Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oh Dear Sweet Holy Hannah

There seriously can NOT be this profound of a level of stupidity in the human gene pool. Oh, this is so so so depressing. I could cry. (And not because it's anti-Obama. It could be anti-kittens and I'd be as disgusted). This kind of Islamophobic ignorance, utter stupidity, hatred, racism, and attrocious spelling is completely unacceptable and makes me sick to my stomach.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2008/09/30/pallone.obama.sign.cf13


The economy scares you? Palin scares you? Ladies and Gentlemen, these are our fellow voters.

Blogher Ads

Yay! I'm so excited!! Due to content and readership, we've been approved and selected to host Blogher Ads! That's the new addition to the right. The ads are actually pretty cool and many of them (and the articles below the ads) intrigue me.

I've seen Blogher Ads on other blogs but they weren't accepting new blogs for a while. Well, they've since accepted Sushi and Pizza! Hurrah! I feel so special.

And a special thanks to doctormark for getting the ball rolling on that. I'm so married to Superman (ahem, Batman). Enjoy! :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Truly Newsworthy

This is such a great post, I can't help but share it. Gustav's entire blog is a gift to read, but this post in particular, along with the comments, is a veritable ray of light and sincerity that I can't help but share. I hope you, too, are edified by it, especially in light of how dreary and gloomy things certainly seem to be when you read the news these days. (Thanks to HWHL for linking to it as well).

Courtesy of Gustav from 9Worlds . . . . . . . . .

http://9worlds.blogspot.com/2008/09/what-is-news-to-you.html

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I hate shopping

I hate shopping.

I have two sisters-in-law, Emily and Jessica, who LOVE to shop. (I'm not sure if Jenny and Lindsay are big into shopping or not--you guys feel free to fill me in).

When we go shopping it's out of necessity (read: Kids saying, "Mommy, look at my feet. Are those red spots blisters from my shoes being too small?"). We're not negligent parents. We're really pretty good parents. But, I don't like shopping.

And I'm so not a fashion plate (I'm pretty much a jeans, T-shirt, and cardigan kind of girl) and I don't pay much attention to that stuff. When we actually HAVE to go shopping (to get the kids new shoes that fit), I see things and think, "Oh! So is this what kids are wearing these days?" and then I hold them up to myself and think, "Yeah, I can't pull this off." My husband's look confirms it. I think I'm getting old.

We went shopping yesterday and it was long and tedious and none of us enjoyed it. Thing 2 enjoys it most because he's an advertiser's dream--he totally buys into marketing ploys and loves anything with a character on it. And if it "glows up" or has a button that plays a song? Well, that's even better! Me? I'd rather be home. Eating. Or reading. Or blogging.

And trying on clothes? YUCK! Emily likes it so much that she actually took her camera into her dressing room and blogged about it! Every moment I spend in a dressing room feels like it's sapping my will to breathe. Maybe it's because very little fits me--it's either too long or way too long. Maybe it's because I really can't pull off some of these looks today. Maybe it's because, wait, what was that again? Oh yeah, I hate shopping.

I try to understand what's fun about it, I really do. In fact, at one point yesterday, I said, "Emily and Jessica like this. What is wrong with me?" I wonder if I'd like it more if they came and took me shopping and showed me how fun it can be. Would that help, girls?

I don't like spending money either, so I guess that's a problem. It stresses me out. Saving money is euphoric to me, but spending is anathema to me. I like when I get a good deal but only if it's something I need in the first place. I still own shoes that I wore in high school. And I still wear them from time to time, yes. I even fit in clothes from high school seeing as I've not grown much since about 4th grade or so. Maybe that's an exaggeration. It might be 5th grade.

So, help! Someone please explain to me how it can be fun. I'd like to know. Maybe I haven't ever learned properly? I tend to put it off and put if off and when we go, it's a "let's get it over with" kind of affair. And seriously, clothes shopping is the worst. This is why my awesome husband shops for me and orders from catalogs and things like that now and then. Every so often, he buys me clothes when my old ones wear thin and he full well knows I'll likely wear them, holes and all, before I go to a store and, BLECH, enter a dressing room. Plus, he has better taste than I do and does a better job shopping for me than I do.

