Friday, May 28, 2010

Charleston - Day 3

My mammy had suggested that if Brian and I had the time we should visit The Hunley. This was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship. After sinking the Union sloop of war Housatonic it never made it back to shore to celebrate. The sub disappeared for over 100 years with no reason as to what caused The Hunley to sink. It was brought to surface in 2000 and research has been underway since then to determine the events of the night that it sunk.

We weren't allowed to take any pictures of the sub itself and it would have been a little difficult anyway since they have it submerged. This is a little replica of the submarine:

This prop was used during a movie or a documentary and is the same exact size of the original. Eight men squeezed in there. They must have really believed in the Confederacy because there aren't many things that would persuade me to go in that metal tube and let someone drive it under water. It was a really neat tour and once they raise enough money for an improved museum it will be amazing. Just the story of the sub itself is captivating.

That afternoon we hired a tour guide and took a three hour tour of the city of Charleston. I am so glad we did this because we got personalized information about the different buildings, homes, streets, and Charleston history. We were going to take a horse drawn carriage tour but frankly, the horses smelled really bad. This tour was in an air conditioned car...not exactly as charming as a horse drawn carriage...but air conditioned! personalized! and it didn't smell!

That night we took a sunset cruise to wrap up our trip. It was a beautiful sailboat and fit about 20 of us. The first thing we saw was the USS Yorktown that is open for tours. We didn't make it to that side of the river because of a very large bridge that I refused to go over. We don't need to discuss my problem with bridges at this time. The particulars about this phobia can get a little weird for some people.
So I'll just show you a picture. Yes it's pretty. But it's very long and it isn't as flat as it looks. My palms are sweating just looking at it. I should never have taken a picture of it.
The homes on the river...very old and expensive homes...

How's this for exciting??!? Brian and I had a long conversation about sailboats during the cruise. We've been married 10 years, there aren't many topics we haven't covered and we realized sailboats have never been discussed. Our conclusion - sailboats are very picturesque and definitely relaxing when the wind is blowing. But they are a lot of work! There's so much to do with all those sails. Yanking them up, tying the ropes, swinging the sails over. It was exhausting watching the crew. And you can't water ski on a sailboat. (That was more my problem than Brian's). Brian also felt compelled to help the crew since we were just sitting there. That was a little weird that they were working so hard and we all just sat there and watched them.

Sunset with the Charleston skyline...which isn't much since there is a law about how high you can build.

We also saw a few dolphins swimming but the pictures I took of them were less than perfect. They were quick little swimmers and apparently very camera shy.

This is the best picture we got of Fort Sumter. If we had another day or hadn't gone to the spa (heaven forbid, but I guess we didn't have to) we would have gone to Ft. Sumter. From talking to the concierge and our own research it sounded like a large time investment to go out the to fort.

This is a rare picture. Not just because we were on vacation and we didn't have the kids but I don't take pictures when I'm pregnant. I'd prefer to not remember what I look like.

And that was our trip! We are very thankful to Sarah Pope and my mom for co-watching our kids. It would have been a difficult and less-than-romantic anniversary trip with a five year old and a two year old. And I am very thankful to Brian who came along on a plantation tour and was patient with me as I walked around Charleston at 1/4 mile per hour, stopping at every restaurant to drool over the menu. I'm blessed to grow old with you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Charleston - Day 2 (This is mainly about food. And there is nothing wrong with that.)

Our second day started with an entire morning spent in the spa. My number one requirement for our hotel was that it had a spa that offered maternity massages. I was so excited when I saw that they had a maternity massage table. I have gone to 4-5 different spas for maternity massages and none of them had a maternity table so I always had to have a massage laying on my side :(

After our pampering we walked a few blocks to go eat lunch at Sightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.). It reminded us of a french bistro but with a southern twist. We started with the house salad each. For our entree I ordered the shrimp and grits - whenever this dish is mentioned it should have angels singing in the background. It was INCREDIBLE. Unfortunately, since the baby takes up so much room, I couldn't even finish it. Brian ordered the beef carpaccio which I didn't taste since I wasn't sure if I should eat anything raw. We asked our waiter what the most popular dish is and he said for lunch it was the shrimp and grits (angelic singing) and for dinner the BBQ tuna.

We shared a strawberry shortcake for dessert. I had to take a picture of it so I could re-live that dessert. The shortcake was actually cornbread with ice cream instead of whip cream. Since Brian is a die hard shortcake and whip cream fan it wasn't his favorite but he still managed to force over half the dessert down his throat.

