Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Day

Christmas morning was a lot of fun with Asher. He was so excited to open presents, and even more excited when he saw what was in them. He of course wanted to open everything immediately so he could play with it. Which was nice, as it gave me and Nate some spaces to open our own gifts. I got a much needed warm puffy coat which I love, a purse from China, a cute winter hat, some classic movies, and then Nate got my the Elizabeth Gaskell collection which includes, Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters. I can't wait to watch them. Asher got some Thomas the trains and tracks, Blue Clues dvd and Thomas dvd, some clothes and a LOTS of matchbox cars, which he was so excited about. Nate got some jeans, shoes, movies, a running jacket, and amazon gift cards. We also got a nice air mattress to make your visit here more comfortable!

We had a nice quiet day at home. I made some rolls and a yummy fruit salad to take to a potluck with some friends in our ward that were also still in town for Christmas. It was so nice to be able to be with people for Christmas. We had a nice dinner, good conversation, and then Nate and Clark played some Christmas bluegrass for us to sing to. Sayer was in great spirits and was such a little show off. He had great fun playing around on the couch and flirting with all the ladies, and just laughed and played all night. Asher was a little sick, so he was in rather low spirits, but still a trooper. It was all great fun. Sadly, we had to leave before the game playing began... those darn kids and their early bedtimes!

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with the spirit of our Savior, friends and family, and lots of great memories.

Christmas Eve

I'm not gonna lie... Christmas Eve started out terribly. Asher woke up with a horrible cold and was in a really bad mood. I did not get enough sleep, so I was in a terrible mood as well. Nate and I discovered that we are not very good at having Christmas on our own yet. We don't have any traditions of our own yet, and quite frankly, we were both a little too lazy to do too much about it. Part of the reason is that it has been very quiet and lonely around here, which just reminds us even more that we are not with our families, which made me very sad. But thankfully, we were able to straighten out our attitudes, and ended up having a wonderful Christmas Eve. We headed over to the East side, to the Church of Heavenly Rest Christmas pageant and live nativity. I was so glad that we went, as it really helped to put me in the spirit of Christmas. The spirit was there in abundance, and just the simple singing of Christmas hymns brought tears to my eyes. The chapel was beautiful and there was even a live donkey that Asher got to sit on and pet.

After the pageant was over, we decided to walk through Central Park instead of taking the bus home. It started raining and was pretty slushy, but it was really nice for Nate and I to talk about things that were important to us, especially after a rough couple of days with low spirits. Asher was getting hungry and cranky, so we stopped at McDonald's for our Christmas Eve dinner, which Asher loved, and it was just what he needed. We made it home and got the kids into bed, and had a nice relaxing evening wrapping some presents, putting presents out and watching tv. Nate didn't want to watch A Christmas Story, so it sadly wasn't anything Christmasy. Oh well. Nate and I were in bed by 10:30. It was a really great Christmas Eve.

Santa and Grand Central Station

The day before Christmas Eve, we made it down to Macy's to see Santa. It was not nearly as crazy as the day after Thanksgiving, which was nice, but it was still a bit of a mad house. It was so worth it though. Going to see Santa in NY is a big deal. You go up to the 8th floor and get in line. It normally takes about 20-30 minutes to get inside the train, but luckily for us, it wasn't too busy so it took about 10 minutes. I almost didn't make it in because I thought it would take longer, so I went to get a sandwich as I hadn't eaten a single thing all day, and it was almost noon. Apparently, they are super strict and don't let you get back in line once you get into the train. Thankfully, Nate and the boys had JUST gone in, so she let me past... but she almost didn't. Inside the "train" was so cool. It was like another little world in there, with trains, singing and dancing teddy bears and polar bears, and toy making factories, Christmas trees... it was so fun. Asher could not get enough of the trains. He kept asking to see more. We were probably only in there for about 20 minutes or so. People in line are so funny, or annoying, one of those. Clearly, there is no where to go. The line moves at it's own slow pace, so when the person in front of you moves forward, it's not like you have to rush to catch up to them. Well, we were taking our time, (not too far behind the people in front of us) taking pictures, showing Asher the toys, etc etc. Then some lady behind us has to ruin our fun by saying quite rudely: "could we move it along here?!" Well, excuse me for wanting to give my child a fun experience and not just rush through the line. I was so bugged, but decided to just let it go. When you get to where Santa's houses are... yes, housES... there are 5 from what I hear, they direct you to a certain one. One is black, one is Latino, maybe an Asian one, and then of course a white one, maybe two. I thought that was really funny at first, but it makes sense I think. We got a white one, obviously. He was very kind and jolly and asked Asher what he wanted for Christmas. Asher just sat there looking so confused. At least he didn't cry. Sayer was having a grand old time. He loved Santa and his beard and just looked around smiling and charming all of Santa's helpers. It was really fun though, and I am glad we made the trek down there to see him.

