Category Archives: vacation

Shibden Hall!

I really don’t know why it is taking me so long to do these posts. Maybe it’s the 1.5 million photos to sort through? Anyway, let’s move on to the primary reason for our stop in Halifax: a visit to Shibden Hall!

Preface: As Shibden Hall is closed for a bit in winter, we had planned our vacation to be in Halifax for opening day. You can’t buy tickets for Shibden; you just queue up on the day you want to visit. About a week prior to our departure date, I was made aware that Shibden had announced they were pushing back their opening date. HOLY SHIT, Y’ALL! I was devastated. In one of my Gentleman.Jack groups, someone told me to contact them, because surely they’d let us in. My American self thought this would NEVER happen, but I sent off an email. The next day I received a reply, saying that they would be happy to have someone meet us and give us a tour. O.M.G. So, not only were we going to Shibden, but it was going to be a private tour! YASSSSSSSSS!

So, we got off the train at Halifax (from our visit to York) and decided that we should hop in a cab and get over to Shibden so that we weren’t late. We had very little cash on us and the cab wiped us out (didn’t accept credit cards). It was maybe a 10 minute ride and we pulled up to FREAKING SHIBDEN HALL!!!!!!!



Our guide met us in the parking lot and led us into the courtyard where we immediately lose our minds upon seeing where Suranne Jones as Anne Lister gayrushed into Shibden every week!!!!


Our guide then led us inside. OMG!int_entrance




The Lister lion!!!!!!!



A is for Anne!


L is for Lister!


Living room


Living room window with family crests


Crests closeup


Crests closeup


Portrait of Aunt Anne


Portrait of Anne Lister – Our tour guide said there are many portraits that are not on display as they have no idea who is pictured. She posited that they quite possibly have one of Ann Walker but they have no way of knowing


Dining room where the Lister sisters sniped gloriously at each other


Kitchen, though the tour guide said that they staged some of the kitchen somewhere else in the Hall


View from the kitchen, through the back entrance, living room, and to the other end of the house, where the dining room and study are located


Study, where Anne received her guests and rang her bell when she was done with them


I believe this was a downstairs bedroom


Let’s head upstairs, shall we?



Upstairs catwalk – living room is to the right in this pic.


View from other side of hallway


Living room view from upstairs


Study in turret that was constructed by Anne Lister


Upstairs bedroom


Upstairs bedroom 2


This room was connected to Anne’s bedroom (through the door to the left).


Porch chamber and library corridor



Anne’s funeral hatchment


Anne Lister’s bedroom!!!!! Our guide told us that it was too small to film in, so they recreated it on a set. She speculated that Anne wanted this bedroom even though it wasn’t the biggest, because it was light, bright, and had an excellent view.


The view from Anne’s room – keep in mind that this was early March. In summer, it would be flower-filled and gorgeous.




Shibden freaking Hall




Barn behind Shibden (directly across courtyard from the back entrance of Shibden Hall)


The Lister Chaise!!!!!!!!


Shibden Hall is such a special place. You truly do feel a connection to Anne and the many other occupants of Shibden over the years. I can’t wait to visit again (and again and again)! I’ll cover the grounds and the Walker Pit (!!!!!!) in my next post.


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Day 3: York

While eating dinner the night before we went to York, we discovered that the church where the Ann(e)s were wed would be closed the day we’d be there. Poor planning there, right? We decided it was still worth going to see the grounds and check out York. We had to be at Shibden Hall (!!!!!!) that day at 2, so it was going to be a tight schedule.

We woke up early to get to York as quickly as possible. We discovered that it was close to an hour by train each way, which left us with 1 hour in York. Figured it was fine since we just wanted to go to the church, really. So we purchased our train tickets and headed out of Halifax. The train ride was interesting as we got to see different parts of the country (Leeds looked like a cool city). We got to York and OMG it was absolutely stunning! And there we were with only an hour to spend! Doh!IMG_2388IMG_2390IMG_2392IMG_2430IMG_2427IMG_2419

We mapped to Holy Trinity Church, and discovered it was only a 7 minute walk from the station. You guys, it was so hard to walk past all of these beautiful buildings and landmarks and have to keep on going. So gorgeous!

