Christmas Light Tour

Big, sparkly Christmas light displays are my fave. Luckily, there are no shortage of them in and around the Philadelphia area. And, since taking in the lights is a pretty toddler friendly (and free!) activity, we’ve been doing a lot of it this season. Our first stop was the Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle, with our friends Richard and Louisa and their kids. Every 30 minutes, the park is illuminated by an elaborate light show, set to a soundtrack by the Philly POPS. There is plenty to do at the park keep everyone occupied, including a seasonal craft market, food/beverage tent and of course the carousel and mini golf, so I would definitely recommend adding this to your holiday to-do list (this year, it runs through New Year’s Eve). FS-24 FS-3

She was obsessed with the water in the fountain. She kept spinning in circles and saying “wa-wa”

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She started clapping as soon as the music started

Next, we headed to Peddler’s Village in Bucks County. You can get some of your shopping done while taking in more than one million lights that make up the outdoor display. PV-1

Killing time in the toy store, while we waited for the lights to come on.

PV-6 Our final stop was the Christmas Village in Love Park and new Dilworth Park outside of City Hall. CM-2 CM-6

B had fallen asleep in the car on the way there and was not too happy about being woken up from her nap, or about the crowds in the village

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We didn’t notice until going through the photos that these lights changed color

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She’s on the move, and she loved the big, open space…

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…and the steps. She would have gone up and down them all day. Not pictured: the meltdown that ensued when I picked her up to leave. That’s how I knew it was time to head home.

Where have you all been getting your Christmas light fix this year?

Little B: 15 Months

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This was the most difficult photo shoot to date. She basically refused to sit in the chair, so this was the best we could do!

Another month is in the books, and as usual, we have plenty to report:

Stats

At B’s 15 month doctor’s appointment, she weighed in at 20 pounds, 13 oz (she feels way heavier) and was 29.4 inches long. She is wearing size 12 or 18 month clothes, for the most part. This month, she got two more teeth (one on the bottom and one on the top left, at the back) for a total of 8) and more seem to be on their way.

Doing

We have made great strides in the walking department and I would say that B has officially taken her first steps. Her balance has definitely improved and she is more confident in her ability to walk unassisted. She seems to do a lot better when she is carrying something, and it is hilarious to see her toddle along dragging her stuffed panda or big pink ball (both of which are roughly half her size) along with her.

Personality

When I think about it now, it really shouldn’t surprise me that B took her sweet time when it came to taking her first real steps. Her dislike of surprises is becoming more evident with each passing month, and I would definitely use the word cautious to describe her personality. The other day, for example, we were sitting in the living room playing, when our Christmas tree (which we have on a timer) lit up. I thought B would be thrilled; instead she broke down in tears. Thankfully, her reaction has improved as the nights go on.

She is also getting more social. Although she is still wary of strangers and people she doesn’t see often at first, she warms up a lot more quickly now. She loves other little kids and one of her favorite people to visit is Big Bridget’s grandmother (Nunnie).

Saying

B continues to talk a mile a minute Her newest words are “Ar-ra” (Arthur, since she has recently become a huge fan of the book and television series), “wa-wa” (water), and “mahn” (man, which usually refers to a snowman) But, her favorite words this month seem to be “mama” and “hi.” She says them all. The Time. More often than not, the sound of her saying them over and over again is what wakes me up in the morning. I continue to be amazed at how much she understands, and we have already had to resort to spelling certain words around her to keep her from figuring out what we are talking about.

Favorite things

The Arthur television show and book series; water—drinking it, playing in it, saying it; snowmen; Crayons. She scribbles with them a bit, but mostly, she just likes to hold them and watch them roll across the floor; her tea set. She loves pretending to serve us a hot beverage. Slamming doors. She has a whole routine of saying “bye” and closing doors in our faces. Then, we spend a few minutes knocking back and forth from our respective sides, before we open the door so she can greet us with an excited “A-boo!”; she is currently enjoying the song Rock-A-Bye Baby and she will cross her arms in front of her and sway back and forth when we sing it.

