For many American families, the holidays are a time to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. For some families the traditions look a little different because of the different holidays celebrated. Whatever the case may be, the holidays are a time where families get together. But it’s not just the immediate family. This includes the extended family and anyone else who is considered a part of the family. It’s one of the times during the year when everyone gets to see everyone again and catch up. Sometimes there’s a lot of good feelings, other times there are some not so good feelings. There might even be a few inside jokes here and there. But for the Ye family, it’s not like that.
I’m not sure how many American families go through the holidays like this, but I’m sure my family isn’t the only one. I have a big family, especially on my father’s side. In this way we are no different from many American families out there. We just don’t get to see everybody every year because most of the extended family is in China. So while everyone else gets together at Grandma’s or whatever, we get together at home, at my parents’ house. The immediate family was my dad, my mom, and me. Now it’s just me and my mom. Yes, I lost my dad in 2018 and just a few days ago on the 3rd, I lost my cat. She was a part of my immediate family in the sense that I loved her like a family member. I believe pets really do become a part of the family and losing her was one of the hardest things I just went through in my life. I know I sound dramatic, but I don’t care. She is my first cat I have lost this way and things will never be the same going forward. But her story is for another time.
I am lucky I still have my mom. She keeps in touch with her side of the family on a regular basis because she loves her sisters to death (excuse the diction here) and wants to keep tabs on Grandpa. However, like my cat story, right now I’m not going to get into why we don’t really keep in touch with my dad’s side of the family, especially now that he’s gone. So it’s just the two of us. We are a small family, but we have the flexibility to do whatever we want. We don’t have to follow any traditions and there are no awkward uncles to face.
This past Christmas Mom and I went to see the new “Little Women” movie that came out that day starring Emma Watson and Meryl Streep. It has always been this way, but we noticed the movie theater is one of the few places that stays open on Christmas Day and therefore one of the only places you can buy food should you not have food at home. We immediately thought you could spend the whole day at the movies on Christmas Day if you wanted. I’m going to remember that in case I ever need it. We don’t really have any traditions. I think at the beginning, we did – with decorations and dinner parties and presents and even cards. Remember those? Then my cat would always play with the Christmas tree until the whole thing got knocked over. Then I went away to college so we started taking family vacations every year around Christmas break since there were no family friends nearby anymore. Then two Christmases ago he was gone and Mom and I haven’t found a new routine yet.
The holidays don’t feel like anything different compared to what many families in America experience. It’s just the two of us. No travelling, unless we decide to go on vacation. No traditions because I’m too old for presents and Mom and I both don’t like getting a lot of “stuff.” We’d rather spend time together and gain experiences instead. So really the holidays equals a big question mark for us at the moment.
This year I won NaNoWriMo two days early on November 28th. I’ve had a lot going on since then, so sorry I have not updated about it since winning. On the left is the shirt I got myself as soon as I won and a few days later I treated myself to a shake from Chick-fil-A. I can’t remember what exactly it was called, but it was a chocolate chip peppermint flavor. The name doesn’t matter. That shake was good and Chick-fil-A makes good shakes in general.
This was only my third time participating. I’ve won it twice so far. The first I completed a first draft of an entire novel. Last time I finished roughly ~14,000 words. This time I won, but I don’t have a complete first draft. What I’ve found to work really well is an outline before starting. That’s what I did the first time around. The second time around I decided to dive in with no sense of direction. This time around I didn’t have an outline, but I had an idea of where I wanted my story to go. I think the results show the outline works the best if you want a completed novel by the end of the challenge.
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? How did it go?
I just wanted to say I haven’t been that active on here lately because I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who know what that is and/or have participated, good for you and I hope you the best in your word count keep up. I know it’s taken a toll on my sleep. For those of you who do not know what NaNoWriMo is, it is a non-profit organization, short for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is my third time participating and my goal this time is to simply crank out 50,000 words. I am not worried about how good my novel is. I want to get in a good writing habit, starting with this challenge so I will be happy if I just write 50,000 words. I can always edit the story later, but for now, just getting the words out.
I have always read about it, but had never attended an English afternoon tea until I tried it with my Nerdy 30s ladies. I was a little bit early arriving at Clock Tower Bakery & Café in Overland Park, KS on Saturday, February 10, 2018, but I did not mind. I was on the waitlist to get in to this event. It gave me time to look around the café and the table set up. It also gave me the chance to bond with one of the gals on getting somewhere early to find good parking. Everything looked like the cutest thing ever, but of course, I had nothing to compare it to. There was an etiquette list, a menu with a long selection of teas, all kinds of little sweets like checkered cake, macarons, chocolate eclairs, cream puffs and scones, all kinds of little salty treats like sausage rolls, cucumber sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, and other edibles I am missing I am sure. I was apartment hunting at the time and having conversations with the gals about the safest place to live, whether it was better to live in Kansas or Missouri (Kansas won), and what it’s like being married and having a husband who encourages girl time every once in a while, thus she was at the afternoon tea.
