Bird on Porch

While we were on vacation, a bird built a nest on the ladder right outside our screen door.

Home sweet home?

Home sweet home?

When I first noticed it I wasn’t sure what to do. My initial thought was to move it. We even tipped the ladder to confirm there were no eggs in it. But then I noticed the bird on a nearby tree, watching me in that freaky side-head way birds have of watching you, and I realized she’d probably just finished building it and was about to settle in. And who am I to deny a bird getting ready to have some babies, right? So we let her stay, figuring it wouldn’t be too long.

Anyway, you may remember that we got back from vacation over two weeks ago. The bird is still here. There is no evidence that there are baby birds on the horizon. Is she infertile? Delusional? Maybe I should Google how long it takes to gestate a bird?

We’re trying to avoid the porch while she’s there, but this is key porch-sitting weather here and I’m starting to get anxious. Have those babies, bird! And then move away!

My Birthday (observed)

Generally I’m a fairly well-adjusted only child, but I’m one of those people who makes a big deal about my birthday.  Now that I’m somewhat more mature, this involves things like going out for dinner or drinks with friends. Ben and I have gone to Soba with Mike and Elizabeth the past few years. I’ve coordinated myself a happy hour the past few years as well. (Drinking with buddies after work is sadly less of a draw this year due to the pregnancy.)

Every year since my 21st birthday I’ve had chocolate for breakfast. I’m a grown-up now, so I can eat chocolate for breakfast. (Also, I turned 21 in Scotland and I’d been able to drink legally for close to six months, so the concept of going on a bender because I was 21 was not a big draw – however I had been on a diet and the concept of chocolate WAS a big draw.) This year’s chocolate is courtesy of Oakmont Bakery and is currently waiting in the fridge for tomorrow morning.

If I can, I try to take a day off work for my birthday. My birthday is Tuesday this year so I took off Monday. The day went as follows:

  • Woke up at a not-too-early hour, woke Elena up, got us ready to leave the house, took her to day care
  • Met up with my friend Gretchen and went for a gorgeous bike ride at North Park
  • Came home and realized I had to do some work. BOO! Did some work. Realized I was running late. PANIC! Quick shower, shoveled some leftovers into my mouth, and headed out.
  • Massage! Stacey treated me to a pregnancy massage for being in her wedding. I never splurge on massages (I probably should more often) and it was just lovely.
  • Met up with my parents and Elena at my parents’ house and went to a viewing at a funeral home. Not exactly something I planned for my relaxing day off. My dad’s Aunt Eleanor died. She had been in her 90s and generally a pretty awesome lady. She had six boys. Six! However, despite this not being part of my plan, it was good to see those relatives, and Elena made a new friend in Ella, who is her, like, thirteenth cousin or something. Plus we got donuts afterward.
  • Came home and made one of my favorite meals, corn risotto with basil, tomato and lime
  • Texted a neighbor to see about going to the playground and met up with her along with approximately eight billion neighbor kids who were all Elena-age-appropriate. Taking your kid to the playground when they’re old enough to entertain themselves with the kids who are there is the best.
  • Home with Elena, bath snack TV story bed.
  • Pretty fantastic day overall.

    Finally, I’m extremely, extremely excited about this now-age-appropriate video.

    Love the Body

    Last week my college friend Sally posted The No Body-Snark Diet on her blog. Sally’s a fantastic writer and an interesting person, so you should check out her blog regardless, but this post is good (and gained a lot of attention) because it’s definitely something I need to work on. I spend entirely too much time and energy thinking about the 10-15 pounds I’d like to lose. (Being pregnant has both helped and hurt this and is probably a completely separate topic but suffice it to say that I still spend too much time thinking about the 10-15 pounds I’d like to lose that are not pounds of baby.)

    I don’t mean, OMG I DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT I EAT OR HOW MUCH I EXERCISE ALL OF A SUDDEN. I mean, I really need to work on accepting the fact that overall I eat fairly healthfully and work out a good bit and maybe I need to focus on keeping that up and not beating myself up if I want a damn croissant one time. (Although I certainly have been pretty good about THAT while pregnant.)

    So here’s my full length body shot. Being pregnant has helped me feel better about my trouble spots, and I imagine at some point not too long after the baby is born I’ll “get my body back” as they say. The trick would be to get me to post one three days after the baby is born (hint: that’s probably not going to happen).

