Soap Box

My very own cute little soap box!

Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Family vacation

Posted by eemilla on September 21, 2013

For the past few years I’ve been lobbying my maternal family to forgo the end of the year gift card exchange in favor of a family vacation, and last year everyone finally seemed to agree it was time to do something different.  Then interest dissipated for about four months so my honey and I planned a trip to Manhattan thinking we would not be taking a vacation with the extended family.  An almost collective itch to travel brought the idea back to the fore after our vacation had been booked for months.

My idea was to travel somewhere new or exciting or exotic which was in direct conflict with economic concerns and comfort levels that limited us to the Charleston area or the Savannah area.  As we’d just visited Savannah and Tybee Island last year and only I wanted to visit the Outer Banks, my honey and I were all for Charleston.  After spending hours searching for houses in both locations that met all of the various needs of everyone (pool, close to the beach, large kitchen, bath for every bedroom, enough bedrooms) the group decided the Charleston area had better large house options for the money.

Once we narrowed it down to the Charleston area we had to find a large enough house available and in our price range.  While the task sounds easy enough it required hours of searching between three or four members of our group.  My frustration was that there were multiple folks who were non-commital about if they would be joining us or how many people would be in their party.  Without having one person footing the entire bill another concern was the best way to distribute rooms without having to haggle over different pricing, and fortunately everyone acquitted themselves admirably.

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great room panorama great room panorama from dining area
bar in need of an icemaker 2nd floor alcove laundry room
king sans daybed one of 2 jetted tubs walkin shower
king bed with day bed king with daybed bathrom king with shared bathroom shared bathroom twin room twin room bathroom
view of screened in pool from twin room balcony 2nd floor balcony with view of twin room balcony spiral staircase to rooftop rooftop

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Including the couches in the living room there was enough room to sleep 20 adults based on double occupancy in each of the king beds, and there were enough areas for everyone to mingle or retreat as needed.  The crows nest or rooftop was a favorite place to escape the noise, and the patio chairs were comfortable even though a few were worse for the wear.  The second floor balcony was sparse without any furniture, and the balcony off the twin room was so small it seemed superfluous.  My honey and I didn’t want to have to spend the extra money to rent a house with a pool, but we were certainly sold on the benefit of having the pool to float around in especially after the ocean.  I believe the house came with two separate gaming consoles, and there was a nice flat screen over the fireplace in the great room.

For a house with a 20 person capacity, the refrigerator/freezer/icemaker was the feature that everyone agreed to be insufficient; it was a double door deal so there were narrow shelves which made it difficult to accommodate groceries.  Even after the ice maker was replaced it took about eight hours to make a tray or so of ice which left of us purchasing bags of ice for the sodas, iced tea, and blended adult drinks.  There is a nice wet bar with a wine cooler, and a stand alone ice maker would be perfect there.  The maintenance man said the freezer’s ice maker had repeatedly been an issue.  The large gas range was more eye candy than functional; all five burners had two temperatures: on and off (which for a gas stove is really irritating and unexpected).  We also had to have a towel rod and a door knob replaced on the first day, and although we mentioned the additional three of the five (in addition to the one that was replaced) atrium doors had alarmingly loose handles they were not replaced.

With so many cars it was difficult to juggle them as the two driveways were a car’s width, and the street was much too narrow to park on.  The golf cart created most of the tension as people wanted to pocket the key rather than leave it in the lockbox, but it was an even better feature than the pool as we could cart our gear to the beach rather than lug it the few blocks on foot (especially as any parent knows the kid will want to walk then insist on being carried whilst you juggle the beach bag and/or chairs).  The key to main house also had a lockbox which really came in handy as we had about fourteen adults sharing three keys.