Anyway, really, I hate shopping. Please help me. Go ahead. Give me tips.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mark's 34 Birthday

When we celebrate birthdays around here, we go all out and enjoy the entire day. Mark's 34th birthday is no exception. Amid the phone calls and cards and well wishes, here's a summary of our day:

What's better than owning your own business (so you can choose to not schedule patients first thing on your birthday) and sleeping in?
Being greeted by a paper man craft wishing you a Happy Birthday!


And who can argue with breakfast in bed!


Following breakfast, we had a leisurely morning. Mark scheduled a few patients during the day--late morning and early afternoon. Then we went out for a late lunch at our favorite new restaurant in town. You know it's bad when you feel like you're part of the family when you eat there (they love us) and they make comments like,
"Ah, so nice to see you again! We should get you special VIP card!"

They sang "Happy Birthday" to Mark and brought us dessert to share and they played "Happy Birthday" in English and Japanese over the loud speakers. We're also on the picture hall of fame, too. We love that place.

In the slideshow below, guess at what point we said, "Okay, one crazy face picture and then a nice one."





After lunch, we came home and enjoyed kicking back and snuggling on the couch watching TiVoed Olympics--great fun! Then, we opened presents--a DVD to complete our Star Wars collection (Thing 2 is SO thoughtful) and a Yoga Mat, exercise clothes, and 8 weeks of Yoga lessons together! Fun! Here are a few pictures from the present opening extravaganza!





We were still pretty full from lunch so we decided to have cake. For birthdays, we do whatever "cake" the birthday person wants--donuts, pie, whatever. We typically have donuts.



And to add to the fun of the day, how about some half-price Lazer Tag Fun?! Okay!
Thanks for the monetary gifts, parents and in-laws, so we could enjoy
a day of fun with very little financial guilt! :P Plus, the kids cashed in their tickets for a
Whoopie Cushion and a Chinese Jump Rope. Yay for us!





My favorite pictures from Lazer Tag--love the facial expressions
(OMIGOSH-- SO. MUCH. FUN.):




Happy Birthday, Sweetie!
I love you!

Some Announcements

First, a public service announcement:

With the election quickly approaching, you only have a couple weeks to register to vote if you haven't already. And if you're voting absentee, now's the time to get on it.

A couple more important announcements:

The Office starts this week!




Amazing Race starts on Sunday!

Those are about the only 2 TV shows we watch (oh yeah and Idol in January) and we are VERY excited about them both! We've recently rewatched The Office Season Finale from this past season--fabulous! And The Amazing Race is just the best ever reality show. EVER. Yes,
I even like it better than American Idol. Yes, I do.
Shocking to some of you, I know. But it's very true.
We LOVE The Amazing Race!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More from my Mom's Visit

So, both sides of the family overlapped for a day--we enjoyed K's baptism, a nice evening, church in the morning, an "art gallery" show (inspired by the children's art show we saw at the U.N.) in our schoolroom, and a delicious Japanese dinner out.


Always inspired by the Hibachi chefs, our own little Hibachi chef puts on his own dinner show

Feeling pretty sad about Grandma leaving, K enjoys some quiet time outside with reading, writing, and her stuffed cat Menedy

Gary and Vivian left. Jim left. It felt weird after they left and we all felt a bit bummed. It was fun to have my mom here, though. And we enjoyed ourselves with her for the next week.

On Monday, we still had A LOT of food leftover from the afternoon get together after Thing 1's baptism, so we decided mid-morning to call several families in our homeschool group (5, to be exact) to come help us eat our food. They were all available (benefit #93 to homeschooling--you have an instant party any time of day since we all enjoy such flexibility) and came over and we enjoyed a big, delicious lunch outside, lots of fun talking and playing, and a big water fight! Seriously, 23 of us enjoyed ourselves that afternoon. Have I mentioned that we love our homeschool group? We love our homeschool group.

Water fight

This picture doesn't do the crowd justice since I didn't take it when everyone was there (duh). We seriously had 23 of us eating and having fun. Whoever thinks homeschooling isolates you is dreaming--we're constantly involved in all kinds of things with all kinds of neat people.

