Role Reversal

I remember growing up and always wanting two things: 1.) A baby brother, or 2.) a dog. My parents never gave me either and I think I've always had a desire for both of them throughout the rest of my growing up years. When my Dad and Karen had a little girl, I'm not gonna lie, I think I was more excited than anyone, (excepting of course Karen...and no I'm leaving out my Dad on purpose. I was that excited.) No, Rachel wasn't a little brother, but she was a little half-sister and I was ridiculously excited. So, that basically put to rest my desire for a baby sibling. Onto #2, I still had an unfulfilled want there. Every time I see puppies in a box for free or adoption day at a local petstore or see someone with a puppy I am just in love. So of course I have been hinting at the idea of getting a dog ever since Topher and I got out here to S.C. and had our own house with no "No Pet" regulations.
That all aside, won't you be surprised then when I tell you that yes, we got a dog, on Saturday, HOWEVER, it is definitely not my dog, nor was she my choice. No, no, no. TOPHER, who does not like dogs, did not really want a dog and certainly wouldn't ever hold a single cute puppy I thrust in his face...yes, TOPHER, chose our dog, and she is most definitely his dog.
Quite randomly too I might add. As of about a week ago, I had finally found the perfect litter of puppies. It was the breed I had been looking for, (Brittany Spaniel) and since it was mixed with a labrador retriever (also family friendly), and about $775 cheaper than purebred Britanny's, I had chosen my puppy. I was going to call this week and see about putting down a deposit, and I was going to drive out there in 6 weeks when the puppy was ready to leave its mommy and take it home with me. :)
But Topher, was still really hesitant. They were expensive, a big commitment and he just wasn't sure.
So, on Saturday afternoon we were running errands and there was a PetCo. I suggested we go in just to price out supplies and things we would need so he could put his mind at ease about the price of a dog.
We went in and it was Adoption day. I fell in love with the puppies, (not because I wanted to buy one, just because they're puppies, and I have to hold puppies when I see them) and Topher, fell in love with a sweet Gordon Setter/Retriever Mix. She was full grown (45 lbs., so small), 2 yrs. old, sweet and affectionate as can be, and Topher had to have her.
I mentioned about 3 times, that we could leave, that we could go price things out, but Topher was stuck on this dog. He took her out to walk her around twice and at one point just said he really had a connection with this dog, and later told me he couldn't imagine anyone else taking her home.
Well. I'd say that settles it. If Topher is ever that certain of something, I don't question it. I trust his gut more than anything.
So, about 3 hours later, we were out the door with a new dog and $165 worth of supplies for her.
Yeah, I think we were both a little in shock.
In fact, I'm still in shock. I have discovered that I am NOT dog person like I had anticipated I would be, and instead TOPHER is the dog person. He and Grace love her, and I'm....well...I'll get there. :) Like Topher told me last night, we can give her a good home, and I would rather she is here than on Death Row at a shelter. Did you know that dogs at a shelter can be there between 1-7 days and then they get put down?? So so sad. :(
She was on death row and this Kennel/foster care program rescued her from death row hoping she could get adopted. I'm glad she did.
We have named her Willow, because it's my favorite movie ever and let's face it "Sorsha" is a bit dramatic and Madmortigan didn't fit a girl dog. :)
Willow is already housetrained, she is obedient, loyal, sweet, gentle, quiet and just the best first dog a person could want.
Topher told me he thinks it's a blessing we got her, because if we hadn't, we would have gotten the puppy I had found, and it would have been SO MUCH WORK. Work that I wouldn't have been able to handle, and that Topher would have resented. Instead, Willow is easy, sweet, Topher enjoys taking care of her, and I'm realizing how wrong I was about a puppy. :)
Oh, and Grace loves her. I think it will be good practice for when we finally have a baby, not to mention a distraction for her. :)
So, without further ado, here is Willow.


