Did we make it to midnight last night? Yes, but barely. Jack was in his crib by 10:30, and we were struggling to make it 90 more minutes. Our plan for the evening was TV, Chinese food, and champagne. TV and Chinese food happened, but if we had added champagne, we would have been unconscious. Now we’ve got two bottles of champagne in the fridge, which is a nice problem to have.
Our New Year’s Day started with a happy baby (he woke up quiet, no screaming – yay!) who had a massive diaper blowout overnight (ew), then a walk to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, then a trip to the grocery store, and then a long walk just because the sun was out. Now we’re in, warming back up, and I’m waiting for Jack to wake up. He fell asleep in the cart at the grocery store and has been asleep ever since. Too much partying last night.
I don’t usually do end-of-year wrap-up posts*, but I’ve never had a year like this last one, either. I mean, we got pregnant, bought a house, and had a baby, all conveniently within the confines of one calendar year. So that was weird.
Tomorrow morning we head for PA for Christmas. This will the first time we’ve driven more than half an hour with Jack, the first time we’ve spent a night somewhere other than home with Jack (not counting the hospital), and the first time he’ll be around more than five people at once.
I’m not terribly worried about the drive. He’ll probably sleep much of it (although I most likely just jinxed it). And the people – he’ll be fine. It’s the nights away from home that have me a little worried. No, I’m not worried. I’m resigned to the likelihood that we won’t get any sleep. He’ll be in a new place, in an unfamiliar crib (or something), new noises (including another baby), so he’s likely to have trouble settling down, and since he’ll be in our room, I think I’m likely to have trouble settling down.
Maybe he and I can tire each other out during the days enough to sleep like logs at night. That’s actually pretty likely. 🙂 And maybe, just maybe, the experience of sleeping somewhere other than home will make sleeping at home that much more attractive to him and he’ll go down for naps easier.
I had strawberry rhubarb pie for the second time in my life a few weeks ago (it was DELICIOUS), and I bought more to celebrate today’s most circular of days and it is finally time for me to tell the story of the first time I ever tried strawberry rhubarb pie, which was only 10 months ago.
The story starts with crab legs. (The best stories about pie start with crab legs.) Last May, when John and I went to Seattle to see U2, one of the few things I REALLY wanted before we left town again was crab legs. I had the second best crab legs of my life the first time I went to Seattle (early 2003), and I wanted those again. (The first best crab legs of my life were in Alaska, also early 2003.)
The Sunday morning we were there, the morning of the concert, also, coincidentally, Mother’s Day, we were driving around and exploring, and I was googling seafood restaurants to track down crab legs. We found a place to have lunch with a lake view, lots of seafood, and Alaskan King crab legs on the menu online. Done. So we got there, we got seated, it was lovely, and I noticed there weren’t any crab legs on the menu.
Well, crap. The waiter came by, and I so-very-nicely explained my predicament. I really didn’t want to be a bother, but if they HAVE crab legs, would it be possible for me to order them? The waiter was really nice and said he’d find out. I was totally prepared to order something else if they didn’t have crab legs, and I’m pretty sure I said that to him. I promise was being nice. I would never be the evil diner.
Anyway, he came back after a while and said they DO have crab legs, but they’re frozen – is that okay? Sure! That’ll be fine! So off he goes. And then we waited. We were fine – we had an appetizer – but the waiter seemed nervous. No, really, we’re fine! Then we waited some more. The waiter came back, all apologetic, because the kitchen had prepared the Dungeness crab for me (whole crab) instead. But they could still do the crab legs if I didn’t mind waiting a little longer! Yes, please, I’m happy to wait.
So we waited. And then the manager came by, clearly worried that we were getting annoyed. We SO weren’t, but she wanted to give us a free desert anyway, and who were we to turn that down? And THAT’s when we decided to try the strawberry rhubarb crumble or cobbler or pie or whatever it was. AND HOLY CRAP IT WAS AMAZING.
