90.

Today is Grandma’s 90th birthday.
She is one of my absolute favorite people. She’s hilarious and every time we’re together we laugh until we cry. Being 90 doesn’t stop her from always wearing her pretty jewelry and reapplying her favorite lipstick. She loves to shop at the drugstore, specifically RiteAid, and has gone several times a week for as long as I can remember. She can get her milk, sugar, butter and coffee syrup all in one place so she really doesn’t need to shop anywhere else. She taught me to play rummy and make a five-course Italian Christmas dinner. Other than Donald Trump I don’t think I’ve heard her say a mean word about anyone. She’s taught all her children and grandchildren how to play rummy and she and I will play for hours.
We had her party yesterday. She wasn’t supposed to know how much of the family would be there but when we pulled up (I was the official chauffer) she knew something was up because there were 10 cars in front of Carol’s house. We went inside and Carol said the cars were there because the neighbors were having a party and Grandma bought it. She was helping herself to some appetizers when Carol told her there was a book in the living room she wanted her to see. The “book” was the family in hiding. Everyone lives nearby but it’s hard to get us all in the same place at the same time. Grandma was delighted to have almost all her children/grandchild/great grandchildren there. She couldn’t stop smiling.
I labored for many hours over this photo decoration in chronological order. Multiple people said the 9 looked like a P. Fine art should be admired, not criticiz.
Every birthday we do a horrible rendition of Happy Birthday. People sign off key and at different tempos on purpose. It is truly awful but it’s what we do so we do it badly with all our hearts. We sang it once but Grandma said it was too normal so she insisted we sing it again. It might have been our worst one yet. As always, Annabelle was in the thick of the birthday action.

We each told Carol four things we love about Grandma and she had it made into a print from Etsy. It was so sweet to hear what stands out to everyone about the birthday girl. 

I hope I can be half the person (and rummy player) Grandma is.

the maine event

We just returned from a week in Maine. Erika and I decided Aunt Camp has been so successful we should take the show on the road. Our husbands/the uncles came along to experience the fun of Aunt Camp and be our built in babysitters. I enjoy when the adult/child ratio is so high.

We rented an Airbnb house and it was beautiful. We all had our own rooms and a nice living room and yard with a hammock to share. We could see the beach from the front patio. We all get along so well and had so much fun. The girls favorite part of the house was the washing machine and dryer. They were new and had bright lights and played little songs at the end of the cycle. More than once they both sat on my lap in front of the washing machine and watched it spin through the window in the door. We could have stayed home and watched our own washing machine for free.


Our first night there we went to Erika’s friends for supper. Their home is in the middle of the woods and it looks like the trees will take over the house any day now. They’re very environmentally conscious and the husband works at a wildlife refuge. Their last name is Feurt but Annabelle misunderstood and kept calling him “Mr. Spork.” It makes me laugh every time. This picture cracks me up because they have almost identical hair. 

It’s so fun to see AB and Ivy begin to play together. At Aunt Camp last year Ivy couldn’t even roll over. This year she was trying to help Annabelle build her ”play area for the people with a beach and a house and a turtle and a castle.” Ivy didn’t understand AB’s vision but it’s the thought that counts.    
Erika and I spent two afternoons exploring the little shops in Kennebunkport. She and I always laugh so much when we’re together. I never wanted an older sister because I was THE older sister, but now that she’s in my life I have to say I enjoy it. We’re good shopping companions because we can help the other justify almost any purchase.
We’re not biologically related but we’ve been cursed blessed with the same square chin.  
We played in the sand and collected too many rocks and shells. Annabelle LOVES them both and we brought home a large box of rocks for her rock garden out back.

Too bad Annabelle and Ivy weren’t more relaxed. It’s a tough life, being pulled in a wagon while you eat goldfish.

On our first full day we went for a walk at Mr. Spork’s wildlife refuge. It POURED the entire time but we walked the whole trail anyway. We were soaked by end. In such muddy and wet conditions we decided it would be a good time to swing by the Bush family summer home. It was nearly lunchtime and I assumed they’d know a fan when they saw one and have us in to eat. Sadly they must have missed the fact that I was standing outside their door because I wasn’t invited in. There are multiple homes on their compound so I don’t think my plans for a sleepover should cause any trouble. 

One morning we put a sequinned pillow in the window to catch the sun, turned on some tunes and had a disco party. Erika didn’t join us but Daniel and Ivy did. Ivy dances much like her father. There’s very little movement in her moves.  

This is what it will look like if I ever have another girl. Matching outfits for everyone!
The original Aunt Camp crew.
We were so so sad to leave. I could have stayed there another week or the rest of my life. I was hoping our maid our be home to help unpack our bags and wash the clothes but she was nowhere to be seen. Good help is so hard to keep! Annabelle helped out by “washing” the windows with the broom while I unpacked. I file that squarely in the “making more work for me” category but she thought she was helping.  
I’m already counting down the weeks until next years vacation Aunt Camp vacation.

aunt camp 2017

Aunt Camp 2016 was such a success we immediately knew it would be an annual event. We arrived at Ivy’s house last Wednesday to start the festivities. Annabelle likes to play a new car game of counting the house/buildings/trees/cars we drive by. She doesn’t enjoy playing alone, will only count to 19 before starting at 1 again and likes to change the rules so it’s not my favorite game. It was a long hour drive from Grammy’s to Ivy’s house.