3 years with a Miracle

Anyone that knows Grace, knows that she is energetic. They can see that she is happy, care-free, sometimes crazy, and frequently sassy. They'll find that she is almost always tough, rarely gentle, fairly loud, aggressively affectionate, quite witty, and that she is almost always trying to love something or someone. All of these traits are things you would imagine in a healthy, vibrant, full of life little girl. They make you think of resilience, and spunk and of a little kid whose spirit is unbreakable. Isn't ironic then, that all of these qualities are seen in a little girl, who by all outward appearances is strong, and tough, and yet at the heart, she is quite a contradiction to all of those qualities.
I was putting little Grace to bed the other night and laying next to her. We had just sad prayers and she had thanked Heavenly Father for her heart. I sang her a lullaby, like I usually do, and it was the Primary tune that says "He gave me my life, my mind, my heart"...After I sang this to her, she fell asleep and I just laid next to her and watched her breathe. Once upon a time, saying something that cliche would be ridiculous to me, but, being around little kids now for a while, I find it a perfectly normal thing for a parent to do. In fact, it is so so comforting and relaxing to watch my little one sleep and watch the rise and fall of her chest. I rarely am at as much peace anywhere else, as I am laying next to Grace just watching her sleep.
Well, I was lying there and I put my hand over heart, just to feel the steady, rapid little "thump thump" and I immediately started to cry! I don't know that I had ever really comprehended how fragile my spunky little girl is. But it truly hit me that she is a small, fragile little thing on the inside. That her heart is easily weakened, and that it is her spirit that is so resilient. What a miraculous contradiction. She is so strong and vibrant, and yet there is every reason in the world for her not to be so.
I'm so grateful for her, and the blessing she is in my life. I'm so grateful that she was given the gift of a new heart from some kind, and generous family. I'm so grateful that her spirit is such that she could take such a small, tiny little organ and give it new life. I'm so grateful that she is so strong, and that even though she could be weak, and sickly, she isn't! She has beaten all the odds and has always overrun any and all expectations with her health.
But, being reminded of the fragile nature of her heart and health is good for me, it is a good reminder to me to cherish her. I think I forget how special she is sometimes. Which, may sound bad to people that would never dream of being angry with her, ;)...but as her mommy, I do frequently forget what a miracle she is. It's hard to remember when she is yelling, or screaming at me, or kicking or throwing things, or throwing a tantrum on the floor, giving me the silent treatment, or when she has once again gotten into my craft room :). But, all of those things aside, the rotten truth of the matter is that at some point in her life, she will need another heart. I don't know when. But, I know it is lurking in our future somewhere. I try not to think about it, because I can't bear the thought of having to go through it again and having her aware of it all. I think it will be much harder when she is older and she will be scared. I would rather have her be unaware and to just have me hold her through it all. When she is older, it won't just be her family's trial anymore, it will be her's, and I can hardly bare that thought.
But, when I look at her and see her fiery spirit, I know that that is why she has so much spirit. She could never handle the future that's ahead of her if she were fragile and weak.
So, I will try to appreciate her spunk more. I will try to cherish my time with her more and to cut her more slack. After all, she is a miracle, just like every baby out there, and she's not perfect. Nor is her mommy. So, we will just keep chugging along day after day, and hope that Grace can keep beating the odds.
Gracey I love you. I'm so grateful for you, and your strong, fighting spirit. I love you just the way you are. I love you even when you yell at me, and throw things at me, when you slam doors in my face and when you sneak into the cookies. I love you I love you I love you. Please stay strong. :)
I wanted to post this so we have a record of what we did on her 3 yr. Heart Birthday, but, after my emotional ramblings up above, this will all seem rather mundane...oh well.
For Grace's Heart Birthday we took her to the bookstore to pick out a new book, and let her choose the restaurant for dinner. We gave her numerous options, like Outback, Olive Garden, Applebees, and Wild Wings, and despite every option we gave at her, she was adamant she wanted Chick Fil A. (I even threw Hooters in the mix to see if that would catch her interest! But nope. Chick fil A it was) So we got her Chick Fil A, took her to the park to run around and play and had a really fun time.
That night after Grace went to sleep, Topher and I decorated the house with hearts and red and white balloons and streamers. When Grace woke up she was so excited! It was really cute. I made her pink heart pancakes for breakfast with pink whip cream even.
At church she whispered to her nursery leader that it was her "heart's birthday" and then for dinner she really wanted to have our neighbors over. So we had a yummy dinner with our sweet neighbors and sang Happy Heart Birthday to her over a heart shaped Red Velvet cake. We had a really nice night and I was reminded how special Grace is and how blessed we are. I had to laugh out loud several times, because it just amazes me how much energy she has. I think I counted over 11 laps around the main floor and she was giggling the whole time. She ran into things and kept on going and kept on laughing, and it's that resilience that just astounds me. How many of us would run around in circles for 15 minutes, giggling all the way, run into a refrigerator, laugh hysterically and keep going? Well, Grace does. :) She just keeps going every day and I think she picks up speed as she goes! :)
We love you Grace and we are so grateful for you. Thank you Heavenly Father for answering all our prayers, some when we wanted, others when we needed them and didn't even know it. Thank you for knowing what we needed and when, and for knowing we needed Grace in our lives. I know now that she would be a force for good wherever she is, but I'm grateful we got to keep her here and have her mold us into better people for the next little while. Thank you for giving her a new heart and a new life. Happy Birthday Gracey's Heart.


As of late...

