Tag Archives: vacation

Five for Friday

Clayton’s two-week vacation began on Monday! Woop woop! Rather than a cliché trip to Europe or a tropical cruise, we decided to go all out and schedule meetings with a financial advisor and attend Addison’s preschool orientation. Go big or go home, right? Here are the wild ways we’ve been spending Vacay Week One. 

1. The kickoff to our subdued staycation was Addison’s birthday party last Saturday. It seemed like everyone had a good time, even though the rain switched up the “Fun in the Sun” theme to more of a “Fun in the Living Room” theme. For the few minutes we could venture outdoors, it was a smash.

addie slide1Let’s be honest, all you really need to placate most 2-3 year olds (and their parents) is food. Preferably food that involves icing.   

kids cake

2. Truthfully, I knew a single date night would make me feel like the vacation was a raging success. Two and a half months without a night out with my boo was feeling like an eternity. And by boo, I obviously mean this:

beer flightPic taken on an actual vacation when we were livin’ that DINK life hard.

So on Tuesday, we dropped Addison off at preschool and had ourselves a little day date (with our tiniest third wheel in tow). We explored Locale Market in St. Pete before heading to Cassis for lunch.

cassisThen we walked along the water for a bit taking pictures of ourselves.

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clayton nat st pete3. If that wasn’t indulgent enough, we even had a real live just-the-two-of-us date that night. My parents watched both nuggets while we FINALLY saw “Jurassic World.”

jurassic world

Did it rival the brilliance of the original? No. Did I love it? Yes. For such an ambitious undertaking, I thought it was a great resurrection of that franchise in 2015. And it certainly put those other crap sequels to shame. I want to see it again already.

4. I made a Cuban sandwich tray for the party and way, way overestimated how much ham and pork I needed. I hope my family enjoys a daily grilled Cuban as much as I do.

cubans5. I grabbed this bag on my way out of TJMaxx the other day because I was starving, impulsive and cranky from trying on bathing suits (a task that should be forbidden until at least six months after giving birth).

$8 snack

When I got to the car, I realized if was $8. Eight dollars for puffed nuts. A part of me died inside.

So far today’s plans include staring at the unending rain. Party on, Noas.    

Five for Friday

At this moment, Addison is babbling away in her room instead of napping, my mother in law will arrive any second, I’m nauseous from needing to eat and tomorrow we are having my baby shower at my house. So, in speedy fashion, here are some things that amused me this week.

1. A visit to the new Tampa Riverwalk complete with actual physical activity (gasp!), fountain splashing and divine spring weather.

photo 1 (2)

2. Easter adorableness accentuated by unintentional cousin coordination.

photo 2 (2)

3. Because I’m 13 years old.

photo 54. An impromptu trip to the beach on a Monday, which I nearly missed due to inane reasoning that “I had too much to do.” If someone asks you to go to the beach on a Monday, shut up and go. 

photo 2photo 4photo 5 (2)

5. I accidentally left our bedroom door open when I ran errands Thursday. Maya took complete advantage and discovered a brand new box of tissues. Just imagining her confusion, wonder and sheer delight when MORE KEPT COMING OUT makes me giggle uncontrollably. I wasn’t even mad, I was really wishing we had a nanny cam in there to see that play out.

tissues Back to the to-do list! And a snack.

Babymoon

You know how most times, when you build something up in your head for weeks and weeks, it’s a total mega let down once it actually happens?

That was so not the case with Babymoon #2.

Any time someone asks me about it, I can’t help but describe it as – wait for it – perfect. That’s right. Perfection. And I don’t toss that word around lightly. Usually I’m up to my ears in “okays,” “goods” and “nices.”

We dropped off the girls after pancakes on Friday. I guess they were both experiencing a carb hangover.

photo 1Then we drove the two hours to Fort Myers. We were a little early to check in at our B & B, so we grabbed lunch downtown at Ford’s Garage. We didn’t realize this until Saturday night, but a group of owners basically bought up the entire downtown and owns four, soon to be five, restaurants. We ate at almost all of them. We knew something was up when there were chickpeas in our salads at three different restaurants.

fords1All of the restaurants are themed. Ford’s is obviously car-themed, complete with cleaning rags for napkins and a big car hanging over the bar that honks and shoots steam. The food theme is aortic blockages. We were fans. However, it wasn’t the best place for a prego desperate for a beer. Sad [sober] face.

fords foodAfter lunch we headed to The Hibiscus House, a newly renovated bed and breakfast just outside of downtown. We’d never stayed at a B & B before, so this was a bit of an experiment for us. Our room was gorgeous, the bathroom was pristine and no strangers randomly wandered into our room, a legit concern we had. Sharing intimate breakfasts with people I don’t know is not on my list of favorite ways to spend the morning, but even that proved harmless and a good exercise for my reclusive nature. Also, the breakfasts were flipping delicious. (Source)

The Hibiscus House

Gold star number one for this getaway: a two hour nap after we checked in.

Once we woke up, we got ready to hit the town. At 6 p.m. Don’t be jealous of our star status. We waited for our table at The Firestone (yes, tire-themed) on the rooftop Skybar. The view was decent and I didn’t mind enjoying my mocktail with the pre-sunset crew. It took the pressure off to hangout after dinner when I’d be ready to kick my feet up with some chocolate.

skybar1

firestone selfie1I was not really hungry, so I only had the crab cake appetizer and a grilled Caesar salad. As Clayton noted, once you get past the warm grass taste, the grilled salad isn’t so bad.