Least favorite things

Going to bed. She employs all kinds of distractions to delay bedtime, from pulling all of the books off her shelf, to slamming books shut as we try to read them, to squirming off my lap and out the door as we sit in the rocking chair.

Books

We continue to read most of the same books mentioned during prior updates over and over again, but have added a few to our rotation, including Snow (such a beautiful book, both in terms of its story and illustrations) and How Do I Love You? We took Press Here out of the library recently and she loved it and did such a good job following the directions (shaking the books, blowing on the dots, etc.). I think Santa will definitely be dropping that off for her this year!

Foods

We switched from baby to grown up oatmeal this month and she loves it, mixed with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and fruit. with all kinds of things mixed in. Overall, though, her appetite was hit or miss this month, and the only things she would reliably eat were sweet potatoes and meatloaf. I think teething played a huge part in the trend. She seemed to be in quite a bit of pain, particularly as that top tooth made it’s way in.

Fun Experiences

At the beginning of November, we finally had B christened. While she might not agree that having water poured over her head was fun, we did have a little celebration with family afterward—with cake!

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Not happy about having a wet head

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Also not happy about having oil put on her forehead. I love the grown-ups facial expressions in this one, especially of the godparents, Uncle Mike and Auntie B

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Napping after the trauma

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Cake makes it all better.

We took her to see Elmo at the Franklin Institute. I wish we had gotten some better photos with him, but he “forgot his inhaler” and couldn’t really stick around for the duration of the event. B was still pretty excited to just be in the same room as him.

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She celebrated Thanksgiving at Granny’s. She napped through most of the Macy’s parade, but loved the balloons and floats that she managed to see. I was surprised that she didn’t seem interested in at least trying things from the dinner table. She was so interested in the food last year that I thought she would be excited to eat this time around. But, she was more interested in riding her zebra and cleaning Granny’s floors with the Swiffer.

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What is this, guys?

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Hoping she won’t mind doing windows, either.

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Now, we have been getting ready for the holidays. She is loving the lights, dancing to Christmas music and her Christmas countdown! She is the star of our Christmas card once again, and I can’t wait to share that photo once we send them out to family and friends!

DIY Christmas Countdown Calendar

One of the first signs that the holiday season was upon us when I was growing up was the appearance of the Christmas countdown calendar in our kitchen. It was this one, from Avon. When I saw it hanging in B’s playroom at my mom’s house on Thanksgiving, it brought back memories of the yearly fight between my brother and me, in regards to who would get to move the mouse first.

This year, I decided to start the Christmas countdown tradition by making a calendar for B. It doesn’t look like the fancy ones that are currently cluttering my Pinterest feed, but it’s fun and whimsical and B’s eyes lit up when she saw it. I’m glad she’s still at an age where she is easy to impress.

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I covered paper tags with card stock, wrote each activity on the back of them, cut the numbers out of glittery paper and displayed them on the chicken wire frame from her first birthday party. Since she is still a little too young for some of the traditional holiday festivities like baking cookies and ice skating, I purchased few little trinkets for her to unwrap (a hair bow and socks, books, jingle bells, to name a few) and alternated them with toddler-friendly activities, like watching Christmas movies and driving around to look at Christmas lights.

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I think it should make for a fun December (which starts tomorrow! What?!)

Giving Thanks.

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Moments like this are why I’m the luckiest girl in the world.

I try to be thankful, every day, for all of the good things that I have in my life. But, when there is so much to do and so little time to do it and the evening news only reports the bad things that happen, it’s easier to become frustrated and pessimistic.

Fortunately, Thanksgiving (and the prospect of spending time with the people that I love most amidst copious amounts of food), has arrived to snap me out of it.

In the spirit of today’s holiday, here is a short list of things that I am grateful for:

My husband. He tolerates all my quirks and moods and makes me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world even when I haven’t washed my hair in three days.

My sweet baby girl. She’s the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about at night. She is making me a better person every single day and just seeing her smile makes my life.

My mom, who is always there. My aunt, who will also do just about anything for us, including acting as our own personal post office so our packages don’t get stolen from our front step. My brother, who is the number one fan of this blog (even though he would never admit it) and who finally joined Facebook this year so that I can enjoy his sense of humor on a daily basis.