I had eaten lunch before going, but immediately regretted that decision once I saw the tower of mini food. If you check it out, they require reservations so they have plenty of time to prepare and I highly recommend not eating a meal beforehand. You will have enough to fill your belly and then some just with all the British snacks to go with tea. And the tea is truly traditional with milk and sugar. So many different kinds to choose from like Buckingham Palace and Monk’s Tea. The only downside for me is I am not really able to drink caffeine that is not coffee in the afternoon without feeling wired at night. It kept me up, but it was worth it for the experience of British afternoon tea.
Sunday, January 7, 2018 – Webster House: It sounds like some dictionary house, but it is a restaurant and shop where the Nerdy 30s gals got to celebrate one whole year of existence. (Since then it has been a little over two years.) The meals are on the pricey side here, but they do have herbed potatoes that are worth getting an extra side for. I would recommend this place for special occasions. I mean, there’s a coat check service and you can reserve separate rooms for your party with each room decorated with walls of different themes. The one we had our party in was a library theme so the walls look covered in bookshelves, which was cool.
We had a little recognition ceremony for the Assistant Organizers. These ladies plan events and lead them in different areas like book club, brunch, escape rooms, DIY events, movies, winerys, deep thoughts, and more. Without them we would not be able to have all the fun experiences around Kansas City that we do! They went home with some of the first prizes and gifts. Then we played a Two Truths and a Lie game. This was my first time playing it, but we each received a sheet with all of our individual statements and had to guess which one was the lie for each girl. Whoever had the most points at the end got to pick a prize first. I got to take home a striped notebook labeled “notes” and I was happy about that. Then we had prizes for the most active members. An organization that meets regularly is nothing without its regular attenders. Next we played a Nerdy 30s Trivia Game. It’s exactly as it sounds: we identified nerds based on facts like the youngest member in attendance and the nerd who hates spiders. Those who got the most number of questions right could select a prize first. At the end we had door prizes. I still have my games to this day.
This anniversary party was by far the most fun I had at a Nerdy 30s event up until that point and it will definitely stand out in my memory for a while. I was looking forward to our anniversary party this year, but sadly I was snowed in that day and couldn’t make it out. Next year!
I still haven’t tried out all the pizza places around the KC area, but Grinders is already at the top of my list of go-to places for pizza. I will be doing a separate post on that to go with all my other pizza posts, but it was part of the The Escape Artist KC adventure. Before I went with my Nerdy 30s girls to check out a breakout room, I had heard of breakout rooms at work (where I used to work, not my current work) and it sounded like a fun thing to try with a team or a group of friends. So when I saw this breakout room as a Nerdy 30s event, I knew I had to try it out.
For those of you who are wondering, Nerdy 30s is a group of girls I met on Meetup.com who are all around their 30s and want to do activities that are more nerdy and less partying. I’ve talked about two other events on here, one was a sushi thing and another was the bellydancing thing. Nerdy 30s has helped me explore Kansas City in a fun way without feeling like I have to do all the typical “young people stuff” to meet new people.
The Escape Artist KC was the first breakout room I tried. I hope I will get a chance to try some other ones. We shall see. Us Nerdy 30s girls met at Grinders to talk and get to know each other a little bit before going into the breakout room. It was interesting listening to the girls’ stories of ones they had tried before. When we got to the one we were trying, it became apparent we were part of a mystery story and were the detectives to solve it. I loved the hunting for clues aspect and clues being locked up and using a whiteboard message to help us look for more clues. I won’t say exactly how it went because I don’t want to give anything away for the business, but it was really fun. From the last picture you will see we broke out with about 16 minutes remaining.
This is definitely a team-building event. You are locked in a room with a group of people for about an hour and can only leave if you figure out the mystery and put together all the clues.
I had heard of belly dancing while I was at university, but heard of it was the sole extent of my involvement with this type of Egyptian dance. I really had no idea what exactly it was until last summer when I had the opportunity to go with this girl who goes regularly to watch belly dancing at Uptown Arts Bar in KC. Every first Saturday of the month there’s this Arabian nights show at the bar where you can get in with a small cover charge and enjoy whatever you normally get at a bar. That particular night I made a new girl friend, enjoyed a cherry limeade kind of drink that had tequila in it, and learned how to belly dance. Yes, I got called on stage at the end of the show and learned a basic dance move called “pop the car door.” It was amusing and thankfully it’s a small stage so I didn’t get stage fright and I was up there with a bunch of other girls so it was nice to feel like another one in the crowd, learning something new. The first time I had tequila and it allowed me to enjoy watching belly dance in all different body types. I had thought in order to belly dance you had to be one certain body type, but boy was I wrong and I’m glad. Anyone can learn how to belly dance and my favorite was watching this one girl dance to this death metal sounding tune whilst balancing a giant sword on her head. I definitely never imagined I’d witness something like that. I don’t know. These kind of events are hard to describe. You really had to be there. I enjoy going out and trying new things.