What mama wants, mama gets. Feet up, chocolate downed.

feetThis was after the bagger at the grocery store asked when I was due, looked me up and down and said, “You’re ready.” I was totally cool and level headed about it because, you know, I have two more months before I’m “ready,” thank you very much. I may have snapped back if she wasn’t possibly mentally handicapped.

Maybe it was the tunic?

Saturday we headed off to Sanibel and Captiva islands. The weather was supposed to be nasty, but it’s Florida, so never change plans based on the weather. Sanibel is just plain gorgeous. The water is this serene teal and the beaches are covered in white and pink shells. Even for someone who grew up in Florida, Sanibel was impressive.

I would have done some shelling if I could 1. bend over or 2. tolerate temps over 78 degrees. We ate lunch at The Bubble Room, which was more hyped up than it should be. It was kitschy and cluttered with plenty to look at, but the stuff seemed less like antiques and more like, well, stuff. And most of it was creepy, not fascinating, like dolls and old combs and this face.

tunnelGold star number two: It was a very, very happy accident that we were staying a block from Bennett’s Fresh Roast, known for their homemade doughnuts. I’m not going to say we planned our day around getting to Bennett’s before they closed, but it was certainly on my radar. We snuck in just before they closed at 3, so the selection was limited, but all I wanted was a classic glazed anyway. Did not disappoint. I guess that was the theme of the weekend. I’m so mushy it’s making me uncomfortable.

We lazed around snacking on our treats for a bit before getting ready to head out for the night. We went back downtown and stumbled into a car show. Downtown Fort Myers isn’t huge, but there are plenty of restaurants to fill up a weekend. We could stay close for all of our meals. Along with the car show there was a Brews and Tattoos event going on, so the people watching was superb from our patio seat at Capone’s. Fun story: when we initially asked about a table, the hostess said the wait was an hour. And then, spotting my bump, she told us to stand there for a sec. Just like that, we were seated immediately minutes before the rain came. For all the muscle aches and awkward maneuvering, this thing has provided its fair share of perks this time around.

downtown rain1Shockingly, I wasn’t in the mood for pizza and opted for a pretty bland pesto ziti pasta. Life is built on small choices, and I’m still regretting that one.

capones1Guys, I fell asleep at 9:30. Didn’t I tell you this trip was perfect?

I will blame that early bed time on the rain and, mostly, the non-plot of “A River Runs Through It.” I confused it with the other movie about a river where dramatic events take place, so I started it from the beginning and kept waiting for a major twist or Kevin Bacon to show up or basically any sort of excitement whatsoever, and nada. A little over an hour into it, I gave into sweet, sweet sleep. My husband is a lucky dude. For all I know he snuck out to go bowling (his suggestion for the night) without me. I wouldn’t blame him.

After scarfing some homemade blintzes and waxing poetic about them in the guest journal (“The fruit compote is what dreams are made of.” I seriously wrote that.), we checked out of the B & B on Sunday and drove down the road to the outlet mall. Outlet shopping looks much different nowadays and our major purchases were from Carter’s and Gymboree.

We’d learned the ropes quickly and placed an order at Bennett’s earlier in the day that we swung by to pick up after the outlets. This time I was able to snag quite an assortment: peanut butter, orange crunch and maple toffee. I would have ordered more if Clayton wasn’t hovering and whisper-shouting that three was enough. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ENOUGH.

doughnut list

All of the flavors were divine, but my favorite was the peanut butter. The orange crunch was out of my comfort zone – I’m normally chocolatechocolatechocolate – but surprisingly delicious. I’m still sad they were out of Boston crème both days. Am I still talking about doughnuts?

Anyway, we drove home and I dropped Clayton off while I picked up the kids.

I considered it a perfect babymoon because I didn’t want any pressure. If I felt like sleeping for 48 hours, I wanted to have that option. If I felt like taking an hour walk on the beach or reading or lounging in a giant  bed watching a terrible movie, I wanted to do just that. And that’s exactly what our little vacay was like. I am thankful my normally antsy, active husband was flexible enough to go with the flow, even though the flow was like seven-months-pregnant molasses most of the time.

It’s a week later and I’m still wishing we were leaving tomorrow to do it all over again.

Hollywood (the East Coast version) & Miami

Thank God for medical conferences. And my completely remote writing business that allows me to take advantage of them. Clayton attended some long-winded professional meeting in Hollywood (Florida) last week, and I carpooled with him Wednesday night to my own private vacation. As you’ll notice from the photos (or lack thereof), we aced taking pictures together.

Beach selfie. Happened.

Beach selfie. Happened.

We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Hollywood, which wasn’t slumming it by any stretch, but the conference was a block away at The Westin Hollywood, and that my friends, is a hotel. The lobby is four stories high with a glass ceiling and two rows of full size palm trees INSIDE. I walked in and was certain I’d entered heaven. A lot of people wear swimsuits in heaven, btw.

Hollywood Beach

On Thursday and Friday we had lunch together with Clayton’s boss at The Westin’s oceanfront café. It was amusing to see all of the buttoned up, badge-wearing conference attendees meeting their bikini and cover-up clad wives. I guess my plan to tag along was not all that unique. I was the only wife in an oversized Nike t-shirt as a cover-up, though.

