1 down, 2 to go…

This week our niece Megan had her baby, so on our way to Hilton Head we detoured through Rock Hill to see her and baby Isaiah. He’s beautiful!

Isaiah sleeping like a little angel.

This makes the first of three babies scheduled to enter our family this year. Our other niece Lauren (the Marine) is having a girl in December, and we follow up with another boy in January. Oh, and just to add to the fun, Roger’s sister LaNell is getting married in October. What a happy year for our growing family!

But back to the cuteness at hand…

Big yawn!

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Yes, I know my birthday was months ago

Roger took me to Elevation Chop House for my birthday last year. The restaurant is next to the runway at a small airport, so you can watch the planes take off and land. We’d been wanting to eat there for a while, and it’s a cool place but unfortunately the food is overpriced and not very good.


They serve martinis and margaritas made with liquid nitrogen (that stuff Mr. Wizard used once to freeze a rose and then break it by smashing it onto a table). When you order one, they bring a bucket of their house mix and pour the nitrogen into it. It freezes immediately, and they scoop it out like ice cream. Yum!

Liquid nitrogen margarita at Elevation Chop House

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The Great Experiment

The Great ExperimentUpdate: Thanks to everyone for reading my post and voting in the contest! I didn’t win, but I’ll probably try again soon. If I don’t see you before the holidays, Merry Christmas!

I’m participating in a contest called The Great Experiment. It was started and is hosted by The Girl Who.

Each month, a topic is posted and readers are asked to submit a blog post about the topic. Then all the readers vote on the topic they like best. It’s $10 to enter, and the winner takes home all the money.

I thought this was such a neat idea. So simple and fun. This month’s topic was open, so I entered my post on cooking pulled pork sandwiches. Check it out, and if you like it, be sure to vote for my entry.

To vote (ends Saturday night at 10:00pm Mountain Time):

Voting is only open for one day, and only one person can vote from each computer. She tracks IP addresses to keep it fair.

Wish me luck!

Our niece can kick your fanny

Lauren at Parris Island

Last Friday Lauren graduated from Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. We’re so proud of her. As her mom said, she’s an adult now (and yes, there were tears soon after). I asked Lauren how the final test (known as the Crucible) went, and she told me it was “fun.” According to Wikipedia:

…the Crucible is a rigorous 54-hour field training exercise demanding the application of everything a recruit has learned until that point in recruit training, and includes a total of 48 miles of marching . It simulates typical combat situations with strenuous testing, hardship, and the deprivation of food and sleep. A recruit is given three MREs and four to eight hours of sleep through the entire 54-hour event.

Yeah, that sounds like “fun.”

We got to the base around 6:00am so we could find a good seat, and the Marines were already up and practicing the ceremony for the 1,000th time. The weather was awful, but we didn’t mind too much. After all, if Lauren could deal with total hell for 12 weeks, we could deal with a little rain.

Early morning graduation ceremony practice

Unfortunately the weather didn’t let up, so the ceremony was moved inside. There’s not as much room inside, so the Marines didn’t march by the crowd as they would have outside. But they still looked great. From my vantage point, graduation went something like this:

  • An officer yells or grunts something I don’t understand.
  • All the Marines move together from attention to saluting to at ease.

I asked Lauren later if she could actually understand what they were saying or if she just knew what to do and when. She said at first, the officers speak normally to them and slowly. Then they speed it up and get louder until you’re used to it. So yeah, she knew what they were saying.

After graduation, we walked down to greet the toughest member of our family. Here she is with her parents and recruiting officer. The uniform she’s wearing is called her “Service Charlies.”

James, Lauren, Staff Sergeant Lawson, Chanell

By the way, the little tag on her shirt is not a name tag. It’s a medal to let you know Lauren knows how to use a gun. She also explained to me a few combat tactics she learned, including her tan belt in mixed martial arts. I’m a little afraid (and totally proud!). Definitely getting my niece whatever she wants for Christmas!

Lauren the Marine

There’s more pictures on our photo site, including some from family day where you can see more of the base.