Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Traveling Tips!

I decided to jot down my traveling tips while they are still fresh. We definitely had a whirlwind trip between flying to North Carolina and then driving 1,000 miles.

PACKING: We had three different parts of our trip with different weather so our packing was a bit crazy. I have a list of items that are necessities for a trip with kids such as sound machines, baby monitors and a first aid kit but it seems like all the last minute add-on items are what I need to cut back on. I think packing each individual outfit for the kids in a Ziploc bag would have made it so much easier especially with little socks and bows. It seems like a lot of time was spent looking for those items. Carl went camping before meeting us at my parents so he had LOTS of gear with him. Our van was brimming over with stuff.

Another idea that I have for next time, is to pack separate bags for each part of the trip along with one bag with the necessities mentioned above. Carl lugs our stuff in and out for me but it was a lot to keep up with. Three smaller bags would have worked better than the two large bags. Less is more on a trip! I spent an entire day unpacking, washing and putting away all of our stuff. Some of it, we did not even use.

TRAVELING: Evie is an excellent traveler. Carl says that she has been raised in the car since we moved to Nashville when she was a baby. She used to sleep a lot. Now, she does not sleep at all but she is very calm and easy in the car. My tricks are some new books, toys and movies. Evie loves to snack so I pack a whole bag of snacks such as goldfish, fruit packs and some treats. My van has a coolbox so I put a few sippycups in the coolbox and keep my cooler in the back. We have a bag in the front seat with some of my tricks in it and a bag in the back with her used to store items after she uses them. Some of our staple items are a clipboard with pink paper, flashcards, stickers, little pads of paper, stringing beads and her baby doll with clothes and a diaper. We got stuck in a major traffic accident on Saturday. It took us 9 hours to get back instead of 6 hours. Evie did well until the last hour because I still had some tricks and a few "big guns" left. We refer to our best tricks as our "big guns" and save those for when we really need them. Evie loves necklaces so I bought her a Hello Kitty necklace for a dollar at Target - that was the best dollar that I have spent in a long time! Her necklace entertained her for a long time. Other "big guns" are my little camera, pink paper or even an entire box of tic tacs. Henry still sleeps most of the time but I had a few toys for him so he'd have something to look at while sitting backwards for 9 hours. One thing that I need to remember for next time is to have a bottle in the car. It was time for Henry to eat and it took us nearly an hour to get off the Interstate.  It helps to keep a change of clothes for everyone in an easily accessible location so you do not have to pull out an entire suitcase if a change of clothes is needed.

SLEEPING: I LOVE my sleep and will do whatever is necessary to make sure that it happens. Even if that means taking a sound machine, a lovey, and Evie's own covers with me on every trip until she is 16. I left Evie's pillow at home and she informed me that Nana's pillow would not work for her. She changed her mind by the third night and used one of Nana's pillows. We try to replicate what we do at home even while traveling. Evie still naps if possible and goes to bed within a reasonable time frame. Everything goes more smoothly for us if we are all well-rested! Henry still naps on the go but we will do the same thing for him. We left Carl's parents before Henry's morning nap so he would sleep for a bit. I chose the late afternoon flight to ensure that everyone had a chance to nap before the flight. Nightlights are good things to take with you so that the darkness of the room can be adjusted if necessary.

Travel can be stressful with kids so it's important to have lots of patience! Carl and I did not even notice how long we were stuck in traffic which was probably a good thing because it helped us stay calm even when we were not moving at all. Please share any tips that you may have that make traveling with little ones go more smoothly.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

She She and Poppy's

We left Charleston around 10 and headed to the Upstate for Thanksgiving. Traffic was pretty bad for about an hour but at least we were moving. Henry was getting fussy and spitting up a lot which means he had some dairy somehow so we stopped to give him some medicine. He calmed right down and went to sleep. Evie did not sleep again.

Mary and Lucy were waiting for Evie to arrive and Evie was so excited to see everyone. All the girls went downstairs and Henry visited with She She and Poppy for a bit. We had dinner and Evie went straight to bed.

We woke up on Thanksgiving and hung out around the house. Carl helped his Dad prepare a Maple Bourbon turkey that Tony had been planning for weeks. He found the recipe in Country Living. I usually prefer the sides to the turkey but this was an incredible turkey. Sheila suggested that we rave about it if even it was not so good but it was delicious! It was so juicy and moist, one of the best turkeys that I have ever had. Oranges and limes were in the cavity which may have helped with the wonderful flavor. We all worked on some stuffing with lemon zest and sausage that turned out pretty well. Henry slept through the preparations and the girls kept busy playing. Mary and Lucy are terrific at entertaining Evie. Kurt and Lollie arrived later that day. They brought loads of hand-me downs for Evie which is always appreciated. Evie has had a ball playing in those clothes all day. She has changed clothes nearly 30 times and has dressed for all four seasons.

