At the beginning of this recent December, my Mom had a milestone birthday. And my sister Melissa had a non-milestone birthday. December is a tough time for a get-together, so we arranged to get together on MLK day weekend for a belated celebration. Melissa and her family always have a long drive up from NYC to see us, so we decided to get together in Brooklyn this time. What a lovely weekend we had!
(We were all really sad that my sister Christina wasn’t able to make it, but I guess that just means that we have to all get together again soon!)
We rented a house using AirBnB, which means that we got to spend a lot of family-time together. It was a little on the pricy side, but much more reasonable when compared to getting enough hotel rooms for seven adults and one kid.
It also meant that we weren’t the only ones who had to read “Pancakes for Findus” 50 times over the course of the weekend.
We decided to drive down halfway on Friday night, and then stay with my sister Allison outside Hartford. This was a genius plan for two reasons: 1. Lilian can only take about two hours in the car before she starts to bug out. Breaking up the trip meant a lot less of “Wan’ get down! Wan’ get dowwwwwwwn!!!” 2. My husband is *not* a morning person. Doing part of the drive the night before gave us a much better shot at getting to NYC by lunch-time. This also meant that we got to spend some extra time with Allison, because she had to work on Saturday and there was a good chance she was going to have to work all weekend and miss the trip entirely.
(Spoiler alert! She made it down after all!)
Stopping at my sister’s house also meant that we were able to bring my brother-in-law Dustin with us. Which was great for him – free ride to the city. But it was freaking awesome for us – built in back-seat entertainment! Dustin, you are always and forever welcome to road-trip with us again. My kid has never been so well-behaved at the two hour and fifteen minute mark of a car trip.
We all did our own thing on Saturday afternoon. Melissa and I met up with our Mom and took Lilian to a park. Which prompted the most Park Slopiest of all Park Slope conversations I have had with a six-year-old.
Six-year-old (walks up to me, points to Lilian, sounds very excited): “Does she have two moms?!?!”
Me: “No, I’m her mom and this is her auntie.”
6YO (sounding disappointed, slightly dejected): “Oh. Where’s her Dad?”
Me: “He’s napping.”
6YO: “My Dad is napping too.”
Apparently six-year-olds in Brooklyn think it’s cool to have two moms. I think I like where this country is heading.
We all got together for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. The food was excellent, and we got to bring in our own wine. Manly wine.
Real men wear jaunty scarves.
Sunday, it rained for approximately a million hours straight. My mom’s one request was that we all go to the Brooklyn Museum together. Which just so happens to be a place where three kids can stretch their little legs out to their hearts content. The art’s not bad, either.
I think we got the stink-eye from every single guard and docent in the building, but the kids all behaved themselves. Nobody even attempted to touch the artwork. Lilian even managed to use her inside voice. Mostly. I can’t say I got to really soak in most of the collection, what with corralling my toddler, and hissing “inside voices! don’t touch!” repeatedly. But I saw my fair share of paintings.
My Mom was really excited to see Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party with (most of) of her daughters and grand-daughters. It’s a pretty amazing piece. I don’t think the grand-daughters were really able to fully appreciate its place in art history. Or the importance of honoring forgotten women. Or even to realize just how “vulvar” the place-settings were. But, hey, we were all there together. And I dug it.
We also made it to the Killer Heels exhibit. Which was the most popular gallery we saw. By far.
Not heels. Not killer.
I somehow managed to convince Melissa and Mom to go to yoga with me later that afternoon. It’s not like yoga is a hard sell, but I did drag them out into the rain and away from the rest of the family. So. Worth. It. We all felt so much more relaxed and restored afterwards. I think I’m in danger of becoming a yoga junkie.
Sunday night was the big AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Colts. Our rental didn’t have a TV. It looked like the owner used a projector to watch movies, but I assumed it wasn’t something that was available to renters. My resourceful husband actually went ahead and texted him to see if we could use it (crazy, right?). Turns out it was right there in the ottoman the whole time. Kristian plugged his laptop into the projector, streamed the game, and we had ourselves a football party.
I tend to get a little… excited when it comes to the Patriots. Lilian learns all sorts of awesome vocal words during games. I was warned to be on my best behavior, and I managed to keep it all under control. Mostly. My nephew did say to me, “I never met a mom who likes football before.”
