Our Sweet Sarah Beth


Darling Little Debbie


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Concrete Jungle Make You Feel Brand New

I know what you're thinking. Where did I sit?

The bike attachment appeared to be made to carry two adults. So there we were. Three deep on a bicycle built for two. Our poor driver seemed to put so much effort into pedaling (uphill the whole way) that he seemed a little confused on how to get to our hotel. I know we circled the block around the theater at least once.

In Times Square, we found ourselves in the middle of a bumping car parade. For whatever reason, this was the time when our driver decided to actually obey a traffic law and stopped at a red light. We were completely surrounded by tricked out cars in neon shades from lime green to magenta. They were all leaning to the left or right and most of them were lunging up and down. We had a clear view into the car to our left, and I wish we hadn't. I leaned back into the cart and tried to avoid eye contact with everyone. The playbill in my lap was suddenly very interesting.

At this point, I realized that Mary Beth was actually leaning out of the cart with her iPhone trying to take some pictures while commenting loudly, "Oh my gosh, do yall see that car??" The men in that car were close enough to reach out and snatch her phone (or us). Did I mention that their window was down? Meredith and I were hissing and pulling on her coat, ordering in our best big sister voices that she GET BACK INTO THE CART RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I was afraid. Why was traffic not moving? Why did our biker boy decide to rest right then in that spot? Maybe he was too afraid to weave through those cars like he had been doing all night. I would not have wanted to anger anyone driving one of those cars either. Finally we wrangled MB back into the cart and started moving (and breathing) again.

After surviving another frightening experience, we were hungry (remember we passed on Sbarro earlier in the day). Meredith asked our cyclist where was a good place to get pizza in her best caveman lingo: “Hungry. Pizza." He suggested Sbarro. We cracked up. He took us instead to Ray’s. He insisted that we wait in the cart while he took our order and went inside to fill it. How kind of him! This guy was getting a big tip. As he started pedaling us back to the Palace, we thought he might need a little encouragement to get us all the way there.

Thanks to the mood music, he managed to cycle us all the way to the hotel. And it turned out that he had included a generous tip for himself in the price of the ride.

Saturday was our last day. Sadness. We had a lot to fit into our final day, so we got up sort of early and got ready to hit Central Park while MB totally redeemed herself and brought us Starbucks. I definitely took more pictures in Central Park than anywhere else. I wish we could have spent more time there. We saw Strawberry Fields, Bethesda Fountain and that beautiful, wide walkway that you always see in the movies where the trees are hanging over either side like a canopy. I will try to just pick a few faves:

Side note: Meredith and MB had tons of fun dressing me, fixing my hair and doing my make up every day. When Jack was looking at my pictures, he asked me about my outfit, "So, um, was that something you actually...wore?" Yes, Jack, I actually wore that.

At the fountain, we could hear music and singing coming from a nearby tunnel. We were really impressed by this group, the Boyds for Praise Company. Siblings that sing beautifully together.

From the Park, we walked a few blocks and hopped on the subway since we were pros at not wanting to take taxis. On to Greenwich Village where MB and I bought matching necklaces

and Meredith bought everything else we saw.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in the Village and met a really nice couple who were more than happy to suggest some good shopping sites. We spent the afternoon shopping and even ventured into Chinatown for only as long as it took to walk a city block. Mary Beth bought a purse out of a garbage bag, then we decided in the interest of safety, we should probably head north. We weren't sure if we were in Little Italy or not, but we needed to rest our feet, so we stopped at an Italian place for an appetizer and some energy drinks. We had to get refueled for our grand finale, which deserves a post all its own.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In Why Seeeeeeee

As most of you know, I was so excited to take a trip with my sisters to New York City this month. It was a combination celebration of Meredith’s thirtieth birthday and one year remission from cancer. Yay God! It was as much fun as we hoped it would be, starting by meeting in Birmingham on a Wednesday night. We flew out early Thursday morning and arrived in the city around 10 am. MB and I had arranged for a car to take us to the Palace, and the photo ops started there.

Ok let’s be honest, it started on the plane.

Our driver was really friendly and pointed out all of the hot sightseeing spots along the way. The hotel was fantastic. If you’re headed to the city and want to stay in style, may I strongly recommend the New York Palace. You simply cannot ask for a better location or a more friendly and helpful staff. Not to mention, it is pretty swank.

Our first order of business after unloading our luggage at the Palace was to find a hot dog vendor. That was actually typed out on the schedule that I prepared weeks in advance. We didn’t have to go far. Street vendors are everywhere. So we enjoyed a healthy snack in the courtyard of the Palace before setting our sights on shopping.

Again, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hotel location. We had plenty of shopping to do, and there were plenty of shops to be found. Before we knew it, we realized we were standing in Rockefeller Plaza.

We saw Radio City Music Hall just next door.

We watched the ice skaters and decided not to join them. Instead, we headed to the Top of the Rock to view the city skyline.

We took in the city from every angle, seeing the Empire State Building

Chrysler Building

Statue of Liberty (wayyyyyy out there)

Times Square

And so much more.