(My crab legs were also delicious and HUGE and exactly what I wanted and yay for that restaurant in Seattle and of COURSE we expressed our appreciation because we are good customers.)
So then a couple of weeks ago…oh, right – it was my birthday weekend. I wanted pie, and we couldn’t decide what kind of pie, so we bought a strawberry rhubarb pie and an apple pie. Both were SO GOOD – our local grocery store bakery makes DAMN GOOD PIE.
Of course, two pies at once for two people was a little excessive, so for Pi(e) Day, we limited ourselves to ONE pie, the strawberry rhubarb pie, and we are looking forward to eating it with delicious vanilla ice cream melting all over it.
I shoveled the walk last night (before the temperature dropped and it all froze). Today, my back and shoulders ache. Coincidence? Probably.
This week at work wasn’t too bad, but I just shut everything down for the weekend, did the things I was supposed to do to the food in the slow cooker so it can get our dinner ready (because I COOKED today, if you call throwing things in a slow cooker cooking and I MOST CERTAINLY DO – I had to thaw and chop and measure and stir and scrape off the excess thyme and add broth and lament that I couldn’t add more broccoli and mushrooms because the thing was full – THAT is COOKING), and then I poured myself a glass of wine that feels much deserved.
It’s only been five days since I had, hm, well, New Year’s Eve amounts of alcohol (and maybe I had mimosas on New Year’s Day? Probably I had mimosas on New Year’s Day), but these four days of work, of going back to work after real time off, except wait a minute. I worked partial days the Thursday and Friday because I am RESPONSIBLE for things that have deadlines, so I really only took two vacation days, which means I LOST two vacation days because they wouldn’t carry over to the new year, and you know? That is lost income, and that is not cool.
Resolution: strive to be less responsible. Or take more vacation days so I’m not in danger of losing them at the end of the year. Or both.
We went out New Year’s Eve with one of John’s high school friends, his wife, and a bunch of their friends. During small talk with the husband of one of Lindsay’s riding friends, we discovered that he (and a friend who was also present) went to high school with our friend Adam from college. Weird? Definitely yes. Also weird? The four of us (me, John, and the two friends) took a picture and texted it to Adam’s DC cell phone. Except it’s not Adam’s DC cell phone anymore, so some random person was super confused. Polite, but super confused.
We had a great time and a fun New Year’s Eve, and today we did nothing. Caught up on some Doctor Who, made a brisket, read a bit, and I really really really don’t want to rejoin the real world tomorrow.
A correction is needed. I have slandered the good name of the family. (Maybe it’s libel, but slander sounds better. Hush.) Yesterday, I said “hardly anyone else enjoys Merry Axemas or the Brian Setzer Christmas albums as much as we do”. I was wrong, and while I have already apologized profusely in person, I feel the need to make a public statement to remove any doubt that this family thoroughly enjoys the Brian Setzer Christmas albums.
I am sorry. I was wrong. And Brian Setzer rocks, although that was never in question.
If you want to hear the concert and you have SiriusXM, it’ll be on the Holly channel (channel 70) Christmas Eve at 3pm ET and at midnight ET (going into Christmas Day). It’ll also be on the Outlaw Country channel (channel 60) tonight at 10pm ET, on Christmas Eve at noon ET, and on Christmas Day at 10am ET and 6pm ET. It’s 90 minutes long, and it’s wonderful.
John and I have made the long (sometimes longer) drive to his family for Christmas for many many many years. We take the opportunity to listen to our favorite Christmas albums, since hardly anyone else enjoys Merry Axemas or the Brian Setzer Christmas albums as much as we do. Things usually work out pretty well elsewhere on the radio, too. Our favorite songs come on, one year we happened to catch a broadcast of The Christmas Carol, and other stuff like that.
This year wins. We had a five-hour drive in front of us, SiriusXM tuned to a news station, and we were not five minutes out of the house when we heard an ad for The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas concert, recorded live earlier this week, playing on some other channel at 8pm eastern. It was just after 5pm. Having seen his Christmas concert twice now, we weren’t going to miss that. I set an alarm.
