Loved Ones

Oh, the fam. The thing about going to Ohio was that I saw more of my family in two weeks than I normally do in 6 months-wait, in this case 9 months. That’s kind of how we roll. But that also turned into everyone wanting lots of pictures, and what better place to put those pictures than this place of mine on the internet.

Look at how cute my niece is! And her hair is my color, which I love, and which my sister hates. I bought her a cool Viewfinder-type toy when we were in Paris in June. The pictures inside are all Parisian vignettes-the Eiffel Tower in the sun and at night, the Champs Elysee, Montmartre, stuff like that. I gave it to her while we were visiting and she kept pretending it was a camera and making us look in it. When we left, my sister told me that Ry continued to look into and exclaim “It’s Jon and Ashley!”. How adorable is that? Kids man…they’re funny. Double rainbow in Crestline! It seemed that the whole street ran out to see. I was disappointed to see that most just took a picture with their fancy phones, then ran back inside, undoubtedly to share their newly taken photo. I, on the other hand stood on the porch for a long time, until it went away. It was a nice moment. But then, I took a picture too so I guess I suck just as much as everyone else. 

Probably another contender for the Sheets-Norris holiday 2012 card:

The other funny thing about taking a trip like that is that so many of the pictures are ultra posed, to the point of ridiculousness. Like, a hundred of interchangeable pictures of me with my hand on my hip, cheesin’ like a fool next to someone I think is great. There is a particularly cheesy photo of Jon and I with my dad and stepmom in front of the piano, but I don’t know if they’d approve of it being put on the internet so I’ll refrain from posting it on here. Sorry dudes, it’s a total keeper.

And this, I love…

…Jon being weird while my niece forces my pregnant sister to play with her/pokes her in the eye. (And let it be known that I’m not posting pictures featuring my sister because she hates having her picture taken whilst pregnant so I’m sortakinda respecting that. There is, however, one phone picture of us that I posted over here).

Family, ya’ll.

Screw it, I’m posting the piano picture. Look at Jon!

Hahaha, it’s so great!

Music for packing

Tomorrow night I’ll touch down in Ohio and I could not be more pleased. Jon likened my demeanor to a child on Christmas Eve, and that’s probably a fair comparison. It’s been many moons since I touched midwestern soil, and this corn-fed Ohio girl is going to adhere to all stereotypes of a good American, drink good beer and laugh and dance with my friends, kiss my loved ones, and be blissfully happy for 12 days. Thank you providence. Thank you credit card.

Newstead Abbey

One of my favorite parts of  now living in a country with hundreds and hundreds of years of recorded history is that there are a million and one places to visit and explore and pretend I’m an old timey lady-in-waiting that knows all of the juicy secrets (because even in my daydreams I’m usually not actually a princess). A highlight of last week’s trip to Nottingham was definitely our visit to Newstead Abbey. Gorgeous, gorgeous architecture, sprawling, immaculate grounds, peacocks, and a waterfall. And scones. And the notorious Romantic poet Lord Byron lived there. So you KNOW some ish went down in between those walls, because he was basically a rich poet/classy sex fiend who had a relationship with his half-sister and lots of affairs with married woman, and essentially left England because he’d burned so many (sexy) bridges. Good times. And he had such a beautiful home!

Oh hey duck!

Okay, we maybe made some friends with the wildlife. They were overly friendly.

Alas, we were not actually permitted inside the Abbey on that day-it was closed for one reason or another. Super disappointing. And on to the gardens….

Oh, and our friend the flamboyant peacock made his triumphant return. He followed us to the cafe and yelled at us while we ate scones. I wish I’d taken a picture of him in full bloom! (The scones were delicious, by the way. The North has those on lock…mmmm clotted cream….)

Unfortunately by the end of scone time the grounds were closed for the day. This coincided with it starting to rain…hard. And the gardens and abbey were a mile or two away from the main road (we didn’t know that when we took the bus out there, what a surprise!), and therefore the bus stop that we needed to get back to was also a few miles away. It was a wet, sad little walk-three women and a baby!-and we tried to hitch hike from the few cars that passed by, feeling secure in the fact that we’d paid entry to the grounds and therefore would only be coming across employees or other visitors. Several cars drove right by, (booo!), but finally the lovely giftshop lady that Ally and Penny had been chatting with earlier picked us up. Said she recognized the baby! Oh man…don’t recognize the three grown women that you were talking to, just recognize the tiny bundle of four month old cuteness that is strapped to someone’s chest? Whatever works. She was nice. And we made it to the bus stop only half as wet as we would have been!

I’ll leave you with some Lord Byron.

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow’d to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impair’d the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!