Babymoon and Food…

Mark and I indulged the two and half days were gone…and it all started with the box of Godiva choocolates and sparkling cider that we had as part of our babymoon package.  Mmmm!

Sunday night, we used our gift certificate to Mercato’s.  A short walk and we arrived at a beautifully decorated Italian restaurant.  The food was pretty good and the prices were great (since we didn’t have to pay for our meal).  As a salad, I got a Caprese Salad.  I wasn’t sure what that was but was interested in trying the house made mozzarella…which turned out not to have too much flavor to it at all.

But the lasagna was yummy!  See???
 Because we had a gift certificate, Mark bought the most expensive thing on the menu…and he loved it as well…the face says it all (I caught him mid chew).  We had even more money left over on our certificate, so Mark ordered tiramasu (which tasted like coffee and I promptly spit out) to take back to the hotel.
 But we did stop at the candy shop next door so I could get a bear claw (yep…I am brave enough to show a picture of me propping up the candy on Bryant).
Saturday, we grabbed a quick bite before heading to the spa for my manicure and pedicure (trust me…Mark did not want to nor did he participate in any spa experience…his manhood is secure).  We had been perusing Market Street and so ran into a neat little pizzeria called Di Giovanni’s.  For eight bucks, we both got a pizza “the size of your head!”  And were treated to real old-fashioned New York (or New Jersey…not sure which) accents and attitudes!  Really, the owner was very gracious and super friendly.  And the pizza was extremely yummy…especially for the price!
Upon a recommendation from a friend, we opted for Poogan’s Porch for supper.  It was within walking distance from our hotel and sounded super yummy.  We ate on the back porch because the weather was unbelievable and the smell on the front porch was hideous.  Another couple was out there and they had eaten there many times and told us what was yummy and how much they loved to eat there.  The food was super fast in coming out and really good…and the biscuits were AWESOME (See my half eaten biscuit above for proof).  Oh, and the restaurant was named Poogan’s Porch after a dog…I guess he hung out on the porch a lot.
You can’t go to Charleston without getting Shrimp & Grits…Mark really enjoyed it too!  I passed on the seafood and got…
the buttermilk chicken which was Yuuuu-mmmmy!
And lastly…I’ve now decided a stop in Charleston (or Columbia for that matter) will never be complete without getting one of these
from Cupcake.  Let me just say that they were extremely delicious and this place is centrally located for some serious people watching! (Isn’t it cute how our cupcakes “match” but aren’t the same…kinda like us…awwww).
Are you hungry yet???

Our First Babymoon

This year marks 10 years that Mark and I have been married.  (Okay, I was going to put 10 years that he’s put up with me in the same house under the same roof…but it’s more romantic to say it the other way).  Given that on our actual anniversary I’m going to be right smack in the middle of third trimester uncomfortableness (and that is a word), we decided to plan a trip a little ahead of our anniversary. 

We threw around different places to go all the way from the Grand Canyon to New York City.  And then, one day, I realized, we’d both never been to Charleston which is practically in our backyard (okay about three hours from our backyard but that’s pretty close compared to where we were looking).  We started looking at places to stay in Charleston and crept upon a pretty little inn with a sweet romance package…called a Babymoon Package.  It was a great deal on a room which included a spa gift certificate and a gift certificate to a restaurant.  We were pysched!  After arranging childcare we made reservations and set the date.

And it happened this month!  We had a wonderful time and this was the first time, since having children, we’ve taken a trip and not had to do anything!  So, the next few days, get ready to visit Charleston with us (briefly, you really have to go to get the full experience).

We stayed at the Andrew Pinckney Inn.  This is the main building and the rest of the hotel is across the street.  The room was beautiful.  A bit small…and my only other complaint (besides getting a call from what I can only imagine was the front desk, the first night at 3 in the morning), was that we were put on a streetside room.  Not too big a deal.  The noise outside died down about the time we headed to bed.  However, the street sweepers came by both nights twice around 5 in the morning.  Not ideal for a couple who is on their Babymoon trip.  So, if you are pregnant and want to get in on this deal, request an inside room!  Oh, and don’t drink the beverages served at breakfast.  Something with those machines makes them all taste like metal or rotten or something….but the breakfast was good and served it’s purpose for our ventures out that day!

