My season actually starts in the summer (usually on vacation) when I start buying holiday gifts. I keep a list, check it twice–at least–then tuck everything away until after Thanksgiving.
This doesn’t get me off the shopping hook, but I actually love shopping for gifts.
I actually don’t mind wrapping them–much. My routine is to take a weekend or two, put on Christmas movies in my One More Room, and have at it. By this method? I’m done! Done shopping–some time ago–and now, done wrapping. Woo! Bring it on!
I go overboard on gifts, and I don’t care! It’s fun, satisfying, and gets me all festive. On Christmas Day, the house will be full of happy faces, ripped paper, empty boxes, scads of ribbons and bows. More fun!
The decorating’s nearly done. I still have the library because BW and Jason are in the middle of changing out the bookshelves lights, and it’s a mess. But when they’re done, I’ll be done.
I haven’t hung the stockings yet as that means no fire until Christmas. Don’t want to risk burning the house down if stockings go flaming. Presents won’t go under the tree yet as Griffin’s coming this weekend. What self-respecting four-year-old could resist going after all those pretty, colorful boxes?
When Kayla’s home for her winter break, we’ll have a marathon cooking baking day. Joining us this year, her boyfriend, J. R. We’ll see how he handles painting sugar cookies.
And still more fun.
I confess, I love Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. I love their predictability and schmaltz. Why are they popular, year after year? Because I’m not alone in the love.
However, I’m going to highly recommend two non-Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movies.
Spirited. Ryan Reynolds is one of my movie boyfriends. I doubt he knows this. As I didn’t know he can sing, he can dance! And does both along with Will Ferrell in this totally delightful movie.
If you catch it, be sure to say: Good Afternoon.
Love Hard. There is nothing about this movie I didn’t love. It’s so wonderfully charming and funny and sweet. The chemistry between the two leads is just perfect, the acting’s solid, as is the writing.
Both of these movies made me ridiculously happy. I hope they do the same for you.
Now, as I finished a book on Wednesday, and finished my wrapping today, I’m going to do as little as possible for the rest of the day.
Meanwhile, I’m wishing you the happiest of holidays, with lots of cookies, pretty lights and the warmth of friends and family.
First stop, the market. Fruit, bread—and a surprising score of peanut butter that makes Jason very happy. How about some jelly with that? Drinks including oat milk for Kayla.
The plan is the guys will take the groceries back, and the rest of us will hit the Ponte Vecchio for that shopping. It’s crowded, but the display windows do sparkle. It’s fun to look, and more fun to eventually buy. And of course, we stop for pictures on the bridge of the lovely Arno.
I give Kat and Kayla full props for a much better sense of direction than mine—which isn’t hard—but they both really handle the twists, turns. And we wind our way to the leather shop where Kat has a pick up.
It’s wonderful! More scores there, plus a quick tour of the work area, which is fascinating.
We run into our guys who stepped out for a walk-around and decide: Lunch time.
Griffin’s mildly cranky—honestly for a three-year old who’s been plucked out of routine, shipped across the ocean and time zones—hauled around, etc, he’s been remarkably cheerful. And the crankiness vanishes when French fries appear.
Lovely wine, lovely food—Jason got a large Fanta. I think it was a solid half gallon. We hear thunder toward the end of the meal, and get a few drops of rain. In this unexpected heat, it feels pretty good.
Then back home for a respite. That equals a little terrace time for me.
I decide I’ll take my passport—which I forgot earlier—back to the shop where I scored a good chunk of Christmas gifts. I need it for the tax back deal. Ponte Vecchio is only two turns. My companions are unsure about me wandering on my own, so they install Google Maps, with a tracker so they can find me, on my phone.
Fortunately, I have no problem—even my shaky sense of direction can handle making two left turns going, two right on return—but I appreciate the concern. And I score two more gifts on my journey.
Some napping’s happening when I get back, so it seems like a find time for a Bellini.
Kayla wants more Instagram shots, and I am the official photographer (in-training). Out we go. And here, my girl’s directional acuity far outreaches mine. I would have wandered lost for close to ever after we hunt for the perfect street to match her vision.
The streets, the buildings are all just lovely, but not quite the thing to match that vision, until one does.
I truly have no idea how she knew the way back, but am grateful to know if she should find herself alone in some unfamiliar city, she’d handle it.
She also spied a likely spot for dinner, and when that time comes, leads us back. Sadly, the little spot turned out to be lunch only. But there’s another steps away. A little outdoor area in a kind of alley. And it’s simply fantastic.
Now Griffin’s just sad. What am I doing here? I’m hot, I’m tired, I don’t know what I want. He makes sad noises—no temper, no tantrum, just sad. He holds Kat’s hand (with his monster school bus in his other) as she talks softly to him. And Mommy talks him to sleep. It’s so sweet, and he slept through the meal, through the walk home, and went straight to bed on return.
I’d planned to get a salad, some fries. But their specialty is Steak Florentine, and if you’re a meat-eater and in Florence, you absolutely must have Steak Florentine. I order the small portion. Perhaps I should’ve been forewarned by the size of Jason’s lunchtime Fanta.
I’m served enough steak to feed a family of five, and their little dog, too.
Jason’s wisely ordered that salad and fries, so I cut a chunk off for him, another chunk off for BW. I tuck in pretty well because OMG beyond delicious—and still have enough left-over to feed a a trio of hungry people.
Plans for after-dinner gelato are postponed as everyone is stuffed.
I miss my night-time race with Griffin as he’s zonked, but we did get a brief one in during the afternoon.
Today’s sort-of-plan is a return to the Duomo to go inside, then more shopping—I have my own plan there. We have enough left-overs in our fridge to make a meal here if we opt to do that.
Now I’m going to work out, and hopefully work off some of that steak.
Street art by Clet Abraham is all over Florence. (I couldn’t find a website, but that’s a story about him.) And Kayla appears to have a knack for spotting them.