We got to the church to find that the grounds were not accessible – they had a gate to shut it off. Damn. We took pictures through the gate and it was still pretty great.IMG_2396IMG_2400IMG_2399IMG_2398

We saw that York Minster was right behind it and it was super impressive, so we walked over and took a look around. Holy Trinity was off of a very busy street, so I knew they can’t have used it for the post-wedding shots on Gentleman Jack. I remembered seeing the Minster in the shot and noticed an alley that I’m now sure was where the scenes were filmed. Amazing.IMG_2402IMG_2405IMG_2406

We had to make our way back to catch the train in order to make our 2PM appointment at Shibden. We had noticed on way to the church an entrance/exit to the amazing looking Roman city wall and so we went up and walked back on the wall. I’m so glad we got to do something in York in the short time we were there. The wall was incredibly cool and it gave a gorgeous vantage point of the city and some homes nearby.


So, yes, we are already planning a return trip in the future. We will stay in York and explore it all and include a day trip to Halifax to pay our respects to the Ann(e)s. Next up: SHIBDEN HALL!!!!!!!!

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Halifax/Paris trip: Day 1-2

Hi, friends! I guess it took a pandemic and ensuing quarantine to get me back to blogging, but here we are! I may be a regular here again, and I may not, but I wanted to do a series of a posts on the fabulous England/France trip DW and I took in early March. I find that I’m forgetting a lot about it and I don’t want to forget a THING so, here is post 1, which covers Feb 29 – Mar 1. I’m including our travel day because 1) It was eventful and 2) I want to let y’all know what a pain in the ass it is to get to Halifax, England. I mean, it’s worth it, but OMG.

A friend dropped us off at the airport and we had lunch and a celebratory cocktail (our usual travel beverage, a spicy Bloody Mary). We flew into Atlanta and discovered that our flight was delayed by hours. HOURS. I wasn’t that sad about it because I knew we’d spend it day drinking at the airport with no kids – pretty much heaven. We parked ourselves at a bar in the international terminal (which was quite empty, thank you very much Ms. Rona). By the time we got on our flight HOURS later, we were tired and just ready to be on our way.

We took some Tylenol.PM for the red eye and waited to conk out. I fell asleep maybe an hour in, but poor DW had some trouble. I’d wake up occasionally and see her watching a movie or reading and think, “Oh no.” Then back to sleep for me.

We landed in Manchester, England, at around 8:30AM (which was 2:30AM by our body clock). It wasn’t as rough as you might think as we were so excited to be there and get to the hometown of our Lord and Savior, Ms. Anne “220 pounds, 17 shillings, and 6 pence” Lister of Shibden Hall, Halifax, Yorkshire, England. (If you didn’t get that reference, then 1) you are not a lesbian and/or 2) you haven’t watched the greatest show in history, Gentleman Jack. Get on that. NOW.)

Ahem. We picked up our bags and made our way to the train station to begin the LONG ASS HAUL to Halifax. Since it was a Sunday, the train from the airport to Manchester Picadilly station wasn’t running, so we queued up to take a bus there. When we arrived at the station, DW went to get our bags from under the bus when the DOOR STARTED TO CLOSE, TRAPPING HER BY THE SHOULDER! It took me a second to realize what was happening and I went to yell out to a woman standing nearby, “HELP HER!” But it came out as a garbled “L****!!!!” To which she replied, “I KNOW!” And then the door started to lift up again. We were so tired and it was so strange that we were LOLing even though it could have been really bad!

