Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hope Begins Here

A few months ago someone on Twitter posted that they has just entered DaySpring's contest to receive a Christmas item and review it on their blog  along with their Redeeming Love Tabletop Devotional. So, I entered as well. I totally forgot about it until the wreath arrived last week.

I must tell you that this wreath is just darling! It is handcrafted and so homey! I love the added Christmas touch it brings to my decor. It is just the right mix of homemade and festive! Everyone that passes by it hanging on my door comments about how cute and decorative it is.

I am so blessed to have been picked to receive it and review it for DaySpring and if you are looking to add to your holiday decorations you should definitely check it out! (It is now on sale as well!)

I especially love the button and bow at the top of the wreath that says, "Hope Begins Here" with a small decal of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. It is the perfect reminder that when Jesus was born in a manger on that first Christmas night, Hope was brought to a hopeless world. And especially in light of recent tragedies, it is a great reminder that He is still our source of Hope!

I am hoping that you and your family have a fantastic Christmas and remember that Jesus is our constant and daily Hope!

Also, the tabletop devotional is a wonderful daily reminder of Advent and Jesus' coming birth. It is not dated so can be used year after year. The kiddos have loved flipping to the new date each day and reading the new scripture and questions to ponder at the bottom.    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

I have always loved Christmas. As a child, it involved trimming the tree and decorating the house, inside and out after December 9*, visits from my grandparents who lived down the ocean, baking cookies with Mom-Mom and buying Christmas dresses with Pop. We'd go to midnight mass and come home to read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, open one present - new pajamas and hang our stockings. We'd sleep upstairs in the attic, all three sisters huddled together on one bed, chatting until we'd finally fall asleep.

We'd call down to my parents on Christmas morning and my father always called back, "Not sure why you'd want to come down here. Doesn't look like Santa left anything." This was the stall technique my parents used to be able to turn on the Christmas lights and pour themselves a cup of coffee.

We tromp down the stairs excitedly only to be stopped by my Mom for a picture. We'd take down our stockings and empty them on the floor to find pencils and crayons, manicure kits, nuts, chocolates and an orange. The same stocking hung each year even after we were married and had children of our own.

Then my father would go down to the basement and exclaim loudly, "I don't know. Santa must have skipped our house. You can come and check." and again we would bound down the stairs, stop for a picture and scurry to the tree. Gifts would be tagged and signed by Santa or Mom and Dad or maybe even Father Time (he had given us watches one year). And then there would always be a surprise gift for one of us - a skateboard for my younger sister that Dad rode out from the workshop or a stereo for me that had been playing Christmas music while we opened gifts that I only realized was there when my Dad asked me to turn the music up a bit.

Then we would play with our gifts while in our pajamas and my Mom would make breakfast for us. We would bake a cake for Jesus' birthday and sing "Happy Birthday" with our faces pointed toward the sky.

We would eventually get dressed and ready for company while Christmas dinner cooked. Aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents would visit throughout the day and we would stay at home. We never went anywhere on Christmas Day. My parents decided once they had children to stay home and invite others to come and visit and so they did.

I have such fond memories of Christmas.

And it didn't end Christmas Day. We'd go to my great aunt and uncle's house the Saturday after Christmas for a party and there was always food and family and presents. And then someone, normally us, would host a New Year's Eve party and we'd have sparkling cider and stay up past midnight.

Such cherished memories.

When Rick and I got married we joined two families and two sets of traditions. Of course, at first all of my traditions made sense and some of his seemed out of place. We talked about which ones were most important to us and decided to start them with our new family.

The tree is topped with a star and presents are wrapped and placed under the tree, with Santa leaving his requested present, unwrapped by the fireplace on Christmas Eve. We go to our church's candlelight service ** and open a gift - pajamas - before we read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

On Christmas morning, we read Luke 2 before emptying the stockings and opening presents. We bake a cake for Jesus and stay in our pajamas at home all day*** We drink hot chocolate with whipped cream and just enjoyed the fact that the world seems to slow down on the day God sent His Son as a baby in a manger.

We also hang an Adorenament on a special tree for the twelve days before Christmas. Each ornament highlights one of the names of Jesus and reminds us to keep our focus on Him. We also started to do an Advent Countdown last year. Each day an activity was revealed and shared, again keeping the focus on family and others during the season. And we have an Elf on the Shelf that does daily antics, keeping an eye on the kiddos and reporting back to Santa.

