Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Man Cold

Be careful what you wish for, dear friends, that is my advice for you today. My husband's travel schedule for work has become so busy and hectic, I have been complaining about his absence for weeks. I've made snarky comments about needing to find a roommate, complained that he only stops by our house to get his laundry washed, and gotten downright bitter about him being away so often. And then, as karma would have it, his trip to Germany this week was cancelled at the last minute and now he's home. He's here, and he has caught the thing that strikes fear into the heart of women everywhere: the man cold.

As any male will gladly tell you, the man cold is much different than any illness a woman has ever had. No medical malady, no matter what the severity, can compare to the life-threatening misery a man experiences in coping with what the rest of us call the common cold. This has become such an epidemic that the term "man cold" is even listed in the Urban Dictionary:

"The name 'man cold' disguises the true terrible, debilitating disease that is the man cold. Nearly all men will die from man colds unless they are administered immediately with large amounts of mindless TV such as daytime TV, or childrens' cartoons. It is essential that they not move from bed or a comfy sofa to allow for rehabilitation, and must have tissues and man cold medicine (such as chocolate biscuits, McDonalds, or a nice cup of tea) brought to them constantly by a nearby female."

Oh yes, that sounds hauntingly familiar.

Saturday, the sick spouse was king of the remote and recuperated while watching football, Sunday was spent catching up on all the shows our DVR had recorded since he had last been home, and I thought we were over the worst of it. After all, a new work week was upon us and I assumed he would suffer through his affliction from the confines of his office and that would be that. Sunday night at bedtime, I enjoyed a NyQuil night cap just like Clint, in an effort to dull the snoring, coughing, wheezing slumber that would be resting next to me. I put in my trusty ear plugs to drown out the noise, and started to doze....

What occurred next I would akin to Chinese water torture. Every single time I almost drifted off to dreamland, without fail, my darling spouse would elicit a cough that I estimate to have reached around 100 decibels (a jet engine at 100 feet is around 140 decibels, so this seems like an accurate and educated guess). I hope that getting the bejeezus scared out of you burns calories, because if so, Sunday night was some amazing body-sculpting cardio, y'all. I spent half the night scared out of my wits, heart pounding, trying to take calming breaths and get back into some sort of relaxed state, and every time I managed to calm back down, the hack attacks started again. I finally surrendered to my captor around 2:30 in the morning and retreated to the silent safety of our family room couch. Side note: anyone who ever tells you they slept well on a couch is, unequivocally, a pants-on-fire-liar. It is not possible to achieve REM sleep on a sofa. 

In addition to the sleep deprivation, I knew we were in the throes of a man cold when I saw how thoughtfully our patient had decorated the house. Every room has been adorned with Hall's cough drop wrappers, strewn about like confetti after a party. The bathroom is now accessorized with a lovely assortment of bottles and boxes of every over the counter medicine known to the Northern hemisphere. Apparently, it is also a necessity to constantly check our medicine cabinet in case any new and miraculous wonder drugs have appeared since the last round of medication. Better safe than suffering is the man cold mantra.

Last night, I had already decided that one of us was sleeping in the guest room. Exhaustion is not a good look on me, and I was beginning to fear what little patience I possess was slipping away. Through two closed doors, a hallway, and a box fan on the highest setting, that high pitched coughing still literally haunted my dreams. 

It's been four days now and I've encouraged Patient Zero to head to the doctor. All this sickness could become *ahem* hazardous to his health, if it continues much longer. I'm starting to get punchy, and there's not enough caffeine in the world to soothe my jangled nerves. On the bright side, at least this is the man cold and not its more severe cousin, the man flu. There have been no sick days taken, and (please hear me Jesus) I don't think the disease is contagious, so the end has to be near. Hey, a girl can dream, right? At least she can if she can doze off, with a man cold lying there next to her.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

All Treats, No Tricks

I've told you before that I love this time of year--the cooler weather, the leaves changing colors, cozy sweaters and crackling fires...but also, decorating and getting into the spirit of fall. I've never met a pumpkin I didn't love, so this year we bought an enormous one and put out some fun new Halloween decor. At the Stancil house this season, we're all treats, no tricks.

I always start with this sign, which I think sets the tone for nights spent with friends out on our deck around the fire pit:

Inside, I've been enjoying a gorgeous fall lantern my (very talented) mom made for me this year. It's on our hearth in the family room, and every time I walk by, it puts a smile on my face.