So we are doing pretty well here in Goose Creek. As of about 2 weeks ago Topher passed off all of the tests and requirements to start teaching. So his first full week of teaching was just this last week. He seemed to really enjoy it and I think he perhaps enjoyed the "discipline" side of things a lot more than anyone would have thought he would. ;) He I guess gave his class a quiz EVERY DAY! And when a student didn't turn in his homework for the 2nd time in a week Topher made him stay after school, ON A FRIDAY and do quizzes for an hour and a half!!! Haha!! Serious. Who woulda thought Topher would enjoy disciplining so much?! Must be because these guys have to listen to him and Gracey...well, we all know Gracey doesn't listen to much of anyone. So, I guess Toph gets it where he can! Just kidding. Maybe. :)
Anyway, he's teaching and he seems to enjoy it.
We also sold our Honda Accord, don't ASK me why!! Toph's idea. So, we only have one vehicle, which I get to drive, and Topher rides his bike to work! FYI it's 10 miles. FYI there's no shoulder. FYI for the first 5 or so miles, it's not a paved road. It's a dirt, pot holed, non-lit, swampy road. Oi. Topher is crazy. Especially because he actually seems excited to head out on his bike every morning. Silly boy. Oh, and if he wasn't skinny enough to begin with, biking and PT with his division seems to be making him lose more weight! What in the?!! Not fair.
Grace is...Grace. She is ridiculously energetic, very strong willed and stubborn, she loves to push ALL her limits and her mommy's, and she is hilarious. She is of course still talking off anyone's ear that will listen to her. I'm convinced that she really does talk about nothing sometimes, just to hear herself talk. She has a wild imagination. We cleaned her play room spic and span, no boxes in there anymore! And her playroom looks awesome now. She played in there and Topher and I just sat and chuckled at the stories she was making up and how she talks to her babydolls in such a condescending "I'm your mommy and youre gonna LISTEN to me!" sort of way. She sighs and groans and gets frustrated with her dolls for not going potty before they left and threatens "sassy sauce" to them if they talk back to her. Its a hoot. Until of course I realize that her sassy ridiculous attitude is indicative of how she perceives ME! haha. Oh well.
I'm enjoying being out here as well. My close friend Martha from Bountiful came out to visit a couple weeks ago and we LOVED having her. Such a ridiculously awesome houseguest! She was so patient with us and our hectic little family. She was so so wonderful! I was not ready for her to leave and Grace cried for 2 days afterwards because she missed her so much.
We try to get out and explore and are seeing lots of new things frequently. It has been a bit hot lately. About 100 to occasionally 105 with humidity between 80-90%. Yeah, it's a bit warm. But we've been really grateful for the pool, the beach and air conditioned buildings. :)
The frogs are everywhere!! We had 10 of them on a 4ft. wide space of our house the other night. They're everywhere! But they're also really cute. If they were big ugly toads I would not be so thrilled. But when they're tiny bright green tree frogs, I don't mind at all.
When we first moved Grace didn't really realize that we were away from all of our family. She would mention them occasionally, but not much. (Sorry family! no offense! she does love you!) But I was surprised that she didn't seem to miss them. However, it turned out to be not that she doesn't miss them, but that she really just didn't comprehend everything. As of last week, she has cried to me several times, especially at night, that we don't live in Bountiful anymore. She says that she misses her cousins, and aunts and uncles, and Gamma and Gampas, and that we can't see them because we moved to "Sow Cawoyina". It makes her really sad and she is constantly asking me when we are going to back to Bountiful or when people are going to come stay with us. So, to all of you family out there I say, COME VISIT US! If not for me, than for a spunky, energetic, affectionate little Gracey that misses you all terribly. :)
Well, we love you all, and miss you TONS. You can always call us, or Skype with us, we LOVE it, (Grace especially does).


111th Submariner Birthday Ball....and more

So...I could have sworn I had already posted this blog...but it was showing up as only a 'draft', so I am re-posting it. :)
I remember when I was little watching my mom and dad go to military balls. I would watch my mom get ready and I specifically remember thinking that she looked as close to a princess as we could get in our day. Im sure she wore several different dresses over the years but the only one i remember her wearing was a pink one with gems all over the bodice and a long train and a jacket. Maybe this isn't even what it really looked like, but thats how i remember it. Well, I won't hide the fact that when Topher got into the Navy, the thought of maybe going to a Ball in the future did indeed cross my mind. I thought it would be pretty amazing if I could go to the same extravagant type of affair my parents had gone to years ago. So, when a friend of mine here mentioned that yes, there are indeed Navy Balls, I came home and demanded of Topher that he find out when the next one is. He looked sheepish. It was the following weekend. My eyes probably bulged right out of my head when he said this. What?! This weekend?! You're taking me, right?!!! I mean....um, could we maybe, please, please go?
So Topher bought tickets to the Ball for me instead of a lawn mower. HaHa! Whoops. I bought a pretty, modest and inexpensive dress at Ross, we got a babysitter and went to the Ball!
It was definitely fancy, not complete with the chandeliers I had always assumed were there, but still very nice. There were important military personnel there that Topher told me all by name, and there were even retired WWII veterans present. The food was really nice and the speeches were really interesting. Everything was perfect except the music. Can I just say I found it totally inappropriate that at a Formal Navy Ball, they were playing Hip Hop music???!!! Because I do. Find it totally inappropriate. Not that I don't like to dance to silly hip hop songs, because I do. But thats at my house, when I'm by myself and in pajamas. Not when Im in a formal gown at a Ball with retired military. All i could keep thinking was that if my parents had gone to a ball like this they would have been sorely disappointed because they loved to dance and were dang good at it too.
So after 15+ minters of ridiculous music that only the extremely drunk couple was dancing to, I approached the DJ to ask that he play something classy that everyone would want to dance to. He told me that the current song was the last song and he wasnt taking any requests. Yeah, I don't think so!!!! I begged, and demanded that he play something appropriate for the occasion, and he complied. :) heheh. He played one slow song for me and almost EVERYONE danced. Obviously had he taken that kind of advice for the whole dance portion of the night a lot of people would have danced. However, then the drunk couple wouldn't have as easily been captured on video by over five people for YouTube purposes later.
Anyway, it was a fun night. I loved dressing up and seeing Topher in his dress whites. Have I mentioned before how much I love that boy in uniform??? Because i do.
Im putting in these last two collages just because they are so cute. This little dress Grace is wearing was actually mine when i was little. Its a German dundel(spelling?? Sorry mom!). Anyway, Grace wore it the other day and i was in love with how adorable she was in the dress! So cute!
The next collage i have fondly named Gracey's Sassy Series. She is such a Spit fire, and a drama queen to boot.


