Monday, March 31, 2014

his majesty

I did not retouch a single photo from today. There was no need. It was one of the most perfect days I have ever witnessed on God's green earth. The only thing missing was my Dad, as it would have been his 50th wedding anniversary today. He made a list of milestones to reach before he died and today was one of them. He just missed the mark by a few months. He did not live to see the timid blooms that somehow broke through the chill of this past month, the sweeping moss-laden oaks, his favored dogwoods evoking memories of Georgia, the sly gator. My Mum and I soaked in every detail in awed silence, thankful for the peace and beauty He gave us.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Guest Blog: Local Goodness

*In the coming weeks, Pluff Mud Kids is spotlighting local bloggers sharing great information as well as local businesses that specialize in good things for kids and families.

Pluff Mud Kids welcome guest blogger Jessica Paulsen from Local Goodness - preserving food, faith, and family. I recently met up with Jessica and wanted to share with you her fantastic blog and feature regarding eating locally. Thanks for sharing your ideas here today, Jessica! (also, check back with Jessica frequently for excellent recipes and ideas on canning and preserving).


In case you can’t tell from my web address, I’m a local loving gal! Locally grown veggies, mom & pop stores, unique one of a kind events…those are the things that make my heart go pitter patter.
So how exciting is it that here in Charleston, April is EAT LOCAL MONTH! Lowcountry Local Firstencourages all of us lowcountry residers to put our $ where our mouth is. If you want access to locally grown food, then get out there and support our farmers and locally owned restaurants that source ingredients locally.
The overarching goal for the month is to take the Eat Local Challenge where you shift $10/week of your food budget to the local food system. That may not seem like much but when combined together we can make a huge influence to the Charleston food scene.
So go pick your own strawberries to make jam with, buy kale at the farmer’s market and make a kale smoothie, or get your cup o’ joe from the cooler coffee shop around the corner. 
Here are all the fun events that Lowcountry Local First is putting on ~
Tuesday, April 1 ~ SHOP AT WHOLE FOODS
5% of WF sales this day will go to LLF’s Sustainable Agriculture program
Tuesday, April 8 ~ Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market kicks off
My kids are literally counting down the hours until this awesome day. Their strategic line of attack for the Farmer’s Market…King of Pops first, kettle corn second…
Saturday, April 12 ~ Downtown Farmer’s Market  kicks off
Check out the LLF tent at a “PLOW TO CHOW” special event…and in case you’re scratching your head…a plow is what breaks the ground so you can plant seeds, work the land, break your back.
Saturday, April 19 ~ Lowcountry Farm Tours
Meander along dirt roads, breathe in the fresh air, snack on just picked strawberries, chat with the guys & gals operating the plows responsible for your chow.
Sunday, April 27 ~ Chef’s Potluck
Among the beautiful oaks at Middleton Place, nosh & sip on some of the finest ingredients the lowcountry has to offer, prepared by some of the best chef’s in the area.
And if you don’t live in Charleston, here is information on how to move to the coolest foodie town ever….
Ha ha! What I meant to say was…here is information on how to find a Live Local organization in your area.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Guest Blog: A Mindful Eyeful

Have you seen this new site entitled A Mindful Eyeful? Photographer Kathleen Gorman has a fresh perspective on everyday life reminding us to really notice the details in each and every day. Kathleen creates unique pieces of art that you can hang in your home with a focus that life is good. Out of the box, left of center, a mindful eyeful...

A Mindful Eyeful

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Guest Blog: A Work In Progress

*In the coming weeks, Pluff Mud Kids is spotlighting local bloggers sharing great information as well as local businesses that specialize in good things for kids and families.

Pluff Mud Kids welcomes guest blogger Courtney Buxton from A Work In Progress  today. I believe in information sharing as a tool for better parenting and Courtney always offers insight and humor when delving into parenting skills. Check in with A Work In Progress for great ideas like this post featuring the benefits of reading aloud with your children. Take it away, Courtney...


As I mentioned on Monday, reading aloud with your kids may be the most important thing you do as a parent. This idea has motivated and inspired me in new ways over the past few months. Here are a few things I have learned from The Read Aloud Handbook, various articles, talking to other parents, and just doing it.

(To put this in context, my boys are five and seven. The seven year old is reading pretty well on his own. The five year old not at all. We've gone through phases of reading to them separately or together. These days, it's together.)

(1) Let them read what they want. This one is so hard for me. When we go to the library, the boys choose commercial character books - Star Wars, Ninjago, etc. - or (ugh) a graphic novel. Seriously, those are the worst. Nearly impossible to read aloud. BUT. They are reading, or at least interested in books. That is the most important part. So, let them read what they want.