Could this technically be a #randomkatness? After all she sent it. Will consider. For now we’ll call it #theartofgriffin
Editor’s note: When Nora and family travel east of Command Center (my desk), they add photos throughout the day to a shared album. I look through, select what I think will work for the next day, set them up in the blog media library then match them to the copy Nora sends overnight. This year, I’m playing a little game: I caption the photos when they come in — without any reference to Nora’s words — taking the chance I know my group well. Pleased to say for this post I hit it 97.3% of the time (Kat captioned the one with Griffin holding her imaginary hand). <g> ~Laura
It sure has been around here. But happy busy with shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking. We do the works!
Pies, Turkey, All The Fixings and Family. I broke my own tradition this year, and decorated before T-Day. It seemed to me we can use all the cheer we can manage. So up goes the tree, out come the candles and strings of lights. Put out the Santa collection, the Snow People. And it’s time to admit I also collect Christmas trees.
And yeah, there’s a lot of cheer.
Thanksgiving gobbled right by. And that’s my signal to get up to my One More Room and start dealing with my personal department store of presents accompanied by gooey (it’s the season!) Christmas movies.
A quick and careful shopping trip with Laura to visit our friends at Saks (with Sarah for a day). Room service and evening hotel writing. Quiet, productive, and a lovely little break.
Weekends loaded with wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, gift tags until Hey! I can once again see the floor.
Nose to that grindstone during the week because I really, really want to finish this book and take a long deep breath before Christmas. And it pays off! Manuscript done and outta here two days before I have a little gathering for a handful of my (vaxxed and boosted) girl pals.
So nice to see everyone face-to-face, to just spend a day catching up. And since I have a day not chained to the keyboard, I can haul down the two Hefty bags of clothes purged from my closet, set them up on BW’s clothes rack.
And gone. More room in the One More Room. And that’s a nice side benefit.
The long deep breath includes a weekend with Jason and family as Kat leads this year’s Foundation Christmas party for a few local families. Deliveries again this year instead of in person, but Covid doesn’t dampen the cheer.
And I get Griffin time! The time includes a new favorite story.
He’s not happy when his mom leaves and it’s just me. Not a tantrum, but sadness that takes him to the door he’s thankfully unable to open to follow her. He sits on the floor in front of the door. I sit on the floor and sympathize. Then lie down, play peek-a-boo. He tries hard not to smile.
Then I see him look out of the corner of his eye at my little Limoges cabinet. He’s always fascinated by all those little pretty things. And is always denied access. Clinging to his boon companion, a little stuffed dog called Howl, he starts a butt scoot to the cabinet and the shiny little things.
Nana says: Uh-uh, Griffin, that’s a no.
So he shifts Howl in his hand so Howl puts his paws on the knob of the glass cabinet. Hey, I’m not doing it! Howl is!
Howl is also denied access, but Nana gets a good laugh, and gives the boy full credit for creativity.
Then I get out the bowling pins and we play, wild and happy, for a solid half hour before we head into Chase Me All Over The House–another favorite game.
The Santa gang brings back pizza.
Monday, dentist for me–and coincidentally Jason. Permanent crown now installed. Extraction (oh joy!) in February. Home to play another favorite game with Griffin, Bury Me In Pillows, before he and Kat head home.
And yesterday Baking Day with Kayla. Our girl is home from college (Dean’s List once again!) with a rotten cold. Tested for Covid, Flu, Strep, all negative. Just a vicious cold. But she’s on the mend, so baking it is.
Sugar cookie dough first and in the fridge. Chocolate chip, Peppermint Kisses, Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Blossoms. The house smells like a bakery (yum) as I play baker’s assistant. She does the work. I’m no longer guiding her little hands to help her crack an egg or measure flour. Those early lessons bore fruit, and she’s a wonderful baker.
While she bakes, I make her some veggie bean and pasta soup.
We’ve got soup simmering, cookies in the oven, and Christmas movies on the kitchen TV. It’s pretty damn perfect.
And she and BW sit down to paint the sugar cookies as I roll out the dough, cut out the shapes. After a long, productive day, she goes home with soup and cookies. And I have more sweet memories in the bank.
I’ll start a new book today, satisfied that I’m ready for the Christmas that is just around the corner. And look forward to having the family gathered together to tear into that wrapping paper and those gift bags.
As we close out the year, and look to longer days with the Solstice behind us, I wish you all peace, health, joy. And hope you find all of those with friends and family.
It feels a little odd to be busy with activities besides work and domestic tasks these days, but October opened up for it with a long-delayed trip to NYC.
We were able to schedule it around Kayla’s fall break from college, so I had my oldest and my youngest grandchild on the trip.
We limo’d up, and Griffin made it clear he was born for limo rides. We didn’t make it down the lane before the grins broke out. Such fun to see his pleasure with the height of his car seat and the window so he could see out, and his delight with the colored lights on the roof.
The half bag of chips he ate didn’t hurt either.
We had the amazing Kevin at the wheel, and a good thing. Minutes after our half-way there pit stop, he noted a radiator issue. Not only did he figure out where to stop where he could find a part, but he got it, and fixed the problem himself.
Kudos to Kevin.
Griffin clearly loves hotels as much as limos as he had to race around everywhere, happy to explore. We unpack, settle in, and since we wouldn’t be eating out on this trip, hit up room service. Laura’s with us, so a happy family meal, plenty of hang out time before an early to bed on travel day.
Up bright and early for a workout, clean up and dress for our first shopping day.
Kayla hasn’t been to NYC in some time, (she’s just a little excited!) and needs business casual attire. She’s in several clubs at college—including the Honor Society—and they have dress codes. My girl has mostly sportswear and sweats—and some fancier duds, but nothing really that hits that middle ground.
Fun for Nana! And it’ll check off a certain college student’s Christmas gifts.
We approach this as shopping clusters and earmark a group for the first day. A rousing success. Not always easy as our girl has a hard time finding pants to fit her Double Zero frame. And she absolutely, no question, knows what she likes and what she doesn’t.
