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.
Every summer a few girls attend Kat’s birthday spree at Saks. We’ve–Kat, me, Laura, Mary and Sarah–started making this an overnight, because why not? This year, as June’s so packed, we celebrated nearly a month early.
And this year, we’re looking for Pregnant Kat clothes. WHEE!!!
The amazing team at Saks did even more than finding terrific clothes for our girl (and some for me!), but set up a really spectacular baby shower in a screened-off the area outside of The Club. Fun, gorgeous decorations–a fabulous balloon arch, an adorable diaper cake, yummy cupcakes, champagne (juice for you-know-who), and scads of beyond adorable baby clothes and accessories, sweet stuffed animals, books, the works.
A big, and incredibly touching, surprise for all of us.
Nana, obviously, had the best time ever selecting clothes for our boy. He’ll be very well dressed! And tiny, tiny little shoes no nana could resist. Cute as a button outfits, soft as a cloud swaddling blankets, onesies and footed one-piece outfits a baby goes through faster than you can say poop.
And after all this, the team presented Kat with a basket full of more baby essentials as a gift.
Such a kind, thoughtful gesture.
Then we get to outfit Mama, who looks fantastic in everything.
Pretty dress for a mama-in-waiting. Photo by LMR
A truly delightful and memorable day thanks to the fantastic team at Saks. Hugs and kisses to you all!
After a day of shopping–including a delightful lunch—Kat needs a little lie-down. Small wonder!
Then there’s room service dinner, a movie, just hanging out before bedtime. Laura and I are up early to workout–more hanging out for all over breakfast, then it’s homeward bound.
For me, hitting home means putting my wonderful new duds away–and purging some as I go.
More serious purging and organizing this morning–including finally switching out winter clothes for spring and summer. A job of work, but done now!
Time for a workout!
A quick trip outside to cut some of my lovely, lovely peonies so I can enjoy a few inside. BW and I have more work to do out there after I finish the blog. Things are really popping–my iris is up, my shade garden has filled it beautifully. I want to weed, water, walk around and enjoy.
Iris in the garden. Photo by LMR
And I want to sit, at some point, by my wonderful water feature with a bellini. It seems fair.
A busy June’s on the way. Unfortunately for me, I have to fit in a tooth deal in there. For those who wondered, the stupid tooth–lower back molar–has to go. I haven’t had an extraction since I had my wisdom teeth out.
Since I was pregnant when that happened four decades ago, they’d only use novacaine–and no drugs but baby aspirin. Horrible. I expect this will be a lot easier. Not fun, but easier.
And best of all, it’s not aching anymore–so we’ll slip it in between signings and speeches and trips to NYC, and get it behind me.
Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy my garden.
Note from Laura: Before I headed home yesterday, I took the flower photos and then thought I’d share a moment of Zen at the water feature. I’ll probably call it up on my phone whenever I’m stressed. Enjoy!
A fIrst full day in France packed with climbs, views, flora, scents and gelato. Vacation indeed.
It’s fascinating to climb and wind through the steep narrow streets here with the old stone of the buildings hugging the brick and cobblestone walkways. Ramps and steps heading steeply up and down, flowers and shop displays adding color.
We head out under sunny skies, poking and climbing our way toward Jardin Exotique. We’re not alone and join the queue for tickets. A big black cat curls up for a nap inside the cashier’s window. The exotic begins with a wide and pretty fabulous array of cacti climbing up the steep hills–and adding an arid touch to the views of sea and red-tile roofs. Shapes I’ve never seen, and some with buds and blossoms that seem other-worldly to this East Coast gardener. You climb the hills, too. Steep, hamstring challenging steps up and up in gorgeous air to the ruins of a fortress Louis XIV ordered demolished. Sprinkled throughout are charming, sleekly styled sculptures of goddesses, each with its own little poem. The ruins are high above our hotel, which I thought was really high to begin with. From here we can see the town proper, the perfumeries, the roads, and out and above, higher hills.
And here, as I scan up, as looking down whacks my system, I see on the crest of those high hills an odd tree formation. I study a moment, but it’s very, very clear to me–and when I point it out to my lovely companions, they must agree. It’s a large humping mouse violating a small tree. BW provides photographic evidence. I honestly wonder if some sly gardener hiked up there and created it.
We leave this high–and nicely flat perch for more exploration. Up and up, down and down, to see tall, armed cactus, squat, thorny balls, wonderfully weirdly twisted ones, sweet, spectacular waxy blooms, huge, lethal blades. We come upon a small lily pond fed with misters and another perch with lounge chairs and yet another gorgeous vista.
