Monday, May 31, 2010

A Million Photos from the Weekend

Okay, not quite a million...but a lot!

On Saturday night we went into Charleston, which I was surprised Sean agreed to since he doesn't like finding parking, but it turned out to be an amazing evening. The local arts festival was in full swing, in addition to several large weddings, so there were a ton of people and a whole lot to see and do. We sat down on the wharf and watched boats before wandering back through crowds of men in seersucker suits and the ladies in Lilly Pulitzer dresses, all out for a fancy night on the town or for one of those weddings. Lots of fun people watching.

Some photos from an afternoon out on the porch. Or as Aiden calls it: the MORCH!

And of course, Aiden playing:

Our Memorial Day picnic:

We hope everyone had a great weekend!

Monday, May 24, 2010

More Beach

Sean's birthday gifts: beach umbrella and blanket

We spent Sunday morning on the beach, you know, worshiping in God's house. The tide was coming in quite strong so we backed up again and again until we finally had to leave, and what we didn't realize is that the tide was being so wacky because of some big low pressure from just off the coast. Apparently, it will either dissipate this week or form into a tropical storm, yikes!

"Don't leave me here guys!"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Opening Doors

So, for a while now Aiden has been able to reach the doorknob. He always grasped it on tiptoes and painstakingly, slowly turned it and still couldn't open the door. Sean would carefully show him how to turn and push the knob to open the door. I know, I know: why on earth would you ever show a two year old how to open a door? Why not just hand him a book of matches or the kitchen knives? I LIKE that Aiden can't leave a room that I've specifically put him in. That way I know where he is and what he's doing.

Anyway, he finally got the hang of it and would shut his own bedroom door at night, before slowly opening it again to give me and kiss and shutting it again so he and daddy could read stories together while I escaped to the shower. He never, ever opened his bedroom door on his own though.
We would hear him over the baby moniter at eight am, and he'd peacefully play in bed until Sean and I strolled in at eight thirty or nine if it was a Saturday. At nap time, despite protestations, he'd stay in his room and sleep for two, three or more hours every afternoon. At night, he'd stay in his room like a little angel, never leaving despite knowing how to.

It was heaven. I figured I'd be able to handle twenty children give or take a few if they all behaved like this. And then one day, the week before we moved, I found Aiden standing bleary eyed in our bedroom when he should've been napping. My big mistake here was having sympathy for him: he just looked so sleepy and lost that I said something like "ohhh! It's okay little guy, you can stay with me instead of going back to bed".

During the move his sleep schedule was jostled around and tossed right out the window eventually. When we got here he went back to his old schedule for a couple of days and then the napping stopped. And then one morning at seven a.m. a twenty eight pound cannon ball landed squarely between Sean and I. This was totally unacceptable and Sean and I yelled "AIDEN!" in the way that Alvin the chipmunk is always getting yelled at. He finally realized that he could open his door by himself and voila, leave the room.

He was suddenly getting up earlier and earlier until it was barely 6 and he'd be coming into our room. He was losing sleep and it was having a pretty bad effect on his behavior. We were at the end of our rope, since nothing we did seemed to keep him in his room anymore until one night he got out of bed and we put him back in, as usual, and he finally said "okay mommy...goodnight", and stayed put. He's started sleeping in until 7:30ish and actually takes naps again. I guess he just needed a little more time to get bored with his new skill and get more comfortable with the apartment. Whatever it was, he's back to being a little angel again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

James Island

Yesterday, since Aiden woke up at the Ungodly hour of 6am, and proceeded to stomp all over the neighbors bedroom ceiling, I decided we needed to get out for the day. Way, way out. So we hopped in the car with the trusty GPS and headed to James Island to check out the park there. Since he woke up so early we ended up sitting in rush hour traffic, the only fools who hit rush hour when they don't actually have anywhere important to be.

It's a half hour drive, the farthest outside the city we've gone so far, and it's south-eastish from Charleston proper. It was gorgeous as we crossed the bridge onto the island, coastal marsh on one side and the ocean on the other. You can tell this is the sort of place where you're either really rich and live in a huge mansion with a dock or you live in the clapboard cabin that's been there since the revolution. One or the other.

We finally got to the park despite the twisty country roads, and it was much bigger than the other two we've seen so far. It not only has the standard playground/waterpark/dog park but it's got two camping areas, floating docks for crabbing and it's own marina area. We circled the park and even though I couldn't actually find the playground I figured we'd check out the walking trails.

We saw more turtles. Like I said before, they are everywhere.

Aiden also found some FWOGS!

And we even saw a few lizards.

Oh yes, this was a lovely and educational nature walk through the Charleston area wilderness until we turned the bend and started into the woods next to a pond. Then Aiden says "Mommy, stick!". I saw the stick too, laying across the path. And the stick saw me.

