A Closer Look At Serenity

As I mentioned on Thursday, JDubbs and I slipped away for a little slice-of-heaven-mini-vacation to Bermuda last weekend.  Since we mostly enjoyed excellent meals and relaxed in various spots throughout the island, I don’t have much to add other than my photos, which will be all you need to get a sense of our getaway.

Our studio cottage with its private dock was the absolutely perfect home base.  I guess you can’t complain if you like being home as much as you like being out and about.

We were pretty centrally located and could walk into Flatts Village for dinner and to catch the bus.  Did you know that rental cars are not allowed in Bermuda and that each family is only allowed one vehicle?  Otherwise they drive mopeds or take the super safe and clean bus transportation system.  We had no problems catching the bus and enjoy a lovely walk to get to the main stop just five minutes away.

We went to dinner in the main city of Hamilton on the first night, but the next two we returned to Flatts Village for some of the best dining experiences I’ve had in a long time.  Actually, although the food throughout the island was expensive, it was almost always delicious.  Even though we weren’t too adventurous with our dining choices, who could blame us for wanting to return to Flatts every night when this was our walk there?

Although we loved Flatts, we did explore other places on the island as well.  I was hobbled by an unfortunate run-in with a sea urchin, which, when you’re doing most of your traveling by foot, was most unpleasant–

and I spent three lovely hours in the ER once we returned to the States to have the worst ones removed.  But it didn’t stop us from heading to St. Georges for JDubbs’s birthday lunch or from having fun.

Or from enjoying several tasty beverages at The Swizzle Inn, where we spent the early afternoon of his birthday and returned for the live music later that night.  We particularly enjoyed their bumper stickers and JDubbs had more than his share of Rum Swizzle, the island’s signature drink.

We planned on only staying for an hour or so that night, but the music was so great and JDubbs was getting lots of attention–and free shots–for his birthday, so we stayed until closing.  Let’s just say, not having to wake up with our little ones the next morning was much appreciated!

The rest of the weekend was spent either quietly relaxing, reading by our cottage, kayaking the sound, and living it up at the beach.

Mmmmm….birthday cigar.

We were able to meet up with an old friend of mine from high school, who actually lives in Bermuda with her husband and adorable little girl Paige, and she took us to two unbelieveable beaches.  One was abandoned and known only by locals, with sea glass embedded on every surface.

The other was the most well-known and popular beach on the island, Horseshoe Beach.  With its spongy pink sand, turquoise water and perfect waves, it was exactly what we had imagined Bermuda to be.

Paradise.

Four days of serenity with my baby, three nights away.  I have a feeling we’ll be back.  It’s just too close–and too tempting–to resist.

 

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Serenity

To celebrate his birthday last week, JDubbs and I got away for 4 days to the incredible island of Bermuda.  He and I have traveled extensively across the country and have been to 7 countries together, but we were both incredibly pleased with our stay there.  How could we not be, when our days were spent like this?

The serenity of Harrington Sound, literally at our doorstep, as we read and enjoyed each other’s company and the days faded into twilight was some of the happiest times we’ve had as a couple in a long time.  We all know what the pressures of real life and family can do to a couple who are both trying to make something of themselves at work and make time for themselves as individuals; it can be a daunting task to have the energy to reconnect at the end of every day.  Luckily, we had several days with just the two of us to recharge as individuals and as a couple; what could bring me more happiness than sharing time with my love?

More on all this tomorrow–off to continue to bask in the glow of serenity!

