Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I heart NY!

I'm back from my whirlwind trip to visit Kate in New Jersey/New York. I really had the best time! Kate and her boyfriend, Nick, came to pick me up from the airport on Saturday morning. We headed straight into the city, where Kate showed me her school, the hotel where Heath Ledger (the actor) lived and died (it's on the same block as her school!) and then took me to the best pizza place I have ever been to! Apparently, Lombardi's is the the first pizza place in NYC, and it's definitely the best! I did feel a little dorky taking this picture, but then I saw 2 other tables of tourists, taking pictures with their pizza, too! If I'm a dork, then we all were (plus, I have one of Kate and Nick each in a similar pose)!

From there, we did a LOT of walking around, taking in the sights. Kate and Nick looked like locals while they were checking the subway maps (I guess he actually is a local since he grew up in New Jersey, and she's turning into one)! We only had one mishap on the subway, and that was due to a very disturbed, obviously drugged out guy. Luckily, we got out of there unharmed (and not spit on, although it was close) and we went on with our tour of the city.I felt giddy when I saw things that I've only seen on TV. Little things like the St. Regis hotel, Broadway, Wall Street and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and big things like the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. I admitted to Kate that every time I saw the Broadway street sign, I felt like breaking into song. She begged me not to, but I could still hear myself start humming the first few bars of New York, New York ("Start spreadin' the news. I'm leavin' today...") and On Broadway!Once we got near Rockefeller Center, there were tons of people to see the tree and hang around. Kate and I took our picture at the fountain, which had huge Christmas balls around it (right across the street from the infamous Magnolia Bakery (more on that later).More sightseeing ensued (5th Avenue, Trump Tower, Central Park and the skating rink) before we headed out for an early snack at one of Kate's favorite spots, a little outdoor burger place called The Shake Shack. Everyone must know that the food there is good, because there was a huge group of Santas that all decided to stop for a bite while we were there (there were probably 5 more NOT in this picture)! After this, we called it a day and drove back to Point Pleasant where we had a late dinner at one of Rich's favorite restaurant/bars and then bed. Sunday morning, we got up early for church and then out to breakfast. Kate showed me around Point Pleasant and took me to see the pier and the beach, some of the little shops. It's such a neat little town!

Kate and I took the bus back into the city and spent a few hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From there, we waited in line at the Magnolia Bakery. I have heard of this place for years. It's a small cupcake shop in the middle of the city, and is a favorite of lots of celebrities. The line for cupcakes snakes out the door and down the block. Kate and I wait in line and I get excited when I hear a couple finally get in line behind us. I turn to look at them and quickly look away when I realize that it's a celebrity couple! For those with cable, it was the host of E! News, Julianna Rancik and her husband, Bill Rancik who won the reality show, The Apprentice, the first season it was on. I couldn't decide if it was okay or if it would seem stalkery to talk to them and ask for a picture. By the time I decided to go for it, they left, saying that they didn't want to wait in the line because it was so long (and it really was). When they left, I turned to Kate, thinking she would be as excited as I was at our sighting. She never even saw them! We get into a playful argument, me saying that she needed to be more observant and her saying that I should have nudged her! After a year of living there, she hasn't had a single celebrity spotting. I told her that she had probably been next to several of them, but just didn't look around enough to see them! ;-) She pouted a bit, but soon we were inside, with the heavenly aroma of cupcakes, and were back to normal!

We got our cupcakes to go and left for dinner. On our way, we passed the Rockefeller Tree again (we also saw it on our first day) and had to take pictures.

From there, we went to a fancy dinner at the Mesa Grill, which is owned by chef Bobby Flay from the Food Network. He wasn't there, but the food was delicious! From there, we caught the bus back to New Jersey and capped off our night with our cupcakes (definitely worth the wait)!

The next morning, Kate took me back to the airport, and I met up with my dear friend, Roe, to grab a cup of coffee and visit for a little while. I know it sounds like all I did while I was there was eat, and that's partly true! At least we did tons of walking to make up for it!

Part of the reason that I wanted to go on this trip so badly was to finally see where Rich lived all of these years. For the past 10 years or so, he had extended an invitation to come visit him, and he was going to show Kevin and I around town and take us to NYC. We never took him up on his invitation and now it's too late. I loved seeing the place that HE loved so much and am so thankful that Kate was there to act as my tour guide!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Amazing Race

It's well-documented that we live in the best neighborhood ever! Our neighbors love to throw parties and get together a lot!