We walked back to our hotel to grab our car and head to the Magnolia Plantation. I had planned on us visiting the Middleton Plantation but since our hotel room came with a free pass to Magnolia the plans were changed. The house itself wasn't very impressive but it was interesting to learn that the same family has owned it from the very beginning and only moved out in 1975. The current owner is over 90 and she still lives somewhere on the property.

The circular driveway has the required Spanish moss that all plantations should have.

After the Civil War the owners opened up their amazing gardens to the public. We wandered around the different garden areas and came across the Biblical garden. Under the Sycamore tree was a sleeping cat. If he was only in the tree we would have name him Zacchaeus.
My Uncle Jim and Aunt Vickie recommended that we eat at least one meal at Jestine's so that night we walked to the tiny little restaurant. We had driven by the restaurant a few times and each time we saw that there was a line that went out the door. We are thrilled to see that there was no line when we got there.

This was the little hole-in-the-wall place that we were looking for and it was wonderful! There were only 17 tables and all were occupied. The menu was small but since everything looked so good, who cared? The silverware came wrapped in a large wash cloth. That was a good hint at what was to come. As soon as we sat down they plopped a bowl of pickles on the table. I am a dill pickle purist and while these were not dill they weren't exactly sweet or bread and butter. I don't know what they were but I ate them. I ate a lot of them.

I ordered the table wine (sweet tea) and then we noticed that the line had just started to form outside the door and was starting to curve around the building. Yay for good luck! Pregnant Katie + 90*'s + standing in a line = unhappy Katie (and a tortured Brian).

We started with fried green tomatoes - I could have finished the meal then and left happy. If they only shipped to Albany we would have already placed three orders for overnight delivery. I then had the fried seafood dish - fried whiting, fried oysters, and fried shrimp. This came with a side of fried okra and macaroni and cheese. Fried with a side of fried. There was only a portion of me that was going to regret this meal.

Brian ordered fried chicken with fried okra and green beans. Since I didn't want to miss a bite of my meal I didn't even try his chicken. We had no room for dessert but we were told that the Coca Cola cake would have been the way to go. I actually started to tear up when they took my leftovers off the table. It was a very emotional moment for me.

Just one more small note on a late night dessert we ate at the jazz bar in our hotel. We split a chocolate ganache cake with popcorn flavored ice cream and salted caramel topping. There was no point to the ganache cake when you have POPCORN FLAVORED ICE CREAM.

And now I'm starving.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Charleston - Day 1

Brian and I had such a good time in Charleston! We went to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary...which is actually next month but that would be too close to my due date to fly far from my OB. Neither one of us had been there before so we weren't sure what to expect. Basically, if you like golf, history, eating, and shopping, you'll like Charleston.

When we were trying to choose hotels our main priority was finding one with a spa that offered maternity massages. Unfortunately, we decided against one of our favorite chains (Relais & Chateaux) because they didn't have maternity massages. So that one is on the list for next time.

We ended up choosing a vacation package with Charleston Place hotel. Each day we received a gift card - day one was a gift card towards dinner, day two was a gift card towards the spa, day three was a gift card to a Magnolia Plantation with breakfast, and day four was a gift card for a sunset sail on the harbor. Understand this - if we had the kids with us we would have been staying at the Embassy Suites down the road. We don't normally stay in lovely hotels like this when we travel with the kids.

Upon check-in were we told that due to a small conference in the hotel they had to upgrade us to the suite level. They were very apologetic about it. Yes, it is so hard to be upgraded - how will we manage? Since neither one of us ever had a room on a suite level we had no idea that it meant there was food 24/7! So we didn't have to pay for a breakfast or many snacks. We just grabbed what was laid out.

Our room wasn't a suite (we didn't need that much room anyway) but it was large with high ceilings. This hotel is obviously in an old building and they're doing their best to keep it up. This is what we saw when we opened the door:

The beautiful table in the entryway:

And the room. The tv was crammed into the armoir and it was pretty old. I hope that upgrading the tv's in the rooms is next on their list.

The turn down service each night offered benne wafers and little chocolates.