Lots of Pictures and A Little Bit of Lately...

The past few weeks have been filled with a little bit of everything. We have been getting a feel for the hot that is coming in the next several months. About 2 weeks ago we started hitting 95 or higher every day. In the evenings it doesn't get cooler than about 75...and from what we've heard, in the heat of Summer it won't cool down much more than about 85 in the evenings. Yikes!We have discovered lots of frogs. We had one in our mailbox of all places the other day. Since then they are basically a daily sighting. In our driveway, on our patio, on the side of our house. They are always little and are either bright green or a dirty brown/green color. I like the bright green ones best.We also have massive bees here and huge moths. This moth was literally as big as my face! We of course have alligators as well, but those aren't as frequent a sighting. I spotted one at the pond across the street from our backyard last week that was about 4 ft. But as soon as it spotted me and my daughter running full speed in it's direction it dove back in the water. We also saw one that was at least a 7 or 8 footer in the pond down at Crowfield Plantation, and that was a little intimidating!! It was so big and just swimming around! Sadly, I haven't gotten pictures of the gators yet. But hey, I still have a few years to get em'. :)
We have found a couple good camping locations. We went camping on the Edisto River, the longest "black water river" in N. America. It really is black too! Something about the plants that grow along side the river puts a mineral or something in the water that turns it this dark black color! You really can't see anything under the surface at all, its really neat. We kayaked there and had a really nice and cool evening thanks to the rain earlier in the day. We couldn't find Grace's life vest anywhere so she wore one of ours. It was a bit big maybe? Oh, and she
couldn't bend to sit down. But hey, it worked!
We have explored Downtown Charleston enough now that we can actually find free parking along the battery and we don't get lost anymore! We know exactly where we want to go and what we want to see and can get there in no time flat! The Hydrangeas and Crab Myrtle trees
have been in bloom lately and they are so beautiful.
We have taken a little excursion to see Charlestown Landing, followed by Waterfront Park right on the Harbor in Downtown. Grace loves the Pineapple Fountain that you can walk around and splash in.
We were able to make it to our Ward's Ice Cream and Kite Social. Other than all the ice cream making big puddles around their cooler in the sand, it was a fun day. It was the day they were holding the Piccolo Spoletto (sp.?) contest which is a really neat Sand Building contest. The entries were really impressive!
In response to the heat, Grace & I have tried to take advantage of opportunities to get out of the heat! We play at the local County park and Splash pad once a week, go swimming at our community pool across the street (YAY!) & try to find fun things to do inside. Finger painting
was our latest venture. She seemed to like it a LOT. Me, not so much...clean up was a bummer.
When Topher's parents visited us, they helped us out tremendously in getting us an Aquarium membership. We have been able to go almost on a weekly basis for Grace to see fish, alligators, turtles, sting rays, sharks and otters. It has been a lot of fun and Grace is slowly getting more and more brave each time we visit. Last time she actually TOUCHED a snake! I mean, really, just touched it. Not pet it, just kind of poked it, then buried herself in my shoulder. Silly girl.
We also had the opportunity to go the Temple with our Ward last weekend. It was so neat to have the Ward put together rides, babysitting, food, and everything else we could need. I guess this was the Ward's first time having a really organized Temple trip like this where there was babysitting provided right next door to the temple and having Vans transport people...but It was such a success I hope they do it again! The temple is beautiful of course, but much smaller than any of those I have visited in Utah. It was neat to see that no matter the size of the Temple or the amount of workers, the Temple functions in the same way, doing just as much good here as in any other place in the World.
We've also gone blueberry picking, watered the lawn once, sometimes twice a day, (it is so hot!!) colored on sidewalks, and yes on Topher's face too (he shouldn't have fallen asleep!).
We are enjoying our time here, trying to stay busy and get organized. We miss our families, but are trying to get out there and make friends. Not sure if we're seeing progress there or not, but we'll keep at it!
To say that we are anxious for our trip to Utah in less than 2 weeks would be an understatement, but we are definitely counting down the days to visit family!! I know I'll miss Topher like crazy and it will be weird to experience the "home sick" feeling for S. Carolina, but I know that I will experience it all the same, because this is where my beautiful house is and my wonderful husband. Slowly, I am realizing that wherever my husband is, that's where my home is. It's just a little empty feeling without the rest of my family. But that's ok! We are happy and doing well. Thanks for checking in!


