Monday, July 29, 2013

Calm Before the Storm (er, the first day of school) - July 29, 2013

I thought I was ready for this. I really did. My kid has been going to "school" of sorts since she was three. She was enrolled in preschool for two years and then Georgia pre-K for a year, and our pre-K program is just like what kindergarten was for me when I was little. Very academic and structured (and fun!).

We've had IEP meetings for three years, we've dealt with people getting used to her walker and talker, we've dealt with uncooperative people and warm and wonderful people.

But yesterday at a welcome back social, I started to realize how not ready I am.

My daughter starts kindergarten on Thursday, August 1. (Yes, we start a bit early. We're on a 6-week-on 1-week-off schedule, so by September we already have a vacation. I do not love this cycle nor schedule but it is what it is and I love our school system so this is something that I have to accept.)

Brand new school. Brand new teachers, staff, paras, therapists. A new building with stairs to navigate (and an elevator - and she did fine on the stairs when she went with classmates for a no-parents-allowed school tour, but still). A new schedule. A new everything. Starting from scratch.

Did the new teacher read her IEP yet?
Did the staff set up a meeting with the rep from the talker company yet?
Is there a new physical therapist all set and ready to go?
Who will carry her talker?
Who will make sure she gets her special (IEP-mandated) mid-morning snack?
How exactly will she get to that tricky inaccessible-until-you're-on-it playground?
Will they understand just how smart she is and let her express that while also managing her outbursts?
Will there be someone to explain to this entire population of children that my daughter is both different and the same?
What if a third grader pushes her in the hall? What if a new classmate makes fun of how she talks? (Luckily she is in not only an inclusion class but also a class with four or five kids who have known her since she started preschool. I can only hope that they will help normalize a little girl with a green walker and talker.)
What if she cries? What if she has an accident? What if what if what if?

Eventually I will have to let go. (Eventually means Friday, I have a feeling.) We live so close to the school that I can see it out my window, and I'm not sure how I will manage the desire to run over at lunchtime to check on her. The obsessive checking of my phone to make sure nobody has called. The worrying.

Don't get me wrong. I am excited and thrilled and over the moon that my daughter is starting kindergarten. She's going to learn so many new things and make so many new friends. She's a really resilient kid, and she's incredibly friendly and funny and she has a way of charming everyone around her. Within days of starting summer camp she had the entire group wrapped around her finger (we walked in one day to her holding court at a table, cracking jokes with her talker while the kids listened and laughed).

All of her final pre-K progress reports indicated that she's essentially at the academic level she should be to enter kindergarten.

Every day she says (verbally or with her talker or signs or a combination of all three) some variation of "School? Tomorrow?"

I've updated her talker with her new teacher's name.

I may not be ready but I am fairly certain that she is.

It's going to be fine.

I won't cry that morning at the welcome breakfast for parents. I don't think...

Brief update 8/2/13: The first day of school went REALLY well! I didn't cry that much! I'm excited for the new year, and I'll have a post about everything new and exciting next week.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hey Hey It's a Thrifting Post! - July 20, 2013

This was my first all-day thrifting trip in a while, with no need to rush - but I actually didn't need much, so I didn't buy much. Really! But I found some amazing things including one of my favorite finds ever.

And no, I won't keep you in suspense. I'll show you that favorite thing and then I'll tell you the usual ramble.

OMG IT IS A SILPAT BAKING MAT. And I paid...$1.21 for it. A DOLLAR. Amy suggested that the store probably thought it was just a random placemat and I suspect she's right. I saw the word "Silpat" sticking out from under a pile in the shelves I lovingly call "all the random crap that the Goodwill didn't categorize: office-y and party-supply-ey sort of things" and I GRABBED IT AND SQUEALED. It's in perfect shape - it's not broken, bent, or stained. I rinsed it off and it is like brand new. I bake about once a year, if ever, so I could never justify such a fancy kitchen tool, but now I have one! And now I must bake!

