Friday, February 28, 2020

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Things that made me happy in February

We ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen! We hadn't eaten there in years and I'd been wanting to go ever since we moved to Massachusetts because there's one that's not too far away. I got their wild mushroom pizza with truffle oil (which is what I ate the last time I went there) and it was so good! CPK has become one of my favorite restaurants. I love pizza.

Call me crazy, but I like the return of presidential primary season. Though it can be maddening and ridiculous, I really do overall enjoy it. It must be the political science major in me. I'm not a Democrat but if I were, I think I'd want Amy Klobuchar to win the nomination. She seems like the most moderate, sane one of the bunch.

Doing some of my Grandma's temple work with my mom for the one-year mark of her passing.

Yummy Valentine's treats--chocolate mousse cakes from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, chocolate-covered strawberries, and chocolate truffles. 💖😋💖

A nice dinner out with Peter at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate V-Day.

John exceeded expectations and made wrestling sectionals! As a freshman on the varsity level! We were so proud of him and he was so happy. But he wasn't able to go to because...

He also qualified for the National Ninja League World Finals in Greensboro, North Carolina that was held last weekend! 
It was a fun week! Not only did we do that (and I got to see/meet two of my favorite ninjas from the show!), we also did other fun things--
I got to stay at a fancy hotel by myself for a day and a night and I indulged in room service and two treatments at their spa (a massage in the evening and a body wrap the next morning).
We went out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory and practically had the place to ourselves because it was snowing for the first time in Greensboro this winter and it freaked everyone out except us. 😆
 We went to a science center with a nice aquarium and zoo and a fun treetop adventure park that the boys did.
These things all made me happy last week! (Pictures and blog posts about it all to come in May, if I stick to my schedule--and I will! Knock on wood!)

I finally read Emma by Jane Austen! It was good! I liked how Emma's character evolved and how things ended for all of the characters.

Things I'm looking forward to in March!

One snowstorm to close out a lackluster, boring winter. Just one. Pretty please? The winter started out great with two big storms, then pretty much nothing, so let's end with one (or two) big storms. It can be the winter of bookend storms. Come on New England weather, you can do it!

After the snowstorm happens, the arrival of milder spring temperatures. 😁

Super Tuesday (Go Amy!)

Seeing the new movie Emma

Going to a dress-up Jane Austen Tea Party with two of my friends

John's 15th birthday 😮

Going to the Cape house for a weekend. It didn't happen last month so I really want it to happen this month.

The 20-year anniversary of our first date. I've now been with Peter for over half of my life!

John's band concert. They dress up in formal wear for it. I think it's so fun.

Going to an Edible Book Festival at the library.

Learning how to use my gun (that's right!) at a five-hour home firearm safety class.

From Jane Austen to guns, what a diverse woman I am! 😄

Thursday, February 27, 2020

August 2019 Randoms

I'm sad that Payless closed all their stores and went out of business. I got many good shoes there for over two decades for myself and then for the kids, including my white satin wedding heels, which I bought at this very Payless. (I was a bride on a budget, and Payless was there for me!)

Speaking of brides, "Calling All Bribes!" 😂 
This small but significant spelling error cracked me up when I saw it in my email. They sent out a corrected version later, but the mirth had been had and the damage was done.

Not letting go of the Kong.

Violet is laying under the table...

...because look what's on the table. Bacon!

Little bro giving big bro a piggyback ride at their ninja gym.

We went out to lunch for my mom's birthday and the salad I got was so refreshing and delicious!

Stay with me here. These were the random contents of my recycling bin one day and they just happened to be three connected things--a Hershey's body scub (Hershey=chocolate), a Dove chocolate bunny package (Dove=chocolate), and a Dove soap box (Dove again, which connects to the chocolate company because of the same name and to Hershey because like the body scrub, it's a body product). Maybe this doesn't thrill you like it did me, but my mind was pretty blown. 

Wise words!
Taco night at my house with my mom and Elizabeth, Rocco, and Shane.

Playing Uno

This is funny and true!

 I love British shows and British accents but sometimes they're hard to understand on TV, especially for some reason the mystery shows (maybe they like to add to the mystery for their American viewers). But I've figured out a way around it, after trying the above numerous times--closed-captioning!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The First Day of School 2019

The first day of school for the 2019-20 school year was Wednesday, August 28th. It was John's first day of 9th grade and Sam's first day of 4th grade. The boys were both at new schools--John in high school (the same one that I graduated from!) and Sam at the 4th and 5th grade elementary school in town. 

We still do the "dumb signs," as John calls them. It's tradition, and it's classic!

He obeyed my command and held the sign straighter.

