07 May 2019

Beach Walkin'

I have always loved mornings on Kiawah.

There's something special about waking up early, throwing on a t-shirt and shorts, and heading out the door to enjoy the beach before the rest of the world is awake. Whether it's a walk down to The Sandcastle and Beachwalker Park or a walk up to The Sanctuary, it's always so peaceful out.

If you're lucky, you'll catch a sea turtle making her way back in the ocean after laying her eggs up near the dunes. Sometimes, you'll see a whole bunch of jellyfish washed up on the shore {and be exceptionally glad that it's still too cool out to get in the water!}

But I've got a whole new reason to love walking on the beach these days.

We took our first walk back in early March when she and I drove down to Kiawah for a baby shower that my parents hosted at their house. It was the first time we had ever successfully used our LILLEbaby Carrier. Riley and I would be dangerous in this thing if we could ever figure out how to work it solo! She had plenty of fun just hanging out in it while we strolled up and down the beach with my mom.

We went for another morning beach walk adventure at the end of April. It was finally warm enough to dip our toes in the water along the edge where the sun had warmed things up a bit. She loved the walk every bit as much as the first time and it lulled her into a great nap. The only problem? When we got back to the house, she was still asleep, and I didn't want to wake her up just yet... so we had to find a way to get comfy in a chair with her still strapped to me. Next time, I think we'll just go for a longer walk!

We have plenty of beautiful streets and bike baths to wander up and down.

... and now I'm ready for another weekend on Kiawah. Hurry up, June!

08 January 2019

It's Great to Be a Clemson Tiger!

I remember sitting in the stands at Wake Forest's football stadium just over ten years ago, watching an abysmal performance by my Clemson Tigers. Who loses to Wake Forest? I had road tripped up there to see a guaranteed win - not an embarrassing loss.

The following Monday, Clemson fired their head coach Tommy Bowden and hired one of the assistant coaches as an interim head coach.

To be honest, I had no idea who this Dabo Swinney character was. He was an unknown. He was temporary. And sure, he beat USC at the end of the season but I was ready to see Clemson go out and hire a big name coach from another school. I didn't expect Clemson to hire Dabo full time.

...and now I can't imagine any other coach at Clemson.

It's an incredible time to be a Clemson graduate and a Clemson football fan. The last four years have been nothing short of magical thanks to Dabo and the culture that he's created at Clemson.

55 total wins
4 ACC Championships
3 appearances in the College Football Playoffs
2 National Championships
1 15-0 Season

Clemson posted this just after the 2017 National Championship Game, and it's still one of my favorite things that their social media team has ever put together.

Y'all, that was from his introductory press conference in December 2008. Nobody could have predicted the decade that would follow after he officially became head coach. Nobody.

I can tell you that there's not a single Clemson fan that's disappointed with his hire though. He's instilled a culture at Clemson that we all love that goes beyond winning. It's about the players. It's about more than just football. It's a family.

This was the weirdest football season for me. I only made it to three Clemson games before I got too pregnant to be able to navigate the hills around Clemson and the steps to our seats. I missed the Clemson / Carolina game for the first time in forever. I watched a lot of Clemson football from the couch at our house. I didn't make it up to Charlotte for the ACC Championship. But, I got a cute little Clemson fan out of it so, you know, priorities.

I can't wait to see what 2019 holds in store for Clemson! I can't wait to take Riley to her first football game in Death Valley... she might already have an outfit (or two} ready to go for next season. But for now, I'm going to soak in the moment. It's GREAT to be a Clemson Tiger!

03 January 2019

Riley's Birth Story

If birth stories aren't your thing, this is one post that you may want to skip over. I know that I loved reading about other people's experiences the closer it got to my due date and it's something that I want to document and always remember. So. Grab a glass of wine with me {because I can do that now!}, sit back, and read all about how Riley made her grand debut into the world.