But, this year I have had a hard time with school and some other things that have affected our family keeping up with the countdown and the Adorenaments and I hate it. I hate that some of the traditions we hold dear are getting pushed aside because of the natural busyness of the season and my own lackadaisical attitude right now.

I am hoping to rectify the situation this weekend by baking some cookies with the kiddos, planning our annual Christmas Brunch menu and watching a few Christmas movies. And we will hang the Adorenaments and pick a few activities from the countdown.

I think I have tried to pack the weeks before Christmas with this that will distract us from some of the daily heartaches and mundane things, but in doing so I fall short in doing what is important. I get overwhelmed by others' pictures and statuses that I just give up on what we are comfortable doing, worrying that our traditions aren't sparkly or exciting enough.

What I want to do is focus on Jesus and His Coming, giving to others - our time and our talents and slowly down a lot as to not miss what is most important at this time of year.    

*My sister's birthday is December 9 and my parents never wanted her to feel like her birthday was not important, so we would not decorate until after her birthday. Santa actually set up the basement tree on Christmas Eve

**Since moving back to MD we host an annual Christmas Eve Brunch each year. It has been a tradition of my parents' that we are continuing. It is a great time for me to see my grandkiddos and my aunt and cousins I do not get to see much throughout the year.

***When we lived in TX we would go to my sister in law's for Christmas Eve dinner and then to their church's candlelight service. Then on Christmas Day after we opened gifts at home we'd head to my inlaws' house for a brunch buffet and gift giving. We also hosted a Christmas Open House one year.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Wonder

I was sure this week would never end and that I wasn't going to make it through everything our family has faced this week, but I didn't miss any days from work, so I am calling it a success. I did miss some sleep and  ended up eating more comfort food when I should have been exercising, but I am giving myself a pass.

This is the last Five Minute Friday of 2012. Seems I was a bit late to the party and now it's over until January. But, I am glad I have participated and have meet some neat ladies and read some cool blogs. So, why not join me for this year's last post.....

Five Minute Friday


He watches as Granddad takes the pieces of the tree out of the box and begins to assemble it. "It's a tree, MoMo! It's a Christmas tree!" He is so excited to see the tree take its form and for the lights to be wound around the branches.

When the lights are turned on he excitedly exclaims, "GREEN! RED! YELLOW! BLUE!" He gently touches the glowing colors and murmurs, "It's a Christmas tree."

As Kari and Noah start to hang the ornaments he watches from the couch, covered up with the snowman tree skirt. As he leans his head against a snowman pillow he is silent taking in the wonder of it all.

I want to see Christmas this year through the eyes of my 2 year old grandson. I want to gleefully ask everyone if they will be here for Christmas, for Jesus' birthday. I want to take in the wonder of the tree, its lights and what the ornaments mean to my family - the first year ornaments, the handmade ones, the ones sent each year from Texas.

It is completely amazing to me that God sent His Son to this earth as a baby to grow among men to be our ultimate sacrifice.

I want to be in awe and wonder in the marvelous season of Christmas.....  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Thank You

Spending time at my sister's house right now and really wasn't sure if I would get time to post, but I have a few minutes before the craziness begins again. Won't you join me?

Five Minute Friday

As I sit here in my sister's living room, surrounded by nieces, nephews, my children and husband, I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for right now.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents, my sisters and their families and some extended family. The house was full of people and food. At times it was a bit overwhelming, but yet so surreal.

As a child, we always hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Around a ping pong table covered in bed sheets, with a buffet of food on a covered air hockey table, we would give thanks and indulge in holiday favorites - King syrup sweet potatoes, ambrosia salad, sweet potato biscuits and pumpkin pie.

I have always loved Thanksgiving because it meant a visit from my grandparents and playing with cousins.    

Some cousins I don't even talk to anymore.

But, I am thankful nonetheless. Thankful for my husband, and my kiddos, my sisters and their families.

Just thankful and blessed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Stay

So, school right now is keeping me pretty busy, not to mention the every day overwhelming pressure of being a working Mom, wife and well, I am concentrating on at least getting my Five Minute Friday post up every week. Even if I don't post any other day of the week.

