Christmas 2018

My brother flew into ORD and rode with us down to Florida, which was fun. JJ moved to the pacific northwest to learn how to build boats a couple of years ago, so I don’t get to hang out with him a lot anymore.

We got into Ft. Myers in the afternoon of the 23rd and first up was taking the Bishop kids photo. This is a semi annual tradition in our family. Any time all three of us are together, we try to get a picture so it can be framed for my mom.


My sister turned me on to a couple of presets (for use with Lightroom- which has an app for iOS), which are absolutely lovely.

Nico adores my sister’s kids. But I mean, what’s not to love? Cousins close in age and who love sports! Yeah- Nico is all in for that. They mostly just roughhouse and play sports.  Sometimes there is physical damage.  Like when he had a head to head collision with Emme’s teeth:


And another time, when he stepped on something out in the back yard and cut his foot. I tell you what- you get that city kid out of the city and the next thing you know, he’s running around barefoot like a country kid.  

Christmas Eve consisted of some last minute shopping and Christmas movies. We also put up a tree with all of mom’s special ornaments, including all the antique ones that survived the Tree Disaster of 1986, where in JJ tried to climb the Christmas tree (spoiler: he failed and broke a bunch of ornaments that mom had from THE VICTORIAN ERA).

Christmas Eve night, I made egg fondue, one of our family Christmas traditions with my nieces. It’s not really fondue-more like an egg, sausage, and cheese casserole. Also, I grew up thinking it was some type of Bishop family tradition brought from the old country (even though the cheese that is included is Velveeta. I was kind of a dumb kid.)

Christmas morning was fantastic-per usual. The kids pretty much played all day. Including a game where they did diving catches (onto couch cushions).


Mom was tired- so she napped a lot and let us wait on her. And I started to come down with some type of head cold, so I napped a bit. That’s always exciting. The good news, is that it appears to be settling into my chest- so I have that going for me.

The day after, we all headed off to our respective engagements; my sister’s family to a wedding in Texas, me to run the boys over to Miami, mom to her last radiation appointment. JJ and I hung around after for a couple of days to hang out with mom.

JJ and I snuck out to Matlacha for a late lunch one day and got some ice cream the next.  It was nice to be able to just drive and soak up some sun. 


Then we swung through Miami to scoop up the boys and got under way to get home.  This took us through Louisville, where Dave showed us some of his old haunts.  

2nd Street Bridge over the Ohio River

We’re home now though.  It was good to get out of Chicago and drive out in the sunshine.  I drove back and forth across south Florida on Alligator Alley, which was nice.  

This was a weird Christmas. I’m still processing it. I think there was definitely a sense that this might be mom’s last Christmas. But it’s weird to think about, since her diagnosis is only about a month and a half old. I mean, she hasn’t even started chemo yet.  So that seems hasty.  Maybe also, because it was so short, which is different. Usually our visits are longer- we definitely get the chance to be on each other’s nerves- so we’re ready to go.  It wasn’t like that this time.  

Or maybe I’m just worn out. I feel like 2018 kicked the shit out of me. It would be great if 2019 took it down a notch.

Christmas In Texas- One of our Favorites!!

Christmas was a little weird this year.  We had plans to drive down to Texas to see Nicole and her family, but not till Christmas day.  Also, Christmas was on a Sunday, so we didn’t really have a lot of time to enjoy the holiday in Chicago.  I worked pretty much up till Dec. 23.  I lost some of my vacation days because I was fairly focused on getting a couple of research projects done.  Plus I was working on course prep for a new course I was scheduled for during winter quarter. 
Nico had a winter show again this year.  It was by far the best one since he started there.  Lots of class singalongs.  It was my favorite.  
We ended up with a real tree again this year.  Bought it from a Wisconsin tree seller posted up at the Jewel on at Clark and Ashland.  Nico helped decorate the tree (a lot this year).  
We had the G family over for dinner on the 23rd.  The boys decorated christmas cookies.  I made croissants (pictured below).  They are a lot of work.  But the kids had a blast.  Nico and the middle boy (J) had a hard time getting along.  