IMG_3497

Clayton and I were able to explore a bit for dinner each night. Thursday we drove around for a long time with nothing to show for it before finding Portherhouse. Luckily it was nice enough to eat outside on the patio because they allow smoking inside, which is no bueno for my lungs. Stink eyes would have run amok.

Friday night we were slightly more prepared and headed toward downtown Hollywood. It wasn’t quite as rambunctious as we were expecting–okay, it was also 6 p.m. We’re so old. We walked around and attempted to take inconspicuous selfies, which is impossible, and artistic photos of yet more palm trees.

Downtown Hollywood

We had dinner right on the intercoastal at The Downtowner. Again, probably wouldn’t recommend indoor dining (it’s a cramped bar/pub inside), but we loved sitting by the water. We walked around some more after dinner until it was too dark to take any more palm tree photos.

the downtowner

As you should assume, every night ended with ice cream in some capacity. Totally justifiable because I worked out a total of one time. But I certainly thought about a few runs along the beach and packed my Garmin, so…that has to count for something.

We’d planned to stay Wednesday night through Saturday night and drive home Sunday. There was a teeny little hiccup when we came back from lounging at the pool Saturday afternoon and realized our room hadn’t been cleaned, and it was 1 p.m. My stomach sank a little bit, and after some troubleshooting, Clayton realized the room was only booked through Friday night, and had been that way since the trip was planned months prior. Oopsies.

Obviously, I was the picture of reason and understanding and forgiveness. At least I would have been if I was speaking to Clayton for the following hour.

In my huff, I assumed we were going to pack up and head home, but luckily my petulance doesn’t always call the shots. My caffeine addiction does. We parked it at Starbucks for (yet more) half price Frappuccino’s and I sulked while Clayton booked us another hotel in downtown Miami.

View from our 20th floor balcony.

View from our 20th floor balcony.

 

View from 11 degrees to the right of the previous view.

View from 11 degrees to the right of the previous view.

I guess it was okay.

The weather was overcast and rainy, so we didn’t really need to be close to the beach anymore. We had our nicest dinner Saturday night at the hotel’s restaurant, and I am still daydreaming about the steak I had. Which is weird because ”I don’t like steak.”

We drove around South Beach because we were too crotchety to deal with finding parking and actually walking. Watching other people have fun sure is exhausting, so we grabbed ice cream at Publix and called it a night. Stop judging us.

IMG_3519

Sunday morning we decided to give South Beach another go and had a delicious breakfast at Oliver’s Bistro before actually parking our car and traversing on foot. Gasp. We headed to the beach for a little walk, stumbled upon one topless sunbather, and that about did it.

Oliver's bike Miami South Beach fence the tides leslie narrow

I’m still feeling gipped about only seeing two alligators along a 4,000-mile stretch of Alligator Alley, but otherwise the trip was a roaring success. For some reason I never realized just how beautiful Miami is and how tempting it is to jet down there every single weekend.

But there is one good reason to stick around home, too. And I sure missed those 30 pounds of attitude.

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Christmas & New Year’s 2013

As my husband has deemed it, Happy Flu Year! You may be able to guess, we’ve had a blech go of it around here lately. But let’s back up to before my body revolted against me.

Clayton had to work a half day New Year’s Eve. In normal people hours, that would equate to getting off at 12, but in the medical field a half day is going in at 7:30 and getting home at 3. What the rest of us slackers would call overtime. I’d tried to finish wrapping all the presents and packing and cleaning and whatnot, but I had Addison, so…yeah. I definitely didn’t finish. Or start.

Not staged.

Not staged.

Have you ever tried to wrap a present with a pre-toddler in the immediate vicinity? It should be a new way we torture prisoners of war. Don’t touch the tape. Get off the wrapping paper. You didn’t grab the scissors, did you? No, stop opening that, it’s not your toy. Give me back the tape. Where did I hide the scissors? Seriously, stop sitting on the wrapping paper. Do not hit the dog with that roll of paper. OMG, where are the scissors?!

And then just as you’re admiring your gleaming, bunchy, barely in tact, freshly wrapped present, a tiny finger darts in out of nowhere and rips the thing wide open.

This, times 28, was my present wrapping experience this year.

Proud of her mayhem

Proud of her mayhem

 

Anyway, we didn’t get on the road until 5 p.m. because we have sensors for beginning trips at the tip top peak of traffic. Any other plan would be too easy. We dropped off Maya at my parents’ house and made for Gainesville. We stopped at Perkins for a depressing orange and blue themed Christmas Eve dinner. I didn’t want to be Scroogey, but I’ve never spent Christmas Eve in a restaurant, and I don’t intend on ever doing it again. Especially a restaurant called Perkins.

car

We finally made it to Clayton’s sister’s house around 1 a.m. Since it was pretty late, Addison did fantastic on the ride. We played one episode of Barney on my phone (I stick it under the head rest of my seat facing her. Who says you need all the fancy bells and whistles?) and then she passed out.

Luckily she was good in the car because as soon as we exited the car, the tune changed. Loudly. She would not sleep in the pack and play ever. For the four days we were there, she took one nap in it and that was it. Otherwise, she was ninja kicking us or falling asleep directly on top of my face throughout the night or napping en route somewhere in the car.

