My brother and niece were in town and we took the 7th bench picture. Or sixth, if you choose not to count last year’s curb pic. I’m not sure if I do or not.
If you look at the previous pictures, you might ask yourself if that’s the same bench as in previous years. LSU apparently rearranged the furniture a little, because they seemed to have moved the bench over about six feet to the right and removed the tree that was on the right side in all the pics (that’s now the shrubbery behind Linus and Ellie.)
We determined that this is the old location of the bench, you can see that the concrete is a bit lighter where it was:
Irritatingly, the children would not help us move the solid concrete bench so we could more accurately recreate the old photos. Jerks.
Here are the previous bench pics. Watch everyone get smaller!
We (the boys and I) got home yesterday from ten days in Virginia and I’d better write it all down before I forget. The beginning of our trip already feels like a lifetime ago (but like, a really fun lifetime.)
We arrived after an early flight at around lunchtime on Saturday the 9th. Kiki picked us up, and we headed to my sister’s house to drop the boys off for their first day of Camp Aunt Jenny. She made shirts. After lots of hugs and pictures, Kiki and I left to go have lunch at a Mexican-Indian restaurant. (Yum!)
Then we got to go back to give hugs and goodbyes again because I left my wallet at my sister’s. (Convenient!)
After shopping for a lot of booze and food, we headed to Kiki’s house and got ready for Camp Kiki. I made shirts. We had a very fancy Wagyu steak for dinner. It was sublime. Also Maxie is very cute.
We loaded up Kiki and Mike’s car Sunday morning and drove a couple of hours to an amazing airbnb in Charlottesville. On the way, we stopped at winery #1, Early Mountain. We drank wine and ate delicious food, including this couscous that I need to figure out how to recreate. It was incredible.
The airbnb was amazing – very clean, well stocked, and with a huge pool, hot tub, and a gorgeous view. Perfect place for Camp Kiki!
Day 2 in Charlottesville:
Kiki went for a walk, then hit a few wineries before spending the afternoon in the pool. Everything was delicious and the scenery everywhere was stunning. We made s’mores around the firepit later and saw lots of fireflies, which was exciting for me.
Sadly, Wednesday was our last night there. And of course that’s when I discovered a friend lives less than ten minutes away from where we were staying. Isn’t that always the way?
But I couldn’t be too sad because the next phase of Camp Kiki was a trip to New York City!
We got back to Woodbridge Thursday afternoon, did a shitload of laundry, and repacked for the trip to NYC.
Friday morning, we hopped on a train like the fun-loving globetrotters we are.
After a few hours we arrived at Penn Station, and then made our way to our hotel (not before having some lunch and wine.) The hotel was adorable. It’s called the Library Hotel and see if you can guess what the theme of it is.
After relaxing, we headed out to dinner at a wine bar, and then to a play. The play was the main reason we went to NYC. One of the stars is Noah Reid from Schitt’s Creek and maybe you don’t know this about me but I am a little obsessed with Schitt’s Creek. Surprise! I was supposed to go in May but because SOME CHILDREN I WON’T MENTION got covid, I had to cancel that trip. So I’m glad I got to see it finally. Even if it was…weird.
The wine bar we went to was fancy (like us) and we had some delicious wine and food before heading to the theater. Our seats were very good, and it was neat to see Patrick Noah Reid up close.
We were only there for one night, but we made the most of our morning before the train back to DC. We walked down to the Union Square Greenmarket, which was very cool. And then wandered around for a while. Kiki was THE VERY BEST FRIEND EVER and agreed to let me go to Mood. Yay! I tried to be as fast as possible, but I get decision paralysis at smaller places than this, but I went in with just one goal (some cotton poplin) and I made it out with just that. Whew!
Afterwards, we got our stuff from the hotel and I cursed my sandals for reactivating my Achilles tendinitis, but it was worth it. We hobbled our way back to the train station, and, well, the rest of the day was fairly uneventful.
I mean, we’ve done so much already, wouldn’t you think our trip was almost over by now? It’s only Saturday at this point and we didn’t go home until Tuesday!
Sunday, we went and retrieved my offspring from my sister’s house. They had stayed up until 2am because my sister had promised them middle of the night ihop, so they were pretty tired, but we had a baseball game to go to!
Mike and Kiki have season tickets to the Nationals so that’s how we spent Sunday. We ate delicious food, drank delicious things (including a bloody mary with a raw oyster on top), and were good luck charms for the Nats, who won for the first time in a little while. Yay us! It was overcast, too, which was nice.