The morning of Riley's official due date, I woke up way too early for my liking (like I had for the majority of my pregnancy.) It was 4:45am and something felt a bit uncomfortable. I wasn't positive that it was a contraction, but I started keeping track of them anyway. The feeling came and went for the next hour before I decided to get up out of bed. On my way to the bathroom to start getting ready for the day, I let Patrick know that I might be having contractions.

I showered, got ready, ate breakfast, and headed off to work. I kept track of my contractions throughout the day but they weren't being consistent at all. They would be as close together as 7 minutes and as far apart as an hour. It wasn't anything to get excited about but I decided to stay late at work to get as much done before I left just in case this turned into labor.

At home, Patrick and I got busy making sure everything was ready in case we decided to go to the hospital that night. We finished washing all of the laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, put the trash and recycling out by the curb, and double checked our hospital bags. The contractions started getting more consistent, stronger, and closer together. My OB had cautioned me that as soon as contractions were 5-7 minutes apart, I would need to head to the hospital. I was GSB+ and needed to have 2 rounds of antibiotics by IV prior to delivery, so getting to the hospital early was crucial. At 10pm, we decided it was time to get into the car and go!

We checked into triage and I got hooked up to the monitors. Sure enough, what I had been feeling all day was actually contractions. But when they checked me, I was only 1cm dilated and the doctor on call that night sent us on a walk around the Labor & Delivery Wing for an hour to see if we could get things moving. We walked nearly two miles up and down the hallway, but it didn't do any good. I didn't progress at all, so they sent us home with instructions to come back at 10am for my 40 week appointment and get checked again then.

We got home around 2am and I spent all night trying to get some kind of sleep. My contractions were coming on a more consistent basis and were getting more and more uncomfortable. I rode out most of them, but some of them got an "owwie owwie owwie" from me throughout the duration of it. This went on or hours until it was finally time to wake up for the day. We decided that we needed to let our family know what was going on at this point. Patrick called his dad to let him know that he wouldn't be coming into work that day and then he made the call to my mom.

Rewinding for a minute: for the last month leading up to Riley's birth, every time I called or texted my mom, she thought it was the call. It got old pretty quick so we devised a new plan. She set a special ring tone for Patrick and he had instructions to only call if it was time to head to the hospital.

Patrick put her on speaker phone and y'all, we cracked up listening to answer the phone in a total wide awake panic. We let her know about the day before and going to the hospital, and that we'd check in with her and my dad again after my 40 week appointment.

The ride to the hospital was absolutely miserable. Our neighborhood doesn't have the smoothest roads and they're full of bumps, pot holes, random wannabe speed bumps, and more. A contraction hit right as we started driving through the neighborhood and I felt every single bump in the road. Luckily, we hit the smooth interstate and sped along to the hospital.

When my OB walked into the room, the first thing she said to me is that it looked like we were going to need to set that induction date after all. She had been predicting the entire time that I'd go past my due date and that we'd pick an induction date at my 40 week appointment. I almost cried when she said that because I was so ready to have this baby! I told her about our evening in triage and asked that she pretty please check me. She skipped past measuring the heartbeat and measuring my belly, and went straight to see how far dilated I was. She very excitedly informed me that I was nearly 5cm dilated and that I had a one way ticket to labor and delivery! Finally!

They wheeled me across the hospital and got us settled into our delivery room. My first request? Get me that epidural. I had essentially been awake since 4:45am the previous morning... about 30 hours at this point. If you know me, you know that I can't stay up late much less pull an all nighter. My OB suggested getting the epidural immediately so that I could try and get some rest in before it was go time. They got an IV hooked up to me {one of the things that I feared the most about having a baby... needles are the worst, especially ones that stay in}, got me on fluids, and got the antibiotic I needed in me. Then came the epidural, another thing that terrified me about the whole process.

It wasn't bad at all, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. There was a bit of weird feeling pressure but other than that? Just a lot of relief within like two minutes. We watched monstrous contractions roll across the computer monitor and I was so relieved to not be feeling them. I was comfortable for the first time in what felt like forever.