Visit with the Johnson Family

So as I mentioned before, our next set of visitors was my Dad, Karen and their little girl Rachel. The first couple of days they visited we did things like take them around downtown Charleston to see the historic district, walk along Market Street, that sort of thing. They enjoyed the atmosphere of downtown, and how can you not, really? Charleston is Great. :)
Although they SAY their primary goal of coming to S.C. was to visit us...I'm not so sure. ;) I think they're PRIMARY goal may have been going to Spain. Since my dad is retired Military, Lieutenant Colonel by the way, not to brag, but my Dad is AWESOME....they can get Military hops to a lot of different tourist destinations for the price of a inflight meal and movie. The flights are sort of random, sometimes you can catch one sometimes you can't, sometimes you wait forever, sometimes you get right on. Sometimes you get right on, and then they kick you off! Ha! (Yes, that happened to them this time around). Anyway, they really wanted to try and get to Spain while they were visiting. So, they tried for a day, caught a flight, but then before take off they had to get off the plane because of a malfunction. But they did manage to catch one a couple days later. They spent a week in Spain, and came back and had about 2 days with us. So, the 2 days after their trip we went to Magnolia Gardens. These are historical gardens back from Civil War Era and are beautiful. They aren't your typical castle manicured lawns and gardens, but more a etherial Lord of the Rings-esque design. Lots of ponds, with beautiful bridges, a bamboo garden, paths that follow the Ashley River, beautiful and very old Oak Trees, and lots of blooming Azalea bushes.
We took a tram ride that took us through and around the perimeter of the gardens. We even spotted some alligators and lots of little turltes! Grace and Rachel were pretty entertained, but my dad caught a few zzzzs.
After the Tram ride Topher joined us from work and we went in their little petting zoo where there were billy goats, peacocks, bunnies, snakes, and a really really cute cat of some sort. Like a jaguar only much much smaller and supposedly native to South Carolina the way it was hundreds of years ago.
The gardens were so so beautiful to stroll through. It was relaxing, beautiful and just a lot of fun.
We had to leave the gardens in rather a hurry though because we were trying to catch a ferry to Fort Sumter. We BARELY made it on too! But that little excursion was really neat because their visit was in close proximity to the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Because of this the Fort was doing some really neat commemorative things. They had people dressed up as military personnel of that era and doing demonstrations of musket and cannon firings. It was really neat. :)
While they were here we also had to take them to Hominy Grill. We've decided its a must with everyone that visits us. They loved it just as much as us! So, I'm telling you! Even if Southern food doesn't sound like its up your alley...there IS something for YOU. Truly. There is. It is so good. :)
On our last or 2nd to last day, I don't remember, bad memory...Dad was a sweetheart and took the little girls to the Wannamaker County Park. There is a great big playground (several actually), a splash pad, a Lagoon and paved trails. The girls had a blast and Karen and I did too!! Dad was kind enough to take kid detail and Karen and I went shopping! yay!! Topher even let me transfer money over my budget to get some things for the house. I got the rug for our living room and our new bed set, and then just shopped because its so much more fun without kidlets!! It was super fun.
Anyway, our time with them was short, but we were so grateful to have them and had a lot of fun! Thanks so much for everything Dad and Karen! Bring my siblings with you next time! hehe
Thanks for checking in.
Love the Andersens


Visit with Andersens

A couple of weeks ago Topher's family came to visit us. We had a very busy, fun filled week! Curtis found a 10k that is a pretty big deal here in Charleston, it's called the Cooper River Bridge Run. It literally has 40,000 runners and walkers and is the single largest 1 day event in all of Charleston. It starts in Mt. Pleasant, runs across the 2 mile Ravenel Bridge and ends going through historic Downtown Charleston. He signed us all up for it too! Which is funny seeing as how really only Topher and Anni are runners. But, you give this family a challenge and it will meet it. So, Venice, Curtis and Meg all got to training, (me, not so much) and we all managed to run it start to finish, (again, me not so much. I did have a stroller...and am in no shape at all). It was so neat to run and to be in that super charged atmosphere. Everyone was so friendly and you could just tell that everyone was running with their own personal motivations, and it just made it feel like you were doing something really worthwhile. The weather was great, the views were beautiful and the energy was just really neat.To reward everyone for their efforts Curtis and Venice got us all a beachfront hotel room on Isle of Palms. The plan was to just play at the beach for 3 days...but after everyone got sunburned on Day 1, people weren't quite as eager Day 2 or 3. Not to mention Curtis was bored by the late afternoon Day 1. Ha!! I guess it also posed a problem that on the morning of Day 2 we woke up to an absolute down pour. Not really the best beach weather. But, for the first day at the beach we really had a blast. Topher and his sisters skim boarded and boogie boarded. We built a sand castle...sorta. Made Gracey and Meg Mermaid tails. We had a lot of fun.So when there was the rotten weather we instead went to the Aquarium and played downtown. We also went to the U.S.S. Yorktown over on Mt. Pleasant and while they were here we enjoyed some awesome food! We went to a place called Hominy Grill where their slogan is "Grits are Good for ya!". The atmosphere, food and service were all awesome! I had fried green tomatoes, shrimp bignets, fried okra, deep fried cheese grits and shrimp bog!! What a southern feast eh?! So yummy though. We also went to, what in my mind, was the equivalent of a Southern Baptist Church Picnic type restaurant. The decor was ceramic pigs and the tables were of the picnic variety. We had styrofoam plates and there was an entire lunch cart just for coleslaw and pickles. :) Again, so so fun.

All together the trip was a huge success, and we all had a lot of fun. Come again soon Andersen family!
After Topher's family left we had a grand total of 4 days before our next set of visitors! My Dad and his wife and daughter came to visit us next. I will post about that next. But in the meantime, thanks for checking in on us!


