#nyc #blogpost jour deux

I’m home now, but wanted to close out my whirlwind 48 hour NYC trip with some follow-up pics.

First, on my way to Macy’s at Herald Square (AKA the mothership) I walked right through the crowd at Good Morning America and had this lovely encounter, quite by accident:

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Saw the Empire State Building:

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Then had to do some work, get dolled up and head to a work event where I was speaking to a group of clients & prospective clients. It was exciting & nerve-wracking for me, but I got through it!

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After the work event, I went with some co-workers to the rooftop bar at the top of the Dream Hotel. Met some lovely people, chatted, and generally had a great little diversion.

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Thursday morning I only had a few hours before I had to head to the airport, so I moseyed up 6th towards Radio City Hall & Rockefeller Plaza, got a coffee & cake at Magnolia Bakery (really freakin’ good) and went to the Today Show taping.

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I had started to not feel good the night before but by Thursday morning I could feel the flu coming on. Every time I see that pic of myself at Rockefeller Center I can tell how miserable I was from the look on my face. But just after that my kids called, Facetimed, on their way to school so I was able to “show them around” the plaza and the Today Show windows. That was fun.

All in all, it was a great trip. Traveling home while having respiratory flu symptoms just absolutely sucked, but the flights were uneventful (on 9/11) so I’m grateful for that.

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And, oddly, I saw so many celebrities either on the street, through the GMA or Today windows (but so close!) and even at the airport ticket counter: Connie Britton, Harry Connick Jr., James McAvoy, Jeff Goldblum, the GMA & Today Show casts, and Austin Pendleton (the stuttering lawyer from My Cousin Vinny (among many other things)). I just saw Jeff Goldblum at Dulles in the Spring so I think it’s really funny I saw him again, same year, different city.

There is nothing like NYC for a little excitement, or to make me appreciate coming home to my quiet house and two boys waiting with hugs.

See the world & have safe travels!

xoxo,

Stef

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Seattle. Oh My Word.

We don’t take a lot of vacations. I’d love to – but it’s just not something we do. Typically we go to California to visit my family for a week every summer, broil in the hot CenCal sun, and lay around the pool for days on end. Then we come home. This year, though, I was DETERMINED to go somewhere.

Not just anywhere though. Seattle.

Seattle on a Fall morning

I’ve never been to Seattle! (I’ve been to the airport – that doesn’t count).

You see – I’ve always thought Seattle seemed cool. This mecca of crunchy, real people living a REAL life – a life not based on materialistic needs or desires, but REAL. The kind of culture that would encourage the grunge rock culture that sprouted there so many years ago. I’ve had too many years of watching movies like “Singles” and, one of my personal, secret, favorites, “Girl.”

So it turns out Seattle is just a city after all. I mean, a really cool city with a nice vibe, cool people, and awesome sites – but just a city after all. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The other reason I really wanted to go to Seattle was KING TUT!! I’ve wanted to see this traveling exhibit for years but it seems I have always just  missed the opportunity in cities I’ve visited. And this was the last chance; Tut is going back home to Egypt in January. (Not that Tut was really there – just his stuff).

Scheduling this trip was a bit of a nightmare between work, the kids’ school schedules (which are different – one in mod year round and the other traditional) and my husband’s acting commitments (which are varied and timed randomly). So months ago I decided to go in November – after my husband’s current play ends, before his Christmas commitments begin, and while my oldest is on track break. That meant pulling my little bubba out of school for a few days, which I typically don’t do, but it was worth it. Okay – that’s the backstory.

We set out on Nov 7, (later than we would have liked because I stupidly planned to take this trip the day after the election and didn’t even think about how crazy glued to the tv and election results I would be!), and our plan was to drive to Seattle and get there in the evening. (It’s about an 8 hour drive from Boise). But the boys, as you can imagine, had to stop quite often. I joked that it was our driving tour of rest stops in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

Rest stop in Oregon.
Washington countryside

We had also decided to stop in Roslyn, Washington – a tiny town that’s about 1.5 hours from Seattle and fairly close to our route. Have you heard of Roslyn? Can you imagine why we might go there? Well, my husband graduated from high school in the late 80’s and in the early 90’s he was in college and watching tv and fell in LOVE with a show called Northern Exposure. I never really watched it until he and I got together and then we used to watch the reruns on some cable channel 10 years ago. And I fell in love with it too. The show is set in a town called Cicely, Alaska, but was filmed in Roslyn, WA. My husband had always wanted to go there.

