I want to be a part of it, New York, New York

I want to be a part of it, New York, New York

Last weekend, Derrick took me to New York City for a baby-free vacation right before I had to start work. This trip was the first time I’ve left Pen for more than a day (never overnight, let alone 3 nights!) and I was feeling a little conflicted about it, but she had a great time with Grandma and Grandpa and we had a great time in NYC, so I think this trip was good for alllll of us.

We got in Thursday evening and spent the night eating some amazing BBQ and then heading to Times Square (where we, of course, stopped at the Disney Store and got PJ a NYC Minnie Mouse shirt).  After Times Square, we kept walking and ended up making our way to Radio City, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s Cathedral, etc. I normally get pretty stressed out in big crowds, which is why I don’t love big cities, but I didn’t feel too overwhelmed by the hordes of people everywhere.

Friday I think I ended up with something like 30,000 steps! We walked to the Empire State Building and went up to both observation decks. The day was a little cloudy, but we still had a pretty good view of everything. After the ESB, we took the subway downtown. We saw a bazillion things like the NYSE, Trinity Cathedral, the building where George Washington took his first presidential oath (I never knew he took the oath in NY because I apparently know nothing about American history), the Trump Building, Clinton Castle, the Statue of Liberty (well, from a distance at least), St Paul’s Chapel and probably a lot of other things I’m leaving out.

After all that, we headed to the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked to Brooklyn and back, caught a few more impressive looking buildings (some courthouses), and then hopped on the subway to head back uptown towards our hotel (we weren’t too far from Madison Square Gardens/Penn Station).

We hit up an Ale House for dinner that had bookshelves all along one side of the building, which to me seemed like the perfect combination. After some beer and appetizers (and a quick stop at the most ridiculously large Macy’s so that I could see the old wooden escalators), we headed down to the Lyceum Theatre for my first Broadway show The Play That Goes Wrong. Which was so hilarious. I was laughing pretty much the entire night and Derrick, not an avid theater-goer like myself, also enjoyed it.

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See? Wooden escalator.

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Saturday, we slept in a little bit (till 8, which seemed very luxurious!) and then got breakfast and headed up to Yankees Stadium for a game. It was kind of fun being at a game where my team wasn’t playing because I kind of just enjoyed the ballpark experience.

After the game, we spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening in Central Park.

We went to another pub for dinner and after grabbing some ice cream, we called it a night because we were both pretty exhausted!

Sunday we went to the airport via the train from Penn Station to Newark, NJ. After getting bumped to first class (thanks to Derrick’s travel and preferred status), we came home to pick up Penny from the grandparents.

I had so much fun in NYC and I loved getting time alone with Derrick. He had to really talk me into it, but he was so right that it was a great idea. He’s a pretty swell husband to take me to the big city, to Broadway, and all over New York! And my in-laws are pretty awesome too for taking such good care of Penny while we were gone! As much fun as our getaway was, I think we both were excited to come back on Sunday to this little cutie though:

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This was this morning before church…she’s practicing being a charming little socialite here, I think. 🙂 
In the words of Peyton Manning

In the words of Peyton Manning

Omaha!

As in, we spent a week in Omaha with DQ. He was working during the days, but we at least got to see him in the mornings and evenings. We were lucky enough to pick one of the weeks where it was seven-thousand-and-three degrees every day (well, maybe more like mid to upper-90s, but half the week they were technically under an extreme heat advisory, so I’m only slightly exaggerating…). Despite the heat, we were able to check out a few of the sights Omaha has to offer.

When we came in on Sunday and strolled through the Old Market District (where we were staying) and wandered down for a (sweaty, hot) walk around the lake in the Heartland of America Park.

Monday, we drove to some outlet malls, where Penny slept while I did a little bit of shopping. We met Daddy at the office (the main headquarters of his company is here), where we took a tour of the place, played on the basketball court they have, and then went for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. Besides the 40 minutes of napping she did in the car/at the outlet malls, it was another Day of the No-Nap and she was kind of a hot mess by that night.

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Helping me shop

 

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The face of a toddler who has refused sleep for too long

Tuesday was my favorite day; we went to the Omaha Zoo. It. Is. Awe-to-the-some, y’all. Like if you have kids (or just like zoos) and think you never have a reason to visit Omaha (you’re right, jk! jk!), seriously the zoo alone makes the trip worth it. The zoo is really well laid out and we started on the side where mostly it was all outside and then looped around to the animals where there was inside access (cat house, ape house, aquarium, etc) when it started getting sunnier and hotter. Penny was kind of exhausted so she was content to just stroll and occasionally get out to get closer, but I had fun because the animals were actually moving. You know how you normally go to the zoo and everything is just sitting in hidey holes in their habitat and they don’t do anything interesting? Not so during our visit. The giraffes and lemurs and monkeys and gorillas and elephants and a lot of the big cats (especially the tigers!) were really active. The zoo also just opened up a whole new section that is basically a ginormous playground/activity area and had we gotten to it earlier in the morning, I think Penny would have had fun there, but we passed on it this time.