Just looking at that, how can you not love this time of year? Acorns and gourds and lanterns, oh my!

I do have to admit that I've been lazy with my outdoor decorations over the last couple of years. Let me ashamedly confess that we have been one of those houses that puts a bowl of Halloween candy on the front porch rather than answer the door a zillion times for all the trick-or-treaters that bombard our neighborhood. Because of that, I have left my Halloween decorations in their storage bins and kept things to a minimum--I feel strongly that to decorate our exterior for Halloween and then not answer our door on the actual holiday is a surefire way to get our yard rolled. This year, however, I promise to stock up on candy, keep the porch lights on, and dole out confections like it is my job. And to go along with that, we have two new friends outside in our yard....

Meet Mr. Bonejangles and his dog, Fang (we thought it would be bad luck not to name our skeletons and we do not invite bad luck in this house). I saw them in a catalog over the summer and instantly fell in love. I knew we had to have them, and they've already gotten their fair share of attention since I put them out Monday.

Can you see that sizable pumpkin in the background? Go big or go home, am I right?

After I found our skeleton and his four-legged friend, I wanted a similar wreath to take the theme right up to our front door. All it took was a visit to the Etsy website, and I found this one which was a perfect companion.

The last step was to give a little Halloween touch to the mailbox, so I fancied it up just a bit with a matching bow and some spooky black foliage.

I think we're dressed and ready for the occasion; now, to restrain myself from eating all the Halloween candy before the end of the month. Maybe the best part of all the decorations is that they're calorie-free!

Happy Fall! 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Hubby's Birthday: 41 is Fun

Clint's birthday was Friday, and even though he (unlike his lovely wife) doesn't milk it for an entire month, we did manage to spend a full weekend celebrating. He kicked off his special day by getting up at the crack of early and heading to CrossFit, a maneuver I can neither fully comprehend nor condone, but he said something about being healthy, blah, blah, blah. I encouraged him to stop and eat a birthday biscuit on his way home and, as merciful proof that we are compatible for each other, he did just that.

We bought a gargantuan leather couch several weeks ago that was slated to be delivered on Clint's big day. When we purchased the Titanic couch, he was so excited about all the lounging, resting, and relaxing opportunities it presented that he eagerly agreed it could count as part of his birthday gifts. However, no matter how old one gets, no one is a responsible enough adult to be happy with a couch as their birthday present. I picked the birthday boy up a few other gifts to go along with the leather lounger and let him open them Friday afternoon. I didn't make him pose for pictures with everything, but he was happy to open a new pair of shoes for the aforementioned CrossFit workouts, a Georgia Tech button-down shirt with the Buzz mascot proudly embroidered, and a few other little tchotkes, including this mug:

The man has a fondness for monkeys--they make him laugh every time.

Our dog is so spoiled, he just assumes all gifts are for him. He's usually right.

Once the gifts were opened, we were off to dinner. In honor of the special occasion, we splurged and went to The Palm. When we were young and newly married, our apartment was in the same immediate neighborhood as The Palm. Although our budget didn't really let us become regulars, we were lucky enough to dine there two or three times and the fond memories have stuck with us forever. We hadn't been in quite a while and it was a fun trip down memory lane to go back. Plus, you know, the food--amazing.

We worked our way through approximately half the menu (birthday calories don't count), starting with a shrimp cocktail that was the biggest I have ever seen. It seriously reminded me of the scene in the movie Beetlejuice  when they turn into hands and grab all the dinner guests' faces.

Luckily, we came away unscathed and just had a really delicious meal, including but not limited to: crab cakes (for me), surf and turf (for the gentleman), and lobster macaroni and cheese for the table. We threw in some Brussels sprouts for good measure, you know, back to that whole "health" thing.

The beginning of birthday dinner.

I can honestly say that we didn't fully exhaust their menu, only because we had birthday cake waiting at home. Lest you think we are all hoity toity with our fancy steakhouse dinner, Clint chose a Dairy Queen Blizzard cake for this year's festivities (and changed into an Evel Knievel t-shirt to eat it).

Making his wish.

