Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Facts and Photos : Last Week of School Edition

Last weekend was a fun break from routine.  Jason, Connor, and I had the company of the Jessops (Bo, Carrie-Nell, Leila Grace, and Luke) for the weekend.  Carrie-Nell was celebrating her 30th birthday, and we had a few surprises up our sleeves.

The Jessops drove down on Friday afternoon, and our first stop was at Guthrie's in Somerset for a bday dinner.  Carrie-Nell and I both got different versions of a shrimp dish.  It was delicious!  Jason had the blackberry barbecued chicken, which is also one of my favorites.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the yummy food.  :( 

On the way home, I called Mom and Linds, and they put my surprise plan into action.  They so kindly came to our house, set up the cake and gifts, and were waiting to sing "Happy Birthday" to CN when she walked in.

With some help from Bo, I learned Carrie-Nell's favorite cake, red velvet with cream cheese icing.

We sang, CN opened gifts, and then we dug into the cake.  It was delicious (Just in case you think I'm bragging on my own baking skills, a delicious bakery in town made the cake for me.  It is called Expressions from the Heart, and I would recommend their work to anyone.  The cake was moist, the icing was delicious, and the owner is great to work with.

By the time the bday celebration was over, we were all exhausted, so we headed to bed for another day of fun on Saturday.

Saturday morning I made my version of Lynn's Paradise Cafe's (one of our favorite Louisville restaurants) Bourbon Ball French Toast (minus the bourbon). I blogged about the recipe in this post.

After a relaxing morning at home, Carrie-Nell and I headed out, leaving the two oldest kiddos with Jason and Bo, and taking baby Luke with us.  Our plan was to have pedicures, but they were extremely crowded, so we window-shopped a bit instead.  I ended up with a great dress (for only $14.95) that I plan to wear on our Alaskan cruise this summer for one of the formal nights, but I also think it can be reused for weddings, prom chaperoning, and maybe even a rare fancy date night with Jason.  The cream color probably isn't the most flattering on my skin tone, but I love the subtle pattern and shine, so I bought it anyway.

We were both a little disappointed in not getting pampered, but Carrie-Nell also got a top and a great pair of Lucky jeans for a great price, so it was, all in all, a successful trip.  This just means that the guys owe us a pedicure next time we all get together.  :)

The kids were napping when we returned home, as they had worn themselves out playing outside in the beautiful weather on Saturday.

After a few more hours of just hanging out, Jason and Bo grilled out hamburgers and hot dogs, and Carrie-Nell and I walked to the store next to our house to order some onion rings (They make my favorite!).  We came back, pigged out, and then worked off a few calories by walking up to visit with Mom, Dad, and Linds.

Saturday night was spent giving baths, feeding babies, and attempting to control the lovely chaos that ensues with three children, all on their own schedules.  Somehow, though, it all worked, and I was sad to go to bed Saturday night, knowing that the Jessops would be leaving on Sunday morning.

Jason had to preach in Monticello Sunday, so we were gone seemingly soon after the sun came up, so we weren't even able to say a proper goodbye to our guests.  However, it was one of the most fun weekends in recent memory.  I just wish I had taken more photos of the kids playing together.

Connor was especialy fascinated with Luke.  In fact, he still even asks, "Baby?" randomly throughout the day.  It was sweet to see him being so gentle and affectionate with baby Luke.

I cannot say, though, that Connor was as gentle with Leila.  He is just more rough than her in general, and I always feel terribly when he knocks her over, or throws a toy, or runs his cart into her.  He is usually a sweet boy, but for some reason he just isn't as gentle with children his own age, especially girls.  I hope this doesn't reflect on how he'll act when he's older.

While the weekend was busy and fun, the rest of this week has been just as full.  Here is a run-down:

Monday: Connor and I attemped to attend the Senior Awards at the ANC, but after about 40 min. Connor was done and I had to sneak out.  I tried, but now that is both vocal and mobile, it is SO hard for me to get him to sit still for too long.  That night, I also helped Linds make gooey bottom brownies (recipe coming soon) for her friends while Connor around with Mimi and Pops.  While all of this was happening, Jason was getting the night off to hang out at home and play videogames, a much needed break from a busy end-of-year schedule.

Tuesday: After school, I came home, made beef enchiladas, along with chips, salsa, and queso, and ate quickly.  This was my night to have some girl time with Lindsay and Elizabeth, and we had a fantastic, relaxing, fun time.  Even better, when I got home, Jason had cleaned out and reloaded the dishwasher.  He's the best.

