August 18, 2016

Wanderlust | Weekend Getaway in Carmel

In celebration of our one year wedding anniversary (only a month late) Shiraz and I spent last weekend in beautiful Carmel. Since we have both explored Monterey a lot over the years (which is where we got married) we opted for someplace nearby but relatively new to us. Carmel fit the bill perfectly. We drove down after work on Friday (which thanks to traffic took us three+ hours), checked into our hotel, grabbed a delicious sushi dinner, and then called it a night. Saturday we were up early(ish) for a delicious continental breakfast before we headed out for the day. After breakfast we headed to the 17-Mile Drive for some scenic views, followed by a short visit to Pacific Grove. For lunch we returned to Carmel, had some amazing food, and then walked around the main downtown exploring all the little shops. Late afternoon saw us back at the hotel for a few hours of relaxation before one of the most delicious Italian dinners I have had on the West Coast. After dinner we returned the hotel and called it a night. Sunday morning we indulged in the continental breakfast once again before packing up our bags and making the two hour trek home. It may have been a short getaway but it was absolutely lovely and relaxing and just what we needed.

ACCOMMODATIONS 

After looking at a number of options in the area, including AirBnB, we opted for an adorable boutique hotel that was was walking distance to Downtown called Cypress Inn. While it was on the pricey side (most everything in Carmel is), the attention to detail blew us away and made us feel more comfortable with the cost. Upon check-in they provided us each with a token that could be redeemed for a complimentary glass of Prosecco. The room, although small, was beautiful and well maintained. In addition to the standard toiletries and comfy robes, they also provided a basket filled with fruit and packs of honey roasted nuts, as well as a full glass bottle of Sherry, all of which was complimentary. Their continental breakfast was expansive and delicious and featured fresh fruit, freshly made scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes (and sausage if that’s your kind of thing), a variety of freshly baked goods including homemade popovers, and of course delicious coffee and juices. It was eat to your heart’s content. While we didn’t take advantage, the hotel (and entire town of Carmel) is VERY dog friendly (one of the things we were most looking forward to was getting to sleep in without having to worry about the dogs). The hotel is famously co-owned by legendary actress and animal activist Doris Day. A number of the guests there had their pup(s) with them which made the atmosphere all the more enjoyable.

Cypress Inn

DINING

Carmel is apparently known for having amazing food (or so Shiraz told me, and obviously everything he says MUST be true). Outside of the continental breakfast we had three meals in Carmel proper and all of them were delicious. Yelp, as always, was our co-pilot in finding highly rated and delicious food.

SUSHI HEAVEN – Friday night we enjoyed dinner at a small-ish sushi restaurant called Sushi Heaven. We weren’t super hungry after the long drive from the city so we kept it simple with some miso soup and two rolls to share (yes, I ate sushi while pregnant, no, I don’t regret it). The fish was so fresh that it melted in your mouth. I seriously wish I had been more hungry so I could eat more. Prices were extremely reasonable, especially for the quality of the ingredients (and also because we are used to SF prices).

Sushi Heaven

DAMETRA CAFE – For lunch on Saturday we decided to check out the most highly rated(according to Yelp) restaurant in the entire city. With over 2100 reviews and a solid 4.5 stars, Dametra Cafe did not disappoint, despite having to wait nearly 30 minutes. We shared a fried calamari appetizer, which had some of the biggest and freshest calamari I have ever eaten (I even made a joke about them going out and catching it that day). I enjoyed a simple but delicious four cheese ravioli, while Shiraz had the most amazing looking lamb shank I have ever seen (if you can call lamb delicious, which I admit, I can not). While we didn’t order dessert they did give us a couple small pieces of baklava, on the house. The service was top notch, the food was tasty, and the atmosphere was lively.