Thing 2 likes to grab his bedspread and pretend he's different people/superheroes/creatures. This time, he was THE BLOB!



Inspired by the Olympics . . . HURDLES! With light sabers, of course.



video

Here are more pictures from my Mom's visit (again, hover and click through using the buttons that appear at your own speed):



We had fun at an Adventure Sports place riding water bumper rides and go-carts and playing on a playset. And we enjoyed a fun homeschool get together at the park with about 60 people that day. SO. MUCH. FUN. My Mom has a lot of friends in Pennsylvania.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thing 1's Baptism

We really had a beautiful program for K's baptism and enjoyed having so many family and friends with us. Kate waited for our building to be completed (it was being added on to) so that so many of her homeschool friends could attend without having to travel too far. She's such a thoughtful and sweet little girl. I'd say we had about half and half -- friends from church and friends from our homeschool group. We're so grateful to everyone who came and even those would couldn't for their loving support and kindness.

Here are some pictures from that day--we had beautiful weather, too:

Shavon, Kate, Shannel
(These 3 are GOOD friends and we have a lot of cute pictures of the 3 of them. I'm so glad for these friendships)



With Grandma and Papa

With Vavo
(It seems so odd/wrong/out of place that my Dad's not there)

With Jim





The program was great. M (Thing 2) read a poem about loving his big sister and he looked at her adoringly through the whole reading. SO sweet. Mark and I gave talks. It was emotional. The baptism went well and she looked so cute in the dress that her great aunt (Tita Artemisia) made for her. The confirmation was also nice. When those she had asked got in the circle (Mark, Papa, Jim, Brother Mecham, and Brother Willoughby), Jim left a space to symbolize my Dad being there. Kate also played her violin--she played the piece she played at my Dad's funeral after expressing her feelings for her Vavo. She got choked up and so did everyone else. The whole thing was very, very nice. We've had a lot of good talks about it--"Know yourself, know your relationship with God, and follow your heart." You can't go wrong with that.

While she changed, we showed this video--it's gorgeous. I highly recommend viewing it. Mark and I cried watching it when we found it. Mark did a great job transferring it to DVD. It's called What Heaven Sees in You/Three White Dresses.




Afterward, we had a REALLY nice all-afternoon get together with our friends out in our backyard--it was so fun and so enjoyable for all. The food was delicious and the company even better--we can't say enough how grateful we are for good friends and family. Thanks, all.

If you hover over the slide show, little buttons will appear in the lower right hand corner and you can scroll through the pictures at your own speed. Darn it, it cuts out a bit of the right side of the pictures--we can adjust that in a bit . . .


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New York City with the In-Laws

The City



The Tourists


The Plan

1. Leave at 8am. Drive in and Park.
2. Get All Day Metro Tickets
3. Bus to Central Park (Strawberry Fields and Carousel)
4. Bus on Broadway to 42nd Street (Times Square) through Theater District
5. Bus or walk to Empire State Building and, depending on time, go up
6. Bus to Greenwich Village and eat the best cupcakes in the world, then walk to John's Pizza for lunch, and visit various other cool things in the village.
7. Bus to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street
8. Bus to Battery Park/Statue of Liberty
9. Bus to the United Nations
10. If there's time, visit Seinfeld Cafe and "You've Got Mail" Cafe on Upper West Side
11. Leave NYC by 6pm



After much research and printing of maps and prior experience in NYC and with the help of the beautiful D'Arcy and her handy guide to NYC, we were SET to enjoy the wonders of the city and enjoy some new and tasty gems, again thanks to D'Arcy. She told us of Magnolia's Bakery, home to the best cupcakes in the world and John's Pizza, home to the best pizza in New York and a favorite dining spot of Johnny Depp and Woody Allen. Huzzah! I love stuff like that!

