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3 posts from August 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Staying Focused can be Tough for an 8 Year Old

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My Sweet Glen.  I still can't believe he is my grandson.  He is growing up so fast - as they all are, of course.  Glen is an amazing child.  He is different, but he is very, very smart.

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Ever since Glen was a baby, he has been mesmerized by anything that had buttons, so he naturally took very quickly to the computer and then when we got our piano, he gravitated to it like a magnet.  I guess he thought the keys were a bunch of buttons.

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Glen has Asperger's Syndrome, which is, from what I understand, a mild form of Autism, and he has a lot of difficulty staying focused if there is any stimulation around him, like noises, activity, visuals (like horses out the window or in the case of the beautiful music Studio of his piano teacher, Claire Ritter, she has a lot of pictures and articles, and paintings on the walls of her studio.

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Between his lessons on the piano with Claire, he'll ask a lot of questions about the pictures on the walls or the horses out the window.  A few times he stopped right in the middle of playing a song to ask a question about the picture to his right.  Challenging?  Yes.  Interested in knowing about everything around him?  Yes.  In need of a teacher who is patient, tolerant, and understanding?  Yes. 

Thank God for teachers like Claire Ritter.  She is fantastically patient, and is creating in him an appreciation for music and the piano.

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Glen tries hard, and he is determined to do the best he can.  He is very competitive too, so having Sarah and Matthew to catch up with on the piano is not only exciting for him, but absolutely critical. 

Here, Sarah is showing Glen the correct way to play a song that he is learning.

What is interesting is that when you don't think he is listening, he comes out with comments and answers and songs on the piano that prove that he was listening better than anyone.   That is never more evident as when he sits at the piano and starts playing songs that I had never even heard him practice.

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So, I sit back and watch this little boy grow up.  I pray that he be able to function independently and have a healthy, safe, and secure life.  I am so happy that he has music in his life and that he becomes so excited when he has a piano lesson. 

Of course, I think he is the most adorable 8 year old on the planet.  Then again, I'm partial.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe he is the cutest 8 year old on the planet. 

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Is This a Chinese Channel?

I swear, if I don't document everything my children say that make me laugh and smile, I'll forget it.  And I don't want to forget their innocence.  We are sitting in our family room and enjoying the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony.  The ceremony is incredible.  Absolutely breathtaking.  Just wrapping my brain around the creative force that went into the making of this ceremony makes me dizzy.

My children are dumbfounded.  They are gazing at the television with wide eyes and amazement.  The precision, discipline, energy - is mindboggling.


Then a commercial came on and it had some Chinese people in the commercial.  Out of the blue, Matthew says "Is this a Chinese Channel?"  Even now I laugh when I think about it. 

Out of the mouths of babes - golden.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Nothing Like a Week of Good Grub and Good Friends

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  We’ve had an awful lot going on here since Thursday of last week and we have eaten out every day since.  That’s more than we eat out in almost a year, but we have enjoyed the week, especially knowing that our house is getting painted and that I didn’t choose the colors – but instead, had a young decorator from Sherwin-Williams come to our home to help me choose the colors.  “Becca” from the Sherwin-Williams in Matthews chose all the colors for our home based on what we like which is the Mount Vernon, George Washington Historical color palette.  I just didn’t know how to put it all together.  She was wonderful and this doesn’t look like our house anymore.  It is so incredibly beautiful!

Okay, back to the eatin’ out story line here.  So, while we were at Sherwin-Williams talking to the manager and planning for Becca to come to our house last week, we noticed that there was a new restaurant, “Americana,” (see below for details) that just opened across the street.  We were starved, so we decided to give it a try.  We like trying new restaurants in the area, especially if they are not sushi.  Bob likes sushi, I couldn't care less for it.  Actually, the stuff scares me.



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When we walked in, it smelled new and fresh and we were greeted with a smile by the mother of the owner.   The interior is painted in fresh, fun colors, and they have a lot of booth seating.

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We all LOVE sitting in a booth and the booths even matched the pretty colors in the restaurant.  Good decorating.  We felt right at home.


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We received service with a smile too and the menu was filled with down-home cookin’ selections that made our hunger all the more obvious.  Everything from collard greens to a big, healthy, juicy New York Strip is on their menu.  They also have this side dessert called “Apple Sticks” that look like fish sticks but are really Apple pie in the shape of a fish stick.  My kids especially loved them and we all ate them up.

We have been back to “Americana” Restaurant 5 out of the last 8 meals we have spent eating out.  And that’s just in the last week!  Of course, that is because our kitchen is upside-down and sideways, and our entire house looks like it is under construction.  Americana opens early – I think 6am and they serve till 9pm.  If I am correct, they are closed on Sunday’s.  Darn.  I suppose they deserve a day off, though.

