Friday, February 28, 2014

New York, New York

Kelly is hosting a Show Us Your Life about our favourite vacation spots and I thought I would share some of my love of New York City with you. As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I am NOT a big city person. Heck, there were barely a million people in the entire province I grew up in! However, New York City makes a liar out of me.

I have been to New York four times over the past twenty years, and I love it each and every single time. I dream of moving there and making my living working as a starving writer and living in a six-story walk-up. (Yes, I LOVED Friends and wanted to be Rachel!) Something about the city just grabs me each and every time. Since some of my first visits to the city were before the invention of the digital camera, and we don't have a scanner at home, you'll have to excuse the pictures of pictures. (Worst blogger ever.)

I got my first taste of the city in August 1993. A friend and I traveled there together for eight days. During that time we saw eleven museums (the Guggenheim and Museum Of Modern Art were my favourites), a Shakespeare play in Central Park and two Broadway musicals, and we took in a Yankees game. We "shopped" Fifth Avenue  -- my big purchases may have been two Godiva chocolate bars and a Coke glass, although I did try on a $1000 wedding dress at Laura Ashley and a $35000 ring at Tiffany's, much to my friend's embarrassment. We went up the Empire State Building, the World Trade Centre, and saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We hung out in Central Park and at the New York Public Library and at Times Square, we walked through Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, the East Village, SoHo and Tribeca. We went to Rockefeller Centre, the United Nations, the New York Stock Exchange, St Patrick's Cathedral and toured the NBC Studios. You name it, we probably did it. It was an action packed, fun filled eight days and we had so much fun! (Can you tell we were barely twenty and had limitless energy? HA!)
 me contemplating life from the top of the Empire State Building 
and hanging out in Central Park with my friend

I headed back to New York for four days in July 2001. My friend, who I had traveled with the first time, was volunteering in the city for a year, at our denomination's UN office. During the days I went to baseball games (seriously!) and at night we hung out.
A Met's game at Shea Stadium, July 2001

One day, possibly July 4th, she didn't have to work so we, along with a group of her friends, went out to Jones Beach to enjoy the ocean.
Shortly after Dave and I started dating, we took a trip to New York together in January 2007. I took him to Les Mis for his birthday (and took this illegal picture!). (Note: I actually had a digital camera for this trip but all our photo files were lost in what we refer to as The Great Backup Hard Drive Debacle Of 2008. It's a good thing I still print pictures out, old school like.)
We also did the TV tour by eating at the Seinfeld restaurant and visiting the Friends' apartment building!
We played the piano at FAO Schwartz and did a lot of walking.
In October of 2012, we went to the city again. This time we did The High Line walk (which I blogged extensively about here).
We also did a Circle Line Sightseeing tour of New York Harbour, out to the Statue of Liberty (which I blogged about here).
I know Kelly suggested that we talk about places to stay and where to eat, so let me address both those things here. Luckily, I've been fortunate enough to have friends or Dave's relatives to stay with. If you happen to visit New York with me, you can also probably stay with Dave's relatives, but other than that, I don't really know where good places to stay are.

As far as eating goes, I loved eating in corner delis, at Katz's Diner (made famous from When Harry Met Sally), and Chelsea Market. When Dave and I were there in January 2007, his aunt and uncle sent us to Becco, an amazing Italian restaurant for his birthday. I still have fond memories of the olives :)

Dave and I are thinking of going to New York City again this summer. I am looking forward to introducing the kids to Central Park, walking around, buying them each something at FAO Schwartz and possibly seeing a musical. I'd love to walk The High Line again and, if I had a chance to do another tour out on the water, I wouldn't say no.

If you haven't been to New York yet, have I convinced you that it should be your next vacation spot?! If you have been to New York, what was your favourite thing to do? We could use some more ideas for this summer!

In short, if you ever have a chance to visit this amazing city, DO IT!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday was one of those days which just sort of unfolded, and in the end, gave me a lot of little things to be thankful for. Really I should be calling this post "Thankful For Wednesday" but it really doesn't have the same ring, does it?

Last week I told my friend I would watch her two kids while she went to a two hour dentist appointment. (Number One thing to be thankful for: It wasn't my appointment! (Although I do have a few more dentist appointments coming up in the next few months -- blargh.))

