Trip of the Month: Coastal Carolina

I am very fortunate to have wonderful in-laws.  I am very, very fortunate to have wonderful in-laws that live near the beach!  We just got back from visiting my mother-in-law, Diane and my father-in-law, Doug, in Sunset Beach, North Carolina.  About twice a year, I pack up the van and the girls and I head down south for a little r and r with two of my favorite people.  I truly appreciate how wonderful my in-laws are especially because I know many people who can’t stand theirs.

Sunset Beach is a small, coastal town in southern North Carolina.  It’s about an hour south of Wilmington and an hour north of Myrtle Beach.

Maddie had a day off on Friday, so I pulled her out of school the Thursday before and we left early Thursday morning.  I managed to get the girls up, in the car and on the road by 6:15. Let me take a moment to pat myself on the back for that small feat.  My mother-in-law always says I’m adventurous for my willingness to travel far distances with the girls, but I have it easy.  My girls are great travelers.  They always have been.  Why?

1. They’re like camels.  Never have to pee.  We, on average, stop one time for a potty break. Most people say it’s not normal, but I’m the same way!

2. DVD player in the car.  We have a built in dvd  player and that is my saving grace.  Do I feel good about letting them watch 8 hours of movies in one day?  No, of course not.  But it does make the time fly!!

3. They love their grandparents and they love the beach. So, when we can combine the two, they are always up for an adventure.

So, we arrived late Thursday afternoon.  The girls got right to the having fun part and I got right to relaxin’!

Friday morning was warm, but foggy. Despite this weather report, my children decided it was the beach or bust!  So, we headed over the bridge to Sunset Beach.  While most of the limited amount of people on the beach were strolling in appropriate clothing, my children were not.

Yeah…that’s the rockin’ redhead…in her bathing suit….in the water…in March!  She’s crazy!  But I love the determination. She’s so desperate for beach time that she will strip and get into freezing water!  Jane was not about to let Maddie outdo her!

 Jane decided there was no need for a bathing suit when you have perfectly good sweatpants.  Now, usually the beach is a family friendly place to be.  On this particular day, Maddie discovered some sand sculptures.  She thought this certain one was of someone’s eyes and nose.  When I told her what she thought was the nose was actually the belly button, the sculpture came into focus for her and this was her reaction…

Saturday brought rain, but it was actually a nice way to force us to try new things that we’ve been meaning to, but always put off because the weather is so nice.  We headed Saturday afternoon to the Museum of Coastal Carolina.  It’s a cute museum focusing on all things coastal.   We spent the majority of our time at the touch tank.  The kids were fascinated with the live starfish, hermit crabs, and puffer fish.

The we ventured upstairs to hear museum staff person, Allison Smith, talk about nocturnal animals.  Sounds great, right?  We had to dissect an owl pellet!  Do you know what an owl pellet is?  I didn’t either.  Turns out, owls regurgitate the parts of the rodents they don’t eat.  So, they have these pellets disinfected and then you can open up and discover what that owl ate.  Ours had an entire skull in it! Lovely!

The skies cleared on Sunday and we headed back to the beach for some last minute bird feeding, courtesy of Grandpa Doug!

Our last night was filled with pasta making and the girls got into my makeup!


Although it was a quick trip, it did a lot to restore my sanity!


Meet my chicken, Parmesan.

I added six new members to the family Wednesday.  Meet our chickens: Noodle, Parmesan, Delilah, Chiquita, Emma and Blueberry.

My chicken adventure began last Saturday while I was away at the beach with my girlfriend, Rita.  We took Rita’s daughter and three of her friends to Ocean City for her daughter’s 16th birthday.  More on that trip in another blog!  While relaxing on the beach, I received a phone call from Maddie.  Here’s how it went.

Maddie: Mommy, can we get a chick?

Me:  Honey, where are you?

Maddie: I’m at Tractor Supply.

Me: How did you get to Tractor Supply?

Maddie: Daddy.

Me: I see.

Maddie: Can we get one, pleassseeeee??

Okay, so from this conversation I learned two things:  One, Daddy wanted chicks.  That’s why he let the redhead call me from Tractor Supply.  If he didn’t want them, he would have told her no.  He let her call because he already knew the second thing I learned from that phone call – I am a complete pushover! So, I told the redhead that I would think about it.  Four days later, I left Tractor Supply with 6 chicks.

Side note:  I love Tractor Supply.  I love Tractor Supply almost as much as I love Target.  So, heretofore Tractor Supply will be known as The TS.

My original plan was to get full-grown chickens.  I didn’t really want the hassle of caring for little chicks that weren’t going to give me eggs right away.  I also wanted Brahams.  I could have special ordered them from Tractor Supply but I would have needed to place a minimum order of 25 chicks.  Umm…no thanks.  About 19 more than I wanted!  Instead, I got Rhode Island Reds.