And I froze because OH MY GOSH A SNAKE. And it looked totally lethal and deadly and like it probably had ninja training. And Aiden is just holding my hand saying things like "Here stick! Stick! Come here stick!".

I did manage to get a picture before I got too freaked out since it wasn't moving and it was completely blocking the path and giving me a death stare. Finally a nice gentleman from the park service came strolling along and in what seemed like slow motion I said "NOoooo! SNNAakkkeeee!" and he stopped in time.

He looked at me and said "Ma'am, y'all just stay real still now. He should turn around", and he finally did. Then he said "You really should be avoidin' them snakes, cuz we got some whater-them-called...water moccasins...and coral stay away from 'em cuz they'll kill you dead". Right, because I love snakes and seek them out where ever I go.

Anyway, we continued on our way even though I was so shaken up. And what do you know we came across another snake!!! This was was even bigger and black but he was coiled up on the far side of the path so I prayed and ran by. Which I now realize was probably dumb, but I know better now. Anyway, I now had to make my way back despite my TWO snake sightings and everytime the wind rustled the trees I thought snakes were about to drop onto my head and attack my carotid artery. They didn't.

After our very exciting walk we went home and it took me TWO HOURS because the GPS was temporarily on the fritz and I was so hopped up on adrenaline I missed all my exits. The end.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Evening Stroll

Every evening (or almost every evening before Sean started classes) we take a walk around the large pond behind the apartment and cut over onto the neighboring 1 mile walking loop. Sean and I take turns having our shoulders yanked on by Bear while Aiden does most of the loop in a dead sprint. I don't know how he has the energy but we're always having to ask him to pause while we catch up, before he takes off again.

At the far end of the pond there is a wooden bridge, and without fail, we catch the multitude of turtles that inhabit the water eating their dinner. Aiden loves watching them, and it seems like whereever we go there are turtles. Turtles and frogs.

Very curious...

Just five of our twenty or so turtle friends

View from the bridge

Aiden is learning to explore new things, like the miniature frogs that are no bigger than my pinkie nail, or trying to balance along the trail borders, or just meeting new people and often times new dogs.

He's getting more and more comfortable in this new place, ready to run on ahead.

Taking this walk has become such a calming routine, that even though Aiden spends most of it running, he's usually worn out and ready for bed by the time we get back. We've started to see a lot of the same faces, the same dogs and owners, and we're starting to feel familiar with all the little details that come with a new place. We have good neighbors (all the polite Navy people) and bad neighbors (the guy that threw the grad party across the hall) but we like it here overall, and hopefully it stays this lovely for the rest of our time here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting Around

So, we've spent a lot of the last week, on the days when we weren't heading to the beach or out to parks, just getting oriented with Charleston. We've been spoiled since Sean has only had half days so far (classes officially start Monday, ironically the upcoming week is supposed to be filled with nasty thunderstorms. Apparently Mother Nature sympathizes with the power school students).

That being said, we usually hang around here getting chores done or go out to run errands, but on a few days Aiden and I have taken off to just explore. We drove out to Palmetto county park on Monday, and it was an amazing jungle-like park filled with elevated boardwalks over the massive swamp and out into the coastal marsh. Aiden was absolutely petrified of the shadowy forest part, so I ended up lugging him around in the humid 90 degree weather, but oh well, it was gorgeous and we'll definitly be going back there (it's also close to a Starbucks which made the drive worth it!!!).

Today we went out on a different mission: buy Sean a birthday present while he was at school. I remembered that there was an outlet shopping center nearby and I figured I'd buy him some brand name stuff on sale (he has shockingly expensive taste for someone who's usually so frugal) and I figured I didn't need the GPS to get there. Well, we drove around for a half hour before giving in and using the GPS, which ended up not being able to find the stores, so we went to the local, less awesome mall. Nevertheless, we got him a few great presents (at least I think they're great, since everytime I ask him what he wants he says 'oh nothing').

Basically, this weekend is going to be Sean's Big Birthday Blowout, which really only consists of a special breakfast, presents, and cake later on. Also, his coworkers are out to surprise him but I can't share that until later!

These two weeks that we've been here have already been a complete 180 change from our time in New York. In New York it was difficult to go anywhere because it meant carrying a baby and a stroller and navigating subways, which tons of moms do everyday but it somehow escaped me. I couldn't wrangle everything together and get out of the neighborhood the way I wanted to. Here, we hop in the car and go. Anywhere. Everywhere. Also, in New York, Sean worked with a shadowy group of people I never met, who all lived in Manhatten and had no children and went out for lunch everyday and out to the bars every weekend. If there were going to be a group dinner, it just meant Sean and Sean only was invited, and he'd end up spending a fortune on a fancy dinner and then trying to catch trains back to Brooklyn afterhours which meant cutting out early anyway and missing the networking opportunities.

