Tuesday, October 30, 2012

sandy staycation

Thanks to Ms. Hurricane Sandy, I've been off today and yesterday. The federal government, local government, and schools all closed in preparation for the monster storm. The June Derecho storm really did a number on our area, and I think everyone wanted to be prepared this time. Thankfully for us, the damage was pretty minimal and and we kept power the whole time. Unfortunately the Frankenstorm hit my brother Will and Hoboken, NJ a little harder. He's without power and the streets around his apartment are flooded.

Richard actually got to spend some time at home too, so we've watched The Nightmare Before Christmas (his choice) and My Best Friend's Wedding (my choice), sorted through piles of mail and laundry, eaten most of our leftovers from our weekend pumpkin carving party and gone a little stir crazy. But we are super thankful the storm wasn't much worse! And for the impromptu staycation. 

empty flashlight aisle at our local Target

USPS still delivered despite the storm

Sandy heeded the wishes of this Catholic school

cars lined up under the overpass near our house

rising creek

Hello Kitty for President- we noticed these on a super cold walk through our neighborhood after finding out both our YMCA and the gym on base were closed

update: the scene outside Will's apartment in Hoboken, as of Wednesday morning

Monday, October 29, 2012

reunion tailgate 2012

Each year, some of my favorite friends from Clemson and I plan a reunion tailgate a few months in advance of the football season. And for the past few years, it's seemed that the games we have chosen have been set for noon. This year was no different for the Clemson- Virginia Tech game. Noon games are the worst, especially when you have to come in from out of town. And even more so when your flight gets delayed several hours due to a bad thunderstorm. Richard and I were not particularly thrilled to spend our Friday night in the BWI airport instead of with family and friends at home.

this look pretty much sums up our night

We finally made it to Greenville late Friday night/early Saturday morning and after sitting in a bit of traffic, made it to Clemson a couple of hours before the game. I love, love seeing my girls and their sweet children but always feel like we never have enough time. A girls weekend is definitely in order!

Lisa is kind to host us every year, and it's been so fun to get to know Avery and now baby Warren

There are 22 children among the girls who typically come. 22! They didn't all get to come, but we tried to get a picture with most of the little ones who were there. 

Sarah's version- thank you Sarah!

And just the girls- we were all tickled because the little ones didn't understand why they couldn't be in this picture too- bless their hearts, their little faces were so sad. I'm sure us laughing at them didn't make it any better!

and again, Sarah's version,  from L to R- Meg, Melanie, Lisa, Sarah, me, Julie, Baylis and Dawn

love this one of Sarah and me- Sarah was one of the first people I met at Clemson, and I respect her so much for how she balances a successful career and happy family life...wonder woman for sure!

Clemson designated the game as Military Appreciation Day, and it was so special to see Daniel Rodriguez, a Tiger football player and Purple Heart award winner for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, run the American flag down the Hill. 

Go Tigers!

In addition to the girls, we got the see several other great friends. Thankfully a lot of alums picked this game to get back to.

Angelo was student body president at Clemson when I was vice-president, so we spent a ton of time together in the Clemson Student Government office. I think we made a great team, and I'm so glad we got to visit with him and his wife, Heather. 

And we saw Kellianne, one of my dear childhood friends, briefly. I needed more time with her!

The best part for Richard was getting to see not one, but two of his best friends from med school. We had talked prior to the game about meeting up and really lucked out when their tailgate spot was just three down from my girls! Stuart and Lee had McIver with them, their adorable baby boy who we hadn't met yet.

Stuart is such a good dad

MUSC reunion- Chris and Rachel, who were both in Richard's class, and Lee and Stuart, who graduated from MUSC as well

My mom and dad make most of the games, and we had fun getting to tailgate with them too. I love that our whole family shares a passion for Clemson football. We missed Will but loved seeing Jeff and Leah! Hard to believe this is the last season that mom and dad will have a student in Clemson.

best parents a girl could ask for

Richard and me with Leah and Jeff- so proud of Jeff, who will graduate from Clemson in December

Richard is a Wofford grad but has adopted Clemson as his second team. He was such a good sport to trek all over campus with me on a warm October day after having had very little sleep. 

my favorite guy

With a good Clemson win over the Hokies, reunions with so many of our favorite people, and visits to even more special friends on the way home to Spartanburg, it was a happy, happy day. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

sugar and spice and everything nice

October has turned out to be the month of the baby girl, and I've loved helping welcome these little princesses. Each of my sweet friends that delivered these gals had great pregnancies, and their baby girls are just beautiful. I sadly haven't been able to meet little Emma yet, Jen's baby who came on October 12th, but I did get to meet Elsye, just five days after she was born on October 11th. Julia is her proud big sister, and both girls look a lot like their pretty mama!

Julia and Elsye 

little Gia and Julia are good buddies, and it was fun to see them both with the new baby

And then this past Sunday came another surprise...little Madeleine Grace was born a week early on October 21st! I was so thrilled to get Robert's text to tell me Rebecca was in labor on Sunday early afternoon, as I was already n Spartanburg and hopeful I could make it to Columbia to meet Madeleine on her birthday. I was over the moon to see her just a few hours after she was born. So perfect and so new. 

warming up under the lights after her bath in the nursery

Rebecca looked amazing

already in love with this little girl

Also, on Sunday, I got to see another precious baby girl who is almost 4 months old. Penelope and her mom and dad came to meet us at Wade's after church, and she just keeps cuter and cuter.

Penelope loving on her little puppy

so special to see Meghanne as a mama

Penelope wasn't too sure what to think of Richard

I can't wait to love on all these little girls and watch them grow. So, so thankful to be their "Auntie Beth!"

