Tag Archives: vacation

The Happiest of Birthdays for a Very Special Grandma

5 Mar

No, I haven’t disappeared from the internet.  I’ve spent the last few days with my family, celebrating the 80th birthday of my wonderful Grandma.  I grew up in Southern California, but my family has long dispersed throughout the country.  Our chances to see one another are few and very very very far between.  Upon hearing that a surprise 80th birthday party was in the works, the Beez family eagerly packed up for the trip!

Flying with kids is not easy.  It’s not so bad when they are tiny infants and don’t do anything but sleep, eat and poop.  The worst flight we had was when Baby Beez was about 18 months old, walking and full of energy, and we were too foolish to get her her own seat.  She spent the whole flight squirming and screaming.  Once the kid is walking age, get them their own seat.  Sure, you can keep them on your lap til their 2, but it will be awful and you will hate everything.  It’s nice to be out of that time where forgetting something at home is a total crisis.  I still need to bring diapers and sippy cups and everything, but if I forget something, replacements are usually easy enough to pick up or I can improvise.  It’s nice to be out of that zone where forgetting a bottle or a binkie or whatever means complete crisis.

Airplane airplane!

This isn’t to say that flying with a toddler is a joy. It’s certainly not.  But it has toned down from complete torture to annoying inconvenience, and future travels look to get better and better.

Very excited about the airplanes

Grandma was shocked by all the excited guests. She and Grandpa were crying so many happy tears.

We had her party at The Castaway, a restaurant high up in the hills surrounding Burbank.  They serve a generous, delicious buffet style bunch, with bottomless mimosas to boot! I have a taste for the fine things as well as life’s basic pleasures.  Few things can make me happier than a plate full of mini corndogs and a glass of green champagne (for St. Pat’s of course)

Keepin it classy with corn dogs and green champagne

The more refined offerings on the menu included osso buco and oysters on the half shell.  They were all delicious, and the variety of options is perfect for a party.

One of The Castaway’s signature features is its beautiful view.  It was a little cloudy when we arrived, but it cleared up beautifully.

The view from The Castaway restaurant

And we took the opportunity to gather together for family photos.

Happy family

Baby Beez stole my iPhone for a bit, and showed off her artistic side.  She knows how to activate Siri, but all she keeps telling Siri is “iPhone,” and then Siri keeps directing her to the online Apple Store.  Baby Beez is better with the camera than with the Siri.

Photography by baby beez

Grandma and Grandpa were so happy to see all their beloved family and friends.  It was so sad to have to part ways at the end of the weekend, not knowing when we’ll gather back together, but it was wonderful getting to spend a little time together.

Baby Beez and papa

A Mixed Bag Monday

18 Feb
  • Baby Beez’ daycare is closed so I am working from home today and looking forward to a dinner out at the HBH with the fam tonight. Hello carbs! Good thing I’ve got a personal training appointment today.
  • We are in the process of doing all the things we need to do to get Baby Beez her passport for our vacation this summer.  Do you KNOW what a pain it is to get a passport for a minor? Getting a passport-appropriate photo of Baby Beez is also on my list for today. I have no idea how that’s going to go. It will likely end in tears.  (You try to get a toddler to stand still in front of a white screen and make a neutral face.)
  • I really want to go on vacation and have sunshine and no-snow. Now. Vacation however is many months away.  What do you do to get through the long winter?

bio_photo-There is no such thing as networking with the “right” people. Everyone is the right person to get to know. Don’t try to network “upwards,” move up, down, left, right, all around.

-It’s all about the follow up!  You’ve wasted your efforts meeting people if you don’t continue beyond the event.

-Send handwritten notes!  They are memorable and effective.  They are the best 46 cent investment!

Back At It

7 Aug

My first day back at work after vacay was nowhere near as disastrous as I anticipated it to be. You see, when I worked at a small firm, vacation was entirely hypothetical. Each attorney was entirely responsible for his/her own cases. There was no “backup” for when you were out of town. Theoretically your secretary and paralegal would hold down the fort (and I was lucky to have great staff), but if your staff weren’t totally all over everything, there was the potential that you could find yourself in a whole heap of a mess.