We got to Roslyn later than we would have liked, but it was still so awesome to be there. We took a pic at the Roslyn Cafe sign (which is in the opening credits of Northern Exposure) and we visited the building that had been Dr. Fleischmann’s office, and peered in the windows of The Brick, and we ate pizza at Village Pizza (which was so good, btw, and they provide honey for eating with the crust of the pizza. Like a dessert. Crazy, but good!). Then we hit the road again and finally got to Seattle.

Day 1 – The Pacific Science Center. Such an awesome place. We had tickets for one of the King Tut IMAX movies and then for the exhibit itself, but in-between we got to check out a lot of cool things – their tropical butterfly exhibit, the animatronic dinosaurs, the fun water toys, etc. The King Tut exhibit wasn’t as fun, for me, as I had hoped. My little bubba, who usually digs all things Egyptian, just wasn’t into the exhibit or the historical data filling our ears from the audio tour. My older dude, on the other hand, totally dug it all. He made my husband listen to every piece of info and look at every single display. My bubba dragged me through the exhibit quickly and I missed so much. In hindsight, we should have traded kids – but I had lost sight of my other two and thought they had gone ahead. *sigh* It was not what I had wanted, but it was fine. I still got to see a lot. We walked all around the Seattle Center, saw the very cool looking EMP museum (music project – too bad we didn’t have time to go there!), checked out the International Fountain (water done to music! Like at the Bellagio in Vegas), had lunch, and then collapsed in our hotel room for a couple hours to build up our strength again.

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Little Bubba, the sun & the International Fountain

Later that evening we took the monorail from the Pacific Science Center to the downtown area and ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Cliché, I know, but my husband is a music groupie and he really wanted to see all the stuff they had on display. The food was really good too, and it was loud enough that I didn’t have to worry about my boys making a ruckus. (Not like that’s ever happened. No, never.)

Day 2 – Hit the monorail again and met up with some wonderful cousins, and their baby, down at Pike’s Place Market. How cool is that place? So fun. I wish we had been able to explore it more – but with two kids and the bustle of the market it was a little hectic. I was happy to (oddly) take the elevator down many floors to then walk to the aquarium along the waterfront. The aquarium was super cool. So fun to see all the sea animals and the boys had a blast. Then we took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, walked around, had lunch, and ferried back. That place is so cute, so neat. I would totally live there. But it’s an island so the whole driving your car on a boat to get to your island thing just seems weird. What do you mean I can’t drive to the mainland any time I want? So weird.

The boys on the ferry. So fun.
Sensory break on Bainbridge Island

Then we went to another cousin’s house for a dinner and birthday party and lots of socializing. So fun. We were so very exhausted at that point, though, I don’t think we were our best selves. The boys surprisingly held it together rather well. I was shocked. Oh – we were served squash enchiladas and I seriously need to get the recipe. So yum!

Day 3 – one last touristy thing, and something we had been wavering on: The Space Needle. It’s around $50 for 4 of us to go to the top. Was it going to be worth it? Really? That $50 could be spent better elsewhere – like what about the big ferris wheel thing (like the London Eye)? But the kids were adamant. They wanted to go to the top of The Space Needle. Okay, okay, we said, we’ll remember this always. The view at the top was spectacular. It was a beautiful, crisp, clear day and we could see so much; in that case, it was worth it. But 5 minutes my oldest said, “Mom, you were right – this is boring. Can we go down now?”  I do think it was worth it though – just for the memory.

The Space Needle. Duh.
Us.
My dudes

Then we hopped in the car and headed to Tacoma! We met some wonderful friends for lunch – friends from Boise who had just moved to Tacoma a couple months prior – so it was super awesome to see them again. Then we hopped in the car and headed to Portland.

Gorgeous PNW sunset

Though I had planned this trip many, many months in advance it just happened to work out that my niece, who lived in Portland, ended up having a baby in October. So – perfect timing for me to see her, the new baby, and her husband and 2 other kids, before they moved to Cali the following week. We got to Portland around 6 pm, checked into our hotel in downtown Vancouver, WA, and then went to meet my sister in law & her two sons at Big Al’s for food and fun. I had never been to Big Al’s (though we have a new one near our home) but it was fun – loud, crazy and a bit hectic, especially for my Autie boy who had already endured quite a lot of change in a short span of time. Went back to my sis-in-law’s house, did some laundry, hung out. Good times.