The house was a few blocks from a public beach access point, but we were so far down on the Isle of Palms that the beach was never crowded even though we were there during the high season.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

Posted by eemilla on June 30, 2013

As my main goal with the this vacation was to satisfy my desire to see the complete Met, I wanted to start with it.  Even though it was my main attraction I didn’t actually think about what I wanted to see in any great detail so we ended up looking at a several sections that while I enjoyed them they would not have been my priority.  Yet another vacation lesson learned.  On the bright side I rushed back another day as soon as LB was napping to try and get my fill.  I am thankful that the Met has a suggested donation policy which enabled me to return for my second visit as the first was cut short.  Another lesson learned is that nap time has to be honored, and a nap in the strolled doesn’t cut it.

The front entrance had some major construction so there were plastic tents and fences blocking a good photo, and once we got inside we wasted plenty of time by purchasing tickets only to realize that we had forgotten to purchase a City Pass so we had to get a refund then go purchase the City Pass (this meant three separate lines).  In hindsight the City Pass didn’t end up being a good deal for us anyway as we were not able to squeeze in enough of the attractions.  There were so many awesome paintings and statues and artifacts, and we took tons of photos; the Temple of Dendur was closed as was part of the Chinese art collection.  Some of the paintings were from the 1500s, and they looked so fresh and vibrant.  I would post photos (not that they would do justice), but the Met’s photo policy prohibits publishing them.  Although it was the only section I really remember about our first visit, we toured the Egyptian collection followed by the Ancient Greek and Roman sections.  By that time LB was ready to run around so we took advantage of a playground a block away.  We decided to return and cram in what we could which ended up being a sculpture gallery, the African collection, and European furniture before returning to Harlem for lunch and nap time.

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NYC arrival

Posted by eemilla on June 29, 2013

 

After years of searching we were finally able to fly out of Asheville; typically even factoring in for gas and parking and time, flying out of Charlotte, Greenville, or Greensboro has been a couple of hundred dollars cheaper.  However, AVL has direct flights to both LGA and EWR so keeping in mind LB’s travel endurance a direct flight seemed like the best option for us and our fellow passengers, and flying out of a tiny airport with a tiny security checkpoint definitely would have pushed us to fly locally.  On this flight, though, we didn’t have to do any calculus as the AVL fare was cheaper than either CLT or GSP.  Being able to leave our house and arrive at the airport in ten minutes was absolutely awesome, and I have to say the savings of flying out of another airport will have to be even higher next time.

We’ve been to Manhattan a few times over the course of our relationship, and our last trip left me terribly disappointed that I didn’t get my fill of the Met so I’ve been dreaming of returning for about ten years.  Lodging in Manhattan is expensive so we spent hours searching for a place to stay; our goal is to avoid hotels due to their lack of privacy and ambience, plus having a kitchen is nice especially with a toddler who wants to snack all day long.  With LB still being in diapers we needed a washing machine and dryer in the apartment, and apparently not many other NYC vacationers want or need to do laundry.  Meeting our criteria for proximity to our tourist spots, price, kid friendly, and having a washer and dryer made this one of the hardest vacation rental searches we’ve done.  It would be nice if more vacation rental sites had better search functions.  Unfortunately, our rental ended up being pretty far north of our ideal neighborhood so we had about a 40 minute commute (walking plus train ride) to get to our tourists spots.  Another unfortunate thing about our rental was that it was furnished with two air mattress and a futon; even with the mattresses inflated to the firmest setting, they were too soft and squishy.  One was a twin and one was a queen or a full so LB and I shared one while my husband tried both the twin and the futon.  I have confirmed that no matter how nice the air mattress is, it is still an air mattress.  On the bright side, the washer and dryer weren’t horribly old and slow, and the apartment was filled with natural light during the day even though we were below street level.

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We arrived in the afternoon.  Although carseats are not required in for hire vehicles, I couldn’t think about LB sitting in a taxi for a forty minute drive from the airport to our apartment so my honey came through and quickly installed the carseat into the hired car.  I felt completely vindicated about my insistence on the carseat watching some of our fellow motorists swerve and tailgate.  Dial7 provided professional drivers and clean and comfortable vehicles for both our arrival and departure.  Compared to the taxi rates, I really liked knowing that we could schedule a car rather than wait in the taxi line.