So, we haul our big ass bags into the train station and figure out how to get tickets to the next station (Huddersfield) and then on to Halifax. Got on the train, which was pretty crowded, and DW tried to fit our giant duffle bags in the overhead bin – they were way too big. A guy ended up putting them in a seat next to him. We get to Huddersfield, pull our bags out, and start hunting for the next train to Halifax. We get on and this train is far less crowded and had a large area for baggage. Then we arrive at Halifax station!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me recap: To get to Halifax, we flew into Manchester, took a bus, and then took two trains. It was almost 24 hours of travel in all.

Halifax station is tiny and cute. We pull our bags out and map to our hotel (The White Swan). It’s a 10 minute walk, so we decide to walk it instead of getting a cab. It was COLD. We looked a mess, I’m sure, dragging all of our crap through the cobblestone streets to the hotel. We did enjoy seeing all of the historic buildings and the charm of Halifax, though to be honest, it was a little depressing as well. Very small and a lot of unoccupied businesses.


We make it to our hotel and check in. Drop our bags in our room and drop ourselves on the bed for maybe 20 minutes. We are starving and noticed a restaurant attached to the hotel (an Italian restaurant called Julio’s [not “Hoo-lio’s” but “Joo-lios,” which was hysterical to us after a full day of travel). We go down and they are not opened yet, though the door was unlocked. We walked in to staff eating and looking at us like we had 2 heads. After telling them we were there for lunch or dinner (it was around 3), they informed us they opened at 4:30. Sigh.

I wanted to check out The Piece Hall and saw that there were restaurants there, so we walked over. What a cool place!


The Piece Hall, which was quite empty thanks to the coronavirus.

The restaurants weren’t really our type of thing, so we decided to just walk around a bit. Went into an adorable Christmas shop and purchased a few ornaments. (That’s a thing we always do – buy ornaments on trips so we remember them when we decorate our tree. I love it! These are just cute ornaments that we like, not touristy labeled ornaments as again, not our thing.) While checking out, I mention Anne Lister and the shop keeper (an older woman) lights up and starts talking about how much Halifax has been impacted by the popularity of Gentleman Jack and how great it is. Then she launches into a story about her friend who started studying the diaries years back and I’m thinking, “Is she talking about Helena Whitbread???” Why yes, YES SHE WAS! It was so freaking amazing to be in Halifax, talking Anne Lister with a Halifax resident.

We then went into a bookstore as I wanted to buy the Anne Lister walking tour map. I got that and another AL book and the woman who checked us out asked if we’d been to the Halifax Minster yet. She told us it was a 2 minute walk away so we headed over! Never underestimate the power of Anne Lister to fortify two hungry lesbians enough to forgo a much-needed meal in order to see the church where Anne Lister was baptized and buried!

Halifax Minster was just incredible. A woman gave us a brief talk about the church and the Listers before setting us loose to look around. W.O.W. The church dates back to the 1400s! We saw the baptismal font where Anne Lister was baptized, as well as the area of the church where she and her family are interred. (Poor Ann Walker is buried in Lightcliffe with her family. We had planned to visit her grave and leave flowers, but our time was so limited, we didn’t end up being able to. I’m sorry, Ann! You have a special place in my heart!)

Exterior of Halifax Minster



Interior of Halifax Minster


Looking from rear of church to front (behind the baptismal font)



Anne was all over this church. They even had a little shop filled with Anne Lister merch! It was so incredible to see a lesbian celebrated like this in a church.




Facing the area of the church where Anne and the other Listers are interred. You can see an enlarged image of Anne if you look closely on the right.


I can’t explain how it felt to be in this church, celebrating Anne Lister. Life-affirming, our own LGBTQ connection to history all because Anne Lister wrote those diaries. It still blows my mind, y’all.

We trekked back to the hotel and ate at Julio’s, which was another strange experience. “Do you have a reservation?” Us: Look around at a mostly empty restaurant, “No….” To be fair, I’m sure we looked a fright, but still – our money spends just as good as anyone else’s! We had our dinner, called our boys, and called it a night. After all, we had to be up early for our trip to York…


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2018 in review

Highlights only, y’all. We all have enough lowlights daily.