Outside our hotel in downtown Vancouver, WA
Siblings

Day 4 – had planned to go to church in Vancouver, WA, but found we were too exhausted to move. Slept in and didn’t get to breakfast until nearly noon. Came back to the hotel and actually napped for a bit. (Hubby & I did and the boys just played quietly with electronics, of course). Then my sis-in-law picked us up and we met my niece & family, and my other niece, at a huge playplace for kids. (Because 4 busy kids need something to do on rainy Sunday afternoons). We had pizza, visited, and I held my newest grand-niece for hours.

Day 5 – Going home day. But still fun to be had. My sis-in-law picked me up and we went to my niece’s aesthetician school for facials. So fun. Such pampering. Loved it! Hurried back to the hotel, said goodbye to sis-in-law, grabbed the boys and jumped in the car. We were racing to make it to The Dalles, an oddly named town in Oregon, to meet my wonderful Aunt & Uncle who live in the middle of nowhere, WA, and were driving into The Dalles to meet us. I was also frantically checking the weather reports because it looked like we would be driving into a snowstorm on the way home. We had a lovely lunch and catch-up at Spooky’s, then drove off to buy some chains for the car (just in case) and headed down the road.

The mists of Oregon.

Just past Pendleton, OR, we started to hit snow and it didn’t let up for nearly the 3-4 more hours it took to get home. I white-knuckled it in the passenger seat while the hubby drove, thankfully. I’m not a fan of driving in snow. Home, safe and exhausted, right around midnight. Amen.

My bubba was originally supposed to go to school the next day, and myself to work, but I could hardly rouse him the next morning so I let him sleep. Turns out he was getting sick, as was made apparent to us that evening when he started vomiting everywhere. Thus began a 10 day trial where all 4 of us endured the same ailment at different times. Thankfully ending just in time for Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving I was so very thankful for my happy and healthy little family, for the trip we had together and the memories we had made. I’ll never forget the good from this trip, but I’ve already forgotten the exhaustion, the meltdowns, and the travel disorientation. Thank goodness for good memories.

And now – let’s look towards Christmas!

Lots of love,

Stef

#myweekininstagram

My mom & stepdad are visiting.

I took the week off of work.

These are two things that instantly make my life exponentially better.

Nothing but fun this week!

We started the week off with this one’s 10th birthday:

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That kid’s face kills me. I just love being his mother.

And, of course, we had a 10th birthday bash, complete with a bounce house:

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Fun was had by all.

Then it was time for some mom & daughter bonding time over mani/pedis:

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And I noticed my peonies are getting ready to bloom:

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I made the most scrumptious lemon bars ever:

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And I may have drank a little red wine:

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And watched a little soccer (or a lot of soccer):

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Unfortunately only from the car on Thursday because I developed an awful cold & cough mid-week and couldn’t be out there on the field like I normally am at my little guy’s practices.

My folks are going to head home in a day or two and I will reluctantly resume my chaotic life as usual. Sad they are gone but thankful they came at all.

Oh, and they introduced us to a fun dice game called LCR, Left Center Right. I think this would make an awesome drinking game:

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That’s my week so far in Instagram. Part 2 may be following shortly!

Have a great weekend all,

Stef

From me to you

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

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We are having a wonderful time on our vacation/family visit. I hope you all are having a great holiday as well.

Don’t forget to count your blessings!! I’m thankful every day for those up there and the hammy-ness of this one down here:

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XOXO,

Stef

Traveling

I’m traveling today, over the river and through the woods, to spend the holidays with family.

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Very, very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours! I love and appreciate you.

XOXO,

Stef

Almost Wordless Wednesday

What happened to October? It’s Nov 9 and I feel like October just swooshed past me like a semi on the freeway and left me rocking in it’s wake. And, because I’m still reeling from that blow, here are some pictures in lieu of a REAL post:

Mid-October we went to Tahoe. Beautiful, gorgeous, OMG-I-want-to-live-here-forever, Lake Tahoe.

We all contemplated the crystal blue waters in speculative silence.

We also went to a creek and saw a Kokanee salmon run. This is a spawning bed. After they spawn, they die. So it was both happy and sad. My oldest counted 56 dead fish. We made sure to illustrate the life cycle and how the dead fish are needed to feed other animals and provide more nutrients into the stream bed.

I also saw a Beyonce look alike. No, not THAT Beyonce, the Beyonce of the giant metal chicken variety. Naturally I had to take a picture with it.

And we took the kids horseback riding:

Then we left Lake Tahoe. I spent half the drive home in denial and curled into a fetal position whimpering. Very difficult position to drive in, I must say.

