Friday, July 30, 2010

New York, New York

We're here!
What a day-I do plan big.  We started with the drive, then went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as soon as we got here (I wanted to start the farthest from our hotel, and move towards it for tomorrow-I grouped what we wanted to do).  We found it fine, parked in the parking garage, got our parking ticket validated (cheaper parking), took a picture out front for Mom, then started exploring.

We began with Byzantine (remember all are without a flash):

Then went to see the Picasso exhibit, which is only here for a little bit longer:

We saw Mary in European Art, then some drawings:

I can see this will take too long...I'll start a slideshow down below of the pretty good pictures.  Anyway, we found tons of impressionists (beautiful!), saw a Rodin sculpture, had lunch (Clay had sushi):

Then we saw silver, the Egyptian exhibits, and the armor and weapons!  the Roman art, etc.  Then on to Central Park.  We went out to Belvedere Castle and took pictures up at the observatory:

(We got a nice lady to take our picture together for sweet memories!)  We got our car, drove by St. Patrick's Cathedral (we'll go to Mass there tomorrow), checked into our hotel, then went out on the town.  We ate dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square, went to the M&M store, rode the subway to FAO Schwartz (but they were already closed!!),

and then back to our hotel.  We'll make it back to the toy store tomorrow, as its early closing caused a meltdown. : (

What a fun and exhausting trip!  My feet and legs are tired, but in a good way. My soul is full of nice things, and the kids' eyes haven't seen so much since DC last year.  I love it.  Now you know why people heart NY. : )

Ok, I just couldn't yadda-yadda Monet.  He's too worthy, and I just can't leave him out.  Here's a beautiful glimpse:

From Jersey to NY

I *heart* New York!
We left the sunny Jersey Shore this morning, to head north on Garden State Parkway to New York.  I was up at 6:30, but no one else was as excited as me?  I got everyone’s clothes ready for the next two days, and narrowed us down to two small carry-on size suitcases for our New York hotel.  I’ve schlepped in big suitcases, jumpy things, laundry baskets, etc. into big city fancy hotels, and I even have to admit I get a little embarrassed!  We are big kids, and we can make due with a little less.

Yesterday was totally unplanned, but still a great day.  We got ready for the day *in our swimsuits and coverups* and headed out.  We’d planned to spend another day at the beach, then showers at the beach house, then dinner was at Rita’s to celebrate David’s birthday.  Well.  That’s not how our day turned out!

First, we got to the beach house, and it was sprinkling.  We asked Rita if we could help, and we split up.  Ches walked to the grocery store for a few groceries, and she asked me to go get ice cream and cokes at CVS.  Mary Claire and I went-then it started raining!  We tried to swing by and pick up Ches, but he was already at the corner by the house-he’s so fast!

Then more people showed up, we made hot dogs, then finally walked to the beach.  When we got there, we played in the sand-then they closed the beach!  We’d heard thunder, but apparently it had started lightning.  They got everyone out of the water, but few people were leaving. We hung around, took some pictures, collected sand and shells (to decorate with!), and Ethan found someone else’s dumptruck to play with!  Clay got sand in his trunks, and was not happy.  He cried and wanted to go back.  He couldn’t go in the ocean to rinse out the sand, so it was sad business.

Our really impromptu (read: not matching, in swimsuits!) Beach Picture:

Then the lifguards came along and told us we had to leave the BEACH.  We packed up, found some extra shoes (Joseff’s!), and left.  We all stood around on the boardwalk and decided to go for some pizza to see if the storm passed.  It was a good Italian place, and Clay ordered mussels!

They were in marinara sauce, and he really liked them-he ate the whole bowl!  We ordered mozzarella sticks and some pizza too.  Then we went out since John got a text from a lifeguard he knows that the beach was open!  When we got out there, they were closing it again!  (Yes, I know-crazy!)  So. We did some more standing around, and decided to go down to the Castaway Cove (boardwalk with games, rides) to spend the rest of the tickets Ches had bought.  The girls and Clay rode the Double Shot (I’ll try to get my video to load!)-it shot them straight up in the air, then down, and repeated the whole rode again.
Ugh-scary.  I rode nothing there.  They were all spinning, going high, just not for me.

