January 27, 2014

Snuggles and the Tug of Heaven

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 3:31 pm by Tamara

My son woke up crying in the middle of the night last night.  I sat and snuggled him in the rocker and he fell back asleep, his head snuggled on my shoulder and gentle light from the snowy night outside caressing his smooth cheeks.

There are no words for the overflowing sense of heart-fullness that I have when I’m snuggling one of my sleeping kids and staring into their peaceful face. Does it sound weird to say I feel the tug of heaven in those moments? Because I sense so keenly that I’m experiencing something that my heart just can’t contain and words certainly can’t confine into sentences. Such a sense of awe to have this inexplicable, spiritual, life-strong bond of love (what an inadequate word that feels like) with this precious little soul God entrusted to me. I marvel at it and my heart fumbles to wrap around the realization that we were made for a different world, designed to experience a bond with our savior that we can’t even imagine. And experiencing just a little tendril of that relationship through the all-consuming love I feel for my kids just about sends me to my knees with awe of how deep Christ’s love for us must be and how little I must grasp it.

I could stare at this post for the rest of my life and I don’t think I’d get the words right to describe it. The blessing and fulfillment of motherhood is deeper than I ever could have imagined before I held my children’s little bodies and huge souls in my arms. What an undeserved, awe-inspiring gift. And how great must my God be to give gifts like that? And how will my heart explode when I get to heaven and get to experience the entirety of that love and relationship? I hope God gives me better words to worship him with then. In the meantime, I will snuggle my babies and marvel at the mystery.


June 14, 2013


Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , at 7:40 pm by Tamara

Today was one of THOSE days.  I held it together by a thread until my husband got home, but shortly thereafter as I was angrily putting my 2 year old into a time out I became acutely aware that I should NOT be disciplining in the state I was in.  I snatched my keys off the counter, informed hubby that I needed to get out of there, and slammed the door behind me.

I stomped around our apartment complex until I found a quiet spot, where I sat down and sniffled and tried not to cry.  It was just.one.of.those.days.  When parenting and life and everything is just too much.  “Stop the merry-go-round, I want to get off.”  And then I felt terrible guilt for losing it over tiny things when I know so many people who are facing big things, and felt guilty for abandoning Hubby with the crazy toddler when he had a stressful day too, and I began to feel like the worst person/mother/Christian ever and despaired that I could ever accomplish any of the things I care about if I can’t even handle days like today and….  Then I just cried.

After a while I saw an elderly lady come out of the house across the street and start to peacefully water her flowers.  And *OH* the resentment that suddenly leapt into my heart.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to yell at her for having it so easy or just beg her to switch lives with me.

Ironically, the last time I remember losing it on one of THOSE days, I fled the house, strapped the toddler into the stroller, and went for a walk.  As we walked, I saw an elderly couple rocking on their porch, peacefully reading their newspapers.  I felt the same thing then: total jealously at the unfairness of them rocking there while I’d had the worst morning ever, and a longing to leap their garden gate, fall on my knees in front of them and beg “Oh please won’t you switch lives with me??

But, I realized as I walked by, for all I knew, they were wistfully looking at me and thinking the same thing.  In all likelihood, that woman had once been just where I was and had her share of THOSE days.  For all I know, she was watching me and wishing for the days when she was a young mom, when her kids were close, when loved ones hadn’t passed away, when she wasn’t dealing with health problems or social security stress or whatever.  For all I know, my stroller-pushing walk in the middle of the day with my cute little man looked positively idyllic and gave her heart a pang of fond memories and longing.

To be honest, in general I’m really loving life right now.  I have a LOT of days as a stay-at-home mom that feel idyllic to me.  I love getting to witness all the little and monumental moments of Bear’s life, instead of wondering what the babysitter is seeing that I’m missing.  I love the freedom in my schedule that lets me decide on a whim to hop off to the park with him, or call a friend for a play date, or lounge around the house with him doing nothing.  I love that the effort and effects of my work directly impact my family, rather than some corporation or CEO I’ve never met.  Most days, I’m incredibly thankful that I can stay at home and be mom all day.

There are, unfortunately, also parts of our lives right now that I do not like at all.  I hate feeling like we are soooo far away from doing the ministry we want to be doing.  And there are other things, and when I’m just thinking about them, it’s easy to want to just be done with this phase, or think “Everything will be better when ____,” and just wish the time away.

