Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yes, I realize it is now the end of November and I've finally come around to blogging about Halloween. That's how behind I've gotten...
Originally I had planned to "match" their costumes. You know, come up with a theme and plan accordingly. Because, let's face it, how much longer will I be able to influence their costume choices?? How cute would it have been for me to be Bo Peep and for my kids to be my sheep? Adorable right? Well I challenge you to find an appropriate adult sized Bo Peep costume that doesn't consist of a short short skirt, high heels, sheer stockings and a bustier! Impossible, I assure you. And when Brendan commented on his desire to be a cowboy I immediately tried thinking of possibilities for Aubrey. A horse? A cowgirl? I finally gave up and bought the pre-made lady bug and resigned to the fact that there would be no theme...
But you have to admit they were pretty cute anyway :)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby

You make me smile...


To finish the story (again, remember although I'm blogging now, our trip was actually October 15th-24th... I've been slacking, I know...) from Charleston we drove up to Charlotte before heading back to Rock Hill to spend our last couple nights with family. Charlotte is the home of the newly built and recently opened Nascar Hall of Fame. None of us have ever been the Nascar type but Brendan is a race car lover who was thrilled beyond belief by the sites at this place. We spent a good couple of hours touring the facility and learning everything we never wanted to know about NASCAR but the kids had a blast. Then it was back to Rock Hill and eventually the flight back home.
And although there were numerous meltdowns, tantrums and minor setbacks we left with nothing but positive thoughts and memories and the desire to return. I have a feeling we'll be seeing the South again in the future...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


A term I've never heard before but I'm almost certain is probably used to describe the folks of Charleston, South Carolina. The next stop on our itinerary.

First stop as we headed into Charleston was Folly Beach. Middle of Fall, 75 degrees, sunny and only slightly windy. It was the perfect day for a beach walk and the perfect opportunity to let the kids run wild after being strapped in the car for the 3 hour drive from Savannah. But our short timeline and various sightseeing desires only left us a minimal amount of beach-roaming time.

From there we navigated our way through the city to the USS Yorktown which sits in the Charleston harbor. It was an interesting piece of history to see but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Brendan and Joe... the military/airplane enthusiasts. And after a long (and relatively napless) day of driving and touring, it should have come as no surprise that both children began to unravel.

This is the "you've GOT to be kidding me" look that seems permanently plastered to my face when I've had enough crying whining and fit-throwing.

But we eventually got it all together and ventured into historic downtown and were pleasantly amazed by the beautiful architecture and design. So much history in this beautiful city. A tour of the sites, a traditional southern meal and a night in a hotel on the river as day 8 would take us back up to Charlotte and closer to our trip back home...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Trolley Tour and More

The next day of our trip found us navigating the beautiful streets of historic downtown Savannah in search of this famed Southern restaurant. The Lady and Sons, owned by Food Network star, Paula Deen, is known as much for its food as it is for its atmosphere. It was on top of my "must see" (or "eat at") list and required a bit of planning. Doors open at 9:30am for same-day lunch and dinner reservations. So I took it upon myself to drag Joe and the kids along for support. We stood in line no longer than 20 minutes or so before we were on the list and on our way.

Next stop, breakfast and boarding the trolley. We've never been huge fans of guided tours. Joe hates being on a timed schedule at all, let alone someone else's. But the Savannah trolley tour came to us as a trusted suggestion and we couldn't have asked for a better experience. Our guide was humorous and knowledgeable and we were able to see so much more than we could have on our own. An added advantage? Aubrey fell asleep on Joe's lap and was, therefore, extremely well behaved the entire tour! We completely fell in love with the beauty and history of this amazing Southern town. The two days we spent there were not nearly enough and I find myself longing to return. But fear not, there was so much more to our trip and so the story continues...

Shower Time??

In remembering our fabulous vacation, I tend to block out some of the "not-so-fun" moments... but there are those memories that seem so hilarious after the fact, that you can't seem to forget them and upon blogging about Savannah this one came to me...

The hotel was not easy to find... especially in the dark... and with a GPS that only lasted 2 hours (when you're packing for 4 people for 10 days you tend to forget a few things and the "car charger" for the GPS was not at the top of my list.) So with the help of Joe's Blackberry we were on a late night search for our destination. Should it come as a surprise that after a few wrong turns and an "I think you've gone too far..." we were stressed and exhausted beyond belief when we finally arrived. The doorman wheeled our belongings to our room as the valet parked the car and I checked us in. In 10 minutes flat we were unpacking and relaxing. Joe retreated to his laptop to check in at work as I scouted out the room amenities. Kids needed baths and jammies... mommy needed a stiff drink. Turns out none of us were in luck.

I peeked into the bathroom which consisted of tile. Floor, all four walls and ceiling. And for good measure. Because one one side sat the toilet. On the other side was a shower with nothing more than a flimsy curtain to shield the water from the rest of the room. No... bath... tub...

I eyed the hand-held showering device and decided it would have to do the trick. Stinky, sticky, tired kids do NOT make for a good bedtime routine.

