OOMBFFJBU!

15 Oct

Since we don’t get to the Carolinas area…ever, we jumped at the chance to visit one of my best friends from JBU. She and her family live there now and they were just a couple hours from the wedding that we were coming from.

It was SO great to see her again and meet her husband and kiddos! Her eldest, who I met when he was just hours old, was at summer camp, so we were bummed that we missed him, Abby and I picked right up where we left off. Some of our best memories were made with Abby in the drivers seat and the Dixie Chicks on the radio! The only difference was that we had a bunch of kids in the back seats now!

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We did a lot of just hanging out. Of course we watched Michael Phelps race the great white shark on Shark Week!

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After church, they took us to their favorite Indian buffet—so many things that I love in one place!

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Then Abby’s husband took us on base to let us look through the helicopters that he flies for the Army! The boys were in heaven!

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On our last day, it was warm out, so we let the kids all play together in the pool. It’s always great to burn off so much energy before a long road trip!

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Abby is about to get her doctorate of Physical Therapy, so I wanted to tour her facility. One man’s therapy apparatus is another man’s playground!

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Then it was time to say goodbye—again! So many goodbyes! They are some of life’s hardest challenges, but if we didn’t love people, than goodbye’s wouldn’t be hard, and loving people is life’s most wonderful blessing!

 

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South Carolina Wedding!

7 Oct

The day of the wedding was almost as hot as our wedding day! I guess that’s to be expected for a southern July wedding. Thankfully, the adorable ring bearers were our ticket into the air-condtioned house until the wedding started.

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The boys did awesome carrying their signs down the aisle. There were lots of sighs and giggles coming from the pews.

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The wedding ceremony went perfectly! The poor groomsman were in the direct sun while the bridesmaids got to chill in the shade. Sim and Caleb hung out at the front until the prayer, when Josh waved some candy in front of them and they ran to us in the pew.

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After the ceremony, we all hung out in the beautifully decorated tent. Best wedding meal ever—it was a breakfast buffet! IMG_6405

We chilled out while the boys busted one move after another.

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Afterwards, we left the wedding and headed up to the house of one of my best college friend in NC. We, of course–and I can’t believe I didn’t mention this earlier, stopped at QuikTrip on our way out. We thought that we had had our last QT treat in Missouri, so we were pumped when we got many bonus stops on our quick trip (ba-dum-chhhh) down to the wedding!

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South Carolina 1

6 Oct

I managed to upload a few photos, but anything after the cute flip-flop foot (you’ll see) won’t upload. Rather than get further behind in my blogging, I’ll just post what I can!

Since the older three kids were off at summer camp, we only had two little ones on our road trip. On top of that, my parents let us use their vehicle and it was heavenly!! Not only does it have fun bells and whistles, there weren’t any mysterious clunks or clangs or knocks or bangs! It made for a fun road trip!

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We arrived in time to meet the groom’s party at a Mexican restaurant. Then Josh dropped off the three that don’t fit in at a groom’s party—the mom and her two little kids!

The next day was the rehearsal dinner. The venue was absolutely gorgeous! It was an old southern mansion with beautiful grounds and a lovely interior.

 

 

After the rehearsal, we all went and had dinner at the brides home. I looked down and saw the cutest tan lines on Sim’s chubby foot.

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…..and I can’t upload any more photos, so….

Technical Culture Shock

22 Sep

Our internet AND our computer have both been experiencing culture shock, I guess. Thankfully, we brought a new computer back from the US. It just took days and days to transfer all of the info to the new computer….due to the wacky internet. So now that I can blog again, it takes an insane amount of time to download photos and post. But I’m remembering that that is just life here in the PI. Stuff takes time. For example, last week it took our vb team 2 hours to drive 6 miles! Then it was an hour and a half home, where I picked up the boys and headed back out for another hour on the road to get to M and B’s vb game. That was also about 6 miles. So I averaged almost an hour per mile that day! Stuff takes time. It makes more and more sense to walk everywhere, but with the pollution and flooding, I think I’ll just be thankful for the car!