What Really Happened

1. Drive in and Park Take Ferry from New Jersey.

After a lovely drive around Jersey, looking for the ferry terminal, and after talking to a very nice Ukrainian man whose directions didn't quite work for us, Vivian, Mark, Stacy, Thing 1, and Thing 2 are packed and ready, having prepared the night before, and therefore begin walking to the ferry. Gary returns to car 4 times to get stuff. (He loves me--I can write this stuff).

On the ferry--notice Gary still getting his stuff together as Vivian patiently looks on (she packed the night before, remember?)

2. Get All Day Metro Tickets Get those later.
3. Bus to Central Park Do that later.
4. Bus on Broadway to 42nd Street (Times Square) through Theater District No need. Get off the ferry and be bussed to Times Square by the ferry company. And it's lunch time, so maybe go to Greenwich Village first to eat at John's Pizza. Wait, never mind. Lady on bus says there's one closer, so eat there. And because we took the wrong subway (but we did get those All Day Metro tickets!), bag the original plans and walk to the U.N. first instead of ninth on the list (why did we make a list again?) and take part in skip the tour. Who cares--flexibility and impulsivity is much more fun.

Times Square -- we heard at least 12 languages as we walked around. We mentioned how it's too bad we'd miss it at night since it's really spectacular to see how bright it is when the sun goes down. Oh well. Gary thought it would be cute to take a picture with some NYC cops. They didn't think it was so cute. Welcome to New York.

Times Square -- thanks to the tourists from Kansas that I met on the very hot bus from the ferry, we discovered that there was a John's Pizza in Times Square/Theater District, so there'd be no need to hurry to Greenwich Village. Good, because it was already, amazingly, lunch time and we were hungry!

The boys at John's Pizzeria -- all the wait staff had T-shirts that said, "No Slices" and we're still not sure what that means. We were too hungry to think to ask. It really WAS good pizza! No exact measurements of anything, according to the menu. And it was baked in an old-fashioned wood stove with no set temperature. Delicious!

The girls at John's Pizzeria

Seriously good pizza, Thing 2's favorite!

Resisting urge to caption picture and state the obvious

Walk out of John's and you're in the Theater District and there are LOADS of cool shows playing. Gary and Vivian went from a bit apprehensive about visiting NYC to really enjoying it and wanting to return and see a show! Despite the fact that I looked for a LONG time online to find us decent tickets, I couldn't find any. Turns out Wednesdays are matinee days. Who knew? (Gary knew).

On our walk to the U.N., we passed (surprise to us, too) Grand Central Station, so we stopped in, because why not?

We gave money to the street performer, a violin player!

Check us out! We're in Grand Central Station! And it wasn't even on the list!





I liked Visiting the United Nations -- we walked along U.N. Way and saw cool flags (Portugal, Cabo Verde, Japan, etc.) and we took some cool neighborhood pictures (I love pockets of New York like that). We took some pictures in front of the U.N. and on the grounds. They had the friendliest security (so unlike the scary D.C. security people). They had cool sculptures on the property.

It's so cool to visit the U.N. because you're considered on international soil! So neat! They had a children's international art show about how children view the world and also how they represent their country and of the Olympics. Some of the pictures were so difficult to view--some children in the world have seen very scary, awful things. The kids got to sign the guest book and share their thoughts on it.

A lot of South Korean tourists enjoyed taking their picture with the picture of the current Secretary General. I liked Kofi Annan when he was on Sesame Street. They were hoisting some equestrian statue outside so I took a picture so we can show we saw it being erected in case it's really famous some day. And we took pictures of more flags.

Neat place. We decided to skip the tour so we could get to the other stuff (now badly out of order on our list).


5. Bus or walk Taxi to Empire State Building and, depending on time, go up Don't go up. It's a 2-hour wait, so let's keep seeing the city.

Us, seeing the Empire State Building

Done with that. Moving on.

I have no pictures of what happened next. I'm fairly certain that my father-in-law purchased stolen goods. I don't know details but he went in to a questionable tourist shop
to buy a memory card and walked out with a memory card, rechargeable batteries, and a charger. And a big smile on his face. And a spring in his step. It was the biggest highlight of NYC for him so far.