Henry and Evie were ready for naps so I put them down for naps which gave us a chance to really enjoy our Thanksgiving meal. It was almost like Thanksgiving before kids except the monitors were close by humming away. It was a delightful meal and Carl's parents did a fantastic job hosting us all for Thanksgiving. It's a lot of work preparing for Thanksgiving but it was nice to spend the holiday with everyone.

After naps, we headed to the park for some playtime and then had a few snacks before bedtime. Lollie brought lots of snacks and some dairy-free cream cheese from Trader Joe's that was really good. Cream cheese is a pretty important part of the holidays for me so I am thrilled to have found a substitute. We sat outside and kept warm by the fire.

Friday morning, Kurt and Lollie took their kids to Cashier's and the rest of us stayed home. Carl and Poppy took Evie for a boat ride. She loved it! Carl and I really wanted to go to Cashiers but we knew that Evie needed a nap so she could be on her best behavior at dinner. She slept 3.5 hours which is a long time to nap in a pack and play. Evie woke up just in time to get dressed and wore one of her new dresses to dinner.

We stopped at the Market to have pictures with Santa. Evie was not impressed with Santa and kept telling me that she wanted to stay home. I told her that she needed to let Santa know what she wanted for Christmas. Evie wanted Henry to tell Santa for her but finally at least stood next to him for a picture. Evie refused to sit on his lap and we did not want to force her to do it just for a funny picture. Maybe next year! Henry did not seem to mind Santa one bit. That may be a different story next year too. I have a cute picture of Carl's parents with all the kids but they may have plans to use it for a Christmas card so I will post it later. After pictures with Santa, we had dinner at the Orchard House. It was a delicious buffet and the server was kind enough to have the chef prepare some fish and veggies for me. Evie did fairly well at dinner. Way better than expected and we can thank Lucy for that. Evie was most interested in dessert which is no surprise - that girl loves her cake! We headed down to see the Christmas tree and Evie thought it was beautiful. The girls had fun running around for a bit and then we made a bee line back to Carl's parents for bedtime. It was a really fun night!

Evie was still awake when I put Henry to bed but she was quiet. We got a middle of the night wake up call from Evie regarding her nose not working. She went back to sleep easily after a quick cuddle. Evie woke up ready to punzle with brother the next morning!

We always drive back on Saturday after Thanksgiving but especially this year because we had been gone for so long.  We left around 10 and were sad to go but know that we will see everyone this coming weekend for Henry's baptism. Thanksgiving and Easter are my two favorite holidays. We have so much to be thankful for and Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to take time to remember all the blessings in our life.


 We were so excited to be on the way to Charleston! Carl and I both love Charleston but it's hard to get there now that we live so far away. Our trip went really well although we were not sure what to expect since this was Henry's first extended car trip. Henry is an excellent traveler just like his sister.

We enjoyed a yummy barbecue lunch at Maurice's in Columbia. That mustard style barbecue is so good! It was fun driving through Columbia since we lived there for about 6 months.  Carl thinks we stopped at every rest stop between Columbia and Charleston which is only a slight exaggeration. Henry does not eat well with commotion and there's always a lot of commotion with Evie around.

Carl took Evie to run around at one rest stop and she was immediately covered in ant bites. OUCH! Carl took her dress off and picked every ant off the inside of her dress. Henry slept most of the way to Charleston. We tried to get Evie to sleep but she did not close her eyes one time. Evie has a book, Goodnight, Charleston that covered all the highlights of a visit to Charleston. She wanted to take a carriage ride so Carl took us to Carolina Polo & Carriage Company because his friend, Richard from college owns the company with his family. We had a wonderful guide, Brian who took us all over the beautiful City of Charleston along with our horse, Gibbes. Evie did really well although the tour was nearly an hour. Carl and I were slightly concerned that we were going to have to get off and walk back to the car but that never happened. Evie pointed out every pink house along the way and loved seeing the Battery. It was a wonderful time! Carl enjoyed catching up with Richard who has his own baby boy that is just a little bit younger than Henry. Carl wore Henry in the Baby Bjorn and he took a few snoozes along the way. It was the perfect way to spend our first afternoon in Charleston.

After our carriage ride, we headed to Ben and Katherine's house. Carl and Ben went to College of Charleston together and Ben was with Carl on the night that I met Carl. We had so much fun staying with them and they have two precious boys, Hudson and James that are the same ages as Henry and Evie. Ben prepared a delicious dinner of pork kabobs with pineapple and red pepper along with some delicious rice. We enjoyed dinner together and had fun catching up. Our kids played outside and watched a movie. It was fun to see them playing together. Carl and Ben hung out while Katherine and I headed to bed exhausted from wrangling the kids.