I thought for sure after our grand adventure out to the zoo all morning, Penelope would surely take a nap in the afternoon. Oh how silly of me. No, child of mine babbled and laughed and played in her crib the entire afternoon until it was time to pick Daddy up again at work. We grabbed dinner with a coworker of Derrick’s, followed by some delicious ice cream. Penelope and I split 2 scoops of strawberry Nerd (yes, little bits of Nerds in my strawberry ice cream), although I feel like she had more of it than I did!

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By Day 4 of Nap Strike, Mama decided we would take it easy because PenMonster was so cranky. So besides a trip to have lunch with Derrick, we took it easy at the hotel. AND! Penny took a NAP!!! It was glorious for all parties involved (I worked on lecture prep for my classes).

Thursday, we spent most of the morning at the Omaha Children’s Museum. Pen absolutely {heart-eye emojis} LOVED it. There was a dinosaur exhibit, where the dinosaurs move and rawr and all that and she just kept running up to them rawr-ing back, which was hilariously adorable. The other main part she liked was the Imagination Playground where they had different areas to explore (a barn, a fire-house, a bank, a hospital, a grocery store). We rode a carousel too, so all in all a pretty exciting day. She passed out almost immediately after getting back to the hotel once we had lunch, so she did a good job of tiring herself out.

Friday was a day to lay low, pack up and stay out of the 104 degree weather!

We came back on Saturday and it was nice to be home. Penny seemed especially happy to see all her toys and books and her room (although she protested a lot about having to go back to napping and sleeping alone in her room!)

Now just to soak in the last week of (my) summer as we gear up for a new routine once I start teaching. Feeling nervous about the new job and new daycare for P, but I’m trying to not think too much about it until it gets here!

Friday Takes: PJ edition

Friday Takes: PJ edition

As has been my habit (although not lately since I’ve been terrible at keeping up on the blog), it is time for my round-up list of five things I’m currently doing/loving/reading, etc. BUT since I’m boring and Pen loves everything, I’m rounding-up  a list of her current favorites at a little less than 1.5 years old.

  1. STICKERS! If I would hand her stickers to put on a page for an hour straight, I’m pretty sure she would sit and do it. We pretty much have sticker time once a day and there are normally tears/pouting involved when I tell her it’s time to put them away.IMG_4396
  2. Lift-the-flap books- She probably has about 5 or 6 of these now and she’s mostly learned not to pull on them or rip them. My favorite two that I recently got for her are this lift-the-flap Fairy Tales book (as seen in the picture) which I think has beautiful, colorful illustrations and plenty of flaps, and Where is Owl’s Scarf, which actually has a real story to follow and cute animals. In general though, she likes books and we sit and read piles of them at a time when she’s not too busy running around.IMG_4384
  3. Playing in water. Any water will do. The pool. The bathtub. The garden hose. Even a tub of water in the kitchen. Giving her a bath these days is like sitting too close to the tank at a dolphin show. She’s a really effective splasher 😉 But she has so much fun and she gives me her toothy grin that it’s hard to get too upset about getting splashed or water ending up all over the walls and mirror in the bathroom. IMG_4387
  4. Bubble Guppies. This show is her jam, y’all. Like she could be in the kitchen not paying any attention to the TV but if I turn an episode on and she hears the opening song she comes running! She gets so excited about them and especially if she has a bad wake-up from a nap, 5 minutes of Bubble Guppies puts everything right. So I found a bunch of wall stickers to decorate her basement playroom (and there are some in her room) and she loves to go talk to them. She also still very much loves Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse, and I’ve been putting Peppa Pig on lately too. She can say “Peppa” even though I don’t think it’s one of her favorites (but it’s one that I  don’t mind, so if we are having cartoon/TV time and it’s on that’s what we watch). IMG_4238
  5. Blanket forts and hiding. This silly child of mine takes wild delight in hiding under/in blankets or curtains and playing peek-a-boo with us. My favorite is when she runs to the sheer curtains in the study and I can clearly see her (I can be looking straight at her) but I’ll ask “where is Penny?” and she’ll fling off the curtain and grin and laugh at me like she was being so sneaky and clever. It’s entertaining for all parties. Yesterday, we made her her first blanket fort and that seemed to be pretty popular; she kept running in and popping back out and then she just started stock-piling toys in there.

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Bonus! This is mommy’s favorite new thing:

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Now that we finally have more space/a garage to store things and access to some really awesome (flat) parks/trails, we splurged on this jogging stroller so we could all go get outside together as a family. We took it out last weekend for the first time and I think Penny got a little bored, but we really liked it (for the price, it gets the job done even if it isn’t super fancy like some of those other strollers on the market) and it was nice to be able to run with Derrick again and not by myself.