Then as the kids were spending the last of the tickets, it was raining lightly, and all the workers left their stations, and sat at the entrance to the arcade.  We went on through and headed towards home.  When we got halfway, it started pouring!!  We RAN (I had borrowed a stroller), and I got a towel caught in the stroller wheels, and had to stop to pull it out-it was awful!  So, since John and Camille’s house was closer, we ran there.  All drenched, we ran in, and soaked their carpet, I’m sure.  We borrowed towels, and dried off, but…not before Ethan stripped down, walked in their bathroom (you know how he likes to takes baths everywhere we go?), and wanted a bath!  Well, John’s dad, Jack, was in there!  He was in a towel, and didn’t seem to mind, but I was so embarrassed!  Ethan played in the dry bathtub with their rubber duckies for the longest time, then Jack came out and asked me if I was going to run him some water!  I did, and Ches went home for the van.  We stayed a while (Ches was showering at Rita’s), then he came to get us. We went to the hotel and all had showers, then went back for dinner.

I can’t say in words how nice his family is, and how welcome they made us feel.  They are all so sweet-and we had fun.  I’m so glad we got to go this year.  We’d waffled, not knowing if we should go or not, but we never regret it. : )

Now, we are seeing the NY skyline..we are here!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On the Boardwalk

Just beach, sand, dinner, and the Boardwalk!  What a great day. : )

This is Ethan singing along to Veggie Tales, which always gives me a great laugh!

And here are some pictures from today (I only had my phone, so they aren't great!):
Ethan made a friend named Randall, who had Thomas toys!

And then he made friends with Julia, and we dug her a puddle too (he's actually telling her she can't come in his puddle, so we dug her one):

Yesterday was sand castles, today was big quicksand-mushy puddles:

Mary Claire was in the sand more, not so much in the waves today:

And here he is making friends with more kids-they had a bulldozer and Nutter Butters!
This is Mary Claire and her cousin, Caroline, who looks so much like her!

Then we went up to the Boardwalk to play games and ride rides.  They rode a ferris wheel, a roller coaster, a big slide, the Hurricane, Cyclone, and bumper cars.  It was a lot!  Mary Claire went low, so we got some Dippin' Dots.  They are sooo cold!  She hadn't had them, so she really enjoyed it.  She took them up on the ferris wheel and shared them.  They got to ride with their (second) cousins, so they really had fun!  I wish we could see them more than once a year.  Here is Clay, Mary Claire, and Caroline on the ferris wheel:

And this one just made me laugh!  (My phone camera hadn't been working for almost an hour, but this one made me shut my phone down and restart-I had to get a picture, or no one would believe me!):

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ocean City, New Jersey

After all the excitement yesterday, today should be relatively calm. We are in Philadelphia headed east towards Ocean City right now. We just crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge (blue and pretty!), and Clay just swears he saw a battleship. It’s just nice looking at the buildings-we saw a new one, plus a new *tallest* one being built. Someone wants to be the new tallest building in town!

Today is just check into the hotel and beach time-no other agenda. I’m sure we’ll catch up with Ches’ family, have dinner together, and hang out. Maybe we’ll build super-awesome sand castle? Ok, I shouldn’t set our goals so high!

Playing in the sand together : )

 Working on a sand castle..

 I love to see the lifeguards and rescue boat-ready to go (Just in case!)
This is what he's wanted to do since we left town..

She plopped down on the way back to Aunt Rita's beach house, and said she was too tired to get up.  Umm..hungry?  (she got up!)