I did put him to work a bit Saturday, getting ready for friends to come over that evening. The Clemson/Louisville football game was at 8:00 p.m., and even though he is a Yellow Jacket at heart, I made it clear from our first meeting that to love me is to love the Clemson Tigers, and so he does (or pretends to--either way, it makes me happy). The weather here in Charlotte is just starting to feel like fall, so we had dinner and watched the game outside around the fire pit.

Much like me, Clint loves a good fiesta, and this make-your-own-taco bar did not disappoint. Turkey carnitas, barbecue corn, homemade guacamole, chips and salsa and plenty of other options got our game watching off to a nice start.

Just to sweeten the deal (pun intended), I thought a candy buffet was festive for the occasion. Plus, gummy candy is low fat, so it barely even counts. Right?

A little football viewing al fresco.

The margaritas were just salty enough, the Tigers crushed their competition, and a good time was had by all, including our birthday boy.

We slept in Sunday morning and happily spent the rest of the birthday weekend enjoying Netflix and the brand new couch, winding down with some taco bar leftovers for dinner and all the Heath Bar Blizzard cake we could manage. It was a low key weekend by design after our summer vacation adventures, and I think we welcomed Clint's 41st year in style. 

Cheers to 41 years!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Clint, Me, and Irma Makes Three

I'm sitting on the couch, nursing a cold I caught on our "rescue flight" home from Miami late Thursday night, watching the rain fall in droves outside as hurricane Irma continues her reign. She's been hot on my heels for the last week or so, and I've had more than enough. Thanks, Irma, for vacationing with us. You really shouldn't have.

Atlantis resort in the Bahamas in our happy place. We plan our vacation for the very end of summer so that we can look forward to it for months, we count down, we text each other pictures from the resort in giddy anticipation. While it's true that we were scheduled to be in the Bahamas during hurricane season, the entire summer is hurricane season in the Caribbean. We've gone plenty of times before, and have never had any real issues, except for a rainy afternoon or two. Plus, as the Bahamas tourism website proudly touts, the Bahamas enjoys over 300 days of sunshine a year.

Labor Day was our long awaited departure date. We packed our sunscreen, swimsuits, and flip flops and headed to the airport with visions of tropical grandeur dancing in our heads. Sure, we had been watching the weather closely, but our biggest worry about Irma was that she would put a damper on our suntanning. We were upgraded to first class, and toasted our good luck and the beginning of a fabulous trip.

I mean, we're obviously health nuts. 

I want to take a moment to talk about this behavior, happening in first class.
NO. Never. Ever. Under any circumstance. That is all.

As we landed in Nassau, an elderly couple wearing "We Survived Hurricane Matthew" shirts were practically on our hip walking through the airport. No amount of speed walking or diversion got rid of these people, and I started to get worried they were going to jinx us. They also boarded our shuttle, but luckily weren't staying at our resort. Ah, we dodged it, I smiled to myself. Oh, Susie, you naive idiot.

Thankfully, our first night, we headed to Poseidon's Table, the newly renovated buffet restaurant, and enjoyed shrimp, conch salad, plenty of great food, and dipped everything we could think of into the chocolate fountain for dessert. To leave the Bahamas without having conch salad would have been a crime, and I pride myself on being a law abiding citizen.

We woke up Tuesday morning to clear, sunny skies (thank goodness) and after grabbing a light breakfast, we spent the day by the pool, the way the Lord intended vacations to be, with gossip magazines, a good book, and a round or two of tropical drinks.

There's a reason they call it Paradise Island, and I'm pretty sure this it.

After soaking up the sun (and some rum), we got cleaned up for dinner. Clint loves Carmine's, a family-style Italian restaurant in the Atlantis Marina Village. To be fair, I like it, too, except for the fact that "family-style" means you will be served enough food to gorge the entire Duggar family. Heaven help the carb-loving two of us; we did our absolute best to put a dent in the barges platters of food that came our way. It was a delicious challenge.

The next morning, just after 7:00 a.m., an emergency alarm sounded and woke us out of a deep sleep. With all the hurricane hubbub we had already been hearing, a still groggy Clint threw open the curtains and was relieved to say, "It's not the hurricane! It's gorgeous out there!" Ever the sensible one under pressure (that is a total joke), I felt the hotel room door to see if it was hot, and then reported back, "The door's not hot--there's no fire!" We checked the empty hallway and decided this was obviously a false alarm. And so were the alarms that went off again at 7:30 and 7:45. Ah, nothing like getting an early start to the day, right?