I respect that! Plus, I can’t fault the girl’s taste. On the other hand, it’s like dressing this tall, leggy doll—and everything looks good on her.
Later, Laura and I head to Stewart Wiseman as she needs shoes—and the 8th floor of Saks, usually a Nirvana, didn’t reach the march. She finds shoes, and I end up with two pair of boots I really needed need but seriously had to have! And I’m taking Kayla back as I’ve found the perfect black booties that’ll work with those tiny skirts.
A fun day, despite a bit of rain. Then a take-away meal that suits all.
And cake! Amazing birthday cake. And just beautiful flowers from my sweet family.
Another day, another cluster. I’m also bagging a few other gifts as we go, checking off that list! Plus it’s really, really good to be back in the energy of the city. It’s definitely not as crowded on the streets or in the stores, and it’s good to see most wearing masks. I’m also pleased a pair of my new boots prove incredibly comfortable throughout the urban hiking.
Laura, Kayla and I head up to our roof terrace with snacks and champagne. It’s a pretty day, but wow! Turns out the wind is wild up there that afternoon. We end up inside with the doors open.
There’s time to play trucks—Griffin’s newest love. And another successful take-out meal after another successful day of shopping.
[Note from Laura: Griffin’s other fun game with his parents.]
I like working out in the mornings with the city view. A big change from my usual, and after, I can head downstairs and see whoever’s up and about. My editor, Leslie, is coming by—I haven’t seen my pal for two years. It’s so good to see her again, to hang out awhile, to have to hike along on our next cluster.
Also fun to have yet another girl weigh in on fashion choices.
A long successful day, and Kat’s put out a pretty fruit and cheese platter to welcome us back. Goes well with wine!
My agent’s coming to join Leslie and the whole gang for a pizza dinner. Again, just so great to see her again, and to sit and talk with my NY connection. We’ve all been friends as well as partners for a very long time.
An Uber trip (not ready to use the subway yet) downtown the next day so Kayla can visit PacSun. It’s not only a favorite store, but she just interviewed for and got a job working there. Another cluster, with that in the lead, then back to midtown to walk awhile.
Throughout the week, we shop, sit and talk, play, and sample many cuisines. Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian. Kayla, our vegetarian, doesn’t go hungry. A quick stop at the toy store to find a little something for my boy, and we three girls enjoy an outdoor lunch—until it chills down with a stiff breeze.
Time to pack up, say goodbye, then it’s the long ride home.
Back in routine after a fun week. Making soup, harvesting more herbs. And writing, of course, which rolled, really rolled. I think the week off seriously recharged some batteries.
Have to say goodbye to my Kayla who has to head back to college.
And before we know it’s it’s Griffin’s third birthday.
Toys! Cake! A very happy little boy. He took two of the little monster trucks Kayla’s mom bought him to bed with him along with his beloved stuffed dog Howl.
He’s just as happy this morning, and has yet to put them down.
I’ll be making a pot roast later, likely harvesting the last of the basil.
Tomorrow I have to see a specialist who’ll determine if this tooth—next to the last, upper left, can be saved. Not looking forward to that, either way. My teeth continue to work against me no matter how nice I am to them!
Anyway, after that stupid busy work, it’ll be back to routine.
As we ease toward Samhain, I’m pretty thrilled so much of my garden is blooming—or as Kayla would say—vibing and thriving. I know it won’t be long until that first hard frost, so I enjoy those blooms every day.
As I close this blog, I’m listening to my son play with his son in the other room.
A couple of weeks ago, we have our traditional girl trip–two days with pals at Tyson’s in VA shopping, hanging out, exchanging gifts and just being pals.
Jason and Griffin join us the second day for the stupendous lunch the team at Saks puts on for us. The boy is quite the star! And my beloved Azita–whom I’ve worked with for . . . God, it must be a decade now–never fails to put together clothes that suit me so well. (This means a mini closet purge when I got home, but I have no regrets!)
Last weekend Turn The Page joined Holiday In Boonsboro with a massive, happy signing. Lots of readers, lots of books, lots of holiday spirit in a town all decked out. We have a great group of authors and fabulous, patient readers who stay cheerful through a five hour event.
On Sunday we hold another event focused on kids, and there’s nothing, just nothing as heart-stirring as watching a child light up when Santa ho-ho-hos into the room.
I store up that joy and spirit to get me through Monday and dental implant, take two. Okay, that isn’t a wonderful time, and the weather agrees by turning raw and rainy. Just a little bonus.
But that’s done.
I have to skip my workouts for a week–sore, swollen jaw and my own worry about raising my bp too high in the early healing stage. But that’s done, too, as I–finally–got a good one in this morning.
Still, not breaking to hit the gym means a longer writing day Tues, and that’s nice.
Wednesday, a shorter one as BW and I host our employees at our annual Progressive Shopping Night–with dinner on us at Vesta to cap it off. It’s not only fun, but it gives everyone a chance to see what the other businesses have to offer, and the opportunity to mix and mingle.
Then my pal and business manager JoAnne and Laura and I stay overnight at the inn. Pour the champagne; we’re not driving! And after a fun night, an amazing breakfast, I head home to work.
A full day of that on Thursday–yay–then another shortened work day as I’m hosting my annual Managers’ Holiday Party here at home. With the exception of our fabulous Robert at Vesta, all our managers are women. Maybe, feeling outnumbered, Robert skips this event, so it’s a few hours with girls.
Saturday is cooking baking marathon. Kayla’s definitely head baker here now. Just her and Colt to bake this year, and she’s all over it!
I make the sugar cookie dough early so it chills while she–with her able assistant, Colt–deal with the rest. While she’s making chocolate chip, peanut butter blossoms, candy cane kiss cookies, I make a pot of chickpea vegetable soup for the vegetarian. And potato and ham for BW and me.