6. Bus to Greenwich Village and eat the best cupcakes in the world, Do that later then walk to John's Pizza for lunch, did that first instead and visit various other cool things in the village Later. Instead, walk to Penn Station and see Madison Square Garden (surprise again!) and get some water and a snack from some hot dog vendor at some hot dog place.
7. Bus to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street Do that after the Statue of Liberty
8. Bus Subway and then walk to Battery Park/Ferry Miss Ferry to Statue of Liberty

Basically, we were noticing how the day was already flying and we had about 8 more things we wanted to get to and Thing 2 especially wanted to see Lady Liberty, so we cruised on down.

In the subway station, while Gary eavesdropped on a conversation with more NYC cops (I'm not sure if he was really that fascinated with the officers or if he was trying to get arrested--he does this thing sometimes where he thinks he's George Costanza, so anything is possible). None of us knew where we were, so I asked the cops. Gary was impressed. I was sick of trying to figure out maps and getting bad information and taking wrong subways and standing around looking like clueless tourists, so I asked. He calls it "Stacy having a thing for men in uniform." I call it "proactive." Idyllic. Green. Tomato. Tomata.


Papa on the subway with Thing 1 and Thing 2. Check out the graffiti behind them!

So, in keeping with our day . . . you know, not following our list, not doing the tour at the U.N., not going up the Empire State Building . . . we missed the day's last ferry to the Statue of Liberty. ARGH. This was quickly becoming the "Poor Man's Tour of NYC" -- Hey kids, that's the U.N.! No tour though. Hey kids, see that tall building? It's SO neat to go to the top on the super fast elevator and see the city from the top, but not today!! See that statue out there? Well, enjoy the view from Battery Park because we missed the ferry!

I figured we'd go to the cupcake place next and look in the window while drooling over the world's best cupcakes and say, "Don't those look YUMMY? Well, too bad! We're not getting any!"




So, what do you do when you're disappointed about missing the ferry to Lady Liberty? Pout, whine, and cry? Throw a tantrum? Nope, not our kids (thank God!). Chase pigeons! The backdrop for pigeon chasing is Brooklyn, for those interested. :)






7. Bus Walk to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street
8. Bus to Battery Park/Take Ferry to Statue of Liberty Miss Ferry and wave at statue from Battery Park (after talking to men in uniform again)
9. Bus to the United Nations We already did that. Try to keep up.

The bull on Wall Street -- a popular place to take pictures

Wall Street and Broadway--New York is just so cool!!

Trinity Church
Statue of George Washington . . .

. . . on the spot where he became president.

New York Stock Exchange

View of Trinity Church from Wall Street/NYSE



We visited Ground Zero. They are building new buildings and there is no memorial at Ground Zero itself beyond the ones for the firefighters near the fire station that is right next to Ground Zero. It felt somber to visit there. It felt strange that there is no memorial, no wreath of flowers, nothing. It was a HUGE open space where there used to be 2 enormous buildings--buildings Mark and I have seen as newlyweds, buildings we can see on old Friends Episodes (always so surreal to see them), buildings I've entered as a child. What was most poignant/difficult to think about, as we walked around the entire area (it was huge) was how people ran through those streets, running from smoke and dust as fast as they could. How horrible. How scary. And telling your kids about it is awful. We've told Thing 1 the full story. We haven't given quite as many details to Thing 2 yet.

Okay, so moving on . . .

6, 7, 8. 9, 10, 11 on our list became more like 9, 8, 7, 6, don't do 10, moving 3 to 9.5 didn't work, and 11? Yeah right.

6. Bus (Subway) to Greenwich Village and eat the best cupcakes in the world at Magnolia's Bakery, then walk to John's Pizza for lunch (start thinking about dinner), and visit various other cool things in the village sit down with pain and exhasution in every part of our legs and bag the rest of the itinerary.

Okay, so I love Greenwich Village. I love the bohemian feel of it, I love the brownstones, I love the small town feel right in the middle of the city, I love the trees and the parks, I love the brick walkways and black iron gates, I love the little shops, I love the rooftop terrace gardens, I LOVE it! This was, as far as I can remember anyway, my first time to the village. We had spent much of the day in the "big city" parts of New York and I kept thinking, "How could D'Arcy stand this? How could she live like this for college?" And then we got to Greenwich Village. And I understood. And then I wondered how in the world she's not living in NYC anymore! How is she living in Utah instead of this magical place? D'Arcy, it's FABULOUS! I love it--thank you for introducing me to it!!