Christmas hangover

Christmas hangover

Honestly, I did not have the highest expectations for spending Christmas with my in-laws. The relationships are many and complicated, as is the case in any family with that number of people. But Christmas was the best kind of chaotic–kids shouting (4 and 34 year old kids), tissue paper flying, claustrophobia settling in as everyone crammed into Clayton’s parents’ living room. All of his five siblings swear that the room has shrunk to half its original size since they were little. There was a sweet sense of nostalgia to see Addison opening presents in the same room that Clayton spent his Christmases.

Four generations

Four generations

We went outside to watch the kids fight over the prize present: four wheels of pure awesome. The car belonged to our nephew, but that certainly didn’t stop the girls from promptly kicking him off. It was a pretty fun morning despite the sleep deprivation.

She was a little too comfortable in the driver seat.

She was a little too comfortable in the driver seat.

We all headed back to my sister in law’s house for a late lunch and lounging. Like every night, we attempted to put Addison down and were met with shrill protesting, so we held her until we went to bed at some stupid early adult bed time.

One highlight of the trip was seeing ”The Desolation of Smaug” while Clayton’s mom watched Addison. I was completely confident and trusting and supportive of this decision and did not tear up when we pulled out of the driveway or obsessively check my phone and Clayton’s phone during the movie. The movie was good, but I can’t get over how pretentious it is that the correct pronunciation of “Smaug” has about 12 syllables.

Thursday and Friday I woke up feeling sore from head to toe. I attributed it to sleeping (or not sleeping) in a different bed, juking away from Addison’s flailing limbs all night and general exhaustion. My sister in law had been sick, so I knew there was a chance I’d caught it, but powered through. I did not want to be the lame in-law who came to visit and napped the whole time.

Clayton, his sister, Addison and I went over to downtown Pensacola for lunch Friday. It was a lot colder than we’d planned for, but it was a nice little break. After we drove a sleeping Addison around for a two hour nap we met up with Clayton’s other siblings and their kids for a date at the park. I didn’t have much time to notice how bad I was feeling while dodging my nephew’s pretend laser beams. Don’t worry, I got in a few good shots myself.

A tunnel

The whole crew–all 12 of us, including four kids under five–piled into Outback for dinner Friday night. If there is a sweet tea shortage in the south, you can thank us.

Friday night was no bueno. I had a fever and could not sleep, just laid there feeling hot and getting dropkicked in the rib cage. When we woke up Saturday morning, it hit me even harder. I felt awful. We packed and ate breakfast before leaving, and then we spent ten hours getting home. Ten hours crunched up in the passenger seat with a fever and full body aches and chills. What a delightful traveling  companion.

Saturday night was the worst. I was huddled on the couch, head and body radiating heat. Clayton scared me when he took my temperature, read the thermometer, took it again, and asked, “Are you feeling okay?” He left and came back with more medicine, even though he’d just given me some. I think I topped out around 102 and sweat it all out throughout the night. Thankfully I woke up Sunday feeling light years better. Still sick, but nothing like the previous few days. What a fickle little devil, that flu.

Things were looking up. Addison and Clayton were congested, but nothing major. We hung around the house Sunday doing nothing that we’d planned to do, like clean or unpack or take down Christmas decorations. And then Monday the bottom fell out with poor Addie. She wouldn’t nap unless draped on top of me. Of course she gets a pass when she’s sick, so I was fine with it. But when she woke up, she was clearly miserable. That lasted the rest of the day.

Later that night I went to get her because she’d started crying, and she was burning up. Her fever was just under 103. She wins. Long story short, we ended up at the doctor at 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve and the pharmacy shortly after. She tested positive for Influenza A, which also confirmed that I’d had that nasty little bugger.

Fighting off the flu with smoothies

Fighting off the flu with smoothies

Since then it’s been a sniffly, crying, gagging-on-Tamiflu party up in here. My clients are ready to sing my praises after I was sick a month ago, Addison was sick three weeks ago, I was sick last week, and Addison is sick this week. I’ve only had to reschedule the same phone call three times since I can’t get any sitters to watch Addison while she has the flu. This generation, such pansies.

Arsenal

Arsenal

Eventually we will get back on track. I will dust off my cardiovascular and muscular systems and actually exercise again. I will unstrap the Lysol disinfectant from my husband’s hip. We will remove our lifeless, sagging, fire hazard of a Christmas tree from our home. And perhaps I will think about a reflective 2013 post and plan for 2014.

But for today, we’re still sickies. We will eat our meals in front of the Disney Channel and leave our tissues on the carpet until we hear Clayton open the garage. We will play in our tent and maybe walk around the neighborhood. And hopefully we will not shatter a vertebra trying to finish off that Tamiflu.

Self-commissioned quarantine

Self-commissioned quarantine

Happy 2014!

St. Augustine Half Marathon Recap

The St. Augustine Half Marathon, aka my second half ever, is complete. Woohoo…is what I wish I could be saying, but instead I am me and being Debbie Downer about the whole thing.

The good news is that it’s done. My feet covered 13.1 miles for the second time in my life, and I have the shiny medal to prove it. Which may have stayed on during lunch 100 miles away from the race site.

The tough-to-digest part is that this course was bananas, and I had no idea. It’s not like I had eight weeks to study the course map posted online or anything. Instead, I chose to show up and be all, “oh, there’s bridges?” And the course was all, “UM. FOUR OF THEM.”

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

Those miles across water? Wishing now I would have swam them.