First time with this veg soup, which I blend from a couple recipes and Kayla’s choices. She tries a bowl for lunch. Has seconds, so it definitely worked! She has another bowl at dinnertime, and took the rest with her.
Onto painted sugar cookies, and BW joins in. A friend gave me dinosaur cookie cutters, and Colt is all about them. So we have Christmas dinos along with the Santas and bells and stars.
I should add we all taste test along the way–every type. My girl’s become an exceptional baker. And I’m going to need those workouts even though I sent the kids home with a major supply.
Today, at last, a workout so I feel more like myself. Kayla’s come up to wrap for me for a couple hours–bless her heart! Since we ran out of steam before snickerdoodles (and they’re one of her faves) I’ll bake those shortly.
With the help she’s given me on wrapping this year, I should only have one short session remaining.
My house needs a good shoveling out as it’s been a really busy week, but once that’s done, it’s done.
We have leftover soup, plenty of cookies, and a house that’s ready for Christmas.
I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season as much as we are!
Note from Laura:
Took this when I headed home from Nora’s Saturday morning. Nothing like muted colors and a dreamy scene.
On a cool, misty day, we head out with Kat at the wheel.
Brave, brave Sir Kat!
She handles it while BW navigates and Jason and I share the back seat with Griffin. And handles is so well I can relax and enjoy the view on the short trip into Kenmare.
Narrow, shop-lined streets, streams of cars and people, vivid flowers hanging in lush baskets. Minutes after we park the car, I spot what I want for the first stop. Kat’s on a mission for wool yarn, and I’m on the hunt for Christmas gifts. We hit a bonanza of both!
Gorgeous yarn, saturated colors, soft colors, vivid, neutral, whatever you could want if you’re the crafty sort. And I find another chunk of gifts to cross off my list. The shop will ship free if you spend a hundred Euro. This turns out to be no problem at all.
Kat and I both find everything we wanted, and more. And can walk out without passing a load of bags onto the men.
We find our place, and another pretty waitress for Griffin to flirt with. Fish and chips, Cajun chicken, big salad, and we don’t forget the chips.
A little post-lunch wandering—I’m still hunting gifts, and Kat’s hunting something (can’t remember the name) for spinning wool. Yes, Kat has an actual spinning wheel.
But our men are bored—all three—and Kat and I will come back at some point. I do spot a sculpture I fall for, but the shop’s closed at the moment. We need a few supplies for the cottage, so head to the super market.
There are three to choose from, all basically within steps of each other.
I love that the carts offer infant seats, and other carts have double toddler seats. The Irish love their children, and find ways to make things easier on parents. [See note.]
People smile and talk to Griffin everywhere.
We buy gorgeous bread, some Irish cheese, some crisps and so on for those snacking urges.
There’s a craft shop inside the market—and they have what Kat wants. She wants to come back, take a better look before buying it.
Griffin spies another baby in a cart—and said baby spies him. They launch into an excited conversation.
Back home for some to nap. I take a walk around with my tablet to visit the flowers, take some pictures. The air’s damp and cool, but the rain’s holding off. The river’s steel gray, the mountains muted behind the gauzy curtain of gray. When the wind blows, it surges through the trees like a high surf. I walk over thick, spongy with wet green grass.
We have a reservation in the main restaurant for dinner. Griffin seriously suits up, and breaks the cute meter.
It decides to pour, but we have an umbrella, rain gear—and the car.
The pretty restaurant sets up a high chair. Griffin’s stance is, until there’s food on the tray, don’t even think about putting me in there.
Hard to blame him.
But there’s a pianist, and since the boy loves music, Kat takes him over to watch. Everyone takes turns walking him around when he needs it.
I go for the bass and new potatoes—and it’s perfect.
After his meal, Griffin wants to do some crawling, introduce himself to some of the other diners. They’re lovely about it, even encourage him to come say hello.
We head back in the rain so Mama and Daddy can put Griffin to bed.
It doesn’t take long before I decide that sounds like a fine idea.
Spots of rain, bits of blue sky and sun go back and forth this morning.
Workout’s done—some laundry comes next.
Kat and I may head back to Kenmare, or the whole gang may want to go somewhere else.
No set plans today, and that’s nice. We’ll just see when we see.
In today’s #randomkatness
Editor note from the Cranky Publicist: Before you comment, Nora doesn’t do the grocery shopping when home in the US so this is a definite revelation. I know there are stores here that offer similar carts. And I envy the upper body strength of the parents who push food and kids through the store. ~Laura
Head out first to get cold meds for BW, then he and Jason peel off for a bit to check out the park while Kat and I hit a couple of shops.
Griffin needs some clothes for his next size up. But we find his current size in a ridiculously cute plaid vest and pants—and bow tie. And tam. Irresistible.
Then there’s clan ties for the big guys. Fun stuff.
Into Marks and Spenser for Griffin clothes. The low level there has a kid department, and flower shop (gorgeous!) and grocery store. Fascinating.
We load up, and he’ll be a fashionable boy this winter.
The guys not only checked out the park, but rode the Ferris Wheel, so they were entertained.
More walking, with clouds rolling in. So back to the hotel to drop off the bags and get rain gear.
How about lunch? How about pizza?
We find a place right off the Royal Mile. Pizza, pasta, and a very generously poured glass of red for me.
While we wait for our order Griffin invents a new game. Kat offers him her wallet to fiddle with, and he sweeps it off the table to Daddy. Daddy slaps it back on the table.
Griffin finds this hysterical, so the game begins. Maniacal laughter, sweep, slap. The waitress says: What a happy boy, when she brings the food.
Yes, he is. And more so when he spots pizza.
Good food, good wine, and a nice rest for the walking feet.
Right call on the rain gear as it drizzles again as we start to walk The Mile. Such energy, such movement. Music playing.
A drummer (from NJ, it turns out) has drawn a big crowd. He’s got a fun routine we all (esp Griffin) enjoy before moving on.