And here's the babydoll!

This year I was inspired to make my own dumb sign to mark the momentous occasion of becoming a high-school parent. 😀 This photo ended up making it onto the Christmas card!

I made chocolate chip cookies for an after-school snack for the boys (and for me 😁). I do this pretty much once or twice a year. They're not even homemade--they're from pre-made dough. Most of the time, for better or for worse, I'm too efficient to take the time to make homemade cookies!  

Amazon got into the festivities and used this special packing tape on their boxes.  

We're over halfway through the school year now and so far, so good for both John and Sam!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Road Trip to North Carolina

Last August we drove down to Charlotte, North Carolina and stayed for a few days. Charlotte is where Peter works a lot for his consulting job and he's there enough that the company he works for down there pays for an apartment for him in Charlotte. It's not an ideal situation because it's far from family-friendly, and I can't say that this was a fun trip for me personally, and I didn't take very many pictures, but...the boys had fun!  

We stopped in New Jersey in the town where we lived for the first four years of our marriage. We got lunch from a Chinese place that we used to love. We drove by our old condo and ate lunch in the park across the street where I used to take Christy for walks, and then John when he was born. It was neat to be back in a place that is full of fun and happy memories for us. I should have taken some pictures!

We stopped in Williamsburg, Virginia and spent a fun day at Water Country USA. The last time we were there was in 2015 with Peter's brother's family

We had a cabana that looked out onto the woods. One of the things I really like about this area of Virginia is all of the cool things in history that took place there. There could have been soldiers from the Revolutionary War in these very woods over 200 years ago.

I wish I had a crystal ball or some such device that could take a scene and look back into the past and see what happened there. If I were a fiction writer then that would be a fun book to write! 

Fun fact: I lived on an army base in North Carolina when I was a little kid. I think my earliest memories are from there. 

A rare sweet moment caught on camera!

Standing in two states at one time. It ain't the Four Corners, but it's still fun!

It's funny that I'm posting this today because we're headed back down to North Carolina in a few days!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Pretty Things Around the Yard in Summertime

There are butterflies

And bunny rabbits! (Not a great picture, I know. I had to take it quickly from inside before this cute little bunny hopped away!) 

Hydrangeas in full bloom


Back to the hydrangeas--look at that reflection!


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Pooltime Fun

One of my favorite things about our new house is that it has a pool. Which is funny because in the past I never wanted a pool. I thought they were dangerous, expensive, and a pain to maintain, plus they take up valuable yard space. These are all valid points, but I'm finding that:

1) they're not nearly as dangerous once your kids are older and can swim well,

2) they are expensive, but--not to sound cheeky about it--if you can afford it by budgeting properly for it, then it's not really a problem (which is not to say that I'm not searching for ways to reduce our sky-high summer electric bills since it's a heated pool!),

3) I hired a pool company to do the majority of the maintenance work for it,

and 4) when the pool is landscaped nicely into the yard and there's still plenty of space for other things, then it doesn't feel like it's taking up important real estate in the yard. In fact, the pool is the prime real estate in the yard.

Problems solved!

It really is fun having a pool in the summertime. As much as I love the ocean beach, there are certain conveniences of having a backyard pool that can't be beat. 

So far, Sam is the one who uses it the most. He's a little fish!

The lush green summertime scenery around the pool warms my heart (literally, ha ha).

I can honestly say that having a pool is a cost of money and time that is totally worth it. 🙌 (Knock on wood!)

Going on this summer's bucket list: Have a few pool parties. Spend more time in and around the pool, including floating under the stars at night with the pool lights on. We also have a dream of getting a projector screen up and having pooltime movie nights. 😍 Also, adding a hot tub, someday, somehow, maybe, hopefully!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Early Days of August

I gave in and let the boys get up in the middle of the night for the new season of Fortnite. And here they were at about 9:30 that morning, both passed out on their own. That's what happens when you get up in the middle of the night, boys!

I can't remember the last time John took a nap!

Sam at ninja practice later that day (and John behind him on the left). Their naps did them good!  

An impromptu photo shoot with my birthday roses with a shell I kept from the beach.

We returned home on August 2nd. It was nice to have several weeks of summer still left until school started. We're still getting used to that because in Iowa school starts at least a week earlier.

We went to the annual family reunion for my mom's mother's side of the family. It was beautiful weather that day (as opposed to last year, when it rained!).


Summer decorations in the family room.

(Not as many summer decorations here, just that chalkboard-style picture down on the right.)

There was a morning when it looked like fairies had come during the night and left their magical dust behind on the kitchen window.

In reality it was probably just dust. 😄