The Home of Daddy's Day Dare! ~ I am just trying to stay above water

Archive for the month “February, 2018”

We Don’t Celebrate Valentines Day at our house , Part V

Well as you may know by now, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at our house. We haven’t for several years.

Each year we like to take off to someplace warm for a few days and thaw out from the winter freeze.

This year we had an interruption in our plans. Dylan was nominated by her school to be in the All-State Chorus for 4th, 5th and 6th graders. Their big performance was, you guessed it, the long weekend over Valentines Day; a.k.a. our escape day.

That Valentine’s weekend she actually had to arrive for practice on a Thursday. Then, practice all day Friday with their final performance Saturday morning.

We were very proud and happy for her. Mom drove the kids up after school that day. I drove up and went in to watch them practice after work. I didn’t know what to expect.

What would you anticipate?

When I opened the doors of the First Baptist Church in Columbia, SC all I could think was Wow!

Wow! Some place special for a Chorus event.

What a huge church and what a spectacular choir loft! My whole church could fit in that choir loft I thought. I was impressed! What a cool site for this special gig for our kids!

And as I watched them practice I became equally impressed the Chorus Director. He coached. He taught. He was high energy yet patient. He spoke to the kids at their level and with some very bright ideas I thought. It turns out this was no simple choir director.

Henry Leck

Henry Leck is known world-wide for directing children’s choirs. (who knew?) He has his own children’s choirs in Indianapolis. His back ground and feats was quite lengthy and impressive! He was summed up in his introduction that day as a Rock Star in the field of children’s choirs.

And he had those kids on track!

I tried to get some on tape to remember but my worn out phone was overwhelmed. Needless to say, during the long day of practicing no child was bored or lacked focus and he brought things out of the kid’s voices they were unaware they had.

So here is the final presentation Saturday morning. Can you find little Dylan?

Hint, she’s in the second row.

In the center, 2nd row up, 5th in from the left.

In a chorus full of 174 talented young 4th, 5th and 6th graders from the state of South Carolina,

could you spot my favorite one?

Well she spotted me and my family.

And she somehow knew I had the camera up looking for her too.

Here is that picture close up….

See her now… with a big cheesy smile for her Dad

So it’s by no accident that I post one of my fav songs from the concert first, the last song in the event actually.

You see that morning, as I dropped little D off for her big day, I didn’t know how she was feeling so I offered some advice of just trying to be in the moment, enjoy it, and Have Fun!

Don’t be nervous or anxious (one child actually threw up during rehearsal on Friday). Just enjoy your day and have fun!

In this last song the kids were supposed to snap their fingers. I was kinda disappointed Dylan didn’t  join in right away. So I motioned snapping my fingers from my seat in the audience. She saw me right away and just mimicked me and snapped away!

So if you don’t think you can find little D among all these youngsters, look for the one up there swinging her arms, snapping her fingers and swaying her hips and having a good time.

That’s my lil D!

 Below is another one of my fav tunes, that actually had me tear up.

Mr. Leck was the one who chose all of the songs for the event and well-chosen they were! If you would like to see more go to my Youtube channel.

In the song below he introduces real well, especially in wake of the tragedy of the shootings in Florida that happened earlier that week….

Like I said, I didn’t know what to expect driving up for this weekend. I was their for support mainly. But the event really Wow’ed me.

Great job everyone!

It turns out this was the first time this event was held in this beautiful church with its wonderful acoustics. It was held in gymnasiums or auditoriums before. Also this was the 20th anniversary for the SC All-State Chorus. Mr. Leck directed the first one, the 10th one’ and now number 20. So I, or we all really lucked out.

Dare I say we, ‘Lecked out?’  🙂

But our Valentine’s getaway did not end there!

Next we were off to the Great Wolf Lodge; a hotel and resort built for the amusement of kids.

Oh god!

Mom told me I could hang at the gym or the bar if I got too kidded out!

And there were lots of them!

It too was a spectacular place! It reminded me kinda like a cruise. There was a massive check in Saturday, and everyone is herded into certain areas than shuffled off to other areas for other events at various times of the day.

But if you had a child, they were all smiles!

We were walking down the hallway one morning and both our girls were smiling so much they were practically gliding.