We spent another beautiful day riding water slides, swimming in the pool, and napping in the warm sun, blissfully unaware that this was the last day of our short-lived vacation. We kept our dinner casual, grabbing pizza out at the marina.

The marina was the fullest we've ever seen it--apparently, everyone had chosen Atlantis
as the spot to wait out the storm.

Hey, there's a salad in there, too.

Every place we went after dinner, the conversation was the impending storm. I checked my phone to see that I had an email from the airline that our flight home on Saturday had already been cancelled. Still, there were worse places to be marooned by Irma than the Bahamas, so in typical Stancil fashion, we made light of the situation.

This was the closest I thought I would get to being affected by the hurricane.

In retrospect, we probably should have bought these hats. You know, for church.

An after dinner cocktail: the Dark and Stormy seemed appropriate.

We woke up Thursday morning feeling ambitious enough to venture off our lounge chairs--just briefly--to grab breakfast and see downtown Nassau. We had heard about the Graycliff Hotel but had never been, so we started there, reading their impossibly long of celebrity visitors and venturing over to check out their quaint Drawbridge Cafe.

There's not much drawbridge, and even less cafe, but it's the Bahamas. 

As we strolled through the downtown area, we began to notice storm preparations taking place. It's hard to maintain your carefree, vacation happy attitude when trucks are unloading sandbags on all the side streets and the majority of the windows are boarded shut.

Please note the street name--reeks of class. The plywood over the windows was an ominous sign.

Being in the center of the hurricane preparations felt eerie, so we headed back to Atlantis. As we entered the hotel, we also noticed all of the glass light fixtures had been removed. At this point, we had been on the phone with American Airlines a minimum of twice of a day since we arrived, and were still being told there were no flights going anywhere that we could take should we want to leave. A new sign in the hotel lobby informed us that Lynden Pindling airport in Nassau was scheduled to close Thursday afternoon with no reopening date given. Gulp.

The weather in the Bahamas was still gorgeous; I suppose it was literally the calm before the storm. As tempted as we were to head back down by the pool and worry about Irma later, we also remembered last fall during Hurricane Matthew when we read about Atlantis guests forced to relocate to cots in the hotel ballroom for several days, and that is not our idea of a vacation. We threw everything we had in our suitcases and raced to the airport to see what we could do. As luck would have it (I say begrudgingly), American Airlines had added several "rescue flights" from Miami to Nassau to help get people out of the path of the storm. We were booked on a rescue flight--not something you ever want to boast--and made our way to Miami.

I cannot begin to describe the chaos of Miami International Airport. News crews were everywhere, and the entire place was a cacophony of angry travelers, crying babies, and small, yapping dogs (homeowners were encouraged to also evacuate their pets).

One of many tired travelers we saw in Miami.

We entered a seemingly endless queue line in an attempt to get to the ticket counter. Since our flight home had officially been canceled, we were angling to get on any flight, anywhere, just to get away from Irma, who had been nipping at our heels for the last several days. After three full hours in line, we were put on three different stand-by flights to Charlotte Thursday night. We had to send our luggage ahead, so we bid our suitcases a nervous goodbye and said plenty of prayers. Miraculously, and thanks to my frequent flyer hubby's airline miles, we made it onto a flight! In all the crowd and chaos, the flight was delayed twice and we spent an hour and 45 minutes on the tarmac waiting to take off. We were told at one point that all takeoffs had been suspended indefinitely, and on Friday morning, we read a news article that explained why: apparently a man wielding a knife had run onto the tarmac at Miami International airport (during the exact time we were trying to make our departure) and was finally shot by police. Just one more dash of crazy to add to our very colorful trip.

We made it home around 1:30 a.m. on what was now technically Friday. And although the dog was ecstatic and we were grateful to be out of harm's way, I can't help but be bitter that Irma had to get in on our vacation. We've debated getting t-shirts--but I can't decide if we should be able to brag that we survived Irma if she sent us running?

What do you think? Did we earn t-shirts, or no?

