Friday, January 24, 2014

On finding my people

It took me a long time to bond with New Jersey. I spent the first several years here waiting to move back to Oz. Then I had a bit of an epiphany about how rare it was that my husband genuinely like his job and I got busy getting happy. A big part of that was making friends. It seems especially difficult to do that in this part of the country. People who grow up in New Jersey go to school in New Jersey, live in New Jersey and die in New Jersey. Their family is generally around the corner or (at worst) a few exits away. Aside from having harder edges than midwesterners, they also just don't need you. They have friends, family and associates they have already known forever. 

After Gummy Bear was born, I joined a mom's group. It was what ended up saving my sanity. While the group no longer exists, I gained several wonderful friends. They are also people who came from other places. When we started going to our church, we also made some wonderful friends. While most of the people who attend the church are from here, they live in more rural areas of the state. Their sensibilities are a lot more like the people I grew up around than many in these parts.

I take the boys to a few INFLATABLE PARTY-PALOOZA PLACES on days when we have been inside for too long. A year ago I met woman who had recently moved here from a place far out west. I invited her to our church and we have been friends since. Today I met another woman and we bonded over a bouncy house. Her husband works in the military and they are also new to the area. We are going to meet up next week.

There isn't really a point to this long, rambley post, except to say that I am ever so happy to have found my people. It just goes to prove that no matter where you are, there are always people like you. You just have to look to find them. Hurray for that.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The visits are always too short

My sister-in-law, her husband and baby girl came to visit us this weekend. This is them, aren't they cute?

While the visit was far, far too short, we had a really lovely time. Ry and I were both able to take the entire 4 days off, so we got to spend a lot of quality time just being with each other.  The boys were entranced with their new cousin. Much of the weekend was spent with one or other of the boys begging to hold the baby. And hold the baby they did: 

 Gummy Bear was especially taken with his cousin. He was a really great helper.

As we often do with them, we had to visit a micro brew and a couple beer stores. Here is our niece at her 13th brewery.

 We also went to a local sculpture garden where the baby stayed warm and we saw lots of interesting sculpture. Also, this white peacock. I don't know if he was an albino or if there are actual white peacocks. We hadn't ever seen one though, he was pretty.

There was lots of snuggle time all around. Cheeky Monkey was a bit jealous of all the attention the baby was getting, but also loved her so, so much. It was interesting watching the internal struggle in his little 4-year-old self.

 The baby is about 6 and a half months old, so has just started eating some solids. They are doing baby-led weaning, which seems to be working out beautifully for them. This was by far the best moment though. Avocado is a great first food for babies.  She got a big glob of guacamole, which she took down in 10 seconds flat. It was awesome. 

I was very sad to drop them at the airport and say good bye. I mostly love where we live, but definitely miss our family, who (aside from my mom and stepdad) live scattered across the country. Happily, we left the weekend with confirmed plans for a family reunion in July with Ry's extended family as well as a trip back to Oz. And now, back to real life.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Some things that have happened

Once again I am slacking on the blog-posting. It's not intentional, it's just that life is so ... lifey. It's tough to find time to sort through my pictures and think of something semi-coherent. Instead, here are a bunch of random thoughts and things that happened.

We got suckered into a caroling hay ride from our church. Honestly, it was fun for about 30 minutes. We rode around, sang Christmas carols and got hay stuck in every piece of clothing we were wearing. Look how much fun we were having! And then the trip went on for an additional hour. It was cold. We couldn't hear the front of the wagon, so most of the carols sounded like poorly coordinated rounds and I had to work that night, so with each passing minute I grumpily saw my nap slipping away. We were all pretty grumpy when we finally got off. We learned a valuable lesson though. The lesson? Something about getting off when you have the chance I think.

Because I had to work Christmas Eve afternoon, we had lunch and opened presents before I had to leave for work at 2 pm. Opening gifts on Christmas Eve is a family tradition for us. I like it because the kids know the presents are from people who thought of them and picked out something. The kids still have their (one) Santa presents and stockings to look forward to on Christmas Day.
Adults playing with the kids toys. Classic Christmas.

Here are a few pictures of the boys looking appropriately excited about their gifts. They are still at that lovely age where they get genuinely, jump up and down excited about a gift they have been wanting. In this case, a Rainbow Loom and a Pillow Pet.

He named her Pexis

This is Gummy Bear as a sheep at the Christmas Eve service. I missed it, but got to see lots of pictures and videos.

When I got home from work very early on Christmas morning Santa came and filled the stockings.

And now for something completely different. Cheeky Monkey's school program was adorable. He's the cutest half-snowman half-puppy crossbreed I ever did see.

We went bowling a few days before Christmas. It was Plan B after we drove into and then out of the parking lot at Sesame Place. In my 5 years going to that amusement park, I have NEVER seen the parking lot so full. We told the park attendant we changed our minds. "Good call," she responded. So, bowling it was.
The lean really makes the ball go where you want it to go.

And now we're back to Christmas Eve, where the boys gave us a few decent pictures.

And my mom proved that no matter how old you are, your mom is still your mom.

Here are the boys in their Christmas jammies on Christmas morning playing with their very favorite Christmas present: Nintendo 2DSes.

We did finally make it to Sesame Place, it was just a few days after Christmas. This turned out to be the right plan. The crowded were light, the day was sunny, and we barely waited in line.

Gummy Bear decided to decorate the inside of our truck with the year (2005) in crayon on the ceiling. I was not a fan. It's still there. Good times.

And now for my favorite stocking stuffer. I have been making fun of this particular kitchen implement for neigh on a year, because, well, because I have a knife. Still, the kids think it's good fun. So there you go.

We are going to have a cold snowy winter I think. This was the temperature one morning after I got out of work. My car was also covered in 8 inches of snow and ice. We have had two major snow events already this winter, when we generally don't get started until January. After the last two years of relatively mild winters I guess we're due though.

My mom and I exchange rooster-themed gifts nearly every Christmas (it's a long story). This year, we got a rooster-shaped pancake mold.  Cock-a-doodle syrup! I don't even know what that means.

And finally, this is our new dining room table. The room formerly known as Gummy Bear's has been serving as our dining room. Our house is small, so we never really had room for a proper dining room table before, so I am so excited to have gotten this one (thanks Dad!). It's solid mango wood, no veneer. We purposely chose a table with some distress marks so that when our boys inevitably add some of their own, it will look like we did that on purpose. Hurray grown up furniture! Someday we will also shed my 12-year-old girl bedroom furniture, but these things take time, people.

And that is the last month, give or take. Gummy Bear is back in school. I had to call out for the very first time because Gummy Bear's school had some unexpected maintenance. 2014 is starting out fine. We are all healthy, all content, and all blessed with this little life. Merry Christmas everyone!
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