It was well done in a Montana type wolf lodge theme…

The rooms were pretty cool too. I guess they might by Suites be definition, as the kids had their own room, designed to look like they were inside a tent..with a TV (!!)

They have their own TV… I have mine!

Then, daily they had regular kid activities planned, mostly out in the lobby with the animated log cabin and a cast of characters and animals that would capture a kid’s imagination with an amusing story. Like the storytime I took Skye to that night.

She busted her way upfront and was completely engulfed in the robotics.

Skylar in the blue, front and center, waiting for the robot boy to talk again

They also have a pretty good indoor water park there!

That is the wave pool above. You can also make out some water-coasters too.

Yes, the resort may be for kids but the water Tornado was pretty exciting too as you glided half way up the walls in the down flowing currents.

swirling up the side of the Tornado

It was pretty exciting as you swirled around the sides, like riding in a giant toilet. 

But the genius part of the Great Wolf Lodge was the Magi and Shadow Quest games that turned the hotel into an enormous treasure hunt activity.

Trust me, there were lots more kids in these hallways than this.

You’ll buy, er, chose a magic wand, top it with extra powers as you find and capture certain magical runes. Then set off on a quest to battle Charlock, the evil dragon, once you have accumulated all the mystical powers needed. You immerse yourself in Vellara, a realm of enchantment, as you befriend the Treetop Pixies, to give them their magical powers back then return special gems to Ursa Major (in order) to restore that bear back to the constellations.

Well, Ursa is when we ran out of time.

We completed about 14 such quests to get to help Ursa, becoming Master Magi(s) status along the way.

You get to decide how much time you want to spend with Magi-Quest, depending on how many quests you undertake at a time. Play can last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours, er, all evening, as you go for more and more mystical Runes with the aid of your magi-wand and deciphering the clues on where to find these powers. You can always take a break and come back later.

Using their acquired powers to defeat the dragon

Now these clues for each now Rune (level) were hidden or riddled on three different floors. You usually had to find 5-7 items (treasure hunt) in order to acquire the new power, or Rune. One crystal would be at one side of the hotel, the next crystal on the other side of the hotel, then upstairs to the other side for a painting and then across to the other….

It truly captured (dozens of) kid’s imaginations as they raced through the halls (with their parents) to find the next secret.

They would play, tirelessly, for hours at a time. There seemed to be no end to it.

Their imaginations would be captured any given part of the day and energies worn down to zero.. so they could sleep well through the night.


making the Red Crystals glow with her Magi Wand. It actually needed to glow Green.. “the crystal glows green if you’ve found all that you need. IF it glows Red you can not proceed.

Add to it the instructions asked you not to use the elevator in the middle of the resort but the stairwells on the sides  (ahhhh!!!)

What a workout!

You had a list of clues on where to find all the crystals or amulets or paintings BUT not all information was given (like the Pixie Crystal above). Somethings you had to figure out for yourself!

Or ask the kid that was a step ahead of you what they did.

To defeat the dragon you needed a Powerful Shield, the Frozen Arrow, and the Freezing Spell; three items not easy to come by!

figuring out how to awaken and defeat the Dragon

The order of the Symbols is critical here.

Down the Forgotten Hallway you will find them.

Within a Great Painting these symbols appear.

You will be better served to mind them.”

But what they didn’t tell you is you had to offer these symbols in a certain order at the opening of the Dragon’s gate, plus one symbol not mentioned, to proceed just to wake him up to battle; otherwise he never knew you were there.


Like I said, a great place to be a kid.

As for me, MY special delight was….. are you sitting down…..


delivered right to your door in the morning for a breakfast!

This must be what heaven is like!

3D Breakfast…Donuts Delivered to my Door in the morning

So that is where we spent this year’s Valentines Day vacay.

Wonderful singing, fancy hotel rooms, over-chlorinated pools, magical story times, magical quests, and Dunkin Donuts delivered right to my door.

I think this beats Jamaica.

Photo Op ~ yes the kids were all smiles!

Have a great week knuckleheads!

I’ll try to do better next time!

Today only comes around once in a life time. Make it AMAZING!

Snow Globe

So let me shake this blog up a bit.

How about some Christmas cheer for friends and family?

Whats that you say?

Its Valentines day?

Yes, if you have followed this blog you know you can expect a laundry list of Christmas pics after Christmas.


