be an enchanting experience.

Magnificent ballet performance at the Bolshoi
I decided to conclude my Moscow trip with the performances at the famous Bolshoi Theatre. It is the oldest theatre in the city of Moscow and has been renovated a couple of times. Russian ballet is without doubt a famous part of the Russian culture and I got a great taste of it at the theatre. The performances were par excellence and it was a fine conclusion to the evening.

About me:

I’m a frugal travel nut always on the lookout for a great deal and a wonderful experience. If you would like to read some of my other stories visit me at You can also learn more about cheap travel at Cheaptravelhunter where you find a great deal on flights, car rentals, and hotels. You can travel more, meet a larger variety of people and experience greater things.

Thanks Bob!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

What's new with you?

So, what's new?  We have been doing the usual really.....

Oliver had his baseball dinner on Friday night.  They won their last game by a tight margin, 11-10.  Oliver played a blinder.  They were down by 3 runs, Oliver hit it, and managed to get all the way round, with the help of his team mates finding their confidence.  He led the run streak that led to them winning the game.  The coach made a big deal of this at the dinner. All the team were presented with a trophy, and baseball cards made by the coach and his wife of the team.  A very nice touch.  The coach is hoping to arrange some practices over the winter, and has asked everyone, even Oliver if they will be playing again.  I think he wants to try and put together the same unbeatable team for the more serious, more intense spring season. 

Sebastian had his speech evaluation on Friday.  It went well. The therapist was very nice, had a set of standardized questions/activities to help her gauge where he is in his level of speech.  Typically he came in just under what is considered normal, so she recommends speech therapy.  She explained what she does in her sessions, and it all sounds very reasonable.  She said she did a lot of gross motor activities, and when I said that Seb can't jump yet, she took a deep breath and mentioned apraxia.  This can often manifest itself in slow speech development.  She asked if we wanted to be referred for occupational therapy.  No thank you.  Speech therapy is enough for now.....  

We had a fairly relaxing weekend.  A trip to Hobby Lobby where we ended up with quite a few presents for peeps in the UK (you guys are sooooo lucky, you all have wax crayons for Christmas, mmwwwwaaahhhhhhh). Then lunch at Longhorn Steak House.  Paul and I have been craving steak for a few weeks now, and this did not disappoint.  We even managed to sort out the photos for the frames we received for Christmas last year, and I put a compile of significant baby vests into shadow boxes, ready to go up in the house (somewhere). 

Oliver handed in his first book report this week. A day early too.  He has had weeks to do it, managed to do it in a night.  Think he was quite pleased with how it turned out.

It has got really cold here. Paul got a 16 degrees Fahrenheit on the way to work this morning.  That's something like -7degrees C.  Cold.  But it's ok, as it is due back in the low 20's next week....

To be honest, I have been spending most of my time thinking about Christmas.  I need to have all the gifts bought by the beginning of December.  Then I can concentrate on getting us ready for flying back to the UK.  At least I have managed to sort the cats inoculations in preparation  for going to her hotel, which I have also been and booked.  Paul is off the week of thanksgiving.  This coincides with Isaac's birthday, both boys finish lunchtime on the Tuesday. We are hoping to get most of our shopping done that week... I am actually quite looking forward to thanksgiving.  We will be at home, I wanna do a turkey.  Hopefully it will be as good as my one for Christmas.  It will be nice to have Paul and the boys around. It can get a bit lonely with just Seb.  He's not the most talkative of creatures......:-)

I have more I could write, but I don't want to waffle.  I need to think about the competition I am considering entering with this blog.  See my Facebook page for more details.

Ciao xxx

Monday, 4 November 2013

Halloween and Clemson

I am going to make this quick....

It has been a bit of a long week.  I had Oliver's conference at school.  He is doing really well, batting at above average on most things.  He needs to work on checking his work, his handwriting and becoming more of a risk taker, but she had no major issues with him.