The friend that I’d trained with and planned to run with ended up getting sick last week and decided race morning to not put herself in the hospital by attempting a half marathon feeling like death. I hated it for her, of course; I’m not a completely horrible person. She even came all the way to St. Augustine for two nights to not run. But, frankly, I hated it for me, too. Two weeks before my first half I begged and pleaded with Clayton to run it with me because I didn’t know if I could push through on my own. It was quite a stunner to plan for having a partner with me, and then realize that wouldn’t be the case an hour before the race. (Missed you, Kelly!)

High hopes on race eve that we'd be crossing the finish together.

High hopes on race eve that we’d be crossing the finish together.

I was way nervous in the morning and couldn’t finish my usual breakfast or coffee. Clayton, Addison and I left about 10 minutes later than we’d planned, but we were staying so close to the race that I didn’t think much about it. When he dropped me off and I realized the start line wasn’t where I thought (seriously, eight weeks of non-map studying), I started freaking out a little about missing the start. I jogged to the big mass of people, made a quick as lightning bathroom stop on the way, and just as I asked someone if this was the half marathon start, the gun went off.

And there I was, running. I had very little time–okay, zero time–to steady my head or stretch or get my bearings. The first five miles were lame city. We ran over the Bridge of Lions immediately, and then spent the rest of the time on a major highway passing strip malls and Sunday morning traffic. I really wanted to hold off on listening to music in case I needed a boost later, so it was just engines and feet out there. Luckily, there was a decently funny guy behind me that kept me entertained with sardonic commentary. We’re all idiots for doing this, let’s just embrace it.

My pace for those first five miles was exactly on target. I’d wanted to keep it somewhat conservative but not start too slow to the point where I couldn’t ever increase to my loftier goals. Turns out, that ol’ increase would never take place, so that became a moot point. It was a positive split parade after six miles. But at least for five miles I stuck to the plan.

Around mile 5 we hit the second bridge (the Bridge of Lions was the first), which was long and long. I felt pretty good going over it and saw my speedy friend coming back down the other bridge (numero tres, if you’re keeping count). She looked really strong and that was exciting. I saw Clayton twice around this point and his lanky torso hanging out of the car trying to snap pictures was too much cute to handle.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Such a beautiful highway view with a line of drivers giving you angry stares for making them late to brunch.

Once we descended bridge two, it was maybe 0.1 mile before we turned around and ran up the third bridge. And this was my coffin. I seemed to have lost all steam going up that beast. Trying desperately to be funny and encouraging, I made some comment to a girl that was walking. She passed me less than a half mile later, so I doubt I’ll be throwing out any more hilarious and obviously effective words of wisdom at any future races. I’ll probably invoice her for coaching fees.

I tried to remember my friend telling me that miles 3-8 were going to suck. Just get past that point, I thought. But mile 7 was it for me. It was the last time I felt any sustained strength. From that point on, I battled against quitting and walking my pissy butt back to the car. My initial strategy was to turn things up at mile 9. In real life, this was the point I vowed never to do a full marathon. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t stop at the mile 10 marker was because I knew how long it would take for me to walk back and there was no shortcut. I had no other motivation to keep running other than I’d finish slightly faster that way.

I had to walk a few seconds here and there but got so annoyed with myself I started back up pretty quickly. [Text to husband somewhere around this point: "Babe it's over". Dramatic much?]

There was actually a sad little pack of us who would run some and then stop to walk and then try to run again between miles 10 and 12. Clearly, this was not our day, and I felt bad for all of us. We never envisioned this would be our race. Womp womp.

I got a text from a friend when I was feeling especially womp-wompy that said “hope the run went well today!” After I got over the boiling rage of her thinking I’d be done when I still had two more miles, I realized there were a lot of people who knew about this race that were going to ask me about it. I could not imagine saying I gave up at mile 11, so I kept going out of sheer stubbornness. But I wasn’t happy about it.

We had to go back over the Bridge of Lions at the last mile. Four bridges would be an accurate summation. Luckily, that was the easiest of all of them and wasn’t too awful at that point. Life in general was looking rather dismal so a little incline wasn’t going to swing that vote too much. I was able to pick it up ever so mildly at the end when I saw my fast friend–2nd place in her age group and 9th woman overall, wha?!?!–and her fam. A little farther down towards the finish line I spotted Clayton and Addison’s huge grin, which was indescribable. But more than anything, I was glad that it was over. I was so hoping to finish feeling more than that.

finish3

I wasn’t impressed or anything after I finished, but having that six-mile mental battle so fresh in my mind, I was proud that I pounded it out. As the hours dragged on, and I looked over and over at my terrible splits, and the official times were posted, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

I don’t know if I had more in me during those hours, but I am bummed that this race was the culmination of a totally healthy, really strong, 12-week training cycle. I felt great after every long run and did speed work consistently every week. My long run paces were all better than what I ended up with at this race, and my long runs had always felt easy. That is so, so frustrating. I was hoping, planning and training to race this thing, and all I could do was finish.

But hey, I did finish.

Lunchtime bling.

Lunchtime bling.

Other positive notes: technically I did reach my very basic goal of beating the time from my first half marathon (by 6 minutes) and Miss Black Shirt was all about trying to pass me in the finish chute and did not, thank you very much. I didn’t even know anyone was near me until I looked through the pictures.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

I may not have finished before many people, but I did finish before her.