Bugs are Ridiculous

I have to write this down before I forget because it was seriously one of the funniest conversations I have EVER had with Grace. And that, if you know Grace, is truly saying something.
Gracey and I were eating breakfast this morning on our screened patio. Grace was looking at my legs and found a bug bite. She asked me, "Mommy, is that a bug bite?"
"Yes", I said.
"Ugh! Mommy! Those bugs bite me all over. When I was at the park they was like biting me all over! And, and, and they didn't even say sorry! And, Daddy says its because they don't have mouths. But, they do. They have mouths. Mommy...they just, those bugs are just, uhhh, they are just RIDICULOUS! Uhh! Mommy, they just, seriously, I don't like bugs! I HATE bugs!"
I should mention that that ENTIRE paragraph was spoken with me only occasionally nodding and "mmm" ing and looking at her sympathetically.
At this point I just told her I was sorry. But, she was not done.
"Well, why there all those bugs anyway? (She has her hand out by the way, with the palm up, and one hand on her hip too) There were no bugs in South CaroLINA. Why there bugs here? What they DOING here? Bugs are just creepy...Seriously. (she tilts her head down and raises her eyebrows and looks at me very seriously) I hate bugs."
Now maybe none of that sounds as funny as it really was. But if you had heard the tone of her voice, seen her facial expressions as she raises and lowers her eyebrows, or when she juts her hip out with a hand on it and has the other hand out in the air with her palm up, like she just can't believe what a crazy world she lives in. She was so ridiculously cute and I was repressing laughter so that she would just keep talking because it was so so funny and was just making my day.
Anyway. That's all for now. :)


Day #7- Arrival in Goose, Creek SC

As I said in my previous post, on the eve of the 6th day of our travels we stayed in Columbia, so when we woke up on day 7 we had about an hour and a half drive to Goose Creek. We got there around 8:30a.m. so we could do our "final walk-thru" with the builder and this was the first time Topher had seen the house with all the upgrades and options I had chosen! In case you weren't aware, I flew out to Charleston in November to select all our options for the house. Topher couldn't take off any school at the time so I had to come by myself, and have crossed my fingers ever since that I didn't pick out the wrong thing!

We got to the house and both of us loved it. It just felt so good to finally be there and to see how everything had come together.
After checking out the house we went to breakfast, and then headed to the Law Office for Closing.
Everything went smoothly and the only anxiety I had was over signing away our money for the next 30 years! It's sort of a relief to know that we don't have to stay there and be in debt for 30 yrs, month after month after month. Instead, we can move, have a moment of relief with no debt, and then go into debt again with a different Mortgage company!! Ahhhh...so nice. NOT! Oh well. It's a beautiful house, neighborhood and area and so we're happy.
We got our house keys and headed to our new house! Topher was the most excited about our Garage door opener. He was so excited to open our garage, and park inside it!! And then to not have to carry our luggage up a flight of stairs! Oh. Wait. We did have to carry them up a flight of stairs. Hmmm... At least it was inside the house? :)
So, at this point of the story I should probably fill in what happened between breakfast and the Law Office. Well, we got a phone call from the moving company, saying that their driver was in the South Carolina area. Not in the Charleston area, but the South Carolina area. Well, in our heads that meant we still had a couple hours. They asked if they could deliver in the next little bit, and I said that at the very moment it wouldn't work because we didn't have our keys yet. I said that we would be in the house by about 2:00 or 3:00 and would that please work? She said she would call the driver and then call me back and let me know and we could go from there.
Well, about an hour later, she hadn't called back yet. In that hour, I had also learned that we would be in the house by 1:30 or 2:00 instead of 2:00 or 3:00. So, I called her back and told her this and asked for an update, only to be told, "Oh, sorry. We already put ALL YOUR STUFF IN STORAGE!!!!!!" Saying that I was annoyed, is a massive understatement. I was miffed. Mostly, my miffed-ness stemmed from their estimated delivery date - 8 DAYS LATER. What?! You want us to live in an EMPTY house for 8 DAYS!!?
Topher and I both took our turn, calling them and politely asking if there was ANY way to get our things sooner, Topher was of course a lot more polite than me...but we both got the same answer - "NO".
So, we went to the grocery store, got lots of frozen dinners, and unpacked our sleeping bags (I knew they would come in handy!!).
For the next 4 or 5 days we basically just shopped all day for furniture. We knew we needed mattresses, a kitchen table, barstools, living room furniture, sprinklers, ceiling fans etc...and so we would head out in the morning, shop practically all day and then come home to a yummy t.v. dinner which we would eat on the floor in the kitchen or outside on the ground in our screened porch. We would then put Grace to bed on her makeshift sleeping bag bed in her room, and then put ourselves to bed in our makeshift bed out of sleeping bag pads and a sleeping bag.
Let's just say sleeping on the floor SUCKS. Topher and I woke up every single morning sore as can possibly be, and not wanting to move. So one of the first purchases we made were mattresses. A Queen for us and a Twin for Grace. UPGRADES! yay!! They came on about day 4. :) Also on day 4 in our new house, I was out at Target getting some groceries and some tools for Toph to install the ceiling fans, and someone said that it was the 17th. The 17th, the 17th...why should that date be important to me....what IS IT?!! - - -oh yeah. It's the DAY BEFORE MY KID'S BIRTHDAY! Can we just say that I'm a bad Mom right now, and get it over with? I'm a bad Mom!! I had completely forgotten about her Birthday up until the night before. I hadn't shopped, gotten a cake, decorations...nothing. If you remember my post for her 2nd Birthday, birthdays are kinda a big deal to me darnitall! And I forgot my own kid's! So, I stayed out shopping until 10:30 getting her a few things I knew she would like, an ice cream cake, a balloon and Tangled paper plates and napkins.

