Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Not only have we been exploring the Carolinas in general, we've also been taking the time to discover this place we are calling home for the next few months.  Columbia is full of history.  It was the birth place of the Southern Confederacy and where the secession documents were signed.  But because of this, to the North it symbolized the original catalyst that started the Civil War, and it was almost all entirely burned to the ground by Sherman and his troops on their march through the South at the end of the war.  When we first moved here, I was able to take a tour with some ladies from church to see a few of the sites Columbia has to offer.  We were able to gain special permission to visit these ruins of the Millwood Plantation (it's on private property).  Millwood was home to the influential and extremely wealthy Hampton family.  Because of the crucial role they played in the secession and confederate government, Sherman made double sure to incinerate this home, once known as the "Versailles of the South."  All that remains are five columns from the large and luxurious front porch.

For a sense of scale, your average human being is as about as tall as the brick base.

This is the current home on the property.  Still beautiful, and I love that they tried to stay true to the original roots of the home.

While we're on the topic of General Sherman, a fun factoid--He burned much of Columbia, but the building he wanted to destroy the most was the only building he didn't burn down.  Sherman's men were searching for the church where the secession papers were signed.  They knocked on the door of the church and asked if it was the correct one, as there were several churches in the general vicinity.  Those inside (not wanting their church burned down) told them it was actually the church across the street.  The "Secession Church" still stands. It is the First Baptist Church of Columbia, and has been in use since 1856.  In 1992 the church stopped being used for services.  I think now they have like a coffee shop or something?  It's still owned by the First Baptists.  Anyways, I just think it is kind of funny that Sherman and his troops did all this burning and ransacking, but the one building they wanted to get the most was left untouched.  Oops.

The tour I took was a driving tour, so we only got out at a couple of different spots.  This is the only other picture I got.  There is an artist here named Blue Sky that has different pieces all over the city.  (Including a giant fire hydrant and a giant chain linking two old buildings together...)  This mural is called Tunnelvision.  It's in a parking lot downtown, and supposedly there have been several accidents of drunk drivers trying to drive through it at night...not sure if that's true, but that's the rumor.

Columbia newbies soaking up the culture.

We are in love with having a yard!  When we first moved in, London wanted to go play outside in it every. single. day.  Which normally I wouldn't mind, but it was nearly 100 degrees PLUS humidity our first couple weeks here.  I didn't last that long.  But our yard here has the crappy grass that is really just a lot of weeds.  Since we have to care for the yard in our rental, we bought a lawnmower.  Dan and I used to joke that it was time to go mow the weeds whenever the dandelions started popping up.  But one time I decided to make London a flower crown before Dan got around to mowing them down.  She loved it and was pretty heartbroken when it withered away a couple days later.  Now the lawn is dead, so she'll just have to wait until spring for another.

Once it started cooling down a little, we went to check out some more of the sites.  After a trip to the main, fancy branch of our county library, we headed over to Finlay Park.  The top of the park has this cool fountain.  If you go up some stairs they have all these nice swings that you can sit on and watch the water, but stairs don't really work when I'm solo with the double stroller.  There were more stairs down to the main portion of the park too, but once again, that wasn't happening with this beast.  So we just came and looked at the main attraction and left.  It was one of the first cold days this year, and I think my California babies were kind of over it anyways.

There's a lot of fishing holes around here, so Dan has really been able to get back into that old hobby of his.  He seriously goes all the time. I think he fishes more than he golfs now.  Which is fine, because fishing takes less time and costs less money. :)  Plus, he likes to take London with him, so that is some great daddy/daughter bonding time for them.  Once we all went together to one of his favorite spots on the base, so I snapped a couple of photos.

 Here is picture of my living room, semi-finished.  As you can see, we've been reunited with our old piano!  It just gets uglier and uglier.  Also, please note London's "decorations" she placed on the piano, including one of her own shoes.  The girls love to reach up and bang on the keys.  But anytime I sit down to actually play a song they both start screaming they want a turn.  So I don't think I'll be getting back into piano anytime soon.

