Because the fourth fell on a Monday, the boys (especially one in particular) were especially not excited about taking the monthly picture. So they said, “can’t we just keep it real for once and not smile?” In the end I got one with fake smiles and one “real” one. In the afternoon, in better moods, they said we should use the smiley one. So here you go. But of course I will post the “real” one too.
I know! They look so enthused, don’t they? Maybe overly enthused in Linus’s case.
That’s more how Oliver really felt. I can’t really blame him, really. Who wants to force a smile when it’s gray outside and you have to go to school?
Next month it’s on Lundi Gras so they’ll be out of school, so the smiles should be bigger and real!
Every year at the boys’ school, they spend time outside of the school building doing cool stuff and learning and whatnot. For instance, a month at the zoo in first and third grades, a couple of weeks at an art museum in second grade, a few weeks at the French Quarter in fourth grade, and now in fifth grade, four weeks (spread throughout the year) at the aquarium. And in the final week, they get to snorkel in the giant tank! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!? I mean, when I went to elementary school, we went to like, the state capitol building. And that’s only because we lived in the state capital. Snooze.
(And yes, they go to public school, so you can’t say it’s because we spend a ton of money on tuition.)
The tank is full of piranha and sharks and other dangerous and deadly creatures, which just adds to the excitement. Naw, just kidding. But it’s got a big coral reef and a tunnel you can walk through, which gave us a good view of the snorkelers from below, and plenty of smiling stingrays (but not the kind that kill you, presumably. And if they do, don’t tell me until the other two have their snorkeling trips later this year.)
Okay, now just a bunch more.
Some video – sadly, I didn’t get anything of Linus and his pal flossing underwater. SORRY.
And yes, you will get two see two more identical posts in the coming months. Complete with unidentifiable children that I will assure you are mine, even though I’m not 100% sure because in wetsuits and masks, all kids basically look the same.
Last week (on Wednesday), I turned 44 and it was a great birthday week. I’ll try not to make this too wordy, but I mean, a lot of fun stuff happened, so I may fail.
We have to start on Tuesday when the washing machine broke. I know, this birthday week isn’t starting out too promisingly, is it? Particularly since it was the day the boys went back to school, and I had literally been counting down the minutes until I had some peace and quiet and solitude in the house. Instead, I had our friend Chris come over to try to fix the washer (he determined it wasn’t easily fixable, and we’d already fixed this thing a zillion times) so happy early birthday to me, I went to Home Depot and picked out a new washing machine.
I mean, exciting, except for the part where you have to pay for a new washing machine. (It wasn’t delivered until Saturday, but I’ll skip ahead and show you a picture of this beautiful giant that can wash enormous loads of laundry.)
Aw, our poor lil’ dryer is dwarfed by it.
Okay, so Tuesday night is when the excitement really started. Kiki flew in! I picked her up and we went to Mopho for dinner and had pho and these really delicious chicken wings.
And then Wednesday, it was my birthday! Yay!
I woke up bright ‘n’ early with the boys and got them off to the bus stop, and then Kristina and I went to Orangetheory, where, duh, we wore shirts that I made (kind of like the ones I made for our trip to Harry Potter World.)
I got so many birthday wishes! This was a great idea she had. Definitely do this on your birthday.
Next, we went home to shower, then hopped on the ferry (it was a gorgeous day) with mimosas and met Teresa for lunch at French Toast. (I’m friends with the owners, and I had been wanting to check it out since it’s pretty new.)
Next, we went in search of a king cake since I knew that it would make the boys happy, and it could also stand in for my birthday cake. After we found it, we got an Uber back to the house so we could meet the boys at the bus stop.
We hit up Ann Frances’s birthday party for a while and took our usual birthday pic together. ❤
We rested for a little while and then we went and had pizza for dinner at Tavolino, a restaurant in the neighborhood.
And after dinner, the boys gave me cards (Linus didn’t want me to share his, but here are the ones I got from Oliver and Miles, and of course I cried a bit.)
And then we had king cake!
And then Kiki and I went to have a nightcap at the pub. But we didn’t last too long, we were exhausted.
Thursday, Kristina spent the morning cleaning the crap out of my kitchen, which is basically her favorite thing to do. Meanwhile, I got a much-needed haircut.
Later, we went to a fabric store that I love so Kristina could pick out fabric for the skirt I was going to make her. Then we went to get 80 minute massages at a spa. Oh man, that was heavenly! That night, we made a pot of Italian sausage and kale and tortellini soup for the grown ups and sushi rolls for the kids. I also made a cucumber salad for the boys AND THEY ATE IT AND LIKED IT. So obviously the apocalypse is upon us.