And then there was Halloween. Poof! Just like that. And we had fun decorating:

And we even had a pumpkin carving party with the neighborhood girls:

And I made ghosts on a stick for work and the girls helped me with the faces:

And my hubby taught them how to make pumpkin origami. At the end of the party they were stuffed with sweets and everybody went home with a carved pumpkin and a bunch of origami pumpkins:

And now it’s Nov 9. How in the world did that happen? Well, at least we’ve been having fun.

Side note – I do have blog post on my mind. Something I’ve been thinking about, mulling over, and I just need to marshal my thoughts and let them flow. Stay tuned.

Mwah!

Stef

On Vacation, Part 3: The party’s over already?

Last Thursday morning when we woke up we knew we had less than 48 hours left in California. At least me and the hubby did. Time to cram EVERYTHING IN that we hadn’t done yet. Oh, wait, that’s not possible? Okay, let’s go to the coast instead.
We crammed the 6 of us into my stepdad’s truck, plus all our junk for an overnight stay, plus snacks – because, helllloooo, ROAD TRIP – and we were off! Then we stopped at 15 places like the bank, the gas station, Rite Aid, etc., before we left town. But then we were off!! Woo-hoo. 
We made it about 45 minutes to Kettleman City. If you don’t know, Kettleman is a town that survives for the sole purpose of being a major pit stop for people traveling down the I-5 corridor. Back in a previous lifetime I used to go on patrols in this town with a law enforcement type friend of mine so I got to know the area better than most people who pass through. There’s very little to recommend it other than all the country roads, away from the light pollution, and the gorgeous starry skies. Oh, and the In-n-Out Burger. Yep, forget the starry skies – In-n-Out is probably the best thing about Kettleman. 
So, duh, we stopped there. Now I typically order straight off their simple menu – just a cheeseburger (no grilled onions or tomatoes), but In-n-Out has a not-so-secret-menu that they don’t advertise. You just have to know what to order. For examples, you can say you want your burger animal style and they will add pickles, extra spread & grilled onions and Mustard fried into the patty. Or a 4×4 is 4 meat patties and 4 pieces of cheese – this is the largest burger they will serve. You can also order a Flying Dutchman – you can Google that one yourself. Or, if you are brave, just order it next time you swing through In-n-Out and find out what it is. But, hey, cool, right? Secret menus FTW. 
Okay, back on the road after our burger fill. Morro Bay or BUST! And my bladder nearly did. But we made it to our hotel/motel place. (Never stayed there before. It wanted to be good but it just didn’t quite make it. Sad Panda.) But YAY. Morro Bay. 
Morro Bay. Ah. My heart belongs to Morro Bay. I love Cambria and Cayucos and now Avila Beach as well, but there’s just something about Morro. It tugs at me. It’s my spiritual home. I want to eventually live there. In my good, long retirement years. (Fingers-crossed).
We drove out to the rock first thing. What rock, you ask? Well, this one:
Confession: I didn’t take this pic. I don’t know who did, but I do know that I love Google Images. Amen.
Big, right? And awesome too. 
So we went out to the left side of the rock and hung out on a little beach there for a while. I snapped some Instragram pics (duh) while hubby and the boys climbed all over tarnation. (Spell check doesn’t recognize “tarnation” as a word. Obviously spell check isn’t Okie or Southern at all. It’s a word, dang it). 
Boys. Hubby. Tarnation. 
I perched on a rock (not THE rock. a significantly smaller one) and snapped away. This was at the rock (yes, THE rock) looking back at the little coastal village that is Morro Bay:
And then I said, oh, look, there’s a boat!! And let’s use a different IG filter:

With a boat or without, with an IG filter or not, Morro Bay is gorgeous. It’s quaint. It’s touristy but not. You get the impression that the locals just go about their business and they don’t mind the tourists too much at all. There’s the embarcadero for that, but the little downtown area really shouldn’t be missed; little book shops, antique stores, unique coffee places, and all with a coastal charm. Love, love, love. 
We stayed at the coast that night and until about 4 pm the next day before jumping back in the car to drive the 2 to 2 1/2 hours back to my hometown. Then the hubby and I packed and fretted about leaving our boys with their Grandma & Papa for “up to two weeks.” We had made the decision long ago but that didn’t make it any easier. In the end, we got up the next morning at 3:30 AM, kissed our sleeping boys, and drove to the airport. We were back home (via two planes and 3 airports) before they even woke up. 
It’s been 5 days since then and they tell me they don’t want to come home. They want to stay at Grandma & Papa’s where they can swim every day and go kayaking at Shaver Lake and go to the Zoo and go to the movies and go to Adventure Park as well. Well, YEAH. Duh. So apparently Grandma & Papa will return them kicking and screaming at the end of next week. Something to look forward to.
Oh, yeah, one last thing. 11 years ago today this happened:
 