We were all pretty exhausted after that.
Monday was our last full day, boo! We took the boys to see the new Thor movie, which was fun. And then we picked up some dinner, and saw a rainbow, and packed up our stuff, and watched the Home Run Derby.
Tuesday morning we went home. Everyone (except us, apparently) is getting covid and it sucks. But it was nice to see Ziggy again and to sleep in my own bed. The end.
I feel like maybe the last thing I want to do is revisit 2021, but you know, there were some real high points, so let’s do it.
I turned 46. I sat around the fire pit at my friend Jen’s house and it was all I wanted to do for my birthday – so it was perfect. Spending time with my friends was what made 2021 bearable, but it happened so infrequently, so that is what made it terrible.
Mardi Gras! I spent a lot of January preparing for this, the Schitt’s Creek house float that I participated in. It was one of the high points of 2021. I had so much fun making my Moira costume (and Jen’s!) and helping with the creation (mostly telling Chris what to do) and then on Mardi Gras day, seeing all the people and BEING INTERVIEWED BY THE BBC.
You know, in case you wanted to watch it.
That wasn’t the only excitement in February. The boys were also enrolled in a COVID vaccine trial (Moderna) and we learned later in the year that they actually did get the vaccine (first one in February, second in March.)
Really, not much happened. Well, I got my vaccine. That was nice.
Things were looking up. We found out the boys were fully vaccinated. Was it over? We were able to take off our masks and do things! I took the boys to a couple of soccer games. We ate at a restaurant! We booked a trip to California! Life was back to normal! I call this “the golden time.” Boy were were we naive.
We got devastating news in the middle of the month when my sweet cousin Molly died suddenly. I still can’t believe it.
The boys and I went to California to visit Evan and Jennifer and Ellie. It was a lovely trip, even though it was under a cloud of sadness. Things still felt normal. We went to Disneyland and to an LAFC game and to the beach, and I got to meet my best friend in person finally. (She’s 3.)
This is when the golden time ended. LA had re-introduced a mask mandate not long before we got there. Delta was coming. Thank god we went when we went, or we wouldn’t have been able to go at all.
We had a nice Christmas. Quiet. Also, 14 year old boys are very hard to shop for.
As usual, I took them out individually to shop (how many years have we been doing this? I’ll have to go back and look) which was lovely. It was right on the cusp of Omicron taking off, so we were able to eat inside this time (I just remember last year sitting in the parking lot of Five Guys, which just isn’t quite the same.)
We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner – steak. Yum!
Then it was time to read The Night Before Christmas and take the stocking pic.
I was quite proud that I didn’t have much to wrap that night, I’d gotten it all done. But I did spend much of the day finishing George’s present, a collared shirt with fabric from Spoonflower with keyboard keys all over it because he’s a big ol’ nerd.
And don’t you know, I didn’t take any pictures while we were opening gifts. Just being present (no pun intended.)
The boys got a new chair to sit in while rotting their brains on video games, and some clothes, and cases and cords and other electronics-adjacent accessories and all in all they seemed happy with their gifts.
I got a sous vide thingy, and a Ziggy puzzle, and a necklace, and a new Kindle, and some Schitt’s Creek things, and so all in all, I think I did the best of all, but I might be biased.
That Ziggy puzzle is really really really hard, btw.
We had the traditional eggnog French toast for breakfast, and I started drinking mimosas (we had a lot of orange juice, what can I say) and then we all took the traditional Christmas morning COVID tests (all negative) and then Grandee and Larry came over (also negative) and we ate air-fried turkey (yum) and cornbread dressing and spinach and homemade bread (my mom and I both made some and the boys preferred my mom’s but that’s fine) and cheesecake for dessert.
So that was our Christmas, and it was low-key and, oh, 80 degrees, so that part sucked, but otherwise, was really nice.
My mom turned 75 on Friday (fun fact, she was born the same day as Eugene Levy) and my brother and sister flew in to celebrate. It was nice. We took her to Ruth’s Chris for dinner because we are good children.
Some pics from dinner:
and then George brought the boys and Ziggy on Saturday so they could hang out. And I drove my brother all over Baton Rouge so he could use his vintage super-8 camera to shoot footage for some upcoming movie that I won’t understand.
Some more random pics:
(Playing Trivial Pursuit with my children and siblings was a mistake.)
