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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Beloved and I took the girls on vacation this past week, which was school vacation week here in New England.

Originally, we were going to go to Spain – primarily Barcelona – but then the Economic Downturn hit the law firms, and our previously-thought-to-be-predictable bonuses were scaled back.  Fortunately, mine was not scaled back by much – we were still able to take care of most of our NEEDS.  It was scaled back enough, however, to make me feel that Spain was imprudent.

So we went to D.C.

We had wanted to take them for a long time, but many things were in place to make this year perfect:  Well, of course, Obama.  Also, E is doing key parts of American History in 7th grade this year.

J seemed considerably less excited leading up to the trip.  We couldn’t get her engaged in the travel books to say what she wanted to do – she kept saying ‘mm, yeah, that’ll be fine.”  So we were a little worried on that front.

We were also a little worried because this was (oddly) our first real “tourist” vacation with the girls.  We’ve gone on weekend trips, and we’ve gone to Disneyland.  But otherwise, the heavy travel that Beloved and I have done has been while they’re with the Ex.

Well, it was a resounding success.

We had a blast.  Oh, pictures, you say? I’ll give you pictures.

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Pandas!

Pandas!

White House

White House

And, um, Escalators.

And, um, Escalators.

We did pretty darned close to everything while there (6 days).  It’s easier to list what we did NOT do:  The Jefferson Memorial; the Aquarium; Georgetown.  We did (I think) every Smithsonian museum that was open, the major monuments, the White House Garden Tour (see Michelle, Malia & Sasha’s veggie garden):

White House Veggie Garden

White House Veggie Garden

We also were able to watch the Senate in session, which was high up on E’s list.  It was both our most frustrating and most rewarding experience.  We’d gone all over D.C. — the White House, the museums, the Supreme Court building — and been through many security systems.  To all of these locations, we’d brought our metal (beautiful) water bottles, and in all of these locations, it was okay.  Actually, we thought it wouldn’t be okay at the White House, and so we left our bags in the hotel (2 blocks away), but others had brought theirs and it was okay.

But the Capitol Building was different.  We waited in line for a long time in the morning to get into the building.  When we finally got to security, one of the very official military-esque security guards barked at J to go outside and dump her water and said “have that guard out there check it before you come back in.”  We went outside and dumped them and asked the other barky military man to check them.  He laughed at me and said, “I just saw you dump it, it’s fine.”  So we went back in.  But then the barky military man who was looking at the x-rays told us we had to throw them away.  No bottles or cans in the building.

We were sad.  Beloved was even a little indignant, but I attempted to talk him out of it.  He and J ended up sitting outside the building with our precious (beautiful) water bottles while E and I went back in to see if we could figure out what was going on with the tickets I was told were on reserve for us.  Turns out the info I had was all screwy (thanks Kerry-staff), and what we really wanted (Senate Gallery Passes) had to be picked up at Kerry’s office – across the street.

We did follow through, and were very glad of it.  We were able to see the Senate in session (Beloved went to a photography exhibit elsewhere, with the water bottles) – although we missed the exciting debate over the “Truth Commission” – and the girls almost peed their pants when John McCain walked in to the chambers and engaged in the (unpopulated) debate.  We had fun seeing how many senators we could identify, loved watching the procedure of the vote (where the senators walk in, stand at the top of the steps and just wave at the woman doing the roll call  — she sees them, calls out their vote, and they turn around and walk back out).

The girls also had a lot more tolerance for museums than I thought they would.  J was a lot more into the art than I think she expected to be.  We stuck with modern art, for the most part, and the girls were happy.

We walked a lot, and packed our days full.  I am thrilled with how the girls held up, and think they’re definitely more than ready for a Europe trip.  Hopefully next year …

But in the meantime, we are definitely due for a BEACH vacation. One where we sit in a chair and read a book for 6 days straight.  I’m already choosing a rental in the Outer Banks for August.  Now I just have to see if I can swing another solid week off of work, especially since there’s an October trial looming ….

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My family thinks me evil, but I just feel done.  Zipcar is fun, and it’s useful, and it’s served us very well.  But yesterday, I had to set my alarm for 8 a.m. and call a cab to take me to the car that zipcar switched my reservation to.  It cost $10 to get there, and then tonight, at 9:15 p.m., another $10 to get me back home from the new reservation spot.  It is a reimbursable $20, but it takes time for me to 1) take a cab, 2) wait for cabs, and 3) submit receipts for reimbursement.  I don’t like it.  I am glad that the car I reserved wasn’t allowed to stay on the road with bad brakes, but I don’t know why they couldn’t move a working car into the spot I had made arrangements for – a spot that is 2 blocks from my house.

