Thursday, September 29, 2011

Braelyn is Blogging Again!

I have much to report on regarding our new adventures in homeschooling. Unfortunately, today is not the day for that. BUT! I do want to send you over to Braelyn's Blog! It's been quite a while since she has posted, but hopefully you'll start to see her work a little more regularly.

For the last three weeks we have been reading teddy bear stories in our read-aloud time, and to close out the unit Braelyn has written a delightful teddy bear story of her own. She has also picked out 3 of her favorite titles from the teddy bear books that we read.

Enjoy! And...I'm sure she'd appreciate your feedback. ;)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Meet Amelia

Allow me to explain our dog situation. When we moved out of our house in Brenham, we felt it necessary to find a new home for our pug, Tucker. We were moving to an apartment and our lives were just so crazy we didn't think that having a dog in the mix was the best idea. So we did. We found a lovely new home for Tuck.

Of course, Braelyn was a bit heartbroken over this, and from the day we moved into our apartment in the Woodlands, she asked us for a dog everyday. Literally everyday. I'm not kidding. Despite the desperation on her face, Casey and I, being hard as nails refused her request time and again. Okay...we refused her request...until we moved into a house. :|

Casey and I were committed to keeping our promise to her, but not-so-secretly we found being petless rather freeing and enjoyable. But, my sweet girl has no siblings and she talked of her future dog everyday, so there was no going back on our promise?! It was imminent...a dog was coming.

Well, I haven't mentioned this yet, but we are building a house! Yes, some preliminary papers have been signed and we have picked out cabinets and countertops and tiles and all those fun things and soon we will be happy homeowners once more. (More on this later.)

So, the craziest thing...heh...Well, the Monday after we got back from New York, Casey checked his Facebook wall or board or whatever it is and saw that some friends of ours in Sugar Land had just rescued a little puppy from a storm drain. They were not able to keep the dog, but wanted to find a good home for it. Casey, obviously against his better judgement showed the picture of the puppy to Braelyn, and to me. This was a mistake...because we still had 6 months to go in the apartment, and everyone knows that once you look at a dog picture, especially a dog rescued from great're done for.

Sure enough, because we are dumb and don't know good sense if it hit us in the face, we drove down to Sugar Land and picked up Amelia.

Just wook at that wittle girl!
A very happy day for Braelyn!
Here's cruisin' Amelia.
"What? I'm comfortable!"
sweet, snuggling Amelia
stretching Amelia
"A proper stretch goes from your tail to your tongue!"
upside down Amelia
in bed Amelia
(No, she doesn't sleep in our bed, but every night she curls up with me for a few minutes before lights out. We love it!...Amelia and I do. Not sure how Casey feels about it.)

good girl Amelia.
Not gonna lie. I'm a bit head over heals for this little lady, who is a chihuahua-miniature pincher mix...a "chipin," if you will. Yes, so I used to kinda roll my eyes at people who were so crazy about their dogs and had clothes for them and strollers and took them everywhere. Well, I'm rolling my eyes at my own self lately! I can't help it! Wook at her ears!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New York: Days 3 & 4

Day 3: The day I nearly pushed my family to the breaking point. :\

The Statue of Liberty

Before Casey and I went to bed on day 2, we very wisely bought our Liberty Island tickets online. When we got there, we walked passed hundreds of people to get on the ferry. It was a victorious moment.

Here we are on Liberty Island.

And there she is! Gorgeous!

It was very sunny. I'm not sure if the hubs meant to stick his pinkie out like that, but that's all I can see in this picture.

After we spent a little time with Lady Liberty, we decided to get back on the ferry, pass by Ellis Island and head to lunch, as we were getting quite hungry. Now, while the handy online tickets were brilliant in getting ON Liberty Island they proved to be of no value WHATSOEVER in getting OFF Liberty Island. We waited in line for well over an hour, in the sun, herded in like cattle before boarding the ferry back to Battery Park. It. was. brutal.

A Brooklyn Excursion

Once we were back in Manhattan, we were a little grumpy and a lot hungry. We grabbed a Starbucks (the daily venti black tea) for the train and headed to Brooklyn to try a little restaurant that my dad just raves about, Pete's Downtown.

Well, after about 45 minutes of jumping from one wrong train to the next and a bit of a walk after the right train, we made it to Pete's. Thankfully, I mean really...Thank the Lord! was delicious!

Meatball sliders.

And of course, we had to grab some ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory right on the waterfront with a perfect view of the Brooklyn Bridge. It turned out to be such a lovely excursion. All grumpiness was lost in gluttonous amounts of heavy Italian food and coffee ice cream. Which was good, cause there was still much more on the agenda.