One of the sweeter developments this year is Nico wanting to give gifts.  He wrapped up some old toys for the kids as gifts.  I ended up taking him to Target to buy gifts instead.  But it was sweet.  We also gave him a little money to buy gifts for us at the school bazaar.  He has really good taste.  He got me a ceramic pencil cup from Berger and some body sprays from the bazaar.  He also got Dave a hands free phone holder for the car.  
We also ended up having the talk about Santa.  I didn’t do it well, because it was unexpected and I was unprepared.  I was sorta taken aback about how grown up he is.  

Reading Jolabokaflod on Christmas eve.  
Christmas was good this year.  Nico got a big nerf gun.  BJ (Kevin’s friend from childhood) hooked m up with some rechargeable chinese batteries.  Nico’s nerf gun leaves a bit of a mark.  Dave’s parents got him a City kit, a razor scooter, a baseball bag, and some Oyo legos.  Gran and Gramps got Nico the Osmo coding set (we learned about Osmo from Dave’s best friend’s family at Thanksgiving).  It comes with a couple of kits-tangram and letters.  The coding set was an add on. It is the best of the three.  So much so, that I like playing with it.  🙂
Dave and Nico got me a judo gi.  So excited.  I am going to be able to start my “training as a judoka for one year” life list item.  
Nico and I got Dave a new kindle.  

The trip to Texas was relatively uneventful.  We were 2.5 hours late to getting our rental car and it was gone.  So we ended up with a 15 passenger van.  It was nice to have that much room. It would have been better without all the seats though.  

Nico and the cousins got along famously.  He and Maddox would play sports outside for HOURS. 
For me, the Bain kids get more fun every time I see them.  Jo is very sweet and so clever.  She had oral surgery while we were there.  Becks is still pretty cuddly and chatty.  We had a couple of really funny conversations.  Em liked hanging out and doing arts and crafts stuff.  Maddox is funny because he seems so grown.  He and Nico bonded over dude perfect- and were just plain silly.    

On our way back to Chicago, we made a stop by Royse City.  So far, this is the second pic of Dave and Nico in front of that Royse City sign.  I hope we can keep taking them- it would be Nice to have a series of like 10-20 of those.  So, I just need Nicole and Cody to never move. 🙂

We took our time coming back, and stayed the night in Missouri somewhere.  We stopped off in Jeff City so Dave could check out Mizzou.  We had lunch at one of his old stomping grounds (and watched the U of L bowl game).  After, the boys dipped into a campus gear store to get Nico suited up with a long sleeve t and an Oyo Mizzou guy.  

We made it back in time for New Years Eve with the G family.  Which was awesome and fun.  I managed to NOT get schnockered this year, which was a huge win.  


I know right?  How far behind can I actually be?

So Christmas was fantastic this year.  Our plans were to meet up with the NiCodys in Louisville, with Mom and Dad B.  Mike and Gay had plans to be in LOU as well, so we were hoping to see them.

Mike and Gay sent Nico’s presents ahead of time (a set of Call of Duty Mega Blocks), Chicago Bears Swag, and a new judo gi (Nico *really* needed a new one, since his old one was WAY too short.

Santa brought Nico the Nerf Cam ECS-12 gun that he has had his eye on for months.  Granny and Grampy gifted Nico more nerf ammo and weapons- so needless to say, he is fully stocked.  Since Christmas, we have already had several gun fights- which is a lot better when you have a legit ammo supply.

The cousins had a wonderful time playing together.  They really got along quite well.  Nico and Maddox convinced JJ, Cody, and Dave to play sport with them on more than one occasion, including a football game in the rain.  

Dave and I got Nico some hockey gear- which he really LOVES.  
He really wants to play- but is kinda crap at skating- so we’re signing him up for hockey skating lessons.  It is really very easy when your kid loves sports to want to sign them up for ALL OF THE THINGS.  But, I think Nico tends to lose his mind a bit when he has too much going on (read: he can be kind of a jerk).  And frankly, I don’t want to be like some of these other mothers we know, where the kids do chess club, language lessons, sports, etc.  We’ve been trying to just keep it at one official sport per season: soccer in the fall and the spring, basketball in the winter, judo in the summer.  I am not sure how exactly hockey will fit into the equation.  
But the good news is that there is hockey and skating year round here- so we could really get into the hockey as basketball is winding down.    