After Santa, we went up to Grand Central Station to see the train show. Asher of course LOVED it and couldn't get enough of it. He kept asking for "more" trains and kept circling around trying to find new ones that he hadn't seen yet. What can I say, the kid loves trains. There was also a light show in the main concourse where they play Christmas songs and have pictures out of lights dancing on the walls, which was a lot of fun and again, Asher loved it.

After that, we decided to head home as the kids were super tired, and it was SOOO cold. Asher refused to put his mittens on, so by the time we got to the subway station, his hands were icicles and they hurt, so he was crying. Then they started hurting even more when they started thawing out on the subway. They turned bright red. Poor little guy... although it serves him right... he should have listened to his mother and put his glovies on! Aside from the cold hands, it was a fun day and it was so nice to get out of the apartment.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rockefeller Center

Nate is finally finished with classes for the semester, and now has a whole month off. I am so excited to be able to do some more things as a family. Especially these next few days before Christmas. We are really going to try to make this a nice, fun, memorable Christmas, even though we are not going to be with family. Which I have to say, so far, it's been a little depressing. But this last Thursday, Nate and I managed to get out to see the window displays on 5th avenue and the tree at Rockefeller Center. It was cold and Christmasy, and just what I needed. I loved it!

The window displays were so awesome. My favorites were the Disney store

and Bergdorfs

Check out these"knockers" in the Juicy Coutoure window...

I got a lot of good ideas for decorating in the future

and just enjoyed the holiday atmosphere.

Next week we are hoping to go on a few holiday outings to help reign in the feeling that it really is Christmas, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A must see...

On Friday night I turned on the tv to the edited version of Bridget Jones Diary. I am a huge fan of Colin Firth, so after watching it, I was craving to watch something else with him in it. Well, normally I would just pop in the good old BBC Pride & Prejudice, but Nate some how convinced me not to bring our VCR, thus making it pointless to bring our VHS tapes... sad, I know. Anyhoo, so last night I was perusing through the instant movies on Netflix and remembered a recommendation from my friend Lark. She said that North and South was a remarkable movie and Pride and Prejudice-esque, so I decided to watch it. Wow... I was not disappointed. Don't worry that I stayed up until two in the morning to finish it. Nate got up around then to get a drink or something and was totally mocking me. When I got into bed, I told him that I wasn't even sorry for being so unwise in staying up so late.

I honestly think that it is better than Pride & Prejudice. The acting is phenomenal, the music beautiful and perfect, wonderfully flowing story line with great emotional as well as romantic twists and turns. I honestly think that this is one of the most romantic movies ever made. The final scene is absolutely perfect. Often I am very disappointed by the climax of a movie as the acting makes it terrible, but not with this movie. There was no cringing at terribly delivered lines or poorly written scripts. That is actually one of my biggest problems with the new Pride & Prejudice... I think the acting is terrible. There are some worthy scenes, but the more I watch it, the more disappointed I am. Anyway... the point of the post is to tell you that if you are a hopeless romantic like me, you need to watch this movie. You will not regret it. It is definitely one that I can and will watch again and again. I think I just made Nate's job of getting me a Christmas gift MUCH easier!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What's the difference??