It feels like every day my not-so-wee not-really-a-baby girl grows up a little more and becomes more independent, more her own little person with her own opinions (which is obviously what you want for your child). So I’m loving these days and we are having so much fun as she entertains us with all her antics!

Sweet Summertime

Sweet Summertime

The summer has been flying by but we have been trying to make the most it. It has been a very busy month since the last time I posted! Since then, we have:

-had a visit from my parents for Fathers’ Day Weekend; Penny got to play at the pool, ride her first carousel, and enjoy more play time with my parents. We tried out a few new restaurants while they were in town as well and now have our go-to place when we are in the mood for cajun/southern-style seafood (think po’ boys and boils).

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-seen Derrick’s dad and sister the following weekend, who came for a visit mainly so Derrick’s dad could help us do some planning and work in the yard. Penny had an especially fun time with her aunt, I think. 🙂

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Helping us pick up some stuff for all the yard work that needed to get done

flown (P and I) to see my parents; my dad was in a local theatre production of Oklahoma! and since I wasn’t able to go see him in his other shows in the last year or two, I thought it would be fun to go (DQ was traveling for work so he couldn’t come with us). We had a great time with my parents, my sister and her family, and my aunt and uncle who came in town to see the show as well. My sister and I went to the show together while my mom and brother-in-law watched my and her kids, respectively. It was a lot of fun and obviously my dad was awesome and I’m so glad I was able to go home for a noisy weekend and a house full of running and screaming kiddos!

spent the next weekend (last weekend, but actually  starting last Thursday) with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew who came for a visit. So we had 3 kids under 5, yet again and we spent the weekend cramming as much crazy kiddo fun into the days: the zoo, the aquarium, a Gwinnett Braves baseball game, the pool, the mall/another carousel ride, and the park! It was rather exhausting but it was so good to be able to get together and let the cousins hang out.

Phew. I’m kind of tired just typing all that! But since my days of not working are dwindling faster than I’d like, I am enjoying getting to do so much with Derrick and Penny and our families. We’ve got some more adventures planned for the last few weeks of my summer before P goes back to daycare and I start my new job, so I’m going to soak it all in 🙂

The House: Part 2

The House: Part 2

While I was writing the blog post yesterday (which I actually started Saturday, but I’m easily distracted), I realized I never put up more pictures of the house. So even though there are still a lot of little projects to do, here’s most of the rest of the house.

Master Bedroom:

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The guest bedroom:

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The guest bath:

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My study (I like the term “study” because it sounds better than the playroom/living room/office/library):

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Penny’s nook in my study:

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And besides the basement and Derrick’s office, that’s about it, I think! We have plans on how to use the basement space but haven’t done much with it yet, so later on once we do some of that, I’ll probably post some pictures.

I’m hoping to paint Penny’s room sometime this summer and I think we want to redo the flooring on the main floor (I daily sweep up bits of grout that are coming loose). We haven’t done a thing with the dining room and still have to decide/find what pictures/art/decorations we want to hang on many a wall in the house, but for the most part we’re quite settled. The house finally feels like our home sweet home. 🙂

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Feed the squirrels

Feed the squirrels

Tuppence a bag…

Or maybe more like $15 to buy two feeders that have been smashed to bits and bird seed that ended up scattered across the ground…Sigh…. So last time I mentioned I bought a bird feeder and finally after a few days, I started to really get a lot of activity at the feeder and it was a lot of fun. Last Sunday though, I had three squirrels chilling on the back deck, snuffling around for food and jumping on the side of the house to climb over to the feeder. I chased them off whenever I noticed them on the feeder, but I know they were stealing a lot of the birds’ food. Well on Monday, after running some errands in the morning, I came home and noticed the feeder wasn’t hanging up. Where I have the feeder, it’s actually a two-story drop because we have a walk-out basement so our main floor in the back is well above the ground. Needless to say, there was no saving the feeder after the damage from the fall.

I know we need a better solution, but because it had taken a couple days to really attract the birds the first time, I didn’t want them to stop  coming to the house, so on Tuesday I went and got another $5 feeder, thinking it would maybe last another week (or more; I was going to be diligent at keeping squirrels away) and at least keep the birds coming until Derrick was home to help me do something different (he was on business travel this week). Well, less than 24 hours later after returning from Penny’s 15-month checkup, I found my second feeder in pieces on the ground below the window. I also happened to see a raccoon sniffling his way through my backyard that afternoon, so we’re not sure if it was the squirrels or the raccoon breaking the feeders.

Derrick thinks he knows how to fix it so I can keep my feeder up, so when he has time to deal with it, he’s going to try to put one back up. But for now, I’m bird-less, although the squirrels have still be playing on my deck, no doubt hoping for more food to magically appear.

