Impromptu Photo Shoot

Merry Christmas! PopPop came through for a visit today and as I was sorting these photos, I thought I'd go ahead and blog a few since it's been quite a long time since a post. We stole Justin from work for a few minutes and ran downtown for a few shots. Baby brother is 26 weeks today.

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Happy Halloween

I needed a smile after my last post, so here's a little Halloween fun with our two cute monarch butterflies.

Here is the whole small group crew decked out in costume. What a funny and full couch. Twelve children, ages five and under. And we even trick-or-treated around the block.
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Sweet Maggie

Justin and I got Maggie when she was about six months old. We had been married about a year and a half. A coworker of his spread the word at work that she needed to find a new home for the dog she adopted, in part because one of her recent antics involved climbing on top of the kitchen counter and eating a homemade cake. We should have known.

We bargained with our apartment owner to let us keep her, since to our surprise she was already over the pet weight limit. She agreed. Although she was pretty much a fool from the start, she really loved us. And then came to love our children. And lick them. A lot.

We noticed about four weeks ago that she was getting finicky about eating. We changed her food, it improved a little, and then got worse again. Just about a week ago I noticed she was panting more, and seemed to be losing weight more quickly. On Monday an x-ray showed she had a huge mass all around her stomach, even pushing up on her lungs. Yesterday she could hardly even walk. I am thankful that it happened fast instead of being slow and drawn out, but we are so sad to see her go. Justin took her to the vet yesterday afternoon, or as the girls know, "Maggie got really sick and died."

Above are a few pictures I snapped with my phone in the last few days as we were squeezing in some last love on her. The far right is where Grayson drew her, "with a golden crown, a golden necklace, special pink leg bands, special rainbow shoes over her claws, and a special rainbow coat." She must have felt like black was a little too plain.

The pictures below are of Maggie in her glory days...when we first got her at our old apartment, licking a smoothie cup (that and yogurt or ice cream cups were her favorites), and being at the lake, one of her very favorite places. Even if she did jump into the water on top of any other dog there out of sheer excitement.

As Justin said on Instagram, we all loved that "smelly, barking, fool of a dog".

We miss you already, sweet Maggie.
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Grayson's 5th Birthday Party

First of all, I can't believe the girl is five. I think it will hit more when she goes to kindergarten next year, but I still felt like this was a big one.

Second of all, I would like to thank Pinterest, and all you people who pin, for basically all of these party ideas. I'm just not really sure what we did before that site. It was not this easy to plan a party, I know that much.

The birthday banner I made however many years ago continues to be one of my best sewing projects e.ver. We have used it in many rooms and a few different houses but I think it was made for this back fence.

Party theme: colors
Party food: rainbow cupcakes (also took those to preschool to celebrate with her class), rainbow cake (my favorite cake I've made so far--I was so surprised it really turned out that bright after baking!), cheese balls, rainbow goldfish, rainbow veggie platter with hummus, rainbow fruit kabobs.

Party fun: tatoo station, face painting, pinata (a way bigger hit than I anticipated with the 2-8 year old crowd), play set fun, and the photo booth (I had seen so many versions of these on Pinterest that we had to give it a whirl. Justin says it will now be an annual birthday party tradition so we can see everyone year to year).

Party friends and family: I l.o.v.e this shot. Again, another Pinterest idea that I wasn't exactly sure how it would turn out. We wrote on the invite to wear your favorite colors and then lined up in order of the rainbow. I love it when ideas actually work!

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NYC Day 3

We woke up early again, groaning from how sore we were from all the walking (guess we are getting old?!), checked out of the hotel (picture below from our 11th floor hotel room), and hit the streets again. I knew going into the trip that I wanted to see the garment/fashion district, so I did a little research on the best fabric stores. It was amazing and Justin won husband of the year for fabric and ribbon shopping with me.

Below are some photos, mainly from two stores. We went in a few others but these two were my top favorites. There are literally fabric shops all over the place, but some felt like the fabric bolts were going to fall over onto us as we walked the barely-there isles. Or they smelled like moth balls. Ewe. But these two pictured below were amazing. Their stock was unbelievable.

Below are two of my favorite photographs. Funny enough these were both photos of only one small section in each store. Fashion and interior designers were shopping since it was a Monday, so I tried my best to look like I knew what I was doing as I discreetly snapped photos on my iPhone. I am sure I looked like a total tourist as I stared googly-eyed over the choices.

Below is the stash I ended up purchasing to take home for various projects. A few of those were from Purl Soho on day two.

We grabbed sushi for lunch in the garment district and then walked down to 34th street to take a peek at Macy's. They were under some construction apparently so it was a bit walled-off inside for my taste. I had also spent all of my energy shopping for fabric so clothes shopping was not too appealing at this point. I had the same feelings when we peeked in the H&M. We did stop by an Old Navy flagship store across the street and I bought some inexpensive, fun jewelry there, especially since Old Navy's at home don't have jewelry sections. 

We took the subway back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, then took a (crazy) cab ride back to Laguardia. I posted this shot below to Instagram of the clouds on the flight back home. They were beautiful.

So, all in all, we had such a fun trip. It was fun to get away just the two of us for a good chunk of time (thanks again ShuShu for watching the girls!), and it was fun to experience the city. We were also thankful to fly home to green grass, lots of trees, a few less people around, and two sweet girls running at us squealing in the airport.
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NYC Day 2

Sunday morning we woke up early and started exploring. We, in classic tourist fashion, took a cab instead of the subway down to the World Trade Center Memorial. We walked around the site (surreal to see in person), then walked to Battery Park and viewed the Statue of Liberty. We also walked through Trinity Church and some of the finanical district. We took a cab back to the theater district, where we waited in line for rush tickets for the show Once (didn't get tix) and did the lottery for Wicked (didn't get chosen: this was actually our second time at this lottery...I forgot that we tried it for the Saturday evening show too but didn't get chosen. We were thankful we got to see Newsies!) The cab ride in hindsight ended up being a semi-good thing because the drove us down the westside and up the east side, so we got to see some sights from afar that way like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.