OK. Back up and rewind. First we stopped off at a random thrift store in the middle of nowhere (I'd asked Amy to pull off because I needed coffee and wanted Starbucks) that had a sign promising a book sale. The store was chaotic and kind of overpriced and we were both overwhelmed so we didn't buy anything. And the Starbucks was one of the ones in the area that has the new test-market fresh sodas! But I didn't notice that until after I'd ordered, so I didn't get one. (CSB, right?) Now I want a fresh ginger ale...

Then we hit the favorite amazing indie store that rocks my socks. I will guess at the prices - I know some of them, and some of them just blur, but nothing was more than $2.

Buttery soft T-shirt. I think this was $1.50, maybe?

Skirt with circles embroidered on it. A few loose threads to snip, but this will be great in the fall. $1.

Pin-up-girly/rockabilly (or at least that's what I thought of) skirt. Look at that AWESOME scalloped edge! I love this. OK, so it's a teensy bit tight at the waist. I'll make it work. $1

Old Navy jeans. They're super wide in the legs but I decided I liked how they fit overall so I bought them. $2.

Perfect condition Gymboree top for the kid. We have a thing for ladybugs around here too. 50 cents.

More clothes for the kid. I have a feeling the jeans won't fit, oops. The skirt and top kind of go together. I want her to wear more skirts this year - her steps are getting better, so I think it could happen. 50 cents each piece.

I didn't think I'd love this sweater (Old Navy) quite as much as I did once it was on. $1.50, maybe?

And two books - one's not pictured because I can't find it, so I'll add it later. ($1, hardback book about food.) The other I probably will resell but I couldn't resist:
The No-Cry Sleep Solution is an EXCELLENT book about baby sleep. I want everyone to have a copy!

I think it's autographed by the author. Yes, it could be any Elizabeth, but it was written on a sticker as if it was a special order or something.

Also not pictured because my camera Failed, a little old lady knitted shrug that I think was $1.50. Cream colored and very basic. I'll put it up later if I think of it.

Then we went to Value Village. Not much going on, lots and lots of poorly placed tags making holes in nice things. But I found a few happy-making things, yes.

Hehe. Brooklyn! I miss Brooklyn... $1.45.

Hello Kitty shirt for the kid. Too big now but...bunny ears! $1.45.

Both pairs of jeans for the kid were in the half-price color. One's Old Navy, I forget the other one. One's going to fit for sure. The other was a risk. $2.50 for the two together.
Finally, we went to two different Goodwills. You've already seen the beautiful Silpat I scored at one of them. What else did I get? Not much, as you'll see.

Hello Kitty lunchbag/purse! I adore this.

Hello Kitty insulated lunchbag! (The HK things came from two different GWs.)

And one little tiny book. I swore - NO BOOKS - and yet look. Books. Amy said this is really good so I gave in. $1.50.
The next thrifting trip may be SUPER DELUXE EPIC if it happens. Value Village on half-price-everything day (and we could hit TWO VVs) PLUS the Salvation Army on half-price-clothing day. Here's hoping!
Dagmar's Home Thrifty and Vintage link party featured

Monday, July 15, 2013

Am I weird? How many places do YOU visit for groceries? - July 15, 2013

Yesterday as we were pulling away from the small local health food co-op, after shopping at one of the many outdoor farmers' markets in the area, it occurred to me that I shop at a LOT of different places for my groceries. And then I thought how lucky I am to have all these options...and I wondered if I was weird or if this was something everyone does. (I'm not a very good grownup. I have no idea what's right or wrong when it comes to everything from "Do these shoes go with these pants?" to "Is this how everyone else eats dinner?")

Partly this scatteredness does come from my wanting to find the best sales, get the best deals, and so on. That is absolutely true. But part of this is that I'm curious. What ingredients does that little shop over there carry? Does that giant chain have a better selection of flavors of something than that other chain? Is that place's bulk section any better than that other place's? And...of course...who has the best prices? (I do this when we're on vacation too - I went from a kid who would be dragged whining and screaming to a grocery store to an adult who wants to make the local grocery store a stop during any trip. "Ooh, they have this? And they triple coupons? And they charge $X for that?!"

