Changes will begin this evening as Meiling and K return to New York – both have to be at work tomorrow (so all our fingers are crossed there are no problems with their flight arriving on time). We are going to miss Meiling so much (K too) – she’s been a delight to have here. WenYu and YaYu will be with us through the 10th of January, the day before we leave for Hawai’i. WenYu will head back then to Massachusetts to attend an alumni gathering that helps match seniors with employment opportunities following graduation and will begin her last term at Wellesley afterward. YaYu will go up to Seattle to spend a week with one of her roommates, and then they’ll fly back to Philadelphia together for the start of their spring term.
We had a wonderful Christmas Day. We all slept in, and then the girls started off the morning opening the “Brit Boxes” we put together for them in lieu of stockings this year, filled with all sorts of goodies we picked up while we were in England. As we ate our breakfast of bagels and berries, Meiling served as our elf and passed out gifts. The biggest surprise and highlight of the morning for Brett and me was receiving tickets from Meiling to see Hamilton on Broadway when we’re in New York City next May. I’m frankly still in a bit of shock, but also absolutely thrilled – I have been a Hamilton fan from the beginning but never thought I’d be seeing it any time soon! We brought cashmere scarves back from Edinburgh for each of the girls, and are so thankful they were happy with our choices – we had had a very difficult time picking colors and plaids out of the thousands of options available there. We also gave Meiling and WenYu gift cards and contributed to the cost of a much-needed new winter coat for YaYu instead of a gift card. Later in the morning, we all got a nice surprise when our Airbnb hosts appeared at our door with homemade cinnamon rolls, Christmas cookies, and coffee beans that they had roasted for us. The rest of the day was quiet and relaxed: we ate leftover pizza for lunch, watched a couple of Christmas movies, and enjoyed a delicious ham dinner in the evening. We all agreed it was one of the best Christmases we’ve celebrated together.
We were right back to “normal” (or whatever that is) on Thursday with dentist appointments and other errands, including picking up K – he’s spent the past three days with us. Less than two weeks to go and we’ll be back on Kaua’i with friends, and in three weeks we’ll be together with our son, DIL, and grandkids in Japan. They’re currently on a family vacation in Singapore – I can’t wait to hear all about that as it’s on our bucket list.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I finished The Way Through the Woods on Christmas, and am now reading The Dead of Jericho (book #5 in the Morse series). I found the last two books I can’t get online at Powell’s (used copies) and will pick those up this afternoon at a nearby Powell’s store. I’m almost ashamed to admit that occasionally when I’m reading an actual book these days I sometimes can’t figure out for a few moments why the pages of the book don’t light up at night or find myself tapping the bottom of the page to go to the next (#addictedtomyKindle).
- Listening to: The girls are still asleep and Brett is rustling around in the kitchen, but otherwise, all is still and quiet, just the way I like it in the morning.
- Watching: The girls have the televisions monopolized most of the time, but Brett and I were able to squeeze in a viewing of Dolomite Is My Name, starring Eddie Murphy. It was raunchy and fun from start to finish – we loved it! We also watched The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, a completely different but also very good film (although probably not entirely historically accurate). Both films are available on Netflix. We’ve binge-watched all the series we wanted to see so we’re now feeling sort of lost as to what to watch next. Any suggestions?
- Cooking: We will have two fewer (big) eaters going forward from today, but YaYu has decided to eat meat once again beginning January 1 so that will make menu planning a bit easier. Last night we finished off almost all of the leftovers, which were a) very good, and b) cleared up a lot of room in the refrigerator. Tonight we’re having pad thai, and tomorrow I’m fixing the ham and pasta dish that didn’t get made earlier as planned (YaYu will have hers without ham). We’ll finish off two jars of marinated artichoke hearts along with that. On New Year’s Day, I’m going to make one of YaYu’s favorite recipes, noodles with pork sauce, and other meals planned for this week are turkey rice soup; pasta with pesto and Italian sausages; and fried rice with ham. We will be beginning efforts this week to make sure all the food we bought gets finished before we depart on January 11.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting all the cooking done and meals on the table has been something of an effort, mainly because I’m out of practice preparing big meals for so many. Keeping the small kitchen clean as I went along was a chore as well, but everything got done and all the food was eaten and enjoyed. Both Brett and I got vacation supplies of our prescriptions ordered so we’ll be covered until we get back to the U.S. in May, and we ordered some other provisions we’ll need.
