Friday, 23 October 2015

Around here recently photo drop

Howdy doo

Long time no proper blog.  This is just a generic catch up.  Keep up if you can!

So couple of weekends ago we went to NASCAR again.  This was completely unplanned.  The Charlotte race in the Chase (like a play off to determine the overall winner of the season) was supposed to take place on a Saturday night.  But it was postponed until the next day due to rain.  We gave the track a call, they still had tickets, so we booked some there and then.

Charlotte is only 90 minutes form here, so is fine for an afternoon race.  The day was bright and sunny, and pretty warm.

We had some fairly good seats too! Half the fun of NASCAR is the crowd.  They were a special bunch at Charlotte! We all had a great time, and in a 4 hour race only took 2 breaks.  One for fries and one for ice cream, as you can tell by Isaac.....

We all have our favorite drivers.  Paul's is the 41, Kurt Busch.  Oliver is the 18, Kyle Busch (yes they are brothers).  Isaac likes the 4, 3, and 42, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson respectively.  But he is partial to a few others too.  Seb likes the 20 of Matt Kenneth and the 48 of Jimmy Johnson.  I like the 2 of Brad Keslowski and the 22 of Joey Logano.  I am swaying more towards the 22 at the moment though.  Good job, he won Charlotte!  He then went on to win the next race at Kansas, so is firmly in the next round.

All of us love the NASCAR.  It is certainly something we will miss when we return to the UK.  We have one more race to see this season, and that is the last one at homestead Miami.  By then the chase will be down to 4 drivers, and whoever finishes highest at Miami will win the championship.  I really hope it is someone one of us supports! 

This bird appeared in our yard.  I am told it is a broad shouldered hawk.  It was huge.  It stick around for about 5 minutes on the fence, then got something off the ground in the garden.  Good job the cat wasn't out there, it is bigger than her!  We see them flying around he house a lot, we think they  are after next doors small dog.  The birds nest in the woods behind the house. So beautiful 

Isaac was off last Thursday and Friday for conference.  He is doing so well at his new school. His teacher rocks, I love her! She knows him already and understands what makes him tick.  It has taken her less than a month.  He is the second fastest reader in his class, and is up at the top academically.  The amount of work he comes home with is starteling.  He really wants to please her, and not get told off.  I am so proud of him for doing better.  His behavior at school has improved drastically too.  So amazing.  His teacher reminds me of my mum, and her teaching methods.  Might be part of the reason he is doing so well.  My mum always knew how to work Isaac too.....

On the Friday he was off we headed to the zoo with Sebastian.  The whole of Greenville county schools were off, so the zoo was really busy. We still had fun, and Isaac ran into one of his friends from school too.  They had all the decorations up for Boo on the Zoo.  This seems to get bigger every year! 

Isaacs behavior at school may be better, but we still have our moments at home.  We have stopped the occupational therapy completely.  He seems better for it.  We are learning what works and what doesn't.  It's a family effort, and we are all getting there.  Plus, it's fun! 

Last Sunday we discovered a new Park.  Cedar Falls Park is about 10 miles south of Simpsonville, and very pretty.  It has a great play park, which the kids loved.  We then went on a walk to find the falls.  They were nothing spectacular, but pretty to look at, and just enjoy being outdoors now it is not so hot and buggy.

We even managed to get a family photo in 

My dad flies in tomorrow.  I am so darn excited it is ridiculous.  I haven't seen him in a year, and miss him terribly.  He was supposed to come in the summer, but couldn't fly due to health reasons.  I am so looking forward to seeing him. I am also looking forward to the lovely peaceful drive to Charlotte to pick him up tomorrow afternoon.

His room is all ready for him.  The spare room had kind off turned into another playroom, but I managed to get it cleared and cleaned this week.  Dad and I are doing an overnighter to charleston on Monday.  I am really excited about this!  We are going to a plantation on Monday afternoon, then on to fort sumtner on Tuesday morning, plus dinner and a walk round charleston on Monday evening.  Can't wait!!!!

In between cleaning my house, I have also been busy making more bracelets.  Please like my Facebook selling page, you can find the link here. For those of you on Etsy, our  Etsy shop link can be found here 

I look forward to my first Etsy sale, it is taking a while.  Suggestions on how I can improve my adverts are most welcome.  Paul has sold loads of vinyls through our eBay shop, link here.  His vinyl sales are keeping me in beads!!!  He has said that once I sell something on etsy he will buy some champagne to celebrate, so please get buying! 

That's all for now, take care xxxxx

Friday, 16 October 2015

5 on Friday - our Etsy store, HGmT Products

I am partaking in 5 on Friday!  Please join the hosts April, Christina, Natasha and Darci in this weekly link blog.