The boys and I went to California last week to visit my brother and sister-in-law and niece, and I will never be able to spell “niece” right the first time.
It was a tough decision to go, after we found out that Molly’s services were being held while we’d be away. She was never far from our mind during the trip, especially on Monday.
We arrived Wednesday evening, and were pretty exhausted, so we had some pizza and went to bed. I slept terribly that night, for some reason (oh right because I’m old and have insomnia) but fortunately, we didn’t have a ton planned for Thursday. Ellie and I went for a walk, where we did a little light celebrity stalking. Later, we went swimming in the neighbor’s pool and hit up Target for supplies because Friday we…
went to Disneyland! We got up super early and were on the road a bit after 6 so we could arrive around 7. In the cars on the way there (I was in the girl car with Jennifer and Ellie, and the boys rode with Uncle Evan) we all were on our phones at exactly 6:59:59 to get reservations (or whatever they call it) for the new Star Wars ride. I managed to get them for us, yay!
We spent the entire day at the park. This should really be its own post. We rode a bunch of rides (the Rise of the Resistance was completely worth the stress of getting on it, and we didn’t have to wait in any line at all, which was nice) and walked a zillion steps and had dinner at a Tiki restaurant (so good) and my feet are still disgustingly blistered, but it was worth it.
Oh, and Linus is now obsessed with Dole Whip. Hard to blame him, it was delicious!
Saturday we mostly rested, except we went and got some famous Italian sandwiches from a place down the road for lunch. In the evening, Evan and I took the boys to a LAFC (Los Angeles Football Club) game. It was fun. The food was good. I got a jacket which will come in handy during football season here (they have the same colors as the Saints) and the boys got jerseys and as usual when we go to pro soccer games, the score ended us 2-2.
(I guess we have a streak of draws too.) (When we got home, we watched Season 2, Episode 1 of Ted Lasso.)
Sunday, the kids and I went to visit my friend Robyn who used to work at Automattic, and I made a new best friend who is three years old. We had delicious ice cream after hanging out at her house and eating pizza.
Monday was the day of Molly’s service, and I still needed to take the boys to the beach, so we stopped for some flowers on the way and made a little tribute to her at the beach. Now, she probably preferred a more tropical beach, but I like to think she would have appreciated it, even if it was cloudy and the temperature was hovering around 68 degrees.
The boys filled their bathing suits with sand and Miles swallowed half of the Pacific Ocean, so we left after a couple of hours before heading back to Evan and Jennifer’s to relax and pack. (Boo!) A few of us went to the Huntington for a sunset stroll, which was stunning, but also, my feet were still killing me. So kind of painful too.
We came home yesterday after a long day of travel to a heat index of 105 after a week of 70s, but Daddy and Ziggy were very happy to see us!
The world is a bit dimmer now. My sweet baby cousin Molly died last week. I say “baby” but she was, in fact, a grown woman with babies of her own. But when I was growing up, she was one of my very own, real-life baby dolls.
I wish I had pictures of her with me to post from when she was a baby, but my mental picture is a dark-hair, dark-eyed, happy baby wearing smocked dresses. She was a ballerina. We saw her perform in the Nutcracker, and I was never more proud the year she was Clara.
I was proud to have this beautiful, loving, wickedly funny woman in my family. Her laugh was infectious and her hugs were tight. I haven’t seen her in almost three years, thanks to COVID and her two young boys keeping her busy, and I regret so much not reaching out to her more than the occasional text. But isn’t that the way life goes?
I can’t stand to think about everyone who she leaves behind. Her two boys, her husband, her brother, her parents, her cousins and aunts and uncles and dozens of close friends. To know Molly was to love her, and I’m so lucky to have had her in my life.
Our tradition of me taking each of the boys shopping and out to eat individually looked a little different this year. We weren’t going to leisurely peruse stores for gifts, and we weren’t going to be eating inside any restaurants. But we still had fun.
Miles and I hit Target and then Five Guys. Is there anything more depressing than eating burgers on a gray, cold day at an outdoor table next to the parking lot and a busy commercial thoroughfare? I guess there is but I don’t want to hear about it. At least the burgers were delicious and Miles wasn’t complaining.
Oliver and I had a similar journey, but his requested meal was Popeye’s, so we had no choice but to bring our chicken sandwiches home. I was not sad about that. There are no photos of this jaunt.