We woke up naturally at 7am since that is when the kids normally wake us up. (We haven't used an alarm clock in our house in years.) And while we wanted to sleep in a little more we were too eager to get out and look around the downtown area.
After eating our free breakfast (which Brian continually reminded me - wasn't free since we paid for a room) we went for a short walk to the Charleston Market. I loved that our hotel was so close to everything. If we hadn't planned on golfing or visiting plantations we wouldn't have needed to rent a car at all. The market is packed with tons of different touristy gifts and local hand made items. The most common being the sweetgrass baskets. I hadn't heard of these before going to Charleston but they are everywhere. And to say they're expensive is an understatement. If you wanted a small sized basket you were looking to spend about $100 at the very least. For a basket. I can't deny that they are pretty but they don't joke around about the cost.

After slowly (let's remember I'm 7 1/2 months pregnant and it was a bit warm in Charleston)walking around for about 2 hours it was time to get in the car and head to Kiawah so Brian could golf and I could read.
At the end of our trip Brian asked me what the best part was. After thinking a minute I said that it was the moment we walked into the clubhouse at Kiawah and saw the ocean through the huge picture window. Both of us just stood there for a solid minute taking it all in. Not only was it beautiful but it smelled so good!
We grabbed a light snack and sat on the veranda before his 1:00 tee time.

Brian played with two gentlemen from Georgia and we also had a caddy who gave them advice on how the hole was laid out. The 18 holes took about 4 hours. I sat in the golf cart and read the whole time.
Well, I didn't read the whole time. Once the caddy told me that the course had alligators I went alligator hunting. They weren't very large so I was a little disappointed but the caddy said the large ones usually stay hidden.

Do you see that one swimming below? He wasn't happy when he saw that I was taking his picture and he went all the way under.

A little baby one.

But with the exception of the alligator hunting I stayed in the cart. Which is why it was so surprising that I got one of the worst sunburns of my life. I'll admit - I left my SPF500 at home so I was stuck with Brian's SPF30. SPF 30 doesn't protect my skin from moonlight. I re-applied every 45-60 minutes and stayed in the cart yet I was still red. And it wasn't even all over. It was in completely random spots. It's been over a week and my left calf is still burned. And that leg was ALWAYS in the cart since Brian was driving. How in the world did that happen??!
Another surprising thing about Kiawah was the homes that overlooked the course and the ocean. I don't know if you would consider these homes. They were actually mansions. HUGE mansions. I guestimated that they were between $5-10million and after looking at the Kiawah real estate website I was pretty close. They cost that much money and they aren't even on the beach - they just have beach access! Incredible. When I was on the website I noticed that 95% of the homes all had elevators. So that gives you an idea of the age of the clientele.

The view from the 16th hole.

After Brian finished we drove back to the hotel and had a wonderful dinner at their main restaurant - The Charleston Grill. The menu was pretty unique in that it offered different genres of food - Pure (simple dishes), Lush (French dishes), Southern (no explanation should be needed), and Cosmopolitan (exotic global dishes).
I stuck to the southern menu since that's why we chose Charleston in the first place. My salad was a frisee with crispy pork belly topping. I've been dreaming of that pork belly every night since then. I then had the seared flounder with crab succotash. Brian started with the crab cakes and his entree was scallops in a lobster bisque. The best part was that the chef came to our table and we got to talk to her about the food. So much fun!
We decided to skip on dessert since we were full and the hotel offered cookies and other snacks on the suite level floor. Before we left the waiter brought us a complimentary dessert sampler with a chocolate plaque that read Happy Anniversary. It was the perfect ending to the start of a great vacation!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

En vacances sans les enfants!

Au Revoir! Brian and I are headed to Charleston tonight to have a mini-vacation. We're celebrating our 10th anniversary on June 24, but due to the baby within a month of that date we decided to celebrate early.

We'll be back Sunday and I hope to post some pictures next week. We're planning on visiting a plantation (or two), golfing (well, Brian will golf. I sit on the cart and read), and eating a lot of low-country food!

Friday, May 7, 2010

So What's the Difference Between a Pregnant Woman and a Toddler?

In my opinion...not much.

Once I hit about five months during this pregnancy I realized that Jamison and I were similar in way too many ways. In analyzing our behavior I created the following chart:

Katie - very little meat, comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, and almost any kind of sandwich.
Jamison - very little meat, comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese.
One outstanding difference: I usually NEED a big salad at lunch. Jamison needs a big salad too but only for the croutons...except he calls them froutons.

Katie - every 30 minutes if I'm drinking as much water as I should be drinking.
Jamison - every 30 minutes since he is still in the potty training process.
Outstanding difference: He sleeps in a diaper so he can sleep through the night without getting up. Me...not so much. All in preparation for waking up every 2-3 hours to feed a baby.