So I have lots to catch up on, but I can’t find any pictures from the last few weeks, so I might have to plug into my literary side and describe the SC wedding, our trip back to the PI, our first weeks back, and the first quarter of school! I also noticed that our anniversary weekend in NYC only posted one pic and that’s it. Oh well, I’m always happy to revisit that weekend!

Here is the updated NYC Anniversary Post

Our Last NYC day

31 Aug

We woke up normal-early on our last day in the city, got some Starbucks, and then rode the entire downtown loop. It was another beautiful morning with annoying traffic.

One thing that I had seen a previous day was that a certain street sign was covered in ABC gum (already been chewed—I haven’t thought of that in 30 years!) It’s only accessible from the top deck of these hop on/hop off tours.

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It was so nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy seeing and hearing the sights and sounds of NYC . One World Trade Center is of course a majestic sight to happen upon.

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We saw all kinds of fun landmarks. The two that stuck in my head are:

  1. The dock where Titanic was supposed to arrive  upon arrival in NYC.
  2. Hugh Jackman’s house.

We hopped off the bus at Madison Square Garden and walked a few blocks to our final destination- The Empire State Building!

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We waited briefly in a fast-moving line and then rode a Willy-Wonka-fast elevator up to the 86th floor. It is an enclosed viewing area that has all kinds of historical info, pop culture (see: Sleepless in Seattle and King Kong), and fun facts.

This was my favorite view. It’s downtown Manhattan. To your right is where Sully rocked his Hudson river landing, straight down the middle is where the Twin Towers were, and on the left is the Brooklyn Bridge. As I had done all week long, I wondered what it felt like to be where I was and watch 9/11 unfold. This would have been an incredible and terrifying perspective!

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Then we took another elevator up to the outdoor viewing area. The completely open air one (as seen in Sleepless) is another few floors up, but costs an extra $20 to see, so we opted out.

We could not have looked more touristy in our matching I [Heart] NYC t-shirts as we took pics on top of the Empire State Building, and we LOVED it!

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It was sunny up there, so I couldn’t see that my phone was on selfie mode. So here is one of my pics of the beautiful NYC skyline…

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Then it was time to leave! It was a whirlwind week that was so fun and so memorable! While we waited for the train back to my parents, we realized that we hadn’t had a NY slice at all. So we made that right and had a bite in Penn Station.

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We Uber-ed home from the train and were welcomed with a big hug from Simeon! The other kids were at camp, so he was pretty happy to have us all to himself.  Better yet, he decided that that was the day that he would become daytime potty trained! (Seriously, those 5 days are on my list of Best Days of my Life!)

We celebrated with a trip to the diner that night.

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We had one free day in NJ before the ladies returned to KS, so we hung out on the shore. We drove up and down the streets of Spring Lake, enjoying those gorgeous homes, window shopped in the quaint little town, ate lunch, took naps, and finished the evening with ice cream and the ocean in Ocean Grove. It was a very Jersey-shore kind of day, but more like the classy, historical Jersey shore and not at all the Snookie kind of Jersey shore!

 

Our Shows Day

25 Aug

Monday of our girls NYC trip started really early because we had to be uptown early for Live! with Kelly and Ryan. We made our way to the subway and we all liked classic and mosaic look of the subway station signs!
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We took a train to Times Square and then switched to another subway. I used a great app that told me where and when and which subways to get on. It was a lifesaver!

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When we got to the ABC studios, we had to wait in long lines, but that was to be expected. We had guaranteed seats, so it was no big deal. But it was really exciting once we got to our seats! They gave us numbers that they use for a guest prize to be named by the caller.

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It’s so fun to see how a TV show gets made! They make it look so simple when we’re watching on TV, but being there live shows all the people and equipment necessary to make it happen!

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Ryan and Kelly were both so personable with the audience! Ryan was just a few feet from me!

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The first guest was Maya Rudolph, and she was hysterical of course.

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The second guest was Dove Cameron (aka: Liv and Maddie) so my girls were peanut butter and jealous!

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When the hour was up, I thought we were going to leave the studio, but they asked us to stay because they had to film a segment with a surprise guest. Ryan and Kelly went back to their dressing rooms and changed outfits, hair, and make-up, then came back and did their banter, including complaining that Labor Day was next week and summer would be over (even though it was July).