Friday morning, we went back to Orangetheory, and then had a late lunch at Turkey and the Wolf. We split a bologna sandwich and a collard green melt. It was good, for sure, but we were both scratching our head a bit at how a hipster sandwich place got named “Best New Restaurant in America.” (The collard green melt was too spicy for me, sad sad sad.)
Kristina spent every spare moment organizing my pantry and the rest of the kitchen, and it’s pretty amazing right now. She loves to do that stuff. And then she was supposed to leave Saturday evening, but there was snow forecast where she lives for Saturday night, so she changed her flight to Saturday morning. SAD PAM.
I brought her to the airport while the new washer was being delivered, and then spent the rest of the day resting and getting ready for the CAMAN Ball that I was attending that night with friends. It was a speakeasy theme, and it was a lot of fun getting all glammed up. Jen was my date.
Oh wait, so now I have to tell you about the presents I got because it’s kind of funny how excited I am about them. Well, funny if you don’t sew. But George got me a cordless iron! And my mom got me nice scissors (now I really do feel bad for sneaking her nice scissors for cutting paper when I was little) and a new ironing board! I mean, not just ANY ironing board. This thing is TALL and WIDE and NOT WOBBLY and the base for my new iron sits on a holder on the end and it doesn’t squeak and it’s all very very exciting. If you sew, anyway. Also my lovely friends got me Joann gift cards and THE FUN NEVER STOPS.
It’s time to look back at 2018 before too much of 2019 has gone past and I forget all about it.
It was a busy year! And I definitely didn’t blog enough, especially at the end of the year, where I had to rely too much on Instagram posts for my recaps. I’ll try to fix that for 2019. But my mantra for this year is “stop trying to do everything” which I’m afraid might turn into “turn into a lazy blob” so 2020’s mantra might need to revolve around moderation. We’ll see. Anyhoo, onto the year’s recap:
THE SUN IS OUT! THE SUN IS OUT! I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve seen the sun – a long, long time. Weeks. Way longer than I’m used to. But today it was gloriously cool and cloud-free and desperately needed.
That’s not really related to this month’s picture, which we took when the sun was about to go down, because I wanted to wait until after Oliver and Linus’s haircut. But anyway. YAY FOR THE SUN!
You know what’s funny? I was going to try to blog every day of my sabbatical.
Ha hahahahha ha ha ha!
Well. You know, when you don’t have to sit in front of your computer every day, you’re really not inclined to sit in front of your computer if you don’t have to.
So, I’ll just update you on what I’ve been up to in my days of leisure since my last real blog post. One pic per day. (ish)
Day 1: Worked out, sewed a ton, joked about eating bon bons on couch, but definitely did eat bon bons on couch.
Day 2: Sewed a ton. Made a Christmas tree skirt! (I know, I already blogged about that.)
Day 3: Finished 20 toast-themed scrunchies for a friend who owns a local chain of restaurants called, you guessed it, Toast. (yum)
Day 4: Stephanie and I wore the Mexican tablecloth skirts I made while we sang a duet of The Christmas Song. Just be glad this isn’t a video.
Day 5: I went Christmas shopping and got the boys this ornament. Summed up their 2018 nicely.
Day 6: Finally! Kiki’s annual box of cookies arrived! And the jersey Linus ordered that was almost exactly like the one I had ordered for him for Christmas! (Just a different player on the back, which fortunately makes it EXTREMELY different in his eyes.) This got long so click to read more
The boys’ school had their annual winter fair this weekend, and for the first time in 8 years, I won a raffle basket!
See, each class picks a theme and puts together a basket, and each class tries to outdo the others for the best basket. My co-room parent for Linus’s class is Jill, and she’s a real pro at this. Way at the beginning of the year she said, “let’s do scratch-off lottery tickets” and I said OKAY because it’s easy and fun, and well, let me get to the point, I put all three of the raffle tickets I bought in the bucket for our “basket” (really it was a frame) and I WON!
(Probably it took me 8 years to win because I’m cheap and only buy a few raffle tickets.)
Anyway, it was EXTREMELY exciting when they called my name as the winner. I screamed and jumped up and down and generally displayed some glee.
I texted Jill immediately to tell her I won, and I told her I’d video myself scratching off the tickets so she could see what I won. (I also promised her dinner if I won big. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but let’s just say my winnings would probably cover a nice meal from Popeyes.)
Considering the number of pina coladas I ingested over the course of the week, it’s likely this recap will be somewhat incomplete. But I’ll give it a try.
Just two of the many
pina coladas I drank
Sunday: Get on board!