At the last minute, because it was pretty cold out, and I was tired, I decided to keep Sam home from school so he could play with these friends too. All four kids played really well together. (Number Two thing to be thankful for. Okay I'm just going to start numbering the things I'm thankful for.) In fact, they played so well I got caught up on all my blog reading, and commenting. You may have noticed. (#3!)
When my friend returned she had brought iced cappuccinos for both of us (#4!) and we enjoyed them while the kids played and we talked for almost two hours. We had such a great conversation (#5!).
The kids were playing so well, in fact, that I told her to leave her two while she went to pick her oldest up from school and took him to his piano lesson. So what was originally a two hour babysitting time turned into a six hour play date for my kiddos! (#6!)

Last night I went out to a play put on by a couple of kids from our small group. It was really good and interesting too. It was "The Pushcart Wars" and now I want to do a whole bunch of reading up on that period in New York City's history. (#7!)

Before I had kids, I was really involved in my friends' kids' lives -- going to their dance performances, sporting events, plays, etc. It's been really fun to get a taste of that again these past two weeks. (#8!) Although I told Dave I should really try and space these events out a little more -- I think I've been out to five things in the past two weeks -- a play, a musical, a birthday party, and two dinners out with my former and current youth (the ones I mentor(ed)).

When I got home, I helped Dave clean the playroom (he had already tackled Sam's room (#9!)) and then I made myself some tea to have in one of my new tea cups. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention my friend is a thrift store expert and found a whole set of Fiestaware cups and saucers which She. Bought. For. Me. (#10!) You will get to see the whole set (all nine of them in brilliant, amazing colours! (#11!)) in my Project 364 post on Sunday, but for now, here's a glimpse of one of them.
Can you tell I'm pretty happy about my Fiestaware?!?!?!

Sadly, Sam had a hard time falling asleep last night, and was complaining of a sore neck. I feared he might be coming down with strep throat (since it seems to be spreading throughout blogland (so obviously it will get here eventually, right? (Don't question my (il)logic.))), so I gave in to his demand for a popsicle. And then he let me take this adorable picture of him (#12!).

And now it's today, and we'll see what it brings. It should be a good day though because I have a massage scheduled (#13!), Sam has an kindergarten room open house (#14!), and it's LOGOS night so I don't have to cook supper (#15!). That's a lot to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for today???

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Weird, Wacky Wednesday

This is basically a post of randomness. It's a post of things I want to share and which don't fit cohesively into one blog post. This is a post which would work really well as a "Five On Friday" except it's not Friday and I don't have five.

First of all I want to say that I feel guilty about my absence from all of your blogs. Except for being extremely busy, and watching too much Olympics, I really have no excuse. I will catch up so hopefully soon you will be seeing comments from me on posts you've even forgotten you wrote, let alone posted. Ha!

Dave and I had a date on Saturday. We went out to an Indian restaurant (Classic Indian, which is delicious), and since we had a coupon, I had no compunction about ordering both my favourite appetizers, as well as a main course. And then all my food came and I was kind of overwhelmed.
Next time I'm just ordering the appetizers! Ha!

Like most of the rest of Canada (seriously, read the article and remember a) there are only about 35 million people in Canada and b) the game started at 7am for me, and 3am for people living on the West Coast), we woke up early and watched the hockey game on Sunday before church. Some churches across Canada opened their doors for the game but ours was not one of them :)
I particularly like this picture of Sam watching and I went looking on my computer for pictures of Sam during the gold medal game in Vancouver in 2010. He's changed just a bit since then :)
Sam 2014 (not quite five)
Sam 2010 (not quite one)

My friend, Erika, apologized on her blog recently for being so weather focused. Honestly, I feel like almost every blog I read has been weather focused this past winter and, really, with the weather we're having, I'm not surprised. It feels like we are all in the winter-trenches together, carrying each other through until Spring. On that note, I hope you all are able to carry me through this week -- we're heading into the deep freeze again, starting today and continuing until the weekend. Wish me luck, and if you're having some Spring-like weather already, please please please send it my way. I'll send you some of the cookies I baked this past weekend in return. In fact, I'll even bake a fresh batch just for you. I feel like that's a fair deal :)

PS. Only 35 more days until New Zealand. I'm both excited (about going, being kid-free, and the warmer weather), and nervous (leaving Sam and Rachel for so long, although I know they will be fine). Yikes :()

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

So About Those Resolutions

Like just about everyone else in the blogosphere, I wrote some resolutions for the year 2014. I thought today might be a good day to check in and see how they're going. You know, so I didn't just write them and forget about them. So how am I doing?

1) I want to do a Project 365 364 this year.

