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15 Weeks

Ignore the fact that I completely skipped weeks 13 and 14! Things have been so busy around here with work, Christmas shopping and life. But I finally got it together and had Landon take my 15 week pictures yesterday morning. I'm still not super pregnant-y looking, but my bump is definitely bigger than in my 12 week pictures!
How far along? 15 weeks and 4 days
Total weight gain:  1-2 pounds, depending on when I weigh myself. I've really been eating whatever I want when I want, but between my random cravings and the cold that I've kept the last few weeks, I haven't actually wanted too much to eat. The appetite is slooowly returning, and I'm glad not to feel so nauseated all the time!
Maternity clothes: I can't button my regular pants anymore! I only have one pair of maternity jeans so far (they've been in heavy rotation), and I've been trying to utilize anything jersey, stretchy or loose. Those items are becoming increasingly snug, though. I got a BeMaternity belly band at Target last night, and I got to wear my regular jeans (above) again today (my sister is a smart one for suggesting that purchase). Hello, old friends--I missed you!
Sleep: I'm getting better at not napping all the time. There are some days after school that I come home and rest for an hour or two, and then there are other days when I won't feel sleepy until I get ready for bed at 10 PM. I still fall asleep instantly, and I'm still having wacky, vivid dreams; during nap time on Thursday, I was so worried about my housing arrangements at Clemson because I'd forgotten to tell Housing that I still wanted to be an RA! Weird. 
Best moment this week: Going through potential baby registry items online with Landon. I'm ready to start buying some loot for this baby! I also love how excited Landon's getting. Our friends just had a new baby girl this week (hello, baby Anna!), and I think he's really starting to realize how awesome this is all going to be next summer. 
Miss anything? I could drink a gallon of sweet tea right now. I also miss being able to sleep through the night without having to get up and pee like an ancient person. 
Movement:  Still nothing. I'm on high alert, though--it's got to happen in the next few weeks, right?
Food cravings:  My salty/ savory cravings remain strong. Lately, I'm loving Sun Chips and Baked Lays and onion dip.
Anything making you queasy or sick?  I'm working through my aversion to sweets. I found myself going after some of those Danish butter cookies that come in the blue tin. Yummy! 
Gender:  Landon and my sister think girl. I'm still on the fence, but if I had to go one way or the other right now, I'd also say girl. But all I'm really after here is a healthy, happy baby come June 10th--boy or girl makes little difference to me. 
Labor signs:  Nope. 

Symptoms: Belly band usage, moderate acne (hello, 10th grade), sleepiness.
Belly button in or out?  In. My stomach really doesn't look any different, other than it's poofier.
Wedding rings on or off?  On. 
Happy or moody most of the time:  Still happy. But I think that's mostly my personality: I'm just a happy person.
Looking forward to: Opening all of Tadpole's presents next week. My family has gone all out for Christmas this year!


So, 13 Weeks Came and Went...

I'm already a terrible parent. I had every intention of taking my pictures weekly from here on out, but then last week got in the way.

For the first part of the week, we had our ancient air handler replaced. The thing was a behemoth from the dark ages (or, 1987...pretty much the same thing when it comes to appliances). It had mold and nasty junk on it, so Tadpole and I decamped to my parents' house, lest I breathe in any of the grossness. My parents had busy weeks last week, too, so more often than not, no one was home during daylight hours to take my picture.

Then, Landon went hunting the later part of the week, so I continued to stay with my parents. I'll freely admit it: I'm a weeny when it comes to staying by myself. I'm totally convinced the Mothman or some ghosts are going to come get me at night. Still no picture.

I was SO busy this weekend working on my Christmas shopping that the picture didn't even cross my mind until Tuesday, by which time I had entered my 14th week.

Luckily though, I haven't changed much at all. I'm still rocking the super tiny baby bump, which you'll see in my 14 week pictures (hopefully, coming in a day or two!!).

Mountain Weekend 2012

During the lost months of 2012 (also known as "the time when I was too tired to do much of anything productive"), I went to the mountains with my parents, sister and Landon. We've made the trip for the last three years, and it's become something to which we all look forward. I figured that, even though I'm two months late, the trip's still worth sharing.