Wednesday: This was our only night home this week as a family.  We made chicken strips, peas, and mashed potatoes (which Connor tried to throw across the room), and spent the evening just hanging out with Connor, mostly playing in the floor.  Because of the danger of impending storms, we slept in the basement, and Connor did NOT sleep well in his Pack N Play this time.  He woke up crying several times (I think he was scared because he didn't know where he was.), and the final time, at about 3 a.m., we took him up to his crib, since the storm threat was over.  He then slept great...until about 6:10.

Thursday: The last day of school for students.  If you are a teacher, this day is dreaded.  It is basically mass chaos.  Finals were over yesterday, so there are no grades left to take, nothing left to do but clean the room, stack desks in the hallway, and then watch the day inch by ever so slowly.  While I enjoyed from great visits from graduating seniors whom I will miss terribly, overall the day was long and painful.  The only upside was that I had the foresight to bring the Wii, so I was at least able to get work done (and play a few games of Just Dance) to make the day bearable.  That afternoon, I had a meeting at LWC, so I, of course, ran by Cafe on the Square to get one of their amazing sugar cookies.  I am slightly obsessed.

The best sugar cookie...EVER.

Friday:  Tody was Records Day for teachers. Once school, I rushed home to get ready for graduation at 7.  I was especially sad to say goodbye to this year's seniors, as they have been overall one of my favorite groups of students to teach. 

Graduation itself was quite touching.  The graduating class of 2011 is one of my favorite, and one of the most motivated and talented groups we have seen.  There were two dynamic personalities who spoke (Ben and Tra), and, surprisingly, I was for the first time in my teaching career, mentioned in the commencement address from one of the senior students.  It was quite touching, and I remembered yet again why I do what I do.  I truly do love, despite all the stress at this time of year, sharing my passion for literature with students, and, hopefully, impacting their lives in some positive manner.

with Ben, one of my most talented students ever

Jason and Kerry

Connor and Mommy at graduation

Jason with Taylor, Kerry, Cody, and Martin

Afterward, I was coerced asked to help work Project Graduation.  I stayed until a little after midnight, and now I am finally home, about to post this entry. 

It has been a long week, as the last week of school inevitably is, but the end is in sight.  After the holiday weekend, I have Tues., Wed., and Thurs. to work at school, and then SUMMER officially begins!  Although the summer will be busy, I am looking especially forward to being home with Connor and Jason, a more relaxed pace, and lots of fun, food, and travel!  I feel so blessed to have my job, and part of that blessing is to have the summer (or at least part of it, after PD days, meetings, etc...) to recoup for next year, something we are about to prep for in our PDs next week.

Other random facts for the week:

- Connor has started calling his "Yo Gabba Gabba" blanket "guppy."  Not sure what it means, but it sounds cute.  :)

- We discovered at Guthrie's that Connor LOVES asparagus.  Who knew?  He also loves zucchini, mushrooms, Japanese food (especially the rice and veggies), and shrimp.

- Connor calls everything sweet "cake," whether or not it is a cake, cupcake, cookie, ice cream, etc...  He definitely has a sweet tooth (like me), so we have to limit his exposure to all of these goodies and make sure he has eaten well before allowing any "treats."

- Today brought an exciting pronunciation development.  Connor has always said "Bada" instead of "Gabba" when he refers to his favorite tv show, "Yo Gabba Gabba."  Just today he started saying, "Gabba."  As excited as I am, I think I might miss his cute little mispronunciation.

Random photos from this week:
sporting one of Daddy's shoes

Handsome 20 month old (as of tomorrow, May 28th)

doing his "Yo Gabba Gabba" funny face

sharing some food with Mommy (the knot on his head is from falling on the pavement at Gran's house this week)
He loves sitting like a big boy on the barstool (with supervision, of course)

hangin' with Muno

early morning yawn

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Favorite Things Thursday Link-Up: Favorite Current TV Show

Today's Favorite Things Thursday Link-Up topic from Miss Melanie is Current TV Show.  If there parameters did not include the show being current, I could easily say that Lost is my favorite show of all time, with Gilmore Girls as a close second.  In fact, the more I think about it, all of my top favorite shows are no longer on the air.

So, if I had to choose a current TV show, it would most likely be Criminal Minds.

Jason and I have a slight obsession with crime shows, so we also watch CSI (New York and Las Vegas), Law and Order: SVU, and real-life crime shows like 48 Hours Mystery.  We really aren't morbid, but these shows just appeal to us the most currently, and I am more likely to watch a show if Jason is on the couch beside me.  :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Giveaway from Miss Melanie

My friend, Melanie, from Miss Melanie, is hosting her first giveaway, in honor of reaching her 50th follower. She is giving away some fantastic Mary Kay eye products.