So, what’s the point?  I don’t know exactly, but I do think it’s ironic that God seems to put the elderly in my path when I’m wanting out of my life.  Maybe it’s just about perspective, and realizing that in every phase of life, “This too shall pass.”  And that goes for both the good parts and bad parts.

Thankfully, I’d say the great days far outnumber THOSE days for me, but I do still have those days sometimes.  So, I’m glad for a little perspective, and a little reminder not to get fixated on the overwhelming days and wish away all the parts about this phase of life that I love.  And that will be a lesson worth remembering both now, and someday when I’m rocking on my porch watching other young moms pass by.  Someday I’ll probably be there, too, and I hope I’ll have lots of fond memories, a few wistful pangs, and the confidence that I’ve lived fully in every phase of life and have earned both the relaxing rocking and the longing for past things – and the freedom to pursue more and more of my goals until God takes me home.

I finally wandered home tonight, got down on the floor, and (still teary-eyed) apologized to Bear for disciplining him while I was angry.  He gave me a big grin, threw himself into my arms, and immediately began giggling and climbing all over me.  Oh, the grace and energy and living-in-the-moment capacity of a little boy.  Exhausting?  Yes.  Wonderful?  Yes.

January 1, 2012

Farewell, 2011!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 12:18 am by Tamara

What an eventful year 2011 has been!  Here are some highlights and some of my favorite pictures.

January: Six months pregnant, we flew to Wisconsin to visit Adam’s family and celebrate a late Christmas.  They threw us a baby shower while we were there, and it was so fun to see so many friends and family!  Next we flew straight to Arizona for a Larson family reunion.  Thanks to weather we almost didn’t make it, but finally rolled in a day late.  Again, it was so fun to see family!  About this time, Adam decided to switch his major from Pastoral Counseling to Bible Exposition, and we started to wonder if we should move.

Somehow this was the only family picture I got in Wisconsin!

Some (not all!) of my extended family at our Christmas reunion


February: Back in South Carolina, we celebrated Adam’s 25th birthday when I took him on a surprise weekend away in North Carolina.  We spent a day hiking around the waterfalls in the mountains (being careful not to get TOO far away from the car since I was almost eight months pregnant!)  Then we visited the Biltmore Estates in Ashville and wandered around downtown Ashville a bit (before the pouring rain started).

Looking Glass Falls, North Carolina

The Biltmore Estates

March: Nesting kicked into full gear as we anticipated our baby’s due date.  I still worked at the bookstore, spending all day bending down to shelve books.  Some days I felt like just staying down on the floor once I got all the way down there!  My mom came a few weeks before the due date, and we treated ourselves to pedicures, planted the garden, and waited for baby!

Nine months pregnant!

April: Baby’s due date came and went, and while I was thankful he wasn’t born on April Fool’s Day, I was so ready to meet him!  Finally, on April 11 they induced me, and on April 12 Bear  was born!  There are no words to say what a wonderful gift we received that day.  He is worth all the misery of pregnancy and labor a million times over.  And, we decided he was just waiting until both Grandmas could be there, because (thanks to his late arrival) Grandma H. arrived a couple hours before he was born!

First Family Picture!

Coming home from the hospital

May: Grandma H. and Grandma L. went home, and we settled in to life with a newborn.  We got our first smiles from Bear and fell more in love with him every day!  Adam proved to be wonder dad, and would get up in the middle of the night to change Rean and bring him to me as I stumbled out of bed.  Sleep deprivation and all, we LOVED being parents!

Smiles and Giggles!

Ready for safari!

June: We flew to Colorado for my sister’s wedding.  Bear was eight weeks old, and while I was apprehensive about flying alone, he did amazing!  Adam flew out a few days later and we had a blast at the wedding and loved introducing Bear to his Grandpa L., aunts, uncles, and old friends.  Back in South Carolina, we celebrated my 27th birthday.

At the wedding

My favorite birthday gift

July/August: We had been questioning our future direction ever since Adam decided to change his major, and having Bear made us miss being near family even more.  After a lot of prayer we decided that, since Adam was no longer pursuing a degree that was specific to the school in South Carolina, he wanted to transfer to a seminary closer to family.  There aren’t any seminaries near Adam’s family, so we decided on one in Colorado and started preparing to move.  We made sure to take Bear to the ocean (my favorite part of South Carolina!) and he was pretty impressed with the sand and waves.