Rounding third- headed to home.

We’re skidding into the end of 2015!  Let me tell you- this year had been hard.  Just flat out hard.  I am really looking forward to 2016 lightening things up a little.  Sometimes it is just one thing after another.  Little known fact about me: I love the shit out of Christmas and Christmas music.  So, I have been listening to the commercial radio station in town that is playing Christmas music since before Thanksgiving (don’t judge).  Of late, they have taken to doing a “Christmas Wish” segments, where they call people up and grant them a Christmas wish. Usually it is in the form of $300-$500 to be used for something.  Like, there was one day where the mom who had put the wish in for her son, it was to get her 12 year old kid a new coat.  And here I am ugly-sobbing in the car while I drive Nico to school 1) because how freaking sad is it that a 12 year old had never had a new coat *and* that was his mom’s Christmas wish.  Also, 2) shit is tough, but it aint’t that tough.
*sighs, with hand to forehead: I just want to buy all the things and travel to all the places. Why can’t I just do that?
In other news, Nico is really starting to get the hang of reading.  We’re not quite at the place where we cuddle up on the couch, all of us reading our separate books.  But, we’re close, I think.  Its surprising to me, how many words he can read, even the tough ones.
Nico continues to grow like a weed in front of my eyes.  The other day, he explained that he was an idea man.  When I asked him what he meant he said, “I am just an ordinary man who comes up with ideas.”  HA!!  Hilarious!!    We got a tree just after Thanksgiving, from a ucut farm out in Aurora.  You know. The one like the kind I want to own. *soon, little farmstead, soon.  I don’t care what Dave says about you.
The tree has been up for weeks, but suffers the indignity of being on the receiving end of errant balls and such from sports in the house.  I guess it really is a case of you reap what you sow, because when you play sport in the house, you can’t be THAT upset that when two Christmas ornaments are broken because they hit the deck.  But, speaking of Christmas, it isn’t even Christmas yet and I already did the Christmas card thing.  I know, right?  I did fall down on the job a little in that I ordered metalic gold envelopes.  Metalic gold. Guess what looks like garbage when I write on them with a marker?  Yeah, those *adorbs* envelopes.
So that is that. So looking forward to Christmas.  JJ will be in town, as will Mom and Dad, the Royses, and the NiCodies.
There will be chaos.

The Long Overdue Christmas Post

Wow… what a crazy month.

First, it started with the FLU.  Yes, we got it.  The worst time to remember that you didnt get a flu shot is the second after your kid’s pediatrician tells you that he tested positive for flu.  That was me.

But we recovered pretty fast.  Nico responded quickly to the Tamiflu and was back at school quickly. Just in time for his winter performance.  The performance we interesting.  I think it suffered a bit from “too much going on”.  There was a re-enactment of scenes from Frozen, not to mention some actual music playing.  Frankly, I feel like it would have been better to just sing songs and do little dances, but I admit, I am a strange duck.

Nico’s class was very well behaved.  No one lost their mind while having to sit through the entire performance, even though it was quite hot and they were all over dressed.  Look at him. Isn’t he precious?

Nico played hookie on the last Friday before Winter break.  We rented a MINIVAN and packed the dogs and Christmas gifts and drove to Texas to see the Cousins and Aunt Nicole and Uncle Cody.  It was a long drive… one that was punctuated early on with the sounds of Gordon having diarrhea.  In the way back.  So, our progress was slowed by stopping every hour to walk them and avoid that happening.

We got to meet Jojo, who’d been in the states for less than a month.  It was really exciting, because she is adorable, but also because she is learning so many new things.  Nico, Maddox, and Em are finally at an age where they can play pretty well together unsupervised… so they were a little rabble running around the house playing together.  Beckett is pretty close to being able to join in.  But he mostly played with Jojo and hung out with us.  