The other day I did a radio interview over the phone. It was kind of random... a mom of one of Nate's old students thought it would be an interesting topic to talk to me about moving from a spacious house to a tiny apartment in the city with 2 young boys. Well, I felt really bad, because I didn't feel like I did a very good job of explaining the changes that we have made and the challenges that come with those changes. Part of the reason was that the questions focused more on the "things" that we left behind or have been doing without, and which "things" I miss the most and couldn't do without, etc. To be honest, it's not so much about the lack of "stuff" that makes our move harder... living in a small space IN the city is the challenge. I don't think it would be too much different to live in a small apartment in Provo vs living in our house in Provo, but in the CITY... things are VERY different. So while I really do miss Asher's changing table and matching crib, my queen sized bed with memory foam topper, super comfy couches, all my Christmas decorations and dishes, my nice serving ware, our Oster steamer (THE best!), our dishwasher and garbage disposal, a washer and dryer just steps away, a vacuum cleaner, two-sided sink, the fridge IN the kitchen, etc etc... only a few of those things really contribute to the completely different lifestyle that we are living here.

So here are some of my thoughts on the differences in living in the city vs living in the suburbs...

1. I am WAY more tired. This is probably the biggest thing I have noticed. All of the following things will help you see why.

2. I am literally doing dishes all day long. Nate made fun of me for saying that the other day because he thought I was being dramatic, but it really is the truth (although Nate is trying to start helping more with that). Due to the unfortunate size of my kitchen, I HAVE to stay on top of the dishes, or else there is no way that I will be able to accomplish anything in there. And we don't have a dishwasher or garbage disposal, so it's all hand washing for me baby, and not to sound prissy (because I am NOT), but having to pick up soggy food from the dishes in the sink and take it to the garbage is really not pleasant. Blah!

3. Going to the Grocery store is very physically and mentally draining. Maybe after I have been doing this for a year or so, it won't be such a big deal, but having to go to the grocery store 3 or 4 times a week with children in tow, and then having to carry and/or push added pounds back home is really not fun. I have to make sure I have snacks and water for Asher to avoid screaming and crying, as well as hurry through the store so as not to push my luck with him. And Nate wonders why I don't love grocery shopping as much as he does?! Oh, and not to mention that it is a pretty steep uphill ALL the way home. Especially right when you turn onto my street, that's where it's the steepest. Awesome! All I have to say is that I better have some HOT calves after living here for 3 years.... HOT!!

4. I feel like I am having to entertain Asher more, being in such a small space. Part of that is that there is really no where else for me to go other than the family room, so if Asher is playing in there, I just naturally spend more time with him. He still does really well, but I think when he sees me he'll sometimes get out of his playing groove and all of the sudden realize that he is hungry or wants to read books with me or whatever. Plus there is really just no way for me to get anything done while he is awake... when I'm on the computer, he wants to type, or look at pictures, or watch Thomas snippets... or if I'm eating, he has to eat my food, and when I am cooking or baking or doing the dishes he has to help, or at the very least, see what I am doing. And don't even think about getting craft stuff out. So I wait until he is asleep to do most things, which makes it very hard to get everything done that I need to, because lets face it, when the kids go down, all I want to do is relax. And then of course, it's a small space, so he feels couped up a lot more, and just needs to get out. Hope that all made sense. This is very educational for me to write all this down, by the way. It's helpful to think about why I am so tired and what really is so different about living here.

5. We walk everywhere. Except when we take the subway or the bus. The subway is pretty easy... when I am with Nate. First let me explain to you my trip to target by myself last night...