Later..we’ve had a great day! We got to catch up with some family, eat some yummy Philly cheesesteaks, swim and play in the sand, and now we are safely in our hotel room (nice and big-perfect!). We have three double beds, but Ethan still wanted a pack-n-play! Clay and Mary Claire got their own beds, so they are mighty happy, and two of the three are asleep (and it’s only 9:30!)-it’s been a long vacation already! We should go easier the next couple of days. The beach is pretty laid back, thank goodness. We’ll rest up before New York!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hershey Park

Chocolate Land is soo good-but makes me hungry!  We traveled across Ohio, through the little tip of West Virginia, then half-way through Pennsylvania. 

We did totally sleep better last night-my bed was soo comfy!  Ethan slept beside me again-he cried on and off a lot-about the dark, monsters, going to the bathroom, everything!  So, I told him he could sleep beside me if he’d stop crying.  He did, and it was fine.  We all slept till 8:48-and breakfast was ending at 9, so we had to hurry downstairs!  We’re always a riot, but we ate, and didn’t cause too much trouble with the juice machines.  Clay ate up lots of butters, and Ethan spilled his cereal-par.

We got on the road late, so we got lunch on the go-Panera and McDonald’s.  They currently have Littlest Pet Shop toys and SuperHeroes, so the kids are collecting toys now. : )  We have a kitten, puppy, Wolverine, and Ironman.  (Clay isn’t into the toys anymore, and not too hungry in the day either.  He makes up for it in the evening, or I’d be worried!)

We stopped at Hershey (near Harrisburg) to go to Hershey Park.  It’s like Silver Dollar City, or a small-scale Walt Disney World.  Ethan ran to a store first (and bought Gigi a little Hershey’s mug with chocolates-but then dropped and broke it within 6 minutes), and the kids ran to the rides!  They rode “hot air balloons” then space ships, a train, cars/motorcycles, then the big stuff.  They rode the Wildcat, Lighting Racer, Clay rode Sidewinder, Comet, and SooperDoooperLooper (which stopped for a little bit-maybe 10 minutes…scary!)

We were there until they closed, 10pm, so we didn’t get to do everything.  We did enough, and it wasn’t too hot today, so I was happy.  They were short on food-all the real restaurant/food places were closed.  All that was open were popcorn, fried veggies, cotton candy, ice cream, and French fry places-and we were hungry for dinner.  We ordered some junk (and got taken on a $3 soda machine-it gave us orange soda instead of Diet Pepsi-and we couldn’t get a refund or anything-gross.  And it was for Mary Claire-she was high for the first time today, so she couldn’t have the sugar!)

We are back at our hotel, and it is getting quiet-finally.  My computer says 11:20, but local time is 12:20-LATE! : O  We must get to bed, we are running on Vacation Time, I guess!
 On our way into Hershey Park-full of excitement, and hoping for chocolate!
His favorite ride: a car!

Riding in the spaceships: Clay didn't want his picture taken, so he dropped his head.  Can you see his hair? : )
His second favorite: the helicopter!

 We met up with some characters-we love Hershey's Syrup!

 The only one Ethan was willing to take his picture with: Kit Kat

Doing some strategic planning: what to do before the park closes...
The big coaster Clay rode alone (Mary Claire left the line after an altercation...)

On our way out of the park in front of the Milton Hershey fountain
Thanks for bringing us to Hershey Park and putting up with us! : )

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Next Stop..Columbus, Ohio

Everything is cheap, if you aren’t paying for it.  “That’s cheap, Mommy,” is Clay’s response to everything.  I honestly don’t know what he’d consider expensive!  He was asking to go back to the City Museum on our way back home next week.  He doesn’t realize that we can’t do unlimited stuff.  I mean, we are pretty cool, but not that cool.  We only went there because he wanted to, and we don’t plan to go back for a while, even though it is super-fun.  We have other places to go!

So..our hotel sucked.  I don’t think the bathroom had been mopped in a long time-I saw hair in the corner by the tub!  And kinda down in the corner, not floaty like it landed there during hair-drying.  Yeah, ick.  Clay said there was some trash under the bed (he’s the official investigator, and he’s started asking about the ratings of our hotels lately-he didn’t think that one had too many stars)-so I’m guessing they haven’t vacuumed under there in a while.  They didn’t leave me a vacuum, so I couldn’t help them out.  Oh!  And their iron had an accident on my shirt, so I had to wear something else today. : (  I put water in it, and (I’m guessing again) it hadn’t been used in a really long time, so it leaked out brownish fluid onto my white shirt.  Gross.