To give you a lay of the land, we are a family of three, we keep a 99% vegetarian household (my husband buys tuna on occasion), and we try to eat as much organic/minimally processed food as possible, but we still occasionally buy things that are not organic, that are processed, and that might even contain questionable ingredients. We do our best. Also, I really should lay down an exact grocery budget and operate within it but...I don't. I do know that the more we buy at the grocery store - and the more appealing it is, even if it's something a bit pricey - the less we go out to eat (we are surrounded by incredible restaurants and constant temptation) and the more money we save in that way. Again, we do our best. My husband is the one who cooks dinner - he's better at throwing things together, I prefer to work from a recipe - so happily he's on board with the way I like to shop, more or less. The kid eats better than I would've expected and is willing to try new things sometimes - and she likes the grocery store too (though she freaks out when we get in line at the checkout about 75% of the time).

So here's my list of where I shop:
  • Kroger. There's a small-ish store I can walk to for last-minute needs, a big-ish store I have personally driven* to but don't love, a very big store that we go to as a family (I probably could drive to it myself - I've driven past it before), and a two-level store that sometimes seems to carry more unusual things (for example, that specific branch of Kroger is the only place I've found Polar Seltzer - cans, basic flavors, but still! Polar!). In general I find the prices at Kroger to be OK. I hear people insisting Kroger is has the lowest prices, but only for some things I buy regularly - my favorite almond milk is cheapest here, for example. HOWEVER, lately I've found Kroger to have the best regular-grocery-store selection of organic items, and their in-house natural/organic brand (Simple Truth) is priced well and tastes good in everything I've tried. Slowly Kroger has been taking away coupon doubling in other regions, though, and I think mine is next. The e-coupons sometimes offer decent deals and are easy enough to use, but I will miss doubled coupons terribly if that goes away, and I may have to rethink my shopping if/when.
  • Publix. There's a medium-sized store that I can easily get to and a bigger store that is a bit further (we literally drive past the medium-sized store to get to it) that is way better. Publix is the other big-name store I frequent, and I prefer it over Kroger. The BOGO deals are often great (I know the cycles of some of my favorites and wait to stock up on certain products a few times a year) - but they also seem to have better everyday prices on the things I buy often. The people who work at my favorite store are always fantastic - friendly, helpful, nice to my kid. But the organic selection just isn't as good, particularly when it comes to produce, and what they do have isn't always the best price. On the other hand, they don't make me carry a store card for the deals and there have been - thus far - no murmurs of discontinuing doubling coupons. Plus the stores near me take Kroger and Whole Foods coupons (wish they'd also take Target!). That's handy because Kroger often mails me high-value coupons (gleaned from my store card use, I know) and I can use them at either store.
  • Your Dekalb Farmers Market (YDFM) - I wish I could just shop here and only here, to be honest. I have gone on and on before about my love of YDFM - the produce! the dry goods! the bulk spices, flours, sugars, grains, dried fruit.... (except you have to buy the bulk things pre-packaged rather than buying exactly what you need - a very minor quibble). The cheese! The....everything! No coupons accepted, cash/debit only, easy easy. I just buy what I want and I know I'm getting a great deal on it all. Bonus: The more I shop at YDFM, the less I buy processed anything. (YDFM certainly sells processed food, and one time I bought in-house-made bread and was disappointed to find it had partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient, but when I go, I spend the bulk of my grocery money on fresh things. Tangent: I used to buy these lovely little fancy ice cream sandwiches there until I read up about titanium dioxide, decided to try to eliminate it from my diet, and then found it on the ingredient list. Sad trombone.)
  • Whole Foods - Usually we go when we need something very specific (vitamins, mostly) but then we wind up spending $50+. I don't even know on what - some produce, some bulk items (I do love their bulk section), some...impulse buys. Also: Cheese samples.
  • Trader Joe's - I regularly pay the Trader Joe's tax of $50 per walkin (as in, I can't get out of there without spending at least $50). I absolutely love and adore TJs and we used to go about twice a month but lately we've cut back. The prices on some things are excellent, but I always buy things I don't actually need while I'm there. Those things are, again, well priced but not essential. But I like to go at least once a month or two now for some items I can't get elsewhere.
  • Super H-Mart - I get here once every two months or so. Great deals on noodles and rice and certain spices and sauces. The branch that's a bit farther away has house-made tofu that is to die for. An amazing selection of produce - not all of it is organic, but it's always fresh and sometimes I find certain fruits/veggies I don't see elsewhere. I used to buy a lot of cookies and candy until I got more sensitive about ingredients (boo). I have a store card and I get their coupon books in the mail.
Those are the stores I go to more than, say, twice a year. But then there are the other stores I go to here and there. Return 2 Eden is a local health food store that is the only place in the Southeast that stocks May Wah fake meat (the best stuff ever - I actually need to get over there for a bag of the fake chicken legs...). Sevananda is a local co-op that has an incredible bulk section. My city has a twice-a-week outdoor farmers' market that we go to sometimes, and then we go a bit out of our way for a really great one on Sundays (and I keep meaning to check out some others in the greater Atlanta area too). We just went into the Fresh Market for the first time and I could see us going back to it once in a great while. There's a tiny market here in my little city that carries gourmet food items that we sometimes poke into. I wish I could get to the Buford Highway Farmers Market more often (I've been once or maybe twice) because I've never seen such a grand selection of international foods in one place before (it's overwhelming!). Oh and then there's Target - the one closest to us just expanded its grocery section and while it's not usually convenient to get much there for various reasons, it has the best price for the bread my family prefers and sometimes, of course, since I'm there I'll get something specific I'm out of. I have been in Aldi approximately three times ever and wasn't impressed with it enough to go out of my way (which I'd need to) but if I was somewhere next to one I'd probably run in for a few things. Please notice that I do not and will never shop at a certain very large very upsetting store with a W. Prices be damned, I just can't do it.