**After I wrestled Asher into his coat, shoes an threw him in the stroller (Maclaren), and got all the snacks, water, diapers, etc gathered into the diaper bag. Put my shoes and coat on. Strapped Sayer in the bjorn. We walked to the subway station. There is an escalator on 125th, so that wasn't a problem. Once you get in the subway station, there is another set of stairs to get on to the platform. A random stranger helped me carry the stroller up... so nice! Get on the subway. Get off the subway 100 blocks later. Get Asher out of the stroller, fold it up and carry it. Pick up Asher and carry him and the stroller down, while Sayer is strapped in the bjorn. At the bottom of the stairs, put Asher back in the stroller, walk a couple blocks to Target. Done with Target. Walk back to the Subway station. Take Asher out of the stroller, take off all of the bags now hung on the stroller, fold it up. Carry stroller, bags, Asher and Sayer up the 3 flights of stairs to the platform. Thank you random strangers for your help and for not getting annoyed with me. Asher doesn't want to get back in the stroller, so I let him play around on the train... it's pretty empty. My shoulders are starting to lose feeling from the bjorn, and I start to feel a little light headed. No biggie! Put Asher back in the stroller, we get off the train. Kind stranger helps me carry Asher in stroller down first set of steps. Of course, the escalator going down is not working, so I take Asher out of the stroller again, and proceed to fold up stroller and all my junk. Nice man helped me with my stroller. Thanks buddy! Put Asher back into the stroller and walk home... uphill. By the time I got home I had a full on headache from wearing the bjorn for so long, and was exhausted from the physical labor, as well as the anxiety of stressing over getting the stroller and Asher up and down the stairs without being a huge inconvenience to people. Seriously.

Now let me tell you what we do every Sunday to get to church...

**Follow similar pattern to the target story... Asher in maclaren, Sayer in bjorn, books, toys, snacks, blah blah blah. Walk to the bus stop on 123rd. Wait until the last possible second, then get Asher out of the stroller, take everything out of the basket and off the handles so that I can fold it up. Get out my metro card while juggling all of the stuff that was once on or in the stroller while also herding Asher onto the bus. Swipe my card and go sit down. Asher loves the bus, so luckily he is very well behaved and happy. Get off the bus. Grab Asher before he goes running into the street, put him back in the stroller, along with all the other crap that we had to remove in order to fold up the stroller. Why they make you take your child out of the stroller and fold it up is beyond me. Ok, so that's a lie. If you have ever been on a bus in NYC, you know exactly why they make you do that. People are packed like sardines into those busses. There is literally no room for people, let a lone strollers. But just because I understand, doesn't make it any less annoying. It is the biggest pain in the rear. So where was I... oh yes, we put Asher back in the stroller and walk a few blocks to the church. On the way home we do the same thing, except the busses are a lot more full, so it causes a little more anxiety. I know it doesn't sound like that big of a hassle, but it is. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. I cannot wait until January 4th when we will be moving back into the Lincoln Center building. We will just be able to roll our stroller on to the train, roll it off, and take the elevator to street level, and that's all. It's simple, it's straight forward, and it doesn't require any thinking or packing bags in a certain way like I do when we take the bus. 

6. Sayer now sleeps in our room, and we are being woken up by little coughs, sniffles, and lone cries much more frequently. I am not a fan. 

7. The kids have been sick a lot more, due to playing in the community toy room in the basement, due to the cold weather. Sick kids = less sleep. 

8. Getting together for play dates is a little more stressful, as we are in smaller spaces, which makes for more toy stealing and hitting. Asher has actually been doing really well with sharing and not hitting as much, but it still gives me some anxiety when we all get our kids together to play. Some parents take it pretty hard when their child is the victim of hitting, pushing, or toy stealing, so I have to pay a lot more attention to Asher and intervene quickly at times when I normally wouldn't. Not saying that I would normally let Asher hit kids, but I think it's important for kids to learn to stand up for themselves and understand that mommy is not always going to come to the rescue. 

Ok, this has turned into a long post. I'm not surprised really, what can I say? I love to talk. 

This is a pretty good list for now, although I'm sure there will be more things to tell about in the future. Oh, and this morning, I had to get a candy thermometer because I couldn't find mine, it took me 2 hours. I guess that's what I get for going to midtown during rush hour... which is 9:00 am. Awesome, huh?! 