Plus, mom bonus: I ran a half after baby birthing. When I remember that first two-mile run a few months after having Addison, it’s hard to believe I conquered (okay, tolerated) 13.1 miles. Those first few weeks were u-g-l-y.

Oh, speaking of ugly.

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

Boy, she sure is having fun and looking good doing it!

So what now? Well, I am going to sulk and eat cookies for another day or two. I’m going to join my sister in law for a pedicure and wine date. And then I am going to put my big girl tempo shorts on and get ready for

this.

The definition of insanity...

The definition of insanity…

I am certain I have a better race in me, and I am not wasting this training on that miserable half.

At least we know one person was glad I made the trip to St. Augustine. (Total accident, by the way.)

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

Just me and MJ, rounding third base.

So, anyone feel like running a half in December???

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Happy birthday to me, suckas.

In pre-baby birthday fashion, I would have been prancing around here for weeks with a fancy countdown plug-in and a detailed wish list with pictures, size/color specifications and links for your shopping convenience. But since my little thunder stealer came along, half the time I forget that it’s even August.

Luckily, my boo didn’t forget. He’d asked what I wanted to do a couple of weeks ago, and the first and only request I made was to sleep in. Like, a sinfully indulgent 10 a.m. I suggested having my parents watch Addison, and I guess the next logical step if we had an Addiesitter was to jet over to the beach for a 36-hour getaway. If that’s where the boy’s mind goes, I’m certainly not going to talk him out of it. Off to the beach we went!

We actually hadn’t been on a proper beach outing this entire summer. We were due for some Vitamin D and subsequent aloe baths.

A little heavy handed hinting with the receptionist scored us two free drinks at the hotel’s restaurant. So, naturally, we started our adventure there. The hotel was right on the Gulf, and our room had a decent view.

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After a couple of hours out on the restaurant patio looking at the water, we did a quick change for dinner. We’d pushed back our initial reservations a half hour to catch the sunset, but it was really overcast and the show wasn’t all that spectacular. I know, you’re feeling so sorry for us right now. Do you know what is spectacular? Photo editing apps.

Photo attempt by stranger with vampire aesthetics:

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Voila:
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My brain doesn’t even comprehend that technology.

Dinner restaurant blah blah blah adult food mumble mumble. ICE CREAM!

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We rented a forklift to get my three scoops back to the hotel while Clayton dripped his mint chocolate chip the entire length of our quarter mile walk. “At least we’ll find our way back if we get lost,” was his positive spin on losing half his dessert. Ice cream on the balcony listening to the waves break did not suck.

At 9:45 this morning, Clayton opened the curtains to a bright, sunny Florida summer day while I was still warm and cozy in a huge hotel bed. Total birthday success, even if I didn’t quite make it to 10 a.m. We grabbed breakfast at the hotel and spent the day on the beach. Despite the warnings inherent in the very concept of “Shark Week,” I did join my husband in the water for awhile. Cautiously. Intensely sensitive to every ripple and nearby squeal. Mostly floating on his lap so that he would be the one to get the gnarly scar on his calf while I could still boast nonchalantly, “I totally survived a shark attack.” It’s my birthday, I can reduce my chances of hemorrhaging in the ocean if I want to.

Can we just collectively freak out here for a second about how the guy on the Shark Week finale died during the filming of that show? Anyone?

Clayton can only lay out in the sun comfortably for 18 seconds before he starts whining like a toddler. Since it was my birthday, he made it to 30 seconds before letting out a guttural disgusted grunt that made it clear I would not be reading the entirety of “Bossypants” while working on my tan for the duration of the afternoon. We went for a leisurely walk that ended up being 2.2 miles. For serious. We logged it on a running app.

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I had very high Instagrammable hopes of running into a big flock of seagulls, causing them to artistically scatter in the perfect photogenic angles. My first mistake was that the birds were about 200 yards away from us when I started my run. So people had a very long time to watch me and wonder why I up and started sprinting away from my husband. The second mistake was my assumption that seagulls would even care my post-baby hips were coming at them at a daunting 23-minute mile pace. They didn’t. So I finally reached them, anticipating some big spectacle, and they hopped their annoying little feet over six inches. I think maybe one flew away.

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Not birthday success.

After our marathon walk, it was time to head out. We grabbed lunch at Gators, adorned from top to bottom in University of Florida garb, and tried not to vomit at the life size cut-out of Tim Tebow at the entrance. The gator wasn’t even that good. And the food wasn’t that great, either. Zing!

Our last stop was my parents’ house to pick up the little lady we’d been missing.

A shadow giraffe

In case you were wondering, no I don’t feel older.

Larger and less attractive, but not older.

 

Special thanks to my husband for a perfectly unexpected birthday treat. 

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Just checking in quickly to confirm that, yes, people who blog daily with kids and jobs and dogs are superhuman.

We are gearing up for a week-long vacation in Maine, with a brief stop in Boston. I will be excited once 1) all of Addison’s belongings are actually loaded into our car for transport and 2) the dang flights are finished. Figuring out how to take my fly-happy pills while breastfeeding has proven challenging, so I may be going it with just a prayer and a 4:30 a.m. mimosa.

Work is picking up, which is both exhilarating and exhausting. Thankfully my mom volunteered to Addiesit a couple times a week. For now, I’m foregoing entrusting my one and only offspring to a 16-year old texting-while-diaper-changing,boyfriend-inviting-into-my-house babysitter. And exhale.