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Lost In Translation

Something you may not know about me.  I hate trying new foods.
I have to take the time to write a separate post about our jaunt to Montreal this weekend, but until then, here is a little anecdote from our trip that will provide some insight into the psyche of your friend Becky: I hate trying new foods.  Those who know me and are reading this are nodding their head in agreement.  The other day, my girlfriend Katharine asked me, as she was taking the last helping, “You’re not going to eat any of this salad, right?”  Mostly out of politeness.  She knows I’m an Iceberg lettuce girl and that mescalin crap isn’t getting anywhere near me.  I am the kind of person who will find something I really like on a menu, and order it every single time I go to a restaurant without fail.  Even if I know there are other really good things on the menu, I am so nervous that I won’t like what I order as much as what I have already had that I take the safe route.  I order what I know I like.  That’s just me.
This has happened to me before.  JDubbs and I had the most amazing honeymoon of all time: we took a cruise of the Greek Isles with stops in Croatia, Turkey, and Italy.  But mostly Greece.  You will find it interesting that while I was in Greece, the most ethnic food I ate was a Greek salad (which you will not be surprised to learn, is just called “a salad” there).  I ate a lot of pizza.  I had pizza in Croatia.  We skipped lunch in Turkey and we went back to the ship and I ate pizza.  I did try delicious new plates in Italy because I love Italian food.  And by new I probably mean I tried a new salad dressing or a new sauce on my penne.  I know we drank two bottles of wine in Venice but I can’t remember what food we paired with them.  The cheese ravioli I had in Capri is still one of the most amazing meals of my life, mostly because I was in Capri and the view was to die for.  Here is a photo of our restaurant where we ate with our tour guide after stepping off our private boat:
A little slice of heaven.
The point is that I have been to now seven countries outside the USA, not counting my layover in Germany where I ate a Royale with cheese at the airport McDonald’s, and throughout these adventures my fond culinary memories are pizza and cheese ravioli.  Not exactly ground-breaking stuff.  So when JDubbs and I followed a friend’s advice and headed to a small, local brewery in Montreal for lunch on Saturday, we were expecting bar food.  Brewery = wings, potato skins, nachos, right?  Well, not in Montreal.  Bien sûr.
We walked into this brewery and loved it.  Loved the atmosphere, loved the people.  Exactly our kind of place.  Until we seated ourselves and realized that the menu is in French.  Well, duh, Américains.  Vous êtes au Québec.  We were in Quebec, where they speak, of course, French.  Having traveled a bit outside of the US, I knew this, but in those same experiences, I have done just fine with my English and decent Spanish because English makes the world go round and everyone wants my American dollar.  They’ll speak some English.
Well, yes, our waitress did indeed speak some English.  Enough to say things like “veal brains” and “snails” when deciphering the menu.  Pizza and ravioli, remember?  I won’t even eat veal main body parts, let alone veal brains, and I will never eat something that doesn’t have legs, so you can imagine my delight when we got to the final item of the menu.  Crêpes, like your pancakes, the waitress said.  Perfect!  Pancakes it is.  She went to put our order in and left us the menu.  The pancakes came with a side of yogourt (we could figure that one out) and pommes puréeAfter a second of consideration, we decided that pommes purée must be pureed potatoes, like hashbrowns, because we’ve eaten pommes frites before and they are french fries.  Pommes must mean potatoes.  Since we were in Canada, cell phones were off due to roaming charges so I couldn’t even use that handy Google Translate app sitting so nicely on my homescreen.  I was sure I would be fine.  You can’t mess up pancakes.
Well, apparently Canada can mess up pancakes because although the crêpes looked delightful and the syrup was pretty legit, even to a Vermonter who has been syrup tasting recently, it was that freakin pommes purée and yogourt mixed together, which was some kind of rancid apple/yogurt disaster.  First of all, I don’t even like yogurt–something about the fact that the microbes inside it are still alive and all–and the apples were gnarly!  And I really like apple!  Who ruins a perfectly good pancake by putting crap all over it?  Yes, I know, healthy crap, but crap nonetheless.  I am American and I like butter in an alarming shade of yellow, Denny’s-style, scooped out of its tub with an ice cream scoop so it’s plopped right on my plate, melting into an artery-clogging pool of happiness.  No yogurt!  No fruit!
In my defense, JDubbs found the pancakes to be equally disgusting and assured me they ruined it with  something strange like sweet potatoes or something.  In my outrage, I told my family that in Canada they put sweet potato puree on pancakes, to their shocks of disgust and horror.  This idiocy all made sense, let me assure you.  Up until five minutes ago, I still thought pommes meant potatoes, so sweet potatoes worked.  It wasn’t until just now when I looked it up that I learned that pommes means apples, and so no wonder JDubbs thought it was gross, too.  He hates fruit! 
(Yes, you French-speaking readers, have a good laugh at my expense.  Especially you, Tammy, you Canadian!  It’s all fun and games until somebody serves you fruit)
So what did I do with my crêpes?  Not eat them, of course.  I cut them, smushed them, mashed some into my napkin and tried to make it look like I had eaten some of it.  I drank my French cabernet/grenache/syrah blend (no, actually, it was nothing like a California cabernet, thank you, waitress!) and then, when I thought for sure I would be drunk off one glass of wine because I was still so hungry and was drinking on an empty stomach, I did what I should have done in the beginning.  I ordered American food.  Fries.  Not French fries, obviously.  Just fries.
Our waitress was completely confused as to why I would order just “chips,” and had to make a special request with the chef, but out came my board o’ fries and I was as happy as an American in Paris.  Hooray for food I recognized!  Hooray for good old potatoes, translated, annoyingly, pommes de terre.  Apples of the earth?  Whatever, French language.  You made me think I was getting potatoes and all you gave me was apples.  Not cool at all.  We Americans take our carbs very seriously.
And, so, now you know me a little better, although you may like me less because a) I’m crazy and b) I wasted your time making you read about my lunch in Montreal.  But I assure you, this describes me to a T.  And if you don’t believe me, let me bring you back to July 2007, when we were in Katakalon, Greece, day 3 of our honeymoon.  JDubbs had lamb and a local beer for lunch.  Here is mine.

