Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

"Don't you just love New York in the fall?"

When Luke and I were tossing around ideas for what to do for Thanksgiving, we came to a mutual decision that we should go to NYC! Why not?? We were there for Easter and had such a blast with the kids. With it only being a 3 and a half hour drive, it really made a lot of sense! We headed up on Wednesday afternoon and checked into our hotel, which was just a few blocks off of Times Square around 5pm. 

We quickly got our things unloaded and settled and then left to go to dinner with David, Luke's real estate partner (which he is doing part time, on the side in his free time) He took us to a nice Italian restaurant that did not look too family friendly... BUT! The kids were so well behaved, I was so grateful. Casey played games on Luke's phone, Owen poked around with the salt shakers and silverware and Hailey just people watched, talked to me, and sat quietly daydreaming. Owen also made friends with the table behind us with his shameless flirting. Telling the ladies all about seeing buses!!!!! and going through a tunnel!!! (the Lincoln tunnel on the way into the city)

On our way back to the hotel we were strolling along the busy sidewalk with taxis flying by, horns blaring at random intervals and Hailey says to me, "I love New York City, Mom." I asked her why do you love it and she responded, "Because you brought us here." My heart was so happy and I smiled and told her that I love family trips too!

Thursday, after a yummy continental breakfast, we walked to 6th Ave to find a spot to watch the parade. We paused near Times Square to get a quick family pic of course.

The route for the parade was pretty packed and we were attempting to find a spot in the middle of the parade route. We ended up finding a really good spot near a coffee shop (hello bathroom for children with small bladders) and watched the whole thing! From the opening Macy's star balloons to the closing Macy star balloons! I really didn't know if the kids would last the whole time, but they really enjoyed it and only asked for a snack from their backpacks once. 

I loved seeing the turkey floats, it was Thanksgiving!! Hurray!

After I took this pic, he asked, "was that good cheese, Mom?" haha

The wonder of children is the best. 

Family Thanksgiving pic!!

And let me just say, the stroller saved our lives. We put the brakes on and the kids took turns standing on the cup holder ledge in the back, and the cup/ food tray in front. We also happened to be against a wall which was perfect for the person standing on the back cup holder ledge to lean against. They had the perfect view! That stroller, gosh, just a humble Graco...and it's no worse for the wear whatsoever.

Ronald McDonald, he was so huge I thought his foot was going to touch my face. 

They were so big!!! Seriously impressive.

What can I say, Thomas was kind of the main event for two boys I know and love.

My little beauty tends to be a bit camera shy so I was so excited when I saw this gem of a picture that Luke took.

Hi Paddington!
I loved the slow progression of floats from Thanksgiving turkeys and pilgrims to Christmas trains and lastly....

Santa!!! The kids were SOO excited and started asking, "are those presents???? Is Christmas today!?!?!?

After the parade we walked a quick 10 minutes over to St. Patrick's Cathedral for noon mass. We were on time which was amazing and mass was so peaceful and lovely. I was really excited to see the cathedral since the restoration was complete. It was beautiful. When we were there for Easter everything was covered in scaffolding.

As we walked back toward our hotel, we grabbed a slice of pizza for lunch at a market where we also picked up some flax milk for Owen. He had finished what I had at home right as we left the house. I had faith that we could find it in the city though, and the city did not disappoint.

Back at the hotel the kids and I napped from 2-4 (turned away housekeeping who knocked half way through naptime! Someone, ahem, me, forgot the Do Not Disturb sign. Oops) Luke watched the game down in the lobby lounge and came and woke us up a little after 4. We had tickets for the 5pm Rockettes Christmas show, and while trying to quickly feed the kids a snack we realized we would not make it in time if we walked. We got downstairs as fast as we could, walked down the block to a bigger intersection and hailed a cab. Phew. We got there in plenty of time.

(Incidentally, it was my first cab ride ever. And the kids. Very amusing since it was my first ride at age 31, and their first at ages 5, 4 and 2. I kind of like that we will always share that ride as being our first)

Seeing the Rockettes perform was a long time dream come true for me since I was about 8 years old taking tap lessons. I was bubbling with excitement like a little kid.

waiting for the show to begin!!
And wow, it was spectacular. And the PERFECT show for the ages and attention spans of our kids. It was 90 minutes long, straight through, with lots of music, singing, dancing, incredible sets and lighting effects, Santa!! A Bus! And a train!!