  • School roller skating party
    Monkey’s third time roller skating. He’s not very good at it, but he always gives it a go before spending the bulk of the time playing games in the arcade area (lol).
  • Snowpocalypse!
    While we get snow 2-3 times each winter, it’s typically in the 3″ or less range. In January of 2018, we got a whopping 7-10″! It was beautiful and lasted a few days. Perfect.
    Our front yard


  • Sleigh Bells at Lincoln Theater
  • Started volunteering with local group
    I make food, and Monkey and I serve it to folks at a downtown mission once a month. He loves doing it and it sparks super interesting convos with him on the drive home. We both feel good helping out in our community and are looking for more opportunities where kids can assist.


  • Snow
  • Beatles cover band with kids at Cat’s Cradle
    Seemed like a fab idea. Take our kids to our favorite venue and invite their besties to come, too. OMG, y’all. Kids weren’t much interested in the music, and ran completely wild for around 25 minutes before we called it and left. Sigh.


  • Margaret Cho
  • Superchunk at Cat’s Cradle
  • DW’s new band’s first show
  • Bulls games (2)
  • Easter with Granny and Papa
  • The MM turns 5
    Had his first real birthday party at a bounce house place with his preschool buds and other BFFs.


  • Preschool graduation for the MM
    My baby graduated from preschool. Wasn’t he just born?
  • Dad’s heart scare
    My dad was admitted into the hospital for a three night stay with arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat – his was in overdrive and he didn’t even know it). It was very scary while doctors tried to figure out what was up and why. He is on meds and has a heart doctor that he sees regularly, but has been basically fine since he was released. Hopefully this trend continues.
  • Out! Raleigh
    Yearly LGBTQ event that is a lot of fun for the whole family. Typically, we get beers and hang out in the bounce house area watching the kids jump.


  • Disney Cruise!
    So, this was a mixed bag, primarily because our kids were overtired and over stimulated and refused to use the kid’s club.

    : Castaway Cay, Disney’s private Carribean island. All of us swam and floated all day in the ocean, had delicious food and drinks, and had a wonderful time. We also swam with Sting Rays, which was amazing. We loved the Beauty and the Beast show we saw on the boat, the food was excellent, and the waterslide SUPER COOL!

    : Kids fought A LOT, refused the kid’s club, wanted to be in the pool constantly (there were 2 very small, overcrowded pools, which was disappointing).We’ve talked about possibly doing another cruise in the future, when kids are little older, so who knows?
  • Kennedy Space Center
    Super cool, especially the Atlantis space shuttle exhibit. We saw the Endeavor in LA, but this was spectacular on a whole other level. It was hot as hell the day we went, and the kids were kind of a nightmare in the beginning, but I’m really glad we persevered because it was a great experience. I want to go back and explore more.


  • Raleigh SuperCon
    First comic con with the kids (well, if you don’t count Monkey’s actual first con at 7 months old). We all had a really fun, geeky time and decided we are totally going to hit all of them in our general vicinity from here on out. Mama and Mommy are happy to be back in our element, getting sketches and autographs and nerdy merch. Yay!
  • SC beach trip
    We’d decided to skip the family beach trip this year since we did the cruise, but we ended up going for a long weekend, because free beach trip.
  • Bulls game


  • The MM starts kindergarten, Monkey starts third grade.
    W.O.W. Both kids in regular, full-time school. The MM doesn’t care for his teacher, but is doing really well, making friends, and learning a lot. Hoping next year’s teacher will meet with his hard-won approval.
    Mommy and the MM on 1st day of Kinder
    1st day sch
  • Comiccon: Second con, this time, the kids dressed up. Monkey was Ninja Deadpool (his own invention) and the MM was Mario.