Our annual culdesac Christmas party was this past weekend, but a party can never be JUST a party when Scott and Karen (the masterminds) are involved! The theme was "The Amazing Race". We all met at their house to get our instructions and a small key. Then, we were off!
The first clue took us to the mall, where we had to find a locker to get our instructions. Once we did, we had to wear a Santa hat and complete fun things like taking a picture with someone wearing red (when doing this, our neighbor Pam showed the card to a worker at the Dollar Store, to ask if she'd take a picture - we think the poor girl thought it was the REAL Amazing Race and that she'd be on TV this week!), take a picture holding a candy cane, and write a letter to Santa (if you can't read it, mine asks Santa for world peace). :-)
The game pressed on, sending us to the bowling alley (where one person had to score at least 100 before getting the next clue, or 2 people combined had to get 200). A "Detour" was thrown in for good measure (having to throw darts).
The next clue led us to a small bar called Mugs. Everyone took a break, had a beer, and chatted before heading back out. This was the last stop for us, though. We are the only ones in our culdesac with small kids, and they were tired from running around. The rest of our friends had to go find some other clues, but we sat, had a little food and waited a while so that we could meet back up at the house.

We capped off the night at Scott & Karen's, drinking a little, watching football (mostly the guys) and eating tons of yummy appetizers and desserts. If they say that good friends are hard to come by, then we must have won the jack-pot by moving into a neighborhood 2 years ago that is FULL of them!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

By my own admission, I'm a huge wuss when it comes to being cold. We've had lots of snow here already, and I'm already sick of it! I must admit, it's very pretty for the first few days. Everything looks clean and bright. Then, the snow plows scrape the roads, putting a dirty, slushy mess in huge banks on the sides of the road. Yuck! The kids do like, it though. These pictures are from our first day when the snow actually stuck. They were going to play with the neighbor girls.
Here, the snow lasts well into March and April, and it even snowed the first week of May this past year. That's a long time for people like us! Is it too much to ask that Kevin's next assignment with John Deere be in Hawaii?

Taking a bite of the Big Apple!

In a week, I get to see the tree in Rockefeller Plaza in person! My cousin Kate lives in New Jersey (about an hour from the city) and invited me for a sightseeing weekend! I've always wanted to see NYC at Christmastime...I picture it just like in all the old movies! NYC, here I come!!!
It all started from one of those random email forwards from my friend, Julie. You were supposed to list 4 places that you'd like to be right now. I said NYC, because I had always wanted to see it at Christmastime (I've never seen it at all)! After that, Kate emailed me with a whole itinerary and had even looked up cheap flights. The price was right and Kevin felt bad about being gone so much lately, so we booked the tickets! I was shocked! When I mentioned Kate's email to Kevin, I was just doing it to be funny. I never thought he'd take it seriously! All he said was "well, do you want to go?" I couldn't believe that it was that easy. As long as I find a babysitter for him next Saturday night (which I already did) for his John Deere Christmas party, he was fine with it! I really can't wait!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Add another job to the ol' resume, President Bush!

During our evening prayers, Kevin and Hannah were together. At the end of the Lord's Prayer, Hannah turned to Kevin and asked:

Hannah: Why do you say "evil"?

Dad: Well, it's asking God to protect us from evil.

Hannah: Oh. Ummm...isn't that why we have a President?

Sorry, ol' George W. Looks like you've got one more job before January!

I'm convinced that God has a sense of humor.

I mean, how else do you explain a smiley face in the sky? If you missed it (like I did) the planets are supposed to align right again, with the quarter moon, in 5 years. Pencil it in!

Still Stuffed

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was very low-key (well as low-key as it can be in a crazy house) but I still made way too much food! In honor of us finally finishing our leftovers (man, I'm kind of sick of ham) I thought I'd post a few pictures from our Thanksgiving.
Oh, and let's not talk about the game. :-(

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Beat the hell outta t.u.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a great day with your families, full of love, laughter and thankfulness. Oh, and also a little butt-kicking by the Aggies. Gig 'em!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A blast from the past

I'm not embarrassed to say that my first love was a boy by the name of Joey McIntyre. He was from a little musical group that you might have heard of, New Kids on the Block. I was obsessed with them. Obsessed! My sister, Karen, and I had posters of them (along with my other true love, Kirk Cameron) all over our bedroom. I have been giddy ever since they got back together. I downloaded their new CD on iTunes. My husband thinks I'm nuts.

