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2020 roundup

Yes, 2020 has been a dumpster fire of epic proportions. That said, it did have some bright spots and bits of hope for the future. Here’s what we did, along with LONG PERIODS OF TIME spent at home and in our backyard.

January 

  • Quick trip to Seattle for job interview (didn’t get the job, but that’s okay)
  • Saw The Paranoyds at the Pinhook in Durham (last show pre-COVID)

February

  • Family attended the annual Moral March
  • Saw Sonic the Hedgehog (last movie pre-COVID)
  • Snow!
  • Mommy turned 50
  • Voted for Elizabeth Warren!
  • Feb 29: Left for England!

March

  • Mar 1-Mar 11: Amazing trip to Halifax, England, and Paris, France
    Had to cancel Rome, Italy as COVID was taking over Milan
  • Mar 11: Flew home
  • Mar 12: Missed Billie Eilish due to COVID
    This was going to be oldest son’s first concert.
  • Mar 13: The world shut down
    School and work announced indefinite shut down.
  • Mama got COVID test #1 (negative)
    Had a slight cold and since we just got back from overseas travel, I was paranoid.

April

  • Easter at home
  • Kids’ first drive in movie experience (saw Sonic – again)
  • Turned caterpillars into butterflies
  • Our youngest turned 7

May

  • Mama turned 50
  • BLM protests began, went nationwide, and then global
    It’s sad that it took so so so very long for most to finally wake up, but I’m certainly glad they did and hope to see this continue.
  • Watched the SpaceX launch

June

  • BLM protests continue, with wall to wall news coverage for many days and nights
  • BLM protesters took down Confederate statues at the capitol building in Raleigh

July

  • Hamilton premiered on Disney +
  • Rented a pontoon boat

August

  • Bought outdoor movie set up (projector, screen)
  • Started virtual school for Fall semester

September

  • Did a Democrat lit drop with my oldest
  • Got a trampoline
  • Mama got COVID test #2 (negative)
    Knew this would be negative as we were literally doing nothing, but had to do it to rule it out (stomach issues)
  • Mourned RBG
  • Created quarantine bubble with another family
  • Voted by mail for the first time for Biden/Harris

October

  • Visited Animal Edventures Sanctuary and met a camel, two kangaroos, lots of birds, a monkey, and many other cool animals with our quarantine buddies
  • Visited Spring Haven Farm and carved pumpkins with goats
    This sounds more fun than it actually is. One goat got up on our table, tried to eat my hair, lifted his leg and took a pee (on the damn table), and followed us to the next table, where he laid down and took a nap.
  • Visited Bennet Place
  • Had a COVID Halloween celebration in the backyard with our quarantine buddies

November

  • Celebrated our first Black/Asian/Female Vice President
  • Went to the beach
  • Started a new job

December

  • Visited Duke University and climbed a tree
  • Rediscovered Battleship (as in, “You sank my battleship!”)
  • Visited the Chinese lanterns in Cary
  • Attended first Festival of Lights drive-through at Dix Park
  • Our oldest turned 11
  • Had a very Mandalorian and Gentleman Jack Christmas

BONUS: January 2021

  • Youngest starts at homeschool pod
  • Welcome our new POTUS and say goodbye to the Toupee Fiasco era

We also had lots and lots of social-distanced, back patio visits with friends old and new. We discovered that we love watching movies outside and we bought a fire table, which I’ve wanted for a long time. My wife has completed lots of house projects that have been on the back burner for a while. And, most importantly, we have stayed healthy and had a steady income – we are very fortunate. All that said? GTFO 2020!

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Shibden Hall! (grounds)

In my last post, I took you through the interior of the fabulous ancestral home of Anne Lister (cue the cow moooing! lolol). I would be remiss in my recollection not to talk about the grounds! We didn’t get to do much looking around as the weather was not great (it ended up snowing later that afternoon), but what we did see was beautiful. Can’t wait to go back in better weather to see everything lush and in bloom! This was in early March.

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Here is the Lister lion, which I believe was added by Anne.

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There’s “shabby Shibden” in the background.

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The view from out in front of Shibden. Yes, that is a rainbow flag flying on the grounds of Shibden Hall. I might have gotten a lump in my throat ❤

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This is looking into the courtyard behind Shibden. On the left is the barn. Anne’s Shibden entrance is on the right.

Across the street from Shibden is more land that was owned by the Listers, on which the WALKER PIT was sunk! That’s right, Anne named the pit that she sank with Ann’s money after little Ann W.  The ventilation shaft from the pit is still there! There are also gorgeous views that may have been the backdrop of the finale kiss scene (I can’t be sure but it looked like it).