A Coke and fries.  In Greece.  I know.  I’m insane.  But, you know what they say,
When in Rome…eat like an American!
Wait.  That isn’t what they say?  Well, they should.  Before our trip to Bermuda in September, I will brush up on my important food groups before I embark:  pizza, cheese ravioli, and fries.  They speak English in Bermuda?  Well, I will learn how to say these things in several languages, just to be safe.
The more you know.
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Coronado

JDubbs and I have some pretty great memories at the Hotel Del Coronado. Here we are on Valentine’s Day, 2006, just two crazy kids in love. Little did I know, he was about to propose to me about thirty minutes later!  The last time that ring finger would be so naked!

Flash forward four years and four days later, and we were back at the Del, this time with Jax in tow and Baby E in belly. We had a wonderful day, weather-wise, and we chose to spend our last hours in San Diego in Coronado, bringing Jax back to where it all began.

We stripped Jax down and let him run amok in the sand, hoping to tire him out before our red-eye flight that night. The sun, sand, and surf were definitely enough to exhaust the poor little guy–but it was still a rough evening. All afternoon he was exploring the beach and getting as wet as possible before we changed him into his pj’s and stuck him in a carseat for eight+ hours.

What a phenomenal trip we had! Thanks to gorgeous weather, dear friends and family, and all that San Diego has to offer, we were able to enjoy a week together and just revel in Jax and all his glory before Em arrives.

I hope we can get back there again sometime, and keep Jax in touch with where he came from. Lord knows he’s a beach boy at heart!

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Jax & Aiden

One aspect of San Diego that has changed since we left is that so many of our friends that we love to rock out with have changed: they’re parents! One of my favorite parts of our trip was watching Jax interact with his buddy Aiden, the son of my long-time friend and ex-roomie, Tricia. Tricia is the reason that I moved to San Diego in the first place, and the excuse I had to rekindle my relationship with JDubbs. Lucky me!
Well, now Tricia isn’t just a good friend, she’s a mom! Our boys are less than two months apart, and they loved each other’s company.
I loved getting to see Aiden and have a chance to get to know him better. I joked with Tricia about how grumpy and introverted he is–that couldn’t be further from the truth! He is such a happy, smiley, outgoing little guy. You can tell he loves his life and wants to be out and about as much as possible. Aiden made me realize that maybe Jax is a little more introspective than I thought. He’s much more of an observer than Aiden. Or maybe it was because we were on Aiden’s home turf.
Jax helped Emmett sand his surfboard. He used his rubber duck to give it that special glow.
We’re so lucky to have such great friends, both near and far! And it’s great to have close friends to share parenthood with 🙂 It was great playing with you, Castellans!

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Hippos and Gorillas

What trip to San Diego would be complete without a day at the zoo? Tricia, JDubbs, and I brought Jax and Aiden one sunny morning, and it was a real treat. Although many of the animals were too far away or camouflaged for Jax to really see them, he wasn’t disappointed when it came to one of his favorite animals–the gorillas!
One of Jax’s favorite books right now is Goodnight, Gorilla. Here is Jax giving a gorilla a goodnight kiss :
Aiden gave the gorilla a kiss of his own.
I wish I had been a little less pregnant and it had been a little less hot out, but we made the best of such an amazing opportunity.  We never made it to the zoo when we lived there, but it is definitely going to be a must-see on our itinerary every time we head back!
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A Morning in Balboa Park

As our trip continued, we tried to take Jax to the places that were meaningful to me and JDubbs when we lived there. I brought him to Balboa Park one morning to show him where his Daddy used to work. Plus it was such a gorgeous day, I couldn’t resist going there myself!

I wish I could have taken pictures of Jax at the reflection pool, but if I had let go of him for one instant, he would have been in there! There were big koi fish swimming temptingly just out of reach.
And he loved when the bell tower at the Museum of Man would toll out the time. This day made me sad that we weren’t living in San Diego, because I thought of all the beautiful walks around Balboa Park Jax and I could be taking, not to mention all of the fabulous museums! But I have to remember that if we were living there, I’d be working, so Jax would be in day care and these day trips would be fewer and farther between than I romanticize.

He was ready for his nap by the time we left. What a gorgeous and relaxing way to start a day!

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