Three months old

The ocean–one of my favorite places in the world

My favorite place, with my favorite boys!

September: We spent most of our “free time” working on projects around the house, getting it ready to sell.  I was still absolutely loving getting to be a stay at home mom with Bear, who got cuter every day!

Five months old, first solid food!

Date night

Time to say goodbye to our beloved little house.

October:  We said goodbye to our house and a few wonderful friends in South Carolina and hit the road.  We decided to visit Wisconsin “on the way” since Adam had a few weeks before he had to start his new job in Colorado and Bear still hadn’t met the H. side of the family.  We got to meet our new nieces and nephew who had been adopted from Colombia, South America in February.  We relished every moment spent with Adam’s family and our Wisconsin church family!

Six Months Old

Little Bear Meets Old Bear

Grandma and Grandpa H and the Grandkids

November: We arrived in Colorado!  For the first time since Bear was born we had family members close by to hug, cuddle, play with, babysit, and admire our sweet boy!

Playing piano with Grandma L

Thanksgiving Dinner, 2011

December: We celebrated Bear’s first Christmas, and the first time Adam has been in Colorado for Christmas with my family.  It was so fun to watch Christmas through the eyes of a baby, and to be near family!

Bear’s First Christmas

Christmas with a baby is so fun!

Cutest, sweetest little boy in the world. We are so blessed!

All in all, 2011 was a year full of new adventures and God’s care and faithfulness through it all.  I can’t wait to see what God has for us in 2012!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

December 31, 2011

The Blog Liveth! As do we: in our parents’ basement! (Wait. What?!?)

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:31 am by Tamara

What’s with the siren song tempting me to start every blog post with “Well”?!?  (Or, worse still, an apology for taking so long to post.)  Both options are about as exciting as watching grass grow.  I stop my ears, siren song of well/sorry!!


We’ve been in Colorado almost two months now, and life is still pretty up in the air.  We haven’t signed a lease on an apartment yet, mostly because Adam’s job situation is still in progress.  He’s been working two jobs, but we’re really hoping he can get one better paying job (and actually have time to do little things like, you know, sleep and eat).  He had a preliminary interview with a school bus company and they told him he has to do another interview in January, but if he passes the background check, etc, he’ll get hired.  That’s very good news, since they pay significantly better than his current job and he would have regular hours (YAY!) instead of never knowing what his schedule will be from week to week.  The only downside is that the training doesn’t start until February, and we won’t know until it ends in March whether he can get full time hours right away or only part time.  But, even if he’s only hired part time he’d make almost as much as he’s making full time at his job now, so we’re really praying it will work out!

At any rate, we’ve decided it’s best to wait and see what happens before we sign a lease.  The cost of living here is pretty high; we could afford a decent one bedroom off what Adam is making now, but we’d really prefer two.  He also could end up driving a route on the other side of town from where we are now, so we need to know that before we can decide on a location.  Or there’s always a small chance he wouldn’t get the job at all, so we don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch.  So many unknowns!  So, for the time being I am forcing myself to be patient and wait on God’s provision until we’re confident we’re making a wise decision.

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing.  On the one hand, I am SO thankful that my parents are graciously letting us stay with them.  There’s a stereotypical horror story about staying with your parents, but our experience couldn’t be farther from that stereotype.  They’ve been gracious and encouraging and helpful and non-meddlesome, and have done their best to give us as much privacy as possible in a house that really wasn’t designed for two families.  I’m also thankful for a chance to pay off our moving expenses and save for a deposit on our apartment so we don’t have to take it out of our savings.

On the other hand, I still really, really miss having a place of our own to call home.  No matter how gracious your hosts are, living out of a suitcase in a room without four complete walls gets stressful.  I also get a lot of fulfillment from creating a homey home environment, and it’s discouraging to not have a place where I can do all the wife and mother things I enjoy so much.  I LOVED being a stay at home mom after Bear was born, and I just ache to have space where I can create order and beauty and functionality in our own little world with our own little routine.  And last but not least, no matter what the circumstances, telling people that you’re living with your parents never makes you feel like you’re doing especially well in life, so it’s a bit of a blow to my pride….

