26 December 2012

Christmas!

Christmas was wonderful this year! We had tried to see Santa at a few different places, but when it came down to it we couldn't make it. So on Saturday before Christmas we decided to go to the "Christmas House" in Poway. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It was so crowded! We had to wait for 45 minutes in the 45 degree weather to see Santa. The kids loved it though. This house is awesome and we didn't even have time to see half of it. They really go all out with the decorations. I think we will try to go a little earlier in the season next year so we actually have time to walk through the grounds and the house.

A funny story about seeing Santa. The kids all sat on his lap and I took the pictures. As we were helping them down T-bone heard Santa say, "Thanks for coming J family." Of course it threw him off a little and he asked Big Sister if she had told him her name. "Nope." After some questions to "Mrs. Claus" we discovered that he knew who T-Bone was because he knew his family. A little bizarre at first though!






Each kid got a candy cane and a toy to take home! After we saw Santa we had hot chocolate and cookies at the house that they provide. It is quite the generous family that puts this on.


I was going to save the kids' outfits to give them on Christmas but I gave them early so they could wear them on Sunday.

A story about this dress: I have had my eye on this dress from Target for months but didn't want to pay what they were asking. A few weeks later I noticed it on sale but it was still a little too much. Then the Saturday before Christmas it was 25% off making it a whopping $12 bucks! Bought and paid for! I think she looks darling in it!

Little Sister fell asleep before I could take a picture of her in her new dress. 



On Christmas Eve we went over to my Dad's house for dinner. They let the kids open their presents and Mr. Smiley got a battery powered Harley that drives by itself. It's pretty cool. Big Sister got a story book and a $20 gift card to Old Navy--which she later spent on a new pair of jeans and some fake Ugg boots. The kids sure do love their Grandpa and Grandma! Here they are at Grandma and Grandpa's in the jammies they bought them a few weeks before.




We got home pretty early so we could read the Nativity story and have a little family time by ourselves. We had made rice krispie treat balls (they were supposed to be ornaments but I failed on the supplies so they ended up just being balls with chocolate chips. Santa didn't mind)  for Santa earlier so the kids put those out and went to bed. After the kids got all snug in their beds we watched a movie and then Santa came!






The kids got up at 6:30 which wasn't too bad considering I was already up. Mr. Smiley always forgets that it's Christmas so we had to remind him. :) They went to town on opening presents and it was wonderful. T-Bone took videos mostly but here are a few shots of the loots.

Top left is Mr. Smiley showing off his Spider-man transformer toy that Big Sister gave to him. Top right is Little Sister's loot: crackers, baby snacks, a book, a polka dot dress from Grandma, a new outfit a couple other little things. Bottom left is obviously Big Sister: she got a new camera, the collection of Narnia books, 4 other classic novels, a unicorn dream light, some candies, a journal a new dress from Grandma, a Lego set from Mr. Smiley and the Lorax. And the bottom right is Mr. Smiley's: a new scooter, a dog dream light, a shirt from Grandma, some Dick and Jane books, new socks, Iron Man toy, Despicable Me, a VTech ABC text toy and a Spiderman toy.

Big Sister spent the rest of the day taking pictures and videos with her new camera which she has dubbed, "The best present ever!!" It's been funny trying to explain to her that we had to wait to get our pictures developed and sometimes it was months before we finished the whole roll of film. We would forget what pictures we had taken. When I told her that she looked at me all shocked and said, "You had to wait to see your pictures??" Waiting, such a foreign concept.

All the kids were really happy and the rest of the day we just watched movies and played with our toys! It was a great Christmas!

03 December 2012

Big Sister's Birthday

Big Sister turned 8!! on Dec 2nd. (This post is back-dated) She wanted to have a party with a few friends at the local paint your own pottery place. It sure was fun! She had 7 of her friends there and they all painted really cute animals. After the painting was done we came back to our apartment and had pizza, cake and ice cream. It was a great party--except for the rain that came in that day and made it impossible to walk the girls back to our apartment--around the corner. Thankfully a friend's mom came by to drop off a present and was able to shuttle the girls back to our house!


It was crazy hair day that day at school so that's why her hair looks like this--plus it was wet from the rain.

She asked for a pink tennis ball cake. 

Blowing out the candles!


She got an Our Generation Doll from us and all the girls were really excited about it. Grandma was helping open the packaging.