Ben and Katherine have a separate guest house which is also Ben's office. It was such a great place to stay! I was slightly anxious about sleeping in the same room with both kids but it worked out so well. Evie went to sleep first then I fed Henry and carried him into the room. Our sweet girl was exhausted from not napping so she did not make a peep.

It was another beautiful morning in Charleston. We headed out to  Charlestowne Landing for a bit. Evie enjoyed exploring the ship and I enjoyed seeing the scenic Lowcountry views. Henry slept through this outing! It was time for lunch so we drove out to Folly for some seafood. My dairy-free diet was difficult to manage eating in restaurants but I enjoyed my grilled shrimp with veggies. Carl and Evie had fried shrimp along with about a pound of peanuts. Henry napped through lunch.

It was such a gorgeous day that we decided to spend some time on the beach. Although, our wardrobe was not entirely beach appropriate since it was 85 degrees and we had long pants on. Evie had a blast running in and out of the water. Henry liked the sound of the waves. It was a special time that I will always remember even the part when Evie threw sand in my mouth.  Our Evie loves the beach and was one happy girl frolicking in the sand. Carl loved the chance to stick his toes in the salt water and smell the pluff mud. We thought she was worn out and ready for a nap but she surprised us again by skipping her nap. It was time for showers before heading out for the evening. Carl drove us out to Sullivan's Island. Henry slept and Evie peered out the windows.

Courtney and Phillip, Carl's cousins, hosted an oyster roast for us with some of the family. It was really fun! I have not had oysters in years and am pretty sure that I had more than my share. Evie ran around with all the kids. Elissa's daughter Taylor is just a few weeks younger than Evie so they had fun playing together. I took a picture of John Phillip with Henry because there is a similar one of Carl holding John Phillip about 18 years ago. Time goes by so quickly, before I know it, Henry will be holding JP's baby. It was really a fabulous night and so sweet of the Prickett's to host this so everyone could meet Henry without us running all over town. Mary and Carolyn are so good with the little kids and kept Evie busy all night so I had a chance to chat with everyone. Evie could barely hold her eyes open and was ready for bed. Hudson came in for a visit and then Evie crashed for the night.

We packed up our stuff - way too much stuff! I have some new packing tips for our next trip that is for sure. It was a rainy day but I was determined to go see the College of Charleston. It is such a beautiful place and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend school there. Even in the rain, it is still a beautiful place. We stopped at Caviar and Bananas for breakfast. Thank goodness, that place was not there when I was at the College because all my babysitting money would have been gone. It is the cutest little cafe! We made one last stop at the Battery before getting on the road to She She and Poppy's house. Carl and I were both so sad to leave and wished that we could have seen more people and places. We hope to get back there soon!

Ipop and Nana's House

Evie was so excited to get to Gastonia and was ready to swing on her new swing right when we pulled in the driveway. We had a quick dinner and let her play a bit before bed. Henry met the dogs and liked them just like Evie. I put the kids to bed and stayed up for a bit before going to bed myself.

My mom stayed home from work on Friday which helped me tremendously. It's a lot more difficult to take of your kids when you are not in your own house. We took Evie and Henry over to see my grandmother. She had not met Henry so I know she was thrilled to finally meet her great- grandson. That afternoon, my dad arranged for Maddie, to come over for a play date. Evie had a ball with Maddie. They got along so well together and enjoyed a fun snack of munchkins courtesy of Maddie's Aunt Joanie! Evie was exhausted and ready for bed right after dinner. Playing is hard work.

On Saturday, Evie and Maddie went to ride a pony at a horse farm in Gastonia. My dad arranged this for the girls since Evie loves horses so much. Bucky was a sweet pony and both girls enjoyed this so much. On the way home, we made a quick stop at the local castle for some playtime. Evie knows exactly where this playground is located and finds it a crucial part of her visit. Nana stayed home with Henry. They started working on our Thanksgiving meal. Henry makes a very good sous chef and enjoyed kicking on his play mat. Evie was beginning to melt so off to nap for her while I took Henry to see my Aunt Libby. Ben took Evie down to the lake to see the geese. Evie LOVES her Uncle Ben and talks about him every single day at home. She told me that she wanted him to take her fishing but she settled for a walk down to the lake. They saw Jackie, Maddie's aunt on their walk. Jackie brought Evie some gorgeous bows that she had made which Evie has already enjoyed wearing. I need to try out bow making myself!