This morning, as we were leaving town, we started looking up new hotels for tonight!  We had reservations at the same place in Columbus, Ohio, for tonight, but I didn’t want to risk it again.  We went with our old standby-Marriott, and we know it’ll be nicer.

Today has been a long day, not surprising, but we’ve learned something.  We should have had no drinks for the first hour, then not stopped so much for snacks/bathroom/new toothbrushes every hour or so.  It has cut into travel time, and now we aren’t going to be in Columbus till nine! (well, ten o’clock counting the time change!)  We had a talk at dinner about tomorrow, you know, setting clear goals and expectations and all. (Ha!)  We are going to get up, drive for three hours (lofty goal!), have lunch, then finish another 3 hours or so to Hershey, Pennsylvania. If we don’t get there early enough, we won’t have time to go to Hershey Park, which they’d like to do.  See?  We have a goal!  Well, it is vacation.

I have to say we’ve learned some geography today.  When I was teaching, we taught (memorized!) states and capitals in third grade.  Now, they don’t teach it until fourth grade-too late in my opinion.  Clay didn’t know where we were in the Unites States-I felt like a failure!  We whipped out the handy-dandy-iPad, and googled a good map.  I showed the kids where we were, all the states we’d drive through, and where we were going.  When you don’t home-school, you assume (I know, I know) that the kids are learning some things like geography (about our own country) at school.  I bet kids in Japan know our state names by third grade!

At a rest stop-the last of the day!  Our pictures from yesterday are posted down below under Summer Vacation 2010! : )

On the Road Again..

We are on tour-heading towards a city near you!  Get your tickets before they sell out!  We have decided that our kids will only travel with us for so long.  We are hoping we have a few more years of vacations with them. There will come a time when they don’t want to travel with us, and I’m not ready for that!  So, we are headed across the country.  Slowly.  Today we’re heading to St. Louis, Missouri.  We’ve been there before, but not for two whole years!  It seems like a month ago.  Ethan doesn’t really remember it, so we’ll relive it all for him. : )  Our plan is to have dinner (we had Cracker Barrel) and hang out at the City Museum until bedtime.  It is amazing!  It’s ten stories, all built from scrap.  There’s a bus hanging out over the roof (yes, you can go out in it)!  A big metal (slinky-looking thing) spiral tunnel hangs out at about the fourth floor, and you crawl through it (well, *I* don’t) and out to an airplane fuselage (which yes, moves around as people are heavy-more reason why I don’t crawl through it), but the kids love it!  There are thick concrete slides and mazes, rope swings over half-pipes (look like skateboard ramps), etc.  It is a Must-See on your St. Louis trip, second only to the arch (yes, last time I was there I forgot to take my camera, so I only have crappy iPhone pictures!)
**Ok..a couple hours later..I’ve been lost in time on Ches’ iPad looking (for our last arch pictures) at old pictures of the kids as they grew up right in front of us.  (Can I just say that I love the fact that there are three lanes going both ways on Interstate 44? Room to move around!)  They were small together, then we moved, and our little bushes were tiny, and now they are so big!  Our backyard was rolling green, bare, and the trees were small.  A lot happens in five years!**
I’d say we’ve had a good trip so far.  The kids have watched a couple movies, I read to Clay from his Edison Thomas (yes, I wrote it right) book, then Ethan took a good nap.  We are almost to St. Louis, and we are getting hungry.  (and now we have four lanes each!)
Can you tell I’ve been writing all day?  I wrote earlier, then came back, Sorry-I know it’s confusing. : )  We partied at City Museum till 10:30pm-and the teens were just getting started.  They turned out most of the lights at ten, and we just finished up.  There are soo many cave/tunnels to go through, and the kids didn’t even get to finish!  There were ten stories of tunnels building up to the ten-story slide!  Everyone was so tired, and Ethan was getting whiny.  It got stormy outside, and I think he might have been afraid or something.
I can say this: our community needs a cool hang-out like this one.  It gives the kids something to do late at night, it’s dark and cool, but safe-big enough to get lost in and give you a thrill, and it doesn’t involve getting in trouble.  It’s basically made out of tough stuff with paint everywhere, so they couldn’t mess it up either!  I give them five stars!  (and the magic show was pretty good too-even though Ches and I had to go onstage for a card trick!)
We’re headed to the hotel for a good nights sleep, then tomorrow we are traveling on to Columbus, Ohio!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Conditioned to Wash