Friday, October 12, 2012

beth and richard's guide to chicago

When Richard found out that his annual surgery conference was in Chicago this year, I decided to go with him if I could take the time off. The Hill is pretty quiet during election season, so I booked a flight and off we went. We made the most out of our four and half days there and definitely want to go back when it's warmer. In no particular order, our thoughts on what to see and do in the Windy City:

1.  Ride the Ferris Wheel at the Navy Pier. 
We actually found the Navy Pier to be a little cheesy (think the new Myrtle Beach Pavilion), but it's still worth a visit to experience a great view of Lake Michigan both from the ground and at the peak height of the Ferris Wheel. According to our docent on the architectural boat tour, the Navy Pier is the most-visited attraction in all of Illinois. 

looking down on the Pier and Chicago skyline from the top of the ferris wheel

view of a lighthouse from the end of the pier

2.  Take an architectural boat tour. 
I did some research before we went on the various boat tours available (the Chicago Rover runs right through the middle of the city), and repeatedly read the Chicago Architecture Foundation's was one of the best. It did not disappoint, and the tour guide gave a perfect overview of the city's history, layout and notable buildings. It was a little chilly on the boat, but the information and scenery was so interesting that I barely noticed.

our seats at the back of the boat

beautiful Wrigley buildings

Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in the middle of the skyline

Chicago's Merchandise Mart, the world's largest commercial building- I needed my brother's sweet interior designer girlfriend to be able to shop here!

in front of the Trump tower, where Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls recently bought a condo on the 84th floor

3. Go see the Bean in Millenium Park and the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. 
If only to snap photos to prove you were in Chicago, as these are two of the city's more recognizable landmarks. 

the Bean

Buckingham Fountain

4. Appreciate one of the nation's best collections of art at The Art Institute of Chicago. 
I just wish we'd had more time here. We saw most of the better-known pieces housed at the AIC, but there was so much more to explore. The gardens alone are gorgeous, and our porch was inspired by their fall mixed pots. Inside there are works by Seurat, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Degas and Gauguin, to name a few. It may be obvious that my favorites are the Impressionists, but I appreciate the modern pieces as well and loved being able to see them all up close.

our planters are just a bit smaller than this one

Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, inspiration for Sondheim's musical, Sunday in the Park with George

American Gothic by Grant Wood- the inspiration for Wood was actually a farmer and his unmarried daughter, not a married couple as I always assumed

Georgia O'Keefe's Black Cross, New Mexico

The Red Armchair, Pablo Picasso

5. Cheer on the Cubs at Wrigley Field. 
The Cubs were terrible this year. The Astros, who they played while we were there, were even worse. But the combined poor records of the two teams coupled with the Bears playing in the Monday Night Football game meant we got great seats for a low cost. I'm used to Turner Field and Nats Park, both full of lights, bells and whistles, so it was fascinating to see a stadium without a huge video board, in a residential neighborhood. The Astros won, but it really didn't matter. The experience was worth it either way.

loved seeing the iconic Wrigley marquee

WRAMC general surgeons at play. We were keeping a close watch on both the Nats score and the Braves score.

the scoreboard behind us is still hand-turned

6. Catch a sunset from 94 floors up at the Hancock Observatory.
Or at least, the tail-end of a sunset. We didn't quite make it in time for the full thing, but we had an amazing view nonetheless.

looking out to the west- on a clear day, four states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin can be seen from the Observatory)

disregard the spot on my camera lens- bird's eye view of the Navy Pier

Chicago's Gold Coast

7. Laugh out loud at Chicago's Second City.
Second City is nationally known for its many famous alums, including Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and Mike Myers, just to name a few. Much of the Saturday Night Live cast got its start at Second City. So when Richard suggested we go, I figured it would be a good experience. In full disclosure, I am pretty conservative, and Second City is not. Chicago loves its homegrown President, and the city is certainly left-leaning. But if you can take the jokes in stride, the talent of the Second City cast is superb. And Second City was incredibly gracious and hospitable to Richard and his colleagues when they found out they were active duty Army. Their kindness and warm welcome is something I will never forget. 

Second City theatre

inspired to be silly

8. Eat. Eat. and Eat Some More. 
I am making up for it this week by severely restricting calories and sugar intake, but Chicago sure does have some delicious food. We started off with popcorn from Nuts on Clark at the airport, sampled Garrett's popcorn as well, feasted on Giordano's deep dish pizza and visited the restaurants of celebrity chefs, Stephanie Izard (the only female winner to date of Top Chef) and Rick Bayless- the Girl and the Goat and Frontera Grill. And to cap it all off? Cinnamon rolls, featured on the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." I'm still thinking abou those cinnamon rolls. 

Girl and the Goat, with Richard's med school classmate Corey

Frontera Grill- eating Frontera's fall guacamole, made with grilled apples and pickled jalapenos

Old School Frontera Trio- ceviche tostadas, chicken taquitos, and corn masa quesadillas 

churros at XOCO, the Rick Bayless-owned eatery next to Frontera Grill

Ann Sather cinnamon rolls

9. And the proverbial cream cheese icing on those rolls? I got to see two sweet South Carolina girls who I adore spending time with. Jacqueline, who also went to Clemson and worked as a Hill staffer in the South Carolina delegation in DC, and I met for lunch on Tuesday at the delicious Gage (their pumpkin beignets were downright heavenly). On Wednesday, I took the train out to Wheaton to see my friend Alison. We had a lovely lunch at Honey Cafe, and I got to see Wheaton College, where she and her husband teach, and meet her adorable little one who is just three months old. Seeing these ladies made a great trip even more special. Now we just want to go back in the summer time so we can add cruising on Lake Michigan to our list!

with Alison and little Charlotte in their Wheaton home