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Walker Pit ventilation shaft

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Close up of Walker Pit ventilation shaft

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Beautiful views above the Walker Pit – it’s a trek but it’s worth it!

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We decided to walk back into Halifax from Shibden Hall and I’m glad we did because check this out!listers_road

Yes, we took selfies!

It was freezing cold, but we still had a blast walking back to town. Some of the sights on the way:

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We took this trip to celebrate both of us turning 50 (her in Feb, me in May), so this was hilarious to us.

It started to snow when we got back to town and we were starving, so back to Julio’s we went since it was easy. Then we packed as we were heading out to the airport in Manchester early the next morning.

We can’t wait to visit Yorkshire again! Already planning our stay in York with some rides into Halifax to visit Shibden Hall, the Halifax Minster, and do the stuff we didn’t have time for (the Anne Lister walk and a visit to Ann Walker’s resting place being among them). I’m so happy that I got to visit Anne’s stomping grounds as she has come to mean so much to me – thank you to Sally Wainwright and Suranne Jones for bringing her so vividly to life ❤ Gentleman Jack has been a game-changer, seriously.

Next up: Paris!

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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!!!!!!!

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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!!!!

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Our guide then led us inside. OMG!int_entrance

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The Lister lion!!!!!!!

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A is for Anne!

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L is for Lister!

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Living room

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Living room window with family crests

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Crests closeup

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Crests closeup

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Portrait of Aunt Anne

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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

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Dining room where the Lister sisters sniped gloriously at each other

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

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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

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

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I believe this was a downstairs bedroom

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Let’s head upstairs, shall we?

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

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View from other side of hallway

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Living room view from upstairs

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Study in turret that was constructed by Anne Lister

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Upstairs bedroom

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Upstairs bedroom 2

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

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Porch chamber and library corridor

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Anne’s funeral hatchment

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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.

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

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Shibden freaking Hall

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

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The Lister Chaise!!!!!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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Interior of Halifax Minster

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

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

January

  • 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
    snow

February

  • 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.

March

  • 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.

April

  • 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.

May

  • 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.

June

  • 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.

    Highlights
    : 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!

    Lowlights
    : 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.

July

  • 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

August

  • 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
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  • Comiccon: Second con, this time, the kids dressed up. Monkey was Ninja Deadpool (his own invention) and the MM was Mario.

September

  • 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.

October

  • 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
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  • 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.

November

  • 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!

December

  • 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.

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summer 2018 bucket list roundup

Before I begin, let me start by saying MY BABY STARTED KINDERGARTEN TODAY! He was a very brave boy and went in serious but also curious. He’s been all over the place in terms of starting school, so we really weren’t sure what to expect this morning. But he summoned his courage (and his excitement for learning how to read and write) and went for it. Wasn’t he just born yesterday? SOB

On to the summer bucket list!

  • Go on 5 night Disney Cruise to the Bahamas!!!!!! DONE
    We all had a fab time and this really needs its own post… To come? Highlights included 2 days on Castaway Cay (Disney’s private Carribean island), the food, the characters, and nights with cocktails on our verandah.
  • Visit Kennedy Space Center. DONE
    This was incredible. They have the space shuttle Atlantis and the set up for it is really incredible – like chills, goosebumps incredible. We want to go back.
  • Go to You Are Here exhibit at NCMA. DONE
    Super cool exhibits and photo ops 🙂
  • Visit local splash pad. DONE
    There is a newish splash pad that we hadn’t visited yet. Mommy took the boys on a playdate and all of the boys loved it.
  • Visit Granny & Papa. DONE
    The plan was to visit them at their house but we ended up meeting them at the beach and spending a few days.
  • Go to big pool. DONE
    Did this several times over the summer and enjoyed ourselves.
  • Go to Super Hero, Bug, and Karate camps. DONE
    Both boys attended all of these and had a great time.
  • See movies (Incredibles 2!). DONE
    We saw Coco in 3D on the cruise, Incredibles 2, A Wrinkle in Time, and others that are escaping me at the moment. We have a $2 theater near home so Mommy and boys saw lots of stuff I didn’t.
  • Host a backyard water play playdate. NOT DONE
    Considering a Halloween party instead…
  • Get bikes and check out local greenways. NOT DONE
    I don’t know why it seems so difficult to get damned bikes. We are going to do this soon, I swear.

BONUS!

  • Visited the sunflower fields.
    A local park planted a huge field full of sunflowers. It was beautiful, even though both boys were afraid of the bees.
  • Attended Raleigh SuperCon and Wizard World Winston-Salem.
    Mommy and Mama are HUGE comic book and sci fi nerds who used to attend the mother con (San Diego ComicCon) so we thought we’d introduce the boys to this world with Raleigh SuperCon. They LOVED it (as did we), so we vowed to attend any that are in striking distance from now on.