(Brooklyn is apparently ahead of the times when it comes to moms who marry other moms, but kindof behind the times when it comes to moms who watch football.)
Monday morning, we all started heading off in the direction of home. But, some of us did get together for one last breakfast. And a trip to the park. And I finally managed to get a photo of all the cousins together… where nobody is naked and nobody is crying.
Apparently our kids are all little emotional nudists. Because this is seriously the only decent picture I have from 2.5 years worth of attempts. Let them get naked, and they’re all smiles. But, put them all together and force everyone to wear pants, and it’s like they hate each other. And, trust me, these kids love each other.
Clearly, we need to get them all together more often.
(Spoiler alert! Everything is fine! I’m totally fine!)
So, I started my new job last week. And they’re already sending me to job sites (like a boss!). Which means that I’m already finding new and creative ways to drive to job sites. Which means that, last Friday, I found myself in Kenmore Square. Which, if you’ve ever driven in Boston, you will know is not exactly the most fun place in the world to be driving in.
( Spoiler alert! Just reminding you that everything is fine! )
So, I’m chugging merrily along, when the car in front of me stops short. So, I stop short. So, the car behind me stops short… using my bumper as a brake.
Yeah, I totally got rear-ended.
(Not so much like a boss.)
The best part? I had it ingrained in me from the time I started driving that, if you have to brake on the quick side, you should look in the rearview mirror. Just in case the person behind you isn’t stopping. And there’s maybe something you can do about it. Which, in this case, basically just meant I got to watch (in super slo-mo, the brain is an odd little organ) the whole accident unfold.
The guy two cars behind me laid on the horn. Because that’s helpful. I put on my hazards and blinker, pulled over to the side of the road, and hoped like hell that the guy who hit me was planning to do the same. Because I was so stunned, I didn’t think I was capable of remembering make/model, let alone license plate number.
“Yes, officer. The person who hit me was driving a… car. It had four wheels. I think.”
Lucky for me, there are honest people in this world. We did the exchange of info rigamarole. Took pictures of the damage. All that good stuff. I gave Kristian a call. Because I’ve never had to do the exchange of info rigamarole, and I wanted to make sure I was doing it all correctly. I was on the right track, although he did remind me to ask the guy for his license so I could verify that it was the same as the name on the registration.
( Spoiler alert! The guy was not trying to pull a fast one on me. It all checked out. )
Can I just say how awesome smart phones are? Not only could I call my husband for advice and moral support, I also used my iPhone camera to take pictures of the other guys’ license plate, his registration, his license, all of the damage, and the intersection where it happened, etc. It’s not like it’s all that hard to write down a license plate number (I typed it into my notes, just in case). But, this way, I knew I wasn’t going to miss anything.
After we finished up all of the rigamarole, I didn’t know what else to do… so I got back into my car and drove to the job site. The car was driving fine. I felt fine. Part of me wanted to go home and crawl into a hot bath. But a) it was only my fifth day on the job and 2) we don’t have a working bathtub. So, off to work I went. And I was only 15 minutes late.
(Like a boss!)
Kristian still needs to take my car in to get assessed, but we’re pretty sure it’s going to need a new bumper. It’s all compressed in the back, and warped around the bottom. Compression is not so bueno, because it needs to be able to compress again if someone else decides to rear-end me. And the warping is less dangerous, but far more annoying. It makes awful whistling noises if you hit a cross-breeze at just the wrong speed. Lucky for me, the new gig mostly has me taking the subway to work. We can leave it at a body shop for as long as it takes to make my baby all shiny and new.
As far as accidents go, this one wasn’t so bad. I have some residual soreness, but I mostly feel fine. My car will be as good as new after the repair. And I was 0% at fault, so I shouldn’t have to pay for it. As a general rule, I don’t really recommend car accidents. But, if you have to get into one, I would highly recommend this kind.
I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to sew Christmas presents this year, but I still managed to make a few little things. I figured I’d share them with you.
(If you’re not that interested in sewing, you might want to go ahead and skip this one.)
Ok, first up is the big one. A “blue cape” (her request) for Lilian:
I used the Red Riding Hood pattern from Little Things to Sew (affiliate link). I ordered all of the fabric for it from fabric.com… and then they just sat on my order. And sat on it. And then sent me an email letting me know that they were going to keep sitting on it. I ended up buying a silk voile at a local store. I think I ended up with a better fabric in the end, but this one ended up being a bit of a rush sew.
