Monday, August 24, 2015

the quiet season

"For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people's minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves."

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Really Matters In The End by Atul Gawande

Monday, August 24, 2015 - Early morning surf chat with friends. Contemplating what comes next...

Every new season brings a sense of great expectation. You can feel it approaching and know deep within your internal clock when it has arrived. As our family embraces a new season of life, we look forward to what changes lie ahead in each and every tide.

This post compiled to:

One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces - Ben Folds at Daryl Hall's House

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

this must be the place: fountains tied for favorite

"It is a happy talent to know how to play."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you have a favorite Charleston fountain? We were hard pressed to pick a top notch favorite between these two, so we're calling it a tie: 

Charleston Parks Conservancy Waterfront Park is home to the gorgeous Pineapple Fountain. This symbol of welcome and hospitality beckons all to come and paddle, splash, and cool down. There are shady benches all around the area as well as grassy spaces to play and picnic.

 More here on the history of the pineapple as a symbol of gracious hospitality.  

Established in the park in 1990, this fountain is located directly in front of the City Gallery.

Also located at Waterfront Park (1 Vendue Range), this second splash fountain highlights the entrance to this park as you walk toward the swings along the pier. No matter how much your children grow, they will never tire of passing by here and running through the cold blasts of water!

All along the waterfront here you will spot dolphins feeding in the shallows. Be sure to pick a bench and sit for a while to soak up the last moments of summer...

This post compiled to This Must Be The Place - Sean Hayes

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

fountain play favorites

National Sculpture Garden Park - Washington DC

We've been gravitating to water all summer, even in the midst of hot city pavement. Here are a few of our favorite picks for fountains to play in - tune in tomorrow for our #1 go-to fountain for a local cool down!

Escape from the heat - Downtown Atlanta, Georgia 

Riverfront Park in North Charleston is always a top pick - have you tried it? A good sea breeze and view of the water, lots of shady benches, and music pumped in... what's not to love?

Charleston Parks Conservancy Chapel St. Fountain is always a good bet for cooling off in the shade downtown.

Daniel Island Waterfront Park is perfect for toddlers and big kids too!

Columbia Museum of Art

Friday, August 7, 2015


Returning from our trips and travels, I find we have reached our final destination... the end of summer. Can you believe how quickly the new school year is approaching? If you're like me, this part of August always finds us dead in the water; completely becalmed without a breath of energy to pack one last beach bag or take one last excursion.

 These days are too sweet to miss the last chances to revisit your summer wish list and cram in a few last top picks. Maybe you could:

Soak it all up before it's gone!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

the opposite of loneliness

"It is not so much a matter of traveling as of getting away; which of us has not some pain to dull, or some yoke to cast off?
-George Sand, Winter In Majorca. 

The opposite of loneliness for me is a jammed packed family vacation and we are about to depart for one. We are taking a break from tech, so this space will be quiet until August 2. I hope you'll check back then for dozens of new ideas to get us through til the start of the school year.

 I heard something about Paris mentioned, my hand shot up (pick me! pick me!), and I ran for my suitcase. As it turns out, I have been duped into an all-boy, soccer-centric holiday based around Paris St Germain vs Manchester United and Chelsea vs Barcelona. My fellas sure can cook up a scheme... in truth, I couldn't be more excited to tag along with these mega fans. Sometimes the best vacations are new experiences and I'm happy to quietly spectate, soaking up the moments as my little men meet their heroes. Meanwhile, I'm packing up my perfume and any other pretty, girly thing I can squeeze in among the soccer gear with a few new books for good measure:

  • *Reader recommended by 3 people! The Vacationers by Emma Straub: "When I turned the last page, I felt as I often do when a vacation is over: grateful for the trip and mourning its end. - The New York Times Book Review. Read the Review here
And a few more...

  • The Martian by Andy Weir: "An impressively geeky debut." - Entertainment Weekly. Our book club just chose this read and it will grip you from the very first sentence! Read the complete Wall Street Journal Review here. *PMK reader recommended.
  • The Opposite Of Loneliness by Marina Keegan: Smart. Short stories you will mull over and not forget. We lost this keen writer far to young. New York Times Review.
  • The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer: A how-to on letting life call the shots. Good Reads Reviews linked here.
We hope you and your family are enjoying every moment summer has to offer! If you're looking for fun things to do in the Lowcountry, dig into our archives and see what pops up. See you back here on August 2, and as always, thanks for reading.