And I am sure I'm forgetting something too.

Again, I'm really lucky to have this sort of variety and choice - but I also take full advantage of it, and I can't imagine paring it all down to a single store.

What about you? Do you shop at more than one place? If you don't because you don't have the variety near you, would you if that were to change?

*I've got a wicked huge driving phobia going on. That's why I mention driving so often. It's essentially me saying how close or far something is from my house though.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Our Epic, Crazy, Wonderful Summer Trip - Part Two

When I last breathlessly left you, I was talking about our crazy summer adventure. We left the wedding in the Albany, NY, area and then we took a much-too-brief side trip to New York City. The drive was a bit...eventful though. First, the kid insisted she had to go potty three times - but each time, would get there and refuse. The first time she was afraid of the auto-flush toilets (I eventually figured out how to block the sensor, but the damage was done). The second time, the skies opened up into torrential rain and we pulled off into a tiny visitor center in the middle of nowhere, and still she refused.

At the third rest stop, I was feeling frustrated. I had shoved a few things into my large purse, including the potty ring we use to help her balance. We got into the small stall (the handicapped stall was occupied). I yanked on the ring in my purse in annoyance - not knowing that my iPod was tangled up in it. It was like a bad movie scene - in slow motion, I watched my iPod fly through the air and plop in the (not yet used by us) public toilet. Whoosh. And as I also noticed that our stall had no toilet paper, I cried out "No! No! No!" probably freaking out every single person in the bathroom and then, yes, I plunged my hand into the toilet and pulled out my iPod. I turned it off, pulled the flimsy case off of it, dried it off on my shirt, the kid did her thing, I cried a bit. That story is to be continued - read on! Read on! (Damn you, Mercury Retrograde!)

