Thursday, June 21, 2012

Double Digits

I've always enjoying making lists and countdowns.  It's rather obnoxious actually.  :)  Right now, I have two countdowns on my phone-- one until our California vacation and the other until Critter is due.  And guess what... Critter hit 99 days left!  That's right, less than one hundred!  So he better not be late since I'm already excited, even though sometimes I honestly think he'll come out looking just like this...


Monday, June 18, 2012

Almost-a-Father's Day

We didn't do anything too intense to celebrate Fathers' Day.  But we did have some good hamburgers for dinner, and of course, I took advantage of the gift giving opportunity :)

I had gotten home from work really, really late on Saturday, so we said Marcus could open his gift since it was technically Sunday.  He was trying to give a suspicious look :)

Awhile back, Marcus said he wasn't going to use glass cups anymore because they kept breaking.  So I got him a Tervis that says Dad all over it.  I think he likes it.  It's all he's been using since :)

Right after we found out Critter is a boy, I had designed this to give to Marcus for one of these birthday/holidays.  I figured Fathers' Day was the best option.  And he thought it was cute.

Here's the onesie up close.  I think he's really hoping for a little drummer, just like Daddy.  But I have a feeling he'll want something else like a bassoon, since that's huge, or maybe a football.  Haha.

Marcus kept smiling looking at the little onesie.  

I think he was picturing Critter coming IN 105 DAYS!  I try to tell myself that's soon, but I think it will still be a long summer...  Actually, I'm fairly sure it will be hot, humid, and ridiculously long :)  Good thing we have a vacation coming in July/August to help break it up a bit.  

Happy Father-to-be Day Marcus :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quarter of a Century

Marcus turned 25 yesterday!  CRAZY :)  Actually, it's really cool because Marcus is 25 years younger than his dad, and he's 25 years older than Critter.  Patterns are cool :)

Marcus was really excited to open the birthday cards we had sitting on the table all week.  He'd try to open them early, but then he'd change his mind and say he had to wait until his actual birthday.  So right after his alarm went off yesterday, we grabbed the cards.  He had some very nice cards and some money, plus he was given the Back to the Future collectors set.  He looks tired in this picture, but he was grinning all morning.

And Kitty and Critter joined together to get him an avocado slicer and pitter.  They had noticed he eats so many of them and often fights with the pits.

It was pretty funny because on Thursday night, Marcus and I were talking about how he was turning 25.  Honestly, it didn't seem that old to me, but he was realizing how many people in his office are younger than him and at the same level (due to his mission, I'm assuming).  He said he wanted to feel younger.  So I decided to make some birthday cupcakes for him to share with his class.  A lot of people in his office are apparently super health conscious, which was really nice for me since transporting even just a dozen cupcakes to Manhattan on the subway isn't that easy...

I met him at his office at one.  He had taken a "Summer Friday." so he got off early.  It was nice to be able to hang out all day for his birthday.  We had some really good Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches for lunch and then were off to pick out my present for him.  We had decided back when he bought his electric drumset that it would count as his birthday present, but I still wanted to do something for him.  My solution was to get him a practical gift.  He was given three options of items he needs but never seems to want to buy.  I was hoping it would be a good gift, and luckily he seems really happy with his purchase.

We went to one of this big Bed Bath & Beyonds in the city, and Marcus picked out a new pillow.  He desperately needed a new one.  I don't even dare take a picture of the old one, it's so...   Well, he loved it and used it way past its normal lifespan.  :)  After all the walking around the city and the pillow purchasing, we both decided to go home and rest.  

Marcus seemed to enjoy testing out his pillow.

And then our birthday activity time arrived.  We went out to Citi Field to watch the Mets lose.  Not the best game ever, but we had a blast in our crazy nosebleed seats.  It was seriously the top row in the stadium, but they were down the first base line behind home plate.  Really great view of the stadium.  We loved it.

Bill O'Reilly threw the first pitch.

Since we were on the top row, we had a really cool view behind us.  Ignore the fence.

There's Manhattan at night :)

Who would've thought watching a baseball game was so tiring?!  :)  We were ready to head home.  And Marcus had to blow out his birthday candles!  (Apparently the candle was a little too heavy for a cupcake, and it fell over... oops.)


And now we're on to starting his 26th year.   Of course he wants to start it by watching the first Back to the Future, which coincidently is a 25th anniversary edition.  It's the same age as Marcus!  Cute ;)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Benjamin in the City

Well here's a fun story.  I really wanted to take pictures throughout this adventure, but I couldn't since I was the only person there (besides a billion people in Manhattan of course).  So I drew pictures on my computer to help you visualize the excitement.

It starts with me.  
   So here's me originally.

And of course, me now.
With the belly.