Another baseball game, another convincing win.  The season ends next week, with a scheduled game followed by a make up game.  Then a pizza night and trophy presentation.  I am so hoping that Oliver and Isaac want to do it again next year.

I have caught up with a few friends this week which has been lovely.  Thursday was Halloween, and Oliver and Isaac have been so excited about going trick or treating.  I had to buy Oliver a new costume, as the one we got him last year is still too long in the legs. So he went as a ninja, and Isaac as a pirate (we have really got our moneys worth on that costume)

The boys had great fun.  There was a real sense of community on the subdivision.  Some of the houses got really into it, and were very well decorated.  

We went the whole way round, and even down one of the cul-de-sacs. There is an unwritten rule on this subdivision that you only knock on houses with the outside lights on, but a lot of people had set up their chairs on their drives, ready to greet the trick or treaters.  The car park by the pool was full of cars from people who had come from other areas.  The boys got a very good haul. It was very different to last years experience.

They have been really good about sharing with Seb too.  We have let them eat a fair bit of their candy this weekend.  They have enough to see them till at least Christmas, and that is with Paul and I picking at it too!

What with the craziness of last weekend, we have taken it very easy the last 2 days.  We had a pajama day yesterday, which was great.  We even sat and watched Forrest Gump last night.  I have not seen that movie in ages....

Today we went to Clemson.  This is a big university town, about an hour from here, home of the Clemson Tigers, a real big, and pretty good, college football team.  

We stopped by the stadium, for a little nose.  Typically our boys found the bronze statue, but had more fun playing in the leaves.

Seeing the stadium was amazing.  It has a capacity of 81,000, and pretty much all of the home games for the rest of the season are sold out.  Maybe next year.....

We drove around Clemson, it is a typical university town, though the old buildings are very pretty.  We took the scenic route home, it is that beautiful time of year, where the leaves are just starting to drop.  It makes everything so picturesque.  


My sis-in-law has a blogger challenge happening this month.  You can find the link to the info here.  Basically, she has set a topic for each day to write about.  I will be partaking in a few.  

If you want to join in, please do, just remember to link back to her blog.  

Y'all have fun now!


In case you have forgotten (or don't know)  you can find info about my blogs and other social media at various places.  Here's the list

Facebook  please like my page!
Twitter @HGmTravel
Pinterest - Have a little look around
Google+ just search for my name....

Think I might look for a little widget thingy me bobbie for this.....

Friday, 1 November 2013

NASCAR at Martinsville

We awoke at a reasonable time on the Sunday morning.  The boys even slept till 8am, and we felt refreshed after an early night.  We had a quick breakfast, and jumped in the car.  I did. It realist quite how far we were from Martinsville, it was a good 80 miles!  The journey passed with little event.

We got near about 11am.  We did not hit any traffic till we were about a mile from the track.  We started seeing car parks in peoples back yards, and the traffic slowed up.  We choose to pay $10 to park in someone's back yard, and ended up less than a 5 minute walk from the main entrance

The track is in the back ground of this picture. There were certainly some interesting people.  Lots of tail gating and drinking going on.  We made our way towards the track.  On our left was the commercial area, where lots of big lorries were parked up with their sides open selling merchandise.  We decided to bypass this for now, and go straight in.  After a visit to an ATM of course.

We headed in at the main entrance, which was right by the access to our seats.  After a quick bathroom break, we went to our seats.  Walking into the stadium was someone else.  We have been to concerts etc so we knew what to expect with the steepness of the stairs and the close proximity to your neighbor.  We walked down to our seat, in row 11.

This was our view.  There was a pre-race warm up show going on, so it was quite loud.  Isaac instantly asked for his ear defenders, and never took them off when we were in the stadium.  Seb was not as freaked by the noise as I thought he would be.  We were so close to the front, just behind the start finish straight.  I went and got some food, leaving the boys to watch the show.  And they were actually watching it.  I came back with some 'famous' Martinsville hotdogs (they were nothing special), some crisps, soft dirks and beer.  