After getting settled (including planning our route with the Embark app) we walked to the subway and rode the train down to the lower East Side to visit Ess-A-Bagel which was recommended by a former Manhattanite.  Fortunately, my honey found a closer mid-town location that we hit for our mid vacation bagel re-up.  These bagels were what I crave when I think about bagels: crusty before being toasted with a chewy interior.  They had tons of bagels and spreads to choose from; I didn’t see any plain tofu cream cheese so we had to buy that at the store, but my honey and LB enjoyed the tofu with veggie spread we purchased from Ess-A-Bagel.

Ess-a-Bagel on Urbanspoon

After a full day of travel plus the bagel quest we decided that we’d go ahead and get delivery pizza rather than try to drag LB out to a restaurant so took a peek into the tourist info folder the apartment’s owners had compiled.  We opted for Bad Horse Pizza delivery while my husband ran to store to pick up some provisions.  His trip took forever due to a massively steep hill that forced him to diverge from the shortest route coupled with the storefront being less than obvious.  LB and I started dinner without him, and it was great.  I ordered the meatless, and he ordered the trifecta to share with LB; while the meatless was fine, the trifecta was delicious.

Bad Horse trifecta BadHorse meatless
Bad Horse Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

 

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Victory Garden week eight

Posted by eemilla on July 24, 2012

After weeks of growth and not enough mojitos, we have some tomatoes and leggy mint!

 

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One Year

Posted by eemilla on June 16, 2012

A few weeks back our little one turned one year old.  She tasted her first chocolate, and she expressed a strong preference for frosting over cake (unfortunately, the first recipe I’ve made to suffer from whole wheat flour).  She’s got teeth, and we’re still happily nursing for most of her nutrition.  She cruises and crawls and cuddles even with our cats and dog.  The cats quickly learned that wherever LB was there was bound to be affection and games, and the dog is warming to her bit by bit.

I’ve discovered vast stores of energy and patience in myself, and cliched though it is, she blows my heart wide open with both her smile and strong will.  My love for my husband has grown too; I get teary thinking about our sweet little family.  Every time it feels like we’ve hit a groove, she throws us for a loop; she reminds us that each day is a blessing because who knows when you’ll get a good night of sleep.  I don’t really have anything to add to the parenting conversation, but I can’t stop blathering on and on about her.

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Blessed

Posted by eemilla on November 24, 2011

I’ve been thinking about what to write about this year for Thanksgiving, and it dawned on me on the way home from the family get together.  LB has helped me and my honey put so much into perspective, and I cannot believe how wonderful these past few months have been being her mama.  I know it’s cliched, but no one can tell you how wonderful and hard and amazing it is.

 

Like any new mother I had many fears about labor and delivery; I was scared of laboring for hours strapped to a bed with the fetal heart rate monitor.  I was scared of not being able to handle the pain and requesting an epidural.  I was scared of something going wrong enough to require a caesarean section, and least verbalized or thought about I was scared of birth and death coming hand in hand.

While my birth wasn’t what I hoped for, we eventually left the hospital with our sweet LB, and here is our story.

I cannot remember if LB’s official due date was my last day of work or the day that my labor actually began, but regardless she wasn’t born on either day.  The Sunday before Memorial Day I went to bed around midnight only to get up shortly thereafter due to discomfort in my back.  With all the weight I was carrying I didn’t think of it as labor until I noticed the pain was sporadically intense.  Around three in the morning I counted a few contractions, but they never got closer than five minutes apart so I decided to prepare for our trip to the hospital by baking some tofu for my labor snack and cleaning the bathroom rather than wake my husband and the midwife.  After those tasks were completed and I still couldn’t sleep I baked banana bread for the nurses.  Around five I had to get off my feet because they were so swollen that they hurt, but I still wasn’t able to lay down so I continued bouncing on my physio ball until around 9 am when I put in Fantasia and fell asleep on the couch.  I got up a bit later and went to sleep in the  bed, but I woke every hour or so with back pain.  While I was active I didn’t really notice the pain but being still made it all too noticeable.