The best thing about where we stayed was that we were about two blocks from Market Street where all the tourists go to experience Charleston.  We were also within walking distance to a ton of restaurants.  We pretty much kept the car (or truck…we had to borrow Mark’s dad’s truck…long story) parked except for two outings.

Mark took a picture of a front door.  Well, it’s two front doors on one house.  We took a carriage ride (highly recommended to learn more about Charleston and to look at the beautiful houses) and our guide told us why most of the houses have these doors to the porch.  They’re called “hospitality” doors.  If they are open, it means the homeowners are open to receiving guests.  Closed means “get lost.”  Either way, we thought they were unusual and beautiful.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church that they started building in the 1800s and finished just this year!  The reason being that they just added the beautiful metalwork steeple to it this year.  This is just one example of the beautiful eccentric buildings that can be seen all around Charleston.

One day, we ate our breakfast (at the inn) on top of the “roof.”  Which is really a little terrace balcony on the top floor.  It was beautiful and romantic.  This is a view from the breakfast area (and also the only shot of both of us together).  I was hoping she would be able to get the church in the shot…we were at the corner of Church St. and Pinckney St. and there was a beautiful huge steeple that could be seen from the terrace area.

Sea Turtles

Still in Jekyll…we got up on Tuesday morning and after eating, we headed out to the Sea Turtle Center.  Every one seemed to be perky and fever free this day and it was time to celebrate and educate.

Zoe’s not quite as tall as the tallest known living turtle. (And these are turtles not tortoises…ask the kids.  They know the difference).

The center is basically a rescue/recovery/education facility.  They have a turtle hospital and have vets/marine biologists etc., that do research and care for the sick turtles that are brought to them all over the east coast.  This turtle’s getting a spa treatment by having his shell scraped to fight off infection from the keratin (I think that’s right) that builds up on his back.  He seemed to be enjoying it.

You can’t tell…but this was a big sea turtle.  Most of the turtles at the center are not there because of human related accidents/ issues.  The ones we saw most of were cold-stunned…where a sudden drop in the temperature in the ocean forced them to be stagnate (since they’re cold blooded animals) and wreaked havoc on their body systems.  Just another issue to deal with in global warming.  I’m kidding.
Peeking up to say hello!
And as we were leaving…what did the kids want to look at in the gift shop???  Yep, books!  I love our little book nerds!

CeiRai-isms

She’s a bit quirky…

(umm, that’s how she drank from her cup on the trip to Florida)
…and a tad bit apprehensive about much of anything.  She’s the first to actually not like being thrown in the air.
Oh, and sometimes…when you’re in a hotel room with five kids…she’s the one…
That has to sacrifice a bed*…
But she’s okay with that!
*No, we did not make her sleep in the nightstand console.  She just kept crawling up into it.  And when I told her to go nite nite, she cuddled with her giraffe and laid her head down (but she didn’t really go to sleep).

To the Beach

After watching the shuttle blast off into space at 6:21 a.m. (no more than 10 minutes of our life and almost an hour to get back on the interstate), we headed to the hotel to change the kids out of their pjs and eat a free breakfast (which felt really weird since we had been up for several hours at this point).  We checked out and drove about halfway towards home and then made a pit stop.  As we were driving the kids asked where we were going.  Mark just casually mentioned that he thought they would enjoy a day at the beach.  Four resounding “YES!” were yelled from the back of the van.  So to the beach we went.

I’ve been to Jekyll Island, GA several times now.  I love it there.  It’s small, peaceful, and full of some rich history.  And it’s beautiful.  Now, I’m not talking white sand, Gulf of Mexico beautiful but Spanish moss hanging from every oak tree, waves crashing up against the rocks beautiful.  The whole island is virtually flat which makes it a great place to go on casual bike rides (and you can bike the whole island in one day easy).  We didn’t bike but I so wish we had had the time to do it.