The world’s best dog. Tracy, our poor first daughter is often overlooked in favor of her baby sister and I feel incredibly guilty and undeserving of the love (and daily protection from the mailman) that she continues to give us.

Friends. Even though we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like, I know that I can pick up the phone and we’ll pick up right where we left off. A special shout-out goes to my BFF of 20 (!) years, Bridget. Sure, I could have come up with Chicago Hope: The Board Game myself, but it would not have been nearly as fun (plus, I’m pretty sure she came up with the idea for the popsicle stick character/game pieces, which will really the be major selling point for the game when we finally bring it to Milton Bradley).

My job. I have always loved my field, but after a couple of years of feeling kind of lost on my career path, I am finally in a position that is a really good fit for me. And, without work I never would have connected with colleagues who have turned into good friends.

Technology. Specifically, smartphones. Right now, I’m stuck with an ancient Blackberry while I wait for a new phone. I have been without instant access to my e-mail, calendar, and Instagram for a few weeks and it’s driving me bananas (#firstworldproblems). Also, Google. It knows everything. I rely on it at least a hundred times a day for the answers to the most obscure questions and the correct spelling of words that I mess up so badly that even Spell Check doesn’t recognize them (such as convenient and necessary. And, yes, I just Googled those).

Philly. While I was walking though Center City the other day I was reminded of how much I love living here, with access to awesome museums, restaurants and shopping.

Coffee. Without it, I would be even crankier than I usually am and would probably be asleep at my desk by 9 a.m. Relatedly: under eye concealer.

Cake. Because there is nothing better with coffee.

Yoga pants and their universally flattering nature. Although I would be even more grateful if it were acceptable to wear them to work.

Good books. Crap television (i.e. Teen Mom, reality shows on TLC, etc.).

A hot shower, pajamas and a comfy bed. There’s nothing better at the end of the day.

Every single day of the week, that I get to wake up and take on new challenges. Be a mother. Do creative things. Except when those days are Tuesdays. I will never be thankful for Tuesdays.

Yep. I guess I’m pretty darn lucky. I hope you can say the same. Now, go get your food coma on.

 

Charleston (Day Four)

All too soon, our last day in Charleston rolled around. Luckily, there were pastries from WildFlour Pastry and doughnuts from Glazed to dull the pain and carb us up for a final day of exploring.

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Someone got caught with their hand in the donut box!

After three and a half days of sightseeing, we wanted to make sure we built in time for B to do something that she would actually enjoy. Sure, she loved seeing the animals on the plantations and just being out and about in general, but I could tell that she was getting a little antsy from mostly being in her stroller all day. Fortunately, the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry was the perfect place for her to get some playtime in.

When we first set her down on the floor in the toddler area, she just sat in the middle of the floor and looked around in awe, as though she couldn’t believe that she was allowed to touch and climb on everything without getting into trouble. Soon, she was off and running.

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All this, for me?!

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The museum also features eight other adorable, interactive exhibits, like a castle, grocery store, pirate ship and water table. We ended up spending the better part of the day there, and I think Chester and I had as much fun as B.

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She loved filling up her shopping cart with onions, which she called apples.

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Stocking up on Cheerios, of course!

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Ready to check-out!

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Captain of the pirate ship

After working up an appetite, we headed to lunch at Jestine’s Kitchen, which is known for its no-frills Southern food. In contrast to Husk, Jestine’s features just the basics—fried chicken, meatloaf, fried green tomatoes, and simple salads. Even at around 3 p.m., there was still a decent lunch crowd, so there was a bit of a wait for a fried chicken platter. But, it was totally worth it.

The rest of the day was just spent walking around town, taking in all the charm.

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Rainbow Row

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The Old Exchange

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Catching the breeze on the waterfront.