This was a good choice for us.  Rhode Island Reds are popular for backyard flocks.  They are good with children unless they are annoyed, but it’s mostly roosters that get annoyed.  They are good egg layers and hardy animals.  They are resistant to illness and are, generally, friendly and docile. Since it will be 4 to 5 months before I get some eggs, I want really good layers. I’ve also heard that they are among the most affectionate of the varieties.  I know…do I really need an affectionate chicken?  No, but  it’s a nice quality to have in a chicken.

I will admit that even though I was hesitant to get chicks, I love them.  They are so fun to watch.  We are already establishing a pecking order with Blueberry in the lead.  Her main method of showing her dominance is to peck the other chickens in the eye.  I should have known the chicken was going to be a little crazy when Jane picked her out.  Birds of a feather flock together.

When I went to bed Wednesday night, I thought to myself that the most bizarre thing to happen that night was the fact that I had 6 chickens in my guest room.  Boy, was I wrong! My Wednesday night got more bizzare.  That’ s another blog for another time…;)

The Tale of Sandy Cheeks

Once upon a time, I took my daughters to the beach.  And after many days and nights of pleading, I allowed them to do what I swore I wouldn’t…buy a hermit crab.  So, off to the store I went and purchased Spongebob Squarepants the Hermit Crab.  I placed him in his tiny cage and we took him to his new home.   Life was good… until my father-in-law started reading about hermit crab care.  Little did I know that hermit crabs are social creatures; often traveling in packs of 100.  Back to the store I went and emerged with Sandy Cheeks the Hermit Crab.  Life was good…until my father-in-law informed me that hermit crabs actually require huge tanks.  Over a hundred dollars in supplies later and my hermit crabs are living in a luxury  beach house.

It’s been almost 9 months since we first purchased the little devils and I have to admit; I like them.  I find it amusing to smooth the sand out at night and, when morning comes, to see where their travels took them.  Sadly, Spongebob passed away two months ago and was replaced by Laura.

Not mine...but you get the idea.

This past Monday I returned home from a long weekend getaway to find Sandy Cheeks laying, without her shell.  Her lifeless body was perched next to the water bowl.  Suicide by drowning, I thought. My husband, who had been taking care of them while I was gone, swore she was alive when he left for work in the morning.  I’m not sure what happened, but what I did know was that she did not look good.  She was pale and small and not moving. Before I go on, let me say this again…SHE WAS NOT MOVING…AT ALL.  I watched her, on and off, for an hour and there was no movement.

This is what she looked like.  Except deader.

So, my husband called it…time of death 6:45 pm.  Normally, there would have been a big to do for the crab’s funeral. But, I had been away for 4 days, I was tired and grumpy so we put her body in the trash can.  I know, I know…not very dignified.  My husband put her shell by the tank and we went to bed.

Fast forward to Thursday morning.   I had been awake for 21 hours on Wednesday.  I went to bed at 3 and got up at 6 Thursday morning, so to say I was tired, was an understatement.  I made my way out to the kitchen to pour some coffee and feed the dogs.   As I went to check the dogs’ water bowl, I noticed something laying beside it.  From a distance, it looked like a round nugget of poop.  Gross.  My oldest dog poops nuggets.  I grabbed a paper towel to retrieve said nugget when it moved.

I got closer to examine the walking poop when I realized it was Sandy Cheeks!  I stared at the crab for at least 5 minutes before I actually comprehended what I was witnessing.  Could it be?  Could it be Sandy Cheeks?

Ummm….yes, it was.  So, if you haven’t been paying attention thus far, let me sum it up for you….

1. The crab looked dead.

2.  We put the crab’s lifeless body in the trash can in the laundry room.

3. The crab’s empty shell lay next to its aquarium.

4. The crab turns up, back in its shell, by the dogs’ water bowl.

Excuse my language, but are you freakin’ kidding me??

The first obvious assumption is that the crab was not dead.  Duh….it must have been molting, above ground.  My husband and I have tried to piece together the rest and this is what we have decided.  Sandy woke up in the trash can.  Looked around, realized it wasn’t her luxury beach house and hit the road.  She climbed up the 13 gallon kitchen trash bag and threw herself onto the basket of clothing next to the can.  Next, since the door was closed, she must have walked underneath of it to get to the kitchen.  From there, she managed to maneuver herself around the breakfast bar, over to the cabinet which holds her tank and where she stumbled upon her shell.  At which time, she made her way back in, scaled down the cabinet and walked to the water bowl.  Quiet a journey for a tiny crab.

So, to Sandy Cheeks, I say this….I’m sorry.  I thought you were dead. You didn’t move…at all!  How was I supposed to know?  But it could have been worse.  I could have taken the time for a proper burial at which point you would have been buried alive.  So, count your blessings and, from heretofore, you shall be known as…..Wonder Woman the Hermit Crab.