(2) At the same time, push them. Over time, I've been able to show my boys that other books exist. I've asked, "What are you interested in?" and we've checked out books about mining, sharks, pirates, naval battles, snakes, and most anything else that screams, "Boy." Inch by inch, we are getting closer to quality, and I'll take it. My older son recently brought home a book from a popular series, which I'd heard of but never read. He asked me to read it to him, and I did. I couldn't stand it. The child spoke to every adult in a sassy tone and I found myself editing it as I read. When he asked me to read more later, I decided to be honest. He didn't have much reaction when I told him why I didn't like the book, but I noticed that he returned it to the school library and hasn't returned with anything like it since. There are so many choices when it comes to books (and life in general . . . ). My hope is that he is learning to discern.

Sometimes, I suggest something completely out of the box, and the boys surprise me by agreeing. For example, we read my childhood copy of Snow White. They loved it. The beautiful illustrations helped, as did the funny dwarves and scary witch.

For longer books, I've directed the boys since they aren't sure where to start. We've read a number of Roald Dahl books, and after reading Begin and Wide Water we are waiting on the third Growly book to be released. Meanwhile, we are enjoyingStuart Little and starting an E.B.White kick. I (obviously) like a series and find this sort of pattern enjoyable for me to read, too.

(3) Let others do it. Don't be a control freak. Dad might do different (or better) voices for the characters than Mom. The babysitter might read more than one chapter. Grandfather might read slowly. Aunt's pace might force them to keep up. Variety is the spice of life.

(4) Start by asking, "Where did we leave off?" or "What happened last time?" When you relinquish the reigns, these questions help get you back up to speed. More importantly, they set the mood for what you are about to do (read together) and they help the children remember what is going on. Remembering gets their imaginations actively engaged and wondering, "What will happen, next?"

(5) Don't expect "perfect" listening. How quickly we can ruin the mood by fussing at our kids to sit still! be quiet! pay attention! If they aren't cuddling up to me all cozy and confined, then I think, "This isn't working." On the contrary, I've learned, through much trial and error, that my boys are listening when they are fidgeting. Running around the room - no. But sitting next to me working on a bracelet - yes. This goes back to (2) - Don't be a control freak.

(6) Decide this is important. This is the way I got started, and probably will be the only way we will stick with it. But this one is easy, because reading with your children IS important. It just is. And it can be fun, too.
Will you start tonight?
Do you have any tips to share?

Thanks for these great tips, Courtney! What's in our own Pluff Mud Kids current stack? Here are a few of our recent favorites (however, we were stunned at the end of Stone Fox to read that the heroic and much beloved dog in the story died - not a tale for the faint-hearted!)

rock paper scissors

Do you have a child that loves to design and create with fabric? Paint and sculpt? Or does wood working and tools drive their passion? Take a look at rock paper scissors studio here in Mt. Pleasant...

Owned and operated by Amanda Robles, this studio space offers gender bending activities for children and adults - clothing design, printing fabrics, and sewing are not just for girls! Amanda informed me that when local school University School of the Lowcountry recently visited her studio, the boys took over the sewing machines and had a blast. Amanda does a fantastic job of offering a wall of tools and materials to teach you or your children how to use them. Everything you need to spark your creative side is provided here. 

I don't offer many opinions on Summer Camps on this blog as my children have not done them in past summers and I always like to test things out for you first. However, in the coming weeks I have a few to recommend that I've researched. Some of our picks intrigued me in that they are innovative and unique. Check out rock paper scissors summer camps on the link below. Take this one, for example, in the sewing and design category:

*thanks to Amanda for the tour and information provided here.

Re-fashioning Summer Camp $200 July 28th-June 1st @8:30pm-12:20pm
(This is open to both Kids/Adults)
In This advanced sewing camp, students will take a field trip to Goodwill in the shopping center to select 1-3 garments to refashion into looks that they can incorporate into their own wardrobe. Students will practice concept development, and expand their knowledge of garment construction. Ages 8+
Day 1- Choose garments from Goodwill to refashion
Day 2- Garment Breakdown
Day 3- Refashioning
Day 4- Refashioning
Day 5- Finishing Up

1220W Ben Sawyer Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

seasonal joy and the green blanket


Well folks, it's officially back... that blanket of green pollen has truly hit town this week. 

Herewith, some stunning blooms from right here in my yard that just burst forth this weekend and a list of hot spots to enjoy the beauty of a Lowcountry Spring:

Mark your calendar for the giant Easter egg hunt at Middleton Place on Saturday April 19th.