So now with an open afternoon, we decided to learn the subway system (really easy after all, you just either go downtown or uptown basically) and we headed down to Soho. I almost fell apart from the heat and hunger before we made it to a little cafe and had a yummy salad and sandwich lunch with those two fancy French desserts pictured below. Our main reason for going to Soho was to visit the Purl Soho shop, a fabric and yarn shop that I knew of from following their blog. Complete eye candy in this store. And funny enough, their fabric in embroidery hoop display was an image that I have seen all over Pinterest and never knew it was on display in their store.

It's interesting how the different parts of Manhattan look & feel differently. The architecture in Soho was different from Midtown. And it was also interesting how the crowds of people ebbed and flowed depending on where we were in the city. Sometimes waiting to cross the street was like you were in a sea of people, and sometimes it was much less crowded. And by "much less crowded" I still mean super crowded, never-seen-crowds-like-this-before-in-my-life, kind of crowded.

So after Soho we took the Subway all the way up back to FAO Schwartz because it was closed the night before when we tried to swing through. Talk about crowded. It's iconic though, so it was fun to look around. I took a ton of pictures to show the girls. We settled on Ariel and Snow White Pez dispensers for them at a whopping $3.29 a piece. They were thrilled. Glad we can still enjoy the small-gifts-are-big-gifts-to-them days.

My favorite line of the day happened in this store. We walk in with the crowds and the guy dressed up like the toy soldier is holding this stuffed monkey. This 10-ish year old kid is talking to him and pestering the stuffed monkey. All we hear is the toy-solider-guy say "Go get your own!". We really wanted to throw "kid" at the end of that line in true New Yorker style, but it was hilarious as it was. And just in case the kids aren't hyped up enough from all the toys and the crazy, someone had the bright idea to put in "FAO Schweetz" which is a candy store on steroids. They were playing bumping music down there just to set the scene for the kids to bounce off the walls. Classic.

We left there about 6:15pm and made a decision to try to make it uptown on the westside for a 7pm church service at Redeemer. After a quick cab ride, a wardrobe change at the hotel, and then a subway ride and another quick cab ride, we made it there in time. I was sweating. This is Tim Keller's church but he actually wasn't preaching that night. The service was still really good and it was really sweet and interesting to go to a church in a different city. I didn't want to be the complete tourist and snap a picture inside, although the building in itself was beautiful, but I did snap a shot of the back of the program.

After church we had major indecision on dinner. Our phones ran out of battery from all of the mapping and searching functions we had been using all day (our smart phones were another key to a great trip for us!), but we finally landed on a cuban-ish, mexican-ish place and ate yummy fajitas. Then we visited Cafe Lalo (shown in You've Got Mail) for coffee and a cannoli. Back down the subway to our hotel and we were zonked. One more day to come...
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New York: Trip in Review

Thanks to Justin wanting to get up to Schenectady to visit some clients for work, plus a huge thanks to ShuShu for being willing to watch the girls for almost five days, we got to take a little getaway trip to New York. Here are a few posts about our trip in review...

Thursday we flew into Laguardia. It was right about dinner time, so we had the recommendation to go to Astoria in Queens for Greek food (good friends with good recommendations was key for our trip, thank you to all!). The Greek salad pictured below was unbelievably good. It was definitely the best feta cheese I have ever tasted. I am still raving about this salad. The view from Astoria park was also a beautiful surprise. We then road tripped in the rental car up to Albany and spent two nights there in a great hotel.

Justin had meetings on Friday so I had a full day to myself of no one needing me. It was glorious. I slept in, read, ate quiet meals, went for a run, and took my sweet time showering and getting ready for dinner. It was a good way to unwind before we hit the city running the next day.

Friday afternoon we visited friends at their house and got to meet their two precious girls (reminding us much of our own two at home!) and then they took us to a wonderful Italian restaurant in Saratoga for dinner that night. No pictures of Saratoga but here is one of us ready for dinner. I took more pictures of just the two of us this weekend than I have taken all year! We did run into Walgreens for some hot packs for a sore neck of mine on the way back to the hotel. I was chatting briefly with the check-out girl about the candy bars she was trying to convince me to buy on sale and she stopped me mid-sentence and said "wait, where are you from?". I told her. She then said "I knew I heard the twang!" Busted. And here I thought my Southern accent wasn't that strong, ya'll. ;)

Saturday morning we woke up early and drove down to the city. After we checked into the hotel we walked as fast as we could down to Nederlander Theater to get in line for the lottery for Newsies. It was a total gift from the Lord when Justin's name got called. Only $30 per ticket, compared to well over $100 each if we had pre-paid ahead of time. They called about 12 names from a drawing of about 100 people. We also sat 4th row, so close that we could see their spit when they were singing and talking. It was soooo much fun! I highly recommend the show. I found out later I was not supposed to take any pics in the theater. Whoops. Busted again. Tourist. At least I knew to not take pictures or videos of the actual show.

The pics below are more from Saturday...driving into the city (welcome to expensive toll roads), eating more yummy food (how in the world do so many restaurants survive in this city?...there were waayy too many choices), seeing all that is Times Square, a view of Central Park, fun "wall art" made out of ceramic bowls in our dinner restaurant.

So Saturday we had lunch (pizza and salad), went to the show, had dinner (asian fusion), then walked all around midtown and along the southern end of central park (not inside the park, too hot and we were already a good walk from our hotel). More to come...we squeezed a lot into the 48-ish hours we were there!
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