- Looking forward to next week: I’m really not looking forward to much more than another quiet, relaxing week with Brett, WenYu, and YaYu. Brett and I are going to the Apple Store later this afternoon to finally get a new battery installed in my laptop and get it all spiffed up as well. It’s in very good shape other than needing the battery – the Apple tech was surprised the original one was still operating considering how long I’ve had it (although it only holds a charge for around three hours now).
- Thinking of good things that happened: Besides having a really great Christmas Day with the girls, I don’t think anything can top the thrill of receiving those tickets to “Hamilton.” What an amazing surprise! The treats our hosts brought us were another sweet surprise as well – they truly are the most delightful Airbnb hosts we have stayed with yet. Brett had decided to switch over from a backpack to a rolling carry-on and we found a very nice one (Samsonite) on sale yesterday. It will give us more room and be easier to maneuver than his bulging backpack. I will be responsible for the carry-ons while Brett will continue to wrangle the big bags. He’ll continue to use the backpack though as his personal carry-on item and to carry my laptop, etc. My stomach issues continue to slowly improve and I had a few days this past week with no problems whatsoever and slept well on those nights as well. I’m still figuring things out but those days give me hope that I can eventually get through this. Finally, I was having a good hair day yesterday so WenYu decided to give me a makeover last night and do my makeup. I enjoyed the experience but couldn’t see the results until I put on my glasses, which of course then covered it all up! So, the girls took pictures of me without my glasses so I could see how things turned out. I haven’t worn makeup for years, and have no plans to start using it again but last night’s session was fun. I especially enjoyed having eyebrows again (mine are naturally invisible).
- Thinking of frugal things we did: We stayed out of stores this past week so other than my ordering the two books from Powell’s, getting Brett a new rolling carry-on bag (60% off), and making one stop for milk, cheese, produce, a bottle of wine, and toilet paper (and nothing more!) we had a zero-spend week! I chose in-store pick-up for the books from Powell’s and saved $3.99 in shipping fees instead of having them mailed to me. I combined gift card the girls gave me with an online sale at J. Jill and got a new top for nothing out of pocket (the order left 6¢ on the gift card). We were shocked to discover that Costco now charges nearly $50+ for a 10-pack of Oral-B replacement brushes but we found a 12-pack of generic brushes (with equally high reviews) on Amazon for just $8.99. I did some research and found another highly rated brand of curl cream – two containers cost $20 less than what I would have paid for two tubes of my current brand. We went downtown to the Apple Store yesterday to see if it was worth trading in my current laptop for a new one, but when it came down to $850 with trade-in for a new laptop versus having the battery replaced in my current one for less than $150 it was a no brainer. I have an appointment at the Genius Bar this afternoon to get that done.
- Grateful for: Both Brett and I continue to be thankful that our daughters get along so well with each other. They support each other, offer advice, tips, etc. and a shoulder to cry on if necessary. They’re very different from each other in their interests, styles, and personalities but they work well together and enjoy each other’s company.
- Bonus question: How do you plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Our celebrations are always quite boring, to be honest. We don’t like parties or crowds, but Brett and I always stay up with whoever is at home to welcome in the New Year, and sometimes we’ll have some sparkling wine to help the celebration (but not always). When the kids were little we would wake them if they had fallen asleep and take them outside to bang on pots and pans to make noise for a few minutes, and when we were in Hawaii we would all stay up for the fireworks (New Year’s is a BIG holiday there). As I said, our celebrations are very simple and unexciting, but Brett and I have been awake at midnight on January 1 every year for 43 years (we missed being together just once, in 1992, when he was deployed for Operation Desert Storm). So, in 2020 we’ll stay up and welcome in the new year, our 44th New Year’s Eve together.
This past week we’ve been thinking about words to guide us in the coming year and have come up with four:
- Experience. No matter where we are or what we do, appreciate the experiences for what they are, both good and bad. Stay adventurous!
- Learn. Keep an open mind and heart, accept what the world and others can teach us, and adapt as necessary.
- Wonder. Maintain a sense of wonder and amazement at what the world has to offer, even in the smallest things. Stay humble.
- Save. Become better stewards of our income in order to live our best lives and maintain choices going forward.
2019 has been a great year for us, and we’re looking forward to what the future holds!
That’s a wrap for Sunday Morning in 2019! I hope everyone had a great week, had a wish or two come true, and are looking forward to the possibilities of 2020.
Note: My computer might still be in the shop this weekend so if there’s no Sunday post next weekend, that’s the reason why. Thanks for understanding.