A peek at one of our past trips (2010--I never uploaded the ones from 2011)


The first year we rented a cabin near Saluda, North Carolina, but it was deemed too "rustic" by my dad, and it also wasn't big enough for all of us to relax. Last year, we rented a different cabin that was halfway between Saluda and Hendersonville. It was more than a little off the beaten path, but it was spacious and the view was absolutely stunning. Can you guess which one we returned to this year? 

The week we went, October 15-19, was the first week that morning sickness really hit me. Woe was me on some of those winding mountain roads, as I clung to the armrest and prayed that I wouldn't barf all over my dad's new interior. 

Still, I was a trooper, and my perseverance was worth it, since we had a great time. You can tell I wasn't feeling top notch, though, by the general lack of pictures. 

One day, we went into Hendersonville, North Carolina to shop and have a snack. 
Downtown Hendersonville. I love the sidewalk cafes!

We stopped for a snack at McFarlan's Bakery. The no-sweets aversion that I'm currently experiencing hadn't hit full swing yet, so I happily indulged in a chocolate cookie!
Amber and her black and white cookie
Landon attempts to eat the world's largest cream puff. It was deemed impossible to eat without getting cream on your nose!

On another of our outings, we went to the SkyTop Orchard, where we picked out all sorts of yummy apples. If you've never tried a Pink Lady apple, your life is incomplete. Locate one immediately, and thank me later. 


The house we rented is on the very top of a mountain. While this location makes for some interesting (ahem) driving to get to (read: a near vertical driveway that makes you feel like you're on a roller coaster...only without any restraints, and no promise to get you to the station safely), the views are gorgeous. On a clear day, you can see all the way to South Carolina!

Then, on the worst day of morning sickness, we visited Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. I was absolutely NOT feeling the hike up to the top of the mountain, but my dad and Landon walked with me  every step of the way. It took twice as long as my mom and sister, but I made it!

I'm hoping that we'll get to go next year, too. It might be Tadpole's first road trip!

12 Weeks

I had my first maternity photo shoot last night (i.e. Landon nicely acquiesced to my result during his late lunch break and snapped a few pics in our backyard). I don't know why, but these made me feel so weird.

Maybe it's because I look pudgy in them. Though, as Landon keeps reminding me, it's not pudge--it's Tadpole!

Maybe because the pregnancy is starting to feel real now that I'm beginning to show. I mean, I guess I could have had a really long bout of the stomach flu this whole time, right?!

Either way, I'm excited to finally be at this stage in my pregnancy...even if it means feeling totally awkward during my weekly pictures. I've still got many, many weeks left to perfect them, though.

No, I didn't eat too many pieces of pizza. That's the world's scrawniest baby bump!
Isn't the shirt adorable? My co-worker Brittany made it for me as my birthday present. About a week before my birthday, I'd admired a shirt just like that on Pinterest, but hadn't mentioned it to Brittany. A week later, guess what shows up in my birthday bag? Great minds must think alike!


And then Landon got super fancy and artsy and wanted me to stand on the tree next to the marsh. 