Tea is served in the summer garden at Magnolia Plantation on April 6th.

Did you see this Groupon for Brookgreen Gardens? Now is a beautiful time to see the gardens here.

What's behind the garden gates in downtown Charleston? Find out in May during Spoleto's tour.

Friday, March 21, 2014

conversation on a favorite walk

"Mama, will you still be alive when they crack that time capsule open?"

"I sure hope so but I'll be pushing 91... I'll meet you here, ok?"

"I sure hope you are too. I'll be here."

Washington Square, Charleston SC

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Operation Sight

According to the National Eye Institute, "by age 80, over half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery."  A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that creates vision restrictions and can progress to the point of requiring a surgical correction to restore the vision. Operation Sight is a fantastic local non profit organization whose mission is to provide cataract surgery to those individuals who need financial assistance to afford this specialized procedure. Founded in 2011 by Dr. John Boatright, Dr. Paul Herring, and Dr. Kerry Soloman, Operation Sight has pooled a team of healthcare providers, volunteers, and community grants and donations to offer cataract surgery and life improvement to the individuals it assists. Pluff Mud Kids salute this dynamic organization and the impact it has on our community - come out this evening and help support their project. 

March, 20th 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Carolina Eyecare Physicians

1101 Clarity Road, Mount Pleasant 

Click here to review all the participating artists at tonight's event

Also featured at the event, our friend, author Jeanie Truesdale Heath

Jeanie will sign copies of her book The Fiddlers of Sullivan's Island

To read more about Operation Sight, please visit their website here

Charleston Chickadees: Rash Guards

Every Spring and Summer we are on the hunt for the best rash guard we can find - one that doesn't cost a fortune and won't ride up when your child is active in the water, as well as one that offers good coverage and UV protection. Every year, my boys live in these tops with a pair of board shorts. This year I found some great ones for boys and girls at one of my favorite local shops in the Commons off Coleman Blvd  here in Mt. Pleasant... Ragamuffin (combined with Stride Rite and Radical Rags) is also where we buy our running shoes and I've shopped here since my boys were babies... look no further for a great Quicksilver rash guard!

Quicksilver rash guards $27.95, Quicksilver hat $24.00, Quicksilver board shorts $48-$50 (full sleeve rash guards also available)

210 Coleman Blvd.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Charleston Currents feature March 2014

Spring break options close to home
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents

MARCH 17, 2014 -- Spring Break is fast approaching and it falls at a perfect time in the year to take a break, kick back and rejuvenate in order to finish out the school year strong.
With all our busy schedules and long days, it's easy for families to feel disconnected. Here is a list of a few great Spring Break getaways that the whole family will enjoy right in our own state. Staying close to home can maximize your family time together by eliminating travel time. Make the most of this well-earned time off and still be home in time for Easter Sunday...

  • Mountain Option -- Table Rock State Park: Located near Greenville in Pickens County, Table Rock is a perfect choice for families who like to hike and want a complete change of scenery for the week of Spring Break. Staying in one of the cabins available within the state park is a good way to minimize time spent in the car and allows more time to hike the mountain trails right outside your door. Pluff Mud Kids highly recommends these cabins and we have chronicled our recent stay here in this story. Also refer to my post this past week on Pinnacle Mountain which is another great trail to hike within the grounds of this incredible state park.
  • Beach Option -- Dewees Island: If you're looking for a getaway very close to Charleston that will feel like you're a million miles away Dewees Island is a great pick. Dewees Island is a barrier island just north of Charleston and is only accessible by ferry so you can completely remove yourself from the routine of mainland life. Your children can benefit from the Nature Center on the island and you can immerse your family in learning about our unique Lowcountry island ecosystems. Leave your car keys at home and hop on the ferry! For details and a glimpse of this amazing island visit this post.
  • Historical Option -- Atalaya and Huntington Beach State Park: Venture toward Myrtle Beach and discover some great local history along the way. Featured in this story,Atalaya and Brookgreen Gardens offer wide open green spaces, gardens of Spring flowers, as well as sculpture and history. You could spend several days here experiencing the beach front, the boat tour at Brookgreen Gardens, and all that these properties offer for children who love to learn while being outdoors. The added bonus is that you are never far from Charleston.
  • Luxury Option -- Palmetto Bluff: Craving the luxury of a five-star getaway very close to home? Leave all your daily stresses at home and head to a magical place that makes children feel very welcome while soothing their parent's five senses. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff is heaven on earth for families and another opportunity to walk away from your car keys and take to a bike for the length of your stay. This PMK blog post gives you the inside scoop on the pampering effect of a stay at Palmetto Bluff. At just under two hours from Charleston, this sanctuary is the ideal choice for an easy getaway. 
Writer Leigh Sabine of Mount Pleasant offers a monthly look at fun activities for Lowcountry kids. It's based on her great blog, PluffMudKids. Check it out. (Photos by Leigh Sabine.)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

above their heads

"Never be afraid to teach above their heads. They may not understand the whole concept, but they'll get the gist of it, revisit it, and be enriched in years to come."
- Ms. Betty Ross, my college mentor