Clayton and I are expert planners, so when the time came for us to get ready for our first vacation with an infant and plan for Addison’s first birthday the weekend after we return home, we also decided to throw in a master bedroom redesign. If nothing else, at least the bedroom furniture I’ve had since I was 13 is officially out of commission. Buh-bye particle board. Hello legitimate wood dresser, reading nook and “are you kidding me that your shoes are on the new ottoman?” ottoman.

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I also tackled updating a black tv stand to use as a pink book shelf in A’s room, crafting some new art for her room, two mind (and savings account) blowing trips to Hobby Lobby, a novel-length list of ideas for the upcoming birthday of the century and redoing the gallery photo wall in our entryway.

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(Any thoughts for a wall treatment for that ginormous blank wall behind those photos? Oh, and rates for your services to actually come and execute said treatment.)

Maybe I’ll have a chance to post some pictures of the master bedroom “after.” Most likely I won’t, so just go right ahead and lower those expectations now. For the “before,” just imagine a freshman dorm room pieced together with help from childhood bedroom furniture, Craigslist acquisitions and absolutely zilch on the walls. It was a special kind of cozy in there.

The rest of the week will be a whirlwind of packing and cleaning and proofreading other people’s poor grammar and list making and list losing and list re-making and baby chasing and coffee drinking. Or, what I like to call The Everyday at Casa Noa.

I hope your summer has been full of Florida-caliber sunshine and free of mosquito bites!

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Cinco de Noa

Clayton and I celebrated our five year anniversary this past weekend with a little jaunt over to Orlando. It was the first time we’ve ever left Addison overnight, so we decided to go big and really put our (my) willpower to the test and leave for two whole nights. Spoiler: We all made it out alive and without [too many] tears. The photo every hour rule helped tremendously.

But enough about my obsession with hanging out with my kid. Let’s talk about how gloriously indulgent two nights away felt for Clayton and me. I still can’t stop thinking about how awesome this weekend was and what a well timed reminder it became for how perfectly matched the two of us are.

When we came back Sunday, we went straight to a Mothers Day get together where my brother asked me how the trip was. “So much fun!” I answered immediately. He knew we’d only gone to Orlando, which, for Tampa natives doesn’t exactly scream vacation of a lifetime, so he looked at me skeptically and said, “Was it actually fun, or did you make it fun?”

And the best part about this weekend was the simple fact that I couldn’t tell the difference between doing actual “fun things” or just having fun being with my husband. I remembered that there’s never been a difference for us; we have fun going to Costa Rica and we have fun going to Wal-Mart.

Come to think of it, the reason for this trip’s raging success most likely stemmed from the very first stop of Cinco de Noa Weekend: the T-Rex Café. True story.
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Clayton had discovered this gem while searching for activities in Orlando that might be appropriate for a baby-less pair of adults. Dinosaur themed restaurant with indoor meteor shower every 15 minutes? Jackpot!
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If you are in Orlando, you must go. Cancel that lame dinner at Cinderella’s castle and park yourself next to the woolly mammoth. You’re welcome.

We stayed at the Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, which is a full sized city in itself. We didn’t plan to go to any theme parks—weird for being in Orlando, I know—but we were within walking distance of Downtown Disney, which had plenty of stores, restaurants and oddly dressed foreigners to keep us occupied and shelling out cash for two days.

After our prehistoric adventure, we almost considered driving back home because clearly nothing was going to top that idyllic lunch. But we stayed because Priceline does not issue refunds. After Clayton napped off his dino excitement, we headed to a late dinner at Crave. Contrary to the photographic implications, I did not shave my head prior to hitting the town.
DSCN2449Crave is supposedly known for their sushi. We can attest that the normal peasant sushi is quite good, but beyond that you’ll have to ask someone else because we refused to pay $18 for one of their fancy rolls. Their Cigar City brown ale is tasty, too.

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After dinner we checked out Orlando Brewing because we have always been suckers for breweries stuck randomly in industrial districts. After parking in Tampa, we followed the sounds of live music and college students celebrating the end of finals.
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We knew we would be overdressed, but man were we overdressed. I felt like it made us look even older. Then the sight of a newborn being rocked to sleep to the sounds of an off key garage band not three feet from her mother’s cigarette smoke filled my blood with rage, and I knew we were possibly out of our element. I almost grabbed that baby and made a break for it at least three times, but I was wearing heels.

Saturday we did nothing for about four hours for the first time in I-don’t-know-when-we’ve-ever-done-nothing-for-four-hours. And we did our nothing on lounge chairs by the pools on a gorgeous, slightly overcast day. I did take some time to kick Clayton’s competitive butt at a water treading competition, but then I went back to doing nothing. He went back to modeling. Apparently it was photo shoot day at the Hilton.

IMG_3366My model is cuter.

We realized we’d stayed out by the pool about two hours longer than we’d estimated. Then we realized we didn’t care. And then we realized we were starving. A short 90 minutes later, I was finally ready to head to a super late lunch/super early dinner. And where else would we go but another wildly decorated, over-the-top themed restaurant? Rainforest Café, complete with hooting monkeys hanging over my head. Eating at Chili’s is going to be so boring now.