This year, not so much. I was sick for about 2 weeks at the end of December. I wasn’t myself. This blogger spent half of Christmas break in bed. Not much fun AND not many Christmas pics of the kids for family and friends to share.

In fact just two…


and this…

Santa Sucks!

Skye actually said that!

She was asking for a Hoverboard. She saw one all wrapped up in the sack Santa left for Dylan but she did not see one in the sack Santa left for her.

When she saw D open her Hoverboard she cried,

“Santa Sucks!”


Her demeanor quickly turned around when she dug a little deeper into her Santa sack.

No This After, or During…

Yes, it’s another Christmas Story

And that was it!

That was our Christmas.

Oh we did get a chance to watch the latest presentation of Dicken’s Christmas Carol at our historic (are you tired of that word yet?) Dock Street Theater .

(Courtousy of A Christmas Carol from Charleston Stage on Vimeo)

This year the opportunity came via a 4th grade field trip.

Do you think a 4th grader can spell Shaperone?

We also made the ice cream. Drank the egg nog, the warm spiced wine (not together), and Chambord over ice cream. Set up the train. Watched the Christmas Story. Visited the Christmas lights. And adopted that darn elf again.

What’s her name, Lana?

She likes Cookies!

And one night she evidently helped herself to the dog biscuits, thinking they were Christmas cookies too and left us a nasty note, saying they were the worst Christmas cookies ever!

She also helped herself to the left over spiced wine one night that we left out on the stove.

And then helped herself to an extra toilet paper roll in the closest Necessary Room and just had too good of a time!

Le sigh!

But then there was the Happy New Year!

Sort of…

Especially if your kids never saw snow or threw a snowball before..

It’s not supposed to snow like this where we live!

And it snowed and it snowed and it snowed.

The next day we woke up to a bright and sunny snowy day.

The next morning. Guess whose house has kids?

Did I mention ‘bright’?

And cold!

We had 4 days in a row with lows at 18 degrees.


That doesn’t happen here!

So much for global warming.

I started worrying about my own little ill-equipped backyard escape with the cold temperatures and 6 inches of snow.

Good bye paradise!

Our little summertime gazebo started to lean under the weight of the snow.

And I had to be creative to keep that upright and the pool water from freezing in the pipes.

Still, others had it lots worse than we did….

South Carolina drivers DO NOT know how to drive in the snow!

Like the owner of this brand new, freshly waxed shiny Camaro.

Maybe its not a good time to go for a ride?

Most local drivers were ridiculously slow, er, careful.

I enjoyed the snow packed streets as I grew up in the snow.

Still others……ahhh…

It was funny, all the cars  that were stuck in a ditch or crashed into a tree or sign, (we even had a car end up in a pond close by) were pick-ups or other testosterone fueled crafts; like the fellow above.

Another example, the road in front of me that allows me to get to work, was closed for 3 days as two First Responders were hit when a fast approaching fire truck hit a patch of ice on a bridge and slid into them.


It sounds like something out of Florida or a Griswald Christmas but it happened right here in our zip code.

Sometimes a good driver knows when NOT to go for a ride .

And keep all that excitement warm and inside!


So that was our Christmas Break

As you read it through the glass.

This time no flashy posts

Or Christmas blogs from the past.

It was sickness, and snow

and cursing Santa this year.

No snow globe with good health

or carols I fear.

No Ding Dong Merrily On High inside my snow globe

It was a snow globe of sleeping and bills,

…and an elf on a tear!

The roads were bad.

The driving was worse.

Ill-tempers were flaring.

Somebody call me a hearse.


Despite the testy Ba-Humbug being heard…

We had family and some memories to hold dear.

And as with Christmas and globes you know what’s the word.

Traditional Snow Globes aren’t for looking…

They’re better shaken!

(not stirred)


OK…. just one old Christmas video

Just to get it out of my system.

Don’t hate!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Ahhhh, I mean Happy Valentines !


Tourist In My Hometown Pt.2

So we have this Museum Mile pass that I told you about last week and it is week two for acting a like a tourist in our hometown. 

Last weekend we visited the Charleston Museum and then the museum houses of the Joseph Manigault house, the Heyward Washington house (yes, that Washington) and the Aiken Rhet or Gov. William Aiken house. And all within walking distance of each other.