Here, I've met his immediate group of co-workers. We've gone to the beach. We've gone to the park. I've met the baby and the dog and the spouse. I feel like even though this is Sean's job and Sean's co-workers, I'm still apart of it and not totally out of the loop like before. It really makes it feel like this is something he could do for his whole life because so far there has been nothing but nice people and frankly, a lot of pampering from the company. I know the classes will be hard and I won't get to spend a whole lot of free time with Sean, but I feel like we're going into it with our eyes open this time and that they do their best to compensate for the hard work. It just feels...better.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wannamaker Park

So, this park was the main reason we decided on this particular apartment complex. No, we've never been there before today, but I had read so many great reveiws of it online. It's huge, much like our beloved Prospect Park, and it's got a water park, a pool, various ponds, a playground and the coolest feature of all:
An official Rolling Hill. It's sole purpose is to be climbed and rolled down. They take it very seriously.

We got there around noon, and since it's a Saturday every table and pavilion was reserved for birthday parties, so Aiden and I will have to come back during the week when it's less busy. Also, right before we got there Aiden got sunscreen in his eye and we had to crash a barbeque in the main pavilion to get some ice to put on it. Other than that though, it was gorgeous!!!

Poor baby!

When we got there, they had a whole troupe of African dancers. It was so neat, but Aiden was scared to death of the noisy drumming.

We decided to take a walk around the main lake. You can't see it, but there was another alligator here. Or, as Aiden calls them, WALLY-GATORS!!!

I'm not sure why "A Fed Gator Is A Dead Gator" but I'm going to try not to find out.

We also so a frog, a lizard and a snake. The snake made us nervous because Steinn, who grew up in Florida, warned us that snakes here, especially near the water, are probably poisonous.

We had to take a break because Aiden's eye still hurt and it was about a thousand degrees out and neither me or Sean wanted to carry him around. So we sat on a wooden swing overlooking the water, smelling the barbeque and listening to the bluegrass band playing in the field next to us, and it started to feel like what I imagine South Carolina would feel like.

A little bit of the band:

We only stayed for a short while because it was so packed and hot out, but we definitely plan on going back.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life's A Beach

We took off for Isle of Palms today, and took along Sean's new coworker/friend Steinn.

Ready for action!

Starting the castle

The view

Aiden made friends with the gulls by giving them half of his sandwich. All day he kept saying "here birds! come here!" like they were Bear. He also learned what a jellyfish was and that you should run screaming from them. (Also, we saw our first gator out back this morning!)

The engineers working on a world class moat.

Burying our troubles in the sand.

It was a great day, everyone had a blast. I was the only one who walked away with a sunburn, and yes, I've learned my lesson!

Monday, May 3, 2010

We're Here

It has been an exhausting three days. Or was it four days? I don't even know. The road trip wasn't too bad: no flat tires, sticky gas pedals or even wrong turns. Sean and I managed to stay within ten minutes of each other the whole way and I only had one "Jesus Take the Wheel" moment which was basically me trying to fish a sippy cup of milk out from under the passenger seat. Also, at one point I had to repair Buzz Lightyear's wing while in a 70 mph zone. We survived.

I was amazed at the fact that there were almost NO tolls outside of New York. My primary driving experience has been in New York, followed by Massachusetts, and it always costs a fortune to go anywhere. Once we were outside of Pennsylvania we didn't hit a single toll. Also, we drove through Virginville and Maiden Town. I giggled. We made a pit stop somewhere in rural West Virginia or Virginia (we couldn't figure out quite where we were) and we felt like foreigners. It was a Saturday night at the Dairy Queen and Sean and I drive up in our Japanese cars with NY plates and they'd barely acknowledge us. Other than that little town (I think it was called Fancy Gap) everyone has been pretty nice.

The various hotels we stayed at were lovely. We'd done a lot of research to make sure they were pet friendly but it still felt very strange to let the fifty pound ball of fur roam around fancy lobbies. Aiden started out very nervous about the idea of sleeping in a hotel, but he got over it quickly when he realized it meant mommy or daddy had to sleep with him. The first night he slept in my bed and I woke up with an awful cramp in my leg because he had used his head like a battering ram against my thigh all night. After that, daddy had the honor of keeping him company.

Unfortunately, Aiden's behavior pretty much deteriorated after that first night. Yesterday he threw a full bowl of cereal across the hotel bed. Twice he's dumped full bottles of water on the carpet. There's been hitting and yelling and meltdowns left and right. I feel so bad that he's overtired and overemotional, but I am too, and we're doing what we can to get him acclimated. It's made a big difference now that his bed and toys are here. A couple of times today he's gone and laid right down in his bed to calm down, without any prompting. He's trying and I think things will settle down in a few days.

I had planned to take pictures and show you all our new apartment but after I took the pictures I realize that everything looked sort of rumpled and disorganized so I'll post them after I clean this place. In the mean time: pictures of Aiden in a rare moment of calm.