Fast forward to now, where I work at mid-to-large regional firm. Each case is staffed by at least one partner and one associate. That means that I can take a VACATION and not have to worry that the sky is falling! Sure I work hard before leaving to get everything sorted out and prepared. And I do keep a close eye on my email to make sure everything is ok. But as a general matter for that week I was FREE! And it was marvelous and refreshing, and I got back to the office totally ready to get back at it.

Except once afternoon hits, I could really use a nap. But I can always really use a nap, so I don’t think that matters one way or another.

So I returned to the office yesterday expecting everything to be a disaster. But it was not. Everything was a-ok. And I was even able to get started on that “to do” list I left for myself before I went on vacation.

Baby and Parrot

Totally gratuitous photo of me and my girls.

I have been afraid to look at my bank account since the trips. Of course the “wise” thing to do when you know you’ve given your credit card a run is to go out and spend MORE money, so last night I ordered season tickets for PNC’s Broadway Across America series. I’m super excited about Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Book of Mormon. I also got a set of tickets for Jersey Boys. Mr. Beez thinks I’m crazy for getting Jersey Boys tickets because I’ve seen it already, but you know what, I LOVED IT. So I’m going to see it AGAIN.

I contemplated going totally CRAZY and buying tickets to the Monday Night Lecture Series and the Pittsburgh Speakers Series (PS did you know Neil Gaiman is speaking on November 14?) but after entering all the Broadway dates on my calendar I had a mini meltdown about how I have overbooked myself and I WILL NEVER HAVE FREE TIME AGAIN, so I decided to put those on hold for now.

Thursday I’m going to the Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Kickoff Party (you can find me working the registration desk from 6-7!)

And this weekend will be time for SLEEP SWEET SLEEP. And also probably catching up on some doc review. But I can do that in my PJs, so it’s cool.

Oh Canada!

29 Jul

Mr. Beez and I have been having a simply lovely time on our Vancouver holiday! We have done SO much in 3 short days that it’s unbelievable. All yinz are going to have to suffer through a bunch of Vancouver pics for a while.


Vancouver ahoy!

The airport is attractive and clean. All in all, Vancouver is a lot like Pittsburgh in terms of the city’s “feel”, except they’re doing a smidge better with certain environmental and livability issues (but I’d venture a guess that their homelessness challenges are more significant than those in Pittsburgh).

We started our first day in Vancouver with a visit to Granville Island Public Market. It is similar to Reading Terminal Market in Philly, or Pike Place Market in Seattle, except I think in Vancouver the local-to-tourist ratio is much higher.





I had to be careful not to chow down too eagerly, because we had a Gastown Food Tour (led by Vancouver Food Tours) scheduled for the evening. We have had a really fun weekend, but Mr. Beez and I agree this was the most fun event of the weekend. Gastown is Vancouver’s historic but funky district, filled with innovative and trendy bars and restaurants. Food and fun are serious business in Gastown.


Gastown’s famous steam clock.

The tour leader was incredibly knowledgeable about the fun trivia of the neighborhood, and was also an articulate foodie. The tour encompassed four restaurants, each with a different take on drinks and small bites. Our tour leader was both just plain fun to hang out with, and was also good about leading conversation about the food and drink.

The first stop was at Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar. They served 3 different microbrews, and small plates of chili and lobster mac & cheese. The food and drink were solid, and this would be a great place for happy hour or a meal if you work nearby. It didn’t have the kind of quirky individual personality I usually look for, so while I wouldn’t steer you away from it, it would not be my first pick for a bite in this very eclectic neighborhood.


The second stop was the Pourhouse, which is a pre-Prohibition style bar and restaurant. We were served the Jefferson County cocktail, which was citrusy, with a little kick to it. Just my taste! They also served us Scotch Eggs and Devils on Horseback, both of which were prepared to perfection. The Pourhouse was my favorite stop on the tour, and I’ll be sure to take a visit back here the next time I’m in town.