Memorial Day progressed much the same way as the day before, although I really cannot recall how I passed the time while I was not able to sleep.  I attempted to get to sleep watching Fantasia 2000 as it had worked with Fantasia the day before, but I couldn’t sleep again.

I called my boss Tuesday to let her know that I was in labor as the contractions were stronger, but they were still more than five minutes apart.  My husband drove me to the my last scheduled appointment with the midwife, and when she felt my uterus the baby wasn’t engaged so she said that what I was experiencing was not labor.  This was so disheartening.  I wanted to have an unmedicated, vaginal birth, and if these pains weren’t labor pains, I was terrified of what active labor might feel like.  She suggested I try to sleep with the help of 50 mg of benydrl and some calcium magnesium to help with what she called cramping.  Neither provided any relief; twelve hours later, we called her back, and she recommended another dose along with a hot bath.  I had attempted the warm bath at her suggestion previously, but our tub is tiny so it wasn’t comfortable.  I did, however, get in the shower and use the massage feature on my low back.  This provided limited relief due to my poor massively swollen feet and ankles as laying or sitting was difficult due to the tight space.  She also suggested visiting a chiropractor the following day.  I wasn’t able to sleep during this time, and my honey was up heating a rice sock his stepmom had given him.  It provided some more comfort especially once the counter pressure left me with a tender back.

I did lose my mucous plug in the middle of the night, but my amniotic sac remained intact.  The recommended chiropractor didn’t have any availability, but frankly I am thankful as we found an appointment at a much closer office.  The adjustment did bring a modicum relief, but I was only able to squeeze in a twenty minute cat nap (propped up on every pillow in the house as laying down wasn’t an option).  Unfortunately the contractions were still spaced at more than five minutes apart.  Finally at around 12:40 I felt a small gush of clear, odorless liquid, and I assumed this was the amniotic sac leaking.  I called the midwife on call, and she advised to hang out at home until the contractions  got closer but with my group B strep we would plan on checking into the hospital that day (Wednesday) so I could start the IV antibiotics protocol.  She requested we call with an update in a few hours.  I called my mom and aunt to let them know what was going on, and Jeff finalized our hospital bag packing.  He also baked some more tofu (as I had eaten the batch I baked a few days before) and boiled some edamame for labor snacks.  He also steeped my sitz bath herbs.

Around three, my contractions were coming between three and six minutes apart so I called the midwife back and left her a voicemail.  She called back sometime near five to discuss my progress; due to the shift change a 7:30 check in would be better so she advised us to get a good final dinner, but when I mentioned that I had recently vomited and didn’t really have an appetite she advised us to get to the hospital so I get some IV fluids and start the antibiotics.

The drive to the hospital felt like it took forever with the contractions, but it is only about twenty minutes even with traffic.  We arrived just before shift change so I was admitted amoungst a whirlwind of activity with no less than five medical professionals, including the midwife, asking questions and taking vitals and drawing blood.  We had to be very adamant about not being listed in the directory, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way as we didn’t want visitors until we had had a chance to bond as a family and were settled at home.

After the admissions were completed, my midwife performed my first vaginal exam.  Much to my delight, she announced that I was at 8 cm.  My husband and I were both so stoked that neither of us realized that all that progress had happened over the course of three and a half days.

I had wanted to stay at home as long as possible to avoid the temptation of a medicated birth.  Ostensibly I wanted an unmedicated birth as it would be the best for my baby, and it would cost about $2,000.  I was also scared of it not working the first time not to mention some of the side effects.  However, looking back I wanted to prove my mother wrong.  She (and others) regaled me with stories of women dumb enough to just say no.  I do not regret having an unmedicated birth, and in fact I do believe, pride or not, LB benefited from an unmedicated labor.  Depressed respiration is a common side effect for the baby, and she had trouble breathing initially without any side effects from pain medication.