So, for those about to tour / endure some old museum houses, we salute you!

Revolutionary War cannon guarding the Charleston Museum

The Charleston Museum was OK, great if you enjoy reading about history, wars fought, and the evolution of Charleston, entitled Becoming Americans. But the Natural History portion was smallish and not a lot of truly unique things to see.

We stayed there 3 hours.

There was a mummy and some old coffins from Egypt that stood out to me but that is about it.

The first two houses we toured we were not allowed to use our cameras, lucky for you and your post downloads. So I have some copied pics from their website, unless they are from outside.

One of Charleston’s most exquisite antebellum structures, the Joseph Manigault House, built in 1803, reflects the urban lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family and the enslaved African Americans who lived there.

Joseph Manigault was the brother to the man in the final painting in my previous post, Charles Manigault, the grandsons of the ultra wealthy, Peter Manigault. The house was also designed by his brother Gabriel, a ‘Gentleman Architect.

This house, and other Neoclassical houses of the time, were known for their ‘balance’. One side of the wall mirrored the other. If a door was on the right then a door was on the left, even if it did not open. As you go down through these pictures you can plainly see the dedication put into there balance. 

See the balance on the outside of the house. The left is exactly the same as the right.

And so it went inside.

Still listing to the right a little

Descending from French Huguenots who fled religious persecution in Europe in the late 1600s, the Manigaults prospered as rice planters and merchants during the 18th century and became one of South Carolina’s leading families.

The house above was termed a summer house (they did not live here all year round) but in truth it was a winter house as the Manigaults inhabited the house during the winter months that were actually known as Charleston’s ‘social season‘. It’s just too hot in the summer here, to get dressed up not to mention too many smells.

The city of Charleston at this time was actually a walled city. A wall was built around Charleston to protect it from pirates, the Spanish, and the French in the 1700’s and early 1800’s. This house was actually on the outside of the wall. So they liked to be called ‘in the country’.

It’s too much to go into but you can imagine how many smells are contained in the walled city, or outside for that matter. Start with the horses in the streets, throw in no running water, livestock slaughtered on one’s property, maintaining livestock from horses, cows and chickens on many properties and so on. This is why most houses had dining rooms, bedrooms and rooms for entertaining on the second floors.

Affluent houses such as these had water management system, usually consisting of a well but later developing into a ‘cistern’ due to the well water getting contaminated.

Water management in colonial life

Such was life in the 1700s and early 1800’s

Joseph Manigault inherited several rice plantations and over two hundred slaves from his grandfather in 1788, and also married (very) well.

Arthur Middleton, father of his first wife, Maria Henrietta Middleton, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Following Henrietta’s death, he married Charlotte Drayton, with whom he had eight children.

If you ever visit Charleston two very well-known plantations to visit are the Middleton Place (Henrietta Middleton)

and Drayton Hall (Charlotte Drayton).

Note below the balance on the wall. A door on the right and one on the left. Pictures, tables and urns balancing each other out. The tassel on the left of the fireplace was used to call the slaves for service. The tassel to the right of the fireplace was just there for decoration.

It did nothing.


 Notice the tassels above and below.

The Drawing Room. Through the door is the Withdrawing Room. Notice the Balance.

Most homes of distinction had rooms for entertaining called Drawing Rooms. Sometimes the men would like to sneak out and smoke and talk business. They retreated to the Withdrawing Rooms.

Heyward-Washington House

Built in 1772, this Georgian-style double house was the town home of Thomas Heyward, Jr., one of four South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence.

A patriot leader and artillery officer with the South Carolina militia during the American Revolutionary War, Heyward was captured when the British took Charleston in 1780. He was moved to St. Augustine, Florida, with several other influential Charlestonians but was exchanged in 1781.

The City rented this house for George Washington’s use during the President’s week-long Charleston stay, in May 1791, and it has traditionally been called the “Heyward-Washington House.” The story goes many a wealthy Charlestonian wrote letters to George Washington to please stay at their house. Mr. Washington, in true politician style, could not, would not decide. So he asked the Mayor of Charleston to pick out a suitable dwelling for his week long stay.

Heyward sold the house in 1794 to John F. Grimke, also a Revolutionary War officer and father of Sarah and Angeline Grimke, the famous abolitionists and suffragettes.