Whether you are planning a solo vacation or traveling with kids, Charleston is definitely worth considering. If you fall into the latter category, I would say that the city is definitely family friendly. We saw plenty of families traveling with small children (some even younger than B) and only one of the restaurants we visited lacked a high chair. Be aware that the streets are very narrow (it is an old city, after all) so you would do best to bring a small umbrella stroller and/or baby wearing device. The only bummer for me was that the plantation houses we visited were only accessible by guided tour, so we didn’t get to see the interiors because B just doesn’t have the attention span at this point. But, that just means we’ll have to go back again!

Little B: 14 Months

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As usual, we have had a busy month! Here are a few of the highlights:

Doing

We have made only the tiniest bit of progress on the walking front. When B is cruising along on the furniture, she will let go and fling herself to the closest item (this happens frequently between our couch and the coffee table, which are situated pretty close together). If we can convince her to let go of our hands, she will do so for very brief periods of time.

All told, I think she has taken approximately four steps unassisted. So, I know she can walk, but she just seems scared to do it alone. She gets quite upset when we encourage her to go on her own, so I am just trying to be patient and wait for her to be ready. But, it is frustrating that she won’t just get going already!

She loves to imitate what the grown-ups are doing, such as putting shoes on, brushing hair, or gesturing “come here” to the dogs in the family.

Saying

I have kind of lost track of the new words that she has said. It seems they are coming at a rapid rate, although she will sometimes say something once and then I will never hear it again (this has occurred with the words “butter” and “out,” most recently). She also will respond when we ask her what the cat says, although is sounds more like “woah” than “meow.” Other than that, she seems to just love the sound of her own voice in general, based on the fact that she yells…a lot.

Personality

We have had some teething issues, as she is getting a new tooth on the bottom, but generally, she has been pretty happy. When she isn’t though, she makes sure that we know about it. At times, she is downright demanding. As previously mentioned, she hates when we encourage her to walk on her own. There have been many tantrums on the floor when we let go of her hands or refuse to hand her an item that she has spotted from across the room.

She has been pretty social lately and while she still has her favorite people and loves a routine, she is doing much better around strangers and friends/family that she doesn’t see often.

Milestones

As of October 21st, our household is now a bottle-free zone!

Although B would willingly drink from a straw cup at meals, she seemed to be clinging to her morning and late afternoon bottles. And, by clinging, I mean she would throw a screaming fit if we tried to offer her a drink in a cup at those times. So, I was gearing up for a long battle to break the bottle habit.

But, one morning I decided to try putting her milk in a cup again just to see what happened. My expectations were low as I set it on her tray. She picked it up, sucked it down in five minutes and hasn’t looked back since.

While I am glad she gave up the bottle willingly (and that I don’t have to tote them around when we go out anymore), I do kind of miss the quiet, still moments that those feedings used to give us. And, I wish I had known that the last bottle that I gave B was going to be the final one. I would have savored those little moments more.

Favorite Books

We took our first trip to the library this month and B was pretty proud to receive her very own library card and choose three books from the shelves.

There were several books that B has requested that we read over and over again during the last few weeks. As soon as I close the cover of these new favorites, she does this adorable thing where she grabs the book and places it in my hand as a signal that she wanted me to read it again. I have now memorized Arthur’s Halloween, Where the Wild Things Are, Pippa the Pumpkin Fairy, Edgar Gets Ready for Bed and The Watermelon Seed. It is adorable to see B participating in some of the stories, shaking her head “No” like Max does when the wild things ask him to stay and saying “Boo” when the author describes the faces on Pippa’s pumpkins.

Favorite Foods

Meatloaf with cheese melted on top; Granny’s meatballs; mini penne pasta (I’m glad she has identified another pasta shape that is acceptable); peanut butter toast; pumpkin muffins.

Favorite Things

Elmo, Elmo, Elmo. She wakes up asking for him and can spot him three feet away on the packages of baby food and toothpaste on the shelves at Target. She is completely and utterly obsessed, just like every other kid I’ve ever met.

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At lunch in Charleston with her BFF

She has also been slightly less crazed when we give her a bath and brush her teeth. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these are her favorite activities, but there are definitely fewer tears associated with these things lately!

Least Favorite Things

Now that it’s colder, B has made her hatred of socks and long sleeved shirts known. She is taking after both me and her Uncle Mike, respectively, on these fronts.