I am using it to shamelessly promote our new little enterprise.  We recently invested in a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine.  This thing is DA BOMB.  It is awesome for crafting paper goods and vinyl.  I have also started teaching myself jewelry making in the hope of getting a little business going on both sides of the pond, in preparation for our return to the UK some time next year.  Paul has been using the machine for cutting basic vinyls for his track car, Goldie.  We have been learning as we go in both these little hobbies.

I have set up an Etsy shop to try and sell my bracelets in the already saturated market place.  Below are 5 of my favorites from our store.

Available here
This was one of the first products I made.  A wall hanging repurposed from one of Sebastians old t-shirt.  It contains many dinosaurs and would be perfect for a little boys room $10


Available here
This is one of Paul's specialities.  It is a carbon fibre backed picture with a Road Atlanta silhouette.  If your hubby is as crazy about cars and race tracks as mine is, this would make an awesome gift.  We can offer varieties of race tracks on this design, just contact us.  Prices start at $30

Available here

I initially started making kids bracelets.  This is a set of 4 available for sale.  My kids help with the making / testing of these bracelets, they love them.  Anyone who knows my kids, know how rough they can be, and these bracelets have stood up well. My boys know not to put these in their mouths, but for other kids I would say they are for ages 4-9.   $6 for 4


As my skills progress, I have found myself working with different materials.  I made this one yesterday and fell in love with it instantly! It has mint green beads, with small glass pearls, and silver flowers in-between.  It is joined together using a t-clasp, a fixing I am beginning to love. $12

Available here


My kids like to make bracelets.  This was originally Oliver's design, which fell apart when I went to tie it.  I redid it, on jewelry wire, with a lobster clasp.  I think it is beautiful, almost 'Frozen' inspired.  It will make a great accessory for someones winter wardrobe. $8.50

All our bracelets come in a little bag (kids), or a gift box (adults) with our logo on.  We are still decided on which is the best logo / font, so if you order one, your feedback will be much appreciated!

So there you have it.  Most of our jewelry and repurposed goods can be found here on Etsy.  Most of the vinyls can be found here on ebay, though we are in the process of trying to move them across.  We also have a Facebook page, which you can find here.  This is a way to try and bring all of our selling platforms into one place.  Once it gets more likes, we will start special offers on that page.  So please take the time to like and share, and tell all your friends.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Fall break at Edisto Beach

We booked this trip in the summer after we got back from Anna Marie Island.  It was the time of school for Oliver and Isaac that was fall break.  Due to Isaac changing schools, however, it was no longer his fall break, and we had to pull him out of school for 3 days.  They were informed of this holiday before he started, so the repercussions of unauthorized absences have not been too great so far....

We picked the boys up on friday, Isaac at lunchtime, and Oliver at school finish, which was a half day.  Seb was already off.  We hit the road quickly, stoping in Orangeburg for a Bo Jangles.

As we got nearer the coast, the rain started getting heavier and heavier.  The meteorologists had already predicted that hurricane Joaquin wasn't going to hit us, but the state of South Carolina was in for a 1 in a 1000 year rain event which was going to affect the whole state.

But we went to the beach anyway! The rivers in the low country were looking a little high already.

We made it to Edisto Island safely.  The topography is not dissimilar to Kiawah Island, it is only about 30 miles down the coast from there.  But Edisto is public, and has no hotels.  It has a few apartment complexes, and only about 6 restaurants.  It is very family orientated. 

In the background you can see our house.  This is the first time we have stayed in a single family home, on the beach.  It is typical beach style, with the living area in the middle, and the bedrooms off to either side.  It has 4 bedrooms, so the boys decided they would all have their own rooms.  

We settled in for the night.  I had packed enough food and beer, so we should not have to go out on the saturday.  Good job too.  The Friday night, the thunderstorms were so loud, as was the sea. Seb was in and out of our bed.  We didn't sleep particularly well, it was very warm, and the air con in the house was not very good!  I got up with the boys at 6.30 on the saturday morning, to watch the rain and the sea.  It was ferocious! 

But it was not cold.  We stayed in the house most of the day on the saturday.  High tide was at lunch time, and there were flood warnings galore across the whole state.

To say the tide got high would be an understatement.  We all had fun splashing in it though.  The water was warm! 

It didn't take long for the tide to come up under the house.  It ran all the way through to the road.  Judging by the shells around the front of the house, this was a regular occurrence. 