There was loads of presentations, advertisements and attempted fund raising, before they introduced the drivers.  They did this by starting at the back of the grid and making the way forward until they got to the 10 drivers in the chase

They then introduced the pole sitter, Denny Hamlin.  These were the bits Sebastian did not like.  He does not like the crowd cheering.  Isaac was fine, as he had his ear defenders on, but Seb would not keep his on.  We then had the invocation, followed by the National Anthem, then the fly pass. This was  Sebs favorite bit so far

The drivers then started their engines.  Loud. So loud.  They did 5 or so laps under the safety car, so not at full throttle.  The safety car went in, the green flag dropped, and they were off.  Then it got louder.  The noise was amazing, the smell was something else.  Something to do with high octane fuel and burning rubber.  A real assault on the senses.  Not bad, but different.  Oliver by now had his head phones on, but it took a lot longer for Seb to calm down enough to put his on.  This racing was intense.  I cannot remember the finer details of the race, but there were 17 cautions in total.  

We had to take a break after about 70 laps, it was so intense.  Martinsville is such a small track, that it did not take long for cars to start lapping each other and be coming round almost continuously.  During our first break, we went and investigated the commercial area.  This was a lot quieter now the race was on, and some of the trucks were packing up.  We decided not to purchase anything, we did not feel we could justify the expense.  From outside the track, you could tell when there was a caution, as the noise level dropped. We headed back in after a while, got some more beer and food, and headed back to our seats.  They were on about lap 180.

We watched about another hours worth before we needed another break.  This time we stayed within the stadium, and took a walk to the other side of the track.  There was a small kids area with a few bouncy castles, and quite a lot of drunk people.  Not to mention the big drop down the side nearest the track.  We did not stay long, but Paul managed to get this photo on the way back to our seats

Yes, that is Dale Earnhart Jrs. Future mobility scooter (made me think of this advert, I love it!)

We headed back in for the final 130 or so laps.  The noise, sight and smells were so cool.  Being able to see all the pit stops was also awesome.  

It was about this stage that Sebastian fell asleep in daddy's arms.  Once we managed to get the ear defenders on him, he really calmed down, and watched the race intently.  So intently, it sent him to sleep (this often happens to me at the weekends....)

As I said there were 17 cautions in this race.  When a caution came out, and the cars slowed down, we were able to see in to the drivers cockpit as they came by, so cool. Some of the cautions were for debris, but most for crashes.  These seemed to happen mainly on the 4th corner, so we got a pretty good look at them.  About 30 laps from the end Jeff Gordon (you may know him as Jeff Corvette in Cars 2) started gaining on Matt Kenseth, and was able to over take him about 20 laps from the end.  This made the crowd very happy.  By now, we had completely lost Isaac's attention, so we gave him an iPod.  Even though he was playing, he would still look up occasionally.  Then Oliver wanted one, and played for the rest of the race...

The crowd: hmmmmm..... The people sat next to me were huge Jeff Gordon fans so they were more than happy.  Some people had their favorite drivers and would be waving them on as they came by.  They love this sport, and I don't blame them.  Some interesting looking people, but no one who put me off going again.

Jeff Gordon crossed the line first, went round, then came back to pick up the chequerd flag, and do the customary donuts and burn outs.  Check out Paul's video 

We left shortly after, and made our way out with the crowds.  We got back to the car with no dramas.  We waited about 30 minutes to get out of the yard, not bad for an event with up to 65,000 people attending.  

The NASCAR was a long day.  But it was worth it.  I am so glad we did it, especially starting on the smallest track in the circuit.  Made it more intense, but more comfortable.  We really got into the racing, even if we couldn't talk to each other while the race was going on.  

Isaac has already said he doesn't want to go to another one.  The rest of us are dead keen.  I have already been looking up the dates....just hope it doesn't clash with the F1 race in New Jersey.......