We still aren’t doing to well on the green vegetable front, with the exception of the occasional pea. I’ve tried to sneak broccoli into other foods that she likes (like eggs), but she knows when they are hiding in there.

Fun Experiences

Our trip to Charleston was one of the main highlights of the month. I have been sharing all the details over the course of several posts (here, here and here, with one more to come), but I think you can tell from the photos that B had a great time exploring and eating. She is an excellent travel buddy and we can’t wait for our next adventure.

The rest of the month was filled with all of the typical fall festivities, including a visit to Linvilla Orchards and a trip outside the city to take in the fall foliage in Bucks County.

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Loving the wind in her hair, as we took in the fall foliage from Bowman’s Hill Tower

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What a View!

The weekend before Halloween, we tried to do a Halloween photo shoot with B and Tracy and it was not a success. Although Tracy, made a adorable carrot, B was the most miserable bunny anyone had ever seen.

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The headpiece conceals the tears.

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 Our other baby is such a good sport!

We still celebrated the occasion by going to “Boo at the Zoo.” It was a really adorable event complete with trick-or-treating, a costume parade and other kid-friendly activities. We didn’t torture B by putting her in costume, so she fully enjoyed the experience of collecting treats, peeping at the polar bears and giraffes and chasing the ducks.


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Other than that, our Halloween celebrations were pretty low-key. We skipped trick-or-treating in favor of watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and repeated recitations of Pippa, the Pumpkin Fairy. 

I am so looking forward to all of the festivities of the upcoming holiday season, including B’s first taste of Thanksgiving dinner later this month. Crazy to think that she wasn’t even eating solid foods this time last year!

On the Road: Charleston (Day Three)

Happy Halloween, all!

I should be posting an adorable pic of B in a cute costume, but I don’t have one. We put her in her bunny costume this weekend to attend the Halloween festivities at the zoo,and she wasn’t having any of it (although Tracy made an adorable carrot!). I’m thinking that I’ll spare her further distress, and share a bit more about our adventures in Charleston instead.

Sound good? Okay!

So, there are quite a few noteworthy pastry shops in Charleston. Of course, we had to made it a point to try a few…even if it meant having dessert for breakfast.

We headed to Sugar Bakeshop, a small-batch bakery that is kind of off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood. B and I kept it simple and went for mini vanilla and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and Chester got the Lady Baltimore cupcake (a mini version of the classic cake, which is layered with chopped nuts and dried fruit and topped with Italian meringue). We grabbed gigantic chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies to go, which made for excellent snacks later on.

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Cupcake face!

We wandered around the quaint streets of downtown Charleston for awhile, stopping by the City Market to pick up a few souvenirs, including sweetgrass baskets.

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Getting up close and personal with a horse named Earl.

After that, it was already time for lunch!

Husk appears on all of the “must-visit” restaurant lists that we consulted when planning our trip. We were excited to get a reservation for lunch, since late-night dinners were out of the question. We asked for a seat on the second floor porch—it felt like a very Southern thing to do!

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Checking out the menu

James Beard Award winning chef Sean Brock puts a new spin on traditional Southern dishes, through a creative use of locally sourced ingredients. For example, the pig ears are served in a lettuce wrap and feature a soy-flavored sauce, for a slightly Asian flair. I picked one of the more traditional things on the menu, the cornmeal dusted catfish. I loved being able to have one final taste of summer for the year, since it featured sweet corn and smoky-sweet tomatoes. For dessert, we shared the buttermilk chess pie. There were some delicious sounding chocolate items on the menu, but I have no doubt that this pie was the best choice. It was a simple and not to sweet way to end the meal, which was definitely our favorite of the trip.

After lunch, we drove back out to the plantation district for a visit to Middleton Place. Like Magnolia, the property has been in the hands of the same family for generations (fun fact: Arthur Middleton was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence).

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The plantation house

We skipped a visit to the house, which was fine because there was so much to see outside. We started our visit in the plantation stable yards, where artisans recreate blacksmithing, carpentry and other crafts that were practiced when the plantation was in operation. And, of course, there are the animals.