The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging out with Patrick, our nurses, and our parents. I snuck in a nap at some point and woke up feeling so much more refreshed. I met the doctor on call that day who'd likely be delivering Riley assuming it was time to push before midnight. Around 5:30, he let me know that I was 8cm dilated and that I'd likely be at 10cm within an hour or so. We let our parents know and they decided to go hang out in the waiting room to let us both get some more rest before it was time to push.

... and this is where things started to get very real and very painful, very fast. I started feeling my contractions again in my left hip. The nurses readjusted things and gave me more of something through the epidural. It wasn't really helping though. I was feeling each and every contraction as they came rolling through. We all assumed it was sweet girl's head pressing down on my hip and we wouldn't be able to do anything about it. The nurse checked me again at this point (around 8:30pm) and announced that I had finally made it to 10cm and it might be time to start pushing. One quick call to the doctor confirmed it: it was time to push!

The nurse warned me that first time deliveries can take 2-3 hours of pushing. It was good to have that warning because y'all, baby girl did not want to come out. One thing I didn't do while pregnant was look up anything about the whole giving birth process. The one video we watched in our Centering Session was bad enough, and I hardly watched that. My whole birth plan was to just go into delivery and do what the nurses and doctor's told me. Pushing was so incredibly different than I thought it would be! The first hour of pushing wasn't awful. I'd feel the contraction building, they'd tell me to take a deep breath, and then we'd do 3 rounds of 10 seconds of pushing. 

The second hour though? Not enjoyable.

The nurses did keep me entertained with commentary about her hair. They were joking around about how much she had and how she was coming out with a ponytail. It didn't completely distract me though from what was going on.

I remember laying there thinking that man, if this is birth with an epidural, I sure am glad that I wasn't giving birth without one! Patrick told me afterwards that it looked like between each contraction that I was taking quick naps. I'd push, push, push, and then lay back with my eyes shut until it was time to push again. I don't know. I don't really remember much of this part other than willing this baby to get the heck out. Finally, the room got crowded with a bunch of people and the doctor showed up. Baby girl was so ready to come out at this point and I was ready to have her out. The minutes (hours??) waiting for the doctor to get ready were the longest of my entire life.

A few pushes later and out popped baby girl at 10:29pm! Nearly 42 hours from the first contraction, 27 hours from the beginning of early labor, and after 2 hours of pushing, she was finally, finally, finally here. That feeling as soon as you're done pushing and baby has arrived? Hands down the greatest feeling in the entire world. The nurses whisked her away because there was some meconium and all I heard was "Whoa! Look at that hair! What a chunk! Let's weigh her!!"

Riley clocked in at a whopping 9lbs 2oz and 22 inches long. She came out with her hand in a fist by her face (thanks for that one, sweet girl). Her eyes were wide open and looking around, she had cheeks for days, and she was the snuggliest little thing that I had ever held in my entire life.

But, she was finally here and it was time to celebrate her arrival!

02 January 2019

Hello, 2019!

Hello, 2019!

2018 was my biggest year yet. I did things I never thought possible (see: giving birth to a baby) and the year was everything that I had hoped for and more.

January 1st rolled around at just the right time for me. I'm coming out of that newborn fog, the holidays are over, and I'm headed to the doctor soon to get officially cleared for working out again. Not that that's really stopped me. It's kept me from running and lifting weights, but I've hit the gym a few times and got my first bike ride post-baby in already.

A few weeks ago, Patrick and I decided to set a few goals for ourselves and for our family for the upcoming year. We're both ready to attack the year with intentionality so that we make the very most of it. Here's the ones that we came up with for both of us and the ones I added for myself.

C + P Goals

- 1 date night a month
- 3 solo weekend trips (birthday, anniversary, & 1 other weekend)
- 1 friend night each a month
- 1 friend group night a month

With the addition of Riley to our family, we want to make sure that we continue to focus on us, our relationship, and our time spent with our friends. That means that I'll take time to plan a night out with the girls and he'll do the same with his guy friends. We'll plan a few weekend trips that are just for us.