    Can you believe the very next weekend was Wizard World in Winston-Salem? So, we did it again! This time the boys wanted to dress up, so the Marshmallow was the world’s cutest Mario (Nintendo) and Monkey was Ninja Deadpool (lolol). Next up, North Carolina Comicon in Durham in November! WOOT!

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2017: Year in review

I have heartily and often called 2017 a dumpster fire for obvious reasons. This year started out with a lot of fear, tears, and rage and continued to be a rollercoaster of mostly negative emotions. It has been a challenging year for all of us, I’d imagine, but I want to make sure to recognize and acknowledge the good. I have to acknowledge the good to be the best mom I can to my boys who deserve a present and sane Mama. After all, my kids were 4 and 7 this year and a lot happened! So here goes.

January

  • Women’s March: I know, I know, I’m starting with a politically related event. I have to as it gave me so much hope and strength to see the number of attendees, the diversity, to march with my boys and explain why we were there. It was also the first time we have been recognized as a family by a stranger at a non-gay event. That was pretty awesome ❤
  • NC Chinese Lantern Festival: This was our first visit to the Festival, which was really REALLY cool! There were Asian-themed light displays (lanterns, Chinese soldiers, foo dogs, etc.) as well as holiday related displays. Our whole family enjoyed it and planned to go the following year (see December, below).

February

  • Sarah P. Duke Gardens: This was our first time visiting the gardens and it was beautiful. We need to get back here in the warmer months to see things blooming!
  • HKonJ march: This is a yearly march organized by the NC chapter of the NAACP. Again, recharged the spirit and made me want to continue to RESIST. I went to this one sans family and met a long-time blogger friend Sarah! No brainer great memory.
  • Hedwig play: DW and I are ridiculously obsessed with Hedwig and were SO excited this was coming to our neck of the woods. It was great seeing it in play form (we’d only seen the movie about 500 times prior). LOVE Hedwig!
  • Snow: We get snow 2 or 3 times in the winter and it is always an experience our family loves – especially because we hail from Southern California. It’s pretty, you get snow/ice days off school/work, and it’s fun to play in when there’s enough of it. I also enjoy putting out birdseed and watching the show ❤

March

  • More snow!

April

May

  • Artsplosure: Katena: This is a huge inflatable structure designed to be “lit up” by the sun filtering in through the thin colored plastic walls. We went to another one of these back in LA when the MM was a baby and loved it. Fun for kids and adults. A friend and his two boys joined us and we had a great time running around, taking pictures.
  • X show at the Cat’s Cradle: Los Angeles legends X came through and it was incredible. These folks are getting up there in age, but still manage to rock it and sound great. The nostalgia and LA feels were high.

June

  • Boating: A co-worker and her wife (no, we are not the only gays in NC) live on a lake and bought a new boat. They kindly invited our family over for a ride and some swimming in the lake and in their pool. It was great fun and the first time either boy has been lake swimming. They were both fans.
  • Monkey begins reading for pleasure: On a whim, I picked up a copy of the first Capt. Under.pants book at Tar.get and handed it to Monkey in the car. When we got home, he laid down on his belly on the couch and read for over an hour! This was probably my most favorite thing that happened in 2017. The birth of a reader. He has been into it ever since and has read tons of books. My heart, you guys. MY HEART!
  • Car Seat Headrest show at the Cat’s Cradle: We like them, we saw them, it was good. Seeing bands is a passion of ours, so I added all of them to the list to remind myself that we continued doing things we love as a couple.
  • Durham Bulls game: Love our Bulls! Planned to see one game per month over the summer, but only made it to two. Cool ballpark, beers, food – SO FUN!
  • Sold condo: After a couple of years of pain renting out our SoCal condo, we decided we were over it. It sold quickly for more than double what we paid for it 14 years ago (!!!). We socked most of the profits away to put down on our current house once we exit the dumpster fire. Sorry to be a downer, but we want access to money in case we need to make a quick exit from the US. We did use some of it…
  • Bought new cars: We bought a black 2017 Toy.ota High.lander, which we are in love with. Also replaced our ancient Hon.da CRV (purchased in 2001!) with a silver 2014 Hon.da CRV. So, no car payments, no paying interest, and in solid vehicles for years to come seemed like a good way to spend some of our profits.

July

  • Family beach trip (Edisto, SC): This was a VERY mixed bag, but I’m counting it in the win column because the kids had a fantastic time with their cousins. We had a little bday celebration for my nephew on the first night there, which was also a lot of fun.