    Full Length Photo

    Full Length Photo

    Outer Banks Vacation

    We went on a beach vacation this week! We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk.

    Pros1. The beach, obviously. I LOVE the beach.

    THE BEACH!

    THE BEACH!

    Looking out over the pier

    More beach!

    2. Good food! I’m going to post separately about the food we ate. I think we did a really good job with our food choices with absolutely no planning or foresight, which is amazing.

    3. We had some great family time. We didn’t really do this exactly on purpose, but it was nice to go away and have some time just the three of us before the new baby comes, and long enough away from my due date that we didn’t have to worry about, you know, me going into labor in the car in rural Virginia. Also the beach is sort of the best place for Ben and I to vacation because my ideal vacation usually involves doing stuff and his involves not doing anything, but “reading on the beach” for me counts as “doing stuff” so we’re more on the same page at the beach than we are in, say, London.

    Elena & Ben

    Family Self Portrait

    Another family self-portrait

    4. Elena seemed to enjoy playing in the sand to a certain extent (she got tired of it when it got too hot) and she REALLY enjoyed the pool.

     

    Elena's manservant

    The outdoor pool, when it wasn't "too sunny"

    The outdoor pool, when it wasn’t “too sunny”

    Ben described Elena as a 40-year-old woman in the pool, just floating around.  Nothing wrong with that.

    Ben described Elena as a 40-year-old woman in the pool, just floating around. Nothing wrong with that.

    5. The other two times I’d been to the Outer Banks we stayed in beach houses. I enjoyed that (see #1) but for our current situation, the hotel was the best bet, and this was a great hotel for what we needed. It was right on the beach and had an indoor and outdoor pool, so you’ve got three options for water entertainment. (There was also a gym, which is usually important to me but my exercising this week was beach walks.) There was a hotel restaurant, but also a number of places not too far away (we did have to drive to them, but driving 1-2 miles is not a big deal to me). We were about 10 miles from Duck, which is a little more upscale and had a boardwalk on the sound, which was a nice alternate activity. We didn’t stay long enough to want to, like, go parasailing or jetskiing or anything (that’s not really my scene anyway) but those options were nearby too. Beach houses are Saturday-Saturday rentals which doesn’t work with Ben’s vacation situation, so hotels are the best bet.

    6. I saw dolphins and crabs on my beach walks! So cool.

    7. It’s not quite the off-season, not quite the on-season, so the weather was great and everything was open but there weren’t too many crowds.

    Cons

    1. By day 2, Elena was pretty much only interested in swimming in the hotel’s “inside pool.” The ocean was kind of scary and too cold for her. It got too sunny at the outdoor pool. She also very much enjoyed pushing the elevator buttons. So basically we could have stayed at a hotel in downtown Pittsburgh for much the same effect.

    2. The drive down was AWFUL. We didn’t leave til 1PM. Ben had a hockey game in the morning; we’re not the kind of people who like to get up at 2AM and drive or whatever so we can have an extra half day at the beach, so we took it easy leaving, and as a result we hit a lot of “coming home to DC from a long weekend away” traffic as well as a pretty bad rainstorm, a tornado warning, and naturally there was an accident on the road in front of us as a result of all this – basically we were in the car almost 12 hours, which was not ideal. (The drive home was MUCH better.)

    Ready for the drive!

    Ready for the drive!

    What the what?

    What the what?

    We did get to see a nice rainbow though

    We did get to see a nice rainbow though

    3. While the hotel was nice, the beds were really uncomfortable…at least for Ben and I. Elena did not seem to have this problem.

    How can such a small person take up so much space?

    How can such a small person take up so much space?

    Overall we had an awesome time.

    Vacation Food!

    I wanted to do a separate post about all the food we ate while we were on vacation because it was generally pretty awesome.

    The first day we ate at the hotel. Breakfast buffets are nice, but not exactly the best thing for a picky 3-year-old. For the rest of the trip, we went to a place across the street (a local chain) called Duck Donuts. They make their donuts fresh and put the toppings on for you per your request. They were REALLY GOOD. Warm, fresh donuts for breakfast every day? Yes please!

    I have no pictures of the donuts for obvious, hunger-related reasons.

    Two days we ate lunch at another place across the street (why drive far?) called Pizza Stop.