And on this slightly more humid side, enormous rosemary shrubs, blooming herbs, a waterfall, and a magnolia!
We head down, down, down, find the cat’s still napping, and hasn’t moved in the two hours we wandered.
More climbing as we start back for the pizza and gelato we happily agreed on. A quick stop for me for a new hat. The one I brought wasn’t as smashable as I assumed and now looks like it belongs to a drunken farmer. I find my new chapeau, and a couple of Christmas gifts while we wait for an outdoor table at the busy restaurant. The proprietor, and she’s hustling, tells us: Five minutes, ten, fifteen. In other words, who knows. Hey, there’s more time so Kat and I poke into more shops. I find a sweet summer dress, take a chance on the size as I’m too lazy to try it on.
We find the pizza–or pasta in Kat’s case–more than worth the wait. A nice glass of local red, a well-earned meal, followed by, mmmm, gelato. I can’t think of anything better than pizza and gelato any time, but after hiking the gardens, it’s amazing.
A quick stop at the hotel, then Kat guides me down to the perfumerie. We stop on the way at a wood shop. Spoons! I can never have enough wooden spoons. And there’s a wonderful trio of grinders–salt, pepper, herbs–well, we both need that! This proprietor, a charming older gentlemen, demonstrates how the grinders work, talks to us in a combo of English and French about his wares. An excellent stop.
Down the steep street to the busy roads, and into the heady scents of a perfumerie. We weren’t able to schedule a workshop, but take a tour of the little museum and see someone making a personalized scent among all the little bottles behind the glass. A worker patiently cuts a long, long trail of soap into exact slices, then hand-stamps each one. We see huge copper vats and tools, fascinating droppers filled with essence. Jasmine, rose, citrus, white musk and on and on.
Back up and up and up. Whew! Time for some champagne.
In a bit, Kat comes in–she and Jason headed out once again. And they’ve found a rock shop. Do I want to come see? Do I! I love rock shops, and this one is manned by a young guy who not only knows his rocks, but is passionate. My kind of guy.
He’s used his stones well in jewelry, and has plenty of rough stones, tumbled stones, spears, wands, globes. Like in a garden, I always feel happy in a rock shop. The colors, the shapes and textures. Just the feel.
With Kat and Jason’s input, I score pretty much all my girl Christmas gifts. And more, have lots of conversation with the rock guy. I even love the name of the shop. Good Karma. I buy myself a ghost quartz. I say to Eliot (we get to first names) that it has my horse inside. He’s delighted that I see the horse, too. His mother runs a shop just across the way–and since I’m using a credit card, I go to her to be rung up. And he tells us his father runs a jewelry store just down the path.
Quite the enterprising family.
Back up–and more champagne as I note down gifts and recipients in my book–as I might not remember when it’s wrapping time who gets what.
A nap for Jason and Kat–who’ve logged respectively some 70-odd and 90-odd flights of steps in this climbing day. I have a measly 37 in comparison.
We opt for room service and an easy meal after our very adventurous day.
Cooler and breezy this morning. I think I’ll want a light jacket for our trip to Monaco. But first I need to choose my morning workout. And I need some caffeine!
Worked out some kinks. My ants were delayed, but eventually snuck in.
Jason took himself off for a walk, Kat and BW for breakfast. Just before midday, we’re cleaned up and strolling up to the hotel for our car. Driving–rather being driven–in Europe will always be an adventure for this country girl Yank. And driving into villages–even good-sized ones like Fayence, more so. Parking proves easy this time, so score! And there’s a shop offering ice cream close by our spot. Something to look forward to after our climb back.
We walk down the steep street–no trotting!–to the tourist office. Closed for lunch. Okay then, we’ll have lunch, too. A busy outdoor cafe under a big red awning’s right there. A wine local to Fayence seems right–and proves just right. Hey, I haven’t had pizza in days–time to fix that. Kat and Jason get enormous, beautiful salads, BW some pasta with mushroom sauce. (Only Kat will have a sample thereof.)
People stream by as the waitstaff hustles in and out of the cafe–and the adjoining cafe that appears to make the desserts. We’re saving ourselves for that ice cream stand, so we begin our walk.
Little shops in those old stone buildings selling souvenirs–have a garden wall cicada that sings when you walk by? Ah, no. And lovely bottles of olive oil, herbs, wine. I will absolutely get some of all of those before we head by across the Atlantic.