 It was amazing. Casey sat on the edge of his seat the whole time, Hailey laughed out loud a couple of times when Santa was being silly and Owen loved the bus and the train. But the best BEST part of all, was that the show ended with the narrative of the Nativity story complete with angels, shepherds, wise men, REAL LIVE CAMELS, a lamb and Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. It was so beautifully done. Luke and I kept looking over at each other with our jaws to the floor. They could have ended it on a totally secular opening presents under the tree that Santa brought....but no. They sang, "oh come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord" and all the wise men and shepherds bowed and adored Jesus as the curtain closed. Remarkable.  

As we were walking out, Owen said to me, "that was fun!" Once outside he started pointing to all the taxi cabs saying, "ride that car" "get in" over and over. Apparently he was a fan, haha. Maybe because it's yellow or maybe because he got to sit on my lap. Probably both.

We walked home in perfect mild weather stopping on the way to stroll through Bryant Park and watch the ice skaters. Back at the hotel, I fed the kids hot dogs and mac and cheese for dinner and Luke went to a nearby restaurant to get he and I some take out.

Casey by the ice skating rink
Friday morning after eating our fill at the hotel continental breakfast (scraping out the very last bit of oatmeal for Owen from the bottom of the pot, thank goodness because it was the only thing he can safely eat)... we got an uber ride to the upper east side to stroll through the metropolitan art museum. We got to see all kinds of incredible paintings...including Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Matisse

The kids got very antsy which we expected would happen, so after about two hours we left and took them to a playground in central park which was only two blocks away. They needed it and loved it. It was so fun to see them scooting from here to there in a row - Hailey, Casey, Owen - in the crazy throng of kids. The stayed together the entire time, helping Owen up difficult parts. They are such a unit, those three. They played for an hour and then we let Casey have a turn in the stroller (even reclined him hoping he would fall.asleep but he didn't) and put Owen in the ergo on Luke so he could nap for a bit, which he did most readily. And central park was beautiful. My phone died so I didn't get a picture, but the trees still had a ton of colorful fall leaves. I was so so happy we got to experience the city in the fall.

Our next stop was another thing I have been wanting to do for the longest time!! Visit Cafe Lalo! The cafe in You've Got Mail, where Kathleen Kelly is supposed to meet NY152, but in walks Joe Fox and he doesn't tell her it's him. It was so charming, my heart was swooning the entire time I ordered my machiatto. I love that movie too much :) 

I told him I love my "Tom Hanks", complete with sleeping toddler on his chest :)

Afterwards, we started the hour long trek back to our hotel, stopping in briefly at an H&M, (after all, I was in NYC on Black Friday!!! I had to attempt a tiny bit of shopping, but I had no luck). Then gauging everyone's exhaustion, Luke wisely got us a ride with lyft the rest of the way back to the hotel. I gave the kids spaghetti leftovers and Luke again went out to pick us up some burgers. (This is totally irrelevant to anything but just so the kids had started watching Planes the night before while they ate their dinner and were upset they didn't get to finish it because they had to go to bed. Well, it happened to be on tv again while they ate, and they picked up pretty much right where they had left off (so crazy) and they got to finish it. Could not have planned that better if I had tried.) 

on the streets of New York, getting dinner for his love!
 After Luke came back with our food and we ate and put the kids to bed, he went out to meet up with David for drinks. 

Saturday morning, we took it easy, moving slow getting ready and repacking our stuff, taking our time with breakfast...and Luke was able to book us appointments for massages at a spa on the other side of town for 11 and 12pm. They were extra sessions in a package David had purchased but wasn't using so he wanted to give them to us. I was so grateful. It was amazing. My whole body was aching after all the walking and stroller pushing!

such troopers!! And gosh, I love those backpacks. Owen is now a proud owner and part of the Skip Hop backpack club!
 After our massages, we walked down to the Old St. Patrick's Cathedral. It was so pretty and peaceful. And had many tributes (plaques and statues) for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the work she and her sisters had done there when they first came to the city. It was always so fun to live in Emmitsburg with her national shrine down the road and to go up to the city and find so much of her there too :)

Our last stop was an authentic deli where we got subs for lunch, then caught another uber ride back to the parking garage to pick up our van. We quickly checked out of the hotel and began the drive home! The drive home went so quickly, seriously 3 and a half hours feels like nothing anymore, and the kids immediately fell asleep.