In the village


quaint city neighborhoods


This one if for D'Arcy--it's me in front of Magnolia's Bakery (under construction apparently)!



You have to see these cupcakes to believe them--they're AMAZING! I don't even like frosting that much and their frosting was OMIGOSH so so so delectable. And the cupckes were dense and fluffy at the same time. I don't know how to describe it. Rich and filling yet not heavy. And oh so delicious. I don't even love cake that much and I can see why people rave about them. It's worth a jaunt to the village just to try them. Plus it's apparently so "Sex and the City" to walk around Greenwich Village (I think they must've filmed part of an episode there or something--it said something on a picture on the wall in there). Simply charming. The bakery is teeming with people and the bakers are busily baking as the cupcakes (a limit of a dozen per person, the sign teases) fly off the shelves. You can box them or grab a plate and put one on. Choose your cupcake and walk across the street to eat in the darling little city park. Yum! I got a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Thing 1 got a pink frosted one with rainbow sprinkles at the suggestion of a little girl at the bakery. So cute. Thing 2 got chocolate--see picture. I don't remember what we all got, but we all liked them!


Oh are you noticing that it's getting dark? Yeah, us, too.

Yum!

All sugared up!

Isn't this a cute park?!

So where were we? Ah yes.

10. If there's time, visit Seinfeld Cafe and "You've Got Mail" Cafe on Upper West Side
11. Leave NYC by 6pm
Bus from Greenwich Village back to Times Square and find a place for dinner since it's now 9pm.

On the bus--one of many times throughout the day where we enjoyed the people of New York. You feel like everyone's friend there. It's a marvelous place. Gary enjoyed a lively political discussion with a woman on this bus. And we learned a little bit about the cost of living in the city (high). One of my favorite parts of visiting New York is enjoying the people of the city. You can't help but like them.

So, as a reminder:

7. Bus to Ground Zero and see Trinity Church and Wall Street
8. Bus to Battery Park/Statue of Liberty
9. Bus to the United Nations
Did all this earlier and out of order. Bus back to Times Square.
10. If there's time, visit Seinfeld Cafe and "You've Got Mail" Cafe on Upper West Side No Soup For You! We can do that next time.
11. Leave NYC by 6pm (Insert hysterical laughter here) Hope we don't miss the last ferry and pray we get out of the city by 11pm or so.


Well, remember what I said earlier in this post?
We mentioned how it's too bad we'd miss it at night since it's really spectacular to see how bright it is when the sun goes down. Oh well.
Well, never mind! Since it was well past 9pm, we DID get to see how spectacular Times Square is at night! NYC is truly "the city that never sleeps" -- it's amazing! There is ALWAYS something going on. There were a million places open, the whole area is so lit up that it's just NOT dark, and people are bustling everywhere!






We decided on The Hard Rock Cafe--one of Thing 2's very favorite parts of the trip. BOY was it loud in there! The 70s and 80s music and videos was great (weird to the kids, nostalgic to me---ah MTV. Remember when MTV started and people thought it was so evil?). We enjoyed some good food (we were all hungry!) and more of the nightlife of NYC. It was VERY, very fun.



Cool Beatles Memorabilia



So, we ate and then caught our bus to our ferry, leaving NYC after 11, getting to Jersey (the ferry ride is like 8 minutes long, if that), finding our car, and driving back to PA and getting home and right to bed somewhere around 2AM. What a day!!

On the Ferry from NY to NJ




From NJ to PA




Moral of the day: We are nothing, if not flexible and fun! :)

It was a great day--thank you so much to Gary and Vivian for being both willing and fun about it all. They told us they enjoyed it even more than they thought they would and would enjoy going back someday again, so that's good.



Notes for next time: Start with the Statue of Liberty. Do Central Park and Seinfeld and Friends. And maybe don't bother making too specific of a plan. :)