A Collection of Thoughts on Stomach Flu

1. I am home today with the stomach flu that Elena had last week. It takes a lot for me to stay home sick from work, all day, but stomach flu is unquestionably on that list.

2. I love the phrase “stomach flu,” don’t you? It allows me to convey the severity of my symptoms without going into a lot of detail on what exactly those symptoms are. It is like “childbirth” and it is unlike “a broken leg where the leg bone is sticking through the skin.”

3. It is very strange to be home alone all day. Surely everyone must just be asleep?

4. We are living on the edge of danger because we have two rolls of toilet paper and no laundry detergent in the house. I was going to get more today. Fortunately we, you know, live in civilization and can easily pick these things up should the situation become an emergency.

5. Spice World, the Spice Girls movie, is not available on Netflix.

Scotland, 1997

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A number of years ago (probably something like 8) when I was blogging in Livejournal and like six people were reading my blogs (shoutout to my six people, you guys are awesome), I decided to write up a short history of my time in DC (1998-2002) before old age took over and I forgot everything. I wrote one blog post and then never got around to finishing it up.

This is not the rest of that story.

This is the story of how I spent eight weeks in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1997, working at a bed & breakfast.

I worked at Feddinch House. The people who owned it then are not the people who own it now. The people who owned it then have moved to Australia.

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The House
Short backstory: I studied abroad in London January-April 1997. While I was there I got a six month work-abroad visa (thanks to Unbrave Girl for paving the way on this) and I found a job working in a pub (this pub, actually – I guess that’s probably a whole other story). I wanted to find a place to work the last two months where housing was included so I didn’t have to fuss with finding a place to live.

How did I get this job, in the Age Before Internet? If you can believe it, I got a BOOK that listed various summer jobs in the UK and I WROTE LETTERS TO SOME OF THEM asking if they could hire me. Can you literally even imagine doing that now? Anyway, it WORKED and I got this job. I was only allowed to work in the country until the beginning of July. As soon as my classes were over, I hopped on a train in London and disembarked at whatever the station was that was nearest St. Andrews.

Here are the top ten things you need to know about this trip:
(1) It was the wettest summer in over 100 years. In Scotland. It rained EVERY DAY. Literally every day.

(2) I did not meet and marry Prince William. He studied at St. Andrews University some years later.

(3) They put me up in a “caravan” out in the back.

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It probably wasn’t as terrifying as this 17 year old photo would lead you to believe

The caravan had a heat source, but I apparently ran it too much, being American and all, so I was told to dial back the heat. Which I think was gas and probably could have killed me anyway. I have fond memories of watching ER and Friends on the extremely small TV.

(4) We were about two miles out of St. Andrews, which is not a large town to begin with. It was fairly rural.

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Neighbors

While there, I learned the difference between a Glaswegian accent and a Fife accent. I think I could still pick it out.

(5) While in London, I stress-ate a lot of Cadbury and Hob Nobs, so I had gained some weight (no idea how much since scales used the “stone” weight system, which I could not easily convert to pounds having no internet). I was on a diet much of the time I was in Scotland. On a completely unrelated note, I also tried my first curry there. It was too hot.

(6) I turned 21 there. The excitement of this was abated some by the fact that I had legally been able to drink the whole time I was in England. Also, it rained. I walked to town and had to hitch a ride back with some strangers because it was so wet.

(7) One time when I was trying to get the bus to town, I accidentally got on a bus heading for Crail. It’s a wonder I’m not still in Crail.

(8) I used to sneak in to the computer lab at St. Andrews and use the computers to email people. (Clearly the age of internet has been important to me.) One night, probably one of my best nights abroad, I snuck into the student union and played cards and drank beers with some of the summer students. It was exactly as I imagined studying abroad in England would be. I kept trying to find those kids the rest of the trip, but no luck.

(9) For a few of the weeks I was there, I had a coworker named Hannah who was just lovely and funny and wonderful. This is a picture of her with the house children Ruairi and Sophie.

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(10) At the time I was kind of miserable, but in retrospect it was pretty awesome. It took me some years before I could imagine going back to Scotland but now I would like to go again.

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OK, so it was pretty there.

Weekend of Food

We had a lovely weekend of stuffing our faces at various locations.

Saturday morning I took the girls to Starbucks for breakfast. I always give Elena the choice of bagels, Starbucks, or ACTUAL PANCAKES AT A RESTAURANT and she inevitably chooses Starbucks, which is not particularly exciting for me since there’s a Starbucks in my building at work. Oh well, at least I know what to order.

Breakfast at Starbucks for a change

Breakfast at Starbucks for a change

After Starbucks, we went to the community center and played with the toys there, which have the benefit of not being the toys that are also at our house. I felt like I spent the majority of the time there trying to get Zoe to take a damn nap already, so I didn’t feel like cooking afterward and we just went to Noodles for lunch. Also not a huge novelty, but whatever, at least Elena eats broccoli that I don’t have to prepare and pretend to enjoy.