Demtra Cafe

LITTLE NAPOLI – For our last meal out in Carmel we decided to go with a proper Italian dinner, as Shiraz kept telling me that Carmel is known for its amazing Italian food. After perusing the menus of a variety of places we decided upon Little Napoli. Given that it was a Saturday night we made reservations which turned out to a really smart thing (when we arrived for our reservations they were turning away all walk-ins and had been for at least an hour or so). Since our extremely filling lunch was eaten a bit later in the day we set our reservations for 9pm. By the time we got there we were pretty hungry (which is necessary when eating heavy Italian food). Before we even got there we both had at least a half dozen things we wanted to order off the menu. We decided upon their “Famous” Garlic Bread and Risotto Lollipops as appetizers. For entrees we ordered their Truffled Gnocchi and Spicy Cioppino Rosso (basically seafood pasta stew). For dessert we shared the Black & White Cannoli. It was, quite possibly, the best Italian meal I have had on the West Coast. Seriously, I am still thinking about this amazing meal days later.

Little Napoli

SIGHTS

We kept our activities low key and enjoyed the sights and beauty of the 17-Mile Drive, stopping for the necessary pictures along the way. We then grabbed coffee/tea in the cute little town of Pacific Grove before heading back to Carmel (unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of the Monarch Butterflies). In Carmel we wandered around the beautiful town admiring all the art galleries and popping into a few shops. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Carmel, I HIGHLY recommend it!

17-Mile Drive

Gorgeous view along the 17-Mile Drive.

August 15, 2016

Pregnancy | How I’ve Survived Thus Far

Obviously I have made it no secret that being pregnant has been a struggle for me. That being said, there have of course been a few bright spots along the way. But more than that, there have been a number of things that have helped me to survive and get through this less than joyous experience. Here are just a few of them:

Fast Food Cheeseburgers – As I mentioned in a previous post, the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy were quite tough thanks to severe nausea. Most days I could only manage one meal, if even that. Even after the nausea passed, up until about 22 weeks, I didn’t have much of an appetite. While I know it’s not the most healthy (something about making every calorie count while pregnant), I basically survived off cheeseburgers from McDonalds (Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese or a McDouble) and In-N-Out (Double Double). Well that and…

Ensure – Again, because I wasn’t getting the necessary calories during those first months, and I had ZERO appetite and the idea of chewing made me want to die most days, I had to get creative in how I got nutrients into my body. My sister-in-law’s boyfriend recommended Ensure so I snagged some during a Costco trip. Some days I managed a cheeseburger, some fries, and two whole Ensures (those were the best days). They were easy and quick to drink and keep down, and gave me over 300 calories each. They were perfect for a quick breakfast so as to keep the nausea at bay.

Zofran & Unisom – These two magic medicines helped me get through the worst of my nausea and prevented me from throwing up the little food I did manage to consume (I am also one of those that firmly believe that throwing up makes you want to throw up even more). The Zofran was doctor prescribed and expensive, so I used it very sparingly. The Unisom is apparently a “pregnancy hack” (discussed on many pregnancy websites/boards) and was deemed safe by my doctor. One at night before bed, and a half one in the morning, and my nausea was kept from turning into full blown vomiting (I have said how much I HATE HATE HATE vomiting). Sure I was a little extra sleepy, but I prefer that over an upset stomach any day. Lesser of two evils.

The Snoogle – Ok, so I discovered this a lot earlier than many pregnant folks, and boy am I glad I did. The Snoogle is the most wonderful creation to ever be created. Yes, even better than sliced bread. An advanced/uber body pillow, the Snoogle makes sleeping while pregnant so much easier, particularly if you are a stomach or back sleeper who is suddenly forced to sleep on their side (normally I am a stomach sleeper). This creation is so wonderful I will probably continue to use it even after I am pregnant, because honestly, why not?! At the peak of my morning sickness I was in bed more than not and this miracle pillow made it so much more comfortable.

An iPad w/ Netflix In the early part of the pregnancy when I was super sick and couldn’t move out of bed, I would spend hours watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls, Scrubs, HIMYM, and Angel while in bed thanks to this handy piece of electronic equipment. I also attempted to distract myself from my misery by playing random games like Panda Pop and Words With Friends. I even used it to do some maternity clothes shopping…ALL WHILE IN MY PAJAMAS, LAYING IN BED, TRYING NOT TO HURL (sounds awesome, right). Unfortunately even though the nausea has now passed, as my stomach has grown and the random aches and pains have set in, sitting on the couch to watch TV is actually quite uncomfortable. Which means Shiraz and I spend a lot of time watching Netflix and HBO from the comfort of the bed and our handy dandy iPad.