One week we did a dinosaur theme for London's "school," (which I have not been very good about keeping up this holiday season...).  There was a dinosaur exhibit at the children's museum, so we decided to spend the day there.  It was pretty cool, they had a million interactive and role-playing type exhibits.  London is all about anything where she gets to dress up, so she had a great time.

Firefighter London

This one should make Dan proud...Dentist London!
Veterinarian London
Cute Juliet, who is always with us on these adventures, but usually strapped onto me or in the stroller.

We found the dinos!

They had this little timed camera that would e-mail you a picture...this was the best Juliet and I could get.
One of our favorite things to do when we lived in LA was to spend the morning at the zoo.  Lucky for us, Columbia has pretty great little zoo.  We've been able to go a couple times, and we always love to feed the giraffes.  And by love I mean it freaks London out every time, but she keeps trying anyways.

Like lots of zoos, they have these little statues everywhere to take pictures with.  There was one stretch where they were literally across from every exhibit, and London insisted upon playing on every single stinking animal.  I was starting to get annoyed, because it was close to nap time and we were trying to leave, but then I saw her holding this orangutang's hand, which I thought was super sweet, even if it was just a statue.

They also have PONY RIDES at our zoo.  London has done these before, and loved them, but for some reason this time, she just was not too sure about the whole situation.

She did however LOVE riding this elephant on the carousel.

And finally, I leave you with this picture of my children breaking in the new KING SIZE bed.  Woot woot!!

I have lived here long enough to drive places without my GPS, have favorite places to go and things to do, know all the major freeways, highways, and roads, have the word "y'all" work it's way back into my vocabulary and speech patterns, and most importantly, started to make real friends.  South Carolina, we may not be here for long, but thank you for making us feel welcome for the short time we are.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Adieu, Fall

Although I love the Christmas season, Fall is the season that will always hold my heart.  In honor of it's giving way to our holiday merry making, I thought I would share a few pictures from a day trip we took up to the mountains with friends over Veterans Day Weekend.  It is hard being so far away from our dental school friends who had become like family, but at least we are living on the same side of the country.  DC, North Carolina, and South Carolina aren't too horribly far away from each other. ;)  It was so fun to spend the day with the Lukers.  The only thing that could have made it better was if the Stephens could have joined in! 

Have you ever wondered what your Thanksgiving dinner looks like in transport?  We passed this on truck on our drive up:

Yummmm....maybe not.
 We met the Lukers at Chimney Rock.  The drive up was perfection.  Bright, beautiful leaves everywhere!  When we reached the top of the mountain, the view was spectacular.  Picture perfect.  So obviously a photo op was essential.

Since we had little kids, we decided to take the elevator up to the top of Chimney Rock.  26 stories in 35 seconds, all the way up through solid rock!  (The other option is 31 flights of stairs.  No thanks.) 

Chimney Rock

After we were done taking in the views, we decided to do a short hike to Hickory Nut Falls.  The Falls are the second tallest east of the Mississippi, and they were used in the filming of The Last of the Mohicans.  Which I have never seen, so I can't vouch for that.  Regardless, they were worth the hike.

I think these two missed each other.

London was a trooper, she walked most of the way herself, but I think she was pretty worn out by the end of it all.

First selfie (post-Myspace, that is).

After we finished up at Chimney Rock, we headed over to Asheville for dinner.  We drove through the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way over...but we were about a month too late for the leaves.  I can imagine how impressive it was during the peak season though.  Oh well, maybe next year if we are still around these parts.  In Asheville we ate at Moe's Original BBQ.  It was awesome!  Once we wrapped up dinner, it was getting pretty late, so we had to head home.  Thanks so much to the Lukers for letting us tag along on your trip.  Let's go again soon and check out Biltmore!! ;)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This was my first time hosting Thanksgiving.  I've always had a sense of appreciation for those women in my life who worked so hard to put the Thanksgiving meal on the table...I now have a deeper, grander, and overflowing appreciation for them.  I was cooking, no exaggeration, for THREE DAYS.  My dad made the joke that I spent all that time cooking and preparing a meal that took us all of a half hour to enjoy.  I am just grateful that the turkey and the pies all turned out. 