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Also, like Magnolia, the gardens are the major attraction here. Middleton’s are much more impressive, in my opinion, with a  more sculpted/planned look, sort of like the show gardens we have visited on other trips (for example, Victoria’s Buchart Gardens). The vistas are spectacular and many of the elements, including the curved terraces, archways made out of hedges and hidden walkways evoked memories of The Secret Garden (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite books. I can’t wait to share it with B!).

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We wrapped up our day with a stroll along the Battery, so named because there was a defense artillery battery on the site during the Civil War. Now, it is just a popular area for a waterfront stroll and is also the neighborhood of stately antebellum homes.

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As we had done throughout the trip, we stopped for takeout on the way home, this time at Five Loaves Cafe. I can safely say that I had the best veggie burger of my life—even B liked it!

Alright, I’m off to see if I can find some already discounted Reese’s products. We usually get exactly zero trick-or-treaters at our house, so I’m stocking up on the good stuff for myself!

Read more about our Charleston trip here and here.

On the Road: Charleston (Day Two)

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As usual, B was riding in style on this trip. People were stopping us on the street to comment on this stroller/backpack. In case you are wondering, it’s by Kelty, but has been discontinued. I don’t know why because it is pretty much the perfect item for traveling with a small child. But, you might be able to score one on Ebay, like Chester did.

Our second day in Charleston, started with brunch at Hominy Grill. This homey little restaurant is like Sabrina’s, with a Southern flair. We indulged in boiled peanuts, shrimp and grits (Chester) and a fried green tomato BLT (me). Of course, since this was a vacation, I had to get dessert—a thick slice of caramel pecan layer cake. All delicious, but definitely made me feel like I needed a session on the elliptical machine.

Luckily, we burned some calories (literally. It was so freaking hot. And, I of course, had packed all of the wrong clothes since it felt like fall when we left Philly.) with a long walk from the center of town to Liberty Square. Once there, we caught the ferry out to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The trip takes about 30 minutes. B was with the whole experience of her first ferry ride.

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View of the fort, from the ferry

Once at the fort, we had one hour for a self-guided tour. The site also includes a small museum with various artifacts from the war, but we stuck to the outside. I am not a big Civil War buff, but it was nevertheless humbling and somewhat eerie to be standing in a place where so many people lost their lives.

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On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Caviar and Bananas, a gourmet market and cafe, to grab dinner to bring back to the hotel. There were so many options to choose from—including sushi, salads, soups, pasta and sandwiches—that I had a hard time deciding what to get. The East Coast salad (with honey glazed chicken, goat cheese, fresh strawberries, dried cranberries, toasted hazelnuts, and arugula) did not disappoint. This place needs to branch out to Philly!

I still have two days worth of photos to go through. More soon (read about our first day here)!

On the Road: Charleston (Day One)

We had a few criteria on our list when we were considering fall vacation options. For example, we wanted a relatively short flight, activities that B would enjoy and the ability to keep a somewhat relaxed schedule (i.e. enough things to do to keep us busy, but not so much that we would attempt to pack too much in to a few days).

We had always wanted to visit Charleston, SC and it fortunately ticked off all of these bullets. So, we packed up B and off we went!

As is typical, I took a billon pictures and I’m just getting around to looking through them So far, I’ve sorted through the shots from our first day in town, and I am excited to share some of the highlights from that part of our trip.

Our flight arrived in the early afternoon. B surprised us by sleeping nearly the entire two hour flight, so she was ready to go exploring after we dropped our bags off at the hotel.

One of the main attractions in Charleston are the plantations and gardens, which are about a 30 minute drive from the center of the city. There are nearly a dozen to see, but we narrowed it down to just two on this trip, starting with Magnolia.

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The plantation dates to 1676 and has been in the hands of the same family for nearly 15 generations. It originally functioned as a rice plantation, but in the aftermath of the Civil War, the family opened the grounds to the public in an attempt to recoup some of their losses. It quickly became a popular tourist destination (it bills itself as the most visited plantation in Charleston) due to its immaculately kept gardens.

