It was a weekend full of parties.

On Friday night, we kicked off the weekend with a small party at our house as a double birthday celebration for me, on my 30th, and Paul’s friend from work Andrew, who turned 31 on Sunday. We seized the opportunity to use our deck and had good food and lots of wine and hung out for a few hours. Ringing in 30 was a great success.

But of course, there are a ton of summer birthdays in our family, so on Saturday, there was a surprise party for my cousin Casey, also turning 30–her actual birthday is today. So we spent a few hours over at my aunt and uncle’s house, and Casey was sufficiently surprised. She didn’t even know that Sammi, who lives in New York, was in for the weekend and didn’t find out until she walked into the house and saw us all there.

After the party, we made our belated Father’s Day rounds, starting with my parents’ house for a little bit before heading over to Paul’s parents’ place just in time for dinner. After another couple hours there, we headed home.

On Sunday, the miraculous third consecutive day of sunshine after never-ending rain, we got some yard work done when we could before heading out to a party again, this time a graduation party for one of Paul’s cousins. We had a good time hanging out there until the evening, at which point I, still feeling under the weather from my cold last week, got Paul to squeeze in one last round of cutting grass at the back of the house before the sun set.

And now, somehow, I’ve managed to get sick again, except this time the trouble is mostly digestive. I almost feel like I have a mild flu–I was really tired all day today with body aches, and although things seem to have improved at this point in the evening, I’m frustrated. Things need done and I don’t have the energy, and I’ve already not seen Eliana for a few weeks and am worried that if I’ve come down with something new that’s  not short-lived, I’m not gonna see her for another week or so yet. I was really set on making it happen this weekend, too, so I’m not gonna be happy if it doesn’t work out.

Other potential weekend plans include a small get-together at our house I like to call “We Had a Party Last Weekend and Everyone Brought Wine, So Now We Have Too Much Wine, Please Come Drink Some,” or maybe a trip to Phipps, or maybe a trip to the art museum. They both have things going on right now I really want to see, but the good news is both are ongoing through the summer, so I’ve got time.

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I think I’ve found the one downside to working from home, at least for me–venturing out into the world makes me prone to illness. I was gonna say “makes me sick,” but…

But it’s true. For the second time in the last few months, it would appear that I emerged from weekend festivities with a cold. The annoying thing is calling off doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense because if I’m not sitting at my work computer, I’m just gonna be sitting on my laptop, so other than having to be clocked in and working for eight hours, what difference does it make? Besides, I can take a nap instead of a lunch break. And let me tell you, some days, that’s perfect.

So I’ve been taking it easy for the last half of the week, hoping to get the damned thing out of my system to varying degrees of success. Some things feel better, some worse, but I am more functional than I was when it started. Not only did I nap for lunch on Wednesday, but I conked right out once I was clocked out.

We did venture out to Pittsburgh today for the final day of the annual arts festival. When we went to brunch last week, I’d invited Marissa along at the last minute, but she wasn’t around, so I told her maybe she could join us this weekend. And that she did, along with her mom. Paul and I had left earlier than they did and took the T and were hungry, of course, so we grabbed tacos at Condado, a place we fell in love with when we stopped by their Lawrenceville location some months back.

And after that, the four of us had a nice afternoon of enjoying the festival. Marissa and I were both hoping to get some nice little art prints for our respective bathrooms–she succeeded, I did not–and I know Paul picked up some jewelry I not-so-subtly mentioned would make nice birthday gifts for me.

Paul and I ended the day with a short walk to get some macarons, because they’re probably my favorite cookie and aren’t abundant closer to home. So we loaded up and splurged on two dozen of the things.

As for Father’s Day, we told both of our fathers we’d see them next weekend instead. With me not being 100% over this cold, I don’t want to take something over to my parents’ house and get my dad sick, since he’s going through chemo, and so we figured we’d hold off on both sides of the family and do it next weekend.

Marissa texted me probably a solid like two months ago asking if Paul and I would like to meet up with her for dinner some Saturday night, and obviously, we were totally up for it. The catch is that, as usual, between our two families, there was always something going on. Like, I almost texted her last week to see if last Saturday was doable, but then before I had the chance, Paul’s family decided to do their Easter dinner that night, so there went that. And so it goes.

But this weekend, we found ourselves completely free. Friday night, we went to the mall to hit Sephora’s spring sale and stock up on my makeup staples for 20% off, and then last night, we finally had dinner with Marissa.

Paul and I love Lawrenceville, which I know I’ve said before is one of our favorite neighborhoods because of all its hipster stores and restaurants, so we were eager to go wherever Marissa had in mind. I mean, our plan of attack when we’re there is to eat at the first restaurant we see because it all looks great, so hey, whatever. She suggested B52, a vegan place with a Mediterranean-inspired menu and a solid reputation even among non-vegans, and it was one of the places in the area I had heard about and definitely wanted to try. It lived up to the hype. Marissa and I both tried house-made fruit sodas, which I really liked, and Paul and I both got kabob platters with rice, hummus, salad, cucumber yogurt sauce, and kabobs made with bell peppers, zucchini, and seitan, a sort of meat substitute that is apparently pure gluten. We really, really liked them, and we found them to be really filling without that sort of heavy, overstuffed feeling you tend to get with other foods. We even finished by sharing a slice of their chocolate cake, which was great.

A few months ago, Tina was cooking at a brewery down the road, Full Pint, on a Saturday I had to work, so Paul headed out without me and got himself some food and had some beers, and he suggested it for some post-dinner drinks. He tried a few small, sample-sized beers, and Marissa and I tried the same pomegranate cocktail we were both bigs fans of. So we had a couple drinks each, hung out a bit longer, and then Paul and I dumped our recycling at our usual drop-off spot before heading home and enjoying the last couple hours of the evening.

It was a really nice night out with good conversation and just kind of a nice, chill hangout. Marissa and I are on the some wavelength in a lot of ways, and of those is wanting to try to hang out more, so hopefully as summer rolls around, we’ll be doing that. Of course, Paul and I are mostly booked for the next few weeks already. So it goes.

Today was mostly a lounge day with errands thrown in. I wanted to get started planting a garden, but rain got in the way of that. And so I realized there are still a few projects around the house that need tackled with a free day, the most obvious of which is the kitchen wall we never finished painting. After we pulled the wallpaper down and patched up some tiny cracks, we got so focused on stuff like getting the floors redone and emptying out our apartment that repainting that wall got totally forgotten about, and I figure the near future is a good time to do it. All we really did with it today was try to match the paint color of the wall right next to it–because open-concept houses with different things on different walls are awesome–but it’s more than we’ve done since that wallpaper came down.

Maybe next weekend we’ll have one day without rain to tackle that garden, but otherwise, it’s off to my cousin’s new baby’s christening.

Friday night, we stopped by my parents’ house, grabbing dinner at Fiesta Azteca on our way in. Mostly, I needed to squeeze in a time to finish up our taxes with my accountant mother, plus pick up doggy stairs she wasn’t using anymore to give to Terra, but we hung around for a bit, played with the dog, and had a chill evening. My dad’s doing well–definitely feeling better than he was last weekend, days post-chemo.

Saturday night, we met up with Katie and Jacob and cousin Chelsea for Emily’s show at school. Typically, they stick to plays–that’s all Paul and I have seen her in since she started college–but once every four years, they do a musical, and this year, sticking with a monster theme of the school year’s previous shows, they did Young Frankenstein.

And it was great. Paul and I have seen the musical before and knew it was a good time, but Katie said it’s probably her favorite musical now. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with Mel Brooks’ humor.

We went to Primanti’s for dinner after and had some drinks and good conversation before, as always, heading our separate ways and vowing to do it again soon.

And Sunday night, it was off to the movies with Terra and Jon to see Pet Sematary. Paul wasn’t crazy about going, not being a horror fan. He was also outnumbered, and if you’d paid attention to all four of us during the movie, you would’ve been able to tell which of us were horror fans. I cracked the occasional joke, Terra laughed, and the two of us plus Jon never really reacted to anything except children getting hit by trucks. Paul, on the other hand, spent much of the second half either closing his eyes or covering his ears or both.

The three of us also being the ones who had bother read the book and seen the first movie, we really liked it. We all found it to be an improvement over the original movie but still not as good as the book, and I’m debating exploring some of this in a separate post. I love that book and there’s so much good stuff in it that was cut out of both movies. I would love to see a faithful adaptation. I guess I would say one of my biggest complaints, though, is unnecessary jump scares early on. There’s not a whole hell of a lot of scary stuff in the beginning, and I get the sense that they threw in a few jump scares just for the sake of it because they felt like they couldn’t do nothing. And I guess that’s the problem with a lot of current horror–there’s an impulse to be constantly getting a reaction out of the audience, even when with source material like Pet Sematary, it’s more of a slow burn, and a really effective one at that. Now I’m rambling.

At that point, Terra and Jon had been gone all day, while Paul and I had only left the house for the first time. So they headed home to tend to the pets while Paul and I went for a late dinner at Bahama Breeze, because I love a gimmicky chain restaurant where I can eat pineapple and coconut on almost anything.

And now it’s back to the work week. Record Store Day is this weekend, so I’m trying to decide whether to go to Pittsburgh or Greensburg. I feel like the Pittsburgh stores are more likely to have the releases I want while the Greensburg stores are less likely to be crowded.

Saturday evening, we ran some errands–hair trims for both of us, since I can’t get to Emily for another two months thanks to working Saturdays in February, and a trip to the outlets for something my mom was looking for. From there, it was into Pittsburgh.

Earlier in the day, there was a nasty, tragic accident on the parkway. Two men were killed after being thrown off of a ramp and down onto a street below, where they were both hit by another car. Authorities think one man had car trouble and the other stopped  to help, and then a third came and either didn’t see them until it was too late or was going too fast. The men were either thrown from the ramp or were standing between their two cars and jumped to get out of the way. Hours had passed by the time we were going through, but there was a police barricade blocking the ramp to that stretch of the parkway, and although it looked like ay traffic had been cleared, we could still see the lights from the police cars along the stretch where it happened. I think everyone becomes kind of immune to reacting to car accidents, but it was tough to drive by the lights and barricades and not feel horrible for the men killed, their families, and the other drivers involved.

We met up with Chelsea and her friends for her roommates’ birthday at the same bar we went with them to for New Year’s. Katie and Jacob came out this time, too, and we had a nice evening of hanging out, drinking, and meeting a good number of new people, and everyone hit it off really well. Paul moved away from me at one point to the other end of the table to talk to one of Chelsea’s friends about meditation and tai chi and chakras, and I looked at Katie and went, “This is the kind of hippie shit people expect from me.” And there was a little talk of politics, with most of us being on the same side of things, and a little talk of sexism and social issues.

The place didn’t serve food, although we brought in pizzas from down the street, and Katie wanted ice cream, so as things were dying down, Paul and I went with her and Jacob to the closest Primanti Bros. because they’re open late. Turns out not all Primantis serve dessert. In retrospect, we should’ve looked for a Mad Mex, as they have ice cream and are open late, or an Eat ‘N’ Park, which, like Primanti’s, is easily found and open late.

Sunday, we thought about heading out to Row House for a screening of Metropolis, but neither of us was super into the idea of going out–Paul said he could be talked into going, and I said I could be talked out of going. So we decided to skip it, as much as that movie is on both of our lists of must-sees. But it also pops up at Row House often enough, so I’m sure we’ll get another chance to see it in the not-too-distant future.

I was toying with the idea of hosting a small party for New Year’s, but Terra beat me to it before I made up my mind. I think one day, I’d still like to do it, but for now, it can be tough for her to get out here and I wasn’t super committed to it, anyway.

And then Paul’s cousin Chelsea invited us to join her and her friends for some drinks, and we figured what the hell, we can do both–we pass through Pittsburgh on our way to Terra’s house anyway. so we can pop in, have some beers, then continue on our way for the rest of the New Year.

It ended up taking us forever to find parking, mostly because we were in a part of the city we don’t usually visit and one of the garages was closed. Because it took so long, we decided to hang out longer than we planned to, and I felt kind of bad because most of Terra’s other guests bailed and she was basically waiting on us. But we had fun hanging out and having some drinks before we hung out at Terra’s.

Now, she doesn’t have cable, and neither do we–so really, no matter what, we weren’t watching a ball drop unless we got on a computer and streamed it. But we opted to not bother and just wait and guess when the New Year started based on the influx of texts. It sounds really anti-climactic, but I found it pretty entertaining. I do enjoy New Year’s, but not to the point that it all hinges on watching TV.

We hung around for a couple hours, headed home, and crashed pretty hard, considering we were out until like 2 a.m., and enjoyed a lazy New Year’s Day.

In the week or so leading up to Christmas, we crammed in as much of our usual Christmas stuff as possible–The Nutcracker, B.C. Taylor, an evening trip to Phipps to see their annual Christmas flower show, and plenty of get-togethers.

At this point, we’ll cram a ton of stuff into a day if it means seeing people we don’t get to see often. And that’s exactly how the day before Christmas Eve was. We started at my mom’s Aunt Elaine’s annual Christmas party and had a nice time eating and hanging out with everyone for a couple hours.

From there, we went to Paul’s parents’ house. Julie and Michael were in town but weren’t gonna stick around through the holiday, so we did our family gift exchange then. In the fall, we used the Internet to do a Secret Santa between the siblings and spouses/significant others–I got Josh and totally nailed it with a video game he wanted, but also a bonus of a chocolate game controller. Julie had me, and she got me a bunch of candles, vegan lip balms, and soap from a craft show up in Erie, which was pretty much perfect. Paul gave Katie a Cards Against Humanity expansion pack and fuzzy socks, and from Jacob, he got a dinosaur wine-bottle holder. On top of that, we got one of our late wedding presents, a signed, framed print from Paul’s favorite childhood book, Dinotopia. We knew it was coming, but there were issues with the original frame and it took them this long to get it fixed. Now we just need to figure out where to display it. But the big moment of the night was presenting Paul’s parents with their gift, a summer trip to Canada. Well all pitched in for it, and Julie was hilariously excited for them to open everything and figure out we were sending them on vacation.

After a couple hours there, we went to our last stop, my friend Leah’s annual Christmas party. She took a break from hosting it for a couple years but brought it back this year, and it’s one of those events that we love going to because of who we get to see there–she gets together a lot of our classmates who have moved away but come home for the holidays. Since we both had to work the next morning and had an hour’s drive home, we’d said we were gonna leave at 10:30. It would give us time to enjoy ourselves and would get us home late, but not so late that we’d be worn out the ext day. And besides, the next day was Christmas Eve, and at least there’s the promise of the following day off. If you’re gonna go into work tired from a night out, one day before a day off isn’t a bad way to do it. But then we got caught up playing games, and we ended up not getting in until after 1 a.m. Oops.

But I regret nothing. It was a busy day, we drove all over one county and back home to another, and we were exhausted, but we got to see a lot of people over the course of the day and we had fun. I don’t think we’d have it any other way.

Thanksgiving split over two days is so much better and so much easier.

Brandon had to work Thanksgiving day, so my family opted to eat dinner Wednesday night instead. The two of us and our spouses headed over after work–late because of weird traffic on the interstate–and had a nice, calm dinner. Rather than drive home only to come back out Thursday, Paul and I just stayed overnight and spent the day catching up on shows I’d asked my mom to record for us, like American Gods, which is taking forever for us to finish. The good news, for us, anyway, is it’s also taking them forever to do the next season.

We did it all again Thursday afternoon at Paul’s parents’ house, and honestly, this is probably the ideal way to do Thanksgiving. It’s kind of how we do Christmas, and it’s less hectic and you’re not cramming in two meals. And we got sent home with a ton of leftovers.

I had to work Black Friday, as usual, but Paul was off, so he spent the day at home while I was holed up in my office and then headed out with a friend.

We’d decided to have people over Saturday night, and first of all, never doing Facebook invites again. Too many people ignore them now, and I absolutely don’t blame anyone for that, but what should be a super easy way to invite everyone you want over is just kind of a waste of time. Direct texts to everyone next time it is.

It was pretty small, a lot like Emily’s birthday party, only this time, Marissa came over. I knew she was back in the area, and for some reason, something in my brain just kinda went, “Text Marissa,” and so…I did. And I’m so, so glad I did, so much so that the next day, I said that out loud a couple of times and Paul was like, “Yep, I get it.” She didn’t stay super long–really, we’re all so used to going to bed by like 10 that everyone decides to go home pretty early–but we talked pretty much the whole time and I think it was really good for both of us.

And now we enter the hectic holiday season. We’re pretty much booked from here on out, with something going on every weekend in December. I’m debating hosting for New Year’s, but I can’t decide. Normally, we hang out at Terra’s, which might be good to stick with since her migraines mean driving to our place can be dicey, and I’d hate for her to be missing out if that were to happen. But I’ve always wanted to do something for New Year’s, and yet I also know if we’re gonna be busy for much of the month, I might not feel like putting the effort in, and so on and so on…

But the start of the fun is this weekend. We’re going to see Craig Ferguson Friday night, and then on Saturday, my brother and I are going to a local radio station’s Christmas concert featuring The Struts. My mom wants to make my grandma’s pheasant soup and asked us to pick a day to go over, so I suggested Sunday. And if that works for Brandon, there’s my whole weekend.

The only thing we really did over the weekend was go to Emily’s play at school this semester. A restaurant we like in town had a LivingSocial deal, so we got dinner plus some beers, ended up not spending enough money to cover the deal, and watched Emily do her best creepy vampire in Dracula.

I had the day off Friday and Paul called in sick, and the only thing we really did was some much-needed sleeping in. We ran errands on Sunday, and that was that.

Of course, the holidays are about to start, so that’s the last weekend we’ll have like that for a while. My family is doing Thanksgiving Wednesday night because Brandon has to work Thursday, so we’ll probably spend a good 24 hours back in our home county before I have to be home for work on Friday. I didn’t get tomorrow off, too, which I knew was a longshot anyway.

I started my week with a fuckton of overtime. I worked a 12-hour day on Monday alone, so by then, I was already totally done with the week. Throw in a Fleetwood Mac concert Thursday night and waiting the whole week to find out if I’d be able to get Friday off, and the whole damn thing was a drag.

Fleetwood Mac was fucking fantastic. I’ve been lucky enough to see them three times now–and of course a different lineup each time–and they’ve solidified themselves as one  of my favorite bands. I went from being a casual fan of my mom’s favorite songs to falling in love with the songs my mom never played. I anxiously await the day they worked things out with Lindsey Buckingham, because unless this lawsuit really fucks things up, which it very well might, we all know this is just how the band works.

But I did not get Friday off. I functioned just fine, but man, I was really hoping to sleep in and chill out. On the plus side, if I’d gotten the day off, I wouldn’t have actually gotten overtime pay if I’d had the day off, and I believe that for the rest of the year, I’m only working two full weeks. I have two floating holidays left to use, too, so if I plan it right, I can probably get that down to short weeks for the rest of the year. Sure, we still haven’t taken a real vacation, but short weeks for two months isn’t a bad tradeoff.

On Friday, we ended up out on a quest for a card for Nolan and Brett’s wedding because I didn’t like any of the cards here in Washington, and as much as I really didn’t feel like driving into the South Hills, I’m glad we did because I’m pretty happy with what we found. And when my mother found out we were out, I had to look for a Snoopy Christmas blanket and pillow set for her, and throw in a few other stops I wanted to make plus dinner, it ended up being a whole trip out. We’d intended to go to the gym and had the time to make it, but that’s a terrible idea right after eating at Mad Mex.

The goal was to hit the gym Friday night then again Saturday morning before we left for the wedding because I wasn’t feeling great with how my dress I wanted to wear was fitting, and even though two gym sessions is definitely not going to make a noticeable difference, it at least made me feel like I was doing something. Sometimes that’s all that counts. Honestly, I probably should’ve scrapped the Saturday trip because we slept really, really late and the timing wasn’t great, but I thought I could squeeze it in. I ended up getting back home super close to when I wanted to leave, but us being us, we hadn’t actually packed yet, so by the time we did that, we were an hour behind with a pit stop or two we needed to make. But we made it just in time for me to get ready.

The wedding was nice and we had a good time, particularly with super drunk friends and some time hanging out in Meri and Erio’s room. The time change was a nice perk, too, since we didn’t wander back to the room we shared with my parents until 2 a.m. And true to form, I slept like trash. You’d think being up so late would’ve worn me out enough, but it didn’t. And I never sleep well when I travel on top of that, so although I felt fine in the morning–or rather, like five hours later–I’m exhausted now. But almost all of us made it to breakfast, and from there, Paul and I headed back to my parents’ house to kill a few hours before going out to dinner with his family for his mom’s birthday. I’d originally wanted to try and host some friends since people were home for the wedding, but clearly, we had no time for that.

Dinner was a nice end to a fun, busy weekend, but we’re definitely glad to be back home. The cat’s glad to have us back, too, and has been very dramatic and restless since we got in. I expect to spend my workday tomorrow having my feet bitten and toys dropped under my chair.

So what’s next? Nothin’. This marks the end of a string of busy weekends. Emily has a play at school in two weeks and we’re thinking of hosting a small shindig Thanksgiving weekend, but next weekend, we’re free to take it easy. We probably owe the cat a weekend of playtime and scritches.