And here's me this afternoon.  Dressed for an audition/interview.  
I have been looking into starting at the School for Strings in Manhattan this fall.  It's a two-year teacher training course for the Suzuki Approach.  I had been considering a program like this for after college, but we made other plans at the time.  Guess what-- it's offered two places around the country.  One being the program I looked at before, and the other is this one in Manhattan.  So I went to the orientation meeting a couple weeks ago and scheduled this interview to keep the option open.  And so today, I was off to the city to play my solo and have an interview with the school director.

So naturally, here's the next picture in my story.
Yep, and me with the cello.  On my back.  Again, picture Manhattan in the background.  And I was off to my interview/audition.  You'd think it couldn't get crazier-- girl, pregnant, dressed for an interview, with a cello, ...  oh wait... 


Seriously though.  Lots of rain.  I was soaked.  My shoes.  Pants.  Basically everything but my head and cello :)  (Again, picture crazy Manhattan in the background and two subway transfers.)  It was a pretty ridiculous afternoon.  Haha.  

In case you were wondering, the interview went well.  Somehow I managed to decently play an audition piece after way too many months of not practicing.  I was pretty nervous to say the least.  And now we have some time to decide for sure if I'm starting with the program in the fall.  But at least the option is there, and it would be a great experience and credential to have.

Here's the only actual picture of the event.  
Benjamin, my cello, and me heading out to the city.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Amy and April in NYC!

Amy and April came to visit this weekend.  It was so great having them here, but I do wish I had had a better work schedule so I would've been able to spend more time with them.  But they seemed to have a great time walking all over New York, and they claimed to have made it around the city a few times :)  Marcus and I did go out for a couple meals together with them, and I spent Friday pretending to be a tour guide through Central Park and 5th Avenue.  It was fun caching up and wandering through the city.  Hopefully we'll be able to plan another trip soon.  

This is the only picture I had that turned out, and I must admit it's not flattering since I had just gotten out of the shower (and Marcus was requesting a haircut).  However, Amy and April look cute!

And I had to include these.  Amy and April left them for us when we headed out to church and they were leaving.  So cute!  Our little Critter will be the cutest kid around :)  or at least have the best onesies!  haha.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Can I just tell you how I'm pretty sure Frigidaire will be my all-time favorite word this summer???  Well, let me tell you our Frigidaire story, mainly through our kitty's point of view.

It starts on this ledge.  A favorite place of Chicago's.  Probably because she can watch squirrels like this one.

Then something moved in the window across the corner (our bedroom window).

And Chicago watched intently as Marcus started his man project.

Luckily, we had success quickly.  There is our first beautiful beast of a machine.
Our Frigidaire AC unit in the bedroom.

We found it works well because Marcus was stuck up on the ledge with the AC on full blast on his foot.  I had to come to his rescue with a screwdriver (and a camera) so he could get down after working on sealing up the window.

We had eaten dinner right before Marcus started the AC installation project, and when I got back to the kitchen, Chicago was disappointed there was no food left out for her to try.  Sorry Kitty.

But there is the final project.

And it gets even better... because we have TWO!

You can almost see both AC units from this picture.  Marcus did a great job, and he had both up and running a lot faster than I thought.  Definitely a successful man-project!

Yeah, I'm pretty excited to have air conditioning, if you haven't noticed.  Luckily it hasn't been too warm yet this year, minus the weekend of Memorial Day.  I think Marcus got both installed just in time.  And since we have a flat yearly rate for having AC, now I can enjoy as much cool air as I (and Critter) need.  YAY!

Mail from Sandra

I got an envelope in the mail from Sandra this week.  And I had to post a picture because it's just plain fantastic!  She said she saw these and had to get them based on all our jokes from high school.  I didn't even know what to expect since we had so many inside jokes and stories.  But she nailed it.

Best purchase ever!  Thanks Sandra!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Anniversary Part II (Take 2)

*Note: I managed to delete the post...and then Erica helped me save it. We lost the higher resolution photos...but the video still HDs up just fine. Enjoy, and please pardon the weird spacing here and there...I gave up on trying to fix it all in the HTML code =).

Hi Everyone. I'm sorry this "part II" is a bit later--having Monday off is like a bad means that you spend Tuesday in a panic attack and the rest of the week recovering. All that aside, we had a great trip out to Jones beach. 

Driving there was smooth--sort of. I made a couple of driving errors having not driven for six months. There was this instance where I sort of thought there was a turn lane where there wasn't (they aren't that common out on Long Island, apparently?) and there may have been a few 'buzzed' Stop signs. But overall, we were fine. I actually forgot to grab a picture of our dorky little Kia Rio that we rented. I meant to take on when we returned it, but it was raining cats and dogs and forgot. Thankfully, Kia likes to try to sell the Rio, so here you go:
Highly aerodynamic. With a larger trunk that one would expect. It even has those fancy flip-out keys that you used to only find on snooty European cars. Underpowered--yes, but somehow, still rather jolly. (Yes, I had to give it a Top Gear-esque review).

