Monday, December 9, 2019

Part Two of Merry Christmas

This weekend, we gave the kids part two of their Christmas gift: tickets to the Hillsborough Candlelight Tour. It is sponsored by the Chamber, and they say you can't possibly do all of the activities in the window of the event--and they are right! We prioritized and did all of the things that were most important to us, though! 

We started at the Burwell School, where we learned more about housekeeping in the early 1800s. My favorite new tidbit is that they made irons that were hinged to make pleats; it looked like a giant cast iron crimper for clothing! We also learned more about the seamstress, Kepley, who lived her in Hillsborough and went on to be the seamstress for Mary Todd Lincoln, and new tidbit, Mrs. Jefferson Davis! We also learned a lot about the history of harps from around the world and listened to some old Christmas carols performed on a harp.

We saw an original play performed in the old courthouse. A local playwrite wrote it about the Alamance Regulators, and an ancestor of one the Regulators spoke, which was really cool. We toured many historic homes and buildings, voted in the gingerbread house competition, drank hot beverages from all our local favorites, road a train around town, and listened to some local authors read. It was one of those wonderful afternoons where I am so grateful to live in this little town!

I took no pictures on the tours, but I did get these cuties:

And Issa captured my new favorite picture of Brad and I:

It was truly a fabulous day!

Friday, December 6, 2019

The Beginning of Holly Jolly

When we got back from Chicago, we started the process of holly jollying everything! The first stop is always the fire department for our trees:
Bless Brad. He was starting in with the virus I had last week, but he powered through and put up both trees:
Mom's is significantly larger than ours:
Brad was much happier putting up our tree:
After the trees, we went to see A Magical Cirque Christmas:
Evan was not that unhappy; he was just uncomfortable for the picture.
It was an amazing show! We still can't figure out some of the magic, and the performers were incredible!

We spent this week decorating a little in the tiny pockets of time we could, but we are most excited about getting very holly jolly this weekend!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Thankful in Chicago

 This Thanksgiving, we did something totally different: we went to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with Aunt Shannon. She has come to us for every holiday, birthday, and major life event literally forever. She really wanted to host a holiday, and we thought it was high time we made that happen.

Wednesday, for once, I did not get over excited and book us on the earliest flight possible. We ate lunch at the airport and caught a lovely 12:15 flight direct to Midway. After a short Uber ride, we were at Aunt Shannon's, and after about 20 minutes we we up to our elbows in puzzle:

Our family loves a good puzzle. And we spent a lot of Friday puzzling until it was time to go to dinner at a fabulous Italian place where I had Vin Santo for the first time state-side. We went back to Shannon's where the children fell in love with her building's pool. They would be in it multiple times a day until we left.

Thursday, we spent the entire day at Shannon's puzzling, cooking, and just being:

Eventually, we needed the table for our Thanksgiving feast, so we moved completed puzzle sections to cutting boards:

Brad carved the turkey:

And we sat down to quite the feast!

Also, the children are obsessed with being velociraptors:

Friday morning, we got up and went to the aquarium where we met Tim, Amy, and Maura! It was so good to see them, but we took nary a picture. We did have an amazing time watching the fish and enjoying their Christmas decorations. The belugas, especially the baby, were the highlight, though. As soon as Evan hits five feet tall we are going to go behind the scenes to meet them up close!

We had lunch at Bright Wok, and entirely gluten free Asian place Brad is convinced is heaven. He insists it was the best thing he ate in Chicago. We also experiences the Christmas Market. It is a completely European arts and food fair, and while parts of it were lovely we were all desperate to get out of the crown after 45 minutes. It was the best hot chocolate I have ever had, though--and it came in a little boot mug!

We finished the puzzle Friday!
 And then we bundled up to go to the lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo:
The lights were magic, and we had a blast watching the ice carvings, but the monkeys stole the show. We learned that family groups twine their tails:
 And we got to see the baby gorilla:
 I love that you can see Mom, Shannon, and Issa reflected in that picture.

