I am sure some people found it odd that I took a solo trip for my birthday this year. I already took my kid out of school for a week to go to Oklahoma so I thought it was best for her not to miss more school. So, I flew to DC by myself. My family can live without me for a few days. Plus, while it is true that I am a wife and mother, I am also a sister, an aunt, a sister-in-law, and a granddaughter. And finally, I'm old and can do what I want.
I arrived in DC on Friday the 12th. My sister picked me up at the airport and had the two youngest kids in the back of her car, but they were sleeping soundly. When we arrived at my sister's house, I carried my nephew to bed and then got a tour of the new digs. My sister and brother-in-law moved into a new house just a few months ago. It's huge - not because they are flashy people but because they have four kids. I was staying on the second floor in what will eventually be the baby's room. I decided to take a few minutes and put on my pajamas and unpack. When I tried to exit the room and head back downstairs, I couldn't help but notice that the doorknob just spun and spun. It was child-proofed. I didn't want to bother anyone (and with all the sleeping kids, yelling seemed like a bad idea), so eventually I resorted to sending "please let me out" texts to my sister and brother-in-law. Very funny, guys! They hadn't used that room yet so they hadn't been aware of the doorknob issue. Or so they said.
Saturday was a fairly busy day. We attended my other nephew's basketball game in the morning and then all the girls (me, my sister, my three-month-old niece, and my 17-year-old niece) headed to George Mason University for a campus tour. My niece is a junior and is looking at colleges. My middle sister and I both attended GMU. Let me just admit outright that I recognized nothing at all. The campus has changed a ton in the past 23 years. One of the student union buildings looked vaguely familiar to me, but that was about it. First, we sat in an auditorium while a recent graduate gave an overview of the university. Then, they broke us up into smaller groups for personal tours with current students. It was very cold and windy, so my sister stayed back with the baby while my niece and I took the tour.
Then we lost the tour. The tour guide mentioned that the student-run paper was located downstairs in one particular building. My niece wants to study journalism, so we broke off in hopes of checking out that part of the building. It was a Saturday, so all we found was a bunch of nothingness. We tried to find the tour again but had no luck. I think if she does decide to give some consideration to GMU, she'll just go back and take the tour on a nice day when hurricane-force winds aren't sweeping through the campus. We did find my sister and the baby and then we all had some Indian food in the food court.
Later in the afternoon, my niece drove me to Trader Joe's. She has her learner's permit and needs an adult in the car when she drives (and wanted to get in some practice, too). So, she was appointed as my chauffeur for the weekend.
Sunday was my birthday. Yay! We didn't have anything going on in the early part of the day, so I had Blondie (a very clever nickname I gave my niece because she is . . . blonde) drive me to World Market. My other half had given me some cash before I left (with instructions to enjoy the trip) so I thought I would wander around World Market a bit. I got in a little shopping and Blondie got in a little driving practice. I bought some fun stuff like earrings and a little gift for my kid.
When we got home, my sister and I drove to our grandma's house for a quick visit. We took the baby along. My grandma has a new dog, a neurotic little Chihuahua. She inherited the dog from some breeder who was ditching her. I tried my damnedest to win over that little dog but had no luck. I am just not a "little dog" person . . . and little dogs always know it.
We had already made plans to pick up Thai food for dinner, but it was too early to pick up the food my sister had ordered ahead of time. So, she suggested that we head to the Bull Run Winery for a quick beverage (note: yes, we had a baby with us but it's a very family-friendly joint). My sister and her beau were married at the winery, so it brought back lots of good memories. The main difference was that I was wearing more sensible shoes on this visit. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.
People who have known me for a while should be suitably shocked that I ate Indian food and Thai food in one weekend. I think I tried Chinese food when I was a kid, didn't like it, and therefore assumed that anything other than basic American food was sure to be awful. However, I've gotten more adventurous in my old age. Dinner was very good. We had cake, too! My sister had picked up a vegan chocolate cake from Whole Foods. It was deeeeelicious. After cake, I was thoroughly spoiled with gifts. I received a Kohl's gift card (now I can buy more sensible shoes for my plantar fasciitis - siiiigh), a three-month subscription to Vegan Cuts (snack boxes), a mandala coloring book and markers, some bath stuff, a GMU tee-shirt, and some vegan chocolates. I also received a pretty blue scarf that Blondie saw me admiring when we were at World Market. Then, I used one of my new bath bombs and took a bath in my sister's massive bathtub (no joke - I was fully able to float in it). It was a great birthday and I felt really special. Lately I have been struggling with a lot of "my life has no meaning to anyone" thoughts. My birthday was a nice little reminder that I do mean something to the people in my life. (I also received a FitBit from my guy before I left, which I will write about in another blog entry.)
Monday turned out to be a bust. It snowed all day. My sister and I had been planning to go to one of those paint and sip events, but it was canceled. So, we all just hung out in the house for the day. I colored a mandala. I might have to do that more often - coloring. My nephew (the 12-year-old) had a project due the next day (and had apparently known about it for many moons), so the house was full of "WORK ON YOUR PROJECT" echoes for most of the day.
On Tuesday, I had a flight to catch so that was the end of the party. I had my sister drop me off at the Metro instead of driving me all the way downtown to the airport. Tuesday also marked the start to my no alcohol/no sweets challenge. Today is the fourth day. It's hard to say what I miss more, but I'm soldiering on.
And now, I'm going to have to make you look at some photos of the new baby (and other people, too). I'm annoyed with myself for only getting one photo of my brother-in-law. He does exist, I promise. I have really come to think of him like a brother. He sure teases me like one. He tried to charge me for the wifi while I was visiting. I told him that I think the only thing that's missing is for him to put me in a headlock and make me smell his armpit or something.