So we wound up staying in a beautiful loft in Brooklyn that had the most delicious view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline ever. We had our first meal of the trip at the Good Fork - I had the "steak and eggs" Korean style, but (per the menu, not something I invented) I substituted tofu. It included kimchi rice, arugula, apples, and a fried local egg, surrounded by tofu that was perfectly crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The menu wasn't my-kid-friendly (yes yes, there are children who eat potato parsnip mash and octopus tacos - mine doesn't) but the waitress brought us a plate of noodles and veggies that was just right, and my kid also stole half of my husband's burger. But before we headed over to the restaurant, I texted a friend of my husband's and asked for a bag of rice for poor iPod. And I got it, shoved the iPod in, and tried not to think about it for a few days.

The rest of time in New York City was spent...running around some more. The weather was terrible, but I squeezed in a visit with my oldest and dearest friend Cara - we met when I was 11 and she was 10 (and she brought a picture of that first summer, which was adorable and cringeworthy all in one - hey, it was the 80s...). We went to a sandwich shop called 'Snice that, were I to move to Park Slope (ahhhh someday), I'd probably eat at daily. I had a vegetarian "sushi" sandwich that was so incredible I am craving one right now - crispy fresh bread, pressed tofu, picked ginger, wasabi mayo, seaweed, possibly some other delicious things, all smushed together. We gabbed, we saw her apartment and met her sweet cat.

Meanwhile, Mercury again messed with me and my phone stopped working. Of course, just when I needed to call Cara to make/change/update plans (it's raining! it's not! it is again!), it wouldn't work. I used my husband's and cursed the planets. (Over time, functionality came back. It's a relatively inexpensive smartphone on a no-contract carrier, so I don't know why I was surprised.)

After we managed lunch with Cara, we took the F train into Manhattan in the rain - the kid in a stroller, my husband and I trying to manage that plus umbrellas (we managed) - and made it to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village. It is totally worth the trip - I had the American Globs and now I think pretzels should be a major part of every soft serve cone. My husband shared the Bea Arthur with the kid. The adorable girl who was working suggested that I was really nice (vs. others she encountered) because I am from Georgia, which made me laugh - I told her I was actually from NY/MA but that clearly the south has rubbed off on me.

We also managed a dash into St. Marks bookstore where I realized that the south really has rubbed off on me when I tried to chat with the sad guy at the counter and he wasn't having it. (I bought a book as a gift and a food zine for me.) Side note: St. Marks Place is...not what it was. I knew it in my head but seeing it made me long for the past. I logically understand why the used CD stores went away, but to be replaced by Pinkberry and Chipotle, really? Oh well. I will always have the St. Marks Place in my heart.

Also, my daughter made friends with someone on the subway. The NYC subway. Despite the fact that she doesn't speak particularly clearly (and we'd left the talker back in the loft), she still charmed a guy who seemed to kind of want to keep to himself into telling her about his grandchildren and his cane. It was sweet.

We also experienced the Fairway grocery (amazing), Baked bakery (divine), and white beet borscht at a dinner party that included my boss from my most recent freelance contract position (love her!). Finally, Tuesday morning, we headed out a bit earlier than I wanted to in order to beat the traffic on our way back to Massachusetts.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I then had one of the best meals of the trip at a rest area in Connecticut. There was a rest area in Darien, CT, that had recently been renovated. It was shiny. It was clean. It was fantastic. And alongside the usual suspects for eating, there was a place called Mac n'Out that served made-to-order, fresh, gourmet macaroni and cheese dishes. Are you serious? Yep. I had the Mediterranean Mac: Feta and Muenster cheeses, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives. There will be a separate, full restaurant opening down the road soon - nom. (Not that I plan to be back in that area anytime soon but...if I were to be there, I'd go!) Also of note, a gourmet grilled cheese spot was opening next door. Nice. Very very nice. If I could just get some bubble tea on the road, I'd be in heaven.

