Saturday, November 29, 2008

SEVEN Was My Favorite Year

Today is Charlotte's Birthday. I look back on her 7 years and it seems like it all happened SO FAST. A blink and she's a baby, another and she's a toddler and another - she's lost her two front teeth. Where did the time go? Along with Charlotte's teeth, I think the Tooth Fairy may have taken her youth and it makes me sad that she is this mature little girl.

It's fun to have a child you can really talk to and laugh with...but why did it happen SO FAST?

What I want to know is, where is this little baby who came out of my belly kicking and screaming from the minute she laid eyes on this crazy world of ours? The baby who couldn't stand to be in her car seat or hated to sleep in her crib? I am not joking when I tell you this - this sweet little 7 year old without her two front teeth SCREAMED at us from morning until night.


I can't tell you how many moments were spent in front of the TV with the channel 939: DANCE CLUB MUSIC - at all hours of the day and night. This little girl wanted to MOVE - constantly! Does it surprise you that this same MOVE JUNKIE became a dancer and athlete? The baby swing and Johnny Jump Up, changed our lives!!!!

But again, I ask....Where is this little girl that said "Mommy? I don't deblieve it? " and "Daddy? I just want to BELAX!". Or on her 1st birthday when looking at her beautiful, tiny, personal sized birthday cake (that her "Acha" spent hours making) and screwing up her face while saying "Yutty!"

Our little Charlotte has grown up. Sniff Sniff!

I made a comment to her teacher that seven is such a big year because that is when they learn to do one of the hardest things in their young life: READ. It is one of the biggest milestones! The last one for us was potty training at 2 years old. Her teacher said that Grades 1 - 2 are when the students LEARN TO READ. Grades 3 - 5 are when they READ TO LEARN. I never thought of that before. Now Charlotte is reading entire books to us. She still needs help with some of the words, but I can't believe we went from struggling to get through 2 grueling pages (kill me NOW!) to reading an entire Dr. Seuss book.

Again....time is passing by really quickly and it's making me nervous.

For Charlotte's 7th birthday party, she chose to have a Pajama Party. We were not quite ready for a REAL sleepover, so instead we rented our neighborhood clubhouse to have a MOCK PJ party.

This is Charlotte with her cousin Meg (striped PJ's) and Molly (night gown) dancing before the party began. All three girls LOVE to dance. They come from a long line of great dancers!

My sister and I did manicures and we watched "Camp Rock" on the big screen TV. Every girl brought their sleeping bag, pillow and favorite stuffed animal. The room looked so beautiful with our colorful campsite! We had a roaring fire, cheese puffs, popcorn, pizza and juice boxes. It was a relaxing party (such nice girls) and the girls had such a great time!

And now, one week later, IT'S CHARLOTTE'S BIRTHDAY. We had a really special day! We woke up and cuddled in bed - mommy, daddy, Madison (the kitty), Freddie (the dog) and Charlotte. We went to breakfast and then went to a neighbor's house to see Georgia being creamed by Georgia Tech. After the game, we went home (I took a nap - YAY!) and then we played 2 rounds of Charlotte's new game "Clue".

We asked where Charlotte wanted to go to dinner and she said she wished we could go "out of town" to see the big buildings. We decided to jump in the car and go into Atlanta. We drove through Centennial Park (which was lit up with all the Christmas Lights) and all through the streets of downtown Atlanta. We finally ended up at "Savage Pizza" in Little Five Points and, THIS is was the same Pizza place that we told Pete's parents we were pregnant with Charlotte. So, it was a cool choice of restaurants.

7, so far, is a fun age. Clothes and hair have become a BIG DEAL, we have graduated to Y-7 TV shows and talking has become Charlotte's new past time. She really cannot stop talking and "The Quiet Game" is a complete waste of time. This is nothing new to ME because I was the same way.

But, 7 is also a sweet age - wanting to be independent, but yet still wanting your mommy. In September, I drove Charlotte and two friends to her Fall Festival. They were so cute in the car, but I don't think I have EVER heard Charlotte talk like she did that night. "Oh My gosh, that is SO AWESOME!"