In browsing around on iTunes today, I found their old, cheese-tastic Christmas album, with such hits as Funky, Funky Xmas and Merry, Merry Christmas, which begins with the lyrics "Peace to the world from the New Kids on the Block, we are here". Genius! I believe the old tape we had was Karen's, so I haven't had a copy of it in over a decade. (Yes, tape. For those of you under 30, that is the antiquated device we used to listen to music before the invention of CDs. On another day, I'll explain how we used to tape hours worth of the radio, on the off-chance that we'd get a song we liked on there.) Since I didn't steal her tape (just like I didn't steal her Mariah Carey Christmas tape, even though she accused me of doing so) I downloaded it and have been laughing nonstop all morning! I feel like I'm back in junior high!
They sure did age well, didn't they. Sigh. I think I still might have a little crush on Joey.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Fall, Y'all!

One of the best things about moving from Texas to the midwest is that we actually have seasons. In Texas, there is pre-summer, summer, kinda' like summer and Christmas (where you sometimes wear shorts and flip flops). Seeing leaves change colors and wearing sweaters has been a change for us! As wimpy as our family is about being cold, the leaves have been a huge hit with the kids (and us). We have one huge tree in our yard that seemed to drop all of it's leaves overnight. The kids thought that was the perfect opportunity to make the biggest pile of leaves in the whole entire world (or at least it felt like it when we were raking them all)!

They all helped out, even though we didn't have enough kid-sized rakes. Snow shovels and small brooms work just as well, right?

What good is having the biggest pile of leaves if you can't jump in them? Sure, it made a little more work for Mom when it came time to bag them all, but the girls thought it was especially fun. Owen watched from a safe distance.

We've since had our first snow flurries already. I never thought I'd say this, but I wish it could be a balmy 40 degrees for a little longer (before the days like today with 10 degree wind-chill factors)! Happy Fall, Y'all!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another one bites the dust

I posted too soon. Now Karen is sick, too. I think I'd better stock up on chicken noodle soup and pepto.

A house full of sick-wicks!

I'm trying not to breathe in the air here. Something's going around, and I don't want it! It started with Hannah. Kinda' puny. Vomit coming out. Stuff coming out the other end. It moved on to Owen. It's still lingering there. My mom has a sore throat and the chills along with a headache. Oh, I pray that it stays away from me (we're sharing a bed while they're here). Before bed, my nephew Alex complained of a hurting tummy. If we all survive this, it will be a miracle!

My favorite 4-year-old

Today is Hannah's 4th birthday. The day that she leaves being my favorite 3-year-old in the whole world and becomes my favorite 4-year-old (by the time Owen is 3 or 4, she'll be at another stage, just like Meg).

Kevin is still out-of-town, so we didn't do a big birthday party yet. He doesn't want to be left out! Today was a school day for Hannah, and we took cupcakes to her class to celebrate. Mrs. Heather and Mrs. Kathy made the day a lot of fun, tailoring a lot of stuff to the number 4 for her! I don't know what was more fun, though. Sharing our yummy cupcakes with the class, being the "special" one or having Mom watch part of their classtime!

Since my mom, Karen & the boys are still here, we also partied with the family and Janis (our next-door-neighbor, who my kids ADORE)! After supper, Janis came over for more cupcakes and a few gifts.
I can't believe that my sweet Hannah-belle is already 4! She's always been such a little peanut (and still is) that she doesn't seem to change. I guess it doesn't matter, though. She'll always be my sweet little baby girl!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Complete and utter chaos!

My mom and older sister came to visit while Kevin is out of the country for work. My sister has 2 boys, ages 2 and 3. Along with my crew (6 1/2, 4 & 20 months) that makes for a LOT of kids in the house! If I ever, ever start longing to have another child, stop me. Remind me that it's more running/screaming/fighting going on. Karen and I keep telling each other, "See...this is why I don't have 5 kids"! If anyone out there has 5 (or more!), my hat's off to you. You are a rock star!
They might look like a calm managable group...

But looks can be deceiving...

If my kids went into politics...

Their platform would be all about the environment, of course.
"Conserve water! Drink chocolate milk!"

Hannah's already an old pro at the baby-kissing, hand shaking thing (especially when used for a photo op).

Seems like a solid campaign. What could stop them? Surely not any scandalous pictures or anything.
Or a pesky brownie batter or spray cool-whip addiction (they can quit any time they want)?

At least they're always looking out for you! Vote today!