Join me if you like =)

Five Minute Friday


It doesn't necessarily make sense to me why morning has to come so early. I find myself enjoying the warmth of my covers and the security of my bed, laying alongside my husband way too much. I want to forget that I have to get breakfast for the kiddos and head to work. I want to snuggle up a little closer and wrap the blankets a bit tighter.

But, I can't.

I can only hit the snooze so many times before I make myself get up out of bed. Sometimes an 8 year old boy growing too old for some things but never a early morning snuggle with his Momma makes it into my bed before I pull the covers back and climb out, so I stay a bit longer and linger in the fleeting minutes of a boy wanting to snuggle with his Momma.

And that is how I know when I open God's Word and find a passage that warms my heart or digs deep into my soul, that I, too, need to not outgrow getting close to my Father. He longs for me to stay as well. To stay in His Word and in a close relationship with Him. To be warmed by His presence and to linger just a bit longer.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Quiet

Won't you join me? Just take five minutes and write on a weekly topic picked out for you. It allows you to write with abandon and just let words come and create. It is freeing. Link up here and share your story!

Five Minute Friday


The TV is on and I can hear the faint sounds of my daughter's iPod. I think my son is playing a video game in his room because I can hear him talking. Must be to a friend online. Hope it's not to himself.

My husband and the teenager debate politics in the midst of the murmur of all the other sounds and I sit on the loveseat and try to finish homework I didn't even realize I had. First time I didn't have an assignment to turn in during class time. Thankful the professor said it could be turned in by midnight and now I am scrambling to finish it in the midst of life.

But, I can't.

I used to be able to do my schoolwork with the radio playing or a show on TV, couldn't really stand the quiet. But now I am unable to focus with too much noise and I find myself frustrated with my children and my husband and the noise.

Instead of being thankful for the bodies that fill and warm my home I just want them to BE QUIET SO I CAN FINISH MY HOMEWORK!!

But, I don't say that. Instead I stay on the loveseat and just get frustrated. And am unable to complete a thought, let alone a sentence.

I am like that with a lot of things, though. I let the noisiness of life block out the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and I work toward things that are of this world and not of eternal importance.

Help me to be quiet, Lord.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Halloween 2012

As the children get older, I am realizing that we are quickly losing the years that involve the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Trick or Treating. Sometimes I wonder if Kari and Noah have already figured out that those beloved characters aren't real, but pretend to believe for me and Rick. Especially, since Kari abandoned Trick or Treating this year.

The elementary school held a fall festival this year which included a dance and Kari enjoyed getting her groove on with her friends, but didn't dress up for the event. Noah hung out at the festival for a bit before he headed to his Cub Scout party with Rick. He painted a pumpkin, ate some pizza and got his face painted. And he used some of his tickets to get his sister in the "judgement seat" and had her write 10x that she is a Directionator. She was not happy. She loves that boy band.

With my class and some other family issues, we totally forgot to carve pumpkins and make caramel apples. Neither of the kiddos seemed bothered by it, though, which has me wondering if the traditions I thought they  enjoyed so much were not just ones I was making them participate in because I wanted them to and not because they enjoyed them. We will have to reevaluate it for next year, I guess.

Kari and Noah dressed up and participated in their school's Halloween day parade, but Kari opted out of trick or treating. And Noah only lasted a few blocks. When Rick brought him home, he said his feet were hurting so I had him put on better shoes and headed back out with him. He only went a few more houses and asked if we could go home, so he could soak in the tub and rest his feet. Rick said he will start training them soon for next year and that they will have to drag their bags home.

And I have been nagging the kiddos to "throw your candy wrappers away for goodness sake!" ever since.

Here are a few pictures of the kiddos (and some from the festival). The last two are of the grandbabies. Thankfully, Ashley sent us the pictures since they went trick or treating around their neighborhood and not ours.

Ryu from Street Fighter

Kari and her teacher (in the striped black and white shirt) doing the Cupid Shuffle

Ryu and Cleopatria

"I am a Directionator"

A Viking on his way to a Cub Scout Halloween party

Wobble, Wobble

Fan Girl

Cutest Batman ever!

Cinderella - Ready for the Ball

Hurts My Brain

Once Noah started school I realized that I wanted and needed to go back in the educational field. I applied to substitute with the public school system and applied at a few private schools in the area. Nothing seemed to be opening up, so I started working at our church as the receptionist, still keeping my eye on any open positions with the public schools.