Adorable Baby Clothes – In those early weeks/months when the fetus is the size of an apple seed, it can sometimes be tough to feel excited or connected. Despite being quite sick it still felt like a dream until I actually started to feel the baby moving around (which happened around 16+ weeks). For me, what would make it feel more real and get me excited was seeing and buying adorable little baby clothes (until we knew the baby’s sex we kept everything gender neutral). How can you not smile when you see adorable clothes in miniature form? That’s right, you can’t.

My Mother & Stepsister – Both my mother and stepsister had really tough pregnancies (gestational diabetes, hyperemesis gravidarum, etc.). Being able to talk to them about what I was going through, and hearing that they had experienced similar or worse, it honestly helped a lot. Sometimes misery really does love company. There was one phone conversation I had with my Mom that I will never forget, where I basically complained to her for a good 45 minutes about how miserable I felt, how I didn’t know if it would be worth it, and how I was scared and anxious about everything. She listened, she talked, and she never made me once feel bad for how I felt. I am so thankful for that conversation, and for awesome and strong women who have been through the same.

Shiraz – And no, I don’t mean the wine (but man, I miss wine…and beer). I mean my husband who has the patience of….I don’t know, a really patient person. When I was at my sickest he would run to McDonalds for me all on his own, or cook macaroni and cheese, or slice up some fruit, without blinking an eye. Now that I am better, he is willing to take me anywhere, at anytime, when I have a craving (even if the line at In-N-Out is ridiculously long). He has become the master cleaner of the litter box since before we were actually pregnant (and I know he hates that chore). When I was unable to function, he took care of all three of our dogs on his own. Now that my belly has gotten too big, he carries my laundry basket up and down the stairs, and lifts all the heavy things. When I need time to myself or crash at 8pm, he doesn’t make me feel guilty. When I need him to just lay in bed with me while I wait for my heartburn to pass, he does just that. Basically, he’s awesome and I am so happy that I am going through this with him. Without him I probably would have crumbled multiple times. I definitely made a great choice in my partner.

In-N-Out Double Double

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

August 10, 2016

Pregnancy | Are You Excited?

The number one question I have been asked by friends and family since finding out we were expecting has been:

Are you excited?

It’s such a simple question. And yet, every single time someone asks me this, I am filled with anxiety. I have always suspected being a parent was in my future, it was just a matter of the right time and the right person. Of course I am excited that we are giving our furbabies a human sibling. I am excited to have the opportunity to impart knowledge and wisdom on my genetic offspring. I am excited to watch my amazing partner come into his own as a parent. I am excited to torture my child with bad puns and jokes. I wanted this. We wanted this. We made the decision to start a family together. We tried for five months. And when we got the positive pregnancy test we were elated. So why can’t I just say “why yes of course I am super excited” when some well meaning person asks?

Because I was severely sick for the first 18 weeks of the pregnancy. A sickness I worried would never end.
Because I still don’t enjoy being pregnant. I am actively counting down the days until this is over. Less than 15 weeks!
Because I wonder if all the hell I am putting my body through is actually worth it.
Because I worry that I won’t actually enjoy being a parent.
Because I dread the impending lack of sleep and freedom.
Because I am anxious we won’t be good parents, or that I won’t at the very least (my partner definitely will be).
Because I wonder if our anxiety and fear ridden dog Chance will be able to handle a new baby.
Because children are expensive and it’s only just begun.
Because society tells us that every woman should be appreciative and enjoy their pregnancy.
Because I am afraid if I say any of this people will think I am being overly negative.

So when someone asks me this seemingly benign question, I pause. I take a few moments to think about how comfortable I am with the person, and how well they know me. Choosing to become parents is a major life decision that will impact us for the rest of  our lives. Despite what the movies often show you, pregnancy is not always rainbows and sunshine. Rather it is often a rough and taxing journey. So please don’t judge if I need an extra beat or two to answer a question. It’s not that I am not excited about this little life I am about to bring into the world, it’s simply a far more complicated and layered question than you may think.

favorite

One thing I am always excited about? All the cute baby clothes!