To someone who mentioned it in the last blog (Editor note: a comment by Sue Towery on Facebook), we did slip into Thistle Do Nicely. Who can resist a clever pun? Not me.
There’s a group—three women and a guy, all in pink suits—just setting up. Performers can promo their show for about ten minutes on the mile.
They’re the Sushi Tap Show.
I can no more resist a tap routine than a clever pun. They’re fun, fast talented feet, crowd engaging. They draw a young girl from the audience, hand her a bell—like a front desk bell. The guy is miming conducting, and his partners do their thing on cue, and the girl hits the bell—right on the money, time and again. It’s petty damn adorable.
Raining a little harder now when Kat spots some stall tents. We can’t resist those either. Fortuitous, as it turns out, because the first one we check out has terrific gifts (can’t say what) for many of my girl pals for Christmas.
We hit a jackpot!
Kat helps me pick out which for who—and that’s a BIG help to me. We’re having a great time, and while the lovely woman—who’s giving us much information on the gifts—bags them up, an heroic clap of thunder blasts.
And the downpour follows.
We’re undercover—lucky for us. People are scrambling for their own, lots suddenly finding religion and rushing for the gorgeous cathedral right across from our stall. Some people crowd in with us, and are welcome.
It’s a big one—lighting, thunder, torrential rain. But doesn’t last but ten minutes or so.
It slows, allows us to start back. BW, Kat and Griffin head back first. Jason and I get about half way back when the rain gets heavier. A shout out here to my Azita for putting the lovely rain jacket in my sight line at Kat’s spree at Saks. It’s not only really pretty, it’s light and easy to pack. And it seriously works.
I stay dry except for below the knees.
We duck into a souvenir shop as I have things I want to get for my other grandkids—and I have a Sherpa in Jason.
He’s pretty well soaked when we get back. Heads to a hot shower. I head for the champagne!
A busy, entertaining day, with all kinds of weather. We’re tired enough to stay in for dinner.
It’s Edinburgh Castle today.
My workout’s done, BW, Kat and Griffin are down at breakfast. Jason’s catching some extra ZZZs. Hey, up now. Good morning!
We’ll head out in a couple hours.
The sky looks promising, but yeah, it did yesterday, too. Good thing I love my new rain jacket!
If you don’t have time, you need to make time for fun now and again. This was my week for making fun time.
What could be more fun that a day with girls–sisters and daughters–and the happiest baby in the world?
It’s our tradition to do a shopping spree at Saks in Tyson’s every year for Kat’s birthday. The team we work with there aren’t just the best, but have become family over the years. We start off in an area they’ve closed off for us and transformed into a garden–with a harpist!
Oh, the peonies! So fragrant, and fat as soccer balls.
Griffin likes the music, and also the selection of handsome baby clothes to pick from. Nana shows his some options. Yeah, that’s okay, hmm not bad. But when she holds up a little man suit, this is met with enthusiasm. Obviously, every handsome boy must have a little man suit.
We have delicious shortbread cookies–butterflies, dragon flies, blue birds–and an incredible cookie birdhouse made by Lily from the Graff department. She’s an baking artist. Some of these I have to take home for Kayla as my girl is extremely fond of Lily’s creations.
Then it’s time to get serious about wardrobe for girls.
Griffin hangs with us, hangs out with the team, has a walk-about and even takes a nap. When we break for lunch the teams presents us with an amazing gift. They will have a dogwood tree (which happens to have been Kat’s mother’s favorite) planted wherever Kat wants, and have included a really lovely plaque. It’s so touching, so thoughtful.
Kat and Jason will find a spot in their lovely yard where they’ll be able to watch it grow and bloom.
We have a simply wonderful day, and are now outfitted for all our summer adventures.
Because fun days should be expanded whenever possible, we learned years ago to stay overnight. After a post-shopping room service dinner, we have to say bye to Mary and Sarah–both have obligations in the morning. But Laura, Kat, Griffin and I get comfortable.
Griffin isn’t interested in sleep because this is too much fun. Laura can make noises by rubbing her fingers over the sofa, and there’s nothing funnier than that. Still, eventually it’s night-night for all.
I wake as usual about five-fifteen. But I wake to the sound of a baby laughing. About the best wake-up call ever. I join Kat and Griffin and a glorious sunrise for amusement with hands and sofa noises.
Mama’s tired, and Nana’s up, so Kat can catch more sleep while I get more play time. The boy doesn’t last long before he starts the eye-rubbing, head scratching that says: I need a nap. While he naps, I get my workout in–a good deal for all.
All good things must end, so we pack up–it’s quite a load–and head out. Happy Almost Birthday, Kat!
Back to work for me, but a slightly shorter day of it Friday as my older babies are coming to dinner. A good time to catch up on what’s what at the end of the school year. The two oldest will be joining the work force this summer around vacations–a very nice balance, imo.
We’ll be having fun with Logan shortly as it’s his turn for a summer trip, and it’s coming right up. Details to come.
Saturday, it’s work out, get in some quick gardening because we’re spending the afternoon in Baltimore at an O’s game. Kayla’s going with us. Logan declined as he considers baseball boring.
I love the boy, but this is heresy!
It’s a perfect day–low 80s, low humidity, sunny, and there’s nothing prettier than a baseball field. And no field is prettier than Camdon Yards.
We’re a happy group, guests of my broker and his team. Kayla and I settle in to watch them finish prepping the infield as the stands fill up.
And here comes Griffin for his first ballgame. Unlike Logan, he doesn’t seem to find it boring. He also samples his first crab cake, and like a good Maryland boy, enjoys it.
A pretty little blonde girl flirts with Griffin who flirts right back.
We have a fine time despite watching the O’s lose. They just fell apart after the fifth. But I’ve had time with my oldest and youngest grandbabies, hang out with Jason–who loves baseball–and Kat–who simply doesn’t understand it–on a perfect June day.