Then Topher and I stayed up past midnight wrapping the couple of presents I had gotten for her, along with the presents our family had sent with us (the wrapping jobs hadn't made it across the country) and assembling the pink tricycle we had gotten for her.
We woke her up singing to her that it was her Birthday and, to say that she was thrilled doesn't do her smile justice. She was so so happy. She came into our room where we had her presents laid out and was so excited and happy! She loved it.

Topher spent the morning pushing her around the hall in her tricycle and she carried her Belle doll from Aunt Dacia
EVERYWHERE. It was really sweet.

But I think the BEST present we got that day was an OMA!!! Mom had gotten into the area a couple days before and had been in Georgia with Sam's sweet daughter Kim. They decided we would meet half way in Augusta, GA and so Topher and I started the 2 1/2 hr.- 3 hr. drive there. We took a really beautiful scenic route there and had dinner at what, in my opinion, is the World's Largest Golden Corral. It was massive!! We had dinner with everyone, and Gracey got MORE presents, and then we took Mami home with us! YAY!!!! A whole week with my mommy all to myself!!. It doesn't really get better than that. I know that I was the envy of both my sisters. And rightly so. Mommy time is highly coveted time.
Mom helped us shop for barstools and outdoor furniture, install ceiling fans and just keep us company. She also went to our first week of Church in our new ward and I held her hand and even cried before we went in, cuz I'm a big baby like that. I miss my ward, and my neighbor who went to Church with me! I miss home! I tried not to hold her hand when anyone was around. Then I'd REALLY be a big baby. But I couldn't help it! She was there! And that brought out my instinct to cling to her! *sigh*
Well, on Tuesday we received our household goods and what a happy day it was!! The movers were great, very careful and attentive to me and where I wanted things. They delivered everything, and then they left the whole big mess in my house. Even worse, was that everything came out of the boxes just as dirty as I had put it into the boxes. What's up with that?! I thought things would come out brand new, like Christmas! Not greasy and dirty, like when I never cleaned them! It seriously made me not want to unpack anything. I did not want to put all this dirty junk in my brand new, shiny clean house.
Mami was so great to be there and be helpful. If it had been me by myself I would have sat in the middle of the room, on the floor and hyperventilated. But my Mom proceeded to put my house in order one box at a time, one room at a time, all the while encouraging me to get off my rear and do something productive.
She was so great!
After a few days of hard work, we decided to go to the Beach! It was a nice break and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
Topher's friends came a few days later to go house hunting in the area, and that was fun as well. But not as great as having Mommy!! She was the best ever.
Sam joined us on Thursday and made Mommy much happier and then we went into town on Friday. We walked along Market street, took a Carriage Tour of historic downtown, toured the U.S.S. Yorktown and had a nice dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant downtown as well. Such a fun day it was!

They proceeded to leave at 4 a.m. the next day and I cried like a baby for a while. I'm such a mama's girl it's ridiculous. But. In all honesty, I'm just a 'family' girl. I miss my family so much while I'm out here. I can't think on it too long or I just start crying again. I am happy, and I am doing well. I love my house, I love our neighborhood and the scenery here in the South really is beautiful. It's green and lush and I do like it here. But it is most definitely not yet Home. Home is where the majority of my family is. And that is, and will for who knows how long, be in Utah. I miss my siblings and parents so so much. But I am grateful to be here, in a beautiful place, with my sweet Husband and crazy cute daughter. I know we are where we are supposed to be, and I hope my heart catches up with that thought soon, because being heartsick is no fun.

On a little bit more interesting note, it has been raining on and off, HEAVILY, for the past 2 1/2 days or so. It rains so much here when it rains! It does not rain the Utah way, no sir. It POURS. I took these pictures to show my very watered lawn. We even have a mini river in our backyard!

I left the front door unlocked when I went out to take pictures, and I when I came back, this is what I found...a Gracey, wearing my shoes, still in her pajamas and determined to come outside in the rain. Later on in the day, she escaped again, only this time in her rain boots, and very determined to find some puddles to jump in. Speaking of her rain boots...did you notice the picture up above a bit with her in her princess dress? She isn't wearing ballet slippers, or dainty church shoes. She's wearing her rain boots...per her request.
Anyway. Thanks for checking in! I will try to post again as we make
more progress on our house and unpacking. Hopefully things will start to fall into place a little more each day, and in the process we can start to build a new 'home' here in beautiful South Carolina.
Love you family!


Day #6- Chattanooga!!

