Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I spent a wonderful weekend in Portsmouth, NH for my annual quilting weekend. This was my 8th year going with my friends, and as usual, it was wonderful. A weekend away from reality, really. All our basic needs are met (food, drinks, and it's held in a B&B, so no worries). And we get 48 hours to indulge in a pastime we love. Some years, I've brought things totally ready to sew and completed multiple quilts in a weekend. Other years I've brought one thing, but stopped at a fabric store, saw soemthing that caught my eye, and made something completely different than planned. I've tried new techniques, made dolls, hobby horses, felt food, crib bumpers... so many fun things. But this weekend snuck up on me. I only had two kits in my stash - one a very simple quilt in fun fabrics, and the other? And insanely difficult quilt that I bought on a whim. Every time I took it out to start working on it, it was like - Damn. That is too hard!

So this weekend, I vowed to just go for it. I gave my friend all my other fabric and projects. Her job was to not allow me to get frustrated and stop. Or to take a break and get distracted. In the beginning, each row would take me about 30 minutes to cut, sew and iron. There were 43 rows total. By the end, I was down to about 20 minutes per row... but still. It was the hardest quilt I've ever made.

When I finished (at midnight on Saturday!) it all became worth it! Check this out!

I couldn't have done it without the help and encouragement of my friends! I'm thinking it will go in Maggie's room - she doesn't have a lot of art work in there. Cool, right?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Overthinking birthdays and the anniversary

I feel very strongly that birthdays should be celebrated. Made special. So I asked Cam what special thing he wanted to do on his birthday. He looked at me and said - I want to stay home from school and play with my Legos!. Um, OK. That would only be fun for about 2 hours, tops. And then I'd be home with a bored kid. So I started thinking. Maybe we could swing a trip to a nearby Legoland Discovery Center? But it's about 3 hours from here. So Aaron thought he would take him up the night before, and stay in a hotel - double fun!

I was acutely aware that this meant that I would be home alone on the anniversary of Nora's death. So I thought - I'll make a different fun plan. I looked around and came up with an idea of taking Maggie into NYC and seeing the Rockettes. Maggie has been taking dance lessons, so I thought this would be right up her alley. And - I have a super fun cousin that we could stay with!

Looking at the timing of everything, I was nervous that we wouldn't manage to get home in time for his McDonald's birthday party at 5:30 (did I mention this stroke of genius? I wanted to have a small birthday party for just his close friends on the weekend, but thought I could still do a dinner at our house on his actual birthday. Then I realized that would mean about 30 people at my house if I just invited the friends on the street. So I called the local McDonald's that has a play space. They do parties, and it's super reasonable!).

So last night, Aaron and I made a great new plan. All four of us will leave together on the morning of the 4th. Aaron will drop Maggie and I off at a train station and we will make our way into NYC for a matinee, a special dinner in the city and an overnight with my cousin. Cam and Aaron will go and do Legoland on the 4th, stay in a hotel (maybe with a pool!) and then in morning, Maggie and I will meet them at the train station so we can all be together on his birthday!

This is my new plan. Since I know that the 4th is going to be a hard day for me, I'm going to try and fill it with happy, joyful things. And remember the 5 days we had with Nora as a blessing, and celebrate the wonderful life we do have. I'm sure tears will be shed, but hopefully mixed in with some laughter too.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Parental Karma

For the past 6 months, I've noticed that my kids are in a sweet spot. They still think I'm awesome, but they play really well by themselves, are (mostly) past the tantrum stage, and are in general, really a lot of fun to be around.

This past week was the beginning of what I consider our party month. (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and both kids birthdays all within the same 36 days.) I have always hosted a group of people from daycare at our house for Halloween. It has been about 20 kids and their parents every year. Which I know sounds insane, but it just works out. All the kids have a blast. The parents will concentrate on their own kids (we certainly don't try to keep all the kids together for trick or treating) and whenever someone is done? They just walk back to our house and play with the kids toys, trade candy, and (hopefully) eat some of the healthy potluck food that I have people bring. I just accept that every toy in the house will be out, and I'll need to clean the downstairs the next day. It's a night where pretty much anything goes and we've always had a blast.

Friday night, we had neighborhood family over for movie night - and it was another great evening. The kids all played nicely together, the grown-ups got to sit and eat adult dinner and then even play some cards! Saturday, Cam had soccer while Maggie and I went to American Girl for a birthday party (and yes, we have totally gone down that rabbit hole, my friends). I got back, and asked the kids if they would be happy to hang out with Grandma while I went to swimming - "Sure, Mama!". Later in the afternoon, my cousin visited for dinner - someone they had never met, and they had a blast!

Sunday morning, I had planned to do a swim meet. My mom was still visiting, and I thought she could come after warm ups with the kids. But they wanted to go RIGHT NOW! Which I thought was a bit insane (I needed to swim for warm ups for about 45 minutes in the pool before the meet). But I said if they really wanted to, that they could come - and explained how it would be (they couldn't go in the water, I would be away for warm ups, they would have toys and food but needed to stay in one place) and they were all in. So, I risked it. And Oh. My. God. They were wonderful. We had a great time! My mom joined us later, but the kids wanted to stay on the deck and cheer for me and the team. They listened, made friends with my teammates, played nicely with each other and even were sad when it was time to go.

This whole weekend had so many places where things could have gone horribly wrong. They stayed up past 9 on both Thursday and Friday nights. We were moving and doing crazy things and meeting new people and being without Mama... no issues. It was wonderful. I went to bed on Sunday thinking how awesome my little family is.