Sunday, we stayed home from church because they were having bagpipes and my mom was preparing Thanksgiving. Evie would not have enjoyed the bagpipes since they are so loud. It was much easier to stay home although we would have loved for everyone to meet Henry. Carl got to my parents that afternoon and Evie was so excited to see her Daddy. My grandmother and aunt came over for Thanksgiving. My mom did an outstanding job on the dinner and it was all dairy-free. YUMMY! My favorite parts were the dressing and the pumpkin cake with a delicious glaze. Evie was not too interested in eating since she had a new audience but perked up for some cake with lemon sorbet. It was very nice Thanksgiving and so sweet of mom to host this early so we could be there too.

Monday came too quickly and it was time to head to Charleston. It literally took us over an hour to pack up and load the van because we had so much stuff . . . too much stuff! We had such a fun time visiting my parents and brother. Evie turned their entire house into her own personal playground. She has a way of doing that but I am pretty sure that Ipop and Nana did not mind one bit. I will get some more pictures from them. Carl had my camera on his camping trip so I did not get too many.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flying Solo

Flying is much easier than driving but it can be difficult too. I flew for the first time with both kids last week and it a breeze. Evie had been asking for weeks if we were going to the airport. She was thrilled that the day finally arrived.

Evie had school that day so I picked her up before lunch so she could nap at home. Our flight left at 4:50 and it took forever to make it through security. Evie had her "punzel" on or you may refer to it as a leash. Henry was in the stroller. We arrived at the gate a few minutes before boarding. We flew Southwest and boarded with family boarding. Our plane was not full so it helped a lot to have an entire row to ourself!

There were a few other kids on board which always eases my tension. Evie was ready for snack time as soon as we boarded. I offered her a snack before boarding but she wanted to wait for the peanuts. Evie was not impressed that snacks were not served until we were in the air. She held her little airplane and looked out the window. Henry just looked around. Both kids did so well that I did not even have to pull out my bag of tricks. I took way too much stuff even though I really did not have that much. My advice is to take the bare necessities especially when flying solo. Snacks are always helpful, along with books and a new quiet toy.

We landed and Evie was ready to fly again. It took forever to get off the plane. Our stroller was waiting for us so Henry went in the stroller and Evie walked to the luggage claim. My Dad and brother were waiting for us and then we had about an hour to go before arriving at my parents house. Evie chattered the entire way which was fine after being cooped up on an
airplane. I will definitely fly with both kids again although you just never know how it is going to go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"What that sound, Mommy?"

Evie asks this question approximately 100 times per day! She is obsessed with noise of all types from water running upstairs to airplanes flying in the sky - everything is noticed by Evie.  I think she is very sensitive to noise because sometimes these noises are barely noticeable to me. The other day she turned the bathroom fan on instead of the light and that caused lots of tears. She was shocked that such a loud noise came on rather than a light. This morning, I dropped her off at preschool and an ambulance was going by and she noticed that too. She mentioned it to her teacher who commented that the noise was rejuvenating - not sure how but anyway Evie announced that noise was pretty! Evie is not impacted at all by noise that she makes just the noises of others. She puts her hands over her ears and tells me that that it's "too soundy" if she does not like a noise. Not sure where she gets this stuff from but it sure keeps me on my toes! We received our prints back from our fall shoot. I like these three a lot!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up!

We had a fun weekend! Courtney and I headed out to The Container Store and had a blast. It was a little overwhelming because the store is literally overflowing with organizational tools. I cannot wait to go back soon!

Carl held down the fort with the kids but I am pretty sure he was glad to see me walk in the door. That's how I feel at the end of every day . . . ready for another pair of hands to wrangle the kids.
Everyone took naps and then Carl picked up some Thai for dinner. I was in bed asleep by 8:30.

Evie has been a handful for the last few days. I am hoping that she is just tired from the time change.  She did great at church this morning but melted down pretty much immediately after we got home. Carl was outside putting together the play set our neighbors gave us. She kept asking to take a sleep - that's how she refers to a nap - so I put her down without any books or songs expecting her to balk at the idea. Instead, Evie was passed out within minutes so I am hoping her behavior can be linked to exhaustion. Henry slept for a bit too but kept waking up. Early naps will mean early bedtimes tonight so maybe that will help us all get back on track.

Carl had the whole neighborhood outside helping him put the play set together and it looks fantastic. Evie thinks play sets are parks and asks me to go play at the park in her boys yard. We are so appreciative of our neighbors for giving us this play set. It's a real perk to have neighbors with older children because they are always looking to pass on toys as their children age out of them.

Evie woke up from her nap in a fantastic mood. We took her outside and let her notice the new play set. She was so excited and kept saying that she had her own park in her yard. Evie is going to love having another place to play.