The other thing of note that happened on this part of the drive is that I got a picture of my beloved Polar Seltzer Bear. (I also drank a LOT of Polar Seltzer while we were visiting. Cucumber Melon is my new favorite. I wish I had a solid source for it here in Georgia (all I've found is a single Kroger that stocks some cans).

The rest of the trip was a blur of additional
family visits as we wound down. We spent the 4th of July quietly at my brother's new house and went to bed early after packing everything up. We flew home on a relatively uneventful flight, drove through torrential rains, and were met in the house by two kitties who missed us very, very much (and who seemed a bit annoyed but mostly very happy to see us).

Oh and my iPod? I gingerly pulled it out of its rice bed after about two full days. I turned it on. Nothing. Sigh. Then I plugged it in. Dead and then...a faint beep. And then the screen lit up looking absolutely normal, showing the dead battery charging. A few hours later my iPod was fine. Healed. Fixed. DRY. I don't know if it was the case I'd had on it, the speed at which I dried it off, the rice, or just luck, but it works again and I am thrilled.

And now the summer slowly rolls to its conclusion. Two more weeks of camp and then kindergarten - yes, it starts early here, but everyone in this family is excited (for different reasons).

If you read all this, you should check out Part One. It's equally as thrilling, I assure you...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our Epic, Crazy, Wonderful Summer Trip - Part One

Most summers, my family makes the trek from Georgia to Massachusetts to visit family and friends. Last year we skipped that trip, though - too pricey, too far, just too draining. This year thanks to the timing of a family wedding, the generosity of a relative, plus some careful budgeting, we chose to go. And this time, instead of driving (two 11-ish hour days, usually broken up by a stop in Virginia to visit friends), we chose to fly.

My daughter hadn't flown since she was just shy of six months old - pre-diagnosis and pre-...a lot of things. So we weren't entirely sure what to expect. We wound up being scandalously late to our gate on our way out of Atlanta, but that may have been a good thing not a bad - it was the morning and we had no time to sit around and for her to get squirmy. We got through security (honestly, it was incredibly straightforward - I went through a metal detector, the agents swabbed my hands and my daughter's, my husband went through the metal detector too, they swabbed the walker, and they wished us well) and rushed our way essentially right onto the plane, gate-checking the walker on the way without issue. The flight was unremarkable - mostly my kid entertained herself with her iPad and with walks to the bathroom (which she didn't actually ever use, but it gave us all something to do). She didn't want her talker, so it was stowed away - which was also fine, because it was broken.

Ah, the talker. The AAC device. The VL2. I love it so very much. It has changed her life and it has improved her verbal language. But it's a machine, and machines break. And of course they always seem to break at the most inconvenient time, right? (Mercury is also retrograde - which will come into play again later in my vacation story.) We had been having some power/battery issues for a few months - at one point I'd requested a repair but was emailed a fix instead, which was fine and which held everything together - until the week before we left for this trip, when it became apparent that the talker really needed a professional to look at it. It would randomly shut itself off and then brick. To turn it back on, we had to plug it in, at which point it would reboot itself and work again...until the next time.

Thankfully, what comes with a pricey standalone device is an excellent warranty and a slew of support people behind it. We requested the repair and asked for the loaner device to be sent to my father-in-law's house (a great system - they send the loaner and a pre-paid return slip in a reusable box, easy peasy). I did have a pang of regret that we hadn't bought the LAMP app when it was on sale a few months ago, but my kid is used to her talker and I suspected we would've gone back to the same iPad issues we always have. The scary part about the loaner is that we are responsible for it. Completely. But these machines are tough so I'm trying not to worry about it too much.

There was one blip in this otherwise simple process. I realized that someone would need to be home to sign for the package, so I called FedEx and asked for the package to instead be held at the local office (skipping the attempted delivery step). The woman on the phone confirmed this with me, and looking up the tracking information online confirmed this as well. Then I worried that we would have a hard time picking it up because I had put it in my FIL's name, so I had him write us a note with some additional information. Then I worried because that's what I do. But hey, Mercury, thanks - instead, FedEx delivered the package to the house anyway and luckily someone was home to sign for it. So that was much easier but also not what I asked for. But the loaner was acquired and reprogrammed within seconds (I love that) and the precious purple talker was shipped away (and it has been received safely).