  • Car Seat Headrest at Cat’s Cradle
  • Uneventful Florence
    We were told to prepare prepare PREPARE because this would be bad. Ended up not being much at all for our area, thankfully.


  • Breeders show in Columbia
    My parents live in Columbia so it worked out for us to see one of our all-time faves, the Breeders!
    Got a signed album
  • Bro’s wedding
    My brother remarried in a nice, intimate ceremony at the beach. I got to spend time with my fave (though problematic) aunt and see my uncle, who I’ve not seen in years. Had a wonderful time reconnecting.


  • Durham comiccon
    Not the greatest con, but still a fun day.
  • Election
    This year, DW and I were all the way in. She text banked for many Dem campaigns across the country, I did poll greeting for early voting, and we both did poll greeting on election day. Felt amazing and will continue the trend and get more involved . Next up: Doing all we can to get IDs for NC voters prior to next election.
  • Superchunk show at Motorco
    This was a free show on election night with a photo showing you at your voting location. So good!


  • Monkey turned 9 (!!!)
    Party to come in early Feb at a trampoline place (his “fake” birthday party as he calls it).
  •  Hamilton!!!!
    LOVED IT!!!!!! So much that I’ve purchased tickets for us to see it again in NYC in June.
  • Trip to NY
    This was an impromptu getaway that was supposed to be for one night, but ended up being an amazing three night Mamas extravaganza! We were invited to see a fave band play a private gig so we quickly got flights and a hotel for Sat. night and got my mom on-board to watch the kids. It snowed like crazy overnight in NC, so we got bumped and kept getting bumped until late Tuesday. We squeezed in a play (Wicked), a visit to the Met, lots of shopping (the Nintendo store, y’all!!!!), and sight-seeing. It was wonderful.


Filed under family, travel, vacation


The family went on a lovely weekend getaway to Cambria (central California coast). We pretty much have been going yearly for ten years or so, but it was our first time with S. We all had a great time! We stopped in to see our friends in Santa Barbara on our way up for lunch on Friday and baby had fun playing with our friends’ sweet little guy, who is 9 months older than S.

At lunch, S really got into the food! I ordered a pesto pasta and veggies dish (all organic) and he could not get enough of it. Seriously. It was the first time he’s shown such an interest in food. That trend continued during our trip, and we discovered that baby loves salmon! We have officially graduated to having dinner with baby and sharing our meal with him. I love it! We are in need of some new recipes as we have very few that we make now and some are not baby friendly, so if .you have them, please post!

In Cambria, we took baby to the beach, where he was much more interested in the seabirds than the ocean. We Ergoed him and strolled around the adorable little town. Everyone was besotted with baby. The place we stayed has really pretty gardens so we walked him all over and let him crawl around in the nice grassy area.

At night, he went down like a champ in the Pack N Play and then joined us in bed when he awoke after we went to sleep. The trip also seemed to have an added benefit – baby’s sleep schedule has shifted out!!!! He slept most of the ride up, so he didn’t go to bed on Friday until around 7:30PM. He was up for the day at 5:45AM! Sure as hell beats 4:00AM! We made sure he got good naps back at the hotel Saturday, and he stayed up until 7PM. Sunday he slept until 5:15AM. We have continued this trend back at home (today he slept until 5:30AM). Yay! I sure hope this continues and that we are able to keep moving him out come the end of daylight savings time…

On our way home, we stopped in Solvang, an adorable little Danish town known for its wine tasting. We are not wine fans, but we love the year-round Christmas store they have there!

A good time was had by all 🙂 We are thrilled that baby seems to love to travel and do new things!


Filed under 10 months, eating, travel, vacation

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traveling with baby

I can’t believe the amount of stuff we’re planning to bring with us for a 4 day trip with baby. Seriously, check it out! (And let me know if there’s something missing, too.)

