Page week


We are so proud of Hayley being selected as a NC State House Page. She managed the entire application process herself. Turned out Wake County’s selections were already made since there is no set deadline to apply but occasionally there are extra spots that they saved to give to students who have a good application. They told me they especially liked her application because it was clear she did it, not a parent, so they’d try to get her a spot. Well turned out the Speaker of the NC House Thom Tillis had a spot and so he was her sponsor.

She had a fantastic week. It was long and tiring but she got to witness a great week – the centerpiece being house budget with the Governor including education proposal but a lot of other interesting debates on drone usage and charter school discrimination, which got weird. Even a huge Moral Monday protest was going on. Since they were there until 9pm that Monday night, the pages got an interesting view of that too. They went to the Governor’s press conference as well. They ran all sort of errands, met lots of legislators and interacted with other kids from across the state – this week had about 20 House Pages.

cary page note

She only took a couple of photos but not many as she was focusing on working. But boy did they get a pile of nice certificates, press releases and all sort of stuff from the State House. They do a great job with things and we are thrilled she got to experience government in action up close.

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More photos in this set: Regular View or Slideshow View

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Leslie & the Lys, 2014 edition


The first time I ever posted anything about Leslie Hall was almost six years ago when I found her Gem Sweater website and I could not stop laughing. This lady in Iowa had found all these bizarre gem sweaters and taken a photo in each, with the same hair and makeup. The absurdity killed me. When I found she had a band (Leslie & the Lys) and they had a song about her Gem Sweaters, I thought it was even funnier. Hayley and I got the CD and played it all the time in the car.

Six months later, we saw they were on a national tour and as luck would have it, coming to play a show in Chapel Hill. We had a blast, met a bunch of great people, Hayley ended up on stage and even got to meet the band. We were hooked and have been going to their shows ever since – 2009, 2010, 2012 and then this week. It’s hard to explain how great these shows are – it’s part music, humor and performance art. It’s positive, the crowds are always so happy.

Over the years, we’ve gotten to know the band. We always arrive early because I want to get seats off to the side to keep Hayley out of the chaos. We’ve helped with set-up, brought them vegan goodies and had them ship stuff to us to resupply. But this time, we went a step further. Since they had a day off between their DC show and the Chapel Hill one, the band stayed with us for a couple of nights.

I recognize it’s a bit crazy but we’ve kept in touch for years and we knew they’d be great fun to have stay. Life is about experiences after all, right? Hayley was over the moon that they were all here. It was a little mindblowing, they’d given us a lot of laughs and music over the years – and here they were, their crazy van parked in front of our house. After buying more veggies and vegan stuff than I’d ever known existed for our six guests, we settled in for a lot of laughing, chatting, Netflix, making stuff with the sodastream and doing laundry. They really just wanted to relax and recharge. They were incredibly easy, funny and lovely house guests. Plus I love for Hayley to see creative amazing people following their passion.

So Leslie, Mona, Derek, Beth, Adrien and Kristen, you can come back any ole time. Hopefully we’ll see you in a year or so.

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Science Fair


Hayley won her school science fair and advanced to the state regionals again this year.

She tested how effectively antibacterial/antibiotic bandaids were vs regular bandaids. Short version – antibacterial/antibiotic are MUCH better.

Her teacher said One of the EPA judges got his PhD in microbiology and was extremely impressed with Hayley’s project. He was a big advocate, not that she needed it. Overall, she was a shoe-in for 1st place. Beautiful display, excellent work all around.

You can see the judge comments on the form which include keep up the good work, you were born to be a scientist.

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Boston trip – updated with all the pics


We went to Boston for a week a couple of months ago and had a great time. It had been years since we had been back and my cousin Nicole’s wedding was the perfect excuse to catch a plane headed north. While I was raised in Chapel Hill, I was actually born in Boston where my father Tommy is from. I still have a lot of family there and this trip back was a really special time. The wedding was gorgeous and it was wonderful to spend time with everyone. I’m such a sucker for the city of Boston and its suburbs. It’s packed with history and great stuff to do. My family has such a long history with the area. With my obsession with genealogy, it made it extra fun to see some of the buildings that my family’s construction business built as early as 1895 that are still being used today. Oh and real italian food, thank goodness for that!

There were so many photos I’m going to do this in batches.

