Saturday, June 4, 2011

Trip to Columbia

Friday night we headed to Columbia, the capital of SC, because Andy would be taking the first part of his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exam on Saturday. Brady and I decided to tag along to see a city we'd never been to before. We scoped out the test sight the night before and headed to our hotel. We brought the Pack N Play, but shouldn't have bothered since Brady wouldn't sleep in it. Until now, all the hotels we've stayed in have had a single king bed, but this one had two double beds. This meant there was a lot less room for the three of us. We tried splitting up, but Brady screamed unless we were all together. This meant a long night with his head in Andy's back and his legs kicking me. This morning, we got up early at 6AM, so Andy could be at his test site on the campus of the University of South Carolina by 8AM. He was very paranoid about being late and when I mentioned there weren't many cars around the building, he started to worry that the test site had been changed and he didn't know. Don't worry, he was there with plenty of time to spare and was in the right place. With Andy dropped off, it was time for me and Brady to explore.

Our first stop was the Columbia Zoo. We haven't been to a zoo
since the Diabetes walk at the Detroit Zoo in early October. It was very rainy that day, so there weren't many animals out and we wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. Today was the exact opposite. It was 97 degrees and sunny. We got there right after it opened at 9AM, after a quick stop at Walmart to get some emergency sunscreen because that was the item we forgot to pack (there's always one thing that gets forgotten). Of course, once I had Brady in his stroller, I found out that his baby sunscreen with a high SPF that never leaves the outside pocket of his diaper bag, must have fallen out since Disney last weekend. This meant that I had to use the spray bottle I had gotten for myself and was only SPF 15. I was not at all happy having to spray sunscreen on my baby, but it was better than letting him burn.

We spent about 2 hours at the zoo bef
ore it got unbearably hot and even the animals were starting to seek shade. Brady loved getting out of his stroller to check out the bronzed statues of animals scattered throughout the zoo. He LOVED the birds, and we got up close and personal with the giraffes since they let people feed them. They even had an indoor exhibit with fish and snakes. I was disturbed by the part where they show all the types of snakes that live here in SC. It didn't help that not too long after that, someone pointed out that there was a snake coming down a tree near the path and that we shouldn't cross. Our next stop was to seek shelter and AC at a mall we passed on the interstate the night before. We had lunch at Charley's in the food court, where Brady and I shared a Chicken California sandwich. We walked around a little to enjoy the cool air. I thought Brady was getting tired, but after driving around for a while, he was still awake. This meant our final stop was going to come before nap instead of after.

Our final stop was
Chuck E Cheese. The last time we were at one was in December back in Michigan and he was terrified of the rides, but he's 6 months older and loves to run around so I figured that this would be the place to tire him out. He loved the rides and didn't care about the games one bit. So he moved from ride to ride for about an hour and a half until all our tokens were gone. I figured it was finally time for him to take a nap, so we drove back to the area where we went to Walmart, where there also was a Sonic so I could get a drink. By the time we reached Sonic, he was still awake, so I decided to order a hot fudge sundae to share. It was Happy Hour, so it was really busy and it took them 25 minutes to bring my order. Of course, Brady was out like a light by then. He napped until it was time to pick Andy up, and then we walked around the USC campus with Andy before heading home. We have currently put 8,000 miles on our car since we bought it 3 months ago! If that continues (which it probably will), we will put on over 30,000 miles this year! Our car will be happy when we let it sit for 6 months when we go to Germany.

I've started watching the show Extreme Couponing on TLC. Although I think some of these people are nuts for buying things that they
will never use (ex. 50 jars of mustard) just because they have a coupon that will make it free, there are some good tips to saving money. They all have huge stockpiles in their houses because they acquire 50-100 coupons for the same item and when the deal is the best, they use all of them. I will admit that there are some of them that use their couponing skills to send care packages to soldiers overseas and to help fill food banks, which is much better than keeping everything for themselves. I've started using some of their techniques like buying a Sunday paper for coupons and scoping out the stores for the best price to use the coupon, but only on things I would buy normally. Who doesn't like saving a little money? Pop is one of our biggest expenses and normally, even at Walmart, a 12-pack of cans runs about $4.30. We are normally Coca Cola snobs, but were spending $15 a week just on pop! Publix runs a special every week which is 3/$11, but the brands vary, so I was sometimes getting Pepsi. With the Sunday paper also comes the store circulars for the week and CVS has had some great deals at 4/$10 so I bought 4 packs of Coke last week and 4 packs of Pepsi this week. I was rearranging the pantry to fit in a new pack of diapers and wipes and realized that I had 7 packs of pop in there! I think it's safe to say we're set for a while, but glad that I got a good deal.

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