We boarded the ship. Got checked in to our cabin (thank god we were able to score a cheap upgrade from a coffin windowless inside cabin to one with a balcony) and went off to explore the ship and meet up with the other dozen family members aboard. We boarded fairly late, so it wasn’t too long until the ship left the dock.
It’s pretty great that our neighborhood is across the river from the cruise terminal, so my friends Jenn and Heather went onto the levee, and waved goodbye. I mean, okay, I couldn’t really see them but they turned on the flashlights on their phones and waved them around, which I could see. I waved back with my phone. Exciting stuff!
Couldn’t find Oliver, though. Oh well. There were only 14 decks he could get lost on, I figured he’d turn up at some point. (He did, but this was an ongoing theme for the week.)
When I unpacked later, I realized I only packed one pair of shorts. I left a pile with four or five more pairs on my dresser. Ugh.
Had dinner, some wine, sailed down the Mississippi.
Monday: Day at Sea
Hmm. There was definitely some lying in the sun that day. Definitely a bloody mary at the beginning of the day. Then some other tropical adult beverages throughout. Lunch in the Garden Cafe, which is the giant buffet where the boys preferred to eat as often as possible. Eventually it was simply called #garden, because we are all dorks.
Had dinner together as an entire massive family that night.
Oh yeah, that morning, my sister and I went to work out, and I realized I also left one running shoe at home. Sigh.
Tuesday: Cozumel and THE MAGIC FABRIC STORE
Disembarked. Went in some of the shops. Met up with my siblings and their families, and they took the boys back to the boat so George and I could wander off alone. He had scoped out a cigar bar and I had a fabric store in mind if it wasn’t too far away.
Had margaritas and George had a cigar, and then I discovered that the fabric store was only a block away! Wheeee! I went to check it out and was immediately confused and overwhelmed. I realized I had data on my phone in Mexico so I texted my friend Terry to ask what to do. (I knew she had bought fabric in Mexico the day before, coincidentally, for her daughter’s upcoming quinceanera.)
The store was not necessarily huge, but it definitely wasn’t catering to tourists. No signs were in English, and the prices were all in pesos. I was doing a quick calculation in my head but was pretty sure the margarita was messing with my math skills because surely…these fabrics weren’t $2-3 a meter?!?!?
BUT THEY WERE.
I figured out that algodón = cotton and poliéster was pretty obvious. As usual, I was paralyzed by indecision so didn’t buy a million meters of fabric like I would have liked. Plus, I wasn’t sure what to do. I couldn’t see a cutting table anywhere, but there did seem to be a lot of clerks wandering around. And then there were two glassed-in booths. One seemed to be a cashier, but I wasn’t sure what the other one was for. I tried to watch to see what other people did, but the store just wasn’t very busy.
Outside the cigar place
The fabric store!
Fortunately, Terry came to the rescue! She told me that the clerks walking around would measure the fabric right off the roll with the meter sticks they carried around. So I found a young man who worked there, and would point to the fabric I wanted and would use my elementary Spanish to ask for “tres” of each. I would have bought more, but I felt like I was taking up the clerk’s time too much (so dumb of me) so I only bought five different fabrics. (Three polyester Christmas prints meant for tablecloths, some black cotton/lycra blend, and a dark teal twill that unfortunately was only a remnant, so not enough for the teal twill Cashmerette trench coat pattern I covet.
I wandered over to the threads, and again, used my basic skills to get thread – whatever colors I could remember. 😀 It was 8 pesos! That’s under 50 cents a spool! I’m kicking myself not for not buying more – it was the same brand I buy here!
All in all, I walked out of the store with 16 meters of fabric and a half a dozen spools of thread for under $35.
Later, we…ate dinner again. Maybe George and I went out for our “date night”? I can’t actually remember.
Wednesday: Belize City
We went to Belize City on the previous cruise, and I knew I didn’t want to get off again. There just wasn’t much to see right there at the port, and getting there involved a 30 minute tender. NO THANKS. I spent the day going down water slides and drinking more pina coladas than should be allowed. I took a nap in the middle of the day and hit my head on the bunk bed before lying down, so I was pretty sure I wasn’t ever going to wake up. (Spoiler alert: I did.)
That evening, we had a little birthday party for the boys. Mostly so my brother and sister could give them the Mexico soccer jerseys they’d bought for them the day before. Cake!
Thursday: Harvest Caye, Belize and Thanksgiving!
This was a new stop for us – a private “island” which of course was like Disney Belize, but there was a little shopping village and daiquiris and tons of chairs on the beach and a splash pad and a pool, so it was delightful. I hung out with my stepbrother and his girlfriend, and the boys played with her son, Beau (as they did all day every day on the boat.)
They collected over 100 shells, which they had to throw back. It’s slightly possible a few shells were smuggled back onboard. But probably not. We would never.