In the summer of 2010, I received a few emails about a few openings as a temporary student assistant and went on a few interviews. I never heard back from two of the schools and one of the school called to let me know that they had filled the position with someone else. I decided to stay at the church and just keep looking, knowing that I would eventually be back in a teaching position eventually.

That was 2 years ago and I have been at my current school as a TSA since then. The school that called and said they filled the position with someone else...well, she never showed up so I was offered the position. Since then I have worked with 3 different than the one I was hired to work with and I am now on the journey to obtain my state certification so I can get back to the classroom as a full time teacher.

I just completed my Praxis I test yesterday and am currently taking one of the two required classes I have to take to satisfy the requirements to validate my degree. I will have to take the Praxis II as well and hope to do so in February. Rick will be student teaching in the fall of 2013, so I am praying that I am teaching full time by then, so he can concentrate on student teaching and will not have to get a part time job in the evenings while student teaching.  

I honestly am anxious about teaching again and feel very old compared to some of the others taking the tests and in my current class. Part of me would love to just stay at home and be a domestic goddess, but I know that to get our family where we need to be in the future, I need to pursue a teacher career again.

I am praying for the right school, grade and class and am excited to see what God has in store for me this time around as a classroom teacher. I am also tossing around the idea of getting my special education certification or getting my master's in speech pathology. But, just thinking about more schooling hurts my brain.  

Friday, November 02, 2012

Roots: First Five Minute Friday Post

I started this blog as a way to keep up with friends and family out of state when my little family moved back to my hometown six years ago. I think for a while friends and relatives checked in pretty often and then I started to branch out a little bit, write about other things and I got a bit of flack for it. I wanted to become a blog that people visited often and commented daily, but it just hasn't happened yet. I have linked to blogging parties and been a more faithful commenter and still have not seen much traffic and I don't think anyone, even my in-laws read like they used to in the past. Of course, my posts are few and far between now, too.

But, I want to be a blogger with a blog that people visit. One where they pour a cup of coffee and start down their blogroll and I am on there, one they check out every day.

So, I am again stepping out and praying someone comes to my blog, reads my story and comes back again to check in on me and my family. I even started that book God told me to write 12 years ago.

Five Minute Friday

So, here's theme is Roots

"Bloom Where You're Planted" is what the little sign my friend sent me said. What did that even mean? I mean, I didn't want to be where I was, 1300 miles away from home and everything familiar. I didn't want to have to start over and make new friends or get acquainted in a new town with unfamiliar faces. I longed to be back home in MD. But, I also wanted to be a good wife and Momma to my son and newly acquired stepchildren. I wanted to succeed everyone's expectations, prove all the skeptics wrong and be the most functional dysfunctional family we could be.

So, I started to put down roots. I dove into ministries and MOPS and PTA and prayer groups and I started to "bloom where I was planted". We added to our blended family and I felt like everything was starting to fall into place. New job opportunities, new ministries, new expectations.

Then, my husband whispered one night in the stillness of our bedroom that he felt we should move back to my hometown and help my father with the family business. But, my roots....

I did not want to uproot our family, our home or our life. But, we did and again I have been trying to bloom where I am planted with a new set of roots and a focus on God's expectations.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life As We Know It

I can not believe it is almost the end of September! I can not even really remember what went on this summer and now it is almost fall. I will admit that I am loving the cooler weather and warmer drinks (had my first pumpkin spice latte this evening) and fall is my favorite season, but it just seems like time goes by so fast and before I know it, it will be Christmas and then we will be looking into the face of summer vacation again.

Ever since school and work started back up again I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day for me to get everything accomplished that I want to get done. I have been getting up earlier to kick start my morning with some time in God's Word, a bit of exercise and just because I didn't want to be rightontime or late this year for work. I really hated slipping in the door or showing up to class five minutes late. I want to be regarded as someone that values others' time and my goal for the year is to be on time. So far so good.

The benefits of taking time to be quiet before the Lord and His Word each day has allowed me to focus on the important versus the urgent. I can tell when I haven't spent time to reflect and refocus in the mornings and it has not been pretty. My husband, kiddos and even I deserve better.

