Friday, March 8, 2013

The Great Babymoon Escape

Besides sounding like a 1980s Muppet movie (The Great Muppet Caper, anyone?), our most recent getaway was exactly what we needed. Aware that our ability to just up and leave town for the weekend will soon be limited, both medically and practically, I was desperate to travel.

So desperate that my pregnancy-induced hormones successfully convinced Jon to launch a zero-hour search for nearby bed and breakfasts the Wednesday prior. Due to schedules and work, we knew we wouldn't be able to go far, and we were unimpressed with many of the available options...until Jon stumbled upon Hot Springs, Arkansas.

When I got home that Wednesday, I found Jon at the kitchen table with about six windows open on the computer. He started showing me some accomodations, and I knew he was on to something when he landed on "The Barrett-Browning Room" in a Victorian mansion called the 1884 Wildwood Bed and Breakfast. And then when he stumbled upon one of their relaxation packages entitled The Great Babymoon Escape...

The description from the website says it best, so here it is, verbatim:

"One last getaway before life changes drastically! Let us help you show her she is special! Candles, single rose, petals will be set up in your room as well as chilled non-alcoholic juice to toast to this new addition to your family. On to a full hour private couples massage. Hers will be a prenatal massage given by a certified prenatal massage therapist. His will be a therapeutic massage. A box of chocolates will be waiting to satisfy those cravings and a Victorian stuffed bear will be hers to take home."

It might as well have said The Great Babymoon Escape, Jon & Kristin.

This wouldn't have been much of a story if the room was unavailable, so needless to say, we were able to make the reservation, and on Friday afternoon, we set out for Hot Springs. The three-hour drive wasn't bad, especially considering that Jon was able to leave as soon as I finished class, meaning that we arrived around 6pm.

We headed straight for the bed and breakfast and were immediately greeted by the proprietor. We could tell instantly that we (well, Jon really) had made the right choice. We were given a brief tour of the beautiful home before being taken up to our room. Just before we walked in, the proprietor, David, checked one last time to "make sure everything was perfect." Well, it was, down to the soft music playing. All the little details, such as the rose petals, teddy bear, chocolates, and sparkling juice truly made it special. And I would be lying if I said I didn't notice the strategically placed Elizabeth Barrett-Browning texts.

Our room, upon arrival, really was perfect

Before we even had a chance to ask, David provided us with a list of restaurant recommendations, and we were delighted to discover that it was not an exhaustive list of options in town, but rather a selection of their favorites, complete with recommended dishes and location information. It should come as no surprise that I was pretty hungry by this point, so we headed out to dinner at a cute Italian restaurant in downtown Hot Springs.

It should also not be a surprise that I was tired, so we returned from dinner and went to bed early. We didn't know it at the time, but we had to rest up for the epic breakfast that awaited us in the morning. I can't say that I've ever had a multi-course breakfast before...unless you count the multiple servings of pancakes that my grandpa lovingly forces on us. Our first course consisted of a muffin, which was quiclky followed by a stuffed croissant (stuffed with deliciousness--even the eggs) and fruit. And then to top it off, a beautifully arranged plate of chocolate-covered strawberries, affectionately described by one of our fellow guests as "lady food."

After breakfast, the other proprietor, Rebecca, provided us with a tour of the home. Fortunately the original lady of the house left an extensive record of her life through her diaries, so there was quite a bit of information to be had. I'm sure the other guests had places to be, but they really missed out on some fascinating stories. The private tour worked to our advantage, however, because just as we finished prowling around the servants' quarters (getting me all hyped up to watch Downton Abbey), we found ourselves engaged with Rebecca in a discussion about our mutual experiences living in Europe. Such a small world.

We got to stay in the turret room!

There really wasn't much to do after the tour beside get ready for our couples' massage (what a difficult life we lead), so we headed out and only had to return once because I forgot the gift certificate. That pregnancy brain business is for real. Despite the detour, we still made it on time for our massage...ahhhhh. If I ever find myself rich, regular massages are definitely going to be at the top of my list (after donating to charity, of course).

Feeling very content and relaxed, we made our way back into Hot Springs and strolled through the quaint downtown area (childhood home of former President Bill Clinton, by the way) for a bit before heading to an early steak dinner. Early because we'd had such a large breakfast, there was no need for lunch, and steak...well, is there really a need to explain that?

