Wednesday, April 27, 2011

spring break and easter

We had a lovely spring break and Easter holiday this year. We started by driving down to Myrtle Beach, SC to visit with Steve's parents on the 16th. The drive normally is 5.5 - 6 hours but that wasn't happening on this day. Traffic on I-95 was horrible in Virginia. We were either crawling along or stopped. The weather was stormy looking and as we drove south, the wind picked up with light rain. Since the traffic never improved much we decided to get off the highway and take a back route. That is when we noticed the black storm clouds rolling in quickly. We turned off the satellite radio and tuned to a local station and heard tornado warnings blaring. The radio is telling us to take cover immediately because a tornado is in our area. We were ahead of the storm because we could see it behind us but crazy weather is unpredictable so I begin scanning for ditches and storm drains just in case. Ellie is crying because she hates storms and the guy on the radio is freaking her out and Tucker is in the back window panting like crazy because his built-in canine storm tracker is going off in his head like a car alarm. I mention to Steve that we could take cover in those storm drains if we had to and Emma pipes up from the back to tell us that she has a new shirt on so she will not be going into some dirty drain pipe. So the mood in the Volvo is a bit tense to say the least that is until the tornado warnings stop bleeping and the radio station goes back to music and it is the middle of the new Kesha song 'This place is about to blow..." Oh my gosh, I burst out laughing. It was so funny. Ellie yells to turn it off but in a few seconds she is laughing right along with all of us. Thankfully we drove out of the bad weather and onto my in-laws. We had no idea about all the devestation and death that series of tornadoes brought to North Carolina. I am so glad we were not sitting on I-95 because on our way home we saw many areas along the highway that tornadoes went over and obliterated.

Our visit with grandma and grandpa was short but sweet and we did get to celebrate grandpa turning 76. He is in great shape and is like the engergizer bunny...keeps going and going. Steve and I got to spend an afternoon together at Brooke Green Gardens which is a beautiful sculpture garden and it also has a wonderful nature walk through old slave villages. The history was interesting and the birds and wildlife along the trails was great. We even spotted a baby alligator. The garden has dozens and dozens of moss draped Cypress trees. These trees are so magical to look at. I just wanted to climb on up and nestle in and watch the world for a while. We finished up with a drive and walk along the beach. Always a lovely vision to see the sand and the surf...I miss it this time of year. The girls had a fun day with their grandparents too. They went to a new place near them called the upside down house. It is more like a educational and fun activity center. We came home and had a great steak dinner and sang happy birthday to grandpa. We headed for home at the beginning of the week because it was back to work for Steve and I but the girls had great weather for the remainder of their spring break.

Easter was a wonderful day. We started with my mom coming over for the weekend. We caught up on the patio while I potted up the first of my container plants. zinnias, red pentas, petunias, snowballs, lantane, ivy geraniums, dianthius and a few others now are beautifying my patio and deck. The humming bird is more than happy to have some flowers to drain instead of just sugar water. Speaking of new visitors to the yard... we have a pigeon that has been with us for over a week now. He is really pretty and has a band on his leg. He sleeps on the porch roof at night. We have never had a pigeon visit before. The girls have named him Homer as they think he is a lost homing pigeon. He certainly looks like a homing pigeon. Wonder where he belongs. Along with Homer, our ducks have returned. They are a mallard couple and they still have no babies. They are here every year at this time for a few weeks. They swim in the creek and nap in the backyard. I also spotted an agile little chipmunk in the backyard yesterday. Dodge had killed two chipmunks last year and I thought for sure they were wiped out. So happy to see this little guy scurrying around. And finally we have babies... 6 Carolina Chickadees and 6 Tufted Titmice have been born. Mazel Tov! What a spring!!

So after our day of planting up pots, the girls, grandma and I colored eggs and made peep s'mores. We then tried to give grandma a heart attack by letting off one of our SC firecrackers near her but she wasn't too spooked. We brought out the sparklers and had fun playing in the darkening night with our glowing wands of fire. Oh...almost forgot... Ellie went to our neighborhood egg hunt earlier in the day and scored a basketful of colorful eggs. I think this may be her last year. She will be 9 next Easter.

Last week Tickle Bellies was featured as a smart deal on Groupon for the Richmond, VA area. We did well and now they would like to feature us in DC and all the other cities in VA. That is great news - so excited to have this exposure.
Here are some photos from our week! Enjoy the gorgeous spring weather!

Feed Us!
baby titmice ready for dinner. they are just 2 days old.

Coming in with dinner
dad brings in some grub (literally)

Leaving on diaper duty
then dad has diaper duty on his way out.

Homing Pigeon
this is homer the lost homing pigeon. sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it?

Ellie and her grandparents
ellie hanging with grandma shirley and grandpa rodney

emmy in her grandparents backyard

Cypress Tree
cypress tree at brooke green gardens, s.c.

Great Blue
great blue heron in the trees at the garden

Yellow Crowned Night Heron
juvenile yellow crowned night heron. i never see these birds. :)

gull at the beach along the shoreline

score! ellie had fun at the egg hunt!

Grandma & the girls
easter weekend with grandma marilyn

Petunias and Lantanna
one of my newly potted containers. purple lantanna and petunias

Rose Breasted Grossbeak
a rose breasted grossbeak at my in-laws feeders. beautiful bird.

S. Carolina Fox Squirrel
a native south carolina fox squirrel. we saw three of these rare guys.

Prothornary Warbler
prothornary warbler. i see them often but have never gotten a good picture

Mr Mockingbird
mockingbird in my in-laws backyard. he kind of runs the place.

Purple Finch
a purple finch stopped by our yard for a snack on its way north