After getting out to Jones Beach, we found that our hotel room wasn't ready yet because they had to change a lock out. No big deal. We went and found an Olive Garden and ate (thanks Mom & Dad), and then went to a mall to get supplies for the next day. There was a Walmart, so we bought some snacks, water, and a couple of extremely cheap beach chairs for 10 bucks (renting them was 10 bucks...may as well own). 

Before going out I had researched a maternity store that I wanted to take Erica to (forced shopping, sort of a typical 'present' but oh well). We couldn't find the storefront (darn it Google Maps, you've failed me once on this trip already. The Target we tried to stop at to get supplies from was closed), but we did find a nice Macys and Erica scored pants, a belt to use her normal pants and bottoms, as well as a nice skirt and these awesome gaucho type pants that I found and suggested. Erica wore those on the ride home.

Now for the airshow day. Traffic was crazy getting out there--hundreds of thousands go both days of the show each year. We beat most of the crowd and were early enough to park in the back of one of the big lots and get the free Blue Angels poster that one of the sponsors was giving out. All said and done, it was about an hour and a half to go six miles--but worth it considering that later in the day people were parking on the side of the road miles away hoping to get a small glimpse of the action.
First, we got settled on the beach. The chairs worked out nicely. I can't remember who gave us the collapsible Columbia cooler for our wedding, but we love it--it worked great. We were able to keep fruit and Gatorade cold all day thanks to some ice I pilfered from the hotel. We left before anyone was there in the morning so I snuck back into the kitchen and nabbed some. OH! The hotel, before we move on, behold the luxury: 
The TV didn't work. The bed was solid, the pillows, flat. But we laughed at how nice the tub was and the overall feel of the place. It was like a throwback--filled with the patina of a bygone era. It worked for a night's rest.

Now, on to the airshow (and if you love me, I expect you to read on, you can give me a few minutes). In all seriousness, if you don't really care about the details, scroll to the bottom and watch the video I made!!!

The Golden Knights opened, putting on a great show

B-17 Flying Fortress
Perhaps the most important aircraft of WWII

Stealthy--except for the noise. The loudest aircraft at the show by far

The F-22 was difficult to capture in-action. The maneuvers were quick and at a higher altitude than many of the other performers. I'm not sure if this was for safety, to maintain the mystique of the aircraft, or because the USAF didn't want to risk anything happening to this, the most expensive and high-performance fighter plane on earth.
Perhaps the highlight of the solo military planes--the F/A-18 Superhornet, AKA "Superbug" or "Rhino." This airplane supersedes the F-14 tomcat of Top Gun fame. This is the twin seat configuration, and both Pilot and WSO were present in-flight. This was fun. There were no holds barred on displaying the aircraft's performance (unlike the F-22, which felt rather restricted). You could practically see these guys grinning during multiple high-speed passes and a demonstration of how their plane cuts through the air like no other. The Prandtl-Glauert vortex created by the F/A-18 at high speed is a thing to behold.

More of the Superhornet--I wish I could have caught some of their high speed maneuvers but our camera was unfortunately not up to the task.

One last shot of them on their way out.

A pleasant and impressive display by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. They normally fly a nine plane team--they were short one plane at Jones beach, but seeing so many aircraft maneuver in sync was impressive. They put on a great show.

You can see the hole in their reverse-diamond formation here. Not sure what the deal was.

The GEICO Skytypers. Using computers, this team will fly at high altitude releasing timed smoke puffs to produce extremely legible, accurate "skywriting." I wasn't able to get a good shot of their work, but they came down low and demonstrated later in the show.

A nice, low pass from the Skytypers. These are SNJ-2 training aircraft that were used at some point by every branch of the military as a trainer.
Sean D. Tucker and his Oracle Biplane. I didn't know at the time, but this fellow is the top dog of air show stunts. He is the only civilian pilot to have been allowed to fly in formation with the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds, and his airplane, the Oracle Biplane, is absolutely astonishing. Look the videos up on YouTube--the things this man does...he's very much in control of how out of control he is.

Ernie! No, seriously, that's his name. The Blue Angels have a team of Marine Corps C-130 pilots and crew who perform as a part of their show and transport the team's gear and personnel around the country.  Usually, the team is accompanied by a special, painted C-130 named "Fat Albert." Albert is undergoing maintenance this year, so Ernie is filling in. Here he is demonstrating the C-130's ability to take off from a short runway--a key strategic ability of the airframe. When I was a kid, they used to attach JTOW rocket bottles to the aircraft for a jet assisted takeoff. These are no longer in use--but the idea is still the same.

And now--for the main event! The Blue Angels--the camera was dead, so I moved over to my cell phone video recorder to capture a few key moments. I had fun putting this video together--Dad, the music is for you. The balance is pretty high, so don't have the volume on your computer up too loud as you watch. I was surprised at the quality my little camera was able to get. I hope you enjoy the video and didn't think the post was too cumbersome--I get excited about this stuff. Please, turn up the quality to HD and full-screen for proper enjoyment =).

The most exciting part of the day, by far, was when Critter kicked me during the Blue Angels' performance. He's like his daddy--he loves airplanes!