On a little side note here, I have to say how it still amazes me sometimes that I get so much joy and fulfillment out of being a stay at home mom.  I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but I was afraid I would chaff a little–miss “ministry” and “stimulating conversation” and “freedom” and all that jazz.  It’s not that I love those things any less than before or am any less passionate about them, but I think it’s that motherhood has been so much more wonderful and awe-inspiring and fulfilling than I ever dreamed possible.  There’s probably a whole other blog post in this topic, though, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.


I suppose I’m learning (or at least wrestling with) a lot: blessings, thankfulness, perspective, patience, humility, etc.  There was a picture that was all over Facebook this Christmas that put things in perspective:

I have to remind myself to mentally replace the right side of the picture with my “stresses” lately, whether that’s a picture of a home, new clothes, a computer that works better, or whatever.  It seems obvious, for example, that we “need” a two bedroom apartment, until I think of the thousands of families living in one room shacks or on the streets or running for their lives from war zones and genocide.  And I could make similar comparisons with all my issue right now.  I am definitely blessed.

So, all that to say, not much has changed, except (hopefully) some of my mindsets and attitudes.  I could probably get this tattooed on my forehead:  Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

December 4, 2011

Bear’s First Thanksgiving

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 1:57 am by Tamara

We celebrated Bear’s first Thanksgiving with my family a few weeks ago.  He was TOO cute in his little turkey shirt, as you can see.  He just bursts with personality, and I think I love him more every day!  He just got his second bottom tooth, which is also too adorable for words.  Love this little boy so much!

My mouth is open, bring on the food!!

What’s up? I’m just chillin’.  (Wink, wink)

I made sure to get these teeth before all the big holiday meals!

We had a glorious feast for Thanksgiving with all the traditional (at least for our family) foods: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing with raisins, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes (plain and with marshmallows), corn, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, all sorts of pickles and olives, rolls, sparkling cider, and six kinds of pie: French apple, pumpkin, lemon meringue, chocolate French silk, cherry cheese cake, and plain cheesecake, with ice cream and whipped cream for topping.  I’m listing those for two reasons: 1) I’m curious if my grandchildren will someday read this and if the traditional foods will be the same or will have changed, and 2) because it’s really amazing to have so much food.

We started a tradition when I was a little girl where we would start the Thanksgiving meal with five kernels of corn on our plates.  This is reportedly what the Pilgrims lived on for daily rations before they were able to take in their first harvest, thanks to the help and friendship of the native Americans.  When they celebrated their Thanksgiving feast, they put five kernels on their plate to remind them of how far God had brought them.  It is always really sobering to look at those five tiny kernels on our plates and then look up at the incredible meal in front of us.  We take turns taking each kernel and saying one thing we are thankful for.  We are very, very blessed!

Thanksgiving Dinner, 2011

Thanksgiving night we watched “The Pursuit of Happyness.”  I love that movie and I’ve been wanting to watch it for a while now.  I love it because it reminds me how blessed we are to have family who love us and will always be there for us in hard times.  Every time I see the main character and his son sitting on the floor of the public bathroom in the middle of the night because they have nowhere else to go, cradling his sleeping son and crying, I think “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”  It’s easy to take good jobs, warm homes, and caring family and friends for granted.  We are so blessed.

October 13, 2011

Six Months Old

Posted in Water Droplets tagged , , , at 12:29 am by Tamara

Bear just turned six months old.  I can’t believe it–where did the months go?  We’re loving every day of discovery and development.  He lights up our lives in more ways than I could ever express.  I’m pretty convinced that he couldn’t get any cuter…and pretty convinced that he’s going to.  :)

Bear, Six Months Old

Loving life!  And boy do we love him!!

Praising God for our handsome, healthy, heaven-sent baby boy!

September 24, 2011

Our Home

Posted in Water Droplets, Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 8:00 am by Tamara

I felt a little weepy the other day when the realtor put the For Sale sign in front of our house.  It means we’ve officially said someone else can have our house if they want it.  (Wait, WHAT?!  No you can’t!  Go away!  MINE!!!)

Okay…I know I can’t say that.  But that doesn’t meant I don’t want to.

So, I thought I’d post some pictures for posterity’s sake, and because our house makes me so happy.  Oh, and if you (or someone you know) wants to buy a home in Columbia, let me know.  I GUESS I’d let you buy it.  But only because I know if you’re reading this I like you, so you’ll provide a good home for our house.  So without further ado, the grand tour:

Our Happy Little Home

Our living room and front door. The blue/brown/green color scheme is so peaceful and soothing to me. It's a complete 180 from the Middle-Eastern-inspired gold and red apartment I had when I was single, and I've loved them both!