29 November 2012

The Tooth Fairy Came Early

Mr. Smiley had a visit from the Tooth Fairy last night. Yes, he's only 3 1/2. I wish it hadn't happened, but it was for the best. A couple weeks ago he was playing around and stuck some vampire teeth in his mouth and I saw a blister-like bump on his gums above his right front tooth. Of course I Googled it and have to say I could never make it as a dentist. Oh boy mouth sores are nasty! I settled on what I thought it was--a fistula (only look if you want to see mouth pictures)--but had no idea really what that meant. Totally freaking out I called the doctor who got him in later that day. "It's an infection. Here's some anti-biotics," he said. I asked him about the fistula and he said it would be fine and that the infection would clear up with the anti-biotics. Thinking we were in the clear I filled Mr. Smiley's prescription and headed home.

Let me back up: 6 months ago Mr. Smiley, Big Sister and some friends were playing outside at a friend's house. I was their with the girls' mother and we were chatting while they were playing. Big Sister comes over and says, "Mr. Smiley fell." When I looked his way, he was getting up and totally unfazed kept on playing. I really didn't think anything about it and went back to chatting with my friend. Then Big Sister comes over again and says, "Mr. Smiley's bleeding and his teeth are sticking out." What!?! I called him over to check him out and sure enough his lip was bleeding and his teeth were out of line. He must have fallen flat on his face. Lucky for us we were right in front of the dental office where my friend's (who I was talking to) husband was the dentist. I walked him over to see if he could give me his professional opinion and after a quick exam said I should take him to the Pediatric dentist. Off we went the next day. They did an exam and x-rays and everything looked just fine. They said to watch the teeth and they should go back in place after a few weeks, firm up and be just fine. After a few weeks they did firm up but the left one began to discolor. We took Mr. Smiley in for his first real exam about a month after the accident and the dentist wasn't concerned about the discoloration so I didn't worry. Every few weeks I would check that tooth but it just stayed the same shade of gray. Not once did I pay attention to the other tooth.

Ok back to the story: Over the weekend I saw no improvement so I called the doctor again and left a message. That's where this story picks up. After a visit to the dentist and new medicine we headed home again. Very slowly over the next few days I started to notice a change in the blister as it got a little smaller. He had an appointment for tomorrow to have it removed but they called me Tuesday night and said there was an opening for yesterday morning. So we went in. I was a little apprehensive and wished that they wouldn't have to take his tooth, but after seeing the x-ray and hearing the explanation from the dentist I realized it was the best thing for the long term.

Mr. Smiley was so brave! We didn't tell him directly that they were going to have to take his tooth, but we spoke about it in his presence. On Tuesday night I said he was going to the dentist in the morning and he told me he was going to be brave. Then in the morning on the way there, I was about to tell him, but he said, "We're going to the dentist so they can take my tooth. It's not going to hurt mom." This boy. He was so at peace with it. I was amazed at him. He got some gas and went through the procedure with the maturity of an adult. He got a little teary and sad when the dentist was giving the Novocain, but who wouldn't? That stuff hurts!! After he was numb he just took everything in stride, unaffected by the whole situation. I have to admit I probably shed more tears than he did! The RDA gave him lots of dinosaur toys to take home and that made him happy, of course.

So that's that. My little boy is one tooth short of a full smile. He is still super adorable though!
Before

Getting a little gas with his "robot mask" on

Many attempts at getting him to smile so I could see the space! Some day he'll smile like a human again. :)

26 November 2012

Thanksgiving Barf-O-Rama

Every year for the past...many, many years our friends have gotten campsites at the beach at Thanksgiving and Easter. It started with them and my parents and all the kids, but over time it's just turned into the Pierce's. We usually go down to visit and sometimes have Thanksgiving dinner with them, but haven't spent the night in the past. This year we decided we were going to do it! We were really excited and headed down there on Wednesday afternoon. Since T-Bone was still at work and no one else was there Lee decided to take us sailing! I've never been sailing (and of course neither had my kids) so we were pretty excited. We got the kids life-jacketed up and Big Sister was really nervous. She didn't want to get on the boat, but with a bit of coaxing she got on and realized that it wasn't quite as bad as she thought. She ended up really enjoying the boat ride! The wind was very calm so we were going pretty slow but it was a gorgeous day on the bay so we just enjoyed it.