However, we did hit the beach…

This was the last day of Josiah’s bug and just didn’t want much to do with the ocean.
Ceili Rain was about three months old the first time she went to the beach.  Having no recollection and not being the daredevil of the bunch…
She didn’t much care for it.  And as for the crashing waves…
she preferred mommy’s secure arms.
I can already imagine how much this therapy session is going to cost her!
She did manage a smile when she saw daddy had the camera.
And when she watched her brothers and sister in the water.
You can only imagine how much fun these three had in those waves.  Liam tried to talk Mark into going in so they could get deeper.  He, respectfully, declined (honestly, playing in the ocean in April in Georgia…it’s a little frigid).

Blast Off!

Mark got a good spot for us to watch the launch.  We were as close as we could get without trying to get in on the lottery to actually be in some remote area at the Space Center (and paying an arm and leg for too).
I’ll let Mark tell about the launch but first…I have to say it was amazing!  To see what man had created and to know that God has given us the intelligence to create it!  Pretty cool!
What was left behind after the shuttle was out of sight.

From Mark:   The quick version is just as Abbie said – amazing what man can do with the tools and intelligence God has given us when a bunch of us get together and use our skills toward a single goal.  This was truly a neat opportunity and I am very grateful to my family for greatly inconveniencing themselves with the early times so that I could fulfill this lifelong dream.  Thank you, Abbie, and kiddos for a great birthday present.  I love you!

If anyone is really interested in the nitty-gritty details, just comment or e-mail and we can discuss off-blog.

3-2-1…

A loooooonnnnng time ago…well, not that long ago.  Just several months ago, Mark turned 30.  With that, the kids and his parents decided to give him a memorable gift.  A trip to see a space shuttle launch.  This is the last year, unless intervened upon by Congress, that NASA will send men into space using their own space transportation system.  Long story short, this was going to be the last year that the shuttle would be launched and next year they would start sending up a new rocket (like what the Apollo missions used only modern).  However, the NASA program to use the rockets (which were already being tested) has been cut from the government budget.  This, obviously, is going to put a big delay on more man-space missions.  Anyways…all that to say that there were only a handful of missions left to see an actual shuttle launch.

We couldn’t go to the first few…but this month was THE month to make it.

Now, I must admit we almost had to “scrub” our mission to head to Florida to watch the launch.  Josiah and Liam both decided to start with a fever (that Mark and Ceili Rain had had the previous week) on Friday.  Mark was still feeling a little under the weather on Saturday night and then I started to get a sore throat.  We made the decision to cancel our trip unless we both felt better Sunday morning (two parents plus two kids down and out would not make for a very fun trip).  Easter Sunday dawned and Mark and I both were up and ready to go.  After church we loaded the van, kids, and food and headed to Florida.

We stopped that night in Daytona and slept for a few hours and then got up at 2:30 in the morning (I’m so not kidding on that).  Woke the kids up at 3 a.m. (not kidding on that) and headed the extra hour to Titusville.  Going from a tip from one of Mark’s co-workers, we squeezed into a spot to watch the launch.  And we had an awesome view.

We really hoped the kids would sleep on the way to Titusville.  But they didn’t.

The entire wait until the launch.  All five of them.  Wide awake.
“Why am I awake now???”
“Okay, this isn’t too bad.”
Mark had the idea to take out the backseat of the van.  He moved stuff around and threw some sleeping bags on the floorboard.  They used that as their playing field.  We finally broke out the DVD player with about 30 minutes until the launch and that pacified them until we headed back home.  Ceili Rain fell asleep about 10 minutes before launch so we put her down in the back of the van.  Liam showed no signs of fever but Josiah was feverish and not feeling great the whole time.  He started to perk up after the launch (thanks to acetemetophin).