One of my favorite things was telling Beckett that I was the boss of him.  And he telling me vice versa.  It was fantastic.  
We also did this:

Note to self: Don’t do that again.  Ever.  I had never done one as a grown-up, so I was curious.  This was completely edible… and we definitely picked at it a little… but it occurred to me that this is a perfectly good waste of candy.  And besides… I don’t even like most of that candy.  So in the future, just buy the “good” stuff and eat it…. no need to decorate a house with it.  

We made it back to Chicago in time for Christmas eve.  We did some quick cleaning and shopping for groceries before I finished off the night with gift wrapping.  Even though I have been chipping away at it since Thanksgiving, it seemed like still so much to wrap.  

Nico made out like a bandit, per usual.  Some hits from this year: the food prep set and storm trooper set that Santa got him, the science fair kit from Dave and me, a Batman robot that Grandma and Grandpa got him, Legos from the cousins, and a compass and military book that Gran and Grampy got him.  

For dinner, we had a pork roast, green beans (with bacon), mashed potatoes, and chocolate pecan pie.  I did the roast and the green beans in crockpots, which was nice, since I didnt have to stand over the stove all day.  Grandma and Grandpa came to town and Dave picked them up at the airport.  We spent most of the break with them watching sport, playing sport, doing science experiments, and reading.  It was a pretty fantastic great holiday.

Am I fired?

So, Christmas.  Yeah, it was a pretty great holiday.  Mom and Dad came up north.  On Christmas Day, they drove over from Michigan with JJ and Uncle Scott.  Nico and Dave chatted with Mike and Gay on skype so they could watch Nico open some of his presents.  When Mom and Dad, Uncle Scott and JJ got to Chicago,  we started up the oven to get the three pans of egg fondue that Mom brought going while we opened presents. Mom (Granny You) set Nico up well- with police walkie talkies, and other police gear (like handcuffs, a badge, and a police beanie hat).  Mike and Gay set Nico up with a little guitar and a Captain America sweatshirt (along with a U of L sweatsuit).  Santa brought Nico a train and some blocks, both of which he was pretty excited about.
After we opened presents, I started in making Christmas dinner.  We ended up putting a ham in the crockpot and a turkey in the oven.  Along with dressing, mashed potatoes,gravy, cranberry sauce, and two types of pie (apple and pecan).  In all, it was way too much food- but that is just how I roll.  Uncle JJ was a bit sick on Christmas Day, so he relaxed and tried to take it easy.
Nicole and Cody arrived with their kids on Boxing Day-which was pretty much the main event.  Nico had basically been counting down the days till they would get here, because he loves playing with Maddox, Emme, and Becks.  The kids had a really good time playing with each other.  We introduced the kids to Home Alone, which was funny. When asked what the movie was about, Nico explained that it was a movie about a lady that returned home to her son. I don’t know what that means.
We got some snow, so the conditions for a snow ball fight were pretty much perfect, which was fine by Max, because he’d been wanting a real snow ball fight for a while.
As a Florida girl newly transplanted in the Great North, I didn’t really understand the rules of snowball fights. Apparently, you’re supposed to take great care to not peg anyone in the face.  I may have gotten Nico once or twice in the face.  On accident.  Maybe.  SorryImnotSorry.
While they were here, we managed a trip to Legoland.  LEGOLAND.  It was really cool.  In fact, Dave and Nico have decided that they want to build a replica of Chicago at our house. Like so:
Which is fair- it was really cool. The kids were all champs.  And we even  had our first 3D movie experience.
Other than that, it was a pretty chill holiday.  It was nice getting to see so much of our family.



We might have over done it this weekend.  Just a smidge.  