That night the kids were so excited that they were camping for real that they couldn't wait to go to bed! They slept really well but of course woke up bright and early at 6:15am. We got up and the kids played around the camp grounds and the park and the grown ups readied ourselves for Thanksgiving dinner. The campsite we were at has a great kid's park, a pool, and safe roads for kids to ride bikes and skateboards. It's really fun. We had a huge crowd for dinner and even met our site neighbors from Brazil! Dinner was delicious and everyone had a good time.



That is until about 6:30pm. I started to feel a little icky. I was really tired and had a stomach ache. I couldn't really stand to put Little Sister to bed, but that's all she wanted so I tried my best. When she was finally asleep I went and laid by the campfire. I was freezing! I really didn't think I was sick but at 9 it was made apparent to me when I filled a gallon ziplock bag. Not fun.

Luckily my mom lives a mile away from the campgrounds so I went home with her to sleep in a real bed. It's a good thing I did because I was up until 3am every hour.

I. Was. Sick.

At 5am I got a text from T-Bone saying Mr. Smiley had barfed too. Then again an hour and a half later. This was not shaping up to be the best Thanksgiving camping ever. After Mr. Smiley threw up a couple more times, I decided it would be best if I took him and Little Sister home. We packed up what we could and I got about 5 miles away when I got a call from my mom. Big Sister had thrown up and I needed to come back and get her. Spencer had already left so he could bring his scooter home. I had to drive 40 minutes home with a 101.5 degree fever. It's a miracle we made it. All three of us were sick until Sunday afternoon when we started to get our strength back. Luckily Little Sister and T-Bone never got it. I'm so bummed we missed out on such a great camping experience though! Unfortunately the stomach flu wasn't isolated to our family. All in all I think 9 or 10 people got it. So miserable!

Hopefully next Thanksgiving will be less barfarific!

20 November 2012

This happened today (actually yesterday now)

I swear it's Tuesday. I keep thinking with all the things that went on today that it couldn't have been just one day. And yet here it is: Monday. And it's still not even dinner time.

Today I cleaned up the house a little, Big Sister vacuumed her room and we sorted all the laundry. Then I put Little Sister down for a nap and jumped in the shower. When I went to check on her after my shower she had a poopy diaper. She was asleep though and there was no way I was going to wake her up as bad as it made me feel leaving her there sleeping in her feces. I took that opportunity to run the laundry over to the laundry mat and threw it in the washers. Once back to the apartment I finished cleaning up and the baby was awake. Changed a poopy diaper, vacuumed the house and called the doctor. Mr. Smiley has (what I have since found out) an abscess tooth-from when he fell on his face 6 months ago-and the antibiotics he has been on all weekend haven't worked. The doctor on Thursday just said it was "some kind of infection". Thanks for your professional opinion dude. I coulda told you that.

While I was waiting for the doctor to call back I took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook to see if anyone knew what it was. My mom called and said she showed it to the ladies in the dentist/orthodontist office she works at and that it was an abscess tooth and that he needed to be seen TODAY. They figured it would have to come out. My mother anxiety came out and so did the tears. My little boy toothless at three!? I called the dentist and made an appointment for 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Back to the laundry mat to put the clothes in the dryer. Do my hair, clean up some more and run to the apartment office to reserve the clubhouse for Big Sister's baptism after party. Back home and then when the clothes were done in the dryer bring them home. Throw them on the floor and get all the kids in the car. Then we went to a friend's house for a Thanksgiving kid party. It was great fun, my kids were entertained and happy and there was great food. Thanks Lacey!

After that we headed straight to the dentist. We got there early and Little Sister and Mr. Smiley had fallen asleep in the car so we just sat in the parking lot for a little bit. In the dentist's office they took an x-ray of Mr. Smiley's tooth and the dentist looked at him. He knew it was bad. The area above his tooth is really swollen and on the x-ray you can see the abscess very clearly. I almost cried again, but I managed to hold it in this time. It just hurts my mother heart to see my son have such issues! I will spare you the picture I took this morning. It's just gross. He said the tooth would have to be taken out but not until the swelling had gone down. He gave me a prescription for something else and we headed down to Target. I made another appointment for next week to have his tooth extracted.