August

  • Paperhand puppet show, Of Wings and Feet: This is a local group that makes the puppets, which are incredibly, and puts on various shows. I didn’t realize that this particular show highlighted resistance. It was poignant, funny, and inspiring. The boys and I even went on-stage at the end to act as protestors. Loved it.
  • Superchunk/Ex Hex/Waxahatchee @ NCMA: This was a Merge Records showcase at the NC Museum of Art’s open air theater. All three bands were really fun, but Superchunk was the highlight. We’ve loved them for many years and think it’s SO cool to see them here (they are from Chapel Hill) and get to go to shows at the Cat’s Cradle (epic indie rock club in Carborro, which is next to Chapel Hill). The museum is very close to home, so that was a plus as well.
  • The eclipse: This? WAS SO FREAKING COOL! I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, and I was blown away. I immediately regretted our decision not to travel to Columbia (which is where my parents live), where they had 100% totality. We had 93% totality and it was amazing.
  • Durham Bulls game: Go Bulls!

September

  • Helium show (Hopscotch Festival, downtown Raleigh): We were HUGE Helium fans in the 90s and count ourselves fortunate that this revival came through our town. Mary Timony (singer/songwriter/guitarist) did not disappoint. First show we’ve seen at the Red.Hat Amphitheater.
  • Monkey goes tree climbing: We have an arboretum near home that I follow on FB. They published this event to climb trees that looked really cool, so I got Monkey a spot. It exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait for it to come again. I’m totally climbing next time. You get a little instruction on how to use the equipment and there is an instructor there to help while you climb. You climb up huge old oak trees – 40-50 feet in the air!
  • Carolina Tiger Rescue: Who knew we had a tiger rescue within 30 minutes of home???? We had a great time wandering the grounds looking at bobcats, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, lions, and tigers. Really great facility that cares for these animals who need somewhere to go. Will definitely be back.

October

  • Guided by Voices show at Motor.co: First time at this super cool venue, across the street from Fullsteam Brewery, which we checked out as well. GbV is one of our favorite groups from back in the 90s (they are still touring and making records, God bless ’em), and this is our second opportunity to see them in NC. Fun ass show, per usual.

November

  • Cults show at Cat’s Cradle: Show was okay, but a night out at the Cat’s Cradle is always a good time.
  • Hosted Thanksgiving: This was my first time hosting Thanksgiving and it went very well. I made a turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, a squash casserole, and biscuits. MiL brought pumpkin pie and apple pie. A friend brought a roasted veggie casserole. Meal was delicious and we had the house cleaned up and appropriately spiffed up for the holiday. I call it a success.

December

  • Hilton Head/Savannah trip: My parents have a time share on Hilton Head and we try to join when they go. This year, it was my mom and us (my dad was still in Houston, serving his time with FEMA). We typically do a day trip to Savannah as it’s only ~45 minutes away. This year we finally made it to the famed Bonaventure cemetery. We have a family plot there, where my great great grandfather and grandmother are buried. It’s a beautiful place with a ton of history. The boys were being out of control, so my mom offered to drive them around a bit so we could look in peace. We walked through the oldest area of the cemetery, took pictures, and then headed out to play at Forsyth Park.
  • NC Chinese Lantern Festival: See January, above.
  • Finalized DW adoption of the MM: We started this process early in 2017. After problem after problem after setback after setback, it was finally official in December. Thanks to my special friend SB for making it happen! So now both boys have been legally adopted by their Mommy. Suck it, 45.
  • Tig Notaro show: A close friend here in Raleigh is a HUGE Tig fan and bought a bunch of Tiggets to her show (that is her phrase – lololol). DW isn’t a fan, but I really like her as does my mom, so we went and it was great. I typically like my comedy more on the edgy side, but I got a bunch of laughs and a night out with the girls.
  • Christmas: Nothing out of the ordinary this year, but we love the holidays, so it’s always special. The MM’s “big” gift? Hulk riding a car. Monkey’s big gift? Nin.tindo Switch, with games and accessories from multiple family members.

And I must mention our fantastic karate family as playing a big part in making 2017 less of a suckfest. We absolutely love our dojo and our shihan, who is such a strong, caring, liberal woman who I’m proud to call a friend. It’s a wonderful community and we feel lucky to be a part of it. Monkey loves it and continues to thrive and improve. The MM, on the other hand, is the king of NO and decided he was done, much to our chagrin. Hoping that when he gets a little older he has a change of heart.

Not a bad year, right? It was fun to remember the good times and not focus on our national nightmare for a bit. I need to do more of that in 2018.

In closing, RESIST, my friends!

resist

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