Brian and I joined a friend at our local gun range this week. We’ve shot mostly rifles in the past at our family farm and had only shot a handgun once before. This was our first trip to a gun range as well. Our friend brought 4 different handguns- a CZ, CT, Beretta, and one other. I never realized how different it is to shoot a shotgun from a handgun. Even though a rifle is much heavier, you can use your body to stabilize it better- your shoulder, a closer arm, and even your cheek. Brian hit the bullseye 3-4 times with different guns throughout our range time, but I didn’t hit it until the last gun. Even though it was the most uncomfortable gun to shoot, I hit the bullseye 3 times out of 10 shots. Our friend says you want to start with a gun that you shoot well even if it’s uncomfortable and adjust it to make it more comfortable to shoot (e.g., better grip). That makes sense to me. We’re still a long way from owning a gun, but it’s still a fun way to spend an afternoon.
We visited our friends Justin, Molly, and their daughter Graceanna in Charleston, South Carolina for a few days after the Oldfield vacation and the quick trip to Tuscaloosa. Brian met Justin at Westminster, and we all became fast friends. Brian and I are working hard to indoctrinate Graceanna with Alabama football (e.g., houndstooth onesie we bought her). This family has been a wonderful blessing to us in our new home, and we were thankful we could visit them in their hometown of Charleston during the summer break.
Justin and Molly did a fantastic job of making an itinerary that kept us busy the whole time. We feel like we were able to tour almost all of Charleston via foot, car, and paddle board. We ate at local restaurants with amazing views! The seafood was as fresh as they come. Now Brian and I know how to properly crack open a crab for dinner. Some of the restaurants at which we ate were The Marina Variety Store, Bowen’s Island Restaurant, Shem Creek Bar and Grill, and Mama Kim’s Korean Japanese Restaurant.
The first place we went was Saint Michael’s steeple. Justin used to be the youth minister at this historic church. It is the oldest church building in the city. There is a pew, known as the Governor’s Pew, that George Washington and Robert E. Lee had both worshipped in once during their political careers. The steeple is 186 feet high. With Justin as our guide, we climbed the steeple which allowed us to overlook the whole city. The view was unbelievable, and the structure was a true sight! We climbed many, many winding stairs to the top, but it was well worth it.
John C. Calhoun’s grave was around the corner in the cemetery of another Anglican church. We also went to the Dock Street Theater, which is the oldest building in the U.S. created for the specific purpose of the performing arts. It’s still a fully operational theater; in fact, both Justin and Molly have performed here.
We visited the Market, which is where vendors set up in long buildings to sell various goods like kitchen accessories, clothes, and sea grass (or sweet grass) creations. It’s my understanding that sea grass comes from palmetto trees that are native to Charleston. This grass is utilized to create unique woven baskets and trinkets. It can take anywhere from hours to months for a person to hand-weave a sweet grass basket depending on the size and pattern.
Downtown is a good area to walk, so we walked down Waterfront Park until we arrived at Rainbow Row- a beautiful string of houses that each are painted with a different pastel color. These homes are also historic and are comprised of multiple stories. Most homes in Charleston are narrow and long with multiple floors. This was due to the tax laws at the time, which denoted that a house was taxed based on the amount of street that it occupied. The residents then built houses that took up less room on the street but maintained the ability to offer a lot of square footage. It was also common for homes to have the front door along with the porch(es) on the side of the house. The door on the street side led to the open-air porch rather than indoors. Justin explained that this helps to keep the porch cooler in hot weather.
We then walked to The Battery, which is one of the locations where there are old cannons to commemorate the spot where Confederate soldiers fought off Union soldiers from gaining possession of the Carolinas. Fort Moultrie also had the grounds set up like in war times. There were old cannons from different time periods, which the museum explained. There was underground, bombproof storage that was created to hold ammunition.