In the past, the most I have ever made for Thanksgiving is appetizers and pie.  I have never had anything to do with the main event.  This year, I had to do it all.  My family came to stay with us since Dan was on call all weekend and we couldn't leave.  However, my mom was in Utah until Wednesday night, and they were driving up to our house on Thanksgiving morning so it was going to be all up to me.  To say I was nervous was a bit of an understatement, but y'all, I think I managed to knock it out of the park!  Or at least not send anyone to the hospital from food poisoning...which was my main goal.

I was so busy getting everything ready, I almost didn't take any pictures at all.  My mom reminded me I should take a couple to memorialize all the hard work I had put into everything.  So I grabbed a couple, but they aren't much to speak of.

I'm thankful we could cram everyone around our little table.  (The kids ate at London's little table.)
Funny story: I thought it would be nice to have little place settings. The girls thought it would be nice to eat them.  So a couple of us had bite marks in our pears.  Real life.  It happens. ;)

On Friday we took a trip down to Charleston.  It was everything I hoped it would be, except for the fact that it was FREEZING!  In true Carr Family fashion, the first order of business was food.  We got lunch at the Hominy Grill, which was ahhhmazing!  I give it an A+++.  They had a lot of classic southern food with a bit of a twist.  I had a fried green tomato BLT and I am still dreaming about it.

We had to wait outside in the cold for around 30 minutes for a table.  London was not too thrilled.
 Naturally, we had to get dessert.  Because ya know, enough calories weren't consumed on Thanksgiving Day. ;)

Buttermilk pie.  Tasted even better than it looked.

After our leisurely lunch, we headed down to the water.  We'd missed the last ferry to Fort Sumter, but it was so stinkin' cold, I don't think we would have really enjoyed the ferry ride (especially not the little kiddos).  But we walked around the little square they have near the visitors center and ferry dock. 

Who took these pictures, JJ Abrams?? The solar flare is out of control!

 Once we finished up there, we decided to walk around the historic district...until my dad chickened out because it was too cold.  It was nice while it lasted. ;)

Loved the ivy growing on this wall.

We found this neat little square filled with all kinds of memorials.  There was one for PGT Beauregard, a huge one for the Civil War (welcome to the South!), and one for Andrew Jackson's mother, who apparently was a nurse in the Revolutionary War...who knew!

It is always amazing to me how long buildings can last.  There were buildings here that have existed longer than America has been a country.  Maybe it is kind of silly, but I am constantly wondering at all they have been through and seen over the centuries.  I am a nerd like that.  Some notable structures were the home of a pharmacist who invented a small pox (I think??) vaccine there in the 1700's, a home that has remained in the same family for two and a half centuries, and a building that has been a bank since its construction (circa 1800??).  I am not 100% positive on all the dates, as I didn't write them all down, so don't quote me on that, but still pretty neat-o!

 As we were driving away, we passed this pond with all these old, waterfront homes.  My dream houses!! Absolutely gorgeous in the sunset, am I right??

Saturday, the men went golfing while the girls (and Jack) did a little Christmas shopping.  Once it got dark we headed over to the zoo to see the Lights Before Christmas.  London was the main reason I wanted to do it and she slept the. entire. time.  Punk. 

My parents had to leave Sunday morning, and London and Juliet were not thrilled about that, but I am sure we will get to see them again this month.  I'm so thankful to live close enough to see them on a regular basis.  I'm grateful that my dad is in remission and that we'll be able to enjoy many more visits in years to come.  I'm thankful for our home we've made here, for my beautiful family, for the fact that Juliet finally doesn't sleep in our bed anymore (!), and most of all for a loving Savior.  I love that we are able to begin our Christmas season with a heart full of gratitude and love for all the many blessings we have as we focus on the greatest gift and blessing of all.