    Pizza Stop

    Pizza Stop

    Their pizza was just divine.

    The first night there, on a recommendation from a friend we went to the Black Pelican. Now, here’s a thing about me. I love crab. I lived in Maryland for a few years, which, I mean, everyone lives in the DC area for a few years but I was lucky enough to hook up with two native Marylanders who invited me to family crab bakes and OMG WHY DID I MOVE. I love crab so much. Usually I don’t get it at restaurants though because they can NEVER SUPPLY ME WITH ENOUGH CRAB. But I decided, what the heck, I’ll get me some crab legs here. They did not disappoint. But why would they.

    Crab legs

    Crab legs

    Notice that they came with butter, which I find unnecessary. You can’t taste the crab as much if you dip it in butter.

    Ben decided to get an appetizer called “tuna bites” which sounds like it could be something sketchy that you found in the back of your freezer, but ended up being an interesting and spicy dish. He also got some meat-based meal I can’t remember and he liked it. I think Elena just got chicken and fries. But at least she was exposed to seafood at her table? I don’t know. We didn’t try too hard to expand her food horizons on this trip.

    Tuna bites

    Tuna bites

    Chipface

    Chipface

    Tuesday we went to The Good Life for dinner. I didn’t take any pictures here either, but the food was really lovely. I had a chicken curry salad sandwich, Elena had macaroni & cheese, and Ben had some sort of meat-based sandwich. Since we were eating out every meal was nice to find an alternative where we weren’t getting piles and piles of food.

    Wednesday we drove through Duck, NC in the afternoon and decided to come back for dinner. We had no specific plans for dinner and I happened to notice the Red Sky Cafe and decided we should give it a try. It was one of those small places that as soon as you go in you’re like, ooh, we’re IN THE KNOW because we chose to eat at this place. It was so small, in fact, that you had to go out the door and across the walkway to use the bathroom.

    I actually paid attention to the meat-based meal that Ben got this night – it was ribs.

    Ribs

    Ribs

    Elena got pasta. She likes sauce (I HATED sauce when I was a kid, so I feel like this is very advanced of her). She was just sort of OK with this pasta though. I haven’t quite figured out what the sauce needs to taste like for her to like it.

    Pasta with red sauce

    Pasta with red sauce

    Since we were in North Carolina I decided to go with shrimp and grits. My friend Rachel makes really good shrimp and grits from a recipe she got while at grad school at UNC and from Rachel, I was smart enough (for a northerner) to understand that shrimp and grits includes cheese, bacon, and other tasty things such that you don’t really notice the “grits” part of the dish.

    Shrimp and grits

    Shrimp and grits


    This dish did not disappoint. I couldn’t stop eating it. They tried to take my dish before I was done and normally when that happens I’m like, whatever, I should stop eating anyway, but this time I asked for it back.

    So due primarily to luck, we had a wonderful eating vacation. Hooray for food!

    Hungry Cat

    Our cat is basically convinced that we are starving him. Our cat weighs 20 POUNDS. (He used to weigh 24 pounds but we got him down. Not an unimpressive feat.) He is not starving. But it is difficult to reason with him on this fact.


    (Thanks to Nate for sharing this one with me.)

    He is a bit of a creature of habit. He got in his head that whenever someone comes to the house, it’s time to eat. So he will meow his head off when anyone walks in the door until he gets some food.

    He used to have a sister, who was a normal-cat size, so we didn’t pay a lot of attention to how much food was out, but it seems like he was eating most of it. She died a few years ago of kidney failure, at which point we decided we were in a position to actually deal with the fact that this cat is really fat.

    We feed him 2 1/4 cups of food a day. This is actually not true. Theoretically we feed him 2 1/4 cups of food a day but it’s actually 4 1/8 cups of food because he’s convinced that he needs first breakfast, second breakfast, first dinner, and second dinner. Feeding him a full breakfast or dinner was apparently not sufficient, so we split his food in half. (We are crafty too.)

    This morning instead of feeding him second breakfast directly when I got up, I had the AUDACITY to come into the computer room and pay some bills. DISTRESS. DISASTER. So I have a very loud, impatient cat – who, may I note, has eaten within the past two hours – crowing for his second breakfast. I suppose I should wrap this up.

    Happiness is eating

    Happiness is eating