The third stop was the most innovative and interesting, and was Mr. Beez’ favorite on the tour. Judas Goat specializes in Spanish wines and tapas, but considering the MINISCULE and completely open cooking area they have, their tasty dishes are extra-impressive. We tasted 2 kinds of sherry at Judas Goat. While sherry isn’t my first choice of drinks, it was neat to step a little out of my comfort zone. Mr. Beez ended up really liking the sherry, so this was a great stop for him.




Our final stop was Salt which, like Judas Goat, is tucked away in a little alley, which makes it feel secret and exclusive. We tasted 3 wines at Salt, paired with cheeses and cured meats. SO YUM.


There are many food tour companies in Vancouver, and this tour was on the pricier end of the spectrum. However, I thought the tour was well worth the money. The quantity of food and drink is perfect, the small bites aren’t really that “small” and are spaced well, so that you finish the tour feeling full, like you just had a big dinner. The variety of drinks is a welcome mix, and is enough alcohol to make you a little more chatty, but certainly not too much. The tour guide did a great job of facilitating introductions and conversation, so that we all felt like comfortable friends by the evening’s end. Mr. Beez and I both say: Two Thumbs Up!!


26 Jul

We’re not going to the beach this time, but this picture just screams VACATION!

I can’t believe it’s finally VACATION time!  It’s tricky to plan vacation when you’re a lawyer, because you’re responsible for projects and deadlines and you can’t just hand things off to other people.  You have to carefully carve out time, get things done ahead of time, and hope to heck things don’t blow up in your absence (thank goodness for a diligent secretary!)  I think things are going to be OK, and even though it’s inevitable that the first few days back in the office will be kookoobananas, I’m hoping that things will go smoothly in my week of absence.

Mr. Beez and I leave for Vancouver tomorrow morning! Our flight ridiculously leaves at 5:43 am, with a 2 hour layover in Chicago…but I just got a text message that our flight is delayed an hour so now I’m a nervous wreck that it will be delayed MORE and ruin our vacation :/
Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

Do you have any idea how EASY it is to pack luggage when you don’t have to pack up for a kid? Hoo boy, it took me like 8.35 seconds and I had everything packed away. Easy peasy.  The ease of walking through an airport tomorrow without a screaming beastie is going to blow my mind.

Now I’ve got to go download a couple more books on my kindle for the trip, and get a couple hours of shuteye, before waking up at 3am. Yikes

FOUR more days

23 Jul

I leave for vacation on FRIDAY.  This is going to be the worlds longest 4 day week.  Of course, it could be worse…I could be spending Tuesday and Wednesday taking the bar exam.  Best of luck to all of yinz, but boy oh boy, I’m glad I’m not in your shoes!

So until Friday, I’m grouchy that it’s not Friday YET.  I’ve got several things I need to wrap up before then, so I’ve got plenty of stuff to keep me busy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it!

A Weekend in the Wilderness

1 Jul

This weekend, our family took a camping trip with my friend Sandy’s family at Bear Run Campground in Butler County.  We got a “deluxe” cabin, which meant it had a little bathroom, a fridge, and some air conditioning.  It was no means luxurious, but the water pressure was minimal and we did have to clean up the cabin as we left, so that gave the trip the “roughing it” feel.  Mr. Beez, Baby Beez and I arrived on Friday night, and our friends arrived on Saturday.  We returned home today.  The trip was long enough to get a taste of the outdoors, but was short enough that we all had fun and did not get sick of each other.

The cabin had a nice little porch, where the kidlets could eat their breakfasts (without destroying the inside of the cabin), and where we grown ups spent some time relaxing and sipping whine while the kiddies napped.

We visited the campgrounds playground and pool, but this is also the week of the Big Butler Fair, which is one of my favorite events every summer!  We adventured with the kiddos to the fair in the early but HOT afternoon.  I had my corn dog and fried veggies.  We rode some rides and played some games! From the heat and carrying around small children, we quickly became tired, and returned back to camp after a couple hours for more rest.