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We have enjoyed the soup, the salad, the turkey and dressing, the roast beef sandwiches, the New York strip, the French fries, the sweet tea (of course), the chicken fingers (hey, we’ve got kids), the apple sticks, the collard greens, the green beans.  Lordy Mercy, we’ve been hungry!  We’ve been back so often in the last week that we’ve gotten to know all the servers and the owner on a first name basis.  We absolutely love this place.  So much so, that we’ve adopted it as our favorite place to take the family to eat.  You’ll love it too.  So, if you are in the Matthews (South Charlotte) area, stop in and ask for George (he’s the owner), and tell him that some crazy lady, “Susan Raisin Toast” sent you.  He’ll know who I am.  Even if you didn’t mention my name, they will give you service with a smile and a lot of great Southern Americana cookin'.

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As for the other  places we have eaten at over the course of the last week -  Good grub there too. Saturday evening we had dinner with our friends, Kim and Mike Conger and their son, Matthew, who is a real cutie-pie.  They drove down from Virginia to visit and to shop for some great deals on furniture in Hickory and around town.  Hey!  There’s nothin’ quite like finding a great deal on furniture in North Carolina.  And if you really want to get your fill of furniture overload, go to Furnitureland South.  Holy Creolee, it is a million square feet of furniture.  It’s like the Disneyland of furniture shopping.

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On Saturday evening, we went to Cantina 1511 in the Stonecrest Shopping Center.  Great Mexican food.  I love their Steak Fajitas.  Yummy.  Bob loves the Pollo Laraedo (huh?) Anyway, he loves it.  The kids love the freshly made Tortilla chips and salsa.  You’ll enjoy it too.  They even have live music.

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The boys entertained us with their antics.

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Matthew made faces

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Sarah danced while waiting for Dad to drive up and take us home with our full bellies.
Sarah never leaves home without her iPod.  She'll sing and dance.  She is a very entertaining 14 year old.  Thank you Ree, for your PW Action set.  I used "Vintage" on these pictures because they looked so blurry and bad otherwise.


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Matthew just wanted to crash I think. 

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Check out this sunset as we were leaving.

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Sunday morning all 8 of us ate at Big Dog Café in Waxhaw for breakfast, and boy was it delicious.  The kids wolfed down the bacon like it was their last meal for the day.  We love going to Big Dog Café for breakfast now and then.

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Matthew was quite the gentleman opening the door for everyone.  He'll do just about anything for a kiss and hug from Mom.

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And, anything that prevents me from having to cook is fine with me.  Oh my, Bob has absconded with my camera.  Thank God for Photoshop.   I can give myself a digital face lift, remove wrinkles, freckles, stray hairs, whiten teeth.  (Hey, just keepin' it real here)  I even smudged the background while playing in Photoshop.  I like to play around like that.

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Bob was all jolly and happy in his Hawaiian Tropical shirt.  He was also flirting.  I wonder what he wants?

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The kids played with their Nintendo DS all through breakfast.

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My Big Bear had connected them all wirelessly, so they were all playing together.  Is there a kid out there who doesn’t have a Nintendo DS glued to their nose?

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While there, we enjoyed the scenery.  You know - the Big Dog.  Hey, we're in North Carolina here!

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I enjoyed taking pictures of cute babies.  Isn't he adorable?  Big blue eyes, sucking his thumb, and one very happy Big Dog patron.  Nobody is safe when I've got my camera in hand.  Only the cute ones get posted here, though.

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After breakfast, Bob and Mike took all 4 kids to Discovery Place in Charlotte to see the Dinosaur and Pompeii exhibits while Kim and I rode around in the beamer with the top down and the wind in our hair.  Now this is the kind of day I like.

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Of course, there is always a catch.  The things I have to do for money – goodness – you’d think I love this man or somethin’. 

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Let’s see, how many kisses for 300 bucks?

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Kim and Mike are newlyweds so we had to teach them how this barter arrangement works.  We instructed and they kissed.  Kim ended up with her own stash of cash in hand and Mike had enough kisses to hold him until he returned from his exhausting day counting children (“1-2-3-4, 1-2-3 uuuuh, where’s 4? Hey 4! Get your butt over here where we can keep an eye on you.  That Tyrannosaurus Rex might take a bite out of your fanny if you run off”).

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All in all, the guys had fun at Discovery Place (I think) and I know for sure the kids did.  That is all they have been talking about for 2 days now.