We headed back to the bed and breakfast to call it a night. After scouring the extensive DVD collection, we settled on vintage Steve Martin and John Cleese and laughed our way through Dirty Rotten Scoundrels as we munched on our fancy box of chocolates. Yes, we are really this exciting.

Our final breakfast the next morning was just as good as the first, consisting of lemon poppyseed bread, sausage havarti egg, and strawberry pancakes. After some time to read and digest, we packed up for the trip back to Memphis. If it sounds like I'm advertising for our bed and breakfast, I totally am. It was a delightful place that I would recommend to anyone. If you ever find yourself in Hot Springs, Arkansas, please do yourself a favor by checking out the 1884 Wildwood Bed and Breakfast.

We did take our time on the way home, stopping in Little Rock for a little sightseeing. We drove past both the Capitol and Central High School (where the Little Rock Nine integrated the school system in 1957). Fortunately the Visitor Center was open at the latter, so we were able to get a dose of history as well, which I certainly appreciated, as I didn't have time to really check it out when I last chaperoned a field trip there a couple of years ago. But the highlight, for Jon, at least, was our stop at Diamond Bear Brewery. What a coincidence that he was able to find a brewery. Slightly tortuous for this pregnant lady, but at least they had root beer on draught.

And so, with that, our "babymoon" concluded. I'm so glad that we were able to get away and also to celebrate five years of marriage (again). Now we're totally ready for Baby...yeah, right.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pink or Blue?

We have decided not to find out the gender of our unborn child. Despite my OCD-like tendencies and anal retentive need to plan and organize, I really like surprises. And what better surprise than the identity of your child? Jon has been on board with this plan from the beginning, although I think his motivation is that he is convinced that whatever the ultrasound revealed would be wrong.

Most people have been very supportive of our decision to be surprised. And several friends/family members have gone this route lately, so it doesn't seem that strange to us. But, there are a few people who seem shocked. How will we know what to buy?!? Well, my answer to that is simple. Even if we knew the gender, we wouldn't go overboard with pink princess gear or blue truck apparel. From an economical standpoint, since we envision having more than one child (although we'll see how #1 goes first), we would like to use as much of this ridiculously expensive stuff again as possible.

And from a philosophical point of view, I feel that just because society wants to dictate our gender roles doesn't mean we have to follow them. If Baby Luigi is a girl, she can wear pink and purple dresses to her heart's content if she wants to. Likewise, she can wear baggy jeans, sneakers, and a baseball cap if she feels like it. But we're not going to force it, at least not all the time (some of those little dresses are pretty cute!). Sadly, there is a bit of a double-standard when it comes to boys and traditionally "girl" attire. Girls can wear boy clothes, but boys can't wear girl clothes. At any rate, what I'm getting at is that we would still have just as much green and yellow as we would blue or pink. And now I'm done with my feminist tangent.

Regardless, it's not like anyone knows anyway. I haven't had an ultrasound since about week 12, so there is no way that anyone could spill the beans (a not-so-secret fear of mine). I know it's a cliché , but we're really just hoping for a healthy baby. I've envisioned both scenarios--boy or girl--in my head and feel like it could go either way. While I initially thought Baby Luigi was a boy, lately, everyone else seems to think girl.

Yup, everyone else.

Because what we've discovered is that not finding out has turned every friend, acquaintance, and even stranger into Miss Cleo of 1-900 infamy. It's actually pretty fun to hear these guesses, as well as the reasoning behind them. And really, with the exception of the recent rash of girl predictions, it's been a pretty even boy/girl split...which is actually statistically accurate.

Some of our favorite reasons follow:

*It's a boy because I just know. -co-worker

*It's a girl because my mom had a girl first. -6-year-old writer (Here's how this conversation went: "What do you have already?" "Neither--this is our first baby." "Oh, then's a girl because I'm the oldest and I'm a girl.")

*It's a girl because your nose isn't getting bigger. And you haven't changed (ie, you aren't irritated all the time). -high school writer

*It's a boy/girl because you're carrying high/low. -multiple armchair doctors (The tricky thing with this one is that no one can seem to decide if carrying low--which I think I am--means boy or girl.)

*It's a boy because your brother has girls. -my mom

So, there you go. Like I told the dentist yesterday, we just hope it's one or the other.