C + P + R Goals

- Beach trips to Kiawah
- Beach trips to Edisto
- Lake weekend
- A trip to Charlotte
- Be active and fit

I want to be sure that we share all of our favorite things with Riley and that we continue to do what we love now that she's here. Beach trips are a must, as well as trips out on Lake Murray. We both also want to lead an active and fit lifestyle so that it's what Riley grows up with. We'll do this by going on walks around the neighborhood and local trails, and when she's a few months older, we'll add in bike rides.

House Goals

- Operation Backyard Patio
- Garage improvements

Now that we're done with the inside of our house, we're moving outside in 2019. The biggest project here is to rip up the crumbling patio we have outside of our basement/garage area and create an outdoor space that we can use. The other project is to clean up our garage a bit - close in the ceiling, paint the walls, put up shelves, etc. We both want this space to be a lot more functional and prettier than it currently is.

Fitness Goals

- Get back to pre-baby weight
- Run 12 5Ks
- Run 1 10K
- Run Kiawah Half Marathon
- Buy a bike trailer for Riley & learn how to bike around with it

I've already lost two thirds of the weight I gained with my pregnancy, so I'm hoping to cross that goal off sooner than later. I'm headed to our local running shop this week to get outfitted with a new sports bra and some new running shoes so that I can pick running back up as soon as I am cleared by the doctor (hopefully before next weekend!) I've missed the Kiawah Half the last two years, so that's my big goal this coming December.

So, bring it on 2019. I'm ready for you!

17 December 2018

Brewery #40: Steel Hands Brewing

I love when a new craft brewery comes to town.

Not one, but two breweries opened up in Columbia while I was pregnant with Riley. Was I a tiny bit annoyed at the timing of the openings? You bet. I love when a new craft brewery comes to town and usually want to be one of the first people to check it out. When Twisted Spur, Columbia Craft Brewing, and Hunter Gather's Hangar location all opened... I was either there opening day or opening week.

I not-so-patiently waited for the day that I could head back to a brewery so that I could check out the two newest ones in town.

Patrick and I snuck out of the house this Saturday, leaving Riley with his mom to watch, to have a day date at Columbia's newest brewery. Technically, Steel Hands Brewing is in Cayce, which is less than 10 minutes from our house {win!} It's also right down the road from one of our favorite restaurants {Henry's} and from the Timmerman Trail where we like to bike. There's a lot of good things coming to Cayce and I'm all for it.

But back to Steel Hands. It's the 40th {!!!} brewery that Patrick and I have visited together since 2015.

Steel Hands Brewing announced that they would be opening up the Midlands largest craft brewery back in March and I have been counting down the days until I could visit ever since. The taproom seats 150 people and they're busy working on their outdoor patio space that will seat even more people. The outdoor space is about half complete.

Right now, they're open on Thursdays from 4-10pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-10pm, and Sundays from 12-8pm.

On tap, they have:

I tried the Pilsner, Pepper Pilsner, and the Lager. Hands down, the Pilsner was my favorite of the three that I sampled but I'd be ok with grabbing a pint of any of them.

As for Patrick, he tried the Tropical IPA and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout in addition to the three that I sampled. We also checked out their kitchen and had their Duck Fat Fries and their Pretzels + Beer Cheese. Patrick loved the fries and y'all, I need their beer cheese in my life on a daily basis. It was delicious!

We both loved everything about this brewery. It's got a huge {by Columbia standards} taproom that's filled with plenty of seating. Not every brewery has a lot of seating but this one definitely does. Their beer is fantastic. The atmosphere was wonderful - enough people to be lively with a quaint bluegrass duo playing in the background.

Does anyone else spy @easelcathedral setting up shop in the background of this photo?

Their brewery capabilities look to be fairly expansive, with room to grow if needed down the road.

And the outdoor area? I can't wait for better weather to be able to get outside and enjoy this area! To the right of all of this outdoor seating is a big grassy lawn that has a nifty stage built from shipping containers at the end of it. Live music, great craft beers and plenty of space for everyone? I'm ok with it.