All in all, I was quite happy with the way this one came out. Lilian was pretty happy with it too! I had a hunch that Lilian wanted the cape to play Frozen with, so I tried to give it a wintery feel. The trim is just some minky that I cut into strips and then glued on. I have a ton of it left, so if it doesn’t hold up well I’ll replace it and sew it down better.
My other big project was my secret santa present for my step-mom, aka Pamma. I made her a shadow box with a bunch of knitting supplies. I got the idea from here . It doubles as a decoration. I used a shadow box with a side access panel, so I think she should be able to get stuff out of it pretty easily.
I made a little knitting needle/crochet pouch to put inside it. I used the pattern here .
The pouch came out so well, I would totally make more of them. It seems like it would work well for art supplies, or makeup brushes. It also uses a lot of smaller pieces of fabric, so it’s a decent stash buster.
My final sewing project was a thread catcher for my grandmother. She is always sewing presents for all of us, so I wanted to make something for her. But what do you sew for a woman whose best friends are constantly making beautiful things for her? I searched Pinterest for “sew present for grandma” and got lucky. I found a pattern here .
I was really pleased with the way this one came out. And Grandma didn’t have one yet!
I had a ridiculously busy December, so I was pretty pleased with what I was able to turn out. I’m looking forward to more sewing projects in the new year!
(I’m being all self-referential and shit).
I’m still not a fan of new year’s resolutions, but I am still a fan of taking stock and making goals. I’ve also discovered that making a pact with myself to do something concrete (don’t eat junk food) is much more successful than some vague idea (lose weight). I also have the attention span of a coked up hummingbird, so I need to keep things simple and smallish.
(You say setting the bar low, I say realistic and achievable).
So, this is what I’m hoping to accomplish in the New Year:
Limit screen time after 9:30pm
I am breaking this one to write this very blog post. FAIL. But that’s why I went ahead and put that old hedge-word chestnut “limit.” WINNING?
I have this horrible tendency to zone out in front of my laptop, or my iPad, or the TV when I know I’m tired but it’s just too early to go to bed. And then I go down a google hole or I get engrossed in something stupid. And, all of a sudden, Kristian is asking me why it’s 11pm and I haven’t gone to bed yet. Whoops.
I put an app on my iPhone that reminds you to go to bed. I don’t need to go to sleep at 9:30pm, I just need to put the screens away (they can mess with your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep). Bonus points if I do something productive, like pack a lunch or lay out my clothes for the next day. Or floss. But, really, I’m totally fine with reading the New Yorker in bed.
Reply to all of my blog comments
I feel like an asshole, because I got stupid busy this year and basically stopped replying to people. I resurrected the WordPress app on my iPhone. Hopefully, that makes this one fairly easy to stick with.
Run a sub-30 minute 5k
This one could be tough. I think my fastest 5k was 31 or 32 minutes? I’m kinda slow. And by “kinda,” I mean “very.” But I’m going to focus on running fast instead of far, at least for the beginning part of this year. I will also have more options after I start my new job for when I can go running.
So, those are my goals for this year. Which means it’s my cue to put the laptop away and take a nice, hot shower and read the New Yorker.
Do you have any goals or resolutions for this year? If you leave a comment and let me know what they are, I promise I will reply to you!
This ended up being a fairly tough Christmas . But, despite its challenges, we ended up having some nice moments.
We spent Christmas Eve at my in-laws’ house. Considering the fact that she spent the first two hours surrounded by candy and pastries she wasn’t allowed to eat, and presents she wasn’t allowed to unwrap, I thought Lilian handled herself remarkably well.
Kristian’s family was really generous with her. Her favorite presents? A little cooking set and the Little People(tm) pig farm. We tried to get her to combine the two by frying up some “bacon”, but she didn’t get the joke.
(You have a reprieve for now… pig.)
She held it together until she couldn’t hold it together anymore. Which was about a half hour after her bedtime, so I’d call that one a win. We packed her up and brought her home to dream about sugar plums. Or carrots. Something like that.