We went back to the hotel to change clothes and enjoyed a little pre-dinner room service.

Bellinis and a cheese tray

We had dinner reservations at ViV, which serves fantastic Thai food in a really cool environment.

Girls, please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the ride to ViV was our first experience in an NYC taxi. It was like a traveling carnival ride with the jerking motion, speeding up only to slam on the brakes, sliding left and right across the seat, thrilling in a way but also makes you wonder when is the last time someone inspected the lug nuts on this thing? You pay way too much to ride, then immediately regret that hot dog you just ate and spend the rest of the ride praying you don’t end up twisted in crumpled metal wreckage. Someone told me that you can buy shirts all over the city that say, “I survived an NYC taxi ride” or something to that effect. If terror could be monetized, I’d have bought the franchise.

The biggest problem I could pinpoint is that there aren't really any lanes. The street is wide enough for 3-4 lanes, but without any lines clearly dictating where the cars should stay, it is just a giant free for all with cars swerving this way and that, with drivers giving themselves points for every car they cut off and every pedestrian they almost strike. Throw in a few bikers who all seem to have a death wish and completely ignore all traffic lights and signs, and you've got the picture.

When I saw the 49th St sign, I knew we were close to the restaurant. In fact, I was pretty sure we were within a block. It didn’t really matter to me at that point, and I yelled at the driver, “ this is close enough!” One of my sisters asked me, “What are we doing?” I replied very matter of factly, “We’re getting out of the taxi.” They did not need convincing, blindly following me out of the death box and onto the street. It’s odd how surviving a near death experience can sometimes induce laughter. We actually were within a block of the restaurant, and we laughed all the way there, promising we would only take taxis when absolutely necessary.

We were completely exhausted by the end of the day, so after dinner we retired to the Palace courtyard to unwind and discuss our plans for the next day.

Friday was supposed to start with a bang, bright and early at the Today show. But somebody turned off their alarm before it went off, so we slept right through it. We got a late start at Starbucks before hitting the city. We went back to Rockefeller Center to see if we could get standby tickets for Jimmy Fallon and perused the NBC store. I found a few gems there that I brought home with me, namely a SBTB t shirt that I would almost rather frame than wear.

According to our schedule, we were supposed to have breakfast at Serendipity, of the movie Serendipity. I believe it is also featured in the movie One Fine Day. We did not know that they were not open for breakfast. It didn’t matter though. It took so long to find a place to buy subway tickets (we could have bought them in the station, but we were told that particular station did not sell tickets. I think that person must have been toying with us. Not funny.) Anyway, once we got our tickets and got back to the station, we had to wait for the train. Then I panicked and made us get off one stop too early. So by the time we walked to the restaurant, it was almost 11. Blessing in disguise. They don’t open until 11:30, and by 11:30, the line is so long that you can only hope to get in by dinner time!

Luckily we were some of the first people in line, so we got in almost immediately. After eating, we were told we simply must have a frozen hot chocolate. So we did.

It was divine.

From Serendipity, we walked in the general direction of Times Square. We made a few stops, the most worthy of mention was Dylan’s Candy Bar. Three stories of candy. It was so overwhelming, but totally worth the 45 minutes and $100 we collectively spent there. I still have a wonka bar and some sweet tart suckers that take me back to when I was about 10 years old at the city baseball fields where my brothers played summer ball. I probably won’t even eat them. Just keep them to look at nostalgically.

Friday night was Broadway night, so we hit up a TKTS booth to get tickets for Chicago. We strongly considered running into Sbarro, Michael Scott style, to get some authentic NYC pizza but decided to wait until after the show to eat.

Chicago was so much fun to watch. Perfect for a girls night. When we left the theater, we were approached by a young man who was eager to give us a ride on his bike taxi.

We pondered several things regarding his offer. First of all, it was pretty late, and the hotel was quite a few blocks away. The Broadway / Times Square area is not the safest place to walk at night, and we were all wearing heels, so walking wasn’t really an option. The last taxi ride we took was to the theater, and it was even more frightening than our first taxi experience. The woman driver appeared furious that she had to drive us, and she drove as though she wanted to kill us. I remember she was wearing gloves. Fingerless gloves. I don’t know why that creeped me out even more. A motorized taxi was about as high as walking on the scale of desirability. The bike taxi looked kind of fun, and it certainly wasn’t something we could do anywhere else. So we decided to go for it.

...To be continued

Monday, April 16, 2012

You will never die

Meet Goldie. She is (was) SB's goldfish. SB has been begging for a fish for weeks now. Jack finally caved and told her that if she could be responsible enough to remember to feed the dogs for 10 days in a row, then she could have a goldfish. Last Monday was day 10.

Off they went to Wal Mart for a fish and all the trimmings. On the way, Jack prepared SB for the reality that sometimes fish die. They don't always live for a very long time, and we don't always know why. SB was sure that rule wouldn't apply to her. When she got home with Goldie, she was so excited.