It's a travesty, but we've never used the fireplace. We didn't even think to use it when we moved in and the heater was broken and it was 40 degrees inside. Oh well--it sure is pretty to look at! I ADORE the paint color in this room. It's called Twilight: a gray-blue with purple undertones. Ah! Love!

Dining room. The chandellier in here makes me so happy--it replaced a hideous gold thing that I stared at in consternation and disapproval for a year and a half! (OH, and it is brushed nickle...it kind of looks gold in the picture. Ahk!) And I love the pretty table and chairs we got from wonderful friends!

Kitchen. Had we been here longer, I probably would have painted the cabinets white and put brushed nickle hardware on them. I love the pretty new floors and stainless appliances (the ones when we bought the house were a giant shudder of horror!)

The cheery breakfast nook!

Berean's room. The Poohbear decals go all the way around the room. His crib should be where that bed is, but it's still in our room, so....

Lots of sweet cuddles happen in that rocker. Warm fuzzies in my heart!

Hall bath. I love that shower curtain. Except that it shrunk. So if you buy it...don't put it in the dryer.

The office side of the office

The library/music room side of the office. We packed away two whole book shelves. Sniff. It's okay, little books! We'll be reunited again soon! The violin painting was Adam's grandma's. We miss her!! The piano music is open to a song called "Own Me." Get it? Subliminal messaging for potential home buyers?? Haha! Yeah...I doubt anyone will notice. ;)

Master bedroom. Someday I'm going to make a beautiful headboard. And stain the nightstands. And do a gorgeous ombre paint effect on our dressers. And....

Master bath. There's no way to get the pretty purple shower curtain in the picture, unfortunately. It has a huge tub, which would be spectacular if I wasn't completely freaked out by all the bacteria and parasites that I am sure lurk in tubs, resisting my futile attempts to disinfect them to death. (In other words, I only take showers. With flip flops on. This is another topic that seems to come up much more often in my blog posts than I think it should. Hm.) There is also a great walk-in closet with plenty of room to display my RED SHOES! Oh, how I love them.

The raised bed square-foot garden Adam built. Uh...this picture may have been from last year. Because this year I may have planted the garden and then totally abandoned it to the savage South Carolina heat. I have gardener guilt. Although those of you who know me know that it probably died a kinder death at the hands of the elements than it might have at the hand of my black thumb. One thing remains this year, though: my beloved rosemary!! It survived three freak snowstorms and is growing spectacularly, without me doing ANYTHING to help it. Sniff. I already loved rosemary, and love it so much more now for it's valiant effort!

Well, there you have it, a tour of our beloved house.  We have been SO blessed to live here.  We’ve learned a TON about handyman skills, been able to have dogs, been surrounded by an environment that makes me feel cosy and happy, and made so many memories.  It never could have happened without my incredible parents who have blessed us so generously.  We love you!

I’m so sad to leave, but also trusting that God has great things and wonderful memories waiting for us in Colorado.  And I know, ultimately, that Adam and Rean and time together are what will make our home, whether it’s a mansion or a cardboard box.  Before you know it I’ll be blogging about our new apartment!  Looking forward to it!

January 9, 2011

Travelin, travelin!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 7:56 pm by Tamara

Adam and I just got back from an amazing whirlwind of a vacation.  We were gone eleven days and packed more into those days than I thought possible!  I’ll skip the flight horror stories since we’ve all had those—let’s just say it was bad, and were it not for both sets of parents coming to our rescue, the vacation would not have happened! Thank you so much, Mom and Dad Larson and Hamill!!

Our first stop was Arizona, where my extended family’s biennial (yes, I looked that up) Christmas get together was being held.  My dad is one of nine children, so these reunions are a big deal, literally!  I think it’s incredible that even though there are so many of us and we’re spread so far apart, everyone still makes it a point to come spend several days together every other Christmas.  I have treasured relationships with my aunts, uncles, and cousins that I never would have had otherwise.  What a blessing!

While we were there we had Christmas dinner, a gift exchange, and they even threw a shower for Adam and I, my cousins who just had a baby, and my sister and her fiancé, who just got engaged!  And, of course, we spent many hours playing stinky peasant, mafia, Dutch blitz, Mexican train dominoes, and other games.  (I’m assuming the pinochle tradition was continued at the home the ol’ folks were staying at, too, but I was not witness to it, as I was staying at the house with the young folks.  Hehe.)