The building on the right was the water management system. The large building on the left was the kitchen on the first floor and the slave quarters on the second floor. The building on the far left, where you can only make out the tiled roof, was the ‘Necessary’ room.

Three guesses on what was necessary.

And why wasn’t it closer?

Were there no prostate issues on the 1700-1800’s?

 Why do you think the kitchen was not part of the main house in colonial times?

Past the Pirate Courtyard to some Ghost Tours

So now I had to take a pause. (not applause)

So these houses were bought and sold several times from their original owners over the years, how is it the furniture, paintings, etc. are legit?

Enter the phrase ‘ museum house’. These houses have been bought by the Charleston Museum and / or the Charleston Preservation Society and ‘restored‘ to what they may have looked like using family  or historic documents.

For instance, the Joseph Manigualt House was bought by an Esso gas station at one point and sold gas in the front yard. The third owner of the Heyward Washington house was a baker and turned the first floor into a bakery. The floors may be original floors but the paint color “may have been” or “what we think it was” using historical data.

There were several really incredible book cases in both houses.

Most of the furniture were ‘time pieces’, maybe not from that family, but a piece of furniture from that time period. The Rice Plantation bed on Joseph Manigaults room looked too good to be 175 years old. It was a dead giveaway.

So I wondered what would a house that was not made over look like? Did these restored houses lose their original integrity?

I had my theory answered as we walked over to the Aiken Rhett House.

This house is termed, ‘preserved not restored.’ And I tell you, walking through the dimly lit house, with the floors squeaking and the paint peeling off the walls, it was more than a little creepy.

It reminded me of the hotel in The Shining after it had been abandoned.

I will try to go faster here with a picture tour. If interested in this history take your time and read behind the scenes or just go at your own pace to stay ahead of the tour. Please leave your audio headphones at the cashier’s desk as you leave.

Here is why the house is called the Aiken Rhett house. And also thee Love letter. It is also known as Gov. William Aiken house.

Marble stairway entrance

Large two room divided living room downstairs

Very detailed moldings on the main living room chandelier

Leaving the living room, and chasing the sunlight, we went through some large open double doors onto a roomy piazza. The single hung windows (on the right border) transform into doorways that allow you to walk onto the piazza. These windows are advantageously placed to allow for a cross breeze through the house and are extremely common in the South. These roomy piazzas on three sides of the house.

The back yard or courtyard, completely walled in.

Kitchen and Slave quarters on the right. The stables and garage on the left

 Remember the kitchen picture at the Heyward Washington house? Here is what the kitchen may have resembled had it not been ‘restored’

And this is what is left of the oven and stove

We took the worn down stairs upstairs above the kitchen to see the floor the resident slaves lived on.

There were 4 individual rooms up stairs. Each room had its own door with a lock for privacy and a window. At the end of the hall was actually a type of sitting room where the slaves could gather at the end of their day.

Going back out to the courtyard we noticed some nice trees and two Necessary Rooms (2 green doors) all the way at the end of the lot.

After viewing the stables and some very old but nice horse-drawn carriages we went back inside and to the second floor to Governor Aiken’s Drawing room.

 Above is the picture in the brochure. Below is what I saw. I don’t even know if you could use the word ‘preserved’ for this room. But with the large airy room I imagine it could have been very enchanting in its time.

We toured several other rooms on the second floor including master bedrooms and bathrooms, all dimly lit with make-shift  lights and electricity cords, all in disrepair. There was a small but well stocked library. And as we headed towards the end of our tour we opened the door to the only ‘restored room’ in the house, the Gallery….

We had to open the door to the Gallery as it was the only room in the house with air conditioning. And I imagine you needed the A/C to protect these beautiful works of art..

I couldn’t even afford the frames on these paintings!

My favorite piece, of course, was the focal piece, a sculpture by Italian Domenico Menconi of Mary Magdalene, signed and dated 1858.

She has her hands on the books of the Old Testament and New Testament.

To me, it seems she is looking to heaven, dreaming, in an expression that says it all.


So that was our weekend as we toured some more landmarks where we live. It is truly magical going on holiday for a day (wish it were longer) and reliving or imagining some of the history available in Charleston.

Thanks for touring these with us! We have one more weekend to sight see.

And then I can get around to the Christmas post  🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!










Post Navigation