Today, I get my workout in, and focus on finishing some gardening. Then it’s deal with my seriously disordered house.
Because tomorrow, solid work time starts again. And that’s fun, too.
Let me start with the end of Day Seven, the night sky and meteors. It’s chilly, so requires a little bundling up. We have a picnic table in a field which strikes as the perfect spot to try to catch the show. We make our way along the narrow path with the aid of cell phone flashlights.
It’s really dark—no moon which will only help.
Meteors aside, the sky is just breathtaking. Crisp, clear, loaded with stars. A huge black canvas studded with lights. We settle down, and whoosh—a streak of light with a shimmering tail. I’ve never seen a meteor that big, bright. Here and gone in a blink, but it made itself known.
We can spot satellites, and far below, the red blink of a plane or two. Not sure I’d want to up there with all the traffic!
We see another, another, quick blinks and streaks of light. It’s pretty damn cool to sit in a field in Montana and watch a meteor shower, and one that adds those snaps and slips of light in a star-bright sky where you can pick out constellations like a drawing in a book.
We end it with another big one, like a celestial bookend.
A spectacular end to the day.
In the morning, I squeeze in a short workout as we’re heading to the airport to rent a car. We’ve got lists, and our walking shoes.
Mike drives us to the airport, and fills the time entertaining us with stories (he thinks the clack-click-cluck we heard might have been a woodchuck.) He has anecdotes and stories (annoyed raccoons, sneaky bears, huckleberry picking), answers questions and makes the ride go smooth.
And it turns out he was once a smokejumper, a Zullie. I’m fascinated, so more stories. Kat actually found a copy of Chasing Fire in the airport gift shop, so I’m going to sign it and get it to him.
We get the car—and prep for Missoula shopping with that hit on the airport gift shop.
Once we get into town, we hunt for a parking garage, and end up finding the same one we used when we visited before. There’s a stone statue of a cat—a big one. We’d taken a picture there before, so do again.
Then we’re off.
Kat and I are very pleased to find the same shop where I scooped up lots of Christmas gifts (and an amazing bag for me) last time. It only takes a minute to see I’m going to have some fine luck again this trip.
I love having Kat so I can ask: Do these earrings or pendant or whatever look like Girl Pal? If not, maybe someone else, or a bull’s eye right off.
A good long time in the store, but before I’m done I’ve got every single Girl Pal a Christmas gift from Montana. The shopkeeper seemed both impressed and a little anxious. LOL. He boxed them all up—I love buying baubles as they don’t take up much luggage space. Plus, shiny!
And I, of course, bought myself a pair of earrings for being such a good pal! Plus!! They had gorgeous wooden spoons. I can’t resist a good, attractive wooden spoon. Now I have two from Missoula.
Onto another shop with more fun to find. A tea shop where Kat finds gifts for family. In another BW and I both spot this metal happy sun face. We’ll find a tree branch to hang it on at home.
We find another jigsaw puzzle—so there’s future fun. Souvenirs, A pair of adorable baby booties—and a tiny little pair of blue moccasins. Nana can’t resist.
We head over to Biga Pizza, get on the wait list as they’re slammed. There’s a thrift/free trade/rock/jewelry shop next door.
We should be able to pass our wait time in there.
Kat digs through tumbling stones for candidates for jewelry making, and finds herself a little treasure trove—and a very knowledgeable sales woman.
I find a cool rock for Colt—who shares my interesting in stones—and another pair of earrings.
The weather’s perfect, I think. Warm, but not hot (for me), a little breezy. And Missoula’s a fun town with interesting buildings, fun shops, lots of restaurants. And some interesting people watching.
I see a woman—probably in her 20s—parking a bike. I have never—seriously never—see anyone that skinny still alive. She’s a pretty girl but her body’s a skeleton with skin. She looks perfectly happy, but I want to tell her to eat something.
Lots of people in town as Pearl Jam’s got a concert. I see lots of PJ tee-shirts. And Kat and I watch a woman pull a decent-sized black poodle from a backpack. Not a tea-cup, but maybe a miniature. In a backpack.
Then we spot a gorgeous Great Dane who ignores the challenging barks of a much smaller mop-headed dog. The Dane has far too much dignity to react.
Now it’s pizza time. Jason and I split the House Pizza—tomato sauce, garlic oil, basil, sauce. Kat and BW get something loaded—called the Vesuvius.
We’re all very happy pizza eaters. The place is busy throughout, so lots of other happy pizza eaters around us. We can’t quite finish two 16” pizzas, so we have a little to bring home.
Since I’d mentioned this wonderful pizza shop in Come Sundown BW wanted to bring a copy to them. We’re lucky enough the owner’s in, so we have a little chat, give him the book.
We’d hoped to hit—after a walk—an ice cream place called The Big Dipper. Jason and I head out on foot, but the heat and the hours on feet have BW and Kat driving to meet us.
Then, when we come to the end of the road—before we hit the expected address—we realize we’ve walked the wrong way. Even ice cream can’t persuade us to head all the way back across town.
Getting out of Missoula proved a little problematic. Wrong turns, stops and starts, a lot of jerking. Unlike the smooth ride in where I hadn’t had a problem in the back seat, this kills me. I’m car sick before we’re out of town.
We need to stop for a few grocery items so I tell BW that I need to take the wheel once we stop. Driving should help.
We find a travel stop right off the highway that has everything we need—except a watermelon—and I’m already feeling a bit steadier before I slide back in. And fight to bring the seat up for someone without a yard of leg.
It takes about five minutes for me to decide I don’t like this car. Loose steering—and some feature that pops out alerts, even tugs the wheel if you touch the line on the road. Driving on a curvy road, occasionally narrow, means your wheel might brush the stupid line on the side of that road.
The car and I have a simmering battle most of the way. I like to think I won.
Back home to unload all our goodies, have a rest—we’ve been gone nearly 8 hours.