We even got new numbers for another drawing! But we didn’t win. Again.

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It was so fun because we had to wait about 20 minutes, and we didn’t know who we were going to see until they introduced the next guest and he walked out!

It was Al Gore. I took a video, but no pictures. It was fun and he was very kind and charismatic!

After the show, we walked a block or two to Central Park, grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor, and caught the Hop On/Hop Off Uptown Tour.

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I hadn’t ever seen all the sights up that way, except for mile 19 and 20 of the marathon, but let’s be honest, I wasn’t sight seeing at that point!

We saw Columbia University, the Apollo, the Guggenheim, the Met, the Museum of Natural History (aka: Night at the Museum museum).

It was beautiful if we were moving, but it was really hot if we got stuck in traffic in the sun!

We rode the entire uptown loop and then hopped off at Times Square to grab a bite and hop on the downtown loop over to the Empire State Building.

Cheryl and I split a very NY-y lunch of a Reuben sandwich and cheesecake! It was good, not great.

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At that point, we decided to bump the ESB until the next day and just chill in the apartment before our date with the Phantom that night!

It was nice to take it our time and not have to rush from one thing to the next! Once we were fancified, we hit the fancy subway again up to Broadway. Our hearts skipped a beat when we saw the Majestic theater!

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We got our tickets and had some time to kill so we walked around the area. We, of course, bought I [heart] NY t-shirts and a pretzel.

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We had amazing seats in the theater! We were right at the chandelier height, so we got to watch it fall, as well as see the Phantom on the catwalk.

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The architecture in these Broadway theaters blows me away! They are all so beautiful.

 

That show was incredible! It wasn’t my favorite musical (hello, Hamilton!?!), but it was definitely the most superior in every way. The singing was extraordinary, the stage effects were impressive, and the choreography was spectacular! I enjoyed every last moment!

24 Aug

Our anniversary in the city finished on Saturday morning, but on Saturday afternoon, my girls weekend in the city began!

Two friends from KS had never been to NYC before and a few months prior, I had told them that they should come up while we were at my parents place. They took me up on the offer and flew in from KS for a ton of sight-seeing, food, fun, and friends!

Apparently, everyone else in the world had the same idea…

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As we went to pick up the ladies at Penn Station, there was a marching band headed up 34th. Why wouldn’t there be?

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My first adventure with the ladies was not a fun adventure at all. We were trying to find our AirBnB, and it was not going well at all! According to whatever travel site we had researched, the address was right along our Hop on/Hop Off bus tour, and I had planned EVERYTHING based on that address. Well, our place turned out to be in a completely different place, and we ended up walking in circles for a long time, followed by an Uber failure and finally a successful taxi. We discovered that because of the tall buildings, the GPS on our phones wasn’t very helpful. Anyway, we were thrilled when we finally rolled up to our place. It was so great! It was in Chinatown, right around the corner from Little Italy!

We weren’t sure what to think when we saw our building. It was straight out of a NY-y movie. The outside was dark, dingy, and two keys to two different doors were needed just to get to the narrow, dark hallway. It had a smell to it as well. We hauled our suitcases up a tiny, uneven flight of stairs, and kind of cringed with anticipation as we entered our apartment.

But…it was perfect! The AC was on, it was so clean, the smell from the hallway stayed out in the hallway.  The spacious beds were so comfortable and we couldn’t be more thrilled with our living conditions for the next few days.

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After we cooled down, charged our bodies and our phones, we ventured out to find some food. Being around the corner from Little Italy, we didn’t have to go far! We ended up at a beautiful restaurant that served us the best Italian food that we’ve every had.

After dinner, we walked around Little Italy for a while and popped into some shops. Look at the Empire State Building in the distance!

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When we headed back to Chinatown, we were trying to find some breakfasty food for the next morning. Unfortunately, all the markets and grocers were closed. We did find some fruit at a stand on the sidewalk. Look at the Asian fruits! It is such a fun intersection! You can “be” in Europe, cross the street, and feel like you’re in Asia!

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After a great night’s sleep, we headed out to visit Lady Liberty! It was a gorgeous morning, and we decided that we could’ve ridden the Hop On bus all day!