Have we already tentatively planned two trips out there this week? Maybe. Is this going to be Riley's first brewery? There's a really good chance it will be! This is one brewery that I have a feeling we are going to be regulars at sooner than later.


12 December 2018

Exploring Columbia: Città del Cotone

I love when new businesses open up in town! Especially ones that are locally owned and bring something new and different that we don't already have here. There's a new area in Columbia that is slowly becoming home to several unique, local businesses that fit that description:

War Mouth
Cottontown Brew Lab
Indah Coffee
Circa Barbershop

That area of town is just north of downtown Columbia, and is known locally as Cottontown. This area hasn't always been the greatest side of town to be on... but as new businesses move in, it's beginning to become a better and more popular place to be. There's a brand new restaurant that just opened up over there that Patrick and I checked out a few weeks ago on their opening day.

Città del Cotone is a delicious new pizza place that serves up pizzas that cook in about three minutes in their brick oven. Located in the heart of Cottontown, Città del Cotone translates to "town of cotton" which, if you ask me, is the most appropriate name ever for this restaurant.

Patrick and I ventured out here the week that it opened. It was either grill some chicken and cook some veggies at home for dinner... or try out a new pizza place for what could potentially be one of our final "just us" date nights. Obviously, we opted for the pizza!

It was 100% not what we expected when we walked in. There are a few tables to sit at, but the bulk of the seating is at the bar that surrounds the kitchen and brick oven. It's a good place to go with one other person or to grab a pizza to go. I definitely wouldn't attempt going here with a group! Also, the pizzas aren't your traditional ones - they're more along the lines of what you'd find if you ordered a pizza in Italy. You won't find a pepperoni pizza here.

I went with the Pizza Marinara {tomato sauce, garlic, and a sprinkle of oregano}. Note to self: if it doesn't explicitly list the ingredient, don't expect to find it on your pizza. Mine didn't mention cheese. There's no cheese to be found on Pizza Marinara.

I was super disappointed to see my pizza come out but you know what? It was so good! I was surprised by how much I loved it despite the fact that it wasn't what I was expecting. I would hands down order it again.

Patrick ordered the Pizza Tagliata {tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, sirloin, mushrooms, onions and bell peppers}. He loved his pizza, too!

Our next stop in Cottontown is going to be Cottontown Brew Lab and y'all, you better believe that we'll be grabbing a pizza or two to go from Città del Cotone and enjoying it alongside a Bull Street Wheat and a Tropicarolina IPA. I'm excited to try out Cottontown Brew Lab - they opened up while I was pregnant so I haven't had a chance to enjoy their craft beer yet. But I hear that it's awesome!

10 December 2018

Welcome to the World, Riley!

Welcome to the world, Riley!

Patrick and I are thrilled that sweet girl is here, and we're loving life with her in it. Life as a family of three is pretty awesome if you ask me.

There have been so many baby snuggles. All the snuggles. We can't get enough of them. Who needs to be productive or get things done when you can have baby snuggles instead?

We ventured out for one walk before the freezing cold rain rolled in, and I'm already looking forward to our next walk around the neighborhood. I keep checking the weather forecast looking for days where it'll be warm enough to take her outside. It's the downside of having a baby during this time of year - lack of warm walking weather.

We spent a morning with Aaron of Joshua Aaron Photography doing a newborn photo session. I cannot wait to see how those photos turn out! And I'm excited to create our first family Christmas card to send out to everyone. We snuck in a few good Christmas-themed photos since we had our tree up and our stockings on the mantle.

Our parents have been amazing in helping us out! They've been coming over to get in baby snuggles so that we could get things done around the house from eating lunch to doing laundry, running to the grocery store, and showering.

Life sure is sweeter with Riley in it. Thanks to everyone for all of the well wishes, the cards, and gifts - we've appreciated them all and we look forward to being able to introduce her to more of our friends and family soon!

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