Katie - anything loose fitting and flip flops. I'm big (no pun intended so shut up Brian) into dresses now that it's warm.
Jamison - any thing loose fitting and flip flops and if he can get away with it - naked.
Outstanding difference - I will always be fully clothed - no worries there. And Jamison has never been interested in dresses.

Katie - would love to take a daily nap from 2-3. Would also love to go to bed at 9am if I could settled down, reluctantly is woken up by the sun/son at 6am. Unfortunately, have gotten into the habit of falling asleep on the couch while the kids watch tv around 4:30pm ...this keeps me up later than I'd like.
Jamison - usually needs a nap around 2. Once his head hits the pillow at 7:30 he's done until 6am. And then I proceed to put him back to bed for another hour.
Outstanding difference - I only get that afternoon nap on some Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.


Katie - Not exactly clumsy but I drop everything I touch and I have to change outfits 1-2 times a day due to food mishaps. Lily has become an expert in picking up things I've dropped - almost without me asking her for help.

Jamison - He trips over dust and also will drop everything he picks up. If we're not going out he stays in his ketchup smeared outfit because I refuse to clean his clothes more than once a week.

Outstanding difference - my problems in this category will improve once I give birth (with the exception of dirty shirts since you know what babies do...) while Jamison will continue to live like this because he doesn't seem to either care or be aware of it.

Energy Level
There are no similarities whatsoever. This should not even be a topic on my chart.
Katie: I have the energy level of a lazy sloth. Or possibly even a dead sloth. A regular sloth would run circles around me.
Jamison: Meets his daily quota of trying to kill himself, destroys 2-3 items a day, and talks from sun up to sun down. Remember learning about stream of consciousness in high school? Jamison could teach the college level class on that topic.

So it has been beneficial that I'm pregnant at the same time that Jamison is a toddler. We take bathroom trips together, eat the same meals, and when he naps, I can nap. So for the next 10 weeks I'll take advantage of this. After 10 weeks....I will be living in a haze and won't be able to analyze anything.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Soccer Pre-K Style

Since I'm married to a sports fanatic my kids have a wide knowledge of different sports, soccer included. Brian and I debated signing Lily up for soccer because she has the tendency to be gung-ho about the idea of something but then when it comes down to actually participating in the activity she is incredibly timid.

But we decided to risk it when she kept talking about it and the community soccer league was on the cheaper side with games only lasting one hour on Saturdays. Minimal investment in case she turned on the drama. Brian also signed up to be the assistant coach so he encouraged Lily to practice with him in the yard and they had a special outing to get soccer shorts, shin guards, and socks.

Her team is the purple team and all the coaches, no matter what team, wear green. As the assistant coach Brian was in charge of keeping the kids in line during warm ups (so much harder than you would think), making sure that there were always 5 kids on the field (they ran on and off at their own whim sometimes), and finding the parents when one started to cry. I thought I'd be bored but watching both Lily and Brian, not to mention all the other kids, was pure entertainment.

Ok, she's all smiles now. That's a good sign. They divide the teams according to grade (she's on the pre-K team) in school so she is the oldest on the team. The cut off date for kindergarten in New York is December 1 so she missed it by 18 days. Most of the other kids were 3 and 4. I was afraid there would be moaning about how there are no other girls her age on the team but she didn't say a word about it.

She was glad she was on the purple team and not the black team. She did not like that t-shirt at all.

She was a little timid at first but after a pep talk from Brian she went after the ball.

I was so tempted to take pictures of the other kids because they were hysterical. One little girl cried every time someone kicked the ball away from her. Another little boy was not restricted by the field lines - he would just keep running into the next field. One boy liked the black t-shirts better and kept trying to be on their team. And the rest of them were content with getting on the field, kicking the ball once, and then just running off again. Brian's job of keeping five kids on the field at all times was challenging.
Lily scored the only two goals for her team! I was pretty impressed by that...and slightly shocked. But her greatest fear was that she wouldn't kick the ball into the net so I guess she just focused on that and got the job done. Not that they keep score during these games, but it was a goal achieved nonetheless.

Half-time snack time was when the kids actually sat still. For all of them, this was the first time they played soccer. So it was new, an unknown, and exciting. Now snack time, they got that. You say snack time, they sit in a circle and wait patiently for it to be handed out.