I stripped Brendan and ran the water. I laid down a towel to kneel on and silently cursed the hotel staff for such unsafe conditions (not even a skid-free mat??) as I checked the water temperature. Good to go. Stood Brendan in the stall and sprayed him off. As thrilled as he was to be "tickled" by the water, this was less than appealing as a means to wash my child. Within seconds he was screaming "TOO HOT!!"

Sure enough the temp had risen and it took another minute (while Brendan now shivered) to get it back. I reached for the soap and paused mid-reach. How would I wash this wet, writhing boy with one hand while still holding the shower head? I contemplated only for a second and then slowly let the shower head fall. HUGE mistake. You know that picture of a garden hose full blast, slithering like a snake and spraying full force? Yup, that was the shower head. As Brendan squealed with delight at my unfortunate mistake, I screamed and grabbed for the head. Now, not only were we both soaked (me in my clothes, socks and shoes) but so were the toilet, the walls and the ceiling. So one-handed it was. I soaped him up and rinsed him off then attempted to dry us both.

Joe was oblivious to the commotion and still working, seemingly uninterrupted, at his laptop. I left Brendan to dress himself and grabbed the girl for a second round of shower time. Having already experienced what I thought was the worst, I figured I was prepared to tackle a second round. But my miscalculation of the fact that the shower (and entire bathroom) was now WET from our previous endeavor resulted in chaos. It is apparently (and all too obviously) the sound of his daughter's cries that will make my husband come running. How could I have believed that telling a two-year-old to "stay" standing on a tiny bath towel would result in her listening?? One foot off the towel onto the wet slippery floor and she went flying face first into the slimy tile. After assessing any apparent damage (and kisses from her daddy) I concluded that this child would need 4 hands to bathe her. Two to hold her upright (her daddy's) and two to spray and wash.

Jammies, clean teeth, story time, eyes closed... kids were out. I let out a huge sigh of relief as my head hit the pillow... we would survive to laugh about it later...

Monday, November 22, 2010


A term used frequently in the book, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." A story set in Savannah, Georgia that gives an interesting (and eventful) glimpse into the heart of the Southern town. A book I had wanted to finish before our trip but ended up finishing just 3 days ago. But maybe having been there gave me a realistic picture in my mind as I read.

We headed south from Rock Hill and enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the way (this is a slightly sarcastic remark... I-95 is much of the same tree-lined scenery that sort of gets boring after awhile...)

We headed straight to Tybee Island, a fun and slightly touristy place located just outside Savannah. We arrived at Ft. Pulaski with just enough time to tour the facility before they closed. A beautiful Civil War historical site with so much tragic history to tell. I was awestruck and amazed.

It was a huge disappointment when we drove up to the Tybee Lighthouse just after they had closed to visitors. It would have been an enjoyable experience to have seen it from the inside.

At that point it was nearing dinnertime anyway so we opted to find ourselves some grub. Attempting to immerse ourselves, fully, into our Southern experience, we hunted down this fun (suggested by a trusted source) restaurant that had nothing but Southern Seafood written all over it. The Crab Shack was a crazy fun place that looked exactly like it's name suggests... a shack. Tables with garbage cans in the middle, equipped with an entire roll of paper towels. It was an experience we'll never forget. Sharing a platter of crab legs, shrimp, muscles, crawfish, corn, sausage and potatoes, we left the restaurant with smiles and full bellies.

The long day really wore the kids out so it was no surprise that after baths and stories, the kids were out within seconds. Much needed rest for our continuing adventure...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Southern Hospitality

So let me begin by apologizing for being lazy with the blog lately. I seem to have gone through a lapse in motivation for blogging and will be trying to catch up rather haphazardly! Our trip to the South was a month ago now but sharing late is better than not sharing at all :)

For a better understanding of our decision for a "Southern" vacation I will preface the story with the fact that Joe's brother, in a very fortunate career move, took a position with his job that entailed moving his wife and (then) 5 children to Rock Hill, South Carolina 2 years ago. So in an attempt to do some reconnecting, visiting, bonding and adventuring, I convinced my husband to take some time off to visit the South.

The flight from Portland to Charlotte was fairly (and quite surprisingly) uneventful albeit long and exhausting. But it was worth the exhaustion when we stepped off the plane into the beautiful, warm, sunny, fall air of North Carolina. The only shock was the calculation that appeared to be going through Joe's head as he took a mental inventory of our possessions and eyed his brother's company Mercedes hoping we'd all fit to make the trip. Squeezing between the middle of my children's carseats with purse and backpack in hand was no small feat. But had I been 10 pounds heavier it would have been nearly impossible.

We were welcomed with love and excitement and shouldn't have expected anything less.

Alex and Katie were the most gracious of hosts, taking us to places we absolutely enjoyed and helping make memories we'll never forget. Days 1-4 of our trip consisted of an exciting tour of a historic cotton plantation in the heart of the Carolinas, babysitters for 8 kids that allowed an adults' night out, a local peach farm version of a hayride/pumpkin patch and a hike along an old canal trail. If our goal was to see and experience as much as possible then they were helping us attain it.

The kids were so well behaved and got along so well. By about day 3 Brendan was referring to his cousins as his "friends" and didn't want to leave.

But day 5 took us on another adventure as Joe and the kids and I drove a borrowed Ford Explorer down to Savannah, Georgia for a look beyond the Carolinas. And that's where the story continues...