Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Honor of Those Who Have Served

School projects have been taking over our house lately. However, this project was a special one in that it celebrates all those who have fought for our country.

For years, the 8th graders have been given the assignment of finding a veteran, interviewing them and then constructing a poster about them. Local news crews come every year and do a bit from the school.

These posters, over 1,000 of them, are hanging in the trees in front of the school this week for Veteran's Day.

We actually have several Veteran's in our family that Connor could choose from. Both of my grandfather's served as did Chris's grandfather and a couple of uncles. However, Connor chose my dad, who served in Vietnam. My dad doesn't talk much about his time there; so, I enjoyed finding out the answers to the questions Connor asked him also. I know Connor has a love for the military and this was a special assignment for him to get to know Papa a little more!

So today, and everyday, thank you to all who have served our country! And, a special "thank you" to my dad!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Ending of an Era

Baseball is the heart of this family.

When Connor was three, he tried soccer. However, it became quite apparent that soccer was not for him because all he ever wanted to know was when halftime was so he could have his snack!

Last year, when Connor entered 7th Grade, he decided to give football a try (much to my dismay!). Playing for his Junior High was lots of fun. I even learned to understand football a little better. At the end of the season, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that he made it through without one injury!

Yesterday the true "end of an era" came with the last football game of 8th grade. I say this because Connor has said that he will not try out for the high school football team. ("Yipee," said mom!) Once again, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that there was not one injury on the football field this year! (Although, in the following pictures, you will notice Connor has his finger wrapped up. He broke it - not on the football field; but, by tossing the football around with his buddies on our street!)

By the way, he is #5.

He is fixing to get tackled!

And...they get him!

Their season ended 5-0-1. Way to go Highlanders!

Hopefully, I will see my boy on the correct field during high school -- the baseball field!!

Speaking of an Ending of an Era, here is a photo of Connor's Calaca of Michael Jackson. He took it to school today --

And project #2 for Spanish was a paper doll that needed to be clothed as a celebrity. An oral presentation (in Spanish) was given in class about their celebrity today also. Can you guess who this is?

Se llama Big Bird!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A "Thriller" of a Project

I have always said that the only way to make a good grade on a school project is to spend at least $40 on materials. (It could have to do with the mother of my sons who has her own ideas of how to improve upon their project; just a thought!)

Anyhow, Project #3 for Connor this year is for Spanish class. They will be learning about the "Day of the Dead" celebration in the Spanish culture. He will be making a Calaca, which is a skeleton doll the size of a Barbie that represents a famous person. The clothing and accessories are the key to this because that is what will identify his Calaca.

Guess who my son chose to make a Calaca of??? Michael Jackson...

We sat down and made a list for my weekly trip to Michaels and/or Hobby Lobby. The main ingredient being Crayola Model Magic Clay so he can shape the doll. "Mom, you need to get a mixture of black, white and tan so we can get his coloring right." Okay...

My main concern was how we were going to dress him. Surely there is a doll out there.

So the Day of the Dead project brought out my first bidding wars through E-Bay. I spent one day bidding and loosing these Michael Jackson dolls -- are you kidding me -- they want HOW MUCH for a Michael Jackson doll?!? Chris finally told me to pay anything because it would be totally worth it for me not to buy the fabric and try to make something that resembled Michael Jackson's costumes -- I think he just didn't want to deal with a stressed out wife!

I successfully got a doll on Tuesday night and was so excited!! (That bidding thing could be addictive!)

I got back from the mailbox today and guess what was in there?

All I can say is that Connor should get an A+ on this because we've exceeded my $40 project budget!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What a Difference a Year Makes

This past week marks one year that my mom had a Stem Cell Transplant which allowed her to come to Texas and celebrate her 1-year birthday of being "cancer free".

My sister and I went to Albuquerque to help her and my dad the first weeks after she got out of the hospital. I will honestly say that when I left, I wasn't sure how she would ever manage on her own. She had no energy, was forgetful, and felt awful.

However, if you could have seen her this weekend, you wouldn't believe it was the same person. Time has given her her strength back, her memory has gotten a bit better :), and she feels great. She can also shop 'til she drops now -- which was important this past weekend!

My sister, mom and I decided we needed to celebrate her health by going to Canton, TX. Canton is in East Texas and is a small town that hosts the First Monday Trade Days -- I believe the largest one in the U.S. There are three separate sites that range from flea market junk, to adopting animals, to home decor and lots of "bling"! We shopped for two straight days and still didn't see all the home decor and "bling", although we tried our hardest!! In fact, Saturday night we were the only ones left out of the thousands that were there that day!

We took this picture after we had already made one trip to the car (AND it was the second day to shop!) and to prove we really DID close the place down that night! Yes, we shopped 'til we dropped.