Thanksgiving dinner was…interesting. We were split up into two tables, not quite next to each other, the kids at one, the adults at another (as it should be.) There was some drama when the kids were apparently being rambunctious by going around the table saying what they were thankful for (how dare they?) and some woman from the next table yelled at them to be quiet, then came and yelled at us for parenting such heathens, then went and yelled at them again.
Delightful! I mean, otherwise, it was a nice meal for most of us. I had pumpkin for every course – pumpkin soup, followed by some kind of pasta dish involving a pumpkin cream sauce, and then of course, pumpkin cheesecake. Yay, no turkey for me! Oliver actually ordered and ate some pumpkin cheesecake, he told me later!!!
After dinner, we hit the ice bar on the ship where our thin Southern blood gave up after 20 minutes. It was 17 degrees! I had on a skirt! Well, my brother in law is from New Jersey, he probably could have stayed there all night. Anyway, it was pretty cool. (GET IT?)
Friday: Costa Maya, Mexico – Pam is a sucker!
By this point, handwashing my one pair of shorts in the sink was getting old, so I decided I’d get off the boat and buy a dress or a skirt or something in one of the shops. I also needed to get Linus a souvenir. In one shop, I found an undoubtedly authentic Mayan mask with the Real Madrid logo carved into it. I even haggled the price down five bucks. Perfect! And then I saw a cute cotton embroidered dress. Perfect! The man who was helping me brought it up to the register and told the cashier “$20 for the mask, $85 for the dress, so $105.”
I started hyperventilating. EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS for a cotton dress and the seams weren’t even finished?!?!? The sewist in me was appalled. So I told the guy, “no, I’m sorry, I can’t, I can’t, I just can’t, I can’t, I’ll buy the mask, but I can’t get the dress.” I was freaking out. But I suppose he thought I was being a shrewd negotiator and knocked the price down to $60.
Well, I mean, I guess I could have kept on freaking out, but whatever. It’s my souvenir of Mexico, but hopefully I can do something to finish the seams. I also hemmed it by hand on the boat because it was a bit too long, so I need to do that properly as well, now that I’m home.
Upshot is, I asked Terry how much she pays for those dresses, and she said, “$15-20 in Mexico City or El Paso.” Blargh.
But it’s cute!
Saturday: Day at sea
My sister in law and I created a scavenger hunt for the kids for that day. It was fun. I spent a lot of the day sitting in this one spot on the boat that was pretty peaceful (until the bars out there opened.) It was on the 8th deck, and there were big comfy chairs and sofas and I’d sit there and sew (I brought stuff to hand sew scrunchies) or read. Or maybe have a cocktail.
Family photos came later, but ours will be on Christmas cards, so not posting them yet.
Sunday: Time to go home!
We missed Ziggy.
Okay there’s actually a lot more to the cruise. Like, there was a ropes course! It was fun and not too scary, even the part that went out over the water. I was up there when we were leaving Belize, I think. I had to borrow my brother in law’s running shoes because as noted before, I left one of mine at home. Derp.
And a rock climbing wall! The harness does ugly things to your bottom half in photos, but I’m pretty happy with how high I got. And I like to pause the video to see the muscles in my legs. But MAN it’s hard on your hands!
The boys spent 90% of their time either on the sports court where they played soccer (are you surprised?) or in the #garden where they ate ice cream. Or were in the room watching soccer, because we got some channel that showed soccer 24/7 (or so it seemed.)
A few months ago, I was flipping through Real Simple and in the “Your Words” section, they asked readers to write about their greatest accomplishment of 2018. I’ve never been inspired to write in before, but I emailed off a little snippet about my greatest obsession accomplishment of 2018.
I got an email a few weeks later saying they might use what I wrote in the December issue, and THERE IT IS!!! So exciting. And yet so nerdy.
We were on our cruise when the issue came in the mail, so I had to beg my friend Jenn to dig through our mail and take a picture of it for me. I knew it was in there because someone tweeted to let me know.
It was after I made the doughnut run the next morning on mere minutes of sleep (I may exaggerate, slightly) while the children were passed out, draped over various pieces of furniture with video game controllers slipping from their fingers, pizza crusts and chips ground into the sofa, and Capri Sun packets littering the floor, that I made the solemn oath that next year we’d have a nice, calm party during the day at, like, McDonald’s or something.
I have to admit I had fun writing this one.
Thanks to my friend Jenn for the idea. I was agonizing over the very thought of yet another slumber party, and she suggested I write a blog post about. So I did. Though I still am not sure about it, and it’d be two weeks from tomorrow, so I guess I’d better make a decision fast.