Also, the new house has 2 parking spots included in the rent.  At our current building, we would have to pay $170/mo for one parking spot.  It was so easy to smile at the fact that we didn’t need to pay extra for a spot.

Also (oh, my list is long), the new house is .4 miles from our current house – but it’s .4 miles further from the center of town, further from Trader Joe’s, further from Whole Foods, even further from Stop & Shop (ick).  The only useful businesses it is not further from is a) a CVS (pharmacy) that sucks and never has anything and that has employees that are so slow and so non-responsive so as to make every visit an exercise in patience, and b) an awesome liquor store that I likely shouldn’t live so close to.

Also, the girls want to play more and more sports.  Next year, both of them will be on soccer fields far away from home.  It’s nice that we have a great social network that allows for carpooling and ride sharing, but I think the older they get, the more they’re going to want to do, and I am not that comfortable with just relying on others to transport my kids – I have always pitched in, but people always feel weird about it when they know that I’m “renting a car” in order to drive.

Therefore, I’ve made the proclamation:  In 2009, I’m buying a car.

I know I can’t get away with (nor do I want) anything but a Hybrid.  But while I love the Prius, Beloved does not.  He doesn’t like the mirrors – or something.  I looked at the Hondas, but they both (accord and civic) had negatives that outweighed the positives.  The Car & Driver reviews spent the whole thing talking about why the Hondas weren’t as good as the Prius.

So Beloved said, “check out the Volt!  Let’s wait for the Volt!”

So I checked it out.

Uh….

voltfront2.jpg

I think it may want to eat me.  I decided that considering that you can drive up to 40 miles a day without even touching a drip of gas, and considering that it’s really freaking cool and the beginning steps at non-gas driven vehicles, I could deal with the scary look of it, and be proud of my electric car.

But then my research showed that it isn’t expected to be for sale until 2010, and right now is looking like it could come out at around $45,000.  The more digging around I do, the more I see that we will certainly be dealing with a “waiting list” situation, and that it likely won’t be widely available for at least a year after that.

Hey!  I didn’t want to pay $45,000, and I didn’t want to wait until mid 2011.  Hell, I don’t want to wait until January of 2009 – I want a car NOW – but I’m not willing to screw up our finances while we’re looking forward to our move in July and hopefully a week in Maine in August and and and.

This is our new deal:  I get my Prius in 2009.

prius_image1.jpg

If Beloved really hates it that much, he’s welcome to keep using zipcar.  Then, in 2011 when the Volt comes out, he can have that.  Perhaps (she says after hearing the girls yell in disgust at the idea that we would have two cars), we will lease the Prius for 2 years, and then return it and buy a Volt in 2011.

The girls are pouting, Beloved is slightly scowling over the fact that I essentially made this decision on my own, but I am looking forward to being able to grab my own keys and walk 2 feet from my own door to hop in a car to run to Target or to the Apple store, rather than make arrangements a week ahead of time.  Heck, I could even decide last minute to go and visit my nephew!!

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There isn’t really loathing. Just fear.

Over what?  You may ask.

Beloved is leaving me!!!

What is a [well, an … incompetant spoiled brat of a] girl to do??? My husband – my support – my love [my cook] is going to a neighboring state for ELEVEN WHOLE DAYS!!! gasp!

He leaves this coming Saturday and isn’t back home until the NEXT Wednesday.

Considering that work is heating up, the house is in disarray, the girls’ lives are full as hell, and I haven’t cooked in 6 months – this is NOT a minor thing.

I will be okay:

I have friends lined up for emergencies; I’m starting a recipe list and meal plan; I have a plan to go to my mom’s for the long weekend in the middle of his absence –

I think I’ll be okay.

But I’m not certain.

I’m gonna miss my Beloved 😦

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I had a nice holiday gathering with my family this past weekend.  I’ve had some strife with/about my brother in the past few years, but it seems to have dissipated if not healed completely.  I remember last year I was resentful over the fact that I was required to spend ANY money on his ungrateful, hateful ass, and I think I settled on an iTunes gift card.  Which is a pretty crappy gift, but was still too much for the relationship we had at the time.

This year, I was excited to pick something for his son, as well as for him and his wife.  I think I made good choices and they were happy.

I made my mother a photo album with a collection of photos from the year, and signed my dad up for a 2-wines-of-the-month club.  They each had little things from me to open on top of that.