We weren't sure how Jamison would react to Lily playing soccer without him. I put down a blanket and he sat and played with his car and airplane for most of the time. It didn't hurt that I kept feeding him pretzels also. He only tried to get on the field once. I think the heat sedated him. It was the first day this year where it was over 85* and it was um...noticeable. As soon as we got home the AC was turned on and it didn't go off for three days. Brian just shakes his head at us (particularly me and Lily).
After half-time she got right back into the game and scored her second goal.

Then the coaches had to teach the kids how to line up and give high-fives after the game. This was a concept that they didn't get. Stand in a line? High five the other team? Move foward at the same time? Maybe this is a technique they will refine as the season goes on. Lily put on a sober face for the other team.

And then they all got stickers. Lily put hers on her forehead.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things I Took Pictures of One Day In April

Hi. My name is Katie and I am a delinquent blogger. There are no excuses. Except that I'm seven months pregnant and once my kids are in bed I crash and am a useless human being for the rest of the evening. If I could blog at 10am then I'd post every day. At 10am I can multitask 5 different activities at once. I can wear high heels. I can walk up a flight of stairs and not be out of breath. I can take both my children into the supermarket and go food shopping for an hour. These are HUGE accomplishments at this point in the pregnancy (according to me).

So not much has been going on and there isn't a lot to report. But since I feel that I should post something here are some random pictures I took two weeks ago when we went for a walk.

The daffodils were in our yard. I've decided to plant more in the fall for next spring.

The last of the crocus. Usually at this point the tulip leaves would already be up and we'd be watching for tulip buds. But an enemy has encroached on our yard. THE SQUIRREL. They ate all my tulips this year. I am harboring bitter feelings towards these guys and I will defeat them next spring! I did a little research and basically I found two options (besides killing them, which I am not against at this point. Don't mess with my tulips, squirrels. The only thing stopping me is having to deal with all the squirrel carcasses). The first is to put down chicken wire. I'm not doing that. That sounds like a lot of work. The second is to FEED the squirrels peanuts in the fall. Apparently this is what the White House does with 95% success. (insert witty comment about the White House gardeners having 95% success at something yet other people in that House...)

Our rhododendrons. Looking for more bees in your yard? Plant some of these.

And my pregnancy brain has lost the name of this tree. I used to know it, I promise. This is in our neighbors yard.

I like this one too. See how boring our life has been this past month? Unless you want me to talk about work. Then, not so boring. For us, at least. I promise that you will be bored. In fact, these pictures will be more interesting to you than our work life any day of the week. So here are some more.

I love this tree. It lives across the street from us and I see it everyday out my front window. It blooms for a week, maybe two. And then it is not so pretty to look at. It's not worth it for me to plant one in our yard for a week of blooms. I'll just let my neighbors do all the work.

This bush is one of the first to bloom in spring. I think it looks best when there are few of them together in a hedge-like, care-free form. This one was lonely all by itself but still putting in a good effort showing off its' color. I have no idea what it's called. I call it "the yellow bush."

And then one morning the kids and I are getting into the car and we heard a really loud goose. I think it's flying overhead so I just ignore it. But eagle-eye Jamison noticed that it was in the neighbors driveway. The goose was not happy. He was mad that he was not in a pond with his family but he wasn't doing much to get out of his predicament - just honking at us. And then when I started taking pictures of him he got even more mad.

(I switched lenses so these pictures look different). The kids wanted to be friends with the goose but I reminded them that geese are not friendly. Here's some random knowledge - there are a few whiskey distilleries in Scotland that use geese as security systems. Or at least they did when I was there back in 1997. They do this because, as aforementioned, geese are MEAN. And probably cheaper than a real security guard.

And then it squatted down in their yard (hard to see) where I was hoping it was not laying eggs. The next day we were driving to my parents house and we passed a pond with geese in it. Jamison was relieved to see that this lost goose found his family. I just agreed with him instead of trying to explain that there are a lot of geese in the world.

We were in the backyard and Lily disappeared. I walked to the front yard and found her like this. What was she doing?

I never asked her because she looked so peaceful (and oddly with her arms crossed like someone in their casket) and didn't want to interrupt whatever she was dreaming about. I just sat on the porch and waited for her to get up on her own.

So that was April. All of it. You can see it wasn't just laziness preventing me from post. It was also because nothing was going on. But May will be different! Lily has started soccer, Brian and I are escaping to Charleston, SC to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, and we're heading to Camp Hunt for Family Weekend on Memorial Day.