Guys, it was SO GOOD. The sound was perfect – it felt like we were there, and the show was fantastic. We had such a good time listening to it. It made our drive. We showed up with big stupid grins on our faces instead of walking in the house all beat down from hours in the car. It’s almost four hours later (this family stays up late), and I still feel the effects. We’re going to track down that recording somehow. I need it.
Would you believe I was in the mall the other day and I DIDN’T go to Athleta? It’s true. Would you believe I have lived in Providence for two and a half months now, within easy reach of Athleta after a year and a half of being two hours from the nearest one, and I haven’t been even once? Also true. I must be ill. Would you believe I went into a bookstore yesterday and didn’t buy a single book? You would? You’re gullible.
We were at the mall over the weekend to see the third Thor movie, which is BY FAR the best of the Thor movies. Those first two were pretty bad. The second one is easily the worst of the Marvel movies. This one was more like Guardians of the Galaxy – funny, fast-paced, and fun.
The mall was all decked out for Christmas, and we had to go through the entire thing, from the basement level to the top floor, and from one end to the other, to get from the car to the movie theater. We didn’t do any shopping – I’m afraid that once we go back so we can buy stuff, we’ll be holiday’d out faster than usual. Would you believe it? Somehow we’ll live.
I have gone more than two weeks with this ridiculous piece of paper as a temporary driver’s license, convinced every time I had to show it to someone (which was surprisingly often) that they’d reject it. That almost happened last week, actually. It stumped the bouncer at the club for the Arkells concert, and he was about to tell me he couldn’t take it as ID. I can’t blame him, really. It’s a full size piece of paper that I have folded into a tiny square so it’ll fit in my wallet. When I unfold it to show it to someone, it’s all creased and worn and it really doesn’t look official. Printing “Official Temporary Driver’s License” across the top does not make it look less fake, State of Rhode Island. So with all that, I’m not really sure why he changed his mind. Maybe it was my look of fury. (Have you seen my look of fury? No? I should work on that.) More likely it was my sad eyes and bedraggled state (we’d been standing out in the rain for 20 minutes waiting for the doors to open). And also the fact that NO ONE could look at me and not think I was over 21.
I’ve been checking the mail every day hoping my real license would arrive and it did! Today! Right before we were about to drive across several states for Thanksgiving! I feel legal again.
The only thing we wanted to do for Halloween this year was walk around the neighborhood and see the decorations. At the last minute, I decided it was silly of us to wander around on Halloween without costumes, so I checked my closet et voila! I was able to put a totally serviceable costume together using clothes I already own AND that I actually wear, although not in this particular combination.
Side ponytail, off-the-shoulder sweatshirt, high-top chucks. I even tight-rolled my jeans for authenticity. Then I topped it off with an overly patched acid-wash jean jacket.
I wasn’t 100% committed (no blue eyeshadow, no bangs), but I think it told the right story. John put on a leather bomber jacket and went as my too-old-for-me boyfriend.
I got a nightlight for our bathroom last week. The light switch is as far from the door as possible (because that’s convenient in a bathroom). It’s in the far corner, on the other side of the medicine cabinet, and it shares a wall plate with the outlet. It’s a rocker switch, so every time we reach blindly in the dark to turn on the light, we risk shoving our fingers in the socket. I figured I could solve the dark problem and the outlet problem by buying one of those nightlights that covers the unused socket. I found these cool-looking clear ones that glow in colors in the dark, and I got the red one because I read that red is less disruptive to your sleep than blue or green. I didn’t take into consideration that a red nightlight might disturb my sleep in other ways.
Now the bathroom glows red like a portal to hell.
Seriously, every time I get up in the middle of the night, and any time I notice the glow down the hallway as I’m drifting off to sleep, I’m half expecting demons to show up. I’m not sure blue would have been any better – then I’d imagine the not-friendly kind of alien. And if I’ve gotten green…I don’t know – maybe dark fairies?