Also, I am starting to see the results of doing some toning exercises each day and really think it inspires me to  be active later in the day as well. My counselor encouraged me to be active and exercise because it is right and good for my body, not just to lose weight and be thinner. There are more benefits to being active than a smaller size pair of jeans. Although, the smaller size is going to fit nicely some day soon.

The kiddos are adjusting quite well to school - Cody is enjoying getting out at 10:30 AM and being able to work in the afternoons. He is starting to look at his options for school and even contemplating joining the military as an Army ranger. He is also hoping to have his license by December. It is hard to believe that in just a few short months he will be graduating.

Kari loves being among the oldest kiddos in elementary school - the 5th graders. She is a safety this year, as well as on the student council. She is continuing with her violin lessons and will be in chorus again. I was hoping she would apply for the performing and visual arts middle school, but she has decided to attend the feeder school and wants to be part of the orchestra and chorus there next year.

Noah is adjusting to the big changes in 3rd grade and is starting to settle into his own groove. He receives letter grades this year and is enjoying seeing As and Bs on his graded papers. He is taking violin lessons as well and can not wait to play in the winter concert with Kari. He is going to sign up to play basketball this fall and is really excited that he will get to jump and shoot.

Rick is working with two middle school students this year and I have a 2nd grader and 4th grader I am assisting. Rick's 7th grade student is much more challenging then his student last year, so he is adjusting to that as well as plugging along with school, coming up on his last two semesters before student teaching. I am so proud of him and can not wait to see him graduate!

I just completed my first ever 5K and am so happy I was able to do it!  I figured out that I am not a fan of running without a purpose, but enjoyed raising money for the clinic and spending the morning with Rick. He is a much better runner than me and I can see him participating in more 5Ks than I do.

So, that's life as we know it right, work, trying to take better care of ourselves, hoping to make a difference.

Too bad I don't have any pictures to go with this post.          


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Letter to my 16 Year Old Self

On Friday, I will be linking this post to Emily's blog that is hosting a day to write letters to our teenage selves in celebration of the author's new book, Graceful, for teenage girls. Here is my letter. Why don't you write one, too?

Dear Marlen –

I so wish I would have been able to tell you the things I am about to tell you. There is so much I wish you would have known, but I am also thankful for your innocence and love for life.

You are so sure that you are in love right now and I know you care deeply for the Boy, but it is not love. Much of it is lust and a desire to be wanted and needed. Guard your heart and your body. Don’t give that part of yourself away to the Boy. You will not be able to emotionally handle the consequences of having sex with him. It will not bring you closer or guarantee that he will not leave you. I know that you feel committed to him, that you could be with him forever, but you are not married. That type of relationship is for a husband and wife. Do not be fooled by your lust and emotions.

Continue to sing and sing a lot. You have a good voice and have the ability to do even better. Keep practicing and just sing. God loves your praise and worship. And dance. Often. I know your spiritual leaders would discourage it, but God loves to see you dance. It not only allows you to express yourself, but it is helping you exercise and be healthy.

Stop worrying so much about your spiritual walk such as "Am I reading my 3 chapters a day?" or spending 15 minutes in prayer and going to church and visitation? Don’t check things off like 5 steps to holiness. Cultivate a relationship with Jesus. Love on Him and let Him love on you. Read His Word and pray because you want to be intimately close to Him, not because it is expected by those around you, but because you love Him.

Don’t let anyone talk you out of breaking up with the Boy. When you decide to write that letter, stand by it. You do not have to stay with him if you know in your heart it is not right. Let him go, let him grow. If it is right, God will bring you back together. You will survive without him and he will survive without you.

Enjoy spending time with your friends and your sister. Your time with them is short, but you are cultivating friendships that you will have and need for a lifetime. Don’t take advantage of their kindness and loyalty. You will need each other. You can learn many things from them. Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses and encourage each other to do your best and choose right.

You are just as beautiful and talented and smart as anyone else in your class or at youth group. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. You are uniquely created by God. You are well liked and that is great, but do not dwell on having to be liked by everyone. Some people will not like you and that is okay because they are not the type of people you will want to have as your friends. Your friends will love and accept you and you need to let them be enough.

When your older sister moves away and gets married, you will be sad and that’s okay. She has been your best friend and anchor for a long time, but it's time to let her go and let your relationship with her change. You need to not put so much weight into her opinions for your life. She loves you, but you need to remember that you and God know what the best is ultimately for you. Ask Him for advice more than her.