Like maaaaaaa-ma like daughter! The animals are one of my favorite things about the fair, and Baby Beez loves them just as much as I do! She gleefully ran into each pen in the petting zoo, and enthusiastically pet the animals (sometimes too enthusiastically, but the animals were fine with it).

We also rode a few rides.  Baby Beez loves the carousel, but the Tilt-A-Whirl was a little too zoomy for her taste.

Baby Beez even had some fun with carnival games!

Later in the evening, we had a grand campfire! Mr. Beez and I had tried to light a fire on Friday night, but instead unsuccessfully spent the evening lighting a roll of paper towels on fire.  On Saturday night, however, Ben came to the rescue and successfully got the fire going!  Hooray for the campfire! Time for s’mores!!

One weekend was just enough time for camping, but I still feel like I need a “real” vacation (it’s coming up at the end of the month!  So close, yet so far away!)


Gone camping

30 Jun

I didn’t post yesterday, and don’t have the patience to post much today because I’m posting from my phone. We are camping this weekend– good food! Good friends! Good fun! A recap awaits when I rejoin civilization.


Weekend away in Las Vegas

14 Feb

I’m always telling people that Las Vegas is good for a long weekend, but it gets boring to stay there much longer.  This trip, I think I could have done well with an extra day or two.  Mr. Beez and I really wanted to have a night out on the town and visit a bar or restaurants at one of the fancy new hotels.  Unfortunately, I got sick while we were there, so while we did get to wander around Fremont Street in a jet lagged haze on Saturday night, Sunday night was spent having an early dinner followed by me crashing into bed around 8pm with the Grammy’s on TV.

Getting sick was a minor hiccup in an otherwise lovely trip.  We got to see my mom and visit some family friends.  We got to do most of the things we wanted, but also managed to avoid overscheduling.

Mr. Beez bravely (?) jumped from the 108th floor of the Stratosphere with the SkyJump Las Vegas.

I have to admit, that I was nervous about this endeavor, and I made sure Mr. Beez gave Baby Beez a kiss goodbye before heading up to leap off that platform.

Suited up for the jump.

Here he is, safe and sound on the ground.  I couldn’t get a picture of him during the jump itself, but he looked something like this:

We also took a visit up to the observation deck of the Stratosphere.

Mr. Beez rode the X-Scream rollercoaster, which is a car on a short track, and the track tips forward and sends the car hurtling over the edge of the tower, where it abruptly stops and no one dies.  We went outside to watch Mr. Beez enjoy this madness.  Some of the other passengers were screaming on the rollercoaster, and Baby Beez did not understand what was going on.  She could see daddy up there, and she started FREAKING OUT and screaming and yelling “BYE BYE!”  Poor little bug was terrified.

Once Mr. Beez got off the ride and calmed her down, we took Baby Beez to a ride that was more of her liking.

Afterward we went back to the hotel to rest (this was a tiring trip…Baby Beez doesn’t understand time zones, so she woke up at 4 am every morning).  I went to the spa and had a hot stone massage.  Going to the spa is the key difference between taking a trip and having a VACATION.

We also spent some time the following day wandering around the new City Center complex.  The Aria resort is so chic and lovely, and the Cosmopolitan is swanky.  I wasn’t sure if I was cool enough to be hanging out around that part of town.

I would have loved to spend an evening sipping drinks at the the Cosmopolitan’s chandelier bar!

The flight back to Pittsburgh was nearly as difficult as the trip there.  After flying to Orlando and Myrtle Beach this summer, I thought I had things figured out for keeping Baby Beez entertained and well behaved.  I was wrong wrong wrong.  She’s so little and changing so fast, and the success of any child-wrangling is short lived.  The difficulties of the flights didn’t ruin our trip.  I really needed to get out of town and relax, and in our trip to Las Vegas I did just that.