"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, June 23, 2008

Church Camp! I love church camp! Every summer I most look forward to going to Batesburg, SC to the Nazarene Church Camp! This year was unlike no other! We had two wonderful camp speakers- Dr. Dwight Gunter and Dr. Chic Shaver. This year like last I was surrounded by Leviners of all kinds- baby Franklin (who loves to laugh and laugh), 3 year old Silas (who loves to use his imagination to tell make-believe stories), 4 year olds -Christian and Jeffrey (who are always up to something fun), a kindergartener- Anna (who loves to sort all kinds of things), 1st Grader- Samantha- who loves to make sure everyone's doing what she is), 9 year old Ainsley (who loves giving hugs and telling people that she loves them), sister-in-laws Angela and Missi, mother and father-in-laws (Harry and Anna), brother-in-law and preacher Jason, and my wonderful sweet husband Sam. Church camp would not be the same without all these different and fun personalities- all meshed into a tiny cabin where love is shown and given and the Lord is praised. My favorite place in this very special place is the Leviner front porch. We have the perfect view, I think, in all the campground! This is about the only outside place where I don't mind sitting for any length of time in the heat of the day or night and knowing mosquitos, ants, and spiders are lurking someplace nearby while at the same time enjoying the company of family and friends. It's an amazing place and I'm thankful for all the fun memories I have of this very special place on earth!

Friday, June 20, 2008

June 24, 2008
Its my second anniversary and my sister's 16th! Darren, Rhonda, Sam, and I celebrated our anniversaries in our favorite SC city- Charleston. We headed down to Charleston on Friday, June 20th! I couldn't wait to go to the Market and eat at Tommy Condons! We couldn't get out of Orangeburg fast enough but Darren said he just had to stop at the Honda Motorcycle shop- he really needs a motorcycle! This was fun and I saw all kinda of things that would be fun to have recreational wise but I don't do that much stuff outside so oh well!
We got to Charleston and checked into our downtown hotel- Lodge Alley Inn. When I walked into our room I just knew that the upcoming weekend was going to be fun and relaxing- most of all- I got to spend the whole weekend with my BIG sister! This was a first in a long time!!
We unloaded the van put our stuff in our rooms and strolled to the market. We shopped and walked around and then shopped some more. We were getting sorta hungry so we went right onto - you got it- Tommy Condons for some shrimp and grits. We weren't there very long before it started to pour down rain and thunder and lightning. We ended up staying there a very long time because it rained and rained and rained. It did stop; however the streets of the Market were flooded! My brother in law decided it'd be cool to walk in the water with it being up to his knees but shortly after he was in the middle of the road in knee deep water did someone yell "you're standing in sewage". EW, Gross! He didn't care very much- he was already wet and enjoyed having his picture taken by his bride of 16 years so he their two wonderful children could see the fun their daddy was having!! This was pretty adventuresome for one day! We headed to the hotel and took showers then headed back downtown for some shopping and icecream. We found a neat little place for icecream and we won't forget how the lady in the store yelled to passersby "Get your Pralines", "PRALINES", "Get Your Hot Pralines". Of course we went in and tried these awesome HOT PRALINES!
Day 2: Darren and Sam decided that we could conquer bicycling over the the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. We rented bicycles for this excurison and first headed to the battery and then back to the Market to eat at my favorite Deli the Market Street Deli. After filling our tummies we bicycled to the bridge. By this time- Rhonda and I were very hot. Once we got to the bridge she decided that she'd walk her bike for a while. Well I thought that I would do the same. Sam and Darren headed off thinking that crossing this 2.5 mile bridge would be a breeze. They were trying to show off in front of us girls! Well, Rhonda and I did make it- but only to the middle of the bridge. Sam and Darren however made it all the way across- Wohoo for them! As they were coming back across the bridge they found us waiting for them in the middle- oh well, I'll try to make it all the way across next time, next year of course. It was such an experience! We took pictures that somehow looked like Rhonda and I made it all the way across! Afterwards, we went back to the Market and shopped- then it started to pour down rain again- and yes it flooded once more. This was not such a thrill this time and we had to stay in the Market shops for hours- the streets were flooded and we couldn't go anywhere. We did however enjoy the sweet treats at one of the shops! When it finally stopped raining we went back to the Lodge to take showers and then out once again on the town. We ate dinner at Aw, Shucks and then headed to a scrapbook store in Mt. Pleasant- we also found a Dollar Tree- my new favorite store and then of course went to Walmart- funny how you always have to go to Walmart on vacation- even if everyone you go to isn't like the one back home. We eventually traveled back to Charleston and walked around some more! We found the "Parline" store and went in to try all the tasty treats. We stolled on down to the the swings and sat and laughed!
This is Rhonda's point of view about our anniversary trip "Just checking to make sure that you got your pockiebook and earbobs? Don't forget Sam's appt with the physikian on Tues? And when you tell people about our trip tell them "See what had happened was Sam and Darren rode their bikes ahead of us and went 11 miles on the Ravenel bridge and me and you only went 9 miles"!!! --This needs no explanation but it was too funny! After all of this we walked back to the Lodge and called it a night - some of us were still probably pondering the thought of earbobs and pockibooks! On Sunday, we headed back to our homes with tons of fun memories! I can't wait until next year!