I am really enjoying this resolution. Sometimes I get a little desperate at 9:30pm when I haven't taken a picture, but mostly I am enjoying this method of journaling my life. And it's nice to not have to think of content for one blog post a week.

2) I want to read through my entire Bible in one year.
3) I want to read through my devotional every day.

If I'm going to be honest, I am stuck on January 3 for both of these. And don't ask about my weekly Bible study homework. Truthfully, I have just not figured out a good time of day to do these now that Miss Rachel has given up her afternoon nap. I am not a morning person, I'm too tired by the time the kids are in bed at night... I know, excuses, excuses, but this is one which is just really not going well.

4) I want to read more books.

I am really enjoying reading more. Before I go to sleep, I wind down by reading. I have found some great books, some new authors, and honestly, a few duds too. But I love that my reading repertoire has expanded. Yay!

5) I'm going to go to the gym 2-3 times a week.

Well, I think these two posts (here and here) sum out how this has worked out. I love just making exercise a more integral part of my day and not having to go somewhere to work out.

6) I'm going to invite people over for supper more.

This one could use a bit of work too. We hosted a big party for Dave for his birthday and that kind of took all my hosting energy for January. In February I have taken meals to two women who have been on their own with their kids while their husbands are out of town. I think I need to make a list of people to invite over and then just start calling people.

7) I want to be more patient with my kids.

Sometimes this one goes okay (when I'm frustrated and remind myself, "You wanted to try to be more patient") and, ironically, sometimes I'm just not patient enough to remind myself! This is a work in progress, for sure!

8) I want our family to have more fun.

Well, we had our day of the snowflake factory and we went swimming a couple of weeks ago and we've had family shoveling time so I feel like we've been pretty successful with this one.

So that's my check in. Hopefully by the next time, I'll have made some progress on some of the ones which are a little less than successful. Hopefully...

How are your resolutions going???

Monday, February 24, 2014

Excuse Me Sir, Your Patriotism Is Showing

I would say that Canadians are not normally that patriotic. You won't see a lot of Canadian flags flying, apart from government buildings (city halls, the post office, maybe at some schools), we don't talk a lot about how much we LOVE Canada (sometimes to our detriment), and often we are more divided by our regional differences than we are united by our national identity.

But then, oh then, every four years the Winter Olympics come along and everything changes. All of a sudden we realize We. Are. Canadian. And we shout it from the rooftops, the streets, and our workplaces. I can't even tell you how much of the Olympics Canadian kids have watched in place of doing schoolwork these past two weeks. Especially during hockey games!
Embedded image permalink 
image from here

Workplaces have had big screen TVs playing the Olympics when Canadians are participating so their employees can be in the know, and banks, libraries and other places are displaying Canada's medal count, as it happens.
image from here

It kind of makes me laugh. It kind of makes me cry (with happiness and pride). And it kind of makes me want to proclaim "I. Am. Canadian!!!"
video, a Canadian beer ad from a few years ago, from here
Note: The last third of the ad gets a little aggressive, which I don't like, but the phrase "I. Am. Canadian!" has come to be our national hashtag!

 But now that these Olympics are over, our patriotism will likely go hide under the bed again. At least until 2018.

PS. I'm think I'm glad I didn't live in Edmonton (our previous hometown) yesterday! Especially since about three of those bars are within a five minute walk of our former house :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Project 364: Days 47 Through 53

February 16, 2014 --Dave's guitar case becomes a fun place for the kids to hang out while he's playing guitar!

February 17, 2014 -- I love this picture of Willem I took at his birthday party! (And check out his friend in the background! Ha ha ha!!!)
February 18, 2014 -- Armed with a Coke, Cheese Sticks, and chocolate chip cookies, I attacked a large pile of forms to be filled out on behalf of my volunteer position. And I. Got. Them. Done! Yay!
February 19, 2014 -- We had our first Spring thaw and the giant icicle on the side of our house got much longer. I'm guessing that thing will be around until May.
February 20, 2014 --This is the only picture I took all day. Earlier in the evening Sam was clinging to my leg, crying his head off. What a cliche! When I grabbed for my camera, Rachel, who was in a much cheerier mood, took his place.
February 21, 2014 -- I love Sew Be It, our church's monthly craft night. Although I usually go through flyers, write thank you cards, or do a lot of things which aren't sewing. On Friday, I filled out my passport renewal application and some expense sheets for reimbursement.
February 22, 2014 -- Sam and I had a baking afternoon. Sam was thrilled to be making double chocolate chip cookies :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Joy Is Flowing Like A Melting Icicle