And now, to steal an idea from Becky over at Welcome to the Good Life

A weekly Q and A!
How far along? 12 weeks and 4 days
Total weight gain:  0-1 pound, depending on when I weigh myself. My mom and sister are betting on how much I will gain, which makes me wonder what they think of my eating habits!
Maternity clothes: Most of my regular sized pants are super snug and uncomfortable. I can wear my stretchy jeggings (like in the pics above) with no problem, as well as anything with a jersey waistband. I did buy a pair of maternity jeans that I've worn twice--they are a little big right now, but they are so comfortable! My mom and I went shopping for several tops this past weekend, but I haven't worn any of our purchases yet. 
Sleep: I could sleep all the time right now. I'm totally in bed by 9:20 every night or I am a grumpy, grumpy person the next day. 
Best moment this week: Telling my students at school. They were so excited! One of the little girls kept saying, "Ms. Natalie is going to get a baby!" like I would pick it out at Walmart when it was time. After I explained that I already had the baby, but it was getting stronger inside me, she kept patting my stomach and calling me "Ms. Mommy Vereen-Davis" the rest of the day. I was so happy that they were happy for me!
Miss anything? Sweet tea, Diet Cokes and caramel Frappachinos. Yum yum yum. 
Movement:  Nothing yet. I'm really excited to finally feel the baby!
Food cravings:  Anything salty or savory. I've particularly been in love with Chik-fil-A's Chicken Caesar Cool Wraps. I could eat them three times a day. Pizza, pasta, and anything buffalo chicken has also been a big draw lately. 
Anything making you queasy or sick?  I'm hopefully over most of the queasiness, but I still don't like looking at or smelling raw meat. I still have a complete and utter aversion to all things sweet, though. 
Gender:  No clue. We're finding out at the end of January!
Labor signs:   Thank heavens, no.
Symptoms: Sleepiness, random bouts of crying, food cravings. 
Belly button in or out?  Still looks exactly the same--in!
Wedding rings on or off?  On. I told Landon he was going to have to buy me a sparkly replacement when that time comes. I'm not holding my breath.
Happy or moody most of the time:  Mostly happy. My students haven't even gotten to me yet, which I definitely would have thought would have happened by now. 
Looking forward to: Finally having a real baby bump, rather than the pizza/ beer gut it looks like I'm currently rocking.

Edisto Island

In our back-to-back beach vacations, Landon and I left Kiawah (and my family) and headed over to Edisto (and the Davis family!). The Davises go to Edisto pretty regularly, but because of crazy schedules, they hadn't had a family beach week since summer 2009...when Landon and I weren't even married yet!

Our week at Edisto consisted primarily of this:
edisto island

because that's what you do on a beach vacation, right?!?

We stayed at a cute house on Chancellor Street (maybe fifth or sixth row). The walk to and from the beach was really short, and sometimes my awesome brother- and sister-in-law would shuttle me using their golf cart!
chancellor street edisto island
I loved all of the palm trees!
chancellor street edisto island
The Davis home away from home for the week
On the Thursday of Beach Week, I was tired of getting burnt (and in the oddest patterns! I may be the world's WORST sunscreen applier!) and of sitting on the beach reading (I started reading Stephen King's "It," but gave up on the book after I'd plowed through 826 pages and I realized I still had 400 more to go. I like reading A LOT, but seriously, where was his editor on that book!??!). 

I wanted to do something else...which is asking a lot on a little place like Edisto. It's meant to be rustic and out-of-the-way, so my options were limited. I'd heard about a protected nature site just off of Edisto Beach called Botany Bay. I'd just read about the history of the two former plantations that make up the site in my new Edisto Island history book that I purchased (no one took me up on my offer to do a series of history lectures at the beach...I wonder why...), so I was game to see what was there.
All went well for the first portion of the Botany Bay adventure. We saw ruins from the plantation houses, including this gorgeous ice house.
edisto island botany bay
I thought it was a church at first because, really, who's ever seen an ice house that big?
But then my clue that we were into some serious nature appeared in Landon's hand: he'd found a snakeskin just beside the ice house.
EW. EW. EW. I am not a nature kind of gal, ESPECIALLY any nature that has to do with snakes.

Landon assured me the snakeskin was very old and that the previous owner of said skin was likely a mile or more away from us. So we continued on the driving portion of the tour. The trees and marsh on the property were breathtaking:




We saw some birds and old trees--my kind of nature. At the very end of the tour, I told Landon that I wanted to go take pictures out on the beach, which I'd heard was gorgeous. I patted myself on the back for being so brave in all this nature-y stuff and we hiked the half-mile out to the Botany Bay Beach.
botany bay beach edisto island

I was having a great time, snapping pictures of this completely undeveloped and gorgeous beach while Landon checked out the hundreds of shells all over the beach.


There were loggerhead turtle nests all over the beach, and I thought it would be neat to take a picture of one of the cages (I love turtles and think that it's AWESOME that the people of Edisto are doing so much to protect the weensy baby turtles):

when I hear Landon call (very calmly) over my shoulder, "Hey, Natalie, I think maybe you should move."

"What?" I yelled back, confused.

"I just think you should move," he repeated.