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Kim and I went to Bella Spa and had a very enjoyable manicure and pedicure.  I love the Bella Spa in Blakeney Shopping Center.  It’s the best place to get a manicure and pedicure around.   Daggone I look old in this picture.  Oprah!  Help me Oprah!  I need a makeover!  Bad!

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The décor is relaxing and the service is excellent.  They offered us something to drink, even a glass of wine, when we arrived, and you don’t need an appointment.  I do things on the spur-of-the-moment most of the time, and I have never been good with appointments.  So yes, I love this place. 

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It helps, too, that they are professional and do a great job.  I love their pedicure area.  It is the best I’ve seen yet, and I’ve owned 2 nail salons.  This is by far, the best place to go for a manicure and pedicure in the area.

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My pedicure is so pretty.  Cristy, my manicurist/pedicurist picked the color for me.

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And while I was relaxing and enjoying the leg massage, I happened to notice this lady's haircut.  I'm jealous.  Here is a woman who is probably older than I, and she has a nice tan, nice haircut, great color.  Should I color my hair?  If I did, this is the color I would get because it is the color that my hair was before I went gray.

After the spa treatment, Kim and I didn’t have to go far, as the shopping center we were in has some great stores.  We shopped at Coldwater Creek, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and then we hopped over to Encore Bistro and had a Caesar salad and some sweet tea (It was really hot out by the afternoon) and then I was about ready to collapse.  I felt guilty, though, because, although all this pampering from my Big Bear was making me want to take a nap, I knew he had it worse off than I.  I mean, walking around Discovery Place with his friend, Mike, and 4 kids?  That had to be unbearable. 


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Well, after the shopping, Kim and I drove through our neighborhood.  Would you believe,  Bob and Mike caught up with Kim and I driving around taking pictures of the beautiful lawns near our home (I told you I was going to do that) and who pulls up in the Suburban packed with 4 kids?

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Check out this perfect edging and lush grass.  I want grass.  My nicely manicured toesies need grass.

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My yard is starving for shrubbery and colorful landscaping.

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Look at this yard.  Don't you just want to run out there and throw the football around, put up a hammock and read a book, have a picnic?  I do too.

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Okay, back to reality...

How did you know this was our front yard?  Lovely weeds, interesting rocks, lots of Bermuda grass - more than enough dirt.

Bob: “Hey!  What are you 2 doing?” 

Me: “Taking pictures of all the lawns that look pretty”

Bob: “Okay, that’s my cue to drive away now.” 

Me:  “Aw, honey, don’t you want to go ask them how they do it?”

Bob: “No”

Me: “Oh well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out soon.”  (I’m praying before I turn 70)

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As I continue to flip through the pictures in my camera and listen to Bob...

Bob: “So, do you all want to join us for a game of putt-putt?”

Me: “You’re kidding, right?”

Bob: “The kids want to go play putt-putt”

Me: “More power to ya, dear.  I’m ready for a nap.”

And apparently so was Glen.  So Glen came home with me -  and Bob, Kim, Mike, and 3 of the kids went out to play putt-putt and they didn’t get home until 10:30pm.  Now that’s what I call a long day.  I didn't even hear them when they got home. 

Glen and I were conked out by 9:00.  And it took us both about 2 seconds to start snoring.

P.S.  For great food and more in the South Charlotte area:

Americana Restaurant
(Just off of Independence Blvd.)
1628 Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Owner: George (aka Nice Guy) 

Big Dog Café
(Just off of Providence Road)
521 N Broome Street
Waxhaw, NC 28173

Cantina Fifteen Eleven
Stonecrest Shopping Center
7708 Rea Road
Charlotte, NC 28277
Website: www.cantina1511restaurant.com

Encore Bistro & Bar
Blakeney Shopping Center
Corner of Rea Rd and Ardrey Kell
9824 Rea Road
Charlotte, NC 28277
Website: www.encorebistro.com 

Matthews location
1623 Matthews Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105-4652
Need a great Decorator/Designer/Color Expert?  Ask for Becca! 

Ronald's Painting
Charlotte, NC
(Co-owner Ben is great.  Very professional, knowledgeable, courteous.  All around Southern Gentleman)

Bella Spa
9724 Rea Road
Charlotte, NC 28277
(Cristy took very good care of me and she was excellent!)

Discovery Place
301 N. Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Website: www.discoveryplace.org

Coldwater Creek
Banana Republic
Ann Taylor

All at Blakeney Shopping Center
Rea Road and Ardrey Kell Road
Charlotte, NC 28277

Now we’re totally broke, but our bellies are happy.

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