It started on Friday night, when I scooped up Nico and gave him the choice of what he wanted to do: head down to Lincoln Park to see what we could see or hang out at the house (we were trying to give Dave some time to keep working).  Nico chose to hangout at the house, so we headed to the grocery for some supplies.  We had big plans to make popcorn and drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas shows.  We watched the show, but somehow managed to skip the hot chocolate and popcorn.  Weird.  
Saturday, Nico and I finished up a huge batch of sugar cookies (to take to my friend Amy’s police station at O’Hare).  Then Dave and I took Nico up to Lincolnwood Town Center- which is a mall.  Dave and I took turns getting massages while Nico road the train and played the skill game (where you use the claw to try to grab a prize from a machine).  Afterwards, we headed back down to the city and drove to the end of the Brown line (at Kimball) where the Santa train was.  For like the last 15 years or so, the CTA has decorated 4-5 cars in a holiday motif.  It spends several days riding one section of the CTA… so Friday and Saturday, it was traveling on the Brown and Orange lines.  So we hopped on board.  

Nico is doing this super annoying thing lately where he won’t look at the camera. Here it looks like he is snuggling me.  Not so.  
So my plan was to ride the Brown line down to Montrose to get some candy at Margies for Christmas. I know someone who likes chocolate covered cherries, and Margies makes them pretty good, so I figured that would be an easy trip.  Since I hadn’t specifically mentioned to Dave about wanting to do the train thing, I wasn’t planning for him to come along- so I when he said he wanted to, I thought we should go further.  So we rode down to the Loop to check out the Christkindlmarket, which was a big mistake. Everyone and their mom was at the Christkindlmarket.  Have we talked about how I feel about crowds?  And how unprepared we were for the cold?  And how when we finally did leave there was a 25-30 min wait at my new favorite restaurant (called the Castle and the Elephant). Yeah, I had a sad.  
In any case, we ended up ducking into Marshall Fields/Macy’s to use the bathroom and found their candy section. And a restaurant, which was definitely nothing to write home about.  After, we headed home to grab cookies and Nico and I were on our way out to O’Hare. 
So, one of the things I am trying to do with Nico is to have the holiday be less about buying stuff and getting toys and more about doing stuff.  Since he is in a really big police officer phase, I thought we could take some christmas cookies to a police station.  And for him, it was totally doing something… he helped me make cookies and rode with me out to O’Hare.  My crossfit friend Amy is a police officer at O’Hare, so suggested bringing Nico out and he could sit in a police car and have the sirens and lights on.  We got to be in the roll call room for their roll call and inspection.  Which was cool.  He did get all shy (per usual), so it was kind of a bust in the sense that he didn’t talk to any police officers.  
Sunday morning, Dave and I finished tearing apart the living room.  We’ve been talking about moving furniture around, but this weekend we had to put up or shut up since we were getting the Christmas tree.  Then we made the journey up to Ikea- both of our first times.  And we pretty much loved it.  There was something for everyone, which was cool.  It was snowing, so the trip to Schaumberg took a long time.  Then we came back in town and got some groceries and finally swung by Home Depot for a couple of things (including the Christmas tree).  

By this time, the snow was really coming down, so when we got home, Dave and Nico shoveled snow while I put the groceries away.   It’s probably just the novelity of it, but Nico loves shoveling snow.  Here is yesterday, before school, shoveling.  

In total, we got about 4 inches of snow.  Which was pretty cool.  I am soooooo glad that I bought a pair of snow boots for me (back in the late summer) and a pair for Nico (in Dallas last week).  The temperature has been in the single digits with highs up to the 20’s, and I am so glad that my toesies aren’t getting iced out. 

Belated Christmas

I know, a blog post?  What?  What is this nonsense?  Crazy, I know.  It’s just been completely out of control.  Between the soccer season, traveling for the holidays, applying for jobs, digging out from all I didnt do while traveling over the holidays.  There is no excuse for it.  I know.  I know.  I hope that when Nico reads this he will understand how much I really wanted to post, but couldnt.  What does he want from me?  To be Nicole?
The holidays were awesome.  In order to attempt to check something off my life list (having a white christmas), I urged the family to go to Michigan for Christmas.  Plus that meant that Mom could see Uncle Scott.  And it avoided the fight about Dallas v. Tallahassee for the holidays.  Well, we didnt get snow on Christmas, but we got it a couple of days after.  Nico loved it.  But I think his favorite part was running around with the cousins.  They were quite the little band.  It was pretty cute.  