Look at Ivy’s adorable little face. If you don’t think she’s cute we can’t be friends.
Each day of Aunt Camp started off with a trip to the playground. Our goal was to tire the girls out and make them take good naps. I think it tired out Erika and I more than the girls. One afternoon we went to a science and nature museum called the Ecotarium. Annabelle insisted it was called “da EcoAquarium.” They had a huge outdoor play area that was perfect for kids Annabelle’s age. There was dirt, sand, rocks, water and musical instruments which is all Annabelle needs to be happy. Thankfully she can’t read so she missed the sign saying it was mud activity day.
“Can you take my pit-chur?” 
At night the camp counselors sat on the couch to recover from the days activities. We watched shows and talked for hours. We all get along so well and enjoy spending time together. It’s exactly what I pictured life with a sister in law and niece would be.

We saw adorable patriotic dresses at Walmart so we bought them for the girls. Erika asked if she thought Ivy needed a bow. AS IF I WOULD SAY NO. We had big plans of a cousins photo shoot but didn’t plan the timing well. Ivy was awake past naptime and Annabelle was acting like a typical three year old. It did not go smoothly.
Multiple adults were needed.

We finally got these winning pictures. 

I told AB that when Ivy is older they can be best friends. She said, “She’s already my best friend.” 

zooventure

Monday we went to the zoo with Mom, Grandma and Joanna. I liked that the adult/child ration was so high. Every so often when we’re out with other adults I forget I’m the one who’s supposed to know where Annabelle is at all times. (Don’t act like you’ve never momentarily lost your child. I know I’m not the only one.) One of these days I’ll remember I’m the parent in our relationship.

Two years ago we visit this zoo and fed the goats. Annabelle and her superb memory have never forgotten. She LOVES goats and seeing her with them is like watching long lost loved ones be reunited.
Everyone’s first thought upon seeing the goats was “look how pregnant they are! It must be twins.” They had huge stomachs and waddled around like a 10 month pregnant woman. There was a sign across from the pen that said “NO, the goats are NOT pregnant.” They can hold between 3-6 gallons of food in the stomachs which leads to their bloated look. For the one millionth time I’m glad I’m not a goat.

This sign made me roll my eyes. “Don’t climb on the zoo fence. If you fall, animals could eat you and that would make them sick.” I’m more concerned about not being eaten FOR MY SAKE not the animals, but that’s just me.

 Four generations of meerkats.

Long arms and round ears run in the family.

this post has no real point

I’m glad I didn’t broadcast my intentions to blog more this year because the month is halfway done I’m only dusting off the old keyboard for the second time.

(We’re already off to a bad start. I dropped my memory card and had to go searching for it under the couch. Someone tell the maid to vacuum under there!)


Before we left Massachusetts we celebrated Grandma’s birthday. We all brought a food Grandma likes and I made a batch of her beloved liverwurst sandwiches. I’d be happy to share the detailed recipe. 

This photo is currently being submitted to the Horrible Food Photography of America magazine.
Annabelle was front and center during the gift opening. I kept telling her the gifts were for Memere but she held onto the hope she might get something. 
You’re not truly dressed for a party unless you’re wearing a spool necklace.

Grandma’s birthday party really kicked off Sesame’s excitement about her upcoming birthday. She chose a Frozen theme (raise your hand if you’re not surprised) and talks about it every single day. “You make an ice cream cake for my Frozen party? You have baa-yoons at my Frozen party? I wanna caterpillar at my Frozen party. Is Grammy be at my Frozen party? Can Mr. Lion come to Frozen birthday party?” If I got a quarter for every comment she makes about her Frozen party between now and March I could afford the tropical vacation Olaf the snowman sings about.

One of our Christmas traditions is to sleep in the living room by the lit Christmas tree. We didn’t get to do it before Christmas this year so we did it last week. We laid seven blankets out on the floor and attempted to go to sleep. Less than an hour later, Christopher announced that he was going to sleep in our bed because the floor was making his hips hurt. I made a bunch of old people jokes in my head but the joke was on me because you know what happened two hours later? I moved to the couch because the floor was hurting my back. Then I moved to the guest bed because the couch wasn’t comfortable enough. I’m only a few steps away from having to use a stairlift.
 

Yesterday we tried the Sunday school at the church we’ve been attending. The teacher made us go around the room and say something we obsess over. I HATE any scenario when I’m asked to speak in public. It makes me feel sick and like I might pass out. 

To make matters worse, I couldn’t think of anything good to say. I didn’t want to say “I’m obsessed with expanding my nail polish collection” even though that’s very true. I could never say something so worldly when the man across the aisle said he’s obsessed with reading the Bible from front to back. Too bad AB wasn’t in the class. She’s been talking about her obsession for weeks. 

Aunt Camp

Annabelle and I descended upon Ivy and Erika’s house for our first annual girls week or, as I like to call it, Aunt Camp. Annabelle traveled with half her toy collection, three blankets and all her pacifiers.

Sesame was thrilled to meet “Baby Ibee” for the first time. She loves to hold her or hug her head when someone else is holding her. She’s fully taken over all Ivy’s baby toys and made them her own. Baby Belle the doll has had many a wild ride in Ivy’s swing.

Speaking of Baby Belle, Ivy finally has someone her own size to hang out with. One of them is a little more appropriately dressed than the other.

I love any opportunity to cuddle a baby I didn’t have to grow and have removed from my body.
We had a tea party in the backyard. Annabelle acted like a drunk person by drinking out of the teapot and completely missing her mouth. 

“Look, Mom! No hands!”