Gorgeous bottles of perfumes with flowers floating inside, summer clothes, beach clothes. But we want views first, and climb up, up, up to the Panorama. My legs remind me I experienced a horse the day before. But up we go, and it’s lovely. A big shady area with benches–those fabulous trees (called plane trees here, and as BW and Carolyn, a helpful FB reader, identified as sycamores). But there’s even a better view from the watch tower, so up stone steps we go.
Stunning, really just stunning. You see the red tiled roofs just below, jutting and joining, then out and out to the entire valley. Another painting, perfectly pastoral. Green forests, rich brown fields, rows of crops lined up from this distance like soldiers. A patchwork of natural colors flowing toward the hills with the hills rising up to mountains.
There had to be roads, but I barely noticed them. And it all seemed so still and peaceful, like a world caught in glass.
We go down, and down some more, making Kat our navigator (she has the map from the tourist office) once again as we walk. The heat builds, I find. Heat rarely bothers me, but I think the stone buildings, the narrow street act like an oven.
Little shops again, all so cute. Kat and I wander into one as we’ve seen a colorful shirt–literally as its pattern is paint swatches–that we both agree says JASON. And in wandering in, I see these adorable woven shoes. Colorful, fun. I have to at least try a pair on. My usual size feels a little big, but they have a size down. They’re ridiculously comfortable. I must have them, and the shirt, too. Kat assures me if it doesn’t fit Jason, she’ll have it for her own.
Who cares about the heat when you have fun new shoes?
Okay, now I’m dripping. I don’t sweat like that unless I’m working out and hard, but it’s HOT, and humid with it in this particular spot. I sit on the curb awhile while Jason and Kat poke into more shops. They’ve found the most adorable little dog (or cat in their case) feeder. An iron dog with little bowls for food and water. It has some weight. I watch the heavy bag–and the parade of people. I see some sandals I wish were mine on someone else’s feet. Lots of dogs. A miniature poodle on a leash stops to say hello.
I see a young man with an impressive tanned torso–he shows it off by folding up his oversized tee-shirt. It must be cleverly pinned on the inside. It’s an odd look, but there is that torso.
Shopped out, we walk up and up, up some more, and find a church. A large and lovely one. And it’s cool inside. Stations of the Cross, holy water basins, flickering candles, statues of saints, and as always the BVM.
Up some more, and oh yeah, ice cream. Just sparkling water for BW (though he has a couple samples of my cone) as he’s having a tooth deal. Something broken off on a back tooth–likely a filling–that’s rubbing sharply. We put, by text, the intrepid Alain and the efficient Elania at the hotel on the case. He may have a stint in a dentist’s chair in the morning.
Back home we go for a well-deserved rest.
BW takes a swim, and it inspires me to do the same. Just the perfect thing after a sweaty adventure. As is the belini I make after the swim. After a rest, Jason and Kat (younger and more resilient) decide on another walk to the market. They’ll go the long route, and their ETA back here is 8.
BW finds whatever tooth deal he had has resolved. Most excellent news. I lose track of time until it’s coming on 8, remind BW he has to decide what he wants to order for dinner as none of us want to clean up sufficiently for dinner in public.
Jason and Kat return right on time, with more bottles of champagne, sodas and whatever else hit the list.
Dinner on the terrace–just that lovely, smooth soup for me, and okay, a few fries.
Another pretty, relaxing meal–a little entertainment, then bed time.
Since the dentist’s been averted, I’ll do my workout, and work (new charger arrived as promised!!!), then BW and I have both booked massages for this afternoon. Kat and Jason will motor off for yarn.
We have yet to decide how we’ll play the evening.
Neither my mourning dove nor the cat as visited me this morning. I’m about to snatch BW’s laptop and work out, so we’ll see about the ants.
Only two insistent ant fitness buffs for the morning. I was a little lonely.
On this gorgeous day Jason and Kat take off in a quest for yarn. I had a lovely, lovely swim, a round in the hot tub in reward for the workout.
Then, thanks to my promptly arriving charger, settled down to work for a couple hours. How about some cheese and bread with that? Don’t mind if I do.
For a couple of hours, my body sits in the woodsy shade of Provence and my brain goes to New York in 2061. It’s a very fine deal for me.
Stretch it out, have a bellini. Seems fair.
Then BW and I stroll (climb) stroll to Le Spa. This is BW’s second trip, my first. It’s gorgeous.