It’s cooled off, so I change sandals for boots, put on a jacket for dinner. Jason takes himself on the walk—and to return a ring found in our drive. It must be from the guy who returned our resort car (for some reason they picked it up while we were in Missoula.)
We drive over and stop for BW to takes pictures of our favorite steer—with a companion. They’ve decided to lie down in the grass. And there’s a sweet pony, gorgeous horses in the opposite field.
I need to add I saw Kat’s horse painting in progress. Fabulous!
We have a nice, leisurely dinner on the porch, good food, good wine, good company before winding our way home again.
It’s pretty much time to turn in as we’re weary travelers tonight. And BW and Jason have to make an early start in the morning.
The guys are headed to Glacier National Park—Kat and I demurred—and left around 7. They’re driving in, then taking a four-hour tour. Kat and I will have our day at home.
I got my workout in, will likely write a couple hours. Since I finished the Spencer, I’ll pluck another book out of the pile. Or there’s that new puzzle.
It’s still cool as I write this—low 60s. I expect that will climb considerably before the day’s done.
Oh, and the resort kindly provided us with a watermelon. We have plans for that tomorrow or the next day.
Update from Maryland Control Center: Second surgery went off without a hitch yesterday. I’m typing while wearing a pair of cheaters, but when I look over the top of my monitor I can see the other side of the room clear as a bell. As my husband marveled, it’s the first time in 50 years I can say that. Thanks again for all the good wishes.
Kayla was eleven the first time I took her on a girl trip to NYC–and this mother of sons spent a LOT of time in the American Girl Doll store.
My own American Girl is now on the cusp of 16, and we spent considerable time in Sephora. And the new and amazing makeup cathedral on the second floor of Saks. And the eighth floor (shoe sale!!)–plus Lululemon (two locations) and various other venues where girls just wanna have fun.
And fun we certainly had.
Laura and Kat drove up separately–Laura to visit some family first, and Kat as the limo trip brings on car sickness. So Kayla and I had the big-ass limo to ourselves, chatting away a good part of the trip.
Selfie as they set out. Photo by NR
We arrive at the hotel on a pretty afternoon with Laura already in and Kat only minutes behind us.
Made it to NY! Photo by LMRTime to unpack, hang a bit, then take a nice walk around to stretch out the legs, do some quick shopping, form our plan of attack for the next day. A trip over to B&N for cards and jigsaw puzzles. Plenty of time left for hanging out on the roof terrace, a spin in the hot tub. And at Kayla’s request–and no argument after a travel day–room service. Some work on a 1000 piece puzzle–one that looked simpler from the cover than in reality.
But Kat has a genius eye for shapes and tiny variations in color. Much progress before we turn in for the night.
In the morning, Kayla and Laura head to the gym, and I do my workout in the suite. Time for breakfast, pulling it together. Kayla and I walk over to a Lens Crafters–my girl recently got glasses, and as she also has her learner’s permit (!), I decree she needs prescription sunglasses as an early birthday present. We discover we’ll need the doctor’s prescription, which we’ll get faxed, so back we walk to meet Laura and Kat at one of Kayla’s nirvanas–Sephora.
I appreciate her love of makeup, and more her excellent–and age-appropriate hand–with it. I’ve a good hand with makeup myself, but I learn things from the girl. Onto Free People then Anthropology. Good hauls, and pregnant Kat finds some fun stuff, too. Nobody walks out empty handed as we take a nice lunch break.
Yes, we’ll have champagne–or Laura and I will.
Lunch on Wednesday. Photo by NRTime for a little lie-me-down for mama-to-be, and the rest of us hit more shops. Since Kayla’s a runner and I work out daily, Lululemon works just fine for us. Kayla’s issue is a mile of leg on a size 0, maybe a 2. But she does pretty well. I do, I believe, some better.
We walked miles, literally, before calling it for the day.
More puzzle time, more hang out time. Laura has a dinner out with her daughter Clare and some of Clare’s friends. The rest of us, again, opt happily for room service. And I’m drawn into a new card game for me. Nertz. I win–which Kayla insists is beginner’s luck.
Maybe, but hey. I win!
Kayla has given Laura a curfew <g>, and fortunately Laura makes it back with a couple minutes to spare.
In the morning, Kayla has her first Shaun T experience with me–and does quite well. Then she and Laura need to get ready for the day while I do the rest of my workout. They head to one of Kayla’s goals, the top of the Empire State Building. * I’m grateful Laura took this on as I have no need to subject myself to that height again, and Kat isn’t up for it either. But Kat is up for fancy braiding Kayla’s hair on their return, a skill I don’t possess as a mother of sons.
My fabulous editor joins us for some hanging out and a terrific and oh-so-pretty lunch at Rockefeller Center’s summer cafe on the ice rink. My poor Leslie broke a bone in her foot a few week ago, so she’s in a boot, and Kat’s carrying my sweet baby. But we stroll into a couple of shops before Leslie heads out, and Kat heads back to put her feet up.
More shopping for the rest of us. Kayla knows how to shop, knows what she likes, what suits her. The shoe floor of Saks suits her, and me for her as SALE. I’m an indulgent Nana, no doubt, but a 16-year-old only gets Pradas at 50% off. And she does, and they’re adorable. As she’s most always in running shoes, I enjoy seeing her try on stacked heels, pretty flats. And I find the red shoes I was after.
I’ll add the girl hauls all the bags without complaint. She is designated Sherpa. I also notice how her confidence in the city grows every day. At first she sticks to me or Laura or Kat basically hip-to-hip. But as time goes on, and I explain every day the grid that’s midtown, she eases up, remembers which direction to go.
I also notice, proudly, how polite and engaging she is with hotel staff, with store clerks, waitstaff. Never fails to thank them, to make eye contact, to smile. To make a little conversation.
It’s room service again, and that’s fine. We’ve walked our feet off. And as the puzzle’s complete, Kat decides we need another, and takes herself off to get one–and finds more happy mama clothes on the way.