Target is usually not too rough but the stress of dealing with Mr. Smiley's abscess tooth and a fussy baby made it rough. The medicine prescribed was going to be over $150 (we have Kaiser insurance and they would have covered it but because the prescription didn't come from their doctors I have to pay out of pocket) but luckily the Pharmacist was looking out for us and recommended we switch antibiotics to one that was much cheaper. I am very grateful to him. He was able to get in contact with the doctor and I only had to pay $24. While he was on the phone with the doctor I made Little Sister a bottle because she was so fussy. While the script was being filled we did some shopping. Little Sister was super fussy the whole time. She did drink her bottle but was still so upset. I had to go back and forth to the baby aisle because I kept forgetting things. We finally made it to the check out line and come to find out Little Sister is super wet--her diaper had leaked all over her clothes. No wonder she was so fussy! Sorry baby girl. The guy at the checkout was new so of course it took longer to check out than normal. But I tried to be nice. Then we headed over to the bathroom to change the diaper. I love Target for their giant "Unisex" bathrooms that you can bring your whole family plus the cart in. As I was trying to finagle the cart through the door one nice worker said he would stay outside with it so I didn't have to drag it in the bathroom. Bless you, sir. So diaper was changed and we headed out to the car and finally on our way home.

It was still only 4:30.

When we got home I finally sat down and relaxed for the first time all day. I really and truly though that it was Tuesday already. Then I realized it was still only Monday and I hadn't even had dinner yet. We had cereal and root beer floats for diner. It was just one of those days!

12 November 2012

Boggity Birthday and a Giveaway!!

Today my blog is 7 years old! Happy Birthday Flip Flop Mama Blog! 

I have been blogging since just before Big Sister turned 8. I remember starting this blog when blogging was still very new and being really nervous! I've shared a lot on this blog in the last 7 years. I've had 2 more kids plus 3 pregnancies and losses, 2 moves, joys, sadness, frustration, crafts, religion and so much more! I feel like as my kids get older--and I have more--it's harder to write on here but I'm still determined to keep it alive. It's such an important way to record history for my family and friends.

But enough of the mushy stuff, let's get on to the good stuff: 
A BLOGGITY BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY!

So unless you are new to this blog and me you know that I love to knit and crochet! It clears my head and gives my restless hands something to do. I also have a small Etsy store that I try to keep stocked with a few things. I don't keep everything there though.

SO I've decided to give away either my new Chevron Striped Beanie (in whatever color you want) or a $15 credit to my Etsy store!

Just some of the colors to choose from
It comes in baby sizes too!

So here's the nitty-gritty: What you need to do to enter is head over to my Jamie's Knits Facebook page, make sure you're a fan and "like" the post for the giveaway and you're entered (If you're already a fan just like the post)! It's that easy! If you want an additional entry then share the post on your Facebook page. That's it! (Only those that have liked the giveaway post that is on Facebook will be entered. Likes on this blog post don't count)

This will last until Thursday at 9pm Pacific time and I will announce the winner on my Facebook page on Friday! Good luck!

09 November 2012

10 Months Old!

Little Sister is 10 months old today! This month she has learned a lot and continues to be such a light in our family.

She loves to growl. I was thinking this morning I've never seen another baby who growls like her. It's pretty hilarious.

She learned how to crawl on her 9 month birthday and is getting pretty fast now!

She can wave hi and bye so of course we try to get her to do it as much as we can. She can also sign "all done".

A couple weeks ago she learned to pull herself up and so of course she does it every chance she gets. So many things we thought were safe before are suddenly in her reach! She has such short legs so she just looks too little standing by our couch or the kitchen chairs.

She is just a little petite girl and has been hanging out at 16 pounds for quite a few months. I just found out yesterday she is 17 pounds 4 ounces so she finally gained some weight!

She hasn't been to big of a laugher until recently and now she laughs at so many things. She loves chasing games--especially chasing Mr. Smiley--and she just giggles the whole time. Peekaboo makes her laugh so much too.

Everywhere we go people always say, "Oh wow, look at her eyes! They are so big and blue!" She does have huge, bright blue eyes and the best smile in the world!

She has been babbling "mamamama" and "dadadada" for a while but I'm pretty sure she's said "Mama" where she really means me!

So because I know you all can't get enough of this sweet face here is a gratuitous amount of photos and videos. Happy 10 month birthday Little Sister!










06 November 2012

New York City: Days 3 & 4

Okay here is the next two days of our New York trip!

Day 3: Today we started the day by going to Tom's Restaurant in Brooklyn. It was sooo good! Small family-type owned restaurants is something I don't get much of living in San Diego. I got apple cinnamon pancakes and boy were they fantastic! They had cinnamon butter (and peach butter and strawberry butter) to spread on top too. To die for!