First pile, some of the aquarium photos and video clips. Hayley did a special program where you learn about the Harbor Seals and then get to work with a trainer and the seals in their enclosure. It was really amazing. Marine animals have such a special place in her heart so we were thrilled she got this chance. Of course no trip to an aquarium is complete without more photos from Hayley of whatever animals she loves – this time jellyfish and penguins.

More Aquarium Photos: Regular View or Slideshow View

(bigger version)

More Wedding Photos: Regular View or Slideshow View

Graveyard Photos: Regular View or Slideshow View

Gloucester Photos: Regular View or Slideshow View

Misc Boston Photos: Regular View or Slideshow View

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The Biebs


Hayley and her friend Kiah went to the Justin Bieber concert in Greensboro. My dad got her tickets for Christmas. It was funny, my first concerts without parents were at that same Greensboro Coliseum (Prince on the Purple Rain tour, Police on the Synchronicity tour). My dad sat out there waiting and this time, I did the same – he even waited with me. I just had no urge to see that show – Bieber is fun but the hours of screaming for him, Cody Simpson and Carly Rae Jepsen (aka Call Me Maybe) were too much for me to contemplate.

They had great seats – lower level 10th row from the floor

Girls there.

View from their seats (they didn’t take this)

I love these videos because you can hear screaming like a crazy person, lol.

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Hayley made her first real jump over cross bars in July but I just got around to posting it.

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Wild Sky and puppy


The sky was wild and Hayley went outside to take a few photo with her assistant Annabelle along for the photos.

More PhotosRegular View or Slideshow View

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John Ford Coley & Byron Hill


I am unabashed fan of 70s music and Friday night we headed out to Winston-Salem to see one of my all-time favorites – John Ford Coley. Coley along with England Dan had a ton of hits including Love Is The Answer, I’d Really Love To See You Tonight, Never Have To Say Goodbye Again, Nights Are Forever Without You and Sad To Belong to name a few. Love Is The Answer is my favorite song of all time so I was just thrilled to get to hear him live, even Jeff and Hayley were excited because they’ve listened to his stuff so much they love it too.

It was fantastic. Small intimate venue with John Ford Coley and an amazing country songwriter named Byron Hill alternating songs and stories – they were a great combo. We were 10 feet from the stage, got to talk to them, get autographs and take photos. As fun as hearing songs I loved from Coley, we were totally charmed by Hill who evidently has written something like 600 songs recorded by others, including 30 top-ten country songs. I’m not a country fan so he was new to me but he sang a number of his songs that went to #1 and I was downloading them by the end of the night.

John Ford Coley in concert from michelle hillison on Vimeo.

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A few spring Carolina photos


Still have a backlog of photos but I’m catching up!

Hayley with UNC’s John Henson

Hayley on ballgirl duty for Senior Night, UNC-Duke

(she was excited to break in new hightops and get them signed by Henson, Barnes and Danny Green)

Hayley shooting the UNC Spring Football Game

Hayley with new UNC Coach Larry Fedora at the IC Bash after the UNC Spring Game

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Leslie & the Lys, 2012 super fan edition


In 2008 I posted about how funny I thought Leslie Hall was. She’d been an internet sensation with her hysterical Gem Sweaters Museum. CNN, Wired and others did stories on her fantastic band, Leslie & the Lys and their videos. (Now the humor of Leslie reaches even further that she’s regularly on the popular kids show Yo Gabba Gabba.)

A year later I happened to notice the band was playing in Chapel Hill and of course Hayley and I had to see that show. Not only did we catch the show, we got to meet Leslie afterwards. When they swung through in 2010, managed to visit with the band a bit before and after the show. I emailed with them every so often and Leslie even called Hayley on her 13th birthday.

This year, the band was back on tour again with opening acts Pennyhawk and Ramona & the Swimsuits. Since NC was about midway on their tour, they sent seven boxes of extra supplies to our house to resupply them. We loaded it all up in the jeep as lots of vegan goodies for the band and headed for their show. We hung out with them for about an hour before the show, helped unpack “merch”, Hayley got on stage to help with sound check and shared makeup with the band. They even hooked us up with tshirts. It was like we were roadies!

They knew we weren’t going to stay for the whole show since it was a school night so after the opening acts but before they went on, they got us from the audience and we took photos up in the dressing rooms. Then they brought Hayley up to dance on stage for a song. Both were unbelievably nice gestures.

Such a fun night!

More photos from this set:
Regular view (easiest to find one in particular or print)
Slideshow view (easiest to see them all)

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