Head on over and enter the giveaway!

Hope you have a blessed Tuesday!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Favorite Things Thursday Link-Up: Dream Car

I am linking up again this week with Miss Melanie to participate in her Favorite Things Thursday.  I missed the last couple of weeks due to the craziness of preparing for, and then being gone to, New York.

This week she has asked us to share our dream car.  Honestly, the car I drive isn't one of the more important aspects of my life, so my choice is very simple.  If I could have any car, I would just want back the car that was totaled in an accident in November of 2009, the day before Thanksgiving, when Connor was only two months old.  It wasn't that the car was fancy, expensive, or special, but it "fit" me and as stupid as it is, I still miss that car just about every day.

So, if I could have any car at this point in life, I would want back my black Mercury Mountaineer.

I know this brand is being phased out, but out of every car I've driven, it was roomy enough, drove wonderfully, and had all the options I wanted/needed.  I suppose at this point there isn't much chance that I'll have another Mountaineer, but it is still my dream car.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Love New York

Jason and I returned last Saturday morning at nearly 2 a.m. from helping to chaperone the senior trip.  Although I had been to New York five times previously, this time was equally amazing and filled with new experiences.  Adding to the fun were 52 outstanding students, some of my favorite colleagues, and my husband.  It is impossible to recap adequately all of the fun, laughs, and learning we experienced last week, but suffice to say it was a trip I will always treasure.  A big thanks is owed to Candice R., the senior trip organizer, for letting me help chaperone this year.

The only hurdle to overcome, since I love to travel and had no qualms about that, was being away from Connor for five days.  It was the longest time I've spent away from him, and while we stayed busy, I thought of him throughout each day.  I knew he was in good hands with my parents, expecially when he would rather play with a tractor than talk to me on the phone each night.  :)  Not to skip ahead, but I'll never forget the feeling of having him in my arms again after all those days.  There is just nothing like my little Bug. 

Below you will find a quick recap of the trip, along with photos from each day.  I earnestly hope that this is not my last trip to New York City.  I don't think I could ever tire of the Big Apple.

Day One: Monday
We spent Sunday night/Monday morning on the charter bus, making our way to Gettysburg, our first stop along the way to NYC.  Sleeping on the bus was nearly impossible, or maybe it was just the STAYING asleep that was difficult.  I try not to complain, but it was seriously uncomfortable for the first leg of the trip.  Finally, at about 3 a.m., I caved and took some Tylenol P.M., and then I was able to rest for a few hours, despite being groggy for half the day after that.  Next time I'll remember to take the Tylenol earlier in the night.

Once we arrived in Gettysburg, we went straight to the museum and then to tour the battlefield.  It was a gorgeous day, and Jason was, of course, enthralled with all of the history our tour guide provided.  For those who don't know, Jason and I spent part of our honeymoon in Gettysburg (so romantic, I know), so it was a nice reminder of our time there nearly eight years ago.

After a full day in Gettysburg, we headed to New Jersey, to our hotel accommodations for the remainder of the week.  Sleeping in a soft, comfy bed after nearly 24 straight hours on a bus was heavenly.

Day Two: Tuesday
Tuesday was our first trek into the city.  We immediately picked up our tour guide (who was with us each day in NYC), Jeff, and I knew right away that he looked very familiar.  Throughout the course of the day we uncovered that Jeff had been the tour guide for my first every trip to NYC, way back in 2000, a trip I took with Aunt Mary Beth and Gran.  I was pleasantly surprised at the irony of seeing Jeff after 11 years, and I have to say that he is one of the reasons our trip was so fantastic.  His knowledge and passion for the city were evident, and he constantly threw in historical, architectural, literary, and etymological references throughout each day.  Jason and I were both impressed.

The major highlights of Tuesday were the Empire State Building (Jason's first time seeing the city from above.), followed by some shopping (I love H&M!).  Jason and I (and Scottie and Kim) walked to a tiny pizza shop for lunch, and enjoyed a few minutes of people watching while Jason had some NY thin pizza (I do love NYC, but Chicago's deep dish is my fav, by far.) and I had a yummy, cheesy calzone.

After lunch, we headed to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was breathtaking.  I know that the "church" is technically the believer and not the building, but it's difficult not to feel close to God in such a sacred, beautiful place.

Once we finished at St. Patrick's, we had another hour or so of shopping, this time on 5th Avenue.  Jason and I mainly window-shopped, seeing as most of the stores (Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., etc...) were out of our price range; however, we did venture to F.A.O. Schwarz.  Jason and I were both determined to find Connor a special toy to bring home, and we found the perfect stuffed "roggy" (frog).