It was an incredible trip. But coming home is always good...Casey asked me on Friday when we were going home to "the house with the bricks." He loves everything and anything that is fun and exciting, but boy, he sure loves home. I can relate, and I hope our kids always feel that way about home :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hailey's 5th birthday party

Last night we celebrated Hailey's birthday. We did it early because Darrin and Jenna are going out of town and we have another party we got invited to down in VA on Saturday. It felt a little "off" to me because it was so many days before her actual birthday, so I was having a hard time getting into the birthday spirit that day BUT seeing her excitement changed that pretty quick :)

At 9am she was setting the table, at 10am, she was hanging decorations and asking me to blow up balloons. By 11am the house was decorated and guests weren't coming till 5pm. The enthusiasm of kids, wow...haha, it's so great.

She was so cute because for a while now she has been coloring all the pages in her Disney princess coloring book that are scenes from Sleeping Beauty. And she had been telling me that they were to hang for her birthday party. And that was exactly what she did. She brought me the coloring book, asked me to carefully tear out all the pages she colored and she proceeded to hang them all over the house! We had scenes from the movie on her colored pages everywhere. I love her attention to detail.

I had also bought her a bouquet of red roses (obviously because of Briar Rose and she holds a rose when she is asleep) and then each girl got to take a rose home with them.

After Owen went down for his nap we started working on her cake.

this doorway was just begging to be a castle gate, so I obliged.

I love how we are looking at each other in this one :) Also, Owen is a giant.

we look like a family of dunces. Why do they love party hats so much??

I had printed images of Aurora and Philip and Hailey helped me glue them to party hats. Girls wore the princess and boys wore the prince.

We gave her a new bike (she learned how to ride without training wheels last week!!) and a set of sheets and comforter that was Sleeping Beauty themed. The bike also had disney princesses on it including Aurora. I had found all of it at a yard sale that I randomly decided to stop at, just to see if I saw anything I wanted. Seriously, the Lord loves to love us in the smallest details!!! And she was just over the moon about it all.

My favorite things she said:

While decorating the house:"I am the leader today."

Randomly: "Casey, I am a grown up now."

(which is too funny, and SMART because we tell them things like, you are getting to be so grown are so grown up now, etc!!! And we refer to ourselves as GROWN UPS! It killed me.)

While getting ready for bed: "Mommy, everyone likes me."

I stopped what I was doing and got down in front of her, looked her straight in the eye and said, "Yes they do! Because God made you so special and sweet!" And I felt compelled to add, "And if ever someone doesn't, they are the silly one."  And she gave me the biggest smile and hug.

I am so proud of her because she is blossoming so much and did so well with the few guests that we had over. She is talking more willingly to people she has been extremely shy and nervous around in the past. She really is growing up :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Have Courage and Be Kind

Ever since I took Hailey on a mother-daughter date to see the new Cinderella, I have often thought about the phrase from the movie, "have courage and be kind." I so badly want to instill these things in my children. 

This morning, I got choked up as Hailey told me something that really shocked me.

You see, when Hailey was 10 months old, on the eve of Mother's Day as it happened, I put her to bed with a little pink blankie/bear. That night she slept through the night for the first time, and never looked back. (It was a wonderful Mother's Day present from her! I remember waking up and realizing I had slept through the night because Hailey had!!!) Ever since that night she has been inseparable from it. She would take it to church, the grocery store, the library, to bed, she would hold it close whenever she was upset, nervous or afraid. We lost it in Washington DC and we retraced our steps to miraculously find it on the sidewalk. She chewed the nose off and I patched it. The bear head/arms fell off and I patched it. She loved it so hard there were holes it in. And I patched it. I washed it and bleached it. And she kept on loving it.

This past week we were visiting family in Wichita, KS and as usual, Hailey went to bed with it every night. We left on Friday morning and broke up the 1200 mile long trip by crashing with some friends in St. Louis that night. They have a boy and a girl same ages as ours, Rose and Gus. And I remember seeing Hailey with the blanket in the driveway as we were getting our things to take inside for the night.

But after dinner and playing, as I was putting her to bed, it was no where to be found. No where. And I looked every.where.

My sweet girl tearfully went to bed without it and I told her we would keep looking. The next morning we still couldn't find it. We had a 14 hour drive ahead of us and we told our friends to mail it if they found it!  I felt so bad, I was holding on to hope!!