The lake house was really close to Lake Michigan, so we went over to check it out.  It’s weird to be in a place where you can hear waves and see snow.  Its disorienting for this Florida girl.  Christmas day was a pretty big hit.  Santa brought Nico a police officer costume, a fire truck, and various firefighter gear.  Once again, we ended up leaving with more stuff than we brought.  

We took the kids to Chicago to go to Shedd Aquariaum (also so I could do a job interview at DePaul).  Nico’s favorite part was the submarine that he played in.  But in all, he was pretty much done after about two hours.  We are definitely not the kind of family that should ever go to those things, mostly because I dont really think we ever get our money’s worth.

It took us a couple of days to get home.  We stopped in Louisville on the way back so we could have dinner at The Bristol.  Soooo good.  The next day, we hopped in the car and started on our way.  Nico had been complaining that his stomach hurt- I thought he was just hungry because its hard to get him to sit and eat sometimes (we were at Cracker Barrell).  An hour outside of Nashville and he ralphed all over his seat. We stopped and unpacked the back of the car and stripped him down and cleaned him up.  He then went to sleep in the car, which was weird.  Later, we stopped at a Sweet Tomatoes outside of Atlanta for dinner and he ralphed there.  We ended up grabbing a room for the night and driving back on NYE day.  No more puking incidents, thankfully.  
When we got back, we headed to the park to see Ovid and then went to Joe and Kari Follick’s house for a NYE party, which was pretty fun.  We took it pretty easy for the rest of the week… I had to start back to work before Nico went back to school, so it was kind of a nightmare, trying to balance getting work done, Nico being at home (and us not wanting to stick him in front of the TV) and soccer practice.  
Sunday, I took Nico and met Ovid at the EMS station down in Woodville.  Ovid’s Dad is an EMT, so he showed us the ambulance and had a friend show us the fire trucks.  He was definitely the high light of Winter Break.  

Now we are back on the grind.  The soccer season is almost over.  Dave’s parents are coming up next week.  Nico is back in school (and not too pleased about it).  Looking forward to Daylight Savings Time, so that we can start going to the park again after school.

Cookies and Santa

So we had a really great weekend.  We played Leon to a 1-1 tie at home on Friday night.  We trailed for most of the game and equalized 4 minutes from the end.  It was awesome.  LOVE it when we tie and beat them. Even funnier is that Florida High did the same thing to us on Tuesday.  I love not being on that end of it- giving up a late equalizer.

My friend LaVon was getting rid of an elliptical and we had plans for her to bring it over on Saturday morning, which meant we needed to get rid of stuff to make room for it.  Which is awesome.

Saturday afternoon, we had Nico’s friend Ovid over to make Cookies.  It was pretty great.  Of course Nico is totally an only child.  So there were a couple of meltdowns over boots and firecoat and trucks.  Mostly on Nico’s end.  you know, its funny, because they are best friends, but they totally start getting after each other when they get together.  I think its mostly because they are kinda different… Nico is into sports and trucks and firefighters.  Ovid is into dress-up play, role playing, and pretending.  
Sunday we went to see Santa.  We waited in line for about an hour.  But it was worth the wait. Yes, he is wearing the firecoat he had on the day before.  He basically wears it every day he can.  
Nico asked for a police officer costume and a real fire tuck.  
After, Nico got to ride some ride-on trucks.  It was pretty cool.  He loved it. While he was riding, Dave and I got chair massages.  They were awesome.  
Sunday night Dave and Nico made us pizza for dinner.  It was gluten-free.  Dave didn’t think it was all that great- but it was okay.  Apparently, I am going to have to show him how we do things in the Bishop house.  
We are really starting to look forward to the trip to Michigan.  It looks like we might get a little snow while we are there, which would be awesome.  I am mostly looking forward to sleeping in, taking naps, and seeing family.    
Family trips with Nico and Emme and Maddox are great, because its fun to see them all playing together.  Even if Nico does act like a spoiled only child.  Sometimes.