***I just had to add an addendum, because I was reading over my post and realized that I made myself sound, well, amazing, and I am not.  I know that lots of moms are doing the exact same thing here, and probably not complaining about it.  But the truth is, I love it here.  I know I am lucky to be able to live in the awesome city, so I will definitely take the bad that comes with the loads of awesome-ness.  Just wanted to add that!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Where are you Christmas?

So far, it doesn't really feel like Christmas to me yet. I am very sad about this. Maybe even a little depressed? The other day I was trying to figure out why I wasn't really feeling the Christmas spirit, because you would think that in NYC of all places, you would feel it a ton, but I think it is because where we are, I don't really see any Christmas lights or decorations. I just see a bunch of classrooms from my window, and no one has lights in their windows or anything. The only places to see lights are all the big displays in Midtown, or in Central Park, or other neighborhoods that have trees and displays, but you have to go a ways. It makes me sad that I don't see Christmas lights every time I leave our house.

The other thing that I realized is making it not feel like Christmas, is that it doesn't smell like Christmas outside. No one has fireplaces or chimneys, so there is no lovely scent of smoke filling the air. It still just smells like the city. I don't know what it is about Provo and Sacramento, but it smells SO great during the holidays. It does smell nice and Christmasy in my apartment though... love my scentsy! I have finally gotten my cute little Christmas tree, and put up lights on my balcony, but I still need to put the ornaments on the tree and put up a garland and our stockings. Once I get that all up, I will take pictures and finally post pictures of our apartment. Sorry I haven't before, I keep forgetting. But now I might as well just wait until it looks all cute n' Christmasy.

So anyway, I am going to make more of an effort to play more Christmas music, bake goodies, watch Holiday movies, and get out and enjoy Christmas in the city. And any tips you have for helping induce the Christmas spirit would be greatly appreciated.

Winter's Eve

Last Monday we went to Lincoln Center for Winter's Eve. We started out at the tree lighting, which usually takes place on the Lincoln Center steps area, but they are doing reconstruction, so they lit a much smaller tree across the street. The whole thing wasn't very good to be honest. The tree was small, and the pre-lighting entertainment was terrible. I'm talking some chick is singing "there's a hero..." and not only is she not good, she is absolutely tone deaf. I am not exaggerating one bit. It was sad. But Asher did get this cool light wand thingy that he loved, so that was cool.

After the tree was lit, we walked down broadway where they had lots of little bands and tents with delicious food. We got some yummy pasta and some delicious chocolatey desserts. In the Time Warner building, we got peppermint bark and hot chocolate from Williams Sonoma, and a bunch of other little trinkets from different stores and booths. They had people walking on stilts, fake snow, and stars hanging from the ceiling that lit up in time with the music. They also had lots of magician, and circus type things for the kids. There was a concert at the Lincoln Center stake center that was supposed to be awesome, but Nate had to go teach a lesson, and the kids needed to go to bed, so we had to miss it. It was a pretty fun night though, and really nice to enjoy some of the holiday festivities with our little fam.

Next year I think we will shoot for one of the bigger tree lightings, like Bryant Park or Rockefeller Center, which is WAY bigger than I thought it was. We're talking Faith Hill, Myley Cyrus, Harry Conick Jr, Beyonce, The Jonas Brothers (whoever they are), Rascal Flats, and a couple more that I can't remember. The chick who plays Jenna in 30 Rock hosted it, and Jimmy Fallon did part of it too. I didn't get to see the whole thing, but caught parts of it on TV. Maybe next year when the kids are older, we will brave the CRAZY crowds.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sayer Bayer Baby

I just had to do another post about Sayer. He is growing up so fast, I can't even believe it. He is now 9 months, crawling at great speeds, pulling himself up to standing, and sometimes walking around furniture. He was crawling a little bit before we left on the cruise, and when we came back, he was a pro. He is loving his new life of mobility, and is so curious. He really wants to be a big kids, and follows Asher and his little buddies around trying to play with their toys and get in the action. They don't love that, but they will just have to get used to it. Sayer also wants to eat real food so badly. He will watch you and follow you when ever anyone has food, and tries to steal it from you. I tried to give him those little puffy things, as he has a tooth now, but he almost choked on it, so I think I will wait a little while before we try again. Although, he did really well with a piece of bread today, and he LOVED it, so maybe I will have to try again sooner.

