Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Six Flags

School started for all of our friends in Utah this week, but it doesn't start until after Labor Day here.
My kids got an extra long summer break and they have loved it, but I'm needing us to get settled into a regular routine and for us to take the next step in adjusting to our new home.
We had to go out with something special, though.
We have  missed going to Lagoon this summer, so we figured that Six Flags might help ease our pain and Matt took the day off, we loaded up the kids and were there when the park opened this morning.
Holy Smokes.....that was fun.
It has so many amazing rides, they make the rides at Lagoon look like a small town carnival. I think we probably did about 1/3 of the rides, but we left with smiles on our faces and sore feet.

They have the top wooden roller coaster in THE WORLD according to some random list Zane found online, so it must be true. They also have the #2 metal roller coaster in the United States, according to another random list that Matt found online.
The wooden roller coaster is called "El Toro." It went so fast, so high and I was scared to death. I am not as brave as I like to pretend and the rides scare the tar out of me, but I can't resist a wooden roller coaster. There is something about hearing the cars clack up tracks and how they take the curves... sure my spine nearly breaks every time, but I love it.
We rode that coaster twice, it was incredible.
I chickened out of a few of the rides.

Grey weenied out of some, too.
Sometimes I'm relieved when he weenies out of a ride because I didn't really want to do it myself.

Together we skipped the Batman ride where your legs are dangling as you do loop-de-loops and we wussed out on the Superman ride. You do that ride face-down, as if you were flying.
No flippin' way.
Zane, Matt and Romy did them and loved them.

Those three are fearless.

I have no regrets with my choice to wuss out and eat a pretzel instead.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Another Weekend, Another Clever Title

Last week Matt brought home some lovely flowers after work.
I was having a hard day (I've been having a few of those lately) so he slipped away from the train and picked up this bouquet from a street vendor.
The roses were white and red, swirly. I've never seen that before.
So pretty.
And now they are dead.
We overslept yesterday and woke up five minutes before we should have left for church.
Matt and I decided to go to the city and check out one of the museums he gets into for free instead.
That's almost like church, except fighting traffic and dirty New York is nothing like church, but the point is.....
Ah, I totally forgot my point. There is no point.
We went to the museum.
That's all.
On the way there I totally saw Matt Lauer jogging in Central Park.
My first accidental celeb sighting.
  This is from the Internets.
I didn't take a picture.
He has a daughter named Romy, did you know that?
His hair was pretty grey, what there was of it.
He has a six pack, for sure, but that's not something I groove on.
I'll take a freakishly tall guy any day.
Good thing I have one of those.
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both; text-align: center;"> Matt At the Guggenheim Museum.
I had the best Matt as my date for sure.
My opinion of the museum?
The building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, so it was gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.
It's all one spiral you walk down and when you walk to the edge of the path, the walls curve out slightly so you have to lean over to look down no matter where you are. The ceiling is stunning.
 But you are NOT supposed to take any pictures!
I was (nicely) told this after I snapped a few of the ceiling.
I'm not one who takes photos of paintings and I know to keep my flash off indoors, but it was weird that you couldn't even take a picture of the structure.
Not a big deal, but something to know if you go.
It's not a kid museum.
They have one area with well known artists, but the rest of a lot of modern art done by people your Regular Schmo wouldn't know about.
I'm a regular schmo.
They did have a photography exhibit that I fell in love with.
Maybe I'll talk about that later.
But don't take your kids, they will be bored to death.
It is also not a very big museum, so it's not an all day type of place.
Just so you know when you come visit.
Save your tired feet for the MOMA or the Museum of Natural History.
We also caved and bought a new trampoline for the kids.
Our neighbor, Jacobv, worries that we are holding them prisoner because they never play outside.
It's an Arizona Mom thing I picked up where you never ever ever just send the kids outside to play. Too many pools, too hot and a disproportionate fear of weirdos.
I should have overcome that in Utah, but I didn't.
Now, here in the big urban jungle (not), I am the weird mom whose kids are always inside.
So, we bought a new trampoline, to encourage the kids (and Mom) to stop acting so freaky and go outside. We brought it to the yard to set up and heard a loud crack of thunder and the skies literally opened up and started to pour rain.
Isn't that just the saddest thing?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Still, I Love Technology

I've been trying to post for a few days, but I've just felt so "bleah" that I couldn't.
 I'd write something out and then realize I was just unloading and while I am a big fan of unloading, if it doesn't actually make your burdens lighter and lead you to feeling better, you're not unloading, you're recycling.

Recycling is great for cans and plastic, not so good for souls and internet posts that everyone can read.
Emma, Kate and Jane left on Sunday morning to go back to Utah.
We do what we can and we pray a lot.
That's all I'm going to say about that.

One thing I am going to say more about is my new favorite thing about living in New Jersey: grocery delivery.
I know!
I have not enjoyed shopping here. We live by some decent enough stores, but you have to cross that wacky freeway to get to them and none of them are grocery stores.
The grocery stores are chaotic and I've never seen anything like it. Everyone shoves and is in a hurry so they can get in front of you and stop. It's important to be at the front of a line that isn't moving because you can't find your coupon for Miracle Whip......
I hate it.
I drive 15 minutes extra to go to the grocery store that is a little less crowded and feels more like Fresh Market in Utah.
When I heard that you could skip all of that and have the same stores deliver, I decided to see what that was all about. I am not being paid to post this, this is just my little review of online grocery shopping.

First, you log on to the website:

Put in your zip code and it will tell you if you are in the delivery area. (It's through Stop & Shop, the primary place I get groceries from.)
They have a rewards card program, and when you put in your rewards card, it actually pulls up a list of everything you've already purchased there.
Super convenient.
You can shop directly from a list of your past purchases if you want.
They also have all of their items broken down by section, so you can browse through the dairy section, produce, cereal....whatever.
They also have a section that lists the current sale items, and those items all have red flags on them when you are just going through the virtual aisles. They clearly show the regular price and the savings.
Click click click.....

No more impulse Snicker's Bars.
No more wondering if I have enough flour to make a recipe, I can get up, walk to the kitchen and see.
No more buying things I already had plenty of because I ran out one time three years ago and I've been buying it every single  time I go to the store ever since...(ketchup.)

Add it all to your cart and then checkout.
You pug in your debit/credit card and schedule a delivery time. The deliver fee is about 7 bucks, but certain times offer discounts on that. If you're willing to give them a 6 hour window all afternoon, you get 2 dollars knocked off your final cost. If you're willing to let them come at the crack of dawn, it's a dollar off your order. Your first delivery gets the fee waived completely, so I got an addition buck taken off my total, as I was good with the early morning delivery.
You have until 4 pm the day before your delivery to make changes to your order or change the delivery time.

I ordered everything we normally get, cheese, milk, eggs, produce, bread. I wanted to see what the quality would be like on everything if I let them choose it all for me. (I still chose the brands and everything, I just didn't touch the actual packages first. )
My delivery was scheduled between 