On Thursday the four of us rented paddle boards and paddled down Shem Creek. This was my favorite part of Charleston. Seeing the sights from the water is a neat perspective. I also enjoyed all the dolphins that swam alongside us although it was a little eery at first. The closest they got to me was about 10 feet away. There were also plenty of pelicans and fish. When the shrimp boats went past us, all the wildlife would come out and go crazy trying to get some shrimp for themselves. This all took place while we were trying to paddle against the current and wind, remain on top of our boards, and not get caught by a nearby fisherman’s hook. Once we turned down the creek, it was much calmer, and we were able to let the current take us down the stream. Again, there was more wildlife- different birds than I’ve ever seen before. Brian fell off his paddle board and cut his foot on an oyster bed at the bottom of the ocean. For future reference, it’s better to go when the tide is high so this issue isn’t as much of a concern.
Friday we took a trip to the Firefly distillery and Irvin Winery. It was a good day to be indoors since this was the first time it rained since we had been there. We learned about muscadine grapes and how each variety can really impact the flavor. There were hens, a cow, and rabbits in cages. We would have stayed longer to walk around the vineyards had it not started raining.
Before we got on the plane on Saturday, we visited the downtown Farmer’s Market where we watched street performers and “window shopped” all the different vendors for the day. They sold everything from produce to paintings to clothing. Brian and I shared a large glass of lemonade while walking around under the hot sun. We also did some window shopping on King’s Street. There was a brick street running down the center with fun stores alongside like Anthropology.
We couldn’t have squeezed much more into our short vacation to Charleston. We had just the right amount of relaxing time with touring all over the city. Of course, it would never have happened without our sweet friends who went to the trouble of planning an itinerary and showing us around town. Thanks again, guys! We treasure your friendship and are glad we were able to come visit!
After the Davis vacation, we went to Saint George Island off the coast of Florida with the Oldfields (Bill and Cathy), Martins (Ray, Carmen, and Hannah), and Hirsches (Rebecca, Shaun, and Luke). We stayed in a large house on the beach complete with a personal pier and outdoor shower. Ask Bill how much he loved this feature! Our days were mostly spent sleeping in, relaxing on the beach, and enjoying the pool. Luke was not a fan of the ocean, but he liked the pool!
One of my favorite parts about the house was the view. We could see the beach clearly through the large windows and from the deck. It was nice to sit on the deck and watch the dolphins swim. They swam in pods and played with each other by flapping their fins and tails on the water. I was shocked at how close to the shore and to people they swam.
I also enjoyed watching the sea gulls until I saw a few boys throwing sand at the birds and hitting them with towels and a toy shovel. We were all distraught about the situation, so I got some bread to draw the sea gulls away from the boys. It worked quickly, and soon a great multitude of sea gulls were diving close to me in order to get a snack. I became the “Beach Hero” in that very moment. No one would come outside with me at the time, but everyone watched through the glass doors. It wasn’t until I tried to feed one of the birds out of my hand that Cathy put an end to that. In hindsight- maybe that wasn’t the best idea. : /
Cathy, Rebecca, and I participated in the water aerobics class. I don’t know if you’ve ever held a water aerobics dumbbell, but it doesn’t really weigh anything. It’s made of styrofoam, so it floats. The real work is keeping it below the water. Who knew!
We celebrated July 4th by playing cards, watching fireworks on the beach, and waving our American flag glow sticks. All in all, it was a great family vacation, and the last one during which the Hirsch family will be a family of 3. : )
My contract with EBS ended with the completion of the school year, which left me in search of a job again. I was looking for a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) in my area. I found a posted position online and applied with haste. It turns out that the position to which I applied was within a Roman Catholic Skilled Nursing and Personal Care Facility located 15 minutes from our apartment. The rehab team is staffed by Genesis Rehab Services, which is a large company that I had first learned about at an ASHA conference. I scheduled the interview for a Thursday afternoon, received the job offer Friday morning around 8:30, and accepted the offer Monday morning. It was a complete whirlwind of an experience! The building is historic (built in 1934) and beautiful. I was amazed the first time I drove up and saw it. The inside doesn’t evoke the typical “nursing home feeling”. It’s attached to the hospital and contains beds for long-term care residents including a dementia unit, short-term residents, and a personal care wing. I begin work July 14th as we scheduled a 3 week vacation in order to spend time with family and friends while waiting for my state certification to be approved. Although my state license arrived in less than a week, we will continue to travel until my start date, but I look forward to my first day on the job!
Brian’s sister (Rebecca), her husband (Shaun), and their little one (Lucas) came to visit us over the Memorial Day weekend. They got here Friday afternoon and stayed until Monday morning.