Lunch at Noodles for a change

Lunch at Noodles for a change

THEN Mollie and Mara came over to make PINK CUPCAKES THAT ARE PINK.

this will certainly go well

this will certainly go well

haute cuisine for a four year old girl

haute cuisine for a four year old girl

Saturday evening, Ben and I had our date at cure.

cure

cure

Cure has a local menu that changes with the seasons. My list of “restaurants I want to try” is fairly long, but Cure had recently made it up to the top, so off we went.

menu

menu

my dining companion

my dining companion

I just love this new trend of fancy cocktails. This is a vodka-based cocktail that had a bit of a peachy flavor, and I don’t remember what all was in it but it was very smooth and lovely.

vodka cocktail

vodka cocktail

We ordered the salumi and chorizo to start, and both were interesting to look at and try. It wasn’t anything completely weird – rather it was things we were somewhat familiar with, prepared in an interesting way. This was the sort of thing I imagined we’d be served here. My favorite was a cured meat with a lavender flavor. So interesting.

salumi

salumi

chorizo

chorizo

We ate everything.

despite all appearances, we do eat regularly

despite all appearances, we do eat regularly

I ordered the bronzino, which I sort of vaguely remembered having heard of. It was fish!

bronzino

bronzino

Ben got gnocchi. It was very bacony.

gnocchi

gnocchi

We decided to skip the dessert afterward. Are we feeling ok? But Ben really wanted a coffee, so we got him a coffee.

coffee afterward

coffee afterward

Sunday morning, Elena offered to feed Zoe, and I said sure, why not, what could possibly go wrong. Generally it went well, except for the whole “baby now needs a bath” thing.

Elena's new job (as long as the food does not smell bad)

Elena’s new job (as long as the food does not smell bad)


(For those of you keeping score at home, yes I’m aware that there’s a recall on these things and they shouldn’t be left on counters with children in them unattended. I would also point out that I was taking this picture at the time and therefore not leaving my child unattended. Please do not call Child Protective Services. And/or, you can buy us a highchair if you want.)

We went to the Science Center, where the lunch was generally overpriced and unremarkable, save my fruit selection.

"red" grapes

“red” grapes

Throwback Thursday: Elena Edition

I have a bunch of pictures of Elena’s first year on my work computer and only on my work computer. I’m certain I should do something about that before my work computer decides to die one day (after all, I spend my work days surfing for pornography, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later).

In the absence of doing something constructive involving a cloud or a zip drive, I’m going to post some of the pictures here. People like pictures.

March 2010?

March 2010?

May 2010

May 2010

May 2010

May 2010

June 2010

June 2010

August 2010

August 2010

July 2010

July 2010

January 2011

January 2011

Miscellany

(1) I’m going for a short run this afternoon.  The more people I tell, the more likely I am to go.  I’ve been off a few weeks due to snow, baby stuff, work stuff, etc.  It’s so hard to break the seal and get back to it when it’s been a while.  Even with low expectations and nice running weather.  (Similar to blogging.  I’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to think about what to write because I feel like nothing really interesting is going on, but I just need to jump in and have low expectations, I guess.)

(2) We had a fairly eventful weekend.  Elena had two sleepovers (Rachel on Friday, Grandma Patty on Saturday) PLUS yoga PLUS Disney on Ice (with Grandma Patty) and there was a lot of driving her around to these various events.  Zoe and I went to a jewelry party (she didn’t get anything, but she did get to look at her baby friends Abbie and Amory) and the grocery store.  

(3) Speaking of running and this weekend, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in Pittsburgh who didn’t get a run in this weekend.  As I was driving to all the various places we needed to go, I’d inevitably pass 10-20 people running.  I kept telling myself that it’s the beginning of nice weather and there will be lots of other chances to get out there.  And that my muscles won’t atrophy.

(4) We seem to have survived Daylight Saving Time fairly unscathed.  I feel like “fall back” was a bit traumatic this year, but “spring ahead” seems to have gone well, which is counter-intuitive to me.  I suppose it helps that there’s no real scheduling issue with us waking up at 8:30 instead of 7:30.

(5) Ben and I have a date on Saturday!  We are planning to go to Cure.  I made a semi-resolution this year for us to try four new restaurants on date nights and this will be the first one.  From everything I’ve heard about this place it should be an interesting experience.

It’s March!

Even though there’s still snow on the ground and Zoe woke up three times last night (the hell?) I feel like we’re starting to get out of the woods here. All last year while I was pregnant I kept thinking, I want it to be next March, so I can have an adorbs six month old baby and start to figure out how to get my own self back. So that time is now! Now-ish, anyway.

Let’s see what we’re up to currently:

(1) Well, Zoe is still getting up a lot. First she was sick, then she was teething, and now she’s sick again. And we have this problem wherein after we are woken up at 4AM we do not make a lot of logical sense and we are like, “just feed baby, ‘sgonna be okah.” So we probably haven’t done what we need to do to change this situation.

As a result of all this I’m pretty tired a lot of the time. I haven’t been working out as much as I’d like. I continue to eat too many brownies. I’m finally coming to terms with this. Probably because it’s almost spring and maybe I’ll be able to GO OUTSIDE AND DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN EAT SOMETIME SOON.

It’s fine. I just need to remind myself that it’s overall a small percentage of my life that this is going to be happening.

and she's still cute, so it's OK

and she’s still cute, so it’s OK


(2) Ben got the Vacation List today, which is cause for great celebration in our household.

The way the USPS works is that vacation is scheduled based on office seniority and the number of slots available for any given week. Ben’s relatively low on the seniority list (despite having worked at the USPS for THIRTEEN YEARS) so he gets it pretty late in the season. This is problematic for me because I like to plan things in general and vacation in particular. So I’m always like, “Did you get the list today? When will you get the list??”

Finally he did get the list, so we have our weeks and I can start planning our Shenandoah trip in the fall and our beach trip in the summer. Hooray!

(3) Elena’s getting over a cold but otherwise doing fine. Here’s a little Throwback Thursday Elena action for you.

March 7, 2012

March 7, 2012

She’s working on the letter Q at school and we have plans to draw a rocket ship sometime today. She helped me make pizza for dinner last night.