IMG_3368Clayton was jazzed because he got to use a coupon. Everyone wins at the Rainforest Café. Except the hostess who asked where we were from and, when we said Tampa, replied with “Oh, so that was a pretty short flight.” We replied with awkward silence. Because it’s a 45 minute drive. IMG_3369After linner (lunch/dinner), we walked the length of the Downtown Disney strip and parked it on a bench to watch the videos my mom sent of Addison. Watch. Re-watch. Repeat. By the time we walked back, the Ghiradelli store was calling out to me. It shows a great deal of restraint that I waited 24 hours after initially seeing it to suggest we stop in. Things got rather scientific when I decided to conduct an experiment testing the feasibility of consuming an ice cream cone equal in weight to my body mass.

Clayton, with all his sports medicine experience, served as my trainer and sat next to me quietly, periodically wiping the chocolate off my chin and giving me back rubs when I started to fade. I’m happy to report that the findings are conclusive: my sweet tooth supersedes all laws of physics and physiology. My husband is so proud of me. At one point he left me in search of a bathroom but came back quickly after catching the picture of me sitting alone on a bench trying to stop the melting drips of cookies ‘n cream with my face. I guess it was sort of a sad sight. Not to me, though. It was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.
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Yep, my cone was the one hunting the weaker one.

We made reservations at one of the nicer restaurants on the strip and headed back to the hotel to get ready. Maybe your experience has or will be different, so I won’t tell you where we went for dinner, but I will tell you that we will not be going back except that late night rendezvous I’m planning to egg the joint. It was awful from beginning to end, from choosing to walk the eight miles from the hotel in heels, to getting seated right in the entrance and continuously forgetting if we had actually been called or if we were still waiting, to our nearly inedible entrees. No bueno.
IMG_3382It tasted exactly like it looks.

We decided neither of us was allowed to mention that dinner ever again. We even went back to the hotel to change out of our Sunday best into our Saturday denim and sandals to really get the stench of that hour off of our bodies. We walked back to Downtown Disney—much more pleasantly in flats—to an Irish pub that had a duo playing music outside. Best anniversary downgrade ever. It was right up our jeans and t-shirt alley. We threw caution and post-partum weight loss to the wind and ordered potato skins at midnight. That’s big time partying right there. We stayed out until after 1 a.m. Look at us being hard core.

Then we had a hard core breakfast at Perkins Sunday morning before heading to my parents’ house to body check any aunts standing in the way of our little nugget. Some serious snuggles were in order, even though Addison didn’t seem to recognize the fact that I’d been out of her life for 48 hours and that she should have been screaming in excitement upon my return. Brat. But I still chewed the crap out of her thighs.

Since Addison’s obviously okay with it, I now fully support weekend trips at least once a month. Just not to Orlando where sushi is $18 and regular coffee is $4.

Happy Cinco de Noa (and matching dino shirts) to us! DSCN2452

On Being Back

Last month was the year anniversary of our very first home purchase. Coincidentally, it also marked the first time my carpal tunnel eased up from all the paperwork we had to sign. Since our family became a trio, I am constantly looking back and comparing where we were a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, to where we are now.

It feels like we lived a lifetime in the past two years. Our time in Virginia seems hazy now, and we honestly don’t keep in touch with anyone we met except for Clayton’s former boss. And that’s only because Sean likes to continually remind Clayton that he has a standing job offer if we ever move back. (Which we will not, Sean.)

What I do remember about working and playing in Virginia is the wide openness of the future. We had never lived outside of Florida, and then all of a sudden, we’d done it. We had all of our sad, college-quality belongings in a tiny apartment with snow piling up right outside our door the first weekend we were there. At least at the beginning, we were hypnotized by the romantic ideas of adventure, escape and newness.

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The short list of perks of Newport News included easy access to a whole smorgasbord of intriguing cities and small towns. What I miss about that life is deciding on a Thursday to go away that weekend. I miss planning trips simply because we stumbled on an incredible deal on Priceline. Of course we can still do that here, but there is little that is unknown to me about this place. I know Tampa like an old pair of shoes I can’t bring myself to throw away, the way the soles are worn in deepest under the ball of my foot, where the shoelaces are fraying. We go way back, and while sometimes that comfort is exactly what I love about living here, it’s also the piece that the eternal wanderer in me rebels against.

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Something tugged at Clayton and me, both separately and together, that pulled us away from being safe and expected. That something has stirred at the base of my heart since I was 15 years old, and it still rustles when the scent of adventure wafts across my path. When friends without children plan vacations to Africa. When single girls mention kickball games and staying up way past Conan on a weeknight. When advocates introduce a cause that ignites my hunger to do something that matters. These are the adventures that I see just out of reach for a new mom, a housewife, a work-at-home part-timer.

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I can’t predict what this life will look like five years from now. Will we have one five-year-old or three kids under school-age? Actually, I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be the latter. Maybe I’ll have jetted over the ocean to soak in a Mediterranean sea or to sleep in a tent serving food to starving kids. Or maybe I’ll have joined up to fight a battle against some worldwide monstrous foe like sex trafficking. Or, most likely, I’ll be right here penning taglines during naptime and jetting to the park in the afternoon to elicit some seriously important giggles on a rusty swing.

What I am so, so grateful for today is that any of those scenarios makes me smile. And proud. I know there were some sacrifices we had to make to grow roots in Florida. The Noa’s will probably never make another trip to D.C., despite my love affair with its grayness set against its significance. I may never live within day trip distance of a mountain hike. And my relatives can show up at my door totally unannounced.

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But here is home. Maybe not forever. But for our little family right now, this is where our heart is.    

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