Beloved also worked to provide the family with gifts, and helped the girls with projects so they had something to give as well.  I think we showed up with a nice bunch of gifts!

Beloved’s gifts rocked.  He came up with the idea before we left for Europe, and we (amazingly) followed through on it.   We took photos in Paris and Amsterdam, with particular themes in mind, and he had prints made and then matted and framed the prints.  They came out great, and the family was duly impressed.

We were also spoiled nicely.  My brother and his wife gifted us all with fun and personal assortments of gifts, perfect for each of us (J’s stripey knee socks with little toes are great).  My mom and dad got me a Martini set, complete with a recipe book, and my BOOTS!!!  They got Beloved an indoor grill and some socks.  Good socks, though.  Not complaining-inducing socks.

__________________________

We had weather issues, though.  Because this is turning out to be a delightful winter, and we are getting snow on top of snow.

This is a good thing.

The storm that brought me home early on Thursday created messes of dynamic proportions.  It was amazing.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been more grateful for my car-less status.  I apparently left work at the same time as the people who were stuck in traffic for up to SIX HOURS did, but I first walked 5 blocks to the T station, then rode the train (no traffic!) for 15 minutes, and then crossed the street and then went around the block to the girls’ school.  Once I had them in hand, we walked 3 more blocks to our HOUSE!  Where we spent the rest of the afternoon watching stand-still traffic out our living room window.

We knew even then that another storm was coming through in a couple days’ time.

Beloved and I wondered if we should change our plans.

We decided no.

But as the storm was closer and the predictions more reliable, we found ourselves more and more on the fence.

We knew we couldn’t skip the trip – there is no other time.  The girls leave to spend Christmas with their father in a week … then Beloved has a school/work trip planned, and there’s just no other time.

So we spent some time on Saturday morning – at my parents’ house – studying satellite images accompanying the various weather reports.  The question was – will we have dinner and open gifts in a rush so that we could get in the car late Saturday and drive 2.5 hours in the middle of the night, to be safe in our own beds before the storm?  Our would we stay in CT a little longer, waiting for the worst of the storm to pass.

I didn’t want to rush the gathering.  I didn’t want to feel on edge, I didn’t want to feel that I could not have a glass (or two or three) of wine because we would be driving (I actually don’t drink even one glass … or even a 1/2 glass … if I’m driving.)

So we stayed.

And driving home today was hard.

But no one would have been able to guess that my Beloved originated in Culver City, California.  The slush, ice, snow and varying temperatures were handled as if he were a native-born New Englander.  He was fantastic, and we are safe.

For now.

The temperature has begun it’s decline from 40 to 17 … all the mid-street lakes and flooded drains are in the midst of a deep freeze.  I think our morning foot-commutes will be treacherous.  And I’ll re-think that statement above about the joy of not having a car.

Although, I plan on taking a cab to work tomorrow, since I have to lug 7,000 pounds of BarBri books to the local office so I can get my $175 bar prep book deposit back … I can’t do that on the T.  7,000 pounds?  Ha!

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Woo hoo! Family trip!

Beloved is part of a bloggy universe.  They had a convention this weekend, and he did not go.  Which is obvious from one of my previous posts in which I complained about his Ridiculously Safe Driving.

He didn’t go because registration was required just as we returned from Europe, and he knew we didn’t have the moola to spare.

It was in chicago.

But he was missed.

He was told – next year – like it or not – he’s going.

guess where it is next year?

Portland, Oregon!

I said, “okay, I guess you need to go, I’ll take the girls somewhere.  Maybe we’ll go to Hawaii for the weekend.”  (ha ha ha.)

Then he said, “why don’t you come?”
And told me where it is to be.

We just told the girls today about our many (joint and several) trips to Portland.  The time he was waylaid on a trip to Seattle and stumbled upon Powells Books.  The time I went for a friend’s wedding.  The time we went together and he met said friend and I met said bookstore.  About how we both had considered moving there (pre-law school discussions).

We got home, and J started to write one of her many stories.  It was about her mom and her step-dad getting married at Powell’s Books, and the road trip they took in order to get there.

Come on – as if we’d get married IN a book store.  Isn’t that taking our collective obsession a bit too far?

This is said tongue-in-cheek, which you’d know if you saw our home, since the first thing everyone comments on is the books.  And in our bedroom, we don’t have a floor.  We just have a mosaic of books.  We don’t have end tables.  Just stacks of books.

So hopefully next Columbus Day, we’ll journey across the country and check out Portland.

Woo hoo!

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