During the long drive, she told me a few times she missed it, and wanted it, and cried again at one point. She kept telling me, "My blankie is so special to me. You gave it to me when I was a baby. It is my friend. I miss it." (it made my heart ache a little for her!)

When we got home around 11pm, I put her to bed with another blanket from when she was little and told her I would search the car in the morning.

After combing every inch of the car this morning, I told her it wasn't there either. She didn't get upset, she just didn't say anything.

Then a few minutes later, as I was getting dressed for church, she came up to me and said, "Mommy, Rose and Gus can have my blankie now and I can have this one instead." (she was holding the one I gave her to sleep with the night before)

Luke and I looked at each other like, "can you believe this??" I got down next to her and told her how brave and kind that was. Because it was. And maybe we are the only ones who recognize it as such, because we know how attached she was to it. It was so innocent, so unprompted, and simply pure sweetness.

This afternoon I told Luke I would know whether or not it was going to stick when bedtime came. I didn't know if she would decide she still missed it or wanted it. But when I told her it was time, she wondered outloud, "where is my blanket?" and walked over and picked up the one from the night before.

I really am proud of her. These things can be hard when you are young! 

Summer 2011, 15 months old

Christmas 2012
Halloween (in her hands) 2014

Last week :(

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ready, Set....Go!

The next two weeks are going to be a blurr. Our house is essentially becoming a bed and breakfast.

Right now, our very good friend, Mark, who happens to be Casey's godfather, is visiting for the weekend. We all love seeing him and spending time catching up, but it is especially sweet to watch he and Casey play catch in the yard. The timing of his visit, which was sort of last minute, worked out great because Luke and I had an event to attend on campus and were able to cancel our babysitter and Mark got quality time with the kiddos!

Tomorrow morning he leaves....(must wash sheets and put back on the bed.)

On Thursday, my little sister is coming for a visit!! I am so excited!! Friday, we have another event (phew, end of the school year is hectic), we have to go at the seminary, and afterwards Luke and I are leaving town for a little one night overnight. I can't wait!! The last time we did one was two years ago. I don't know where we are going yet, probably somewhere in Gettysburg, which is always awesome.

We will come back Saturday morning and then spend the day getting ready for the country hoedown! It's the huge end of the year focus event and we hosted it at our house last year. It was our last event before we left staff, so it was a little bittersweet. We have still had a lot of contact with the focus missionaries throughout this year, they are practically family, so we were thrilled when they asked if they could host the same event at our place again this year. It was a major sucess, there were about 150 people line dancing in our hay strewn driveway, beneath twinkly christmas lights It's going to be a blast.

Sunday, Maureen is going to pick up her boyfriend in VA and bring him back to our house. (Pull out some clean sheets for him to crash Sunday night on the couch) I am so excited to spend time with the two of them together. Her bf happens to be a focus mish that we are good friends with which is super fun. They actually met by chance, and not because we set them up. But we have done a lot of encouraging since they got together :) :)

Monday morning (early early), Maureen will take her boy to the airport, then come back here. (That morning, must wash guest room sheets and put back on bed) Later that afternoon, I will drive Maureen to the airport to catch her flight, and while I'm there, pick up our friend Brian and bring him back to our house!!!!

Tuesday Luke will take Brian to DC for the work conference he came out here to attend, and have a seminary donor meeting while he is down there. (Wash sheets for the last time and put away)

Tuesday afternoon, I have a 2-3 hour allergy appointment. (Can't forget to find a sitter, yikes).

Wednesday afternoon, I have my annual physical, hiphiphorray.

Thursday, take the boys to the naturopath for a check up and get new round of allergy drop treatment.

And Friday, Luke leaves for a weekend business trip in Cali.

If I am still walking, talking, smiling and laughing on Monday, May 11th, it might be a small miracle. I think it'll all be ok, one day at a time, keep meals simple, keep expectations low. And it's going to be insane amounts of fun too :)

I just need to go buy more toilet paper.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Easter in NYC

This year we decided we wanted to do something fun for Easter so on Good Friday we headed up to New York City. We had no set agenda, we simply planned to enjoy each other and the city. Which is exactly what we did :)

Hailey comes alive when we travel. She loves an adventure. She assumes this role of being extra caring of her brothers (putting Owen in the stroller, helping Casey put his shoes on, reminding him to wash his hands after going potty and getting their clothes out in the morning to get dressed) She typically does most of these things at home, but when we are on vacation, she majorly takes it up a notch. This picture is how she arranged the bottom dresser drawer in our hotel room with all their little belongings they brought along. Too precious. 