Regardless of whether or not we get the t-shirt, believe me when I saw we've been there and done that. And no offense to my friend Kelley's grandma, who I understand is a lovely woman by the same name, but no one named Irma is welcome on any more of our trips! 'Bye, Irma. It's been real.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Goodbye, Summer

I haven't seen a lightening bug in a while, but everywhere I go, I do see school supplies and harried moms with excited kids filling their carts. A big yellow bus drove through the neighborhood yesterday, making a practice run before school starts back next week, which can only mean one thing: it's time to say goodbye to summer time.

I love the laid back atmosphere that lazy summer days bring about; t-shirts, bare feet, messy hair. I love tomato sandwiches, hamburgers and shish kabobs hot off the grill on a Saturday night, eating outside on our deck once the heat of the day has faded, and cutting up a watermelon and sprinkling it with salt for dessert.

Summer is that time of year for sand between your toes, for diving into a pool of cool, clear water, for skiing and boating and days on the lake soaking up the sun. It means longer days, sleeping late, and time spent in a swing or rocking chair in the shade of the front porch.

I'll miss my flip flops, the sweet smell of suntan lotion, and the countdown until vacation. To be completely transparent, I should add that I will decidedly not miss gnats (or mosquitoes for that matter), the humidity, or the having to water my poor plants on a daily basis lest they shrivel and die from heat exhaustion. Still, summer in the South is something special, and I have enjoyed practically every moment.

Yes, all of that has been fantastic in its own right, but that season is almost at a close. Goodbye, summer. Until we meet again.

Scenes from our summer.

And hello, fall. Hello to crisp, cool mornings, falling leaves, and pumpkin spice everything (do not be a pumpkin spice hater...give yourself the joy of PS this year and you will never go back to mundane flavors again). It's time for football season, tailgating, jean and boots and sweater weather. Once again, we can turn on the fire pit and get cozy.

Hello, Halloween decorations! Skulls and bones and skeletons, pumpkins and leaves and acorns. I have to restrain myself from filling multiple carts and clearing out the seasonal decor aisles because I love all of it. ALL of it. Let's watch scary movies and eat candy and wear costumes. It's fall, it's what we do.

Before you know it, it will be soup weather, I can unpack my sweatshirts out of storage, and break out the blankets. Our favorite TV shows will mercifully be returning, and we can trade our Popsicles for s'mores, our beach balls for footballs, and our swimsuits for long sleeves--a blessed occasion if there ever was one.

There will be fall festivals, hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and apple picking. Well, in reality, I don't apple pick. I don't like fruit or manual labor and so that one makes little to no sense for me, but I can appreciate the novelty of the experience (so long as I am not required to partake). But, for the record, I have never met a caramel apple I didn't like, so apple pickers, do your thing.

Before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving and turkey time, and then we will be counting down to Christmas. But I don't want to get ahead of myself; let's just enjoy it all as it comes. And if you're really sad to see summer come to an end, don't worry: here in the South, the temperature will be summertime hot for at least another month or two. We like to take our vacation at the end of the summer, so I've still got one last beach vacation on the calendar, but that will be the bookend to summertime for me. I'll come back ready for corduroy, cinnamon, cider, and scarecrows. Now, pass the candy corn. Let's get ready for fall, y'all!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Joys of Adulthood

"This is our last year in our 30s!," a friend commented on a Facebook photo last week. While she's technically correct, I assured her that I have decided not to get any older. This ripe old age is fine enough for me. Even though I'm technically still considered "young," I am also well into adulthood at this point. And adulthood, as it turns out, is a giant pain in the arse.

Adulthood means I've now reached the point in life where I have the need for both acne and anti-aging creams; a beauty arsenal, if you will. It seems particularly unfair for someone to be blessed simultaneously with breakouts and laugh lines, but this is one of the gifts that adulthood gives.

I'm not alone in these joys of adult life; Clint is now having to watch his sodium intake and monitor his blood pressure, checking it every day and recording the results in a log for his doctor. Do you know what has salt in it? Everything that tastes good. Luckily for him, he enjoys eating healthy things like oatmeal and fruit. I, on the other hand, have resorted to hiding in my laundry room scarfing down handfuls of Chex Mix while no one is looking, enjoying the taste of salt, glorious, salty, salt.

I'll have a Sad Meal and a Diet Coke, please.