The real highlight of F.A.O. Schwarz for me, though, was getting to play on the piano from "Big."  I have no clue why that was such a moment of excitment for me, but I loved every second of it.  :)  I attempted to play "Heart and Soul," and was fairly successful until a small child got in my way.  :)

After shopping, we headed to Times Square, had dinner at Planet Hollywood, and ended the night on a high note, by seeing "Wicked."  Jason and I had seen the play four years earlier, and it was just as good as the first time.  I have loved every muscial I've ever seen on Broadway (and off-Broadway), but "Wicked" and "Chicago" are a close first and second in my book.  I loved especially seeing the reactions of all of the students, as for most it was their first Broadway experience.

Exhausted but exhilerated, we headed back to New Jersey to rest up for another full day in the city.

Day Three: Wednesday
Once we drove into the city, the bulk of the morning was spent in Central Park, which was a welcome change from all the concrete.  The park was gorgeous, the weather was beautiful, the students group-danced along with a street performer, and Jason had his first NYC hot dog from a street vendor, so all in all it was a successful morning.  I was most amazed that once we stepped into the park, we could no longer see skyscrapers or hear traffic; it seemed secluded and nestled away, right in the middle of such a huge city.  I only wish we would have had more time to spend there.

While the beauty of Central Park was breathtaking, the most awe-inspiring building we saw by far was the place we next visited, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  The photos, with my less-than-professional camera, certainly do not do justice to this architectural masterpiece, which isn't even yet completed after over 100 years of work, and won't be fully completed until 2100.  On the way there, Jeff told us that the church was so tall that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside.  That was hard to fathom, until we were inside, and I felt miniscule.  My personal favorite part of the church was one of the alcoves, which was labeled as "The Poets' Corner." 

Lunch was spent in Grand Central Terminal.  Jason and I enjoyed a delicious lunch from The Oyster Bar in Grand Central, dessert from Magnolia Bakery, and then strolled around the station to check out the shops.

The evening was spent with more time in Times Square and dinner at Dallas BBQ.  Once I got back to the hotel and checked my pedometer, it registered that we had taken over 18,000 steps that day...I slept well.

Day Four: Thursday
Jason and I were both a little sad to spend our last day in the city before heading home early on Friday morning.  Our first stop for the day was Ground Zero, and I was amazed by the progress.  The first time I visited NYC was in 2000, and we actually visited the Twin Towers.  The second time I visited was in college, in 2002, and the site was still filled with emotion.  This time, however, was quite different.  Instead of sadness, there was a sense of hope, progress, and yet remembrance.

After lunch, the group took a boat tour on the East River, where we saw the Brooklyn Bridge, various parts of the NYC skyline, and the Statue of Liberty.  It was sunny and 73, and we all enjoyed soaking in the sun and the sights.

The remainder of the afternoon hours were spent at Chelsea Market (great handmade baskets, delicious bakeries, and an Anthropologie store), short stops in SoHo and Greenwich Village (Side note: NEVER attempt to use the restrooms in Columbus Park...ask Candice or myself.  It was horrifying.  I hurried out gagging, and was laughed at by a man on a bench.  Not my finest moment.). 

I loved being able to experience each of these subsections of the city, seeing what made each unique.  We also spent a couple of hours in Chinatown, which was honestly too much for me.  I had been before, and since I wasn't interested in buying any fake purses, it wasn't too appealing.  Jason, Candice, Abby, Brooklyn, and I did walk to Little Italy during that time, where we bought the most delicious mini chocolate cannolis...Jason ate it before I could snap a picture, though.

The best meal of the entire trip was had that night, right off Times Square, at an Italian, family-style restaurant called Carmine's.  I already did an entire post about the food in New York, so if you'd like to see all the mouth-watering photos of the fried calamari, penne alla vodka, shrimp scampi, and chicken parmigiana we scarfed, see here.

Back at the hotel, Jason and I lounged by the pool, while the students enjoyed our last night before heading home. 

Day Five: Friday
The trip home was fairly uneventful.  We left around 8:30 a.m., stopped only for two fast food meals and restroom breaks, and made it home by 1:30 a.m.  There were lots of laughs as we recapped our most memorable moments, and as glad as I was to get home, I was also already missing the city and all the fun we had. 

Jason and I crashed as soon as we got home, and I managed to sleep until 8 before my excitement to see Connor outweighed how tired I was.  This was the beautiful site that awaited me at Mimi and Pops' house:

New York City was an unbelievable experience, and I am anxious to visit again soon, but there is no place like home (with Connor)!