The twenty minute fetal heart rate strip was not nearly as horrid as I had built it up to be even though being stationary was anathema during my labor.  It was superb to be in the tub as the shower head once again provided a warm massage to my low back, and I had enough room to move around unlike our tub at home.  However, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  My luxuriating in the nice warm tub increased my temperature too much so my midwife sent us to walk the halls.  We did one round around the labor and delivery floor before returning to our room.  I preferred less clothing than I felt comfortable walking around the floor in (not to mention that my feet were so swollen my size 9 feet were pushing it in a men’s size 10 flip flop).

I did return to the tub for another hour or so, but I began to prune up and to feel confined.  I attempted to use the hospital’s physio ball without comfort so I mostly paced and tried to find a comfortable position to sleep in.  Although I never counted or timed by contractions while we were at the hospital, I don’t recall them ever being really close.

Sometime between midnight and two, my midwife offered fentinyl to help calm me down and possibly get some rest.  I thought about it but ultimately declined since we were probably in the home stretch I would be disappointed in myself afterwards.  She performed another vaginal exam, and after six to eight hours I was about 9.5 cm with a swollen lip of cervix preventing me from being fully dilated.  She applied some arnica gel and had me lay on my side for a few contractions.  Although I don’t recall her stating it, I assume I was lying on my side to help encourage the baby to turn to a better position.

After three horrid contractions lying on my right side, I felt the urge to urinate. Unfortunately I was in the process of getting my IV antibiotics so the nurse asked if I could just go rather than have to wheel the IV pole into the bathroom; I insisted that I was not taking that course of action.  After using the bathroom I felt the urge to begin pushing so the nurse called the midwife back into the room (she was attending two labors that night).  I was terrified of giving birth on a toilet so I asked for something comparable, and the nurse suggested a birthing stool.  I thought it sounded like a good idea, but when the midwife returned it wasn’t mentioned again.

Getting the urge to push was awesome because finally something was changing.  I must say that as miserable as I was with no sleep, I feel like I lost my mind during transition.  My husband said it was about twenty minutes from the time I left the bathroom until the baby was born, but it certainly felt like much longer.

I was moved to the bed on my right side, and the midwife discovered that my amniotic sac had not actually broken so she performed the aminoity.  There was meconium present so the stable team was called to be ready in case LB needed help after her birth.

I did ask for the mirror as I thought that seeing the baby’s head would be encouraging, but the pain from her crowning was so intense that I was scared to look in the mirror.  I felt like I was being ripped open, and I did suffer some minor tearing that required stitching.  Unfortunately LB decided to come into this world with her hand beside her face, and her shoulder (no one could recall if it was the left or right one) decided not to wait for the head to be delivered.  Everyone was really supportive aside from one nurse who yelled at me, and I am sure it was no picnic listening to me whine about how much it hurt and how I couldn’t give birth.

The stable team apparently performed her Apgar test before her body was born so the results were less than desired.  While my nurse and midwife seemed to argue about this with the stable team, I am not sure how much difference it made based on hindsight.

Once she was completely born, she was laid on my tummy while my honey cut the cord then due to her low Apgar’s she was taken to the bassinet and the stable team examined her while I birthed the placenta.  Her cord had a perfect square knot in it, but with everything going on neither of us took a photo.

My husband said that she seemed to be breathing fine, but the nurses bulb syringed her, checked vitals, and gave her oxygen.  I then had to say goodbye as they were leaving for the NICU.  My husband was torn between whether to stay with me or go with her as it was obvious he was needed in both places. While I dealt with the continuing uterine massages, he sat with her for an hour as the nurses tried to start an IV in her hand, foot, & finally got one in her head.  The IV delivered sustenance and antibiotics which were required due to the meconium.  She received the IV diet the entire time she was in the hospital so our nursing relationship started off slowly, but we’ve outgrown those difficulties.