I might be replacing the nightlight with baby-proofing outlet covers soon.
Tuesday night (4th of July) we were up past eleven, watching fireworks from a footbridge over the Willamette River a couple of blocks from our house. Sounds great, right? Like one of those experiences we’re all supposed to savor. Eh. The fireworks were totally not worth it – uninspired, no music, blocked by trees, washed out by the lights on the bridge and in the park. Sorry, Eugene, but your fireworks game is weak.
Tonight, two days later, I’m ready to climb into bed at 10 after 8. The sun hasn’t set yet, and it’s a beautiful night, but I’m so. crazy. tired. I bet Margaret and Erik will be able to hear me snoring all the way in California.
Life with me is a real roller coaster ride, people. Better hang on.
On my bike ride today, I passed a guy going the other direction. He was on roller blades. He was wearing tiny speedo-like shorts with an American flag pattern, no shirt, suspenders, and a bow tie. And a helmet because safety is important.
Happy 4th of July from Eugene!
Also, have some roses from our garden, just because.
I got up this morning, trying not to think too hard about my actual age, and set ONE goal for the day.
I WILL ONLY EAT SWEET THINGS TODAY.
Breakfast: I went to Allan Bros (the local coffee place about six blocks from the house with the view of the prison) and had a French Toast latte and a giant eclair. I mean, this thing was enormous. It was about 3/4 the length of my forearm. I read my book, I messed around on my laptop, and I went home in time to gather up John and head for lunch.
Lunch: We went to Mom’s Pies and had a slice of pie each. Me: berry medley (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries). John: apple. They were out of ice cream, which was a little disappointing, but the pies were really good. We got there just in time – the owner is closing the store in a few weeks in favor of his wholesale business. He said we can buy them frozen to bake at home from a couple of local grocery stores so we won’t be completely bereft.
Dinner: Cake. John baked me a cake (yellow cake, chocolate frosting), and that’s what I ate for dinner. With a glass of milk, of course. It was delicious.
I finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry this morning, and I am ready to go to my new book club tomorrow evening. It was a nice book, sweet, about nice people and a bookshop. What’s not to like? After I finished that, I finished Abaddon’s Gate (the book I kept putting aside, through no fault of its own – it was very good), and then I started Court of Fives. I did all of that before noon today (while hanging out at a coffee shop I can walk to from the house), and then I went to the grocery store, read a bit more at home, ran outside for the first time in 5 weeks, and now I’m making a sweet potato pie to take to Wendy (riding instructor) like I promised I would back at the holiday party.
We went out for New Year’s Eve last night, back to that arcade bar we like. The DJ played 20s music with techno beats (which was kind of awesome, actually), and more than half of the games (Mario Bros, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Tron, Asteroid, Pacman, Missile Command, some racing game, some of the pinball games, others I can’t remember) were set to free play, so we drank and played and danced until midnight and then walked ourselves home.
I can’t remember the last New Year’s Eve we were out. Like, OUT, out. In public, with people we don’t know. That’s not how we do New Year’s Eve. Last year, we rang the new year in at Emily and Sean’s house, with them and Molly. The year before that, we were at home with Jess and Chuck, and the seven? eight? more? years before that, we were at home in Ashburn with most of our friends over. That was before we became the total hermits we are now. We used to have actual grown-up parties at our house with food and drinks and friends. I used to throw Derby parties and New Year’s Eve parties, have the occasional cookout, host Friendsgiving (maybe that was only once…)… Now, I think about all of that and wonder how I did it. I’m not a natural hostess. It feels like a completely different life. Fun, but far from how I feel now, which is totally weird because it hasn’t been that long.
Eh, that’s enough navel-gazing for New Year’s Day.
End of the year musings? Sure, let’s be like everyone else.