I really wanted that fish to live. I read and reread the instructions on bowl preparation and went to great lengths to ensure a proper fish environment. I cleaned the bowl, rinsed the accessories, filled the bowl and waited for the water to reach room temp. Then I added the chlorine neutralizer, waited some more and then added some of that water to Goldie's bag so she could adjust to her new environment slowly.

SB was not prepared to wait so long to put Goldie into her new home. She passed the time by dancing around the living room swinging that bag singing, "You will never die! You will never die!"
I feared the worst. I also wondered if fish, like babies, could suffer from shaken fish syndrome.

Finally the bowl was ready. We released Goldie from her plastic bag into her new glass cage. SB was ecstatic. I asked her to make room on her bedside table for Goldie's bowl. She shoved all of her most precious possessions off of the table and onto the floor. Then she set up a chair in front of her table so that she could keep a close eye on Goldie.

Every few minutes, SB would excuse herself from the living room saying, "I'm gonna go check on Goldie." She would run into her room, sit in the chair and get eye level with Goldie. Then she would tell her a story or sing her a song or just chat about her favorite show Octonauts. She would report back to me after a few minutes with Goldie's status.

SB: "Mom. Goldie's hungry."
Me: "We feed Goldie at bedtime."
10 minutes later
SB: "Mom, Goldie's reallllly hungry."
Me: "It's not time to feed Goldie yet."
10 minutes later
SB: "Mom, Goldie--"
Me: "We aren't feeding Goldie right now. I will tell you when it's time."
SB: "I was going to tell you that Goldie is hot."
Me: "How do you know that she's hot?"
SB: "She's going like this" she made a fish face
Me: "Okay I will turn on the air conditioner."

At bedtime, we fed Goldie. But Goldie didn't seem very hungry. The next morning, we tried again. Still not too hungry. Not a great sign. SB continued to check in on Goldie throughout the morning, serenading her with all of SB's favorite songs. Every few minutes SB would give me a status report on how Goldie was doing. Around 10 that morning, SB came in and said, "Mom, Goldie is pretending to be dead, but she isn't."

She sounded so sure of herself. Goldie wasn't really dead. She was just pretending. What an amazing fish, learning how to play dead already! I went to see for myself. Sure enough, there was Goldie, playing dead and giving an Oscar worthy performance. I steered SB out of the room and told her that we would wait for daddy to get home and check.

SB got concerned and suggested that we call the vet. I suggested that it might be a little late for that. Jack came home and pronounced Goldie dead that afternoon. SB was only devastated for about 10 seconds until Jack assured her that we could get another fish. SB has already named him Goldie. I have decided that SB will not be allowed to dance around the living room with this one.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I'm finally getting around to uploading our pics from Colorado. We had so much fun visiting family and playing in the snow! Annie got all dressed up for the cold, but didn't venture out into the snow.

Sarah Beth, however, was undeterred by the fierce winds and falling snow.

Out we went into the great white world. Ready or not.

It was cold, but we would not be denied. The snow tubing was fantastic! Sarah Beth loved it.

We finally called it a day and spent the rest of our time inside!

our gracious hosts

Thanks for hosting us, feeding us, babysitting for us and showing us such a good time!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

First Birthday, First Steps, First Words

Annie is one! I can't believe how the time flies. Her birthday was actually almost a month ago, but I'm a little late to the blogging party. She jumped up to the 5th percentile (from the ONE percentile) in weight at her 12 month check up, so we were all happy about that. She is about 18 lbs now.

Last week we got Annie's first official word: ball! She was trying to say it, so I whipped out the camera and caught the event on my phone. Now she says it allllll the time. She puts so much effort into it; it's almost like it takes everything she has to just get that one word out. She takes a deep breath, squeezes her lips together and scrunches her forehead like she is thinking really hard. After a minute of intense concentration, she spits out "BAW?" like she is still a little uncertain of the correct pronunciation. We count it. We can work on the el sound later.

The truth is that Annie babbles all the time, and for the last couple of months she has been intentionally saying lots of sort of words like dada, mama, uh oh, ta ta (for thank you) and CHEESE every time I pull out the camera. Sometime with much coaxing, she will say sah sah for Sarah. I don't know why I count ball as her first "real" word, but I do.

I also recorded her first steps last week (busy girl!). According to a few of my family members and the nursery worker at church, Annie has taken a tentative step here and there already. But I never saw it, so I didn't count it. A few days ago, Jack and I had a rare moment alone with Annie in her room while SB was napping. I stood her up and told her to go get daddy. And she did. Probably 3 steps before tumbling into his arms. It was awesome. She is so cute.

We celebrated her first birthday while we were in Colorado. (As I'm typing this, it occurs to me that I never posted the pictures from our trip to see the Redwoods up north. I promise to do that soon.) Annie was no superstar on her first birthday, if I'm being honest. She didn't nap alllll day, and I was not optimistic about her attitude for her birthday party. But she snapped into happy mode by the time the guests arrived, and she was a little charmer for the evening.

She was a little tentative at first with her cake, politely scooping tiny bites one at a time into her mouth.

But by the end of the night, she was diving in head first.

Thanks to the Redwoods, Wallins and Andersons for making Annie's first birthday so special! We loved sharing it with you!