The Empire State Building

By the time we got back into Manhattan, it was early evening and the plan was to go to the Empire State Building. Now, I thought I was being kind of go to the top at night...surely the heavy tourist hours are during the day, right? So we take a nice little walk from our hotel to the Empire State Building, but not without a brief stop into Macy's and H&M. :)
When we get to the ESB there is a CA-RAZY line out the door. Apparently, I'm not as clever as I thought. Casey immediately wants to pull the plug on the ESB. But me, being the Go-Big-or-Go-Home traveller that I am, thought the line was moving pretty fast and surely it wouldn't be that bad. So we get in line. We get inside and I think, "Man, we are gonna be up there in no time! Good thing we didn't abort the mission!" Then we get to the first snake-line room...a giant room with a snake-line from end to end. At this point, I know my family's tired, so I give in and offer to abandon the ESB adventure. But Braelyn wanted to go to the top and and so did I, so we decided we were in it for the long haul. No turning back. Casey was less than enthusiastic.

5 or 6 or 20 HUGE snake-line rooms, 2 hours and 1 unhappy husband later, we made it to the top.

Happy Braelyn. Happy Steph. Casey.
It was awesome to be up there, for sure. But it was nothing like the movies. Even if Debra Kerr had made it to the top of the ESB to meet Cary Grant, she never would have found him in that crazy crowd anyways!
In the end...I'm glad we did it.

All of that was Day 3.
(In case you were wondering about how Braelyn fared through all of that...she was as delightful as ever! I couldn't believe what a trooper she was!)

Day 4:

A much lighter day by far, as was the plan. This day we took leisurely walks around the quainter, less touristy parts of Manhattan.

The West Village

First of all, let me just say, the whole area is so charming. Would love to go back and just spend a few days strolling around the West Village. One little treasure I found here, and one of my favorite spots from the whole trip was Buvette. My oh my! The loveliest little French cafe! (Go to the, my pictures do not begin to show how wonderful this place is!)
(Notice the uh, VBT? Venti Black Tea? How do you think I kept up the energy to be the travel nazi that I was? The VBT!))

Crepes! And, btw...that little water glass is called a buvette.

French baguette with olive oil, fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, arugula! This is the food I love!

The East Village

After a leisurely afternoon in the West Village we took a cab to the East Village to the legendary McSorely's...the oldest pub in NY. It was a pretty great place I have to say, albeit a far leap from Buvette's. It's community seating and things are about as simple as you can get at McSorely's. A 3 item chalkboard menu, a 2 item drink menu and there's no bill...the server just tells you what you owe and you're expected to hand over the money when he gets back. ;) It's full of character, that place!

Visiting My Relations ;)

That evening we took the train to northern Manhattan to see my cousin Mollie and her sweet kiddos, Parker and Lizzie. We saw their gorgeous apartment and enjoyed a delicious picnic dinner looking out over the Hudson River. A perfect way to end the tip. But I didn't take any pictures of that...cause I'm an idiot. :\

So that's our trip.
And I just have to tell you that this trip was a gift to us from my mom and dad, who overwhelm me time and again with their kindness and generosity.
Thank you so much, Mom and Dad! We made wonderful memories here. We will remember our trip as a sweet and precious time.
We love you!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New York: Days 1 & 2

So...We went to New York! About a month ago! CRAZY!

(BTW...I fear that my blog time has gone from scarce to non-existant. But I just can't quit you...! So I'll try to cram some posts in where I can. ;)

Here's The Ceases in New York.
DAY 1:

Breakfast of Champions.

Central Park

Braelyn on the Carousel that she didn't particularly love.
She is also holding my Venti Black Iced Tea. Got one of those babies every single day.
I could not have been the vacation slave-driver that I was without them! Thank you, Starbucks!
Potential Christmas card photo?
Or this one perhaps?
We figured out that if we let Braelyn take pictures we could get her to walk longer without complaining. ;)
Sweet Girl!

The American Museum of Natural Science

To be honest this wasn't our favorite stop. My family was just too worn out to fully appreciate it, I guess. Braelyn's favorite part was the little discovery room for kids.
She's digging for fossils.
Alice's Tea Cup for dinner. One of my favorite eateries!
They gave Braelyn fairy dust and fairy wings when we got there (which there aren't actually any fairies in Alice in Wonderland, but whatever, Braelyn loved it) and we had a proper pot of tea before dinner.

DAY 2:

A lovely, breezy breakfast on the patio at Juniors. But we are right across from our hotel, not in Brooklyn.

30 Rock

Enjoying some chocolates and frozen hot chocolate from Jacque Torres in the 30 Rock underground shopping area. Delish!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of my favorite places by far, but IT IS SO BIG! We were there for several hours and probably saw 30% of the museum. I HAVE to go back!

Got into a bit of trouble for taking this picture. Forgot my flash was on. Oops! (But also worth it!)

Pre-Theater Dinner at The Pig N' Whistle Irish Pub
And walking to the New Amsterdam Theater to see Mary Poppins. In the rain. With our umbrellas. So fitting.
Braelyn LOVED Mary Poppins! She got upset when she realized it was over. But daddy made her feel better with a mini Mary Poppins carpet bag. ;) But I think it's faulty, 'cause my floor lamp DOES NOT fit in there. I've tried so many times!
Anyways, we had such a good time! We're still singing show tunes a month later!

(NYC Days 3 & 4 coming...
Well, who knows when they'll be coming! ;)