While my husband & LB were upstairs, I was cleaned & stitched.  I flitted in and out of sleep while suffering the injustice of periodic uterine massages, which is a cruel and misleading misnomer. After about an hour from their departure for the NICU my nurse cleaned the room and got me in a wheelchair so I could reunite with my honey & LB then get to my room in the mother/baby unit before shift change.  Between the exhaustion, blood loss and the drama/trauma of birth, I could barely sit up in the wheelchair much less walk.  My birth nurse wheeled me up to the NICU, and  it was so scary to see my sweet little girl hooked up to so many machines.  It was overwhelming to say the least, and due to the impending shift change everyone was trying to get us to our room and out of the way.  Exhaustion set in and we meekly acquiesed.

Much like the blur of the labor, those days in the mother/baby unit sans baby are a fog.  We would sleep a bit only to be awakened for a nurse to check on me or to get a call from the NICU that LB was awake and ready to nurse; even if the NICU didn’t call or no one needed to check my vitals, I had trouble sleeping more than an hour or two without waking up.

The first several attempts at nursing were not good, and it only added to the guilt I felt over her condition.  It wasn’t until Saturday when we met with another lactation consultant that we had the breakthrough.  She basically came in and said she wouldn’t leave until we had a successful nursing session; she also told me the nipple shield the first lactation consultant provided was superfluous, which was a boon to my flagging confidence (especially as all my pregnancy reading had advised against using nipple shields).  She helped me get a good latch, and I’ll never forgot the bliss I felt as LB really nursed for the first time.

It also wasn’t until Saturday that we were able to talk to her doctor about how long she would need to stay and why she needed to stay because to us she seemed healthy.  With her low Apgar scores, slight fever, and difficulty breathing on her own (she was on oxygen the first six hours of her life), they ran blood work which showed high C-reactive protein levels, but they were never able to determine what caused the infection due to the course of the antibiotics LB and I  shared for the group B strep.  We were dismayed to learn that our seemingly healthy little girl would have to stay an entire week getting IV antibiotics every twelve hours.  During her stay she had to endure four separate IV starts with multiple sticks to get a vein, and it wasn’t until the day before discharge that a lactation consultant suggested a hep lock as she was nursing enough to not need the IV nutrients, but they were keeping her on the lowest dose to keep the vein open for the IV antibiotics she was getting every twelve hours.

However, spending so much time in the NICU helped put everything into perspective.  Sure it sucked to have a wired baby and to have to stay in the hospital, but LB’s neighbor weighed two pounds and was in an isolette.  Her mom couldn’t even touch her for more than a few minutes because it overstimulated her, and here we were able to hold LB as much as we wanted.

I was discharged on Saturday night. Fortunately the hospital has sleep rooms so I could be close enough to nurse her without having to camp in the NICU.  Unfortunately the accommodations are worse than dorm rooms as most don’t even have windows.  The walls are paper thin, and three rooms share one full bathroom.  My room did have windows overlooking the roof, but I would spend most of the day at home because at least one of the other two couples were loud and dirty.

On Tuesday we were transferred to a transition room in the NICU. The transition rooms are just like the mother/baby rooms except they have a futon and a chair rather than the hospital bed and banquette sleeper. The chair opens into a chaise, but my husband said not even the Thermarest could make it bearable. The futon was a single so LB and I stayed in the hospital while my honey went home and got everything ready for us as well as keeping me fed.

With our NICU stay we had to complete a laundry list of items including taking a quiz and watching a couple of DVDs; we also had to bring her carseat to her room for inspection.  This seemed ridiculous because we had a huge convertible carseat rather than a baby bucket.  Our inspection deemed our carseat too large so my honey had to scramble and find another carseat (it ended up needing lots of cleaning after spending a couple of years in storage, but at least it was free).  This was really irksome (aside from the hassle my husband endured) because our seat was rated for 5-65 lbs (with a rear to front conversion somewhere around 30lbs), and LB was a bit over 8.5lbs and 22″ the day of the inspection so it should have easily adjusted to fit her.