My hairstylist told me last week to try to not wash my hair with shampoo every other time in the summer-just to use conditioner and scrub my scalp.  His wife had been doing it, and her hair looked great!  So..I tried it.  It looks great right after you dry it, but later on...not so much.  Ick.  I'm NOT into dirty hair, and it doesn't look clean, so you can bet I won't try it again!  I mean, you are going through the motions, scrubbing, rinsing, drying, don't I want the fulll *clean* effect?  The answer is: Yes.  Don't try this at home (unless your hair is really dry-maybe in winter?)

I am addicted to something new (surprise!).  It is digital scrapbooking software by Stampin' Up! called My Digital Studio.  It is SUper Cool! and I figured out how to use it (Even Better!).  It is so much easier than my fancy-schmancy Photoshop Elements (which I still don't really know how to use).  After a bunch more learning...I figured out to save a page as a .jpg so here's one of the pages I created!  I have started with our Disney pix from this April-this is page 2-right as we got into the park on the first day-fun!
This is just me throwing some elements, journaling, and pictures together.  Talk about having time to scrapbook now-woohoo!  Then you just send them to be printed-talk about easy.  It came with tons of elements (like scrapbook papers, punches, buttons, ribbons, etc.), but I also got some free digikits from 2 Peas.  And they work!  I've bought a bunch of fonts from them, and they save all my downloads, so if I lose them, get a new computer (it happens!), I can still access them!  They are great-and check out their sample projects with each product-they are SO creative.  I can only look for so long, and I'm hooked again.  When we get back (oh yeah-we are going on vacation!), I downloaded a coffee-cup book I'm going to make when I get back.  It uses a starbucks tall cup as the cover (you'll just have to see it...let's see if I can find a picture..)
I know it's not super clear-but how cute is that?  A little more sturdy than my paper bag books-and we could branch out to making a book out of AnYtHiNg if you can make a book out of a REAL Starbucks cup! : )

We are headed out on an adventure starting tomorrow.  I'll keep you posted.  We are headed to high places. ; )

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


 Just pictures, don't get too comfy, ya'll. : )
We finally made those s'mores!  I've had the stuff ready since July fourth, but we just now (1) remembered, and (2) figured out how we were going to melt/torch the marshmallows, and (3) all needed a good chocolate/sugar rush-we'd swam all day, and deserved it.
Love, love, love the marshmallow all over his mouth and fingers! : )  That is evidence of a good treat.
Recipe (Difficulty Level 1): Half graham cracker, top with half Hershey bar (yes, Hershey-he gives to children, operates a school for kids-a great man!), add melty, gooey, flamed marshmallow, top with another half graham cracker, and get sticky like a kid!  Yum! (Repeat for maximum amazement):

So, here they are around our "campfire" (we're safe like that):

Fire! : )
I know, Mary Claire is missing..we were waiting for her to get home-she was at VBS with a couple friends having the time of her life! We saved her one. : )  This just means...we get to do it again!  (or twice more, or thrice more...I have 11 more Hershey bars!)

Then the next day Clay had a couple friends over to swim (totally unrelated, but I can't be expected to post every day!):
 What a great day he had yesterday!  I like when we have those tiny moments that are more valuable than gold.