Babymooning Like Pros

We snuck away last weekend for a little 24 hour babymoon. If you can, you should really always try to do a little getaway without kids, before the next is born. It’s so refreshing to get ready in the morning without worrying about diapers and strapping little shoes. It’s also nice to drive around (or even get lost) without risking the wrath of car-seat-bound toddlers. We’re now pros at babymooning. The first time was a 2-day whirlwind NYC trip, from which we returned to no kids, so the whole idea is laughable, now. The second time was a countryside wine/B&B escape, pretty much the epitome of relaxation.

For this auspicious third baby, we chose to explore Baltimore, which is only about an hour away, and filled with numerous free places and activities. We were planning to come home late and spend the night at home, but then my sister-in-law’s very generous parents gave us a free hotel night on their points. Soooo nice. And in case you ever find yourself in Charm City, here’s what we did in roughly 24 hours:

  • We intended to spend about 2 hours in the Walters Art Museum, which has one of the biggest Ancient artifacts exhibit in the country, BUT it was closed just for that day for a gala set-up. Of course. We were pretty bummed, but I guess it gave us more time to see other things slowly. So we visited the first Cathedral in America, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is filled with early Catholic American historical significance. And it was beautifully remodeled on its 200th anniversary a few years ago.

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  • Explored the downtown area of Baltimore, where the annual half/full marathon was going on, the very one I ran five years ago. I was definitely glad to be on the other side of the sidewalk, especially since just walking for long periods made my round ligaments ache like craaaaazy. We did walk about 8 miles over the course of the day to my credit, which is about 7 miles more than my daily quota.
  • Got lunch at Lexington Market, which was interesting, crowded, and infernally hot. Tom kept grabbing my arm, because he was afraid I was going to get mugged or something. Once we got out and stopped sweating, we ate gyros (made by Koreans), and watched the runners go by. The people of Baltimore sure know how to encourage a runner (I loved having them cheer us on when I ran, and pretty much was equally entertained watching them this time around). Then we got some really delicious and expensive lattes at Dooby’s, where I rested my ligaments for a while, and we steeped in the hipster ambience.

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  • Tried to park near Edgar Allan Poe’s grave site, but it was a zoo. Ended up driving around the same three blocks, three times, over 45 minutes. We’re really good at directions. We both laughed at how much that would’ve bothered us while we were dating/engaged, but how now it was no biggie at all, since there were no screaming banshees sweet girls in the car.
  • Finally drove down to Little Italy, where we got pretty amazing “chip n dip” cannoli at the famed Vaccaro’s pastry cafe. It’s basically a container of broken cannoli shells and a big scoop of cannoli filling to dip them into. Perfect afternoon snack, worth the long wait in line.
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Image via vacarrospastry.com

  • Lazed around the hotel room and rested the ole ligaments some more.
  • Walked around the beautiful Inner Harbor and historic Fell’s Point before our dinner at Mezze Cafe, where we ordered far too many tapas plates. I wish we had come to Fell’s Point earlier in the day (before sunset) so we could’ve had more time to explore. The cobblestone streets and historic town homes were gorgeous.

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And then collapsed early in the huge bed to watch some Harry Potter and read from our current read-aloud. We finished up our babymoon the next morning with perfectly light and chewy Belgian waffles at Miss Shirley’s and Mass in Little Italy. Then sped off to pick up our little munchkins from my parents’, where we found that they hadn’t missed us for one second and would rather stay with Nana and Papa, thank you very much.

And that’s that– an amazing 24 hours of good food, uninterrupted conversation, and more exercise than I’ll get the rest of the pregnancy (kidding! Maybe…)

Babymoon

Tom and I escaped for a day and a half on Monday to the Shenandoah Valley. It was our second (hopefully NOT annual) babymoon. Just to be clear, for anyone who may be confused, a babymoon is simply a little getaway trip a couple takes shortly before the birth of their child, akin to a honeymoon. I laughed at us, because our babymoon during Lucy’s pregnancy occurred two months after our honeymoon, and then we still had seven more months of what I now consider a “babymoon” (i.e. life together, without a baby).

Thus, this second babymoon was truly more a respite from real life and the demands of a one year old tyrant cutie. We snagged a Living Social deal for an overnight stay at a historic bed and breakfast in the small town of Berryville, VA. The whole Shenandoah Valley area is rich in history, and this B&B was no exception, having been owned by Harry Byrd, Sr., and host to many famous people (Einstein, the Kennedys, Nixon, Churchill, and more). The manor was gorgeous and the grounds were too.

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The Grand Staircase

The Grand Staircase

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We went on a couple walks while we were there but didn’t really get any pictures, so I’ m borrowing one from their website to show the amazing front porch:

We were so happy to take a leisurely drive into the country, stopping along the way for some shopping at the blissfully empty Leesburg Outlets, some little country towns, and a lovely vineyard for wine tasting:

Sadly, our best attempt at a selfie in front of Breaux Vineyards

Sadly, our best attempt at a selfie in front of Breaux Vineyards

Then we drove into Winchester and stopped at the house where Stonewall Jackson made his headquarters in the Civil War:

Tom helps the docent carry flowers up to the house

Tom helps the docent carry flowers up to the house

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We walked around the pedestrian mall for a bit in Old Town Winchester, enjoying amazing sunny skies and perfect spring weather. The next morning we headed out to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. I wanted to show Tom their impressive gardens, which my best friend had used in her wedding photos a few years ago. It was a bit drizzly, but not enough to deter us from exploring. The place is unbelievable. Just a little sampling…

Tom's model shot in the crabapple covered Peach Allé

Tom’s model shot in the crabapple covered Peach Allé

Baby and I in the Peach Allé

Baby and I in the Peach Allé

The Pink House

The Pink House

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Grand Allé

Grand Allé

Beware of the Geese

Beware of the Geese

Chinese Gardens

Chinese Gardens

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Water Gardens

Water Gardens

Then we went to a local noon mass, grabbed lunch, and used the voucher that came with our B&B deal for a wine tasting at another vineyard.

Check out that view...

Check out that view…

Our last stop on the way home was to join some Trappist monks for their afternoon prayers at Holy Cross Abbey.

They have many cats...here was one. Photo taken for Lucy's enjoyment.

They have many cats…here was one. Photo taken for Lucy’s enjoyment.

As fate would have it, Lucy came down with a head cold right before we left, but she still greatly enjoyed her little stay-cation with Nana and Papa, who put up with her runny nose and unexpected nighttime waking. We brought them two bottles of wine from the vineyards for their pains enjoyment of Lucy! We came back quite refreshed and are ready to get back to our big old to-do list. Send up a prayer to St. Joseph for us if you have a moment, so that we find a place to live soon!