I know I use the line from my favorite Christmas song a lot (first time I see Honeycrisp apples in the store, for instance) but in this case, it is so true. Because not only was today the first day of school after a summer with very little camp and a lot of boys staying home rotting their brains while I worked, but it is also the first day of RIDING THE BUS!
YES! No more driving them to/from school! (Granted, we carpooled, so it was normally only one 90 minute round trip a day, not two, but still.) The bus stop is 10 minutes away, and because they get dropped off early and picked up late, I can now fit my entire work day in when the boys are at school! No more coming home at 8:45 and leaving at 3:15. Now I can get home at 7:30 and leave at 4:30. Amazing!
Now, you can see that my standards are falling very rapidly. Since we have to leave for the bus stop just before 7am, I didn’t have time to get my nice camera out, so cell phone photos it is.
Yes, there have been some hair changes. They all got haircuts, and Linus wanted to go blond, and Oliver wanted to go ginger. Linus’s isn’t too dramatic, and Oliver’s looks pink from the front because the purple from before isn’t going anywhere. But it looks better than I expected when he told me he wanted orange hair like Andrew from the Great British Baking Show:
So anyway, we headed to the bus stop where there was a crowd of kids from their school, with more ecstatic parents. The principal even showed up!
Of course I have (not great) photos of the boys getting on the school bus for the very first time…
(But you can see the color of Ollie’s hair better there.)
I think Mary Catherine summed our excitement about the bus best in the following photo:
The primary reason we planned this trip to Virginia was Kristina and Mike’s 10th anniversary back in March. Mike texted me to ask if I’d go to the Coldplay concert with Kiki if he bought the tickets. So at first I thought I’d take a weekend trip by myself. But then airfare was super cheap and the boys love to see their cousins, so I made it a long trip to take up time until school starts.
Anyway, so while the boys stayed with Aunt Jenny and Uncle Rob, Kristina and I made the drive to the stadium in Maryland where the concert was being held. She goes there often for Redskins games, so she got us all set up to tailgate before the show in the parking lot, just like they do before games.
So fun! We went to Wegman’s the day before and stocked up on so many yummy snacks.
Yes, even a little wooden table because we are fancy. We also made a jar of margaritas and brought some hard seltzer. Delish!
After we snacked and people watched, we headed into the stadium where we had amazing seats on the ground. We were only about 10 seats from the part of the stage that extended way into the crowd.
We heard lots of great songs and some new ones that I didn’t know (should have prepared better.) The show was really colorful and fun with light up wristbands and fireworks and lasers and SO MUCH CONFETTI. EEEEEEE so awesome!
Check out this slow-mo video I took during one confetti storm:
The boys and I are visiting Kristina and Mike, and I was reminiscing about the first time we all visited when I realized it was six years ago tonight that Mike made the boys giggle like crazy by laying on the floor in the kitchen, pretending to be hurt.
Because we’re all six years older, I didn’t make Mike recreate one of those pics, but instead one where everyone is standing up.
(Note: I started this post several weeks ago. Better late than never, right?)
Last week, after I worked at BlogHer ’17 in Orlando, Kiki and I went to a couple of theme parks. First, Universal and the next day, Epcot. Why Epcot instead of Magic Kingdom? Because you can drink around the world at Epcot!
(Also it was a good call because Kiki got severely nauseated on the rides at Universal, so a day of rides at Disney would have been terrible.)
We did a little research ahead of time, and most people suggested you start at Mexico and end in Canada. But as much as I love margaritas, I didn’t relish the idea of one first thing in the morning. Well, okay, technically it was almost noon, but still.
So we took a right at the lagoon, and started in the friendly country to our north, Canada!
Well, first we hit the gift shop where we bought a passport (meant for kids) to get stamped in each country. We also decided that we needed to get culture in each country. Some kind of culture.
We each had a Labatt’s Blue, in honor of the cheap beer we drank when we lived in London. For culture, we watched a movie about Canada narrated by Martin Short, at this circular theater. Fortunately, it didn’t make Kiki nauseated.
It was in Canada that we learned that we’d have to find the kid’s activity table in each country to get our “passport” stamped. Since we also wrote in our passport what we drank in each country, it wasn’t long before this felt fairly inappropriate. But whatever. The cast members sitting at the tables didn’t seem to mind.