I love the way pregnant Kat looks, how she dresses that gorgeous bump!
Time to eat–do a little puzzle, and Kayla wants to play Hearts. Kat is a novice, so we walk her through it. I win, again. Ha ha. Then we drag ourselves off to bed.
Kayla opts to sleep in on Friday while Laura and I do our workouts. Then, after breakfast (the size 0 can eat!) Kayla and I head over to pick out sunglasses. I approve her pick, and really didn’t intend to get another pair for myself. But fun and cute, and since I pop on sunglasses every time I step outside, justified.
She’s made an appointment for a facial at Saks, so we head over there to meet up with Laura. Lots of scent on the second floor, and since it doesn’t hit pregnant Kat well she takes a day of rest.
Did you know Lancome does customized foundation? Neither did I. I’d decided it was time to switch up my makeup and skincare–it gets tired after a few years. So the Lancome ladies hit me at a good time. Laura, the makeup queen, gets her own custom foundation. It’s so cool to watch the science of it and the little machine that mixes it.
Kayla loves the facial, gets her makeup done. We now, between the two of us, own enough new makeup for a dance troupe.
The girl wants a wallet, and I promised Colt an Ugg blanket like his siblings have. So it’s uptown for the two of us where Kayla–who admired my Ugg sneakers (they weigh nothing and are super comfortable) finds then in light pink. I find some great sandals, also really comfortable, she gets some short boots, some slippers. No wallet, but there’s a Coach right there.
Sale!!! 1/2 price sale! She finds a pretty and practical wallet, a couple of the little cross-body purses (all she’ll use) and I end up buying a pink purse. I don’t have a pink purse, so now I do.
Haul it all back.
Clare’s going with us to the theater, staying the night with us. We’ve decided on an early dinner–pizza delivery–as we have an eight o’clock curtain for Mean Girls. Really good pizza, and after Kayla gives Kat some makeup advice as Kat plays with some of her new girl toys. Kat pays her back with another adorable braid.
We leave in plenty of time to walk across town to the theater and settle into our seats.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen many shows on Broadway, and happy enough to have taken my girl to several. Mean Girls ranks really, really high. It’s such fun, it’s so bright, so pretty. The voices are amazing, the choreography just freaking fabulous.
Tiny Fey is a genius, a comedy-writing genius. She’s translated her terrific screenplay (just love the movie) into an equally terrific book for the stage.
We’re all completely happy during and after. Just a great show if you have the opportunity to see it.
After, Kat heads back, and Laura, Clare and I fulfill our promise to face Times Square on a Friday night so Kayla can hit her very favorite store in the universe of stores: American Eagle.
She simply won’t consider non-AE jeans. And they do fit her perfectly. So I’m shopping in Times Square at eleven at night–a new experience for me. AE has three, count them three, floors. We do them all, and she hauls back the bags. It’s an absolutely gorgeous night in the city, and the walk–once through the madness of Times Square–just a delight.
Kat’s still up, so we hang and talk until nearly one in the morning.
A little later start, understandably, on Saturday. I squeeze in a workout, clean up, find a few puzzle pieces.Since we’re heading downtown, and separating, Kat draws Kayla and me a little map. I’m not as familiar with the downtown streets and stores. We cab down, Kayla and I get out to hit the downtown Lululemon first, and Kat and Laura cab on to the yarn store.
We strike gold for the tiny size in the downtown store, and she stocks up on running shorts, sports bras, leggings. I cave and get some leggings and capris myself.
Using Kat’s clever map, we find Alex and Ani–another wish. The girl loves to stack little bracelets, and we find one with a K charm. Text our yarn-seeking companions to let them know we’re heading toward Lombardi’s, our lunch destination.
Pizza, fun girls, a glass of wine. Ah.
Uber back, organize a little, and Kat heads off to buy a sketch book. She’s designing the baby blanket she’s going to make out of the pretty pale blue, dark blue yarn she scored. Did you catch that? She’s designing the blanket.
Clare’s coming back for dinner, which is room service again.
We hang out, Kat sketches, we play puzzle and finish number two. Eat, talk poor Clare into learning Hearts. Kayla won this time (beat me by two points!)
Then everybody but mama-to-be, who isn’t allowed, heads up to the hot tub. Gorgeous night, fun, relaxing interlude. Time to hug Clare goodbye.
I take a look at Kat’s sketch, and OMG! She’s done a dragon with Celtic knots around it, and it’s gorgeous. At the corners she has circles and is going to pick animals that represent the grandparents. Her mom, her dad, BW and me. So clever, so unique. It’s going to be an heirloom.
Tumble into bed.
Up to pack, squeeze in a workout, shower, dress, pack more, organize and condense shopping bags. Start a Mom check on the suite. Say goodbye to Laura–drive safe! Another Mom check, bag count–remind Kayla to look under her bed, just in case. A final Mom check (I’m obsessive here).
Call for bellmen (plural!) say goodbye to Kat as she’ll be heading to the garage. Check out. Brent and his limo arrive exactly on time, so it’s load it up, and time to say goodbye to New York. The city treated us very, very well.
And it’s been wonderful, all that female energy for a few days with girls you love.
Kayla talks running on the way home. Training, meets, coaches, meets, her teammates, meets, her goals. It’s so rewarding to see her passion and her determination for something she’s so good at, something she loves.
Then I have to say goodbye to my best girl, and hope she’s as loaded with fun and happy memories as shopping bags. I know I am.
She really makes me proud.
Note from Laura
* Our Empire State Building trip was perfect. We walked 16 blocks at a face pace around 9 am. took the elevator to the 86th floor, then another elevator to the 102 floor.
After souvenirs for her mom and brothers, Kayla and I decided to set the stopwatch and see how fast it took to get back. We did agree with a pause in the stopwatch to take a photo in front of the NY Public Library.
We made it back to the hotel in 16:24 for Kayla, 16:30 for me. Nora and Kat were highly impressed by how short and efficient our trip went.