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Alas, we had to get off after just three stops at Battery Park. After the fiasco the day before, everything went so smoothly on Sunday. We didn’t have to wait in any lines and all of our transportation was timed perfectly!

It was the perfect day for a ferry to Liberty Island!

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When we sailed around the front of the statue, every last passenger got their camera out and started taking her picture. I was literally the only one who got excited about the view 180* in the other direction…

It’s the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the first two miles of my first marathon!

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The Statue of Liberty tour was great! They have it very well organized. When we arrived, they gave us little phones to listen to the audio tour as we walked around, so we got to hear all kinds of fun facts.

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We decided not to take the time to go up into the statue, which meant that we had time for Ellis Island!

I’ve been wanting to go there for years, but never got the chance, so I was really excited to see it. It’s so crazy how the word “immigration” has changed in our culture. Back when Ellis Island was in use, that word represented “hard work, freedom, new life” and now it seems to be only associated with “illegal, no taxes, free ride.” To put it into emoji vernacular, the “before” would be the fist pump, and the “now” would be the face palm.

Anyway, I always love to stand in a place and put myself in the shoes of the people who experienced it. Ellis Island was a spectacular place for doing that. I can only imagine the plethora of emotion that one must have felt as they began their new life as Americans, probably having little or no idea what their next step off the island would be!

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I’m no expert, but I think this part of the museum has been added since Ellis Island’s early days…

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Cheryl found us an amazing place for lunch! Once we found it, no thanks to Google maps, we enjoyed some amazing lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster in the Financial District! Teresa won the day because instead of one whole lobster roll, she ordered three halves–one lobster, one crab, and one shrimp. I don’t think I could’ve picked a favorite. Never mind, it was the lobster.

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On our way from our apartment to Battery Park, we had passed Trinity Church, where, thanks to the musical Hamilton, I knew that Alexander Hamilton was buried! The girls indulged me and let us go visit. I squealed when I saw A. Ham’s grave!

In addition, his wife, son, and sister-in-law are all buried there, as well as Hercules Mulligan, another amazing rapper important player in our nations history.

Our next destination was the 9/11 Museum, which is probably the thing that I was most looking forward to. The last time that I was in the city, I saw the fountains that were placed in the footprint of the towers, but the museum hadn’t opened yet.

It is extremely well done! There is so much information and things to see that one could spend several hours there and still not see everything!

The first thing you see when you take the escalator down to the museum is a 7 story steel structure with the iconic trident look of the WTC facade.

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One thing that was so hard to wrap my mind around was the monstrous beams of steel that were twisted and bent backwards as easily as if they were made of pretzel dough!

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This is the slurry wall that was built to keep the Hudson river from flooding the towers. Next to is is the Last Column, which is covered with mementos, memorials, and “missing” posters.

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The museum is located right in the bedrock of the tower’s foundations, so each square houses different areas, “telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts…while presenting intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning, and recovery that are central to telling the story of the attack and the aftermath.”

A firetruck. It blew my mind to imagine the force that would be required to create this kind of destruction.

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As we rode another escalator, we saw the Survivors Stairs on the side. This stairway served as an escape to safety for so many people.

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If I remember correctly, I took pictures of these beams because I thought it was so incredibly interesting that they were able to identify the point of impact of Flight 11.

 

Pictures weren’t allowed in some of the areas, so I don’t have any more but it’s all still vivid in my mind! There were quite a few places that honored the victims. There was a clip of the Today show, when Matt got wind of the first plane crash, which is what I was watching that morning as I got ready for class. There was even a section that tracked the years of preparation that the terrorists took, including flight classes, test flights, etc.

The part that struck my heart chords the most were the two voicemails that were left from Flight 93–one was a wife leaving a message for her husband, and one was from a flight attendant leaving a message for her husband. They were very heart-wrenching, but I’m thankful that the recipients were willing to share them with us!

As I said before, I like to put myself in the shoes of the people who experienced it, but this entire experience was too much, too overwhelming to ever really be able to wrap my mind around.

We were so exhausted, emotionally and physically, by the end of that day! We had done so much walking and so much sight-seeing. It was a great day, but I know I speak for the three of us when I say that we were more than happy to head back to the apartment for an early night!