Canada is pretty!
Next, we hit up Jolly Olde Englande. It was very quaint. So clean! Here we shared a cup of Mangers Pear Cider (yum!) and a little bag of housemade leek and cheddar crisps.
For culture, we made our way through a hedge maze. Since it was waist-high, it wasn’t too difficult.
Next was France! I’ve never been to France, so I was pretty excited, as you might imagine. To drink, I had the extremely French “orange slush.” I mean, it was made with Grand Marnier and other delicious things, but you’d think they’d give it a more French name. Anyhoo. Kiki had some rose wine.
For culture, we watched some “street performers.” They were v entertaining.
France was pretty.
Another country I’ve never been to! We split a Moroccan beer (Casa) here, along with a yummy Lamb Shawarma platter.
After Morocco, we found ourselves in…
It started raining when we got to Japan, so we went into this big department store, where I bought the boys fun chopsticks, and at the back, had sake and plum wine. Yum!
I was pretty disappointed that the department store only sold Nintendo merchandise in adult sizes. I really wanted to get Linus something there. Oh well.
After we shopped, we got a blood orange sake slushie and took it to our next country to drink…
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
When we got to the USA, we still had our Japanese slushie so we sat in this amphitheater and watched this…interesting acapella performance. So American!
Of course, we still had to get an American beverage, so we split a beer and a pretzel shaped like (of course) Mickey’s head. And cheese sauce. God bless America.
Next up, ITALY!
We were in the middle of taking a selfie in “Venice” when a couple offered to take our picture in exchange for a pic of them. So our only non-selfie pic…
When I took the guy’s phone to take pics of him and his girlfriend, I of course took a bunch of goofie selfies of myself as well. I’m SO FUNNY.
In Italy, Kiki had a red sparkling wine and I had a bellini. Mmmm.
Next up was the country of Kiki’s ancestors, GERMANY!
We had a disappointing bratwurst sandwich but yummy beer with a very long name. (Grapefruit hefeweizen was only part of it.)
Germany was very pretty and had an adorable model train set.
We shared a Canta-loopy, which is (you’re never going to believe this) a cantaloupe beverage. We also snacked on egg rolls and chicken curry pockets sitting on a bench while some acrobats performed nearby. We counted that as our culture for China. (It’s possible our enthusiasm for culture was waning.)
Next up, MEXICO!
Now I was ready for that margarita! We decided to take the boat ride inside the pyramid, which was relaxing and very reminiscent of It’s a Small World.
We waited in line for our passport stamps but some snotty teenagers cut in front of us, so I gave evil eyes to this kid’s back the entire time. Real mature.
After our margaritas (strawberry for me and…uh oh, we didn’t write it all down…but something else I think for Kiki?) we headed to…
NORWAY! (Yes, we went slightly out of order at the end, and for some reason we decided to go to Mexico before Norway. Probably because of margaritas.)
Well, you know, probably a long time ago, Norway was the most neglected of the countries. But now, it’s the home of ANNA! and ELSA! and everything else FROZEN! At one point, the line to see Anna and Elsa was only 5 minutes long and I was sorely tempted to go get a picture with them, if only to, you know, taunt all of the little girls I know, but I decided that’s mean and then the line suddenly was half an hour long and FORGET THAT. But we had a refreshing beer while we fought the crowds of tiny girls.
And that was it! We made it through all 11 countries! And we were fairly sober. We were obviously TOO responsible. It was past 7 by this point and the fireworks were at 9, so we thought we’d wander back to some of the countries and, you know, revisit our favorite beverages. So I got another orange slush from France and Kiki got champagne (I think…it’s been a month now and I can’t exactly remember.)
But then we decided, let’s try to ride Soarin’ instead so we headed back towards the entrance but then they closed it so we missed so we just headed back towards the hotel and went and ate at Ruby Tuesdays (gotta love Orlando) by our hotel for the second night in a row.
The boys had their end of camp performance yesterday, and obviously I am going to record here for posterity. They were only at this camp for a week, but they learned so much! I was practically bursting with pride every time any of them were “on stage.”