It was also raining outside for most of the afternoon on Saturday. When we had arrived that morning, we had to park way out in a field at the front gate. The last thing we bought was, of course, on the opposite side of the place. So we walked with all this stuff, through the rain and dark and emptiness for at least a mile or more while laughing hysterically and having to stop because we needed to go to the bathroom so badly! Good memories!

I have spent the last three days finding places for all of my new treasures. I have decided I can't go back to Canton until I move into a bigger house!! Thank you, Mom and Danette for a fun-filled weekend and thanks to our husbands for letting us go and for "holding down the forts" while we were together!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NYC: The Day of Celebrities

Let me begin with a little "history".

I am a huge Regis and Kelly fan -- I have mentioned that before in my blog. I call them my morning cup of coffee (since I don't drink coffee). Host chat is my 15 minutes every morning where I sit down and don't worry about the things that are waiting for me.

One of two goals in my lifetime is to see Regis in person before he is no longer with us and to be on Wheel of Fortune. I know, what a big goal-setter I am, huh?!? Anyhow, here I am planning for the past year to go to New York and I think, "Now is my chance to see Regis!!!" In June, I sent in one postcard with my name, address, when I want to go to the show and how many tickets I want.

In the meantime, I hear of people who sent in postcards and were then told there was a year wait. "Oh, well. At least I can say I tried, " I thought.

We were leaving on August 7 at 3:30 am; so, when the mail did not deliver my long-awaited tickets on August 6, I was a tad sad.

The week in Cooperstown was coming to a close and all of the sudden I thought again of my bad fortune. Chris suggested I call my friend, Glenda, who was watching our house and ask her if I received anything from Regis. She didn't answer so I left a message for her. My phone rang Thursday night while I was sitting in the bleachers of the Championship Field just after the Hooks had been introduced and given their Hall of Fame rings. Needless to say, it was loud! However, when Glenda said, "Yes, you've got something here from them." I went nuts!!

She and her husband had the letter priority mailed to our hotel in New York City so Chris and I could get in on Tuesday morning. Yipee!!! Monday evening when we returned to our hotel, there it was!

We left the hotel early on Tuesday morning to make sure we got a good place in line. We were probably 20 or so back in line. After going through security and a metal detector and waiting some more, we were lead down the same hall that Regis and Kelly come down(!) and then into the studio. Talk about SMALL!! I was so amazed how close together everything is, yet it looks so much more spacious on TV.

I kept nudging poor Chris and pointing at things for him to take pictures of...

The Kleenex box!

Gelmen giving us directions on how to clap and when to clap.

Art Moore

Summer Snapshot Trivia

Unfortunately, Kelly was on vacation -- but my goal wasn't to see her, right? She's my age, so I have lots more time to see her!!

A "Local to Live" filled in as co-host with celebrity James Spader.

During commercials, Regis would come to the audience and talk to various people. I am not even certain he even looked at me, even though I was on the fourth row! But, I didn't care. It was a special morning!!

My sweet in-laws took our boys to visit The Intrepid -- which they absolutely loved and ended up spending many hours at. So Chris and I had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves. We walked around Central Park and decided we were ready for lunch. "Where should we go??" Chris said, "What about Hello Deli?" Sounded fun -- maybe Dave or Paul would be hanging out with Rupert Gee!?!

As we walked towards Hello Deli, the backstage doors to Letterman were open and we recognized some of the stagehands that sometimes appear working on props outside. Also, as we past the open doors, I can agree with the rumors of how cold Letterman's studio is -- it was like walking past a freezer!! BRR!!

We open the door to Hello Deli and there, behind the counter, is Rupert! I wish I had asked to get my picture with him; but, I was trying really hard to be cool. I ordered a Regis Sandwich (of course!) and it was delicious. The deli probably doesn't meet all of the cleanliness codes; but, oh well! As we sat at one of the three tables in the deli, we noticed a Winnebago parked at the curb with a big burly man going in and out with food. We wondered who could be in there.

As we left the deli, there was a small gathering of paparazzi waiting at the back door to Letterman. Here we are with a few hours to kill in NYC...let's be paparazzi-like! We found a spot across the street and waited...and waited...and waited. Throughout the 2 1/2 hours we waited, we saw celebrities!!

First, Paul Shafer...

Then Biff Henderson...

Billy Currington...

Diane Kruger...

And...Donald Trump!

I decided it is probably a good thing I don't live in New York City because everyday around 2pm I would head to Letterman's door and watch the celeb's!

We got back in time to eat a real New York pizza at John's Pizzeria and fill the boys and the in-laws in on our day and they filled us in on theirs.

We ended the night with the Broadway musical "The Lion King" -- amazing!!

A great way to end an amazing 12-day vacation. I really did not want to go home and back to real life! As I am creating my photo album right now of our trip, I am having a blast just reliving it all and am anxious for our next adventure!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NYC: Hours 49-72

After so much walking the day before, we decided to utilize the subways a little more today!