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This is the third version of the plantation house. Two other structures were destroyed by fire at various points in history.

The house is only accessible to the public through a guided tour, and B didn’t really want to participate in that. So, we spent most of our visit outside and practically had the place to ourselves. It was so peaceful to wander around the grounds, pretending that we stepped back in time. Perhaps due to the time of year, there weren’t too many flowers in bloom (the plantation is best known for azaleas, which bloom in the spring and camellias, which bloom later in the fall), but towering oak trees and canopies of spanish moss made for an impressive–and dreamy–effect.

 

27Long Bridge over Cypress Lake–one of the most photographed bridges in the country.

29Loved the reflections of the trees in the water

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34Along the Ashley River

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B’s favorite part was the petting zoo, where she didn’t get to touch anything because…germs. But, her reaction to the animals was absolutely priceless. She called all of them “dog” or “Eddy” (the name of my mom’s dog, for those who have forgotten) and giggled and pointed at them like a crazy person.

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The other thing that drew us to Charleston was the promise of good food. The restaurant scene there has been getting a lot of buzz in the last couple of years, for its combination of traditional Lowcountry cuisine as well as innovative restaurants serving up eclectic dishes with locally sourced ingredients.

On our first day, we stopped for a quick lunch at Two Boroughs Larder, a combination grocery store and cafe. The menu included an assortment of entrees and small plates, breakfast sandwiches served all day, and a “bowl of noodles” (the description was similar to Pho).

Although there were a lot of options to choose from, nothing on the menu really jumped out at me. Maybe it was the fact that some of the dishes that sounded good at first glance had an odd combination of ingredients when I read the description further (smoked yogurt with beets, ham and pumpkin seeds?). Or, perhaps it was because we had been traveling all day and I gotten to the point where I was starving but didn’t know what I wanted to eat. I ended up with the chicken boudin blanc (a sausage made from chicken, pork and cream) sandwich and Chester got the bratwurst. Both were delicious, but not particularly memorable.

We stopped at Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ to pick up take-out to eat at the hotel after B went to bed (this was after we stopped at the best Target ever (so well organized, well stocked and attached to a mall) to stock up on supplies for B. Times have changed!). I’m not a barbecue connoisseur, and I definitely prefer the sweet style that you can get around here to the traditional Southern style that is heavy on the vinegar. Still, my pulled chicken sandwich and mac-and-cheese hit the spot, but Chester really made the best choice with his combination plate of brisket, ribs and pork.

The best meals of the trip were still to come, but it was a great first day.

 

Pumpkinland!

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She should be in a Gymboree catalog, right?!

Even though she was around this time last year, B wasn’t really “with it” enough to do any fun fall activities. As she gets older, I am excited to start some family traditions with her. The first thing on our list was a trip to Pumpkinland at Linvilla Orchards. Fortunately, last weekend provided the perfect weather for our excursion. Our first order of business was a visit to the farm market for some treats. 7

We skipped picking our own this year, but did bring home some delicious honey crisps from the market

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Enjoying apple cider–in drink and doughnut form!

We checked out the barnyard and then B pretended to be a few of the animals. 17e When B sees one or two pumpkins on doorsteps or in windows around South Philly, she gets pretty excited. So, her eyes nearly popped out of her head when she saw thousands of them, in all colors and sizes, in Linvilla’s pumpkin yard. We took a ridiculous  number of pictures of her sitting in piles of pumpkins, but here are a few of my favorites. Her expressions are just so darn cute! 20 40 53a 35 I thought she would be more excited about the hayride, but she looked pretty bored the entire time. I think the combination of the warm sunshine, tractor exhaust and sugar coma nearly lulled her to sleep. Or, maybe it was just a little too country for our city girl. 56 If you plan to go to Linvilla, be warned it is INSANE on the weekends. So, pack your patience or maybe try to get there on a weekday when things are slower. Either way, there are tons of activities, including pick-your-own apples, a corn maze, playground and occasional live music to keep kids of all ages entertained for the better part of the day. We had a great day and look forward to going back next year!