Linus and I went to have brunch at Tartine, which has a lovely outside patio. One could say he lucked out. They have the most delicious baked eggs in brioche, which I can never not get. Yum.
Christmas Eve was pretty quiet. We had some incredibly delicious steaks that Kristina and Mike sent us. I was terrified of overcooking them, so maybe I went in the opposite direction (well, not for me – there’s no such thing as undercooking a steak to me) but no one complained.
Steak is our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, and we were able to partake in most of our other Christmas Eve traditions as well. Like…making the boys put on their Christmas stockings to show how much they’ve grown.
(I made them sit in front of the fire. Hee hee)
The first time I made them do this, they were much smaller.)
And we read The Night Before Christmas…
No one got a very good night’s sleep that night. The smoke detector right outside the bedrooms started chirping at 4am. Delightful! It took me forever to get back to sleep. At least the boys let me sleep until 7. Zzzz.
The boys got a gaming PC, or rather, all of the parts to build one. George put it together with their help later that day. They were surprised and thrilled with that gift. I got a giant Ziggy blanket (among other things) so I can’t complain. (Also a big pack of my very favorite socks from Kiki, which may sound lame was is absolutely not.)
Our oven broke sometime earlier this month, I can’t even remember when, so I decided I’d get a ham and cook it in my instant pot. That plan didn’t go well, so I gave the ham away and decided to do a charcuterie board instead on this gorgeous board that Steph MADE me! She MADE this! Isn’t it gorgeous?!?!
I was able to heat up the bread on the grill, which I might always do now. It was so good.
And that was about it for Christmas. It was quiet, but it was good.
An exquisite loaf of sourdough bread that I made for Thanksgiving. Recipe here.
Grandee and Larry came for Thanksgiving. We had zero vegetables.
Ziggy has been cute, as usual. We got our Christmas tree up!
Random leftover photos. Finally got the fabric for my cape! I was going to make it over Thanksgiving break, but I didn’t have the pattern yet. But it’s coming soon! Also the delicious beet salad I made. I like making things that are yummy.
Now it’s December 2 and the boys will be 13 in two days and I cannot believe it.
It looks like I’ll be writing one post with more than a dozen words in it per month. I don’t know why I can’t motivate myself to blog more. It’s not like I’m not sitting at my computer all day, every day. (Work is busy.)
So let’s see.
Mother’s Day was great. I usually leave the house and go see a movie with Terry on Mother’s Day but that obviously wasn’t an option this year. But George got me a picnic basket full of goodies from Tartine, and I relaxed and spent the day outside (the weather was outstanding) and drank a bottle of rose that Kiki had sent me. Delightful!
And then later that week, George turned 50! George doesn’t care about birthdays as much as I do, but I tried to make it special. Dinner was from Tartine (shepherd’s pie), I got my friend Angela to bake a cake, and I got him a bottle of expensive whiskey and this portrait of Ziggy. His favorite gift (and I don’t blame him) though was the cards the boys made him.
I’ve been sewing quite a bit – some masks, of course, but also clothes. It makes me happy. I need to do separate posts on these, but I’ve made shirts, mostly. This is all leading up to me deciding which pattern I’m going to use when I sew up this length of Liberty cotton lawn I bought when a fabric store had a sale. All the heart eyes!
I’ve been enjoying my Peloton too. It is so nice to have the outlet for stress relief. Yesterday I hopped on it three different times when I was stressed out of my mind. Just a ten minute ride really helps! In five and a half weeks, I’ve done 80 rides! (I mean, yes, some of those are 5 minute warm ups or cool downs, but plenty are 45 minutes or longer!)
If you use the Peloton app, follow me! I’m…guess what…yep, pyjammy. Easy to find.
I’ve been watching all of the Marvel movies in the order suggested here, because Kiki was doing it, and it sounded fun. I realized I’d missed a couple of the movies over the years, so it was nice to get caught up. (And now the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War makes sense!) Sometimes I have it on my phone while I sew and kind of half-watch (I mean, I don’t want to sew over my finger or anything) or sometimes I have it on while I work on a puzzle. The boys watched Spiderman: Homecoming with me the other night, but otherwise it’s just me.
Speaking of the boys watching things, they were so happy last weekend to have a soccer game to watch on TV again!
Ziggy likes to watch sports too.
And he’s just generally cute.
Tomorrow is the boys’ last day of sixth grade! Last night they put on their school uniforms because they missed wearing them. So hopefully they won’t mind putting them back on for a last day of school pic!