After a week in the hospital, it seemed miraculous to be able to sit on the couch and nurse LB rather than sit on the couch and pump for LB.  Being able to sleep and snuggle in bed with her just made me cry tears of joy and gratitude.  Picking her up and not having to worry about tangling any of her monitor wires was bliss.

Almost six months later, she’s off the charts for her height, and her weight is normal.  She has a dazzling smile that greets me every day when I return home on my lunch break to nurse her.  She shrieks in delight at the dryer door, the remote control, and the lamp in her room; the cats and dog also provide many giggles, and she enjoys sleeping at night.

I feel blessed to have such a daughter and husband and family and friends.

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Snow!

Posted by eemilla on December 26, 2010

I feel so blessed that we’ve got to enjoy so much snow this winter; I thought for sure after the abundance from last year, we’d be snow free for years to come.  It was pretty funny to watch the dogs go crazy because Sierra wasn’t really enjoying the snow earlier, and then they ended up knocking me over so I got to “ski” a bit.  The snow did keep us at home away from my family’s Christmas gathering, but my honey was super sweet and mulled some cider, built a fire, cooked lunch and dinner, gave me kisses throughout, and ended by baking some chocolate chip cookies; while I still cannot wait to eat the wretched excess of goodies my aunt and uncle make, it was a lovely day together.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!  I promise to complain a bunch about health savings accounts in 2011.

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Missed Anniversaries

Posted by eemilla on November 13, 2010

Well, I’ve almost been away for two entire months.  It’s not because I don’t enjoying complaining about public transit and transportation and talking up my favorites restaurants, but I’ve been really busy reading hardcopy books.

It appears that I neglected to celebrate our second year of being a one car household in an area that really doesn’t do much to encourage regular use of public transit. I’m more than irked that ATS has decided to undertake increased marketing efforts rather than spend money on expanding service.  People know that the bus service exists, but it is under-utilized because it isn’t convenient.  I want it to be easier to buy passes; currently, one can visit the transit center with cash.  Why aren’t there refillable cards and self-service kiosks that accept cash or credit, even if they are isolated to the transit center?  It is cheap, and it is safe; however, when many routes end service before 7:30 how can anyone use ATS to have a dinner out or catch a movie or go to church?  If you don’t work first shift (or if you work first shift on a Sunday), it is very likely that you won’t be able to use ATS to commute to and from work, even if you live well inside city limit.  On the other hand, I am thankful that we live about a twenty minute stroll off the bus route and that my husband can get to and from most of his work shifts.  We’ve made it work these past two years because we believe in the good of public transit and the benefits of walking (with or without sidewalks on busy five lane highways or quite neighborhood streets).

The next milestone is our four year wedding anniversary. We opted to celebrate on a Wednesday night rather than the actual Monday our anniversary fell on, and we decided to revisit The Market Place.    I don’t recall the exact year of our last visit, but we were completely unimpressed with every aspect of our meal, especially the steep prices on the wine list.  Due to the passage of time and new ownership (even though I thoroughly respect Mark Rosenstein for all he has done and continues to do to support local food and farms), we decided to give it another go.   We were seated in the back close to where we sat at our last visit, and our server, Denise, was attentive and knowledgeable of the menu.   I opted for the edamame, because I cannot seem to eat enough edamame, and it was the only vegetarian appetizer that held any appeal (sorry I’m a bit too cheap these days for a $14 cheese plate); the chili soy glaze was pretty sweet, and it really detracted for the sublime simplicity of soybeans.  My husband enjoyed a generous serving of duck confit spring rolls that really looked pretty tasty.   For my entree I chose the agnolottis because again it was the only realistic vegetarian option since a local vegetable plate just seemed a bit boring.   Then again, how cliched for the vegetarian entree to be a pasta dish; however, cliched or not, it was good and filling and just what I really wanted.  Apparently we were in need of comfort food as my husband went with the pork chop entree. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to enjoy all of the juices because the food runner poured a good portion of them down my arm; the part he did enjoy was very satisfying, even if he really wanted more carrots and brussel sprouts.  Getting to wear his dinner was really were our experience fell flat (and my shirt is now ruined).  When it happened I requested a bar towel not a treated napkin that really does nothing to absorb liquid, but of course I received seltzer water and a cloth napkin (I should’ve demanded the bar towel).   The staff was apologetic, but rather than comp his entree or mine for that matter, they offered to buy us a dessert and two glasses of champagne, which we weren’t interested in anyway.   We ended up taking a boxed up a cappuccino chocolate torte, which was a nice after work treat the next day. Personally, I prefer the ambience and food at Cucina24, but this visit didn’t rule out future visits (although they are not likely to happen in the near future).