Without further ado…
Oh, well, just a picture of the “pop band” performance because instead of hitting “record” I, uh, didn’t. Imagine a slower version of “Baby” by the Biebs.
Dangit. So mad at myself.
But at least I didn’t miss this one. I’m surprised you can’t hear the tears rolling down my cheeks during the second half (the first half of this video is the chorus singing “The Saints Go Marching In” but in the second half, they soloed on Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran and I was just so, so proud at how brave they were. (I remember as a kid not even wanting to sing one note by myself, just in front of the music teacher so she could figure out where to place me in the choir. There is no way I would have been able to do what the boys did.)
(Skip to about 2:30 for the better stuff.)
Then Linus and Oliver did a duo of the James Bond theme (but the teacher kept saying it was the Peter Gunn theme, which it wasn’t, and Miles was confused, which is why it’s not a trio here.) (So if you guessed James Bond in my previous post, you win!)
There was a drum performance that was by their own admission not very exciting, and a few little acting bits where you can’t really hear what they’re saying well, but take it from me, it was all adorable as shit.
The boys have been in camp this week at the same school they take guitar lessons at, and Linus came home excited to show me what he learned today (and performed in front of the other students at the end of the day, which is huge for him!)
Good stuff: My coworker Sarah’s new podcast. I love it. It’s funny, smart, and random. My favorite things. It’s called Hey, Bestie, and Kristina and I have already bugged her for a guest slot. (Which doesn’t even exist yet, but I already even came up with the perfect title for the segment: “Hey, Guestie!” so I think we definitely deserve to be on.) There’s a new episode that I haven’t listened to, and I am doing my best not to listen because I hoard podcasts I like.
Bad stuff: I mentioned Miles was going to be in an episode of Claws last week. Well, his part was cut. I was super sad, but Miles was like, “oh well.” He’s obviously more cut out for the cut-throat world of showbiz than I am.
Good stuff: This apple slab pie I made for the fourth of July. As usual, a Smitten Kitchen recipe. This was my first pie crust, I think! It wasn’t easy (mostly because my bowl was too small) but it came out pretty well. No one complained, anyway.
Bad stuff: I’ve been terrible about blogging. I’m working on finishing up a post about Kristina’s and my adventures at Epcot, so hopefully I can get back on a roll.
Good stuff: The boys start camp tomorrow! And it’s the only week of camp they’re doing all summer. It’s at the same performing arts school where they take guitar lessons. Hoping they’ll have fun.
Bad stuff: We all put our bathing suits on and it immediately started thundering. I think I could probably help out in areas that are susceptible to drought by just getting the boys excited about swimming and putting our bathing suits on.
Good stuff: Our new grill. I have been using it a ton, and it turns out I’m a natural at grilling. I’ve made pizza (okay, on a storebought crust – homemade crust is next), pork chops (divine), hamburgers, hot dogs, veggies, corn…and all delicious. What can I say? I have finally found my calling.
Bad stuff: My allergies have been horrific this summer. What is up with that? Not fun. I’ve been sneezing constantly for the past six weeks.
Good stuff: Kiki’s visit! I hadn’t seen her in a year and a half. Not good. Not good at all. It wasn’t a long visit, but we’re going to Virginia in August so we’ll get to spend more time together then. (And also to see cousins!)
Bad stuff: The job I have been doing at keeping the boys engaged and off screens. We just bought a Circle (recommended by Deborah) so hopefully that will help with managing that. They’ve been doing a little reading and a little guitar practicing, but not as much as I wanted. Work has been extremely busy for me, so I just haven’t had the bandwidth to monitor them as closely as I should have. Sigh. MOTY.
Good stuff: Speaking of MOTY, I bought 15 Lunchables for the boys’ camp lunches. Yeah, that’s good stuff. Not having to make 15 sandwiches.
More good stuff: Seeing babies! So far this summer, I’ve gotten to snuggle a coworker’s adorable baby, my cousin’s new son, and Lindsay’s little monkey. And there’s another cousin’s new baby yet to be snuggled!
Even more good stuff! Slumber parties for the boys! Getting rid of the climber in the backyard! Making fun tank tops for working out! Blueberry jam on toast from the coffee shop down the street!