And that's when I saw IT (not the Stephen King book this time)---I shutter to even THINK ABOUT THIS--there was a snake on the same tiny patch of reeds that I was currently clambering all over. I almost stepped on a snake, y'all!!!!!

I have never had a panic attack before, but I'm pretty sure that's what then ensued for the next fifteen minutes or so: ugly crying, feelings of nausea, the inability to breathe normally. It was AWFUL. When I say I don't like snakes, I mean it with every fiber of my being. Blech.

Somehow, Landon convinced me (from 25+ feet away) to take the following pictures. My hands were shaking so much that I don't know how they even turned out. (Warning: avert your eyes if you feel the same way about reptiles as I do.)
Yes, that is Landon playing with the snake.

Then, to make matters worse, Landon took the camera and got close ups of this nasty thing so we can remember it forever (please no). I was still sobbing over by the ocean, wondering if sea snakes were coming out of it, too.

I thought beaches were safe from snakes. Is nowhere sacred anymore?!

So, that's the start of our Edisto Vacay 2012 and the story of How I Almost Hyperventilated and Died.

More tomorrow on part two of Edisto Vacay 2012 (and I promise, no more snake stories!).

King of the Swamp

Landon loves being outdoors: hunting, fishing, kayaking, random nature walks. You name it--he's all for it. He's been an avid hunter since he was just a little thing, long before I knew him, but he's usually hunted what I consider to be normal animals, mostly deer and turkeys. 

However, his love of nature and hunting took on an entirely new twist when two events happened: the show Swamp People came on, and South Carolina began offering entries to a lottery for alligator tags. 

And yes, Landon has entered the lottery for the last three years that South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources has offered the alligator tags. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're considering my poor heart that would have to deal with my husband out hunting something that could bit back), Landon hasn't won tags in the last two lotteries. We haven't found out about this year, but he's still gung ho on all things gator-related. 

So, that's why he had an alligator/ Swamp People themed 28th birthday party this past week!

My parents and sister decorated my parents' house to look like something out of the swamp, complete with camo table covering, an alligator pinata and green plates. 

And what is a swamp without a plastic snake or two? Of course, Landon had to wiggle the snake in front of the camera. Ew. (I don't care if it is plastic. It still looks like a snake!)


Amber and I spent one hot and sweaty afternoon on the porch painting Swamp People t-shirts. Landon's shirt read "King of the Swamp." (He wishes!) We also had "Cajun Princess" (Amber's, of course), "Choot 'Em!" (mine, complete with tiny painted rifle and alligator), "Dat's a Tree Shakah, Baby" (Mama's), and "got gator?" (Daddy's). It was really simple to do: we just bought a pack of swampy colored pocket t-shirts and used yellow fabric paint to add Swamp People sayings.

Amber is the baker of the group, so she volunteered her services to bake "Ol' Swampy." He's just a bunch of cupcakes covered in green frosting. The scales were chocolate Honey Grahams, the teeth and eyes were marshmallows and the claws were banana Runts. So cute (and tasty!).

Amber working on the appetizers. The camo party hat is a must for any aspiring chef!
Our menu?
Appetizers: Fried Alligator Tail (pretty good: like a chewier version of chicken)
Entrees: Chicken with Red Rice, plus Muffalettas for Landon and I (Oh, Corner Grocery in NOLA, how I wish you were closer to Charleston!)
Dessert: Ol' Swampy (above) and vanilla ice cream

Landon had a special birthday boy alligator hat that we made him wear.
All in all, a GREAT birthday party! I loved that we had leftover cupcakes from Ol' Swampy. Guess what's been my breakfast and snacks since then? :)

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

I'm still in London, and there's just SO much going on that I'll have to update later, but in the meantime, here's a recipe I've been meaning to share for some time now. Let me know if you like it!

This dish (another from my Pinterest recipe board) takes some prep work with cooking the chicken and two kinds of rice, but the end result is totally worth it. Plus, it makes a TON of food, so you could make it for a family gathering or you could make it and freeze what you couldn't eat in the first couple of days. Landon and I ate on this dish for DAYS (for lunch and dinner and a couple of snacks) and we were still just as happy with it on the last day than when we first tried it. 

Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole (originally from Picky Palate)

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 Cups shredded, cooked chicken breast
2 Cups steamed white rice
16 oz prepared wild rice (I get mine at Trader Joes, LOVE it)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
______
Cheese Sauce
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Cups chicken broth
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
Top with 1 1/2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat oil into a medium dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Saute onion, celery and carrots until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in chicken, both rices, salt, pepper and garlic salt.  Reduce heat to low.
2.  To prepare cheese sauce melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper then slowly pour in chicken broth whisking continuously.  Whisk until thick and nearly boiling then stir in cheese until melted.  Pour cheese sauce into rice mixture then transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with additional cheddar cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted through.  Serve.
8-10 servings

What I Think Book Review: Peter Ackroyd's London: A Biography


If you've ever wondered why London is so consistently influential, then you need to first understand its history. Though it is anything but a quick read, Peter Ackroyd's London: A Biography provides an incredible and sweeping look at London's long history that will keep you reading despite the seemingly overwhelming 900+ pages.

I've long been a fan of Ackroyd (his fiction is just as good as his non-fiction offerings), and I was delighted when I received this book for Christmas from my brother-in-law. (Thanks, Lyle!) At that time, I knew I was going to be in London (where I am now), so I figured it would be the perfect way for me to prepare for my upcoming field trip. 

Ackroyd doesn't just give the reader a dry review of London's past. Instead (and the title should be a clue here), he approaches the history as if London were a person, which makes for a much more interactive reading experience. He doesn't write in perfect chronological order, though the book does begin with the Stone Age inhabitants and ends with modern London. He may begin a chapter with a description of 17th century church bells, and then bring the sounds of London forward to more recent times. It is a unique approach--one that I've never encountered before--but it works. There were a few times when I was reading that I was so struck by the intricate weaving of past and present in the book that I wondered how in the world Ackroyd kept all of this information straight in his head while writing. 

All aspects of London's past are covered: the Roman Lundinium, the Anglo-Saxon Ludinwic, the origins of Cockney English, the sights and smells of Victorian London, and the terror and effects of World War II. He also includes sketches, paintings, photos and carvings to illustrate each period of time. 

I adore London, and I thought I was well-informed about its history, but after reading this book, I was surprised at how little I'd actually known. For any history-lovers or for an Angolophile, this book should be a must-read.

Dear 17-Year-Old Natalie

Part I: the general stuff you need to know right now

Dear 17-year-old self,

Eleventh grade stinks just as much as you think it does. At 17, you feel like an adult (sometimes), but you still have all of the rules and regulations that comes with being a high schooler. Though you feel like the people around you should be with you forever--and the thought of being separated from them feels like torture--you will realize that moving away from those closest to you is an inevitable part of growing up. Don't worry: you will grow apart from your high school friends, but you will always, always keep them in your heart and think of them fondly as you all go to the right colleges for each of you, begin your careers, move far and wide, and start families of your own.

First day of school, 2001. Embrace the uniform!
The gang, 12th grade year. Shannon's 18th birthday. (L to R) Sims, Stephanie, Liz, Shannon, Katrina, Claire, me, Nicole and Anna-Kate
Don't worry so much about finding a boyfriend...and especially don't waste time mooning over those boys who don't pay you an ounce of attention. While I acknowledge that crushing on a boy sometimes has to be done, make sure you remember it's called a crush for a reason--because you'll sometimes feel like your heart is an aluminum can in a trash compactor. And, for heaven's sake, don't tell half the school who  you're crushing on. Trust me on this one; knowledge can only lead to complete and utter embarrassment when you know your crush has no hope of returning your affections. There will be other boys, boys who return your affection, boys who like you for all of those quirky oddities that make you feel like you're completely unlovable right now. They won't care that you're tall and gangly and completely un-athletic, that you'd rather read than play video games, that you're smart and have plans; in fact, these boys (the good ones!) will be proud to be your boyfriend because of these traits. Then one day, in about two years, you'll find that boy, the one that changes everything. And then the two of you will never feel whole without the other from that day on. He's worth the wait.

Landon and Natalie, summer 2004.
Love your parents, even though doing so can feel very, very difficult at times. These are the people who loved you and comforted you through thick and thin, so trust them when they advise you not to get a tattoo before seriously thinking about it. They were right about the six or seven ear piercings you want right now--when you grow up, you'll be glad you only stuck with the two. Your mom and dad are right to watch over who your friends are now. Even though you think that everyone is good and honest like you are, Mama and Daddy know better. Don't get mad when they ask where you're going and who you're going with and what time you'll be back. They want to be safe and healthy so you can go to college, get a job, get married, travel and have kids of your own. Appreciate your little sister: she will grow to be your very best friend if you let her. Even though the two of you fight sometimes now, you will miss her like you didn't think was possible when you go off to college in a year.

Family Christmas card, 2011.
Cling to that wild, adventurous self that you have deep inside. You will have so many opportunities to travel, so never be afraid to go somewhere new or try something difficult. Sometimes all you need is a little bravery. I promise, even if your world seems small right now, you will do so much by the time you're 27: go to England 4 times; study abroad in one of the greatest cities in the world; eat a chocolate croissant in Paris; see a real conch on Andros Island; go ziplining in St. Martin; see where your ancestors are from in Loch Lomond (Scotland); meet Johnny Depp, Brittany Murphy and Elton John; go scuba diving in Key West; commune with William Wordsworth at Tintern Abbey; and visit Lucy Maud Montgomery's house on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia. Fight for these opportunities, as they will put your entire life into perspective.

San Juan, Puerto Rico. August 2008.
St. Andrews Cathedral, St. Andrews, Scotland. November 2011.
Work hard in school. I know you hear it from Mama and Daddy constantly, but all of that studying will be worth it. You'll be completely prepared for college, and, when you go to Clemson, you rock the socks off your classes! You'll graduate Clemson magna cum laude and with Calhoun honors, and you'll get to wear lots of fun medals and stuff at graduation. If nothing else, work hard for the rock star gear at that ceremony. You'll eventually go to a great graduate program in English Literature, which will, in turn, land you a fantastic job when you're 26. Keep studying!

Clemson Graduation, May 2007.
Know that failure sometimes is an option. Law school--the place you've been working towards since you were twelve--is not actually where you need to be. Knowing when to quit something, whether it be a course of study, a job or a relationship, is more important than just about anything else. It's okay to say "no" sometimes. You'll go through some messy breakups, and you will be called selfish and hurtful and many other things, but realize this is the other person's hurt coming through. Ending a relationship is selfish because you are putting your feelings over that of the other person's, but if the relationship's not working, it's just not working. You will both feel better after the dust settles again...and, in the long run, the break-up will be better for all involved.

And above all, know that life is a journey. Don't rush one part because you're trying to get to another. It's not all wonderful, but it is all a learning experience. People will come and go in your life. You will change your own perspectives on the world. But through it all, love your family and love yourself. You are an amazing person.

Love,

The 27-year-old Natalie

(Update 9/15/2012: Linked up with Chatting with the Sky's Dear Teenage Self linky party)

Wnat to see what the almost-30 year old Natalie has to say to 17-year-old Natalie? Read here.

Kayaking in the Charleston Harbor

A few months back, Landon and I decided that we wanted to start kayaking. We live in one of the South's most beautiful cities (Charleston), and there's water all over the place. In fact, on a really high tide, we could launch a kayak from our backyard into the tidal creek that's back there!

Since I grew up in Charleston, I've been around the beach my entire life. Years and years ago, I tried (with all of my heart and soul) to surf, but I just didn't have the balance for it. Landon's definitely an outdoors-y kind of guy, and he was eager to find something we could both enjoy. Enter our new kayaks.

I'm still not the greatest kayaker ever, but I've really enjoyed the times we've gone out so far this year--it's just warming up to Natalie-acceptable temps, so I've refused to go out on all but the warmest of late winter/ early spring days. Landon's biggest fear when we first got the kayaks was that I would get bored (read: feel suddenly wimpy) and stop paddling halfway through the kayak trip.* In case of any impending wimpiness, Landon and I have figured out how to easily attach my kayak to his for a quick tow until I'm feeling back up to paddling!

So, here are few pics we took on our most recent kayaking trip to the mouth of Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant and out into the Charleston harbor:

Landon launched second, so I waited patiently for him.
A beautiful, beautiful day
On the bird sanctuary island in the harbor looking back towards Mount Pleasant. We found out later that we shouldn't have been on the island--it would have been a $450 fine if we'd gotten caught!! Next time, we'll do some research before we leave the house...
Okay, so there were some signs or something up there. A second look would probably have been smart! But really, do we honestly need a sanctuary for sea gulls??? We have more than enough of them already down here!
I love living near the ocean!
*He may have good reason to believe this as showcased the summer before my senior year of high school. I went to camp that summer at the place where I'd always gone to camp; I was especially excited because I was eligible to join the senior kayaking trip out to a nearby island for exploring and picnicking. On the way back, the tide was going out. I paddled and paddled and paddled and got nowhere. Eventually, I gave up and did what any sensible person would do in that situation: I bawled like a baby until the camp counselors came out to get me in a motor boat. Shame was my middle name for the rest of the camp session.


Sisters' Trip 2012: Orlando Bound (Part 2)

For those of you who didn't read yesterday's post, my sister and I went on a "just us" trip this past weekend to Orlando. We had a blast! Yesterday, I posted about the beginning of our day, as well as our fun times in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter  (inside the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure park). Today's post showcases the rest of our trip:

After we'd gotten our fill of Harry Potter, us Muggles headed to the other portions of Islands of Adventures.

Side note: If you're thinking about taking a trip to Orlando any time soon, know that timing is everything. We purposefully chose this past weekend since it was too late for spring breakers and too early for the summer break crowd. Not to mention the weather was perfect--slightly overcast (so no sunburns!) but warm (in the mid-70s). The forecast had called for 100% rain, but we were totally lucky and it didn't rain a single bit until we were eating supper--and the rain was over by the time our meal was!

Anyway, we spent the rest of the morning and the early afternoon exploring all of the fun things Islands of Adventure had to offer:
I remember when the original Jurassic Park movie came out--I was in the 2nd grade and absolutely obsessed with dinosaurs. My favorite was the protoceratops, and I wrote the world's most awesome 2nd grade science report on them!
We went on the River Adventure in Jurassic Park and got wet. And then we went to ride on Dudley Doright's Ripsaw Falls and got SOAKED. We definitely looked like wet rats for at least an hour after we had this brilliant idea!
If you know my sister, then you know she is the popcorn QUEEN. Note the delighted smile she has on her face--his was just after she found out she could get popcorn refills in her bucket for only 89 cents all day. 
We ate at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoopenous in Seuss Landing.
Amber with her hamburger at Circus McGurkus. She ordered a hamburger, but of course she got cheese on it--Amber is picky and only likes the bread, burger and ketchup, but somehow everyone messes her order up!
We caught the cute (and sometimes cheesy) Sindbad show after lunch.
Then, it was back to Seuss Landing to ride the Caro-Seuss-el.
Caro-Seuss-el Amb
What is it about a carousel?!? I'm in my 20s and I STILL love them!
I know I'm no spring chicken, but I hadn't realized just how old I've gotten until my sister and I got onto the Hulk (the biggest coaster at Islands of Adventure) and got horribly, horribly nauseous. I used to be able to go on any coaster as many times as I could, then immediately get off and eat dinner. Now, I feel bad for making my dad go on all those crazy rides even after he said he felt sick!

After we finished up with Universal, we headed to Downtown Disney to do some shopping and eat dinner at the Rainforest Cafe there. I got a new Mickey scarf (which I wore to work yesterday) and a new wallet, and Amber got a new shirt.
Downtown Disney's best kept secret: the make your own rice krispie at Goofy's Candy Company. you get to choose your own dipping chocolate flavor, topping and drizzle. YUM!
We headed back to Charleston on Sunday morning; I wish we could have stayed for a week!!

I can't wait until Sisters' Trip 2013--any suggestions on where we should go? We'd like to go somewhere that isn't more than a 7 hour car ride from Charleston, SC, but other than that, we're up for just about anything!