The kids loved it though, and we felt pretty safe.  Later that afternoon, once the rain had stopped, we took a little walk down the beach, in the direction the tide came from.  The debris was scary.  A house had lost all of its decking, and some of its foundations.  Another had a huge slab of concrete slammed into their stairs.  Scary stuff. 

After the initial rains on the saturday, it rained on and off all day sunday.

Didn't stop the boys though.  They had great fun playing in the surf, hunting for shells and sharks teeth.

We even found a star fish! First time seeing one of these on the beach.  We weren't sure if it was dead or alive, so left it where it was. 

Most of the time the water was warmer than the air 

This was always going to be a relaxing break.  We really didn't do much other than sit around, play, read books, play, drink beer.  We went out for lunch a couple of times which was nice.

On the Monday afternoon, the sun actually came out! Then  it was warm.  Like, really warm!!!  The boys went for a final play in the sea.  Edisto is an amazingly beautiful place.  We got talking to the guy staying in the house next to ours.  They had been going to Edisto from Kentucky for the last 25 years!  They love it so much

He was a real beachcomber, and knew exactly what he was looking for.  He gave the boys a couple of sharks teeth, and found this one morning, and left it on the step.

It is a horseshoe crab.  We have only ever seen these in aquariums, though they are prolific along the Atlantic coast.  Once we had seen this one, we spotted a few others too. Think the hurricane out at sea may haves killed a few off. 

All in, we had an excellent time in Edisto.  But we had to contemplate getting home.  The severe rain and flooding had closed down a lot of the roads across the midlands and low country of SC.  We were fortunate.  We were only diverted off the interstate once.  But this is what the road closures around Columbia looked like the day we drove home.

Sheer devastation.  They are only now starting to open up some of the roads.  The National Guards have been around Columbia for the last week, and will be there for a while longer still.  Charleston also flooded, but they are better equipped to handle it, as it happens more often.  With Columbia, there is no where for the water to go.  There is also run off form the mountains affecting them.  A lot of the water is now making its way down into the low country.  There are still a lot of flood plains there, but a lot of people live near those flood plains.  A lot of people still don't have any ruining clean water.  This rain event really did affect South Carolina, but the state has come together and helped each other out, which has been  awesome to see. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Overnighter to Atlanta

For as long as we have lived here, the boys have wanted to go to Atlanta to do the Georgia Aquarium.  A couple of weekends ago, they got their wish.  Paul had a track day at Road Atlanta on the Sunday, and it made more sense for him and his friend to go down the night before.  They booked a hotel between Atlanta and Road Atlanta, and Paul had the great idea we could all go to the track day, and see the sights of Atlanta.  It has been on our to do list for a while, and as our months are quickly whittling down we thought, Why not?

We drove down early on saturday morning.  Because of the track day, we went in 2 cars.  I took Isaac and Seb, Paul took the other one.  We stopped at the hotel and all jumped into my car.  We were staying at the Springhill Suites near the Mall of Georgia.  One of the perks of being a Marriot club member is one free night in a hotel room a year.  This was our night.

The Mall of Georgia looks awesome for shopping.  If we had more time and no kids, I am sure we would have spent a pretty penny.  Instead, we went for some lunch in Longhorn Steak house.  It was their typical fare, though the service was good.  Shame about the kids that couldn't behave themselves, yes my kids!

We drove into downtown Atlanta after lunch.  The weather was absolutely atrocious.  It rained all day . Because it was mid afternoon when we arrived at the aquarium, there was a very small queue to get in.  This is the largest aquarium in America. The price certainly matches up to it, ouch!  We headed inside to a central lobby area.  The place was packed.  There was 30 minutes till the next dolphin show started, but they had closed the area as it was full already! So we went for a little explore.  There are 4 areas off the main lobby.  We headed to the Ocean Voyager area first.  This was awesome, absolutely huge!

In the GIGANTIC tank they have 4 whale sharks, giant manta rays, and loads if other rays, and lots of other creatures.  The kids loved it! 

It was so cool getting up close and personal to the creatures.  We spent an awful lot of time just watching, before heading back to the lobby.  

From there, we went on the Tropical Quest section, where we saw lots of tropical fish (unsurprisingly).  We kinda flew round this section! 

Next up we headed to the River Scout Adventure.  This was cool.  The boys liked seeing the albino alligator.  When they could get to the front of the tanks that is.  What is it with older adults hogging up the front all the time?  

Then it was on to Coldwater Quest.  This was one of my favorites.  They have 3 or 4 sea otters, who were lovely, so playful.  The boys made it to the front of the tank (Seb is nimble and small, the 2 elephants just follow him when he gets there).  They had great fun watching them swim around.

