If you’re my friend on social media, you know that I recently had an epic birthday celebration that included a visit from my daughter, Jamie, and my two grandchildren, Ryleigh and Clifton, all of whom are perfect and above reproach. They traveled from West Virginia, where Jamie is a registered nurse who is pursuing a master’s degree on her way to becoming a family nurse practitioner. Ryleigh is a rising fifth grade student, and Clifton begins first grade. They’ll start school just about the time this issue rolls off the press. Dad Josh, who owns a landscaping business, stayed behind to work, take care of the family dog and hold down the fort.

The trio stopped by my house for a three-day visit on their way to Orlando, and we crammed a lot of activities into their short stay. We kept all our dining local, and didn’t stop at a single chain the entire weekend. Meals were enjoyed at Frosty’s Griddle and Shake, then Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzeria, where Clifton managed to wolf down the largest child portion of spaghetti and meatballs I had ever seen before giving up and asking for a to-go container. We also ate at Tipsy McSway’s, which the kids loved! One reason I prefer to patronize locally owned establishments is the friendships regular patrons build with owners simply can’t be duplicated. Other stops included Tortuga Jack’s, which allowed the kids to rock out to the sounds of Backbeat Boulevard, and where I discovered Clifton is a superb dancer; Sandcastle Cafe and finally, our farewell meal at Southern Soul Barbecue.

It rained a lot while they were here, so we made two trips to The Pinball Palace, in Brunswick. Tucked away off US Highway 17, in Brunswick, The Pinball Palace is fun for people of all ages. The flat fee structure means all games are set to “free play.” This means you can wander from game to game and play as much as you like. Although my parents bought Pong, the first video game, for us for Christmas 1972, I’ve alway been more of a pinball girl. But, for those who want to relive the early glory days of video games, they’re all here: Donkey Kong, Frogger, Dig Dug, Asteroids, PacMan, Ms. PacMan, etc. To me, they’re not nearly as appealing as the flashing lights and sound effects emanating from the seemingly hundreds of pinball machines that fill several rooms in the building.

We also walked the St. Simons Pier, visited Driftwood Beach and toured the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, all of which I highly recommend. The kids especially enjoyed visiting the sea turtle hospital, and checking out the interactive exhibits. Along the way, they marveled at it all.

We ended most evenings by playing with my dogs, watching television and just hanging out and talking. They’re at neat ages, and have such distinct personalities, it’s fun to just observe them. Ryleigh is well on her way to becoming a teen, with all the moodiness and silliness that provides, and Clifton is the most self-assured 6-year-old you’ve ever met. They’re sweet, well-behaved, have good manners and thankfully, they’re inquisitive. You can’t ask for more than that.

In the Coastal Illustrated feature, we talk with three leaders who have always asked more of themselves. Their commitment to volunteering, and serving their community, is unparalleled. We want you to meet Ben Slade, Margie Harris and Lori Lambright, all of whom serve in various capacities to make life in the Golden Isles, and the world at large, better.

In this issue of Coastal Home, we talk with Adrian Johnson and Bethany Vann of Johnson+Vann Interiors, about a renovation they recently completed on a 1940s Sea Island beach cottage. The duo, with assistance from Harrison Design, kept the original character and charm of the cottage while bringing it up-to-date.

The Spotlight shines on Bill Allen, a Glynn Academy graduate who played for the Milwaukee Brave in the 1950s, and a very special visit he received from former Atlanta Braves, Ryan Klesko. We also have great photos of people you know, good recommendations from our columnists and the latest community news.

With summer coming to a close, and school just under way, I’m going to renew my New Year’s Resolution to “be kind.” We live in scary times, and while following The Golden Rule may not combat all of the world’s ills, it certainly can’t hurt. You’re welcome to join me.

Enjoy the issue!