We also found that New Yorkers are very nice people who will help give directions, advice, etc. We happened upon a local lady on the subway. She overheard us trying to decide the best place to get off to see the World Trade Center area and ended up not only telling us where to get off, but walking us to the corner and giving detailed directions.

Saint Paul's Chapel is a museum of sorts for the 9/11 tragedy. Located directly across the street from the towers, St. Paul's did not sustain any damage -- not even one broken window! The chapel became the resting place for all the weary rescuers and workers. People came from around the world to cook, counsel, and aid the heroes who risked their lives every day. Even professionals such as chiropractors came to give physical relief to these people. The church's pews became dining chairs and beds.

The church is lined with many of the well-wishers notes and pictures of those horrible times. We didn't even take photos inside; although, many were. It just seemed disrespectful. However, I highly recommend visiting the Chapel. It is a beautiful place.

We walked on to a walking bridge that gave a birds eye view of the construction. Eight years later and the rebuilding just doesn't seem to be that far along.

The walking bridge took us into an entrance of a building. After walking through the building to the other side, we realized we were in the World Financial Center that sits on the Hudson River. A beautiful building!

There was an outdoor "hot dog" place -- not a typical New York hot dog cart; but, an upscale one for all the employees to come and get lunch and sit in the gorgeous gardens in between the building and the Hudson. We took advantage of that!

For some reason, New York was stifling hot! Granted it was August and it is supposed to be hot in August; but, the weeks prior to our going they were unseasonably cool. Anyway, our only hope was that our subway car would have air conditioning (and we did have a few that weren't, ugh!)

This is what we looked like when we found one -- and a bonus when you could sit down!!

The Upper West Side was our next stop and we spent a few hours in the American Museum of Natural History. We looked and looked for Jed and the Indians from "Night at the Museum" but could not find them!

My dentist, who used to live in NYC, gave me several recommendations for restaurants. This one was my favorite -- Carmine's. A family-style Italian place that was delicious! MMM -- wish I could have their lasagna tonight!

Once again finished the night out at Time's Square.

Ugh...only one more night in the city...

Friday, September 11, 2009

NYC: Hours 25-48

We found that riding in cabs in NYC is not only expensive; but, when you get out of a cab, you feel you have experienced a mini-miracle that you are in one piece and that the cab is in one piece! In fact, we made the comment that the cabs all look to be in good shape -- no dents or scratches. How could that be? Then we saw one that was smooshed and thought that it was still good odds!!

Walking, although it wears you out, was my favorite. It was so much fun just happening upon these old buildings. We were walking and there was Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center...These weren't on my "To Do" list and if we had taken the subway, bus, or cab, we would have missed them.

I also loved the architecture of NYC. A modern building will be right next to an old cathedral built in the 1800's. It was beautiful!

Day two was a walking day. We left the hotel and headed for Fifth Avenue. If I hadn't planned the day, I would be convinced that my father-in-law and Chris planned it because it was Sunday and we walked up Fifth Avenue at 10am! So, the only shopping I did was window shopping. That's OK, though, only Tiffany's called my name!

We did see Rockefeller Center, which is so much smaller than I ever imagined. The ice rink must only hold a few dozen skaters at a time!

St. Patrick's Cathedral was built in 1878 and is the largest Catholic cathedral in the U.S. Plus, it is beautiful and reminded me alot of the cathedrals in England; although, this one was brighter and "happier" than the ones in England.

I had to go into Trump Tower. As I was walking around and gawking, Chris said I could stand there and pretend that Donald was saying, "Davedda, you're fired!" Now, that's not very nice, is it?!?

We walked our way up to Central Park and sat down on some park benches. Lining the benches were lots of "artists" wanting to do drawings/caricatures of people. The boys decided to have theirs drawn. It was such a "Central Park" thing!

On to the Central Park Zoo -- a sweet and quaint place to see animals.

We were hot and hungry and decided to try a restaurant that was recommended to me by a friend...Jekyll and Hyde. It was a few blocks down from Central Park and was obvious when we found it!

It turned out to be a haunted, dinner theater place where everything on the walls and all the waitstaff sing and dance and interact with the diners. It was a pricey lunch; but, the boys had a fun time!

Since Central Park takes up 843 acres, we decided to go back after lunch and see some more. The park is absolutely a little piece of heaven tucked away in a busy metropolis. As we sat watching people go by, it occurred to me that these people were locals bringing their kids to the park with their scooters and picnic lunches. Central Park is their BACKYARD. I can't imagine!

Here are a few pictures of Central Park which were taken over several visits:

On our walk back to the hotel, we found the Ed Sullivan Theater and Hello Deli. I have lots to blog about concerning these two places; but, you will have to tune back in for day four!! Let me just say, it was a celebrity-seeing day!!!

We ate dinner at Heartland Brewery. Once again a great dinner and great beer according to my husband and father-in-law! Finished the night off in Times Square and at the boys' other favorite places to go -- the Hershey's store and the M&M store!