Friday night we went to a restaurant called Iron Hill. Before we even got there Shaun shared that he and Rebecca are expecting again! : ) Luke will be a big brother soon! We can’t wait to spoil the both of them. After dinner we went back home to play cards and dote on Luke, of course. He was especially interested in our two cats. Too bad it seems that he’s allergic.
On Saturday, we drove into the city and ate lunch at Reading Terminal Market. There are a lot of different shops within the one open market. Some people even do their grocery shopping there. Shaun and Rebecca tried their first Philly Cheesesteak at By George. From there we walked to Independence Hall. They had already sold out of tickets for the day, but we still took pictures outside the momentous building. We were able to take pictures with the Liberty Bell as well and visit the National Constitution Center complete with a play and museum. We also stopped by Benjamin Franklin’s grave. Thankfully, the weather cooperated for the day. It was nice out even though it was supposed to thunderstorm.
We went to church on Sunday morning where we introduced everyone to our family. Everyone loved Luke as always. : ) He was the entertainment for many as we don’t have many smiling young faces in our congregation. We drove to Chestnutt Hill that afternoon. The streets are made of cobblestone, and there are numerous boutiques alongside the road. Shaun had a Philadelphia pretzel, and Brian and I tried a Cinnamon Twist Pretzel. Then we came upon a bakery/restaurant called Cake. Cake consists of 15-20 tables in a green house. It would be a really neat place for showers. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future. We all agreed that the lemon bars and cupcake we ate were good indicators that we should come back for lunch or dinner sometime. I know it sounds like we ate a bunch over this weekend, but… we did. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do on Memorial Day though? ; ) We visited the King of Prussia mall afterwards. It is the largest mall in America in terms of leasable real estate. There are two buildings joined by a covered walkway. One building has stores that I’m used to shopping, and the other building contains stores such as Coach, Tesla, and Juicy Couture. We only did window-shopping there. Luke had a packed two days and did remarkably well for as much sitting was required. I’m glad he’s such a happy baby!
Monday morning was filled with packing and breakfast at IHop. It was a sad day to see them leave, but we’re excited that we’ll be with them at the beach in less than 2 months! Here’s to a great Memorial Day weekend with family and seeing you again soon!
This Easter was a first for us. We weren’t able to go back to Alabama to be with our family. Thankfully, church members made us feel welcome by inviting us over for lunch and dinner. We had our Easter church service in the morning, and then we went to lunch at the pastor’s house with several other church members. Sara had prepared a traditional lamb meal, complete with mint jelly. It was tasty! She is a wonderful cook and is gracious to host us occasionally.
Brian and I rested at home for an hour and a half after lunch and then went to a parishioner’s house for dinner. Phyllis is the leader of our knitting group at church. She and her husband John were gracious enough to invite us over for a traditional ham dinner. Their children are around our age but were unable to visit from out-of-state, so we gladly filled in. Phyllis even fixed us little Easter baskets. : )
Although it was a busy day, we still had time to think about the family that we were missing. I guess this is the beginning of the new Easter norm. When Brian is a pastor, we definitely won’t be able to leave our church on holidays like Easter and Christmas. It’s bitter sweet as we are ending one tradition and starting another. For now we’ll take advantage of every time we are able to see our family, and maybe sometime in the future we could host everyone at our house so that we’re still together for some of these holidays.
We had our first semi-warm weekend of the Spring! Woo hoo! It was wonderful. We put on shorts and headed to Pennsylvania’s official arboretum, which is the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum. Although it was too early for the flowers to have bloomed, the fernery was in tip-top shape, and there were attractions that broke up our stroll. One of which was the cargo net hanging high above the ground. You can walk across the net, which gives way as you go giving it a weird, unstable feeling, especially since you’re about 50 feet off the ground. The other attraction was a giant, suspended bird’s nest complete with twigs and blue eggs. The nest was also 50 feet off the ground. All along the trail there were bird houses in an exhibit. Some of them were like miniature mansions from Augusta, GA and from the Gone With the Wind movie.
It felt so nice to be outside! It hasn’t been as warm since then, but it was a good taste of what is to come.