The beluga whales were majestic.  One kept coming up and rubbing his tummy on the glass, making it ripple.  

The upstairs of the aquarium gives you an insight into how it all works.  A behind the scenes look. It was very cool. Below is the tank the whale sharks are in.  The photo does not give it perspective.  This thing was HUGE! and deep too (probably not big enough for the sea creatures, but thats a thought I am not prepared to have yet....)

We decided to give the dolphin show a miss.  We didn't fancy waiting around for 45 minutes, we had other places to go! Besides, we are off to the beach soon, so hopefully we will see some there.....
From the Georgia Aquarium we headed the short walk, in the rain, to the World of Coca Cola.  This was another one on the boys bucket list.  We paid our entrance fee and went into the attraction.  You are given a short talk on the history of Coca Cola before being taken into a movie theatre to watch one of their adverts. 

It was the one with Imagine Dragons 'i'm on top of the world' song, with lots of happy people in it.  Thank goodness Isaac made us sit at the back, as a few happy tears were shed.....  After we headed into the place.  It was ok.  To be honest, not much to do.  We had a look at some of the history of the merchandising and art work, before heading to the Tasting centre.  The boys went nuts.  They tried drinks from all over the world, and absolutely loved it! I however was a little displeased.  Other than the free style machines, all the drinks were full sugar.  This did not help my blood sugar levels! 

We collected our free bottle of coca cola and headed out through the gift shop.  Possibly one of the most awesome gift shops ever.  Everything Coca Cola branded you can imagine.  So cool, yet so corporate.  Really shows you how a company has taken over the world.....

From here we traipsed back to the car and headed the short drive to the Legoland Discovery Centre. This is well hidden on the top floor of a mall.  It took us a while to figure this out, particularly as there is construction work in the area at the moment.  As we were quite late in the day, there were no queues to enter.

Our kids absolutely love the Mini-lands at the various Lego parks.  They could spend all day looking at the finer details.  

Once through Mini Land, you enter the main play area.  All the boys wanted to do was the Lego Racers area.  This is where you make a car out of various Lego and Technic bits, and send it down a ramp.  They loved it.  Sebastian was very taken....

Granted, he just looked for cars lying around that were already made. He has recently started playing with Lego at home, and trying to build his own, so this is progress! Isaac choose to go in the soft play area, Oliver joined him, but didn't stay long.  We then headed into the 4-D cinema 

This was our boys first experience of this type of cinema, and they loved it! It was a Clutch Powers feature, and was very amusing.  We had already been here for about 2 hours, so decided to go and do the laser quest ride.  This was a lot of fun.  And again, because it was so late in the day, there was no queue.  By now, Paul and I had had enough!!!! We headed out through the gift shop.  Legoland Discovery Centre in Atlanta, is certainly not huge, but as a stop gap to the 'real' Legoland, it is worth a visit.  I would certainly recommend going later in the day. They are open till 9pm on the weekend (but check this out before your visit).

We drove back towards the hotel after this.  We stopped for a faster food dinner.  Once back at the hotel, we put Seb to bed, though with the noise the other 2 were making while building their Lego sets, it took him a while to fall asleep.  Same with Isaac once we put him to bed.  Oliver slept on the sofa bed, think that is going to be his bed in hotels from now on, sorry Oliver! 

Paul had to be out the door at 6.45 the next morning to head to the track.  Because of this, neither of us slept great.  I took the boys down for breakfast, they were pretty well behaved, and only had about 2 breakfasts each! We then headed back to the room, to kill some time before checking out.  

Road Atlanta was only about a 30 minute drive from the hotel.  Luckily for us all, it had stopped raining.  I found it eventually and headed in.  Because of Petite Le Mans taking place the weekend after, it was busy.  There were RV's parked up ready to get in and set up for the week.  We found were Paul was situated, and parked up.  He was already on the track at this time, so we headed to the stands.  3 boys on these kind of bleachers is a heart attack (for me) and an injury (for them) waiting to happen. 

Paul finished up his run, and came and hung out with us.  We did not stay long.  They really enjoyed driving 'Goldie' around the track. We were fortunate in the people organizing the track day arranged a parade lap at lunch time.  This was where we could go in track in any vehicle, with any passengers, for no fee.  Paul asked if I wanted to drive, I said no.  

The second we started going around the track, I regretted it!!! We were supposed to go at 35mph, but most were going about 50.  It was so awesome!!!! The kids loved it.... We did 2 laps before we had to come off.  It was great fun.

The boys and I headed home shortly after, absolutely exhausted!  We had a great time in and around Atlanta.