“Santa” brought Lilian a toy kitchen, and Kristian and I had a little too much fun staging it under the tree with all of her toy food and new cooking set.
We woke up bright and early on Christmas morning. I was so excited! Unfortunately, Lilian still hadn’t quite grasped the concept of Santa. And Kristian is pretty much the definition of “not a morning person.” So, I sat on our bed and vibrated like a humming bird while Lilian asked for more milk and Kristian asked for five more minutes of sleep. It was like I was seven years old again!
Eventually, I dragged everyone downstairs. “Hey, Lilian, let’s go see if there’s anything for you under the tree?” “Enh…ok.”
I brought Lilian over to see what Santa brought her. She was stunned! Mostly, because all of her toy food was already on it. “That’s new, but it’s covered with my toys. Is it… for me?”
Why yes, yes it is.
“Hello? Santa? THANK YOUUUUU!!!!”
She also realized (eventually) that she loved the cape I made for her. Also, the ukulele that her auntie and uncle gave her last year.
We also had a great time spending Christmas Day with my family. We were sad to be missing two of my sisters, my grandma, and my uncle. But we made the most of our day together. I loved watching Lilian play with her cousins.
(Five minutes after that picture was taken, they all escaped the kids’ table for their mothers’ laps and the breakfast bar).
We even had some nice moments down in Bourne. Lilian loves her GG (my grandma), and was over the moon with the presents that grandma sewed for her. She made her a new pillow and blanket with Frozen fabric (Lilian has been calling them her Kristoff pillow and Kristoff blanket. I’m not entirely sure if this means that she missed the point of the movie or, if like my sister says, she’s just saying no to the princess hype.) Grandma also made her a little rag quilt for Baby (Lilian’s lovie), in the same design as the quilt that she made last year. She’s been having so much fun making little nests for herself and Baby!
Baby never had it so good.
We also got to spend some time with my step-brothers and sisters (not pictured… whoops!). I haven’t seen a couple of them since before Lilian was born, so it was good that we had a chance to finally introduce them all. Their grandfather stopped by as well, with some holiday cheer and a sign that we used for photo-ops.
(I will leave the question of who is naughty and who is nice as an exercise for the reader.)
We’d already planned to spend some time on the Saturday after Christmas with my mom’s family. This was our chance to get everyone together, including the aforementioned sisters, grandma, and uncle. It was a little bitter-sweet, as we spent a good part of the party waiting to hear about my dad. But, we still managed to enjoy each other’s company.
My cousin admitted that he didn’t know the plot to Frozen, so we made him read the book to Lilian and my sister’s daughter, Ruby. He made a big show of reading all of the fine print on the title page, but secretly I think he enjoyed it.
I consider us to be extremely lucky to be able to spend Christmas with not one, but two grandmas (or great-grandmas, depending on whose perspective we’re talking about). My mom’s mom tends to tire easily these days, but she was a trooper this time! I think it helped that she got to snuggle with her great-grandchildren.
After several days of being fed a steady dose of presents, sweets, and her aunties letting her get away with a lot more than her parents normally do, I started to joke that Lilian was going feral. And that was before I discovered her dumping out all of the cats’ food and chomping down on it!
(If she starts treeing squirrels or taking out birds mid-flight, we are going to have a problem.)
That said, I can’t believe how well she’s been behaving. We’ve messed with her schedule, her bedtime, her eating habits, just about everything. And she’s still been behaving beautifully. I mean, she’s been testing our limits here and there. But she’s two . That’s what two-year-olds do.
Our final holiday gathering was New Year’s Eve with my sister-in-law and her family. They live down in Florida, but they came up for the week to spend time with us and let their girls see snow. Lilian is rich with cousins.
(I’m not usually a fan of screen time, but considering the week we had, I think it’s pretty amazing that we only resorted to a movie once.)
The day before NYE, Kristian went skiing with our brother-in-law and their kids. Lilian and I hung out with my sister-in-law. She was kind enough to let me use the jacuzzi in their vacation rental (our only bathtub leaks, I hadn’t had a real bath in probably a year). I even got a nap in! I’m still exhausted, but every little bit helps.
It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and I still have three days before I start my new job! I am hoping to get some more sleep in, and maybe even do some cleaning and organizing of my craft area. But, let’s be honest here, all I really need is the sleep.