Then we got on the subway and rode it to Battery Park. We picked up the Downtown tour bus so we could see that part of Manhattan. The first guide we had was super dull but she did give us a good tip. We thought the half price Broadway tickets were only available in a couple places, but she told us there was another ticket office right in front of one of the stops at South Street Seaport. We got off and T-Bone got in line and I walked around the corner to see the Bodies Exhibit. It was something I've been wanting to see since I heard that it came to San Diego a couple years ago. It was really worth it. T-Bone had no desire to go with me so I walked around at my own pace and it was fascinating. I love science and the body so to see it so defined was beautiful. I found myself so much more acutely aware of my body, especially my breathing and heartbeat.

Spencer was second in the ticket line so when I was done with the Bodies we got tickets for Phantom of the Opera and got on the bus. This time we had the best tour guide! He was Italian and such an amazing accent. We kept wondering if it was just for show, but even if it was it made the tour so enjoyable! It was so great to take the Downtown tour because we saw so much more than we would have otherwise. We roude around on the bus through China town and Little Italy. We got off at SoHo and Chelsea to eat at Joe's Pizza. Super good! Then we walked over to the High Line and walked along that. It was really cool, but we were so tired of walking by the time we got there that we didn't walk too far on it. We got back on the tour bus and just rode it around until the tour was finished.
Top Row: The guy in the red shirt was our Italian tour guide. Cool shot of the Empire State Building, our reflection on the bus in a building.
Bottom Row: Somewhere in china town, our pancakes from Tom's, Us on the tour bus.

After that we rode the subway up to a yarn store I wanted to shop at. I got the most gorgeous yarn but can't decide what to make with it. I will though. We had a little time so we walked through the MoMa for 45 minutes until it closed. After that we were trying to kill time so we found a deli and ate dinner (Digby's) and then walked around 30 Rockefeller Center a little. When it was time we headed over to the Phantom of the Opera theater. The tickets we got were the second row from the stage and we were so close we could look over and see the orchestra in the pit! The show was great and it was fantastic to see it so close. I have seen Phantom, but it's been like 20 years and T-Bone has never seen it so we really enjoyed ourselves!

One last thing to mention about this day is we took the subway SO many times and I have never walked up and down so many stairs in my life! Some of those tracks are 6 stories down and then you have to walk back up once you get off the train! After the show we headed home and crashed. It was a full day!
Top Row: 30 Rock, the New York Public Library (which we meant to go in but forgot to), our seats in the Majestic Theater for Phantom.
Bottom: Bottom of the Empire State Building, Times Square New Years Eve ball, Joe's Pizza (really was New York's best!)

Day 4: Today was my birthday! We got up and spend the day walking around lower Manhattan. We walked around Wall Street (but got a little lost somehow finding it) saw the NYSE, the finra building (the regulating authority for T-Bone's occupation), the place where George Washington was sworn in as the first president and the 9/11 Memorial. The memorial was not as moving as I was anticipating. It was beautiful, but the waterfalls were so loud. I found it kind of distracting to think about what happened with the loud water! I did get emotional looking at some of the names and thinking about their lives though--especially when I saw a couple of names where it said "a woman and her unborn child." It's so sad to think about what was taken from the people who were not in that building. They are building a museum and I was bummed it wasn't done. In the little Visitor's Center they had a video and some recovered items and that little bit moved me more than the waterfalls.

After the Memorial we rode the train uptown and got on a boat tour to the Statue of Liberty. They have it closed to go inside so we figured just taking a boat around would be good enough. It was and we got some good pictures. I just wish we had done Ellis Island also. Next time. After the boat let us off we were walking back to the train so we could find a restaurant to eat dinner but we stopped to eat at a pie store which lured us in with its intoxicating smell. Then we were heading back to the train again but had to stop again when we walked by this delicious sandwich and pizza place! T-Bone loved the pizza here and our sandwiches were pretty good too.