Your choices at 16 will greatly impact your future and good and bad, they are what they are. Try to let go of the past and look at the present, only glancing at the future. Try to live in the moment, enjoying your youth and not rushing yourself along to grow up so fast. Soon enough you will be an adult and you will long for school and weekends, late night phone calls and slumber parties.

And in case you’re wondering, your love for teaching will remain strong and you will become a second grade teacher. Keep studying and preparing for college. You are going to love learning and getting your degree. But, it won’t be easy. Focus and stay the course. It will be worth it.

Oh, and let that boy serenade you in the college cafeteria and don’t be embarrassed. He only wants to share his talent with you and hear someone clap for him. Those staring at him and you are really just jealous. To be so lucky to have a friend and admirer like him doesn’t come along often. Enjoy it.

Love – Marlen

PS – Your braces will be off in time for Senior portraits, so stop worrying!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Parent 'Hood

I am participating in a synchroblog sponsored by amazing blogs like Fried Okra. Here's the post I am sharing today - 18 Years Ago. It is one of my favorite parenting posts and means even more to me now that my son is once again struggling to find who he is and get his life straightened out for himself and his children.

We all have parenting stories to share. Consider linking up to the Parent 'Hood.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mini Vacay

We had grandiose plans to take a trip to TX this summer, but then I got a job and Rick didn't and I had to have surgery. Not able to pull off a big trip, we decided to take a mini trip to NYC the same week as my 40th birthday. We got the best of both worlds - a few days away and celebrating a milestone birthday in the Big Apple! 

We left on Wednesday and stopped on the way in Philadelphia. We had lunch at Pat's getting their famous cheese steaks and fries.

After lunch we went to see Tthe Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Then it was back on the road again, heading into New Jersey to our hotel. They were predicting thunderstorms for NYC for the evening, so we opted to stay at the hotel, swim and order in some take-out Chinese.

The following day - my 40th birthday - we got up early, enjoyed free breakfast and got ready to head to NYC. 

Last time we were in NYC it was a 3+ hours wait to get tickets to ride the ferry to The Statue of Liberty, so we decided to go to Liberty Park, NJ and catch the ferry there. We didn't even have to wait 30 minutes and we were heading to Ellis Island!

Rick and I have great-grandparents that traveled to Ellis Island and were processed at the immigration center. We weren't real sure of their names, but found several that may have been matches. My sister, Janie said my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Kocher was actually signed in as Elizabeth Koch. We located her name.

Cool picture NYC from Ellis Island 

Once we were done touring Ellis Island we headed to the ferry to go see The Statue of Liberty. We got to talk to a few park rangers and learn some interesting facts about Lady Liberty.

After we saw The Statue of Liberty we headed back to Liberty Park, so we could ride into NYC for lunch and a little shopping. When we got back to port there was a neat memorial for 9/11 and a view of the new WTC across the harbor.

Driving in the city always makes me nervous and this trip was no exception! The cab drivers are ruthless and had us surrounded at one point!

I really wanted NY style pizza for my birthday, so we found a local place and had the yummiest pizza I've ever had in NYC =)

After lunch we went across the street to Dylan's Candy Store. It was a three story building with all of the confections you could imagine! 

Our time was running out on the parking garage, so Rick decided to get the car and the kiddos and I walked on to the Disney Store. We walked 7-8 blocks to find out that it had closed down and we had walked too far passed FAO Schwartz to go back there. So, Rick picked us up in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. He took a couple pictures of Trump Tower while he was walking back to the garage.


Rick knows how much I loathe the tunnels in and out of the city, so he took a different route. We went over the George Washington Bridge and it was so nice!

It was nice to get back to the hotel. Rick and the kiddos went swimming and I took a nap. We went to a local diner for my birthday dinner and then got cupcakes from ShopRite.

On Friday, we opted not to head back into NYC and headed home. We had such a nice, relaxing trip and are looking forward to going back soon. We are hoping to go after Thanksgiving to see the city decorated for the holidays and maybe ice skate at Rockefeller Center. 




I am not sure how it started. I guess maybe it was a genuine illness at first. Then the teenager babysat a little late on a Saturday night. ...