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In other news, I was lulled into a false sense of security with the roach problem. It had been a few weeks without any sight of a roach, but this past week I had two in my kitchen one night. My pest control guy came Friday for our monthly treatment and retreated inside again, so hopefully that does the trick. It does feel like we are close to having that under control.

Penny is her usual monster self, but her latest “trick” is that you can now ask her to laugh and she cackles maniacally on command. It seriously never gets old. Especially when she squishes up her faces and gets a toothy grin but she only has the three teeth so it’s so goofy looking. We have been learning more animals and foods and body parts too with one of her favorite books and she also will make rowing motions with her arms when you sing “Row row row your boat.” We had her 15-month checkup this week and we didn’t have to get any shots which was awesome, but pretty much from the time the doctor came in until he left she cried and screamed and acted like he was cutting her left arm off. I can only imagine how fun the next appointment will be when she actually does get shots.

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Sytlin’
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Post-checkup cookie at the mall (yes, Mommy had one too!)

Not too much else exciting happening lately besides lots of play time and running errands. I was just looking at my calendar though for the rest of the summer and it feels like it’s going to go fast and be busy and I’ll be sending Penny back to daycare when I start my new job in August. So I’m just trying to soak up all the easy summer days while they last.

Penny Firsts

Penny Firsts

I have to say, I wasn’t the best at keeping up with P’s baby book as far as remembering all the things to write down about each month. I’m kind of glad once you hit 12 months, the baby book doesn’t ask you to keep track of monthly milestones and memories, because I certainly never remembered everything or when exactly it happened . But even though I don’t have a book telling me I should be recording all the new things Penny does or experiences every month, I’m surprised by how many “firsts” we are still enjoying.

This week, I took her to her first “Toddler Time” at the library. I thought she would do okay since she was in daycare for so long around other kids, but she was a grade A clinger for most of the time we were there. She warmed up towards the end once they brought out the bubbles (kid loves her some bubbles!) and would venture a little bit away from me. Introvert me really doesn’t love having to be in a room full of strangers, but I think it’ll be good for her so I’m going to try to suck it up and take her every week for the rest of the summer to get her used to socializing again before she starts daycare in the fall.

This weekend, Derrick took her to the pool for the first time (I was at home with cookies in the oven because it was a spur of the moment decision for him to go). Apparently, the water was a little chilly and she only really would sit in his lap on about the second step of the steps going into the pool. She met some of the other neighborhood kids too, so I think if we just keep taking her throughout the summer, she’ll end up really enjoying it. We are, apparently, going to have to have a come-to-Jesus meeting about wearing hats to the pool though…

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I think she’s totally rocking the look, personally, but I’m basically the most evil mom ever for daring to put it on her head <eye roll> The hat, like the pool, will require some getting used to, I suppose. The little stinker did manage to get out the door without it, as Daddy promised only 10 minutes out in the sun for the first pool adventure.

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I’m a sucker for that ruffle on the bottoms 

Saturday night, we took Penny to her first baseball game. We went to a Gwinnett Braves game; a minor league team with ticket prices that are wallet-friendly for parents with kids who will definitely not be staying for the whole game. Mostly she just wanted to run around and they have a lawn section where a lot of other families camped out on blankets, so she was entertained for awhile. We did have seats for the game and she sat through about an inning in the seats with us. She loved clapping and celebrating with everyone else, which was pretty cute. I’m teaching her the Tomahawk Chop and chant and she kind of gets the idea of that, so we practiced at the game…gotta start ’em young, of course 😉

We took it pretty easy on Sunday, but yesterday we ran errands (and discovered there is a carousel at the mall. We didn’t go on it this time, but next mall trip, Penelope almost certainly will take her first carousel ride because this mama never gets to old to want to get on too!) and then worked a good bit on the front of the house. I have to say, it felt good to put sweat and hard work into our own front yard. Thunderstorms chased us inside, but we definitely made a lot of progress with it.

I bought a bird feeder. We were at Home Depot and I was picking one out and Derrick came over and said, “I thought you hated birds?” to which I responded “Not when they’re outside and I’m inside.” (I know, I’m a woman of contradictions, and therefore unpredictable about these kinds of things). So we hung it up yesterday. I’m kind of feeling a little offended though, because I have yet to see a bird come over to eat. I hear them in my backyard, so why aren’t they coming to my window when I’ve been so nice as to provide them with food? See, this is just another example of why you can’t trust birds….

Well, I’m off to get my favorite little monster up (who has taken to making little nests in her crib by reaching through the slats to the basket of blankets next to it) and to refill this empty coffee cup.

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Hope everyone has a great week!

(oh and important roach update…besides a small roach (like small enough that squishing it was a lot less disgusting than normal) in the bathroom on Saturday, it has been 8 days since the last cockroach. Praise the Lord and let’s hope it stays that way!)