Darren and Rhonda!

Melissa and Sam!

Darren in the Market Street Flood- EW Gross!
The Battery!
Darren and Rhonda at The Battery!

Sam- You're so silly!
We made it (well some us)- Arthur Ravenel Bridge!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Are we there yet?

See What had happen was....
Super Star!
Vroom Vroom!

Playing our favorite game- Buzz Word!
So, its summer and the Leviners and Dukes are headed off for a fun week in Gatlinburg, TN! We all pack our duds and are off, but not so much with a great send off.
As we're in tow to Spartanburg- going to meet up with the Dukes, my oldest niece, Courtney, calls to tell me that her dog, Roxie, has died. This was very sad for my nieces as well as my sister, but with Roxie buried we're finally ready for a fun filled week!
After dropping Sterling aka as Sterlie at his brother's house we leave Spartanburg- dog free, somewhat relaxed, and very excited for what's to come!
Most of us were pretty comfortable with our seating arragnements-(well for some of us) Rhonda in the driver's seat (Darren was on a canoeing trip with 8 high school friends and would be joining us in TN a day later), me in the passenger seat, C and K in the middle seats, and Sam- well he volunteered to sit in the very back (with hanging clothes, luggages, coolers, etc. knowing that with the wrong turn (you have to know Rhonda as a driver)- all this "stuff" could end up in his lap (this happened only once)! As soon as we pulled out of the driveway we hear a "Are we there yet", from Kelsey in the back, as she begins to sing the infamous song "99 bottles of pop on the wall"! "No, not quite" we laugh back.
So finally we're off- like most long distance trips you plan an amount of time for your arrival destination. Ours was going to take 2.5 hours of driving but we ended up in TN 6 hours later. We made it to Asheville and Rhonda thought it'd be a good idea to eat at none other then Cracker Barrel! Afterwards, I noticed that there was a Target nearby so we went there. In the Target C and K noticed a Starbucks so we went there and got a double chocolate something. Finally after two hours we're back in the car- we're only in NC mind you!
Now somewhere along this drive we became way to silly or maybe even delirious. Someone found a Mab Lib book and we played way too many in the car- we even strained our eyes to read the stories after all the parts of speech were inserted. We got a lot of laughs and even more so when C read the exit, or which I thought, and assumed the exit number was the price of gas 443. Then as we traveled I got the name of Tacklebait (I still need to ask my sweet husband about this one).
Eventually we arrive in Gatlinburg and our chalet is roomy and nice!
On Sunday we went into the city and even into the next, Pigeon Forge. We went to the aquarium in Gatlinburg and saw lots of funny as well as interesting things! We ate at Hard Rock Cafe (the first for me) and then headed out for some shopping. It was hot and we soon saw an ice cream parlor where we all got our favorite ice cream flavors. Somehow I got hooked on Pineapple Coconut icecream- RHONDA! Later we all walked down to the pool and C, K, and Sam went swimming- the pool looked very dirty to me and Rhonda so we didn't get in. We later found out the pool was converted to a salt water pool- very interesting. Rhonda was too disturbed to swim because this resort hosted fake flowers on the pool's balcony and she was wanting to get this straight right away.
Now, I'm going to "back the truck up" a little. On our arrival Rhonda found a binder in our chalet that listed all the "fun" and "happening" events! She came across a very interesting attraction, "synchronized firefiles", and a "camera" class! Well some of us were wanting to take the camera class while Rhonda wanted all of us to see these never seen before by human eyes fireflies. So from Saturday-Monday we were reminded about these amazing fireflies and how we've never seen fireflies "like this" in our entire lives. However, I do remember as a child collecting them in mason jars at my gradmother's house but okay- these must be some fireflies.