Lately, we've spent our weekends doing fun things like shopping for laptop computers and a new couch. This, apparently, is what adults do. I have to suppress a sob when we leave our house for Best Buy, easily among my top five least favorite places on earth, and I hear the splashes and shouts of carefree kids at the neighborhood pool across the street. Enjoy it now, kiddos, because adulthood is coming for you and you, too, will need a computer and a place to sit. Your Labor Day weekends will be sullied by things like mattress sales, or closeout deals on appliances. New Year's Eve will become a great time for new car shopping, because adulting is exciting that way.

It's probably best for my Saturdays to be regaled to the glow of big box store florescent lighting, since sitting out in the sun now requires that I use a hat and a full coating of zinc oxide or I get something called melasma. In layman's terms, it means my skin turns dark brown from even the tiniest amount of sun and I look like I have Raggedy Ann cheeks and a mustache. I'm not exactly fashion forward enough to pull that look off, so I slather myself with sunscreen until I resemble a white-faced geisha and pull a hat down until my vision is nearly completely blocked. Then: ah, free to fully enjoy the great outdoors.

Life as an adult means we've also developed unexplained aches and pains that I never experienced in my youth. Every week, one of us has a hurt back/elbow/knee that goes away as mysteriously as it appeared. Our bones let us know when it's going to rain (thanks, broken ankle, for the forecast) and we don't travel without a freezer bag full of medicine to cure whatever could possibly ail us. When I was a kid,my brother and I used to cruelly point out my mother's varicose veins and call them gross. What I should have called them is hereditary, because lo and behold, I've got them now, too.

I find myself at a weird age where I have subscriptions to both Southern Living and US Weekly, because I'm expected to do things like "create stunning front porch planters" and enjoy "creative cooking with Swiss chard," but I still need to know where Britney Spears took her last vacation and what really happened inside the Brad and Angelina split. I alternate pinning healthy eating ideas on Pinterest with cheesy, fried, delicious appetizers I will save for those most glorious "cheat days." (By the by, we tried Swiss chard Sunday night for dinner--it was earthy, with the texture of wet rope. If you're looking for a good recipe: start with a heaping tablespoon of DON'T EAT THAT).

We find ourselves saying things like, "Oh, I can't drink Chardonnay; it's too heavy and gives me a headache." Weddings or open bar events are a roll of the dice: will they have Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio? Or will we be forced to nurse a lukewarm glass of Head Pounder all night? Whichever the case, the odds are high that we'd rather be home watching Dateline.

You know you're a real adult when you are excited about things like a new flavor of sparkling water (no calories and watermelon flavor!) or overnight oats--things which,as a child, you would have gone on a hunger strike to avoid. You have fully reached adult status when you eagerly look forward to your dessert after dinner each night...and by dessert, I mean gummy vitamins. We've actually discussed if it's possible to overdose on VitaGummies and if it's okay to indulge in more than the recommended daily allowance. We haven't gotten bold enough to risk it yet, but some day, when we are particularly rebellious....

I suppose if there's any good news at all in this, I can look forward to reaching senior adulthood, when you basically get to become a kid all over again. Birthdays once again become a really big deal, you are encouraged to take naps and play games (bingo, anyone?), and Clint and I have made a pact that once he reaches 80 years of age and I'm 79, we are going to throw diets out the window and eat anything we want (dentures permitting, I'm sure).

In the meantime, adulthood is calling my name. Luckily for us, we found a reasonably priced, reliable laptop computer and also ordered a new couch. That frees up our to-do list so that this weekend, Clint can work on a storage addition to our garage and I can buy groceries and do laundry. Nothing says young, wild and free quite like that, now does it?

Someone pour a glass of not Chardonnay; we've got a wild weekend ahead.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Game of Thrones Evening

Clint has made me promise to begin by explaining that we are not usually big fans of sci-fi or fantasy. We don't play Dungeons and Dragons, we are not comic book collectors, and we've never been to a Star Trek convention or a Comi-Con, pinky swear. But last summer, when we were stuck in our tiny little apartment during our renovation, we were desperate for entertainment. Game of Thrones is so wildly popular, it seemed like everyone I asked for a TV show recommendation insisted that we needed to get on board, and so we did. The show moves at an amazingly fast pace, it's exciting, and we binge-watched six seasons in just a few weeks. Still, I wasn't even going to blog about our Game of Thrones evening, but several people asked for details, and I am a woman of the people, so here we go.