Next we flew to Wisconsin where I was in one of my best friend’s weddings.  Thanks to our flight issues we missed the rehearsal but made it in time for the dinner and New Year’s party.  We left before midnight so we could stop by a party some friends from our old church were having, and it was so fun to see so many of our friends, some of whom Adam has known since middle school!  The wedding was Sunday, and I not only managed to fit into my bridesmaid’s dress (score!), but also refrained from fainting or falling during the ceremony.  The funniest thing was that all three of the bridesmaids were pregnant and showing!  (I told my friend that probably meant she was going to have honeymoon triplets.  She was not amused.  Hehe.)  The bride was absolutely lovely, and it was so special to get to be a part of their celebration!  I miss her so much, and am so happy for her and her wonderful husband.

Next we spent a few days with Adam’s family, where we celebrated Christmas again and were thrown another baby shower!  The shower was so much fun and I felt so loved—thank you to everyone who planned and came to it!  It was so fun to spend time with family, too, especially since the next time we’re all together there will be four grandkids added to the family!    We also got to get together with a lot of friends from NTBI who we miss so much.  I can’t believe we’ve been gone a year.

We had a wonderful time—how often do you get to see both sides of your family, be in a wedding, celebrate Christmas, be thrown baby showers, and meet with so many friends from school and church, all in one shot?  We feel so blessed to have been able to go!

When we arrived back home late at night we hugged our dogs (who we left with a house sitter), inspected the house, and immediately went out and bought a carpet shampooer.  Apparently the dogs’ gift to themselves in our absence was a vacation from being housebroken.  Wa wa waaaa.  But even that didn’t dampen our opinion of what a wonderful time we had!!  And, miraculously, I was still glad to see my cuddle puppies.  Good thing they’re so cute….

And now, back to reality!  (Wait…what?  Do I have to?)


September 18, 2010

Life-Changing Moment

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 11:12 am by Tamara

You will never believe who waved at Adam and I the other day.  At first all we could see was a fuzzy blur, then what did we see but a little face, and a little waving hand!  A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll just post this (scroll down):


















Introducing: Baby Hamill!!

Lord-willing, April 2, 2011 will bring not only spring flowers, but a new little twig on the Hamill/Larson family tree!  We are SO THRILLED and praising God for this little miracle!

: )  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)  :)

July 2, 2010

Points for South Carolina

Posted in Water Droplets, Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 11:28 pm by Tamara

I’ve lived in a decent number of places (this is state #5) and found things I’ve loved about each of them.  I generally subscribe to the “bloom where you’re planted” model; I’m pretty sure there’s something great about just about anywhere (although I haven’t tested this theory in, say…nevermind.  I’ll let you fill in that blank.  Heh.)  South Carolina has been a bit of an adjustment, but there are two things that are standing out as major points for the Palmetto State.

Point number one is, of course, THE OCEAN!!!  I lived in California long enough to fall head over heels in love with the ocean.  Interestingly enough, I never associated South Carolina with the ocean.  In fact, I always assumed the only states with “real” oceans were California and Florida, so when friends in the northeast would talk about “going to the beach” I always did a mental double take.  And then there are those friends (ahem, Coloradans and Wisconsonites) who talk about “going to the beach” and then drive to a muddy patch with a lake on the other side of it.  Um, yeah.  Not quite, sorry.  But, no fear, I can now attest to the fact that South Carolina, at least, has a real live beach, complete with white sand, seashells, ocean waves, seagulls, and sunburns.  And I am ECSTATIC!  My only complaint about the South Carolina beaches is that they’re about an hour and a half away.  But I guess that’s not really their fault.

Point number two for South Carolina is the spectacular flowers and flowering trees, particularly the Crepe Myrtles.  When we were here last year to house hunt (I can’t believe it was a year ago!) I was stunned by the trees everywhere that were covered in lacy purple flowers.  This year I’ve discovered they come in three varieties, hot pink, purple, and white.  And believe me when I say they are EVERYWHERE.  I’ve never seen such beautiful trees that bloom for so long.  This year the pink ones are particularly prolific, and the purple ones are a little behind on the blooming.  I already have dreams of planting one right in the middle of our front yard, in view of our front window.  These pictures don’t do them justice, but here’s an attempt:

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