On Day #6 we left Manchester and drove about an hour and a half to Chattanooga, Tennessee. This very quickly became our most favorite day and destination of our entire "cross-country" road trip. Our primary sub-destination inside of Chattanooga was actually Lookout Mountain. A very large mountain that rises up in the corner of the Chattanooga Valley, half of the mountain is in Georgia and the other half of the mountain is in Tennessee. On this mountain were several different things to do and see, and we wanted to try just about all of them. Our first stop was Ruby Falls,

A 145ft. tall waterfall that is 1,120ft. underground. I know! Cool, huh?! An underground waterfall?! That is just awesome. So, we went there and got a military discount, (yay!) and took about a mile long tour inside these underground cave systems that led to, finally, the beautiful Ruby Falls. This was so much fun to explore and we really loved it. Grace seemed to really enjoy everything as well, until we got to the waterfall and the way it works is that the lights are off around the waterfall and then they turn them on for 7 minutes per tour group. They also turn on some loud, but pretty, music as the lights are on. I guess this thoroughly creeped her out so she screamed and cried for the whole walk around the path surrounding the actual waterfall.

After the cave tour and pretty Ruby Falls, the tour spit you out at their Gift Shop of course, to get you to spend even MORE money! haha. So, we bypassed the gift shop, but did head out to the exclusive and very large playground that is only accessible to those who go on the tour. :) To say the least, Grace LOVED it. It didn't hurt that a sweet little southern belle named Kaylee took it upon herself to play with and take care of Grace either. She adopted Grace for about 35-45 minutes and just played with her all over the playground. Carried her, held her, spun her in circles, lifted her up to the top of the slides and then caught her at the bottom, scooping her up and talking to her. How adorable, right?! Grace loved it, because hey, any mommy other than her own is top notch in her book! This sweet little girl couldn't have been older than about 9 or 10 and she was just such a sweetie! Grace STILL talks about her. I went and told the mom what a sweet daughter she had, and that whatever she was doing, she was doing it right, because she had one sweet, maternal and friendly daughter on her hands. She was shocked, because I guess Kaylee is the 'bossy one' in their family. Well, this made me feel slightly better. If that is how bossy little girls turn out, then maybe I can stop worrying about Grace. :) Maybe someday she will make a great big sister.

After Ruby Falls, we continued up the Mountain to a Civil War sight. In the Civil war there were several battles fought in the Chattanooga area, and so there is now a National town park, and a little museum and gift shop all teaching about the battles fought for Chattanooga. This, obviously was Topher's favorite thing on our entire trip. Watching the little mini diorama drama was thrilling for him, don't ask me why, but it was. They had a little mini theater with pictures displayed on a projector screen, and then narrated description of the battles fought, and where they were and how they plotted their strategies and all the battle outcomes. All the while, you are looking at the diorama that has all the miniature men in uniform and the rivers, and mountains, horses, camps, and everything is lighting up with miniature light bulbs as they become part of the narrative.

I don't know if that makes any sense at all. But, it was Topher's favorite! He even bought himself a Navy Sailor hat back from the Civil War era and authentic Civil War bullets found in the Chattanooga Valley.

When we left the Battles for Chattanooga we thought it was only about 2:00 or 3:00. Well, little did we know that we had lost an hour, and then to top it off, it was Daylight Savings! So, we lost 2 HOURS!! This was not cool!! So when we got in the car to head to Rock City, (also on Lookout Mountain) It was 5:30! We got to Rock City, they informed us that they sell the last ticket at 6:00 and that the park is only open until dark. So, Topher and I proceeded to try and race through it as quickly as possible! After a while, we realized that really we had plenty of time to just enjoy the scenery, and luckily, it had started sprinkling before we got there, so everyone left!! We had the whole park/garden to ourselves!!! Boo-yah!
Rock City is just like a giant landscaped rock garden. It starts on one walking path and continues through a huge maze of rocks, little cliffs, bridges that overlap one another and then just beautiful trees, flowers, fountains, ponds. It was a lot of fun, and ended up being my favorite of the whole trip.

There is a spot in Rock City, where they have 7 state flags displayed. The reason for this is that they have found a spot where you can see 7 states at once. There is a plaque pointing in each of the 7 directions and telling you how many miles to that state border. This was our first view of South Carolina!

Like I said, it had sprinkled a little bit just before we got there, and a little bit while we were there, so were probably 3 of the 10 total people visiting the garden. So, no lines for Funnel Cake! yay!!!! (Dacia, I missed you! You needed to be there to eat funnel cake with me.)

There is one spot at Rock City that I had seen pictures of and was the most excited to see and that was Lovers Leap. Legend has it that 2 enemy Indian Tribes lived close by. The daughter of one and the son of another fell in love, and when they were forbidden to be together, the boy was put to death on this cliff, and then the girl jumped to her death to be with him. Not a very happy story. But romantic, in that sick sort of way. Haha. Anyway, this is the supposed cliff, and its really beautiful. If you are wondering why the water is green...they dyed it for St. Patrick's day. Lol.

We left Rock City around 7:30 or 8:00 and drove to Augusta, Georgia. The plan had been to actually make it to Goose Creek, but because we had such a fun day, and we lost 2 hours, we didn't think we'd make it there at a reasonable time, so we instead just drove to Augusta and got there at about midnight. :)
Stay tuned! Day #7 we close on our house!
Miles today: 392 miles
Total Mileage: 2,176 miles
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad