Apologies for the silent period, Skippin’ Town took an extended holiday – timed perhaps to coincide with that of the Los Angeles public schools – and is only now back on the computer and back on the case.
Over Christmas, we cheated. We flew back to New York to spend two weeks with the Landons.
US internal flights have changed a lot over the last ten years – now there is way less staff and way more chaos at the airport (and this was BEFORE the attempted Christmas Day plane bombing over Detroit). It is worse than flying Ryan Air, way worse.
Seeing our trip in quick rewind was cool, though. Thanks to clear weather all the way from LA to Lake Michigan, we enjoyed views of the calm Pacific Ocean, California’s various sierras, the overextended sprawl of Las Vegas, the Nevada and Utah deserts, the highest points of the Rocky Mountains (which we had dared not traverse by car), the great expanses of the Great Plains and then the snowed over grid-farms of the Midwest.
We had hesitated in our decision to spend two weeks in a house, stationary.
Daniel had been concerned that in the overabundance of space - a quick internet search yields no antonym of claustrophobia – my parents might find us all huddled in the bathroom.
But we coped just fine. In fact, we thrived. We all slept in real beds, dried ourselves with fluffy towels and drank from breakable drinking vessels. We watched TV, used indoor showers (and baths!) and upgraded our morning instant coffee brand to Starbucks’ new VIA (which is actually really strong and tasty, with less need for adulterating).
Lest we endure boring weather, we were hit with a blizzard and then a December heatwave, leaving in time to catch only the start of high winds but miss a long run of freezing temperatures.
Sophia turned 4, celebrating with two parties – one for adults (sausage for dinner, followed by one of Daniel’s famous cakes) and one for kids (gingerbread making followed by pass-the-parcel). I turned that plus 30, we had make-your-own-burritos, Daniel’s super-strength homemade margaritas and my mother's famous Teddy's Apple Cake.
Starting the Christmas season as late as possible was a pleasure this year. We all attended ONE Christmas party - at Danielle and Chris’ apartment on the Upper East Side, in the midst of said blizzard. I think we were the only family with small kids setting out for the City as snow overtook most of the East Coast, but it was great, everyone had fun and the trains ran on time. Driving home from the station, Daniel said my father’s Toyota Camry handled better than our giant truck.
Christmas – a White one - itself was really special. For me, it was my first time home for the holidays in six years or so, and for Daniel and the girls, their first ever. Spending the day with my parents, my sister Annie and her family was really fun. The kids had a presents bonanza and still managed not to go nuts. The food was delicious and the family, numerous. My parents refused to let anyone help clean up and then came down with massive colds.
We had just the right amount of entertainment (the bijou Big Apple Circus and Disney’s ‘The Princess and the Frog’, the Christmas decorations at Rockefeller Center and on Fifth Avenue, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ on TV), culture (American Folk Art Museum and the Met) and socializing with friends, to balance out early nights, long baths, lots of reading and time catching up with my parents – my ever patient parents who continue to be supportive of our trip…possibly despite some misgivings about our sanity.
And Lulu learned to crawl.
Loathe to leave Comfort, we were still ready to return to our adventure...aware that we'd be back in New York in just over two months.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.