- Leigh and the Pluff Mud Kids

Thursday, July 23, 2015

stars and street lamps

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

Before you go, check out the great Brian Lies Books website for all his "Bats at night" book series. Our favorite title is Bats At The Beach.

Also fun for kids after dark in downtown Charleston, try the very unique Desano Pizza at night.

Watch for Owls by Moonlight availability at Birds of Prey.

Did you know you can spend the night at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia?

Why take a walk at night? Because...

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This post compiled to Night Swimming - R.E.M.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Up and Coming: Super Saturday July 25, 2015

Take a look at any given day on the calendar and it's usually packed with incredible choices of family-friendly events in the Lowcountry. This Saturday, July 25th is no exception and I had to call it out as over packed! Listed here are but a few of the options that appeal to us. What will you choose?

  • SC State Parks offers a chance to show love for our fabulous state parks and help curb hunger in our state with their Pack A Park Truck initiative. Click the link for details. This is one we won't miss!

  • Odyssey Board Shop here in Mt. Pleasant will meet you at Isle Of Palms County Park Saturday from 10am to 2pm for surfing tips and paddle board demos.
  • Magnolia Gardens lady bug release is this Saturday (check this link for full story). The June/July issue of Skirt! magazine has a $5 off general admission coupon. Love that!

Friday, July 17, 2015

summer swamp

We revisited Cypress Gardens swamp with friends this week and I have to recommend it for several reasons: It's a great spot to take summer guests so they can really appreciate a southern swamp, it's teaming with wildlife and natural beauty, it's one of the most reasonable day trips from Charleston ( 45 minutes from Mt. Pleasant, $10 adult, $5 child which includes the use of row boats), plus the fact it's a great workout rowing those boats through the lily pads. There's just something about boats... kids LOVE them. We advise going early to beat the heat and full sun. Don't forget to visit the amazing butterfly house! Details at the bottom of this post. Check back here next week for education extensions to use before you go.

Cypress Gardens
3030 Cypress Gardens Rd, Moncks Corner, SC 29461
Click here for directions

Amenities: Butterfly house, row boats, picnic areas, free parking, cool playground, and more!

  • Adult: $10.00
  • Senior: (age 65+) $9.00
  • Children: (ages 6-12) $5.00
  • Children: (ages 5 and under) Free*
    *Does not apply to children in an educational/youth group
Cypress Gardens is open 7 days a week, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The last admission is at 4:00 pm. 
Click here for more details.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

surf odyssey meet-ups

Are your kids working on paddling in and popping up this summer? Surf Odyssey Board Shop has got you covered:

  • Surf Odyssey teams up with Carolina Coast Surf Club to host Kids Beach Day Expo on July 25th. Watch the websites for details.
  • Meet owners Jenny and Brian this Friday night, July 17th at 7:30pm at the shop for FREE Surf Movie Night! Bring your own blankets and chairs and gather in the Commons on Coleman for pizza and yummy treats from the Charleston Baker Gal!
  • SUP on Shem with the Surf Odyssey gang - kids outings on Wednesday and Friday mornings beginning at 9am. Contact the shop to book your spot with the dolphins.

Tell them Pluff Mud Kids sent ya!

Odyssey Board Shop
217 Lucas Street  Suite M
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
(in the shops in the Commons off Coleman Blvd)
click here  for details
Instagram @odysseyboardshop

This post compiled to Hey Mami - Sylvan Esso

Friday, July 10, 2015


One for the weekend... Beardcat's for kids. Sullivan's Island happy spot with the best Caprese sandwich in town! (Located below Obstinate Daughter)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hot, Hilly, Crowded: Atlanta For Kids


We just spent an extended 4th of July weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. While there in the beautiful home of longtime friends, we put a team together to train for and then tackle the Peachtree Road Race. Over 60,000 runners brave the heat and hills (there's one at every mile, with "Cardiac Hill" in your face at mile four for good measure!) in this annual 10k race. Prepared for searing heat, we were in fact surprised by cold and constant rain and lightning - no bands, no crowds. Half the battle in any organized running event is just herding a team of people through public transportation (in this case MARTA) to make it to the start line in time, all the while getting your head straight to go for your best time no matter the weather. The run and the weekend were a great success, but Atlanta... oh, Atlanta.