Sayer is such a happy little guy. He is such a flirt and is so social. He loves to talk and say da-da and other babblings. He still loves to eat and is very vocal when I am not feeding him fast enough. It can get a little over dramatic if you ask me. But he is such a doll and I love him to pieces and can't imagine our life without him.


My little sister Jillian came to visit us for Thanksgiving week, and we LOVED having her here. I tried to get out with her as much as I could... her first day she went to the Frick Museum, and then we headed out on the town later that night. We just waked around in TImes Square area, and went to Rockefeller Center where they were putting up the HUGE Christmas tree, which by the way is REAL. Jill and I were looking at it thinking that for a fake tree it was a little stout, but when we got closer and the scent of pine started penetrating our nostrils, we decided we could forgive it's stoutness since it was real... and did I mention it was HUGE? We checked out the ice skating prices... yeah, it would cost one person $30 to ice skate at Rockefeller Center. I'll just watch, thank you.

We also headed down to Macy's and watched them paint the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade star on the street. It was so exciting for us, as we have been watching that parade for years.

One night we went and saw Mike Babiglia's "Sleep walk with me" one man show. It was hilarious. After the show, we saw Oscar from the Office. He was nice enough to take a picture with us. Bold color combo for a man I'd say!

On Thursday, we decided to brave the crowds to see the Thanksgiving Day parade. We didn't leave nearly early enough to get a decent view, but we still had fun.
Josh and Asher waiting at the bus stop. Asher loves Josh!

First we stopped on 79th street to see the balloons and floats all lined up and ready to go. Asher loved seeing the balloons up close.

After that, we went down to 76th to see what we could of the actual parade. It wasn't easy, and we didn't see much, but it was still a fun experience.
Getting a better view
And of course, what would the T.D.P be without an appearance by SANTA?! I can't tell you how excited I was when he came into view. I don't think I have ever been so excited to see Santa. It was such a fun and magical atmosphere, I just couldn't help but get into the spirit. I may or may not have gotten a little teary eyed. Probably just the wind in my eyes! What can I say? I love Christmas!

When we got home, I got right to work on dinner. I have this thing where I feel like meals for holidays have to be made from scratch. It's more of a sickness, I think. I really should have just bought pie crusts to help simplify my life, but NO, I just HAD to have everything homemade, or how could I face myself?! I was glad the we made everything though, it was stressful, but so yummy! Jill helped with chopping and rolls. I tried a new Rachael Ray stuffing recipe, which was good, although a little too sweet for my liking. We had Turkey, asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes with sour cream (YUM), stuffing, homemade rolls, and gravy, and for dessert, chocolate chip pie, and then I tried this delicious apple pie. I am not normally a big fan of apple pie, but this was a little different, and oh so scrumptious, and very easy. I definitely recommend it.

Here is a picture of our meal...
I was really sad not to have any of my nice dishes or serving ware. So don't mind the ugly plates and bowls... so not aesthetically pleasing!

The pies...
These were my best pie crusts ever. I usually have a really hard time rolling them out. But this year, I consulted the Smitten Kitchen blog for her recipe and tips on rolling out.

And just a little reminder of what we cooked our thanksgiving dinner in...
Ok, so I did use my neighbors oven for the Turkey, and Jillian did roll out the rolls down there too. But still! Yay us!

All in all, we had a really nice Thanksgiving. We were so grateful to have Jillian and Josh come into town for it. We have so much to be thankful for, and family and great friends are on the top of the list. Thanks guys for being here!!

On Friday, Jillian, Josh, the kids and I headed down to Macy's, which I realized after we got there, was a HUGE mistake. Your normal Macy's would be crowded, but the Macy's in Manhattan was HORRIBLE. I had a stroller, and there was literally no where to go. Oh well, I did get some ornaments, and at least I will know for next year not to try that again (at least not with kids).