So on Monday, Rhonda wakes up with a lump in her throat and thinks now that she has some plague or even some various type of cancer. I diagnosed her with having a pill dissolve in her throat as she was swallowing it the night before. We tell her she's okay and even I remind her of this when she asks me again about the cancer thing. After playing another round of Mad Libs we go shopping, find a scrapbook store- spend lots of money, shop, venture on over to wal-mart (amazing how you always have to go to walmart on vacation as if there wasn't one from the town in which you came). Then we go eat at this nice restaurant, the Old Mill. It was very nice and tasty and I remember eating way too much food. We left the restaurant and headed on over to the restaurant store. Now I don't know about you, but everytime I go out of town I see somebody from back home. This trip was not any different. As soon as we get into the restaurant store- we see a member of Sam's family and its not a Leviner surprisingly. It's Sam's cousin, Carrol.We chat with Carrol, find some things we want to buy and then we're off to see- you got it- those famous synchronized fireflies. By this time we're all hyped up about these fireflies- thinking we're going to see what no other human being as ever seen before. But really it was an attraction site. We each paid one dollar to ride this trolley which took up deep into the woods. We rode for 15 miles, got off, and walked to where we heard someone say would be the best view to see these, did I tell you, famous fireflies. As we're waiting for it to get dark we began taking pictures of each other as to mark a spot for this adventure in our scrapbooks. We're still waiting for it to get dark when we heard this lady scream "Ian you almost stepped on it". I don't know about you but my instinct tells me theres a snake somewhere close by and famous or not I could do without seeing world famous fireflies in the mountains of TN. Upon hearing these words the men in our group decide to run to the top of where we were to check out this snake- a copperhead in fact. Kelsey and I didn't want any part of it so we ran or maybe flew would be a better word to the nearest trolley. When we reached the beginnings of the woods we were told by park rangers that we could still see the famous fireflies from right where we were. As we tried to view some type of fireflies, our party that wasn't too scared of the snake decided to come find us and join us. As it got darker we did begin to see the fireflies and yes afterall, it was amazing. They would flicker- hundreds of them at once, then stop for six to seven seconds. Then one would begin again and then the rest would join in and then it would start all over again. It was something to see!
On Tuesday, Rhonda still has the lump in her throat and by now she wants to go to the lobby so she can diagnose her problem on the computer. Anyways, we didn't take her to the lobby but instead headed for Pigeon Forge so Sam, Darren, C and K could ride go carts, etc. This was a fun day and we ended it by grilling out ribs, playing Buzz Word, and watching the newly released movie- The Bucket List. The movie was hilarious by the way. We did go to the hotel lobby to get a disgnosis for Rhonda but never google anything- it just gets too compliated and scary.
On Wednesday we went to Dollywood where we rode one thing, did some walking around, ate lunch, and then got rained out. I'm sure we played Buzz Word again- we love this game!
On Thursday night we went to Dixie Stampede, went shopping at Tanger Outlet Mall, and came home to play the now addicted game of Buzz Word. Rhonda now has no lump feeling in her throat so she dissipates the diagnosis of having cancer of the throat.
Friday, was just as fun!
Saturday, we head back to our homes with the warm and fun memories of the week (not before stopping to eat lunch at Cracker Barrel, mind you). Sam and I liked how we laughed so much and how much fun we had being with family. It reminded me of this quote by:
Emma Bombeck
"The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Our Two Year Anniversary Portraits!