Airy and fragrant and wonderfully calm. Up a few stairs a glass window presents the beautiful indoor pool and its lounging area. We sit in reception a few minutes before we’re led to our respective locker rooms. More quiet, more pretty, more fragrant. I’m into the plush robe and slippers, then go into the relaxation room.
Several lounges–adjustable for your comfort. Glossy magazines. I test my very poor French reading and admire the photographs. My masseuse fetches me, guides me into my pretty massage room. In minutes I’m down, she’s back and it begins.
My choice of oil scented with lemongrass. Hot stones seeping into bones and muscles tested by climbs, workouts and horses. Good. competent, soothing hands. I drift in and out–my favorite state during a good massage. Not out so you wake up, think: What? Not fully awake so the brain doesn’t rest. The floating stage, and it’s perfect.
I tell her so when it’s finished.
Still in the dreamy state, I meet BW back at reception, and back home we go.
I decide to continue to relax there, which requires another bellini.
Jason and Kat return just about five o’clock. An adventure!
The yarn store Kat earmarked was closed for August–the traditional holiday month. Not to be discouraged, she found another in Nice, so on they drove. But that one, closed as well. She figures they figure who wants to buy yarn in August any way. Since they’re in Nice, they go to the beach, have lunch. And Kat gets to dip her feet in the Med. Jason regrets ordering a salad, which proved to be huge–after he sees someone served a hot fudge sundae. An enormous sundae.
Kat drives to Nice, Jason drives back. I remain the only holdout. But really, think of the humanity.
We talk our day on the terrace, talk about where to have dinner as we’ve decided to explore off-campus. In their efficient way, they’ve taken photos of menus of a couple of our choices.
We choose one, casual, and clean ourselves up.
Beautiful, balmy evening after another hot day. We run into–I believe it’s Phillipe, head concierge and chat while I car’s brought around. He doesn’t know the restaurant we’ve chosen, but we promise to report back. (Jason tells me I misspelled Eladia’s name in a previous blog.)
Jason’s taken himself off on foot as it’s just a bit over a mile and he wants to hit his step goal for the day (I have sufficiently crushed all comers in our Work Week Hustle). Kat, faithful navigator, directs us. Wind and wind and wind, and . . . there.
It’s in or really by a kind of shopping center, and some flats. Wide, open air, lots of tables. A cheerful waitress with a little English. I choose some wine, and that goes smooth and easy. Vin rouge always works.
She brings out a little chalkboard with the daily specials on it–and BW spots paella. That’s a favorite. It has a further description in French Jason and I puzzle over then decide is at any time over the weekend.
They have spaghetti arrabiata, which is a favorite of mine. Salade verte. Perfect.
BW inquires about what’s in the paella, as this often depends. The waitress only has French here, explains–and uses mime–it’s adorable. We got the shrimp, the mussles, the chicken (we’ve got that much French), but we’re all stuck on another ingredient until she draws a picture. An octopus (or squid). All five us are pleased with each other, and since all the ingredients suit BW, we order.
There’s a cafe across the way closing for the night. One of the residents of the flats is standing on her tiny balcony brushing her teeth. People begin wandering in to take tables. I have a view of the hills throughout.
The food’s really, really good. The service fun and bright. This is obviously a neighborhood place, and we hear only French. We all agree we’d certainly come back, and that’s before dessert.
Hey, hot fudge sundaes–and oh God profiteroles. Jason and Kat will split the sundae, BW and I the profiteroles. Meanwhile, a family with a young boy–three or four–and a very new baby are dining. The boy is entertaining himself creatively with action figures. Another big table is full of women so we figure a girls night out. Families and groups all around us, and the little boy’s in his own heroic battlefield. He’s really cute. We hear music from a nearby restaurant, and after a bit realize it’s karaoke!
Dessert comes, and oh my. I may not be able to fully finish my share, but I make a strong attempt. The long, lazy and satisfying meal has taken us deep into the evening. But we feel obliged to walk over and check out the karaoke.
It’s a pizzeria with a generous outdoor area. Lots of tables of people eating while others take the mike. We watch two girls bravely attempt a song. Not one I’m familiar with, and in French, but vastly entertaining.
Back home we go, and to bed as we hope to leave earlier this morning for the Saturday market in Fayence. No time to workout! Jason, Kat and I will start head-to-head on our Weekend Warrior Challenge.
I think I’ll try out my fun new shoes.
Note from Laura: Here in the real world, I’m at a family wedding this weekend. Sunday’s post could be a little later due to long party tonight and somewhat cranky wifi. Will do what I can!