The trip itself was a blur of visits - family, friends, and a wedding. Some highlights:

Starring my sister-in-law Heather and popcorn maven Glynnys.
A stop at Corn & Co in the Burlington Mall. If you live in Massachusetts or anywhere that makes the mall easily accessible, GO. I have been excited to visit the new venture from Heather and her husband Bobby (and others behind the scenes) and I do like popcorn, but I didn't expect to absolutely love what they are doing. They have some straightforward, yet carefully crafted, cheese flavors available. They have plain. They also have Thai chili. Ketchup. A mix that tastes like hamburgers. A candy-coated smores blend that has this delightful smoky undertone to it. A double rainbow blend (yes, I sang the song) that is fruity and wonderful. Everything is allergen free, the corn they use is non-GMO, it's all vegetarian (except the seasonal ham flavor - but the bacon is veg!). I may have eaten a lot of popcorn over the course of our trip.

Visits with the grandmothers - including a trip to Moe's in Chelmsford, MA, that involved drinking a batch of sweet tea that had been made with salt. Moe's, if you see this, I am extremely disappointed in both that experience (shrugged off by the workers) and the fact that nobody answered my complaint online (a simple "We're sorry!" would really be enough). Anyway. Each grandmother visit also included a cast of characters - siblings and cousins and step-relatives and more. Busy busy busy.

A trip to Bedford Farms ice cream so that I could get my beloved Chunky Chocolate Pudding. It was as delicious as I remembered, but the cone was so large that I only managed to eat half - the second half was my treat the next day. 

Visits with friends:

We met up with Melanie at Watch City Brewery where I had the infamous nacho dip (oh, did I mention I decided to relax my Weight Watchers journey for this trip - spoiler alert, I've learned my lessons very well and my weight stayed largely the same throughout the trip despite indulgences like this dip). I also had a really lovely beer that I can't find on the website - it was raspberry something and it was light and crisp. Mel and I didn't stop talking until my husband pried us apart.

We then made our way to Marissa's place where we were introduced to the amazingness that is Parcel Ghost. I am not sure if I can do Parcel Ghost justice but I will try - he stars in a zine that is all about the many ways you can send and have fun with mail. Mail is such a lost art - I used to send epic letters wrapped in beautiful handmade envelopes. Now, I confess, it's much easier to write a two sentence email - but Parcel Ghost has reminded me that it's much more fun to send a postcard. The Parcel Ghost zine really needs to be blown up into a full children's book in my opinion, and you should order a copy for everyone you know - and then mail it in some special way to each and every person.

While visiting Marissa, my daughter pulled - one by one, in a very methodical way - every single CD off a shelf to hand to Marissa. It actually wound up being a lovely trip down musical memory lane and Marissa was incredibly gracious as she sat talking to me and creating a pile of CDs that reached her chin. I also ogled all of Marissa's graphic novels (next thing to order: Nicole Georges' Calling Dr. Laura - I need this). We ended the visit with sushi at a local place that had the most incredible kids' plate for my picky child - she actually ate all of it (chicken, fruit, rice).

Then off to the wedding, which was a blast. There was a photo booth available and yes, I was in and out of it all night.

The wedding also was an opportunity to see relatives from all over the country and to either introduce them to my kid or have her see them again - and to show how much progress she's made. Good times.

This got long, so stay tuned for Part Two: NYC and Beyond!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Now We Are Six...

I have a GIANT (currently two parts! it may grow to three before I finish!) post series about our recent vacation/adventure that will go up this week, but first I need to say happy birthday to my beautiful girl. Six is going to be a big year for her - her speech has taken off over the past month, she is up to eight steps, and she's gearing up to start kindergarten! I can't wait to see what is around the corner for us!