Full of food we headed down to Brooklyn because we wanted to rent bikes to ride across the Brooklyn Bridge. When we got there the dude working was singing "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley while it was playing on his phone. When the song was over he played it again and I asked him if we just got RickRoll'D. He laughed and said he had been waiting all day for someone to ask him that! It was pretty hilarious! We tipped him just for being awesome and we got "Best customers of the day." So we got our bikes and rode over the bridge. It wasn't as hard as we were expecting; on the contrary it was rather easy and refreshing! It was really gorgeous to see the city from that vantage point too. After crossing the bridge we kept riding and rode around Battery Park. That was a gorgeous part of the city that we probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. We turned our bikes in at Battery Park and then headed up to the United Nations. It was the week of the Summit so the roads were closed but we could walk up there--just not too close. T-Bone was hoping he could see some protestors. We talked to some funny cops trying to find our way around the barricades. When we finally got as close as we could we saw a group of middle easterners in a blocked off area. (It was their designated area) We asked the cops what they were doing and one of them said, "Every so often they yell in another langage that we can't understand." Then another one said, "Actually they are singing Happy Birthday to me because it's my birthday." I said it was my birthday too and he gave me a hug and took a picture with me. It was awesome! I don't know if it really was his birthday but it makes a fun story! After that we went home because we were exhausted and had an early morning on Friday. We were so full from our earlier eatings we didn't even get to go to a fancy restaurant to celebrate my birthday. But the rest of the day made up for it!
Top Row: New York skyline from the boat, us with the Statue of Liberty, the Charging Bull, me and my bike on the Brooklyn Bridge. Next Row: Us at the 9/11 Memorial, me and the NYC cop who I might share a birthday with, and T-Bone at finra. Bottom Row: Me at the Federal Reserve and below that eating a street hot dog, the George Washington Memorial, us on the Brooklyn Bridge and T-Bone at the NYSE.
Such a great two days and a fantastic way to spend my 34th birthday!

03 November 2012

InstaOctober

Since I've been on Instagram I've seen a lot of the "Photo-A-Day" shots by my friends. I never participated until last month and let me tell you it was fun! I missed a few days but I liked it so much I'm going to do it again in November! Here is my InstaOctober!
Day 1: Where I stood, Day 2: lunch time, Day 3: This happened today, Day 4: What I read today (The Moonstone), Day 5: Shadow. (He's my little shadow), Day 6: I'm thankful for, Day 7: Light, Day 10: Emotion, Day 12: On the table, Day 14: Makes you laugh, Day 17: Fruit (Whoops, 14 and 17 are switched), Day 19: Letters, Day 23: The view from here, Day 25: People (my people), Day 26: Listening to Big Sister and Mr. Smiley play Candy Land, Day 29: Moon Day 30: Clothes. And the last three are just for fun: A gorgeous sunset! Hot air balloon right over my head and a not visually appetizing yet super delicious donut from VG's Bakery. 

02 November 2012

New York City: Days 1 & 2

So we've been home from New York City for over a month and I haven't written anything about it on the blog! I can't seem to find the time or the motivation to do it. Well today is the day! For those of you that don't know T-Bone and I went to New York City in the middle of September to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. It has been something we talked about for years and finally we had the time and resources to actually do it! It was a dream come true and a wonderful trip! I'm going to break my posts into days 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 5 and 6 so look for the next two posts!

Day 1: Our flight left at 6:30 so we knew this would be an early day. I went to bed at a normal time but could not sleep. I woke up at 1:30 and just tossed an turned for over an hour. My alarm was set for 3:30 but at 3 I'd had enough and got up and showered. I was tired of just laying there. Our flight was fine, and unlike what I was expecting I didn't even cry when we left. I thought I would be regretting leaving the little kids and especially Little Sister who was still nursing! I was totally at peace about leaving them though; I knew they were in good hands. When we got to JFK we were starving though so to start off our trip we ate in the airport. Super delicious, right? We hopped on the Air Train to take us to the Long Island Railroad and we navigated our way around just fine. Public transportation is not something we do a lot of! We got off on our stop in Brooklyn and started walking. The walk from the train station to our apartment wasn't that far, but it wasn't in the best of neighborhoods either. We really stuck out dragging our suitcases let me tell you. We finally made it to the apartment and it was darling! A gorgeous brownstone basement apartment. We loved it there. It was a perfect, quiet place to come back to each day. Once we got the key and dropped our bags off we headed out to see what we could see! We decided to stay close to home and explore a little of Brooklyn. We saw Grand Army Plaza and walked around the outsides of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (since it was closed) and saw a little of Prospect Park. Then we hopped on the subway and got a few supplies at Target. By this time it was getting dark and we had been up since 1:30 so we headed home to plan the next day.