Discovery Place museum here in Charlotte does something they call Science on the Rocks the third Friday of each month. Each event features a different theme, activities, cash bar, and music. It's adults only and it is wildly popular. This was our first time trying it and I can see why people love it: Discovery Place does not fool around. They fully commit to a theme, and we all know how much I love a good theme.

I was surprised when we arrived to see the line stretching down the block...and back again! Science on the Rocks lasts from 5:00 until 9:00 p.m. and we got there just a few minutes after 5:00, along with a huge crowd. Luckily, the line moved quickly and please believe me when I tell you that the people watching did not disappoint.

Far and away the most popular wardrobe choice for the night was this t-shirt, with a quote from everyone's favorite imp, Tyrion Lannister:

I think we can all relate, Tyrion. 

In addition to all the witty t-shirts, I should mention that there was also a costume contest as part of the evening. Needless to say, people went all out for their costumes. I saw someone in full knight's armor, about a half dozen Daenerys lookalikes, a few wanderers who may have recycled their Renaissance Festival garb, and even a grown man dressed as a dragon.

Presenting Brienne of Tarth and Daenerys Targaryen, complete with baby dragon.

Last, but certainly not least, I don't want to leave out these iron throne stilettos.

There were so many more that I think I became numb to it and stopped taking pictures! I'm not sure who won the contest, but I will cast my vote for the full body dragon costume. It was a steamy 92 degrees that afternoon, and dedication of that sort deserves reward.

One of the first things we saw when we came in was a catapult game where two players use catapults to launch bean bags at images of Game of Thrones characters to see who can knock the most down. Not that I'm competitive or anything, but I beat Clint (twice).

The catapult competition.

Next, we wandered to a station where we were each handed a small cup of very cold popcorn. It turns out, it had been frozen with liquid nitrogen (more of that later), and when you crunched down on it, smoke came out your nose, a la dragon's breath! It was a highly entertaining little snack, but try as I might, I just could not capture the smoke coming out of Clint's nose. Dragon's breath is quite elusive to capture on film, and even my good sport husband quickly got tired of me taking close-up shots of his nostrils with my iPhone.

Never one to pass on concessions of any kind, our next stop was the bar where we picked up one of the signature cocktails to enjoy, the Kingslayer.

Just like Jaime Lannister, we drank these with one hand.

Sure, a Lannister always pays his debt,
 but you did you know about their chili cheese fries?

After we quenched our thirst, we waiting in a never ending line for archery, then decided to double back to that attraction later (which turned out to be a mistake since the line was twice as long later in the night). Naturally, a tiara-loving girl like myself was drawn like a moth to a flame to the crown souvenirs table. You chose which style of crown you preferred, and if you liked, they had rhinestones and feathers to embellish. I'm not typically one to bypass any type of sparkle, but sometimes simpler is best (i.e., Clint had no interest and we had other sights to see). Off we went.

I never met a crown I didn't like.

In the midst of all the activities, Discovery Place also had a puppeteer making his rounds with a rather large dragon puppet. It moved, it roared, it scared the bejeezus out of so, so many unsuspecting people throughout the course of the night.

Sword fights and archery and dragons, oh my!

Another attraction that had everyone's attention was the liquid nitrogen wine slushie station. Apparently, they do this at all of the Science on the Rocks events, and it was really showy and fun to watch. Plus, you know, wine slushie.

Adding the liquid nitrogen to freeze the wine for slushies. Ah, science.

One of the longest lines of the night, inexplicably, was for the make-your-own Hand of the King pin. I'm always a fan of accessories, but once I saw what the finished product was, we decided to move on. After all, we had places to go and dinner to eat (and NOT Lannister's newly famous chili cheese fries).

Tah dah! (Someone else's) Hand of the King custom pin.

We tried to be patient as we stood in line for the direwolf exhibit; naturally, having an adult wolf and a wolf puppy draws a crowd, and the poor wolves were hot and tired, but we finally made our way to the front of the line and got to pet the wolf puppy. As you can see, he was a fierce, wild, untamed creature:

We're clearly wolf whisperers.

After all that excitement, we were a little "Throned" out. We made one last stop at the photo booth and then called it a night. If you live in Charlotte, I would highly recommend trying Science on the Rocks one Friday evening, and if you don't...Game of Thrones will be back on Sunday night, so hang in there until then. Valar morghulis, and all of that.