I was very fortunate in college to have a wonderful mentor who taught young children her whole life. One of the most important things Ms. Ross believed was that it was a mistake to dumb things down for children given that you never knew the size of the brain inside that little child's body. Children are capable of comprehending so much more than we give them credit for and I have seen this time and again as I volunteer in schools. Sometimes restless agitation can be confused in a bright child that is screaming out for tougher subject matter. Do some activities seem way above your child's head? Go for it anyway and you may just be surprised by what your child tells you about it later! 

One great opportunity to reach for the stars... the very last of the observatory open house hosted by the College of Charleston Observatory (click for all the details) is this coming Friday. Catch this last one before the building closes for extensive renovations. We visited an open house recently and, while our group of kids may not have been able to process everything they witnessed through those giant telescopes, they all came away excited about the idea of space. There are volunteers on hand to talk you through what you are gazing at and don't miss the inflatable indoor planetarium with a tour guide (our group of kids loved this). This is a FREE evening and is well worth the trip downtown. Click the link above for details and times.

Weeks later, my son just sketched this - proving that he is still thinking about his night with the big telescopes...

Parking: the George Street Parking Garage is a good bet for walking to the observatory.

Late night snack: Caviar and Bananas is open late for cold drinks, great coffee, and snacks. (right next to the parking garage).

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 leprechaun run

A gorgeous evening and a great crowd of runners made for the perfect 5k run last night benefiting Pattison's Academy. This leprechaun is truly a tough one to catch... he's fast

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pinnacle Mountain Hike

*Spring Break adventure #4 - test your hiking legs!

Heading up to Table Rock but not quite ready to take on the steep Table Rock trek? Located at the same trail head you will find the Pinnacle Mountain Trail. This option is not quite as steep but still gives you a run for your money - it took our family of four 5 hours round trip and it was an arduous climb. I wouldn't recommend this hike for young children (our twins are 10 years old and have some years of experience with long hikes) however, I will tell you this is challenging but fun for kids who don't mind an uphill workout. Be sure to carry plenty of water, take snack breaks, and remember you've got to have reserve energy and enthusiasm for the hike back down.  The waterfalls on this hike add a lot of interest - it's beautiful. *always leave your information at the nature center before setting off and have a hiking trip plan.  Check out Pluff Mud Kids blog post Hiking With Kids 101

*PMK mama confession: this hike wiped me out - I even slipped a few times on the way back down the mountain. Exhausting! Can't wait to try it again though...

Pinnacle Mountain is located within Table Rock State Park - 4 hours north of Charleston, SC at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Pickens County, SC
Check out this link for details:
Pinnacle Mountain Trail

Linking with Spring Break adventures:   #1,   #2,   #3

walk downtown at night

*Spring Break adventure #3: take a night time stroll downtown. 

Everything looks different downtown underneath the stars. Kids absolutely love discovering downtown Charleston at night and the best part about Spring Break is you can stay up just a little bit longer!

Before you go, check out the great Brian Lies website for all his "Bats at night" book series (there's a new one called Bats in the Band coming out in August!)

Why take a walk at night? Because...

Displaying photo.PNG

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dewees Island

*Spring Break adventure #2... it is remote and you'll need a boat -

Just 11 miles north of Charleston there is a barrier island called Dewees (32.8403° N, 79.7164° W). You can see the pristine beaches of Dewees Island from the far end of the Isle of Palms. This is a private island with homesites and rentals but don't dismay -you can reach the island by ferry click here. To learn absolutely everything you need to know about Dewees and view fantastic photos of the island please check out this amazing blog. Blog creator and photographer Judy Fairchild and her husband Reggie have made a lovely home on the island with their 3 children and commute to Mt. Pleasant and Charleston daily - what they don't know about island life and the creatures that share the island with them isn't worth knowing! (Judy is a naturalist certified in SC) They have helped to create a fantastic Island Nature Center that's available as a bonus with your 20 minute boat ride from the IOP marina. Here are some images from a recent trip I made to the island. Can't wait to go back.