After we got settled into our hotel room, we walked up to St. Patrick's (only 7 minute walk!), for Good Friday services. We missed the 3:30pm service, but we were there for the Stations of the Cross and afterwards they were still allowing people to come up and venerate the cross. 

Sweet Casey in line to kiss Jesus on the cross.

Taken outside the Cathedral...I was so excited to be spending the Tridium at St. Pat's. Despite all the scaffolding, it was still very peaceful and beautiful to be there.

We then took a stroll down 5th Avenue and went into F.A.O. Schwartz, this huge toy store (the movie "Big", starring Tom Hanks, was filmed there), to just look around for fun. They had this life size Lego tin soldier which was so cool.

As we were leaving, we realized we were across the street from the Plaza Hotel! (Eloise started playing in my head, obviously)

Saturday morning we wanted to take a ferry boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty, as well as stop by the 911 memorial. Since we would have to take the subway to get there, we really didn't want to take the clunky double stroller with us as it can be quite cumbersome. But I realized I had forgotten to bring the Ergo!! Which meant I had to get creative with my scarf! It actually worked out great. I knotted it at my hip, and it was almost like a sling. But the way I positioned Owen in it, it practically felt like the Ergo! 

I was way happier than I look in this picture, (I have to concentrate so hard when I take selfies, you would think with my long fingers I can manage to hold the phone and press the button, but I always find it nearly impossible to do! I really was super happy :)

Look how we could cuddle all day!! awwww!! Mutual devotion, let me tell you...

These two were so amazing all day. They handled everything exceptionally well. They had their lunches in their back packs, and it was fun to see them experiencing new things.

Waiting for the subway. (Mommy repeated telling them, hands on your knees, not on the floor! Otherwise, I was really chill. Honest, I was. I do not lie.)

Lulled to sleep on the subway, such a love.

On the ferry boat, taking in the skyline.

There she is, hasn't aged a bit ;)

Passing under the Brooklyn Bridge which was really cool to see it up close.

Mid day refueling with the most delicious cappuccino from a coffee truck on the side of the road. 

911 memorial. Luke's first time seeing it. 

On the way home, we stopped in Grand Central Terminal to get some food to cook for our Easter Sunday dinner the next day. There was the awesome market with all kinds of fresh food. I took the kids to the potty while Luke picked out the food. 

When we got back to the hotel, we had a simple meal of food I had brought from home, gave the kids showers and put them to bed. 

Sunday morning Easter baskets!!! I even brought the eggs they dyed at home on Holy Thursday. And nadda one cracked. Hurray! The coloring books and cards were from their Grandma Tricia.

We went to 8:45am mass at St. Patrick's which was still very crowded, even though it was the 10:15 mass that was being said by Cardinal Dolan. You needed tickets for it, hence why we went to the earlier one. 

I wish I had attempted our Easter picture before mass....this is what happened when we got home...

Poor Owen...

Not having it....

I think this is the keeper.

It's over.

I liked my Easter attire and wanted to document it ;) 

After we all changed clothes we headed out again! This time to Rockefeller Center, Times Square and Central Park, all within walking distance.

Casey begging me to take the "train" again.

Before hitting up Central Park, we were on a mission to get New York pizza. It was worth the extra blocks. Yum! And we saw some pretty side streets while we were at it.

Hailey, sees a squirrel, "hello squirrel, it's me, Hailey."

Chasing the squirrel, let to a game of peek a boo with Mommy around the tree.

Love them!! They ate that snow cone the whole way back to the hotel. 

I had to get a picture of us in Central Park because although both of us have been to the city a couple of times, neither one of us had EVER been to Central Park. Crazy!!! So it was pretty cool to get to go for the first time, together. 

We got back to the hotel and were totally spent. Luke's pedometer on his phone said we walked 8 miles. Phew. We fed the kids, put them to bed, then Luke made us our Easter dinner. It was very cute and romantic and all that jazz :)

Goodbye New York! I couldn't get Owen to look, but Monday, the 6th, was his half birthday! 18 months old!!

On the way home, we stopped at a park off the highway to meet up with an old friend from college, Nat!! It was SO wonderful to see her and Jer and meet their kids. 

My heart was so full coming back home. There is so much in my life to be thankful for. Don't you just love Easter?

Jesus is risen! Alleluia!