We opted to postpone our anniversary dinner due to a doctor’s visit, which would leave us with either great news or less than great news.  We got the great news, so we were a bit on cloud nine, and I just wasn’t able to demand a free entree nor was I able to enjoy anything alcoholic because earlier that day we had seen our baby’s heartbeat.  We also confirmed that I was about five weeks pregnant, and I’m now almost twelve weeks along, which is why I’ve been reading, reading, and reading some more about pregnancy and childbirth.  I am not suffering from morning sickness per se, but I am suffering from an incessant desire to eat edamame, eggplant, and pretty much anything else with bread and cheese as long as artichoke hearts, raw garlic, and pesto aren’t included.  My nausea is triggered by not eating enough (i.e., about every couple of hours) or eating too much at once (hence, I was truly not able to eat dessert at dinner).  Additionally, my eating idiosyncrasies have multiplied, and although they aren’t as bad as they were before I met my honey, they are irritating and frustrating.  Last week, I couldn’t stand the thought of eating roasted root vegetables (butternut squash, celeriac, and beets) and goat cheese, which normally, I would devour.  Therefore, I will not be posting anymore restaurant reviews until I feel normal about food again.  I do think I will continue to complain about public transit and the dearth of sidewalks even in parts of Asheville that have been annexed for years and years (here’s looking at you, Hendersonville Rd); now that it is dark around six p.m., I won’t be walking home, which means I have to pick my husband up from work since the last bus to our end of town runs about five to six hours before he gets off work.  Then again, since we’re planning on caving in and buying a second car rather than deal with a wee one and one car, I guess I won’t have as much to complain about public transit.

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Do some laundry!

Posted by eemilla on January 10, 2010

Petsoup and Brother Wolf Animal Rescue lost their washing machine recently so they are asking for help with laundry.  If you can help them out, just drop by their shop at 31 Glendale Avenue in Biltmore and request a bag.  They’ve promised to sub out their least stinky laundry; the bag I got was definitely of the wet dog smell but nothing worse.  If you feel like your linen closet is overflowing, they could also use any extra linens you might have.  If donating in any of the above ways doesn’t ring your bell then consider working an adoption day or spending time with the shelter dogs.

On a more selfish note, I’m so stoked to go skiing tomorrow, and although I haven’t enjoyed Southeast skiing since I skied the 2010 Olympics courses at  Whistler-Blackcomb, I just know I’m going to have a great time tomorrow.  Here’s a picture of my husband (I obtained consent before posting) as we paused while completing either the men’s or women’s Super G course (aka the Dave Murray Downhill; to see the course on the map click on advanced and the course is the trail that runs from the middle left of Whistler Mountain into Creekside).

I am thankful for snow and winter (and the man who taught me to ski).

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Ringing in 2010!

Posted by eemilla on December 31, 2009

Don’t worry, we’re going to pop the magnum at the neighbors after we stroll down (hoping it won’t be raining), and for brunch we’ll enjoy French toast and PJ before my husband joins my brothers in chopping some wood.  Happy, happy 2010!

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