There are plenty of reasons to call 2016 the worst year in recent history (TRUMP and the untimely deaths of Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Anton Yelchin, and so on), but personally it wasn’t so bad. It feels like forever ago, but we moved to OR in 2016, John got his rec pilot’s license, he’s in a band, I’m riding, Emily had a baby, Corey and Christine got engaged, and I got a new job (same company) that lowered my work stress by 50% at least.
I discovered Temeraire and Captain Laurence and time-traveling historians and the Others and a ton of other new books and series to love and…WOW. Well, I have to declare 2016 a good year for me, despite the rest of the world, because I read nearly twice as many books this year as I did last year and four times as many as I read in 2013. (There are advantages to keeping a book list.) Yay for more reading time!
Apparently I don’t get to feel better this trip. My stomach has begun to make known its unhappiness with a steady diet of sinus meds and ibuprofen, but I can’t stop taking the meds or my head will explode.
I had coffee with Jess this morning (she drove up from Annapolis to say hi). I was okay for most of that, but then I alarmed everyone at Panera when I caught my breath weirdly and raced for the bathroom so I could cough up my lung, which seemed to have put down roots in my right foot. (There was some deep, loud, awful-sounding coughing is what I’m saying. The walls in the bathroom shook.) So then I came back out, all red-faced and puffy-eyed, and she took me back to the house. Everyone was getting ready to go walk around downtown Frederick (which I’m sure looks lovely all decorated for the holidays), but I bowed out. I’m inside, hanging out with the snoring dog, about to start snoring myself. A nap may do me good. (It did yesterday. I don’t take enough naps.)
I don’t even know how to start this. Let’s see. We’re in Maryland for Christmas this year instead of Pennsylvania because Emily and Sean had Graham in September, and they volunteered to host rather than make another trip to PA. (Apparently, they’ve been up there every other weekend since the baby was born.) As a treat for the whole family (and to use up some of their Marriott elite rewards), John’s parents (Pat and John) took us all to spend the night at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel, which is one of those crazy big fancy hotels with a giant atrium and beautiful facilities and a big ice-carving show. We got our own rooms (a break from being on top of each other in Emily’s house), had dinner out, saw the ice-carving thing (they gave us parkas to wear OVER our coats because they keep the ice-carving exhibit at 9 degrees), and watched this garish, over-the-top, totally tacky and totally fun light and music show in the atrium.
Getting there, though, was a bit difficult. We were in two cars – Emily, Sean, and the baby in their car, and me, Molly, and John in the backseat of his parents’ car. The hotel is right off the beltway, in MD south of DC, first exit after the Woodrow Wilson bridge if you’re coming from VA. John’s dad was driving, his mom had shotgun, and in the backseat, John was behind his dad, Molly was on the hump in the middle, and I was behind their mom. I was in charge of directions, which was unfortunate yesterday. Just as we were getting off the highway, when the directions were like “Keep left to stay on X” then “keep left to stay on X”, then “get on the ramp towards I-95S”, but don’t get on the highway, “keep left to stay on X” – so, repetitive and slightly confusing – Pat told John to call Emily to find out where she was. She had parking questions, so John was talking to Emily and Pat, Pat was yelling advice to Emily (on John’s phone), Molly was in the middle fuming about how Emily should just unload already and park since we’re checking in and why is this conversation even happening?, and I was trying to provide John’s dad with the admittedly confusing directions across and on top of all this noise.
I was not successful.
We ended up back on the highway. Then we took the exit again to get to the hotel, tried to follow similar (but slightly different) confusing directions, and ended up on the highway AGAIN, because all of the previous conversations were STILL going on and John’s dad couldn’t hear me AND I couldn’t see very well so I couldn’t direct effectively. After we got on the highway a THIRD time, I had resigned myself to spending all night on 495, with the hotel in view but forever out of reach.
Thankfully, John VII hadn’t given up yet, and he was able to get everyone to shut the hell up long enough to make the correct turns and get us there.
Here was the view from our balcony (we had a balcony):