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.

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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!

Vacationing in a city where you used to live

We’re spending a few days in January in the Washington DC area.  I lived in the DC area from 1998-2002 and still have some friends there, so it’s nice to see them from time to time.  Plus, we don’t have to buy three plane tickets for all of us to get there, so it’s cheaper.

The last time we went, we stayed with our friends who live in Frederick.  We love our friends that live in Frederick and we’re definitely planning to stay with them one day, but Frederick is about an hour north of DC and it felt like we spent most of that trip in the car.  So we’re getting a hotel this time.  And I used Priceline for the first time!  It was very exciting.  We’re planning to go down on Wednesday, stay in hotels til Saturday, then stay in Frederick Saturday night.  I played around with the settings a bit and found out that there was a significant increase in price between staying two nights in a hotel versus three.  

Ben suggested that we get a cheaper hotel for the first day.  So for the first night that we’ll be there I did the magical thing where you select a geographical area and you get a deep discount, but they pick the hotel for you.  WHAT?!  I’m getting lack-of-control shakes just thinking about it.  

It was pretty cool to sort of wait while they “found” me a hotel and then told me where it was.  I wish I were brave enough to do that for the rest of the trip, but I’m too particular, and the geographic area was unsatisfactory.  So I did a second reservation in Arlington for the next two nights where I picked a particular hotel.  It is about two blocks from where I used to work – so while the area is not super fantastic at first glance, I know good restaurants close by, and we’ll be close to the Metro which is the most important thing anyway since we plan to take advantage of free Smithsonian activities for much of the trip.

Now that I’ve made two non-refundable hotel reservations I’m certain that we will have a blizzard that weekend and not be able to leave our house.  If you live in the Pittsburgh or the DC area I would recommend stockpiling groceries in advance of January 23.