I try to always post positive on this site, but I have to confess Atlanta is not my favorite destination. Born in Augusta, Georgia, I've always tried to like Atlanta but I just can't put it on my list of top favorite cities. The book Hot, Flat, and Crowded always comes to mind in Atlanta. It's no wonder Atlanta's own Anne Rivers Siddons of Peachtree Road fame pulled up stakes and re-rooted herself firmly under the oaks here in Charleston (more here in The South Is Moving On). So here's a little list of what not to do when visiting Atlanta with kids:

  • Don't Be A Weekend Warrior - If you plan to try the Peachtree Road Race 10k, you must train for it. This is a serious 6.2 mile hill workout that requires a scheduled amount of training.
  • Don't Run With Your iphone: Don't wear your iphone in a "waterproof" sleeve on your arm in 6.2 miles of torrential rain. That's all I have to say about that.
  • Don't Take Your Best Camera: That's all I have to say about that too. Note the lack of pictures in this post.
  • Don't Go To Major Attractions Without A Ticket: Guesstimate your time to visit a public attraction, such as the Georgia Aquarium, and buy a prepaid ticket online to avoid crowds and long lines. This Atlanta City Pass is a great way to bundle 5 major attractions in downtown Atlanta.
  • Don't Leave Home Without Water: The best way to see downtown Atlanta with kids is to walk the blocks that surround the major sites such as the aquarium and the museums. It's hot and crowded, so take your own water!
  • Don't Miss: Here are some cool places to visit with kids in and around Atlanta...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

staycation 2015 and the mystery man behind the blog

Waiting on the next set...

In case you've been a reader of this little blog for a while and have wondered who comes up with all our adventures, the truth is it's not just me. My husband and I are actually pretty private people but long ago decided that some of the places we've discovered on our travels around the state are just too good not to share in the hopes that some other family might enjoy them as much as we have. It also seemed like a great way for me to learn how to use a computer for more than just email, as well as slowly figure out my camera a bit better. It's his idea to keep it simple; no adds or sponsors, just organic information real families can use for mostly inexpensive day trips in the local area and across the state. We've had a ball along the way and this space has pushed us to try new things while learning about the state we call home and have grown to love so much.

However, my husband is, and will likely always be camera shy when it comes to appearing on this site. While he is 100% supportive of this endeavor in every way, I try to honor his privacy and that of my children by only sharing a portion of what we do and where we go... I'm sure you have "secret" places your family wouldn't want to share either! Truth be told, I struggle to keep up with the man behind the blog - he has more energy and enthusiasm for life than anyone I know.

 After 19 years of marriage, he still surprises me with his inventiveness. This week's "staycation" was his idea and has been a whirlwind of water sports and just about anything two young boys would find most exciting...

It's amazing how far you can get on a tank of gas with a heavy picnic. No need to take an expensive vacation - you can feel like you're a million miles away! We took a day trip to an island somewhere off the coast up Georgetown way - his idea, not mine, and an epic adventure it was...

And running... there's been a whole lot of running going on around here which brings me to an upcoming event our family highly recommends. We tried the firecraker 4 miler run at Laurel Hill plantation (linked here) last year and it's a great way to enjoy your 4th of July weekend...

A few more picks for this 4th of July you may like:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Up close: Cypress Gardens

"It is my fixed conviction that if a parent can give his children a passionate and wholesome devotion to the outdoors, the fact that he cannot leave each of them a fortune does not really matter so much."
- South Carolina native, Archibald Rutledge

Check back here this week for more on the gorgeous Cypress Gardens swamp.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"slow parenting" in troubled times

I recently read this article from the Boston Globe heralding the merits of "slow parenting" and I encourage you to take a look at it.  Have you heard the term bandied about recently?

 I keep circling back to this notion and two thoughts strike me ... Why is it that we always need to apply a modern term to things that seem so obvious? Or has our society really come so far away from unscheduled family time that "slow parenting" seems like a unique and original idea? The basic principles of slow parenting build on ideas of quality, unscheduled, family time with a focus on removing haste from the daily life of your child's existence. In the process of writing this blog, I come in contact more and more with families having conversations about stepping back and looking to scale down their schedules. 

With regard to recent events in Charleston, SC and across the south, I for one have been grateful to have close family time with my children to have long conversations and answer the many varied questions they have. It's amazing to me to reflect on the car ride talks, lounging in the pool talks, and discussions that have bubbled up right in the middle of a peach picking excursion. The depth of understanding my eleven year old boys have displayed is staggering. Slowing down gives us a chance to really know our children and keep a check on what's on their minds and in their hearts, especially during these troubling times in our nation. 

In this day and age of chaotic schedules, forging ahead with a plan to adopt a slower pace means taking a stand; swimming upstream if you will. Take that stand. You can never get back these precious slow years of bonding and you may just find, as I have, that you are not alone in craving these sweet, fleeting moments with your family.

