Category Archives: My favorite people

What Y2K and my Mother in Law Have in Common.

JCP_3574 bwNew Year’s Eve 1999 found me wide-eyed with unabashed glee at the prospect of the impending doom about to descend upon civilization as I knew it.  An uncertain world was curiously teetering on the brink of Y2K, and in a startling flight from rationality my parents had decided that we stood a better chance against the looters back in the Land of the Free than in our little apartment in the Soviet Block. Thus, my family had flown across the ocean from Kiev, Ukraine, to my Grandparent’s house in Suburbia, Michigan. Locks had been tested, toilet paper had been stock piled, and in a sadistic twist on Trick-or-treat gone terribly wrong, Grandpa had loaded the riot gun and was ready to greet any of the aforementioned looters. Mama had filled every bathtub in the house with cold water, and stacked ominously in the basement were enough flashlights, batteries and cans of low-fat New England clam chowder to launch our own rather unappetizing, well-lit cult.

Pondering that experience as an adult, I am now quite convinced that I would much prefer to die in some sort of apocalyptic event than be forced to eat room-temperature clam chowder glopped unceremoniously from a can.

The Petersons were nothing if not prepared, and my brothers and I were positively heartsick when Y2K held all of the excitement of a dirty Kleenex. The electricity didn’t so much as flicker, and Grandpa didn’t get to fire the riot gun even once. Thus, dreams and bathtub water swirled straight down the drain, flashlights were tucked away and I can only imagine that a local homeless shelter was the unlucky beneficiary of the aforementioned chowder. In summation: everyone suffered.

Fourteen years have passed since that underwhelming New Year’s Eve with the batteries and the bathtubs filled clear to the brim, and strangely, I find myself once again preparing for an event of apocalyptic proportions. Except, instead of Y2K, my MOTHER IN LAW is coming to visit this weekend.

Now, let’s you and I get one thing straight right off the bat: my Mother in Law is the sweetest, most selfless human being on the planet. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, I will tell you that my OWN Mother has decided that she is the kindest person that we know. Gina Dickens began treating me like I was her daughter long before there was a ring on my finger, and I wholeheartedly adore her.

Unfortunately, perfection has its pitfalls, chief of which is raising offspring who thinks it’s normal. In her entire life, Gina hasn’t so much as pretended to be mediocre at something, effectively creating wildly unrealistic expectations for her son that can’t FOR THE LIFE of him figure out why I don’t carry around an plastic bag full of alphabetized coupons. [Um, HELLO, I lost our scissors in the move.] Kellan grew up in a perfectly immaculate house where organization was paramount [I’m pretty sure the folders had folders], and the kitchen was always startlingly sparkling. I’m quite serious about this. I’ve spent three consecutive Thanksgivings in Gina’s kitchen, and have yet to see so much as a flour splatter. [AT THANKSGIVING. THE COOKINGEST DAY OF THE YEAR. She’s like a kitchen unicorn.] My kitchen, however, consistently looks like a bomb went off and the Red Cross failed to respond. And that’s just after breakfast.

I married Gina’s first-born son under the unspoken expectation that I would do my utmost to keep him alive. It was one thing when she came to visit last fall and popped into our tiny little apartment just long enough for lunch before she and Russ whisked us away for a weekend at the cutest little B&B around. [I told you. BEST.] It’s another thing entirely now that she’s coming to STAY AT MY HOUSE for a whole weekend. MY HOUSE, in which a TV is currently precariously perched atop a tower consisting of two Tupperware containers and one old wine box, because CLASSY. I sheepishly confessed that to her a couple of months ago, and she looked at me like I was a starving paralytic in dire need of some sort of fundraiser.

I’ve decided that the whole thing is very much like getting ready for Y2K. I find myself desperate to prove that I am a responsible, prepared adult, instead of someone who still pays for her coffee in quarters and dimes. I vacillate wildly from feeling immeasurably mature as I stockpile spare light bulbs and stamps, to being utterly convinced that she will take one look at the guest bathroom and very quietly put a protective layer of toilet paper over the seat. Kellan began to notice that something was amiss when I walked up to him last night with crazy eyes and very calmly informed him that if he left his mildewed towel on the floor one more time, I WOULD STAB HIM.

I spend every spare minute coming up with contingency plans, quite certain that I will accidentally blow the electricity, the freezer will melt and we shall be forced to eat damp cheese sandwiches by candlelight for dinner. And because she is perfect, Gina will smile graciously and make some sort of charming remark about how lovely the light looks flickering off of the walls while I internally panic because SWEET FANCY MOSES I AM GOING TO MUDDY THE GENE POOL. I’ll grin weakly as I desperately attempt to look like the sort of girl that wears sensible shoes and reads instruction manuals, instead of a girl that doesn’t own a mop.

Clearly, this is dire. Say your rosaries, friends–because we are T-4 days. If you need me, I’ll be dusting my wine-box TV stand and stacking cans of clam chowder in the basement.

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Filed under Family, Marriage, My favorite people, Then I found $5.00

Let’s Give Them Something to Squawk About.

It started with a chicken.

I suppose to be more precise, I ought to confess that it was really the chicken population at large that did it to me. There I stood, standing in front of a glass case at the grocery store, staring wide-eyed at a veritable mountain of egg cartons. Sandwiched in between yogurt and the unsalted butter, they were speckled brown and milky white, extra-large and normal-sized, and there were a thousand different brands to choose from.

I have no explanation for what happened next, except to tell you that on most days, I feel like I am raw, walking around the planet without any skin. I am a raging bleeding heart, and quite without warning I suddenly found myself overcome with the plight of chickens everywhere. Cramped in filthy cages with little room to move, condemned to a sickly life of egg-laying day in and day out until their little chicken-ovaries dry up and they end up in a bucket at KFC. The whole thing sounded positively heinous to me, and while I had successfully navigated twenty-seven years of life without managing to give chickens so much as a second thought, without warning I became rather inexplicably stirred. Moved almost to tears, I felt deeply virtuous as I reached for a pretentious brown carton of “organic eggs”. I grinned, picturing healthy chickens happily waddling and squawking about the grassy knolls cheerfully pictured on the front of the carton. They were $1.83 more than the blood-eggs that I had been previously purchasing, but I consoled myself with the assurance that $1.83 was a small price to pay to afford chickens the opportunity to roam wild and free.

I arrived home feeling like Joan of Arc, and promptly informed Kellan that we were officially “happy chicken” people. He rolled his eyes, and decided that chickens weren’t a hill worth dying on. “Happy eggs” became a weekly purchase, and it wasn’t long before we couldn’t remember anything else.

Those were the good old days.

Several weeks ago, I found myself sitting around a brown kitchen table with friends in Amish country, PA. I was in Lancaster for a work conference, and Meredith, Isaac and Nick sat across the table from me as we chatted about life and microfinance over heaping plates of Mexican food. There was a distinct air about them—these were clearly the sorts of people that buy organic peanut butter and almond milk from health food stores that smell conspicuously of mulch and hamsters. The sorts of people that spend long weekends chained to endangered trees, and have involved conversations about the merits of 18th-century Russian novelists. They were so cool. It was clear from the moment that we sat down that at a table of French rose water macaroons, I was a shrink-wrapped, gas station Tastykake. A pearl-wearing, air-conditioning loving steak enthusiast sitting at a table with three vegetarian hipsters, and I desperately wanted to fit in.

Casually, as though I talked about this sort of thing every day, I breezily mentioned that I bought ORGANIC eggs. Because, you know, I CARED about CHICKENS.

Isaac looked at me with a sort of amused expression, as though I had just announced that I was going to be President when I grew up.

Undeterred, and quite caught up in a state of astonished appreciation for my own magnanimity, I proudly soldiered on. I really want the chickens to have space to play, you know? So I only buy cage free.

It was clear that the hipsters could take no more. They were silently exchanging incredulous, sideways glances, a delicate dance of who’s-going-to-tell-her floating through the sweet summer air.

Meredith, whom I have known and adored since our college days at UNC, looked at me gravely, as though I were the next of kin. Ashley, you know that “cage free” only means that chickens have ACCESS to the outdoors, right? Those “cage free” eggs that you’re buying from the grocery store all come from miserable, disease-ridden chickens packed tightly inside a warehouse. There’s a tiny opening in one of the walls so that technically, the chickens have access to the outside. But they’re not really cage free. What’s more, the chickens are so sick that the yolks are gray. They have to inject them with yellow dye so that people like you will eat them.

You could have heard a pin drop. I was so blusteringly indignant that I couldn’t string together a coherent sentence. After all, I had been SPENDING OUT THE YIN-YANG so that the blasted chickens could frolic in the sunshine!

Out to finish the job, Meredith grinned and asked if I wanted to know something else.

NO. NO I DO NOT. THE FREAKING GRAY-YOLKED CHICKENS AREN’T HAPPY AND NEITHER AM I.

Meredith leaned in, looking gleeful, as though she were about to share a delicious secret. She looked me dead in the eyeballs, and sinisterly whispered, The milk you’re buying at the grocery store? The cow’s udders are so infected that you’re essentially drinking pus that’s been cut with water.

I couldn’t breathe. Udder. Pus. Udder. PUS. UDDER! PUS! I had been drinking UDDER PUS my whole life and NOBODY HAD EVER BOTHERED TO TELL ME. The frantic thoughts running across my scattered mind were so terribly violent that I cannot bear to share them here, because they would make Mother Teresa drink whisky straight out of the dog bowl.

Meanwhile, the hipsters chortled unsympathetically in the background.

I called Kellan that night, and my voice sounded shrill even to my own ears. He could barely understand a frantic word that I said—did someone kidnap you? Are you in a trunk? I finally managed to eek something out about udder pus and miserable chickens and I have to find a local farm, and Kellan calmly mentioned that maybe we should do some research.

Um. I already did some research MY FRIENDS TOLD ME SO.

And so June finds us in search of a local farm, and drinking VERY expensive milk in the meantime because I CANNOT POSSIBLY HANDLE UDDER PUS.

Did you know about this? Bueller?! What else am I missing? Clearly, this is dire.

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Filed under First World Problems, My favorite people, My ghetto-fab life, Then I found $5.00

What Sisters are For.

JCP_2516My little sister called me a couple of weeks ago, proudly informing me that she was going to prom.

This was a profoundly disturbing announcement, given that in my mind she is still a tubby two year old with sprightly chestnut pig tales, and a fond penchant for purple feather boas and all things Hello Kitty.

The only problem with the snapshot frozen in my head is that she’s fifteen. Fifteen, with a hot-off-the-press driver’s permit and ballerina legs a mile long and be still my heart, she is going to PROM. Just with a friend, mind you, because a date would send us all careening right over the edge, and we’re teetering dangerously close as it is.

Ash, can you fly home and help me get ready?

I’d already made plans to go home, because my sister in law is graduating from Duke and I choose to celebrate even the most mediocre educations. Emily informed me that maddeningly, her prom was a day before my flight was scheduled to arrive.

Personally, I don’t want to live in a world where big sisters can’t fly home to swipe mascara and take a thousand posed pictures. For heaven’s sake, it’s what big sisters are for. We exist to make sure that ears are pierced early and curfews are pushed late. We pass down jeans and nubs of old red lipstick and unsolicited advice about how to wax your eyebrows and transition from boxed wine. We solemnly promise that boys really do get a little bit better, when you’re thirty-five or so. And we fly home to help our little sisters get ready for prom.

So Friday night will find me back in Raleigh. There was hardly a choice to be made, given that our Mama would have tried to coerce her into wearing a matching bracelet/necklace/earrings set, and I taught Emily long ago never to take fashion advice from anyone that wore CLOGS for the better part of the nineties. My Mother may be the boss of us, but she adamantly refused to buy anything that had to be dry cleaned until approximately 2007, and I think we can all agree that that represents a startling lapse of judgment.

There’s just something about going home. About country roads that wind and bend for endless miles of green, and car windows rolled all the way down. About friends that share a hundred thousand “remember whens” and beloved coffee shops that I don’t need a GPS to find. About breakfast dates with my Daddy and piano keys that my brother used to play for hours on end and breathing in the sweetly familiar with bare feet and a deliriously happy heart. This morning, my body might still be in New York, but y’all had better believe that I’ve already gone to Carolina in my mind.

If you’d like to see Emily dolled up in one of my old prom dresses, feel free to find me on Instagram! This proud big sister will be blowing it up tomorrow night.

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Filed under Family, Home, My favorite people

Lean on Me.

I apologize for the impromptu blogging hiatus. I’m sure you’ve all been on the edge of your seats wondering how the nail-biter saga that is my birthday turned out. PATIENCE, PEONS! [I’m sorry. The birthday dictator keeps bubbling to the surface. So embarrassing.]

A week and a half ago, one of my very best friends came to visit. Jess was one of my roommates in college, and has enough dirt on me to squelch any aspirations that I’ve ever had of running for political office.

She also led the charge to save my wedding.

Once upon a time in another life, I didn’t ask for help while wedding planning. Oh, dear friends offered time and time again–but I was simply skeptical of the idea that people might actually WANT to spend their spare time tying navy bows and stamping endless piles of cream-colored envelopes. I smiled politely and deftly refused–wholeheartedly believing that I was saving them from themselves.

When Ian went into the ICU for the very last time, I remember sitting on the cold floor beside his hospital bed with my DSC_0135laptop open on a rainy afternoon. I had neither thought nor spoken of my impending wedding since he’d been admitted, fearful that he would hear and begin to panic. I desperately didn’t want him to understand how close my wedding day was, and consequently, how long he’d been sick. In a dark ICU, days and nights bleed together as monitors murmur and flicker, and the passing of time becomes marked only by changing shifts as doctors and heroic nurses quietly ebb in and out of winding hallways.

As I sat on the speckled floor, an email from my reception coordinator popped up in my inbox, defiantly glaring at me from the glowing screen. The steady rush of a ventilator breathed in and out and my heart stopped as the sheer impossibility of it all threatened to drown me. My brother can’t breathe on his own and I am supposed to get married in three weeks. Without so much as a second thought, I hastily responded:

DSC_0216I am in the midst of a family emergency. Copied on this email is Jessica Mann. She will be working with you from now on.

I didn’t even think to ASK Jess first. And the thing is, I didn’t need to. I knew that Jess would take over the remaining three weeks of wedding planning without so much as batting an eye, a suspicion quickly confirmed when she responded “Absolutely.” less than 7 minutes later. The next evening, she, Gretchen, Haley, Ashley, Danielle, Hartley and Michelle [every best-friend-bridesmaid that was in town] all piled into an ICU waiting room with a bottle of white wine and a flock of open laptops, quickly and decisively divvying up remaining tasks. From crafting a seating chart on antique window panes to picking the wine list to coordinating with the photographers and meeting with the reception planner, everything was taken care of. Each woman gathered in the waiting room that night treated my wedding like it was her own, insistently caring about sweet details when I no longer could. My wedding was far from ideal, but I am quite convinced that there has never been more love poured into a single day.

Jess was the tiny, formidable force driving the whole herculean effort. They tied navy bows and called the florist.DSC_0253 They painted signs and coordinated chocolate cupcake deliveries. They took time off of work and wrote checks out of their own bank accounts that I wouldn’t find out about until months later–and all, so that I could simply sit by Ian’s bed and hold his hand. They gave me the precious, irreplaceable gift of time with my little brother. I could not have been more grateful for anything under the sun.

Weeks later, when I walked away from room 17 in the ICU for the very last time, they were the phone calls that I made, one by one, as I sat in crushed disbelief on my bedroom floor. I had always believed that somehow, Ian would live, and they had stubbornly believed with me. I remember Gretchen dissolving into tears as I numbly relayed the news, unable to even begin to wrap my mind around the idea that my curly-haired little brother was not coming back.

These are my people. The people that ache with me and belly-laugh with me and know to keep calling if my phone goes unanswered. The people to whom I can say everything or nothing at all. The people who spent hours sitting alone in nearby hospital coffee shops, just in case. I think that God gave them to me as a tangible reminder that in the midst of a world throbbing and aching and blindly reeling with grief, I am never, never alone.

Neither are you, friend.

 

 

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Filed under God's faithfulness, Grief, Ian, My favorite people

The Wedding Video.

I apologize for the radio silence around here. Just be grateful that you’re not my husband, who is currently living on dreams and scrambled eggs.

I am straight-up exhausted.

In typical “us” fashion, we decided that we should buy a new house, join a new church AND start my new job allatthesametime. It all feels like LIFE, and after six months of death, I am grateful for every overflowing trashcan and stale bagel around these parts. I am deeply, deeply thankful for life.

Yesterday, I drove to Massachusetts. As happens on all of my long, quiet drives now, I missed Ian more and more with every winding, New England mile. I arrived home to a sweet surprise—our wedding video!

My heart jumped into my throat as I relived the frosty March day that Kellan and I looked hard into each other’s eyes and promised for better or for worse. I’ll say what took me months to admit out loud: it’s often hard for me to think about our wedding day. There was so much impossible pain and so much extravagant love woven into March 2nd, so inextricably intertwined that it was impossible to tell where one ended and the other began. I had tightly held Ian’s hand as he slipped away just three days before, and suddenly, impossibly, I found myself clutching my Daddy’s arm in a white dress, waiting for the sanctuary doors to open. Breathtaking piano music swelled and I thought my heart might burst from the indescribable pain and beauty of it all.

I had to remind myself to breathe.

Just a week and a half before, my Dad and I had been sitting beside Ian’s bed in the ICU. Monitors flickered in the dark, vacillating wildly between hopeful and heartbreaking. Exhausted hearts rose and sank with oxygen levels and hand squeezes, and no one knew for certain whether Ian would live or die. We were afraid to hope, and still, could do nothing else.

My wedding day was fast approaching, though I did my best not to think or talk about it. Somehow, my stubborn sister heart still resolutely believed that the frail shadow of my brother laying on the hospital bed in front of me might still walk out of that hospital room and waltz with me on March 2nd. Truthfully, I was never able to wrap my heart around the idea that Ian might die. Oh, I could say the words, but they rang hollow every time.

Over the course of planning a wedding for six and a half months, my easy-going Father had never inserted his opinion or asked for anything at all. That day in the ICU, he looked at me and quietly asked me to find a videographer to capture the day, in case Ian lived to see it.

The wedding was days away. Numb and exhausted, I called my dear friend Amy, who spent countless hours in the ICU with us over the course of those weeks. Amy, Dad wants me to find a videographer. Do you know anyone?

Firmly, she told me not to worry about it, that she would figure it out.

Later that day, Amy texted and told me that my friend Josh [who happened to be the most talented videographer at our church] had agreed to film the wedding—and some friends [who remain anonymous to this day] were paying for it.

Hot tears slipped down my face in a sterile white hallway, as I sank to the floor outside the door to Ian’s room.

Ian will never watch this video, but I am indescribably grateful to have it. Its very existence reminds me that even in the midst of raw, searing pain, I do not walk alone. That I do not hurt alone, and that my family and I are loved. And it reminds me of how grateful I am that in the months that followed my walk down the aisle, Kellan walked with me. [Goodness, am I ever glad that I married that man!]

To Josh Sliffe, Amy, and the other friends that made capturing our wedding day possible: “thank you” could never be enough. You are a tangible expression of God’s goodness towards me.

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Filed under God's faithfulness, Grief, Ian, Marriage, My favorite people

My Apple Predicament.

This weekend started off with a bang, when I wandered down to the mail room and discovered a package addressed to me. [And let it henceforth be known that there are few things in life that I love more than packages!] I ripped into my unexpected manila envelope and discovered this little bit of happy:

photo (22)The note read: “Dear Ashley, couldn’t resist sending ‘househunting files’. Love, favorite Mother in Law.”

BAH! I was so excited that I took my very first selfie, and I’m still embarrassed about it. My sweet mother in law sent me the most adorable Martha Stewart filing system! And who doesn’t love MARTHA? I’ll always have a soft spot for her–decorative pumpkins, criminal record and all. Now, are you ready for “How to Endear Yourself to Your In-Laws, by Ashley Dickens”? Refer to yourself as “your favorite _______”. The day that I married Kellan, I began to refer to myself as “your favorite daughter in law” any time I spoke to Gina and Russ. Call it brainwashing, but by the time Kellan’s younger brother Bryan gets married I intend to have my “favorite” status so solidified that the new girl won’t stand a chance.

Also, odds are that we beat his siblings to grand kids, so there’s always that.

The weekend slipped into bliss-status when one of my very best friends flew into town! Michelle has a wandering hippie heart, and thus I was only mildly surprised when she called me in the middle of last week, and asked if she could come. She’s the latest installment of a panicked flood of friends and family trying to make it to Albany before the snow hits [send. help.], and time with her was unbelievable.

Now, in true Instagram fashion:

photo (23)On Friday night, we spent hours throwing together the perfect fall dinner. Pumpkin pie bars and stuffed acorn squash were only the beginning–the occasion demanded nothing less than my very finest stretchy pants.

photo (24) Saturday morning found us at the Whistling Kettle for brunch! And as we’ve established a thousand times, nothing makes my heart sing like brunch. One pot of salted caramel tea and a crepe later, we dashed off for a hike. And Y’ALL, if there’s one time of year that upstate New York just SHOWS OFF…

photo (25)It’s right about now.  My heart stops every time I leave my apartment–it looks like the world is on fire. The pictures are such a sham next to the real thing.

photo (26)It was breathtaking. Don’t you just love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.

photo (28)We wandered for a couple of hours, and then found ourselves at an apple orchard, where this happened:

photo (27)Do you see that? The girl in the picture may LOOK happy, but don’t be deceived. That right there is ELEVENTY BILLION POUNDS of apples, and for a girl that eats a grand total of maybe three a year, it’s about eleventy billion too many. I was Jedi mind-tricked into thinking that I needed them by a cute little old farmer and a hippie that loves nothing more than eating local. The aforementioned hippie stuffed a couple in her carry on to take home with her [and really, now that Michelle is eating them back in North Carolina we can hardly call it “eating local” anymore], but left me with a formidable pile that’s currently taunting me from my kitchen counter. I can’t stand wasting food, and thus the apples must be used. But what on earth does one do with that many apples?! Kellan is traveling all week, which leaves me and my apple predicament all by our lonesome. The whole thing is very Little House on the Prairie, except Pa Ingalls won’t be around to save the day.

Send help. Also, recipes that won’t make me lop out of my yoga pants.

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Filed under First World Problems, My favorite people, My ghetto-fab life

Remember When?

photo (20)

So, I don’t want to brag, but I hit the in-law jackpot.

Exhibit A: several months ago, my sweet in-laws emailed me to take us up on our offer [read: plea] for them to come visit us. Casually, as though this sort of thing happens every day, they asked if Kellan and I might be interested in them taking us to a Bed and Breakfast for the weekend.

Well. Twist my arm.

I screeched, and hollered the good news across our little apartment to my unimpressed husband, who could not for the life of him understand why we would drive half an hour to sleep in a strange bed when we had a perfectly good mattress laying on our apartment floor.

Calmly, I looked him dead in the eyes, and informed that handsome man that if he needed me that weekend, he could find me at the Bed and Breakfast.

The whole plan was flawless, until I had a minor break with reality upon the startling realization that our upcoming staycation meant that my mother in law was going to see my house.

GOING. TO SEE. MY HOUSE.

Y’all. I have spent TWO Thanksgivings at Gina Dickens’ house, and have never once seen even the teensiest mess in her kitchen. I can’t so much as pour a bowl of CEREAL without wreaking havoc in my kitchen, and when I get through with Thanksgiving it looks like some sort of natural disaster struck around the stove and the Red Cross failed to respond. Her house is immaculate, she is the sweetest human being that I have ever met AND shephoto (18) has a file for everything in life.

[Let’s just talk about the “conversation” that Kellan and I had when he asked me why I didn’t have a file for our house hunting adventures. OH NO YOU DIDN’T.]

Long story short? My mother in law is perfection personified, and I will never manage to be quite like her. As I pictured her walking through my front door, I broke into a cold sweat because DEAR HEAVENS WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME THAT I DUSTED?!

WHERE IS OUR VACUUM?!

Horrified at the prospect of my husband’s mother finding her first-born son living in squalor and filth, I armed myself with a can of pledge and made every faux-wooden surface in my house SHINE.

Friday night found me in my kitchen covered from head to toe in powdered sugar as I made key lime pie, grinding my teeth to bloody stumps because KELLAN YOU CAN’T USE THAT BATHROOM. I may or may not have offered my saintly husband an extensive lecture on proper towel-folding etiquette, which I’m certain that he appreciated. Nevertheless, he scrubbed and folded and consoled like a champ, all the while knowing that his parents could care less whether or not our apartment is dusted.

But still. You marry a Mama’s little boy, and you kind of want her to know that you’re not going to kill him.

At least not on purpose.

photo (21)Of course, given that as we’ve already covered she is the SWEETEST HUMAN ON THE PLANET, Gina waltzed in on Saturday morning armed with a pumpkin candle and fall décor, and both she and Russ positively gushed over how very beautiful everything was.

Even our mattress on the floor.

And I love them forever for it.

After lunch [during which I served the aforementioned key lime pie garnished with just a SMIDGE of my grated thumb], the four of us took off for the most darling B&B of all time. We spent the weekend eating incredible food, wandering around an adorable historic town, and picking my real-estate savvy Father in law’s brain on what sort of house we should buy. Fall is out in splendid force in upstate New York, and the burned oranges and golden reds lacing the trees make it look like the world is on fire. We spent hours on the sweetest wraparound porch drinking wine and watching the sun set, and I found myself wishing that I could bottle it all up and store it forever. I just knew that one day, years from now, the four of us would find ourselves sitting around a kitchen table somewhere “remembering when”. You don’t always know when something is going to become a “remember when”, but somehow I knew this would.photo (17)

I’m so grateful for “remember when” moments, and for extravagantly generous parents-in-law that treat me just like another daughter.

Also, I am very confused as to why pancakes and eggs were not waiting for me when I got out of bed this morning…

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Filed under Family, My favorite people, The daily grind