Don’t we look ridiculously young? We were. We were leading with our hearts. Happy 11th wedding anniversary to my life partner. Mwah!
(And, yes, there was nothing in the champagne flutes. They were/are awesome, and engraved (thank you Auntie) but at the time the photographer wanted to snap the pic we didn’t have an champagne or sparkling cider available. C’est la vie, I always say.)

Things I love in this blog post? At least 3: Morro Bay, vacation, and my guy. (In no particular order).

On Vacation, part 2: Partying like Rock Stars

We are having a little too much fun at my mom & stepdad’s house in California. Just a smidge.

Sunday, July 3rd, we had our annual Independence Day BBQ/Swim Party. 45 people, and it went for about 10 hours. Marathon party. 13 people slept at the house that night.

Yo, our parties are off the chain (or hook. either one, really) . Slammin’. Bangin’. Totally ballin’. The bomb. Badass and whack. Like yo.

Okay. Forgive me. Sometimes my thiry-something self reverts back to a 21 year old. A 21 year old that was nothing like ME at 21. In any case, WE HAD FUN.

We swam. A lot:

It was really freakin’ hot (seriously, like 106 degrees Fahrenheit. No lie.(that’s about 41 degrees celsius for you people from across the pond.))

And we lit about a bazillion fireworks in front of the house:

As you can imagine, we were a little overheated and peopled-out the next day. The guests left and we kept out of the sun at the movies in the afternoon (Kung Fu Panda 2. Cute.), then went down to my old high school for a community fireworks show.

We waited for the sun to go down:

And took some pics:

We had snow cones:

And the boys played with bubbles: 

Then we had fireworks:

IT.WAS.AWESOME.

That night we all died from exhaustion and heatstroke.

Then we got up the next morning and went to breakfast with the best grandma ever. Like, in the world. I couldn’t love her more. We hung out at Grammy’s house and did a whole lot of nothing, which, at Grammy’s, consists of putting together puzzles, playing dominoes, and eating Taffy cookies. Sometimes stale. Oh, and sucking on butterscotch candies. The boys played in her “playroom,” sometimes affectionately referred to as a “junk room.” Toys from the 1960’s & 70’s hide there among aging avocado green lampshades, lodge robes and memorabilia from kids and grandkids alike.

My mom & gram. Puzzle making.

Have I mentioned how much I adore my Grammy? She’s going through radiation right now for a very deep melanoma that was removed from her temple a few weeks ago. She’ll be 84 next Saturday. I heart her with my whole heart.

*moment of reverence*

Moving on –

That night we partied AGAIN. See what I mean about being rock stars? It’s like every night with us. No stopping us. Somebody better hold an intervention.

So, y’all know Joni, right? She came over, with her brood (husband, baby Ella, and 3 big kids) and her old friend (and my old acquaintance), Staci, and her big kid daughter, and we all hung out in the heat gulping water, laughing, and sharing stories. Oh, and we ate some sumptious BBQ fare, cotton candy ice cream and Joni’s delectable chocolate, chocolate cupcakes.

Photo courtesy of Staci. 🙂 (I realize my boobs appear to be missing. It’s the swimsuit that I had on under my dress. It has failed me terribly in the support category. Not that a blame it, per se. The job is onerous.)

I’m very sad to say we only have two days left of vacation in California. We’re heading to the beach tomorrow for the last two days so you can all wait for a third, and final, installment of our on-vacation antics.

Mwah!

On Vacation, part 1: the U.S.S. Hornet

Saturday we got up early and caught a flight to San Jose. This was the first time the boys have flown since they were babies and they LOVED it. My oldest was a little afraid when we were taking off, and that’s naturally his way, but he relaxed really well after that.

My mom & stepdad picked us up and we drove up to Alameda to tour the U.S.S. Hornet. This is the ship my grandpa was on in WWII, circa ’43-’44. It was surreal to walk in areas where he may have been as a young man. Incredible.

Here are some pics we took there:

A friend told me my husband looks a little like Richard Branson. What do you think?

Stay tuned for the next chapter of our vacation travels. Happy Independance Day everyone!