Some tips linked here for talking with children about tragedies. 

And these thoughts on an old fashioned, slow summer from last year...

FRIDAY, MAY 23, 2014

saving summer vs selling summer

Remember the old stand by in school when you were tasked with writing about what you did over the summer? I grew up in a nest of ideal, old-fashioned summers filled with swimming in a lake, water skiing, goofing around in a two- kid sailboat, lying in the grass on the hill at the back of our house reading til the fireflies came out, and watching summer storms while eating a Popsicle from the comfort of a lawn chair on the front porch. My mom was the the Kool aid mom and we owned the spare lot with the perpetual baseball game. It was an idealistic time of long, unscheduled days of humid summer... but the years were short.
 My brothers and I never went to morning classes of any kind, much less a camp. My Mum was the camp, providing snacks and a watchful eye from her crows nest at the kitchen window. Back in the days before seat belts and bike helmets, when running the streets of our neighborhoods freely was still PC, we kids had to be hunted down and corralled to go on day trips and excursions which always included collecting rocks for my Mum's rock garden. We tagged alongside my prim and proper British Mum as she stood her ground and bartered with the truck drivers at the local truck stop over the purchase of giant inner tubes as a chief form of entertainment for all the neighborhood kids swimming in the lake.  She was full of suggestions to fill voids of time - there was a grove of low lying bushes to build forts in and a vacant weekend house overgrown with lilac bushes that my little brother and I used for making our special lilac "perfume" concoctions. That was as close as we got to an organized science camp. The biggest expense my parents faced in terms of summer fun were the purchases of a few hoola hoops, those giant inner tubes, and enough cookies to feed a small army on a daily basis. A $200 camp for one week? Never.

 I can't recall ever being bored. The summer always drew to a close with the feeling of regret that there had not been enough time to do nothing. I've always felt that these summers were what taught me to be content with being alone with my thoughts, resourceful about conjuring up simple ways to be creative, and instilled a general sense of calm that has stayed with me as an adult. Looking back I realize that stressed, rushed, andover scheduled are never words I'd use to describe my childhood. I never want to associate those words with my children's life either.

Summer is big business nowadays but we still plan to hold on to our Popsicles, slip-n-slide, water balloons, and nerf guns as long as we possibly can because, after all, the number of summers left is fading faster than fireflies in a jar.

*this post dedicated to CAC, my summer partner in crime and master firefly catcher

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Replay: Out Edisto Way...

Edisto Serpentarium

"All I can say is that almost as soon as I began to read at all I began to like to read about the natural history of beasts and birds and the more formidable of interesting reptiles and fishes."
-Theodore Roosevelt from 'My Life as a Naturalist', American Museum Journal (May 1918)

Did you know that as a young boy Teddy Roosevelt was so enthralled with the study of animals, insects, and slithering reptiles, he opened a natural history museum in his bedroom and charged admission?! What boy doesn't love the irresistible allure of reptiles? The more they creep, crawl, and slither, the more intrigued a boy or girl becomes (much to the chagrin of the child's freaked out mom!). Watch as your child steels their nerve, stands a little taller, and becomes suddenly braver than they knew they could be.

50 miles from Charleston lies one of the best serpentariums we've discovered. You really have to allow a few hours to experience everything on offer here as the property consists of indoor and outdoor habitats and enclosures. I recommend sitting in on a snake show led by Serpentarium experts such as herpetologist Anne Clamp of the original Clamp family who opened the Serpentarium here in 1999...

Anne's got you covered when it comes to fascinating facts about snake species. Don't miss the wall of historical photos and relics depicting her families' long history with herpetology. These photos trace the story of brothers Ted and Heyward Clamp who devoted their lives to snake hunting and charming - truly inspiring.

Your child will come away loaded with new information about some of their favorite creatures. Anne also dispelled a lot of myths regarding snakes too. Many species are actually thriving on Edisto Island! This facility has a shaded snack bar area with umbrella tables, picnic tables on the grounds, cold drinks, and a well stocked gift and information shop...

The Edisto Serpentarium
1374 State Highway 174, Edisto Island, SC
50 miles from Charleston, SC
Admission: Adult (13+) $14.95, Senior (65+) $13.95, Children (4-12) $10.95, 3 and under are FREE. Group rates available.
Hours: now till August 16th, Monday- Sat 10am-6pm (last tickets sold one hour before closing). Open indoor and outdoor.
August 21- Oct 25, open indoor and outdoors Thurs, Fri, Sat only
Programs and Feedings: including venom extractions! click here
For further details and directions, visit their site here