We ended Friday at an amazing tapas place followed by yet another swim.

Saturday we just spend a quiet morning at Shannon's before we flew back home.

We packed a lot into those few days, but more than anything I'm grateful to see Shannon's city with her. I loved watching my kiddos soak in the city--especially now that they are older and can really see and experience it. No more strollers. No more worries about naps or meal times. We could just enjoy.

I'm truly thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving and beginning of the Christmas season.

Monday, November 25, 2019

A Heart Full of Gratitude

It seems appropriate that I would start Thanksgiving week with such a full heart. This weekend was a blur, but it was the best kind of blur.

Saturday, I spend the day cooking for Issa's friendsgiving at the studio and our own Thanksgiving yesterday. I wiped up the last of the flour just in time to get cleaned up to go chaperone our semi-formal with my forever date:
We really do make a night of it, and I love seeing our students all dressed up.

We came home Sunday morning and I started cooking until it was time to leave for the ballet. Those pictures are being held hostage on Issa's phone. We came home just in time for me to finish cooking our Thanksgiving!

This is a short week and then we head to Chicago! I can't wait!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

My Sweet Girl

Issa is helping to teach two classes at the studio again this year. Her littles absolutely love her, and she loves them. For Thanksgiving, she wanted to make them a little something. Enter these cute guys:
 She spent hours hot-gluing all those feathers. But this is what melted my heart:
Bless her sweet soul...

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Hobby for Me

I posted this on facebook last Tuesday night:

I heard a piece in NPR this week talking in part about the importance of hobbies unrelated to a person’s career. Apparently the vast majority of Nobel prize winners have one. The thinking is the productive struggle and failure rewires the brain to be more resilient and more solutions-oriented. I started to use this reasoning to justify my new pottery obsession. Then I realized something more important: I don’t need a justification. Pottery—even my terribly lopsided, unpredictable pieces—brings me great joy, and we could all use a little more of that these days. My wish for each of you is that you find one great joy this week just for you—to feed your soul. And a huge thank you to Julie Berkowitz and Brad for helping me find this joy.

I returned to the studio again last night, and I felt it even more deeply.

Julie had an HOA meeting last night, so as soon as we were settled she left us alone--we three potters that tend to be there every Tuesday. The other two are far more skilled than I am, and we have very little in common outside of the studio. We stared at each other wide-eyed--like kids left alone in a candy store. Then we started doing what we always do: glazing, shaping, trying to decide what to try next. We missed our teacher, but we also learned that we know more than we thought.

The studio is always warm thanks to the kiln, and it is tucked into the woods, which adds to the cozy feeling. I realized, though, that I'm also finding community there. We don't talk much, but when we do it's genuine. They asked about my kids. One of us is getting ready to move, and we talked about that. The other is in a doc program, and she finally opened up a little bit about that. We talk about our pieces. And there is often a very comfortable silence where all you hear is the whir of the wheels.

I always leave feeling more centered, and I'm still incredibly grateful to have found this little studio and a hobby that brings me so much joy.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Music for my Soul

For a few years now, we have had season tickets to the ballet. This year, when we renewed our tickets, we also received tickets to go see the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. 

Our tickets happened to be for yesterday, and they were performing at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. The theatre itself is beautiful. It was originally built in the beaux arts style in the 1920s, and it was fully restored in the 1990s. Sitting amongst all the gilt and velvet listening to the orchestra was amazing.

They started with the William Tell Overture, moved onto a sung German piece of five unrequited love poems, and then ended with a French piece that reminded me a lot of Camelot. As I was listening to the soprano sing in a language I didn't understand, I couldn't help but cry. You didn't have to know the words to feel it so deeply. At that moment, I remembered that I need to do this more often. There is something so unbelievably moving and soul-feeding about a live orchestra. Watching the cellos and violins--the way they move with the music. The artistry of the conductor. The roll of the timpani. 

It's just pure magic, and I need to create space for it more often.