Top Left: The front of the brownstone where we stayed. Top Right: There really is as much traffic as you think in Manhattan. Bottom Left: The statue in Grand Army Plaza. I like water fountains. Botton Right: The subway! We had so much fun riding it all around the city, although the seats are not confortable in the least!
Day 2: We started the day by taking the subway to Midtown for the Uptown double decker bus tour. In the past I have rolled my eyes at the people who take these super touristy bus tours, but let me tell you I have totally changed my mind! It was such a wonderful way to see the city and learn more about the history and each little neighborhood. Our Tuesday tour basically took us around the perimeter of Central Park. We took the bus and got off at the Natural History Museum. We walked around there for an hour or so. We loved this museum! We especially loved the wall of animal specimens where they had a bunch of underwater animals and giant spiders. It was pretty creepy. We loved seeing the giant blue whale too in the big exhibition room. We barely saw much more than that because we had more things to do, but I would definitely go back there. It's funny though because later when we were talking to T-Bone's cousin she mentioned how cool it was to see all the other animals that are stuffed (the kind that come to life in Night at the Museum) but we totally walked past all those. Since we have spent lots of time at the Zoo and Sea World we have seen most of those animals alive and in their habitat, so seeing them stuffed was kind of anti-climactic. After walking through the Natural History Museum we walked over to the Shake Shack.  Holy. Cow. Quite possibly the best hamburger I have ever eaten! We got the Smoke Shack and I still can taste it!

After eating we got back on the bus to continue the tour. When we got on there were no more seats on the top so we had to sit below. There were these two teenage girls with their mom that were so grouchy because they couldn't ride on the top of the bus. T-Bone and I were just giggling to ourselves and totally mocking them. I know it sounds terrible but they were asking for it. "Oh woe is me! I have to come all the way to NYC on vacation and can't even sit on the top of the bus!" They really did say, "Two thumbs down for the GreyLine!" It was very entertaining. I told T-Bone, "Make sure I just laugh at our kids when they do dumb things like this when they are teenagers instead of getting too upset." We rode the bus around Central Park and saw The Guggenhiem and a LOT of churches. It was a really fun tour.

We got off the bus at the south side of Central Park and then walked over to rent bikes. We rode around Central Park and what a gorgeous day it was for bike riding! I was little bummed because a lot of the trails said you couldn't take bikes on them so we mostly stayed on the main path. I think we missed a lot of the cool stuff in the park though. We parked our bikes at The Met and walked around there for a couple hours. We only saw the ancient Green and Roman artifacts and sculpture. Then we went up to another floor where the famous paintings are. I was really excited about seeing original Van Gogh's, Picasso's, and Monet's and of course a whole slew of other beautiful works of art. You could really get lost in The Met. There is so much to see!

After we left we got back our bikes and continued north. We rode west out of the park to see the Hudson River and Riverside Drive and then back to Central Park and finished the loop. We found out later it was a 10 mile loop! We hurriedly dropped our bikes off at the rental place and took the subway to visit T-Bone's second cousin once removed. She lives on the Upper East Side so that was cool to see a real New York apartment. She has a beautiful view of the city and lives around the corner from Al Roker. Pretty neat.  She took us to a darling little Italian restaurant around the corner where I had spinach and cheese ravioli which was delicious! We talked for a couple hours because Susan has wonderful stories and is great to listen to. She has lived in NYC for 40 years so she could tell us so much about how the city had changed over time and how it's such a great place to live now.

After we left her place we headed to the Empire State Building. It was about 9:30 when we got to the top and super windy! The night was clear so we could see the lights of all of Manhattan and beyond. It was gorgeous and amazing to be so high up.


Top Row from the left: T-Bone with is bike in Central Park, Us in Central park, us on our touristy tour bus.
Bottom Row: The creepy wall of specimens in The Natural History Museum, me in Central Park, the creepy wall again and the Shake Shack!

Top Row: T-Bone at the top of the Empire State Building, us with Susan, pretty views of Manhattan from Central Park
Middle Row: Van Gogh himself, eating ice cream on a park bench in Central Park, honking is an epidemic there, but there are some places where you can't, and the view from the top of the Empire State Building.
Bottom Row: Me at the top, another view from the top, another Van Gogh (wish I could remember which one) and both of us at the top. 
And with that we decided to call it a day and head home!