But then, five seconds later, she is holding my hand and resting her head on my arm as we wait to get Cotton Candy. I just LOVE THAT!!!!

I dread the age where Charlotte is embarrassed to be around me. It will completely and totally crush me. Did I do this to my mother? I want to be Charlotte's MOST favorite person ALWAYS!

I remember back when I was 8 years old. I picked my favorite number. I decided on 7 because it was my BEST year. I picked 7 because it was my most favorite time in my life. Yes, 7 is still a GREAT YEAR.

Can we stay 7 FOREVER????!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Press Pause

I recently posted a question on Facebook to my friends. It was "If you could pause a time in your life, what time would that be"

My answer was....

It would be the summer before my grandparents died. I was 13 and my sister was 9. We were all staying at this old hotel on Virginia Beach, called the "Avamere". The type of place where you dressed for dinner and have the same Waitress (yes, they said WAITRESS back then) and have drinks on the front porch at sunset.

To explain why we stayed at this wonderful hotel, we must go back in time a little bit....

When my mother was a little girl, she and her family would stay at "The Sinclair" which was a cottage type hotel located next to the big, beautiful, historic "Avamere Hotel". My Great Aunt Abby was a Hostess at the Avamere when she was a teenager.

My grandparents rented a place at The Sinclair every year and they would stay for a week. The McComb Family owned the hotel and during her summers at Virginia Beach, my mom's boyfriend was the owner's son, Jack. Her name is Diane, isn't that funny? She told me recently that she knows that hotel like the back of her hand and can instantly call up images of every single room. She recently told me that her most vivid memory was walking between the Avamere and the Sinclair hotels. The sand was mushy from the dripping window air conditioners and you could feel them softly blowing air when you past them. But the most amazing part, was the smell of baking bread, from the Avamere kitchen. Every sense was heightened, walking through those two hotels, on the way to the beach.

By the time I was born, The Sinclair was gone. My Aunt and Uncle stayed at the Avamere for several summers and in the summer of 1982, after my grandfather had a stroke, we decided that was where we would come for our family vacation. It was important to go back to the place where my mother's family enjoyed their summers.

I remember that vacation so clearly. We met my grandparents, my Uncle Allen, Aunt Nancy and our 3 year old cousin, Whitney. We had magical days on the beach and nights on the front porch in rocking chairs watching people walk on the boardwalk. Before going down to the dining hall, we would meet in my grandparent's room for a pre-dinner visit with drinks and snacks. I remember we had Frito Lay Cheese Balls in the can and Corn Chips. Of course, I WOULD remember the food we ate.

I remember one night leaning close to my grandfather and holding his hand. I knew that he was not well and it worried me. I felt like if I just stayed there on that porch, holding him tight, he would never leave me.

That was the last time I saw him.

"The Avamere" and "The Sinclair" were a part of my family's history and it meant so much to my mom's family that she and my uncle decided to spread the ashes of my grandparents in the ocean in front of those great hotels.

Here are some pictures of those two places to bring you back.....

The Avamere

On the Ocean at 26th Street - Virginia Beach

by Edith Schermerhorn

The Avamere was one of several cottage inns and beachfront hotels established by the Leggett sisters who migrated from

Scotland Neck, North Carolina, to Virginia Beach after World War I. Lena Leggett Smith opened the hotel in 1935. Originally an

18 room cottage, the building was expanded three times to a maximum of 55 rooms.

Mrs. Smith named the Avamere after another family owned hotel, the Avalon, and “mere”, which means sea. After her

death in 1971, her son, Clarence Smith, Jr., inherited the property. With his wife, Peggy, and later their daughter, Bonner, the family continued to maintain a decades old tradition of offering its guests the “Modified American Plan” which was a room and two meals a day.

Best remembered by generations of family guests for its old fashioned hospitality and tasty Southern cooking, the Smith’s Avamere refused to succumb to the usual expectations of the modern tourist with the exception of an in-ground pool which was added just a few years before it’s demolition in the spring of 1994. A year later, its next door sibling, the Halifax, the last of a breed of the old beachfront hotels, also returned to dust.