I had so many titles for this post running through my head, it was hard to pick just one. Other options were "It's Coming!!!" "I'm So Excited," and "WHHHHHOOOOO HOOOOOO!" I wish I could have videoed these icicles because the sound of them dripping yesterday afternoon was the most beautiful sound I had heard in a loooong time. Yes. They. Were. Dripping. Our. Snow. Was. Melting. It was +3C (37F) at the height of the afternoon, and the above freezing temperatures, and the sun, worked miracles. Miracles, I tell you!
My ice chipper is my new best friend, and we renewed our acquaintance yesterday afternoon. Between the two of us, and about five minutes work, we unearthed the back steps. Hello you beautiful cement. I had forgotten what you looked like because you have been covered up for so long with ice. Like the specimen below.
And then we went to work on our front sidewalk. See that long beautiful stretch of pavement. See how it's even starting to dry. I know! I can hardly believe it myself.
And just to show you one more piece of beautifulness before I leave you, may I present to you -- our driveway. Now with less snow.
The kids could almost ride their bikes out there. Almost.

This post is for every post you endured from me complaining about Winter. About the cold. About the snow. This post is the beginning of the end of all of that. The forecast is for more snow, and colder temperatures, to reach us again by the weekend, but first we get another few days of above freezing weather. Ice and snow watch out, my trusty ice chipper and I are on your tail.

Yesterday also brought the end of the Great Laundry Mountain Of 2014. I did eleven loads of laundry in four days and, as of yesterday, it was all washed, dried, folded and put away. And there was great rejoicing!

And in case you missed it, Canada rocked yesterday at the Olympics. We got a gold in bobsled thanks to Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, our mens and womens teams advanced to the finals in curling, and our mens hockey advanced to the semi-finals. And since Sam had a "tired day" (NOT a sick day!), and was home from school, we got to watch the mens curling game and the hockey game.

Yesterday was a GREAT day!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

High Flying Fun!

 Yesterday Willem turned nine, however his party was on Monday, since it was a holiday.
Willem's friends were invited to join him at Airborne Trampolines, and I was invited along to take pictures of the party. I took 447 pictures (no joke!), and am only sharing a few of some people you might recognize.
Tessa and her trampoline partner allowed me to have a turn jumping, while Janice took over as photographer. Sadly, I did not come prepared to jump and so had to hold on to my pants! Ha ha ha!!! Also, these trampolines are super-bouncy, so even though we had a trampoline while I was growing up, these were very different. I want Dave and I to have a date night here sometime because I think it would be a lot of fun!

Tim took a turn...
...and so did Janice. I love the expressions on Janice's face!
I love being the "official photographer" for Tim and Janice's kids' birthday parties because, not only do I get to spend time with them, but I get to have a lot of fun experiences. I can't wait to go back to this place because my short taste of it was definitely not enough.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nine Years Ago Today...

I could not wait to be an aunt. Unfortunately, when my siblings finally had kids, I was already living halfway across the country from them and have never been able to be a part of my nieces' and nephew's daily lives. Through my church small group, I met a family who invited me to be a part of their lives. You may have heard of Tim, Janice, Tessa, and Willem. I think I've mentioned them on here once or twice :) Since their siblings live far away from them, I got to be a local aunt for Tim and Janice's kids. With Tessa and Willem, I got to (and still get to!) be the kind of aunt I wanted to be.

Nine years ago today, Willem was born. I had the immense privilege of hanging out with Tessa for about three days while Tim, Janice, and Willem were in the hospital. It has been so much fun to watch Willem grow up, to see his interests change, and to watch him interact with my kids. Yesterday I went to Willem's birthday party to take pictures. I will share some of them tomorrow on the blog but today, to celebrate Willem, here are some pictures I found of him on my computer last night. Enjoy!
Tim and Janice invited me to go to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania with them when Willem was six months old. August 2005
 Willem at two!
July 2007
A picture of Dave and I with Tessa and Willem, shortly before Willem turned three.
December 2007
Dancing with three year old Willem at my wedding. June 2008
An almost four year old Willem feeling Sam move.
December 2008
Four year old Willem holding Sam.
July 2009
Five year old Willem with Sam in Vienna.
May 2010

Six and a half year old Willem meets Rachel.
October 2011
Seven year old Willem at Rachel's first birthday.
June 2012
Willem at eight on a gardening day.
May 2013
Willem is nine!!!
February 2014