Food supplies

  • Oatmeal cereal

  • 2 bowls

  • 2 spoons

  • Earth’s Best Baby Food (4 jars – 2 veg, 2 fruit)

  • Apple sauce

  • Bib

  • Booster seat

  • Bottles (2)

  • Manual pump

  • Mesh feeder

Sleep stuff

  • Pack N Play

  • PJs (4-5)

  • iPod speaker + iPod (white noise for sleeping)

  • Waterproof pads (2)


  • Bag of toys

  • Teethers (2)

  • Books (3-4)

  • Blankets (2 A&A, 1 for floor play)

  • Ergo

  • Umbrella stroller

  • Stroller base for carseat

  • Teething tablets, Children’s Tylenol or Motrin, Mylicon

  • CA Baby shampoo/body wash

  • Baby lotion (CA Baby Calendula Cream)

  • Burp cloths (6-7)

  • Boppy

  • Sunscreen

  • Changing pad

  • NOT USED Baby pool float

  • Baby monitor

  • Baby towels/wash cloths (?)


  • 8-10 outfits

  • NOT USED Swimsuits & rash guards (2)

  • Hats (2-3)

  • Diapers

  • Wipes


Filed under baby stuff, vacation

bad mother?

Sleep training is going okay – last night was night 6. S is sleeping from around 6-6:30PM to around 3-3:30AM, which is awesome. Then he goes back down for another hour or two once he falls back to sleep. Much to DW’s chagrin, however, I am feeling really conflicted about it. It takes anywhere from 20-55 minutes to get baby to sleep at night, and he’s bawling like crazy during that time. It doesn’t seem to help him at all that one of us is there in the room with him (following the Sleep Lady technique, which we thought was supposed to be more gentle than Ferber or Weissbluth). I never wanted to do CIO, but I feel like that is exactly what we’re doing. He has also been crying for 20-35 minutes at his 3-3:30AM wake up, but last night I nursed him and put him back in the crib at that wake up and he played in his crib for about 30 minutes and then fussed (not really crying) for about 5-10 minutes and went back to sleep until the $%*&^! cats woke us all up at 6:15AM (they were used to baby being up at 4:30 or 5:00AM and getting fed at that time). If I could get him to do that at bedtime and all wake times, I’d be okay with it. But I feel like an abusive mother listening to him cry (and I mean cry) for 20+ minutes every night. DW told me last night that she can’t go back to what we were doing (co-sleeping, up many times in the night) – it was affecting her ability to parent during the day. I have also noticed that S is much less fussy during the day, I assume because he’s getting a good night’s rest. I’m just so conflicted. I guess we’ll continue for now, but if he backslides, I’m just not sure I can do this again. I wish S was a baby who just went to sleep when he’s tired. He’s a total sleep fighter.

The anti-CIO stuff has me thinking, though. Like when baby had to learn to take a bottle, he cried and cried several times a day for several weeks until he accepted it. But I had to work, so he had to learn. If he were going to day care, I’m sure there would be lots of tears in the beginning for that as well. Is CIO at bedtime really any worse than CIO in these other situations? Not judging or anything, I was just sincerely wondering about it.

In other baby news, we are having S’s 6 month photos taken on Friday (a few days shy of 7 months, but who’s counting?). I’m excited to get some professional shots. We also plan to be in a few as we have almost no photos of the 3 of us together. It’s Mama and S, Mommy and S, or just S in our pics.

We’re also gearing up for our Comic-Con trip next week. Our plan is to bring the stroller to get from our car to the convention center, check the stroller at the CC, and use the Ergo in the hall. This is what we’ll do Thursday morning when the con first opens. I predict he’ll do well for a couple of hours, and then we’ll have to take him out of there. I am planning to spend most of my time at the pool or beach (close to the condo we’re staying at) with S and let Mommy enjoy her con. I hope baby can tolerate it a little bit as I would like to go in a few times if possible, but if he can’t, that’s okay, too. In the not-too-distant future, he will love going! Can’t wait!


Filed under 6 months, parenting, sleep, vacation