Charleston for the Fourth

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When we found out that my husbands parents were coming to town, my husband started thinking of fun things to do with  them. We love Charleston, and his Mom has always wanted to see it, so we booked ourselves a trip for the Fourth of July. As excited as we were to be traveling again, I really had some hesitations about our trip.

First I was worried about two other people being trapped in a car for 4 hours with our toddler. My husband and I are professionals at ignoring Esmé screaming her feelings at the top of her lungs until she feels better, but wasn’t sure how my in-laws would handle it.

Second, we had decided to go to a fireworks show all together, toddler included. This I had all sorts of issues with…It was going to be the first time for her staying up way past her bedtime, and I am super strict about her being in bed by 7:30 every night, so who knows what kind of meltdowns we were looking at; Some kids hate fireworks because they are so loud, they just cry the whole time. Also major meltdown potential; Lastly I hate big crowds, but I hate them even more when I have to navigate them with my child. It just brings out all kinds of paranoia.

Third, Esmé had recently outgrown her pack’n’play, so we were forced to get her a toddler-sized air mattress for our upcoming trips. At home she does a phenomenal job of staying in her toddler bed once we’ve put her down for nap, or the night. She will get up to get a few books for herself, but she climbs right back in bed and ‘reads’ herself to sleep. But an air mattress? Where there were no rails on any sides, so she could get up any time she felt like? I was not looking forward to finding out the answers to these questions.

As it turns out, things went a lot more smoothly than I had imagined they would.

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In the car the grandparents and Esmé were a match made in heaven. They played hard together counting fingers and toes, listened to Oupa’s special bird app that had all different bird calls, read books, talked about cars, traffic lights, and stop signs until they had nothing left. Then they all conked out together.

IMG_6871It was scorching hot while we were there, so much so that my clothing got soaked with sweat, and Esmé had a grand time touching it to make it stick to my body.

We kept Esmé cool by taking her to the fountains at the Waterfront Park. We tried the one where all the jets of water meet in the middle first, and she did not like it! There were actually a bunch of bigger kids who were going around to where the water came out, and putting their hands over it, causing it to spray all over the place (if you look closely in the picture below, you can actually see someone doing it behind us to the left). Which was totally fine! I think if Esmé were 7 or 8 she would be doing the same thing, but as she is a touchy toddler at the moment, she did not appreciate being splashed so much.

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The pineapple fountain on the other hand, she LOVED. She probably would have stayed there all day if we let her. I think this is a much more toddler-friendly fountain. The fountain itself is surrounded by steps that are the highest at the perimeter, then descend lower and lower to the center of the fountain. Basically it created the perfect baby pool for Esmé to lay, sit, kick, and splash in.

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She LOVED the fireworks show. I honestly think that, unless you have a very sensitive toddler, it’s one of the best experiences you can give them, as there is endless entertainment…Lots of people and kids everywhere to watch, lots of pets, lots of different food vendors were there as well, and then there’s the fireworks themselves!

The place where we saw them was one of those situations where you park somewhere and then they shuttle you to the actual place. In our case they used school buses, and Esmé was thrilled. She still talks about taking the bus to the fireworks whenever she sees a school bus.

Once the fireworks started, she was mesmerized. It was the cutest thing. She watched every single one, only taking breaks to tell us they were ‘so pretty’ or ‘vewy, VEWY loud!’

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There was a ton of people there, but it didn’t get crazy busy until after the show when everyone was leaving, which was also the time that Esmé passed out in her stroller, so she didn’t mind one bit.

I would say that the fireworks were her favorite part of the trip, but I know that she loved swimming with her Papa at the hotel pool the most. She asked to do it every day and would swim until her lips were blue and her little body was shaking.

IMG_6868How did the sleeping go? Well, that first night there was not fun. She took full advantage of the fact that she could just say ‘No!’ when we told her to go to sleep and then come over to see what we were doing. She finally crashed close to 11pm or so, but the next three nights went a lot better. I was actually really impressed with how well she did, and it was entertaining to see all the funny positions she fell asleep in.

We did have some meltdowns, but they were more to do with the fact that Esmé is a growing toddler learning to assert her will, more than being out of her normal routine. We also learned some things the hard way, because traveling as a family of five is different than traveling as a family of three. But that’s the thing about travel, the more you do it, the easier it gets, because you learn from your past mistakes.

Even though there were tantrums, and mommy hangry moments, and things forgotten, we still created some pretty magical memories.

Read Lately

 

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Before I had Esmé, I read through about 3 books a month, sometimes more. Then I had a newborn to look after and reading, at least anything that didn’t cover how to get your baby to sleep through the night, went out the window. TV shows that were 40 mins or less that I could watch while breastfeeding took over.

Now that she is older, I have a much more predictable nap time/ schedule that allows me to either binge watch 2-3 episodes of something (is 2-3 episodes of something even considered binge watching? ), or I can catch up on my reading.

I have numerous bookmarked links of ‘must reads’ that I have been saving the past couple years in hopes of some day being able to read them. Now that I have a little extra time I have begun working my way through them, and thought I would share the latest with you.

This particular book is not a new-release, but it’s been on my list, and I absolutely loved it. I’m not going to give you a book summary, because you can get that from googling it, or looking it up on Amazon. Instead, I’m going to tell you what I loved most about ‘The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.’

This book had me hooked from the beginning with the dreamy intro from the Moon Lady. The writing is beautifully descriptive and sets up the story perfectly.

I love the way that Calla Lily is written into the story. Her voice is refreshingly simple, honest, but also sensitive. She loves her family, she loves her friends, and she has respect for others regardless of where they came from, or what they look like (this story takes place when segregation was still around). She knows what she wants and she pursues her goals with her whole heart. She is also incredibly funny and kind. In short, it’s very hard to dislike her character.

I also love the imagery that this book evokes. A lot of stories that I have read develop really good story lines, and good characters, but you rush through it to find out what’s going to happen next. This one makes you stop and savor every single step along her journey. You can feel the oppressive heat and humidity of a Louisiana summer. You can taste the richness of the warm butter melting off of freshly baked bread. Your heart will break at least twice, and you will ache with how slow it is to heal.

Lastly I love Calla’s resilience. She faces serious amounts of ugly, life-shattering tragedy. Yes, she breaks-down. Yes, she loses herself a little bit. Yes, she questions ‘why me?’ But once she gets down to rock bottom she slowly, and with help from her family and friends, works her way back.

For me this was a perfect summer novel. I laughed. I cried. I wanted the book to keep going so I could see Calla Lily live out all her dreams. It was an extremely easy book to read. I never got tired, or bored, or overwhelmed. At times it was a bit predictable, but it’s nice to have some predictability when you spend most your days in toddler-induced whirlwinds.

If you are looking for a summer read that is dark, fast-paced, or going to challenge the way you think, this is not the book for you.

However, if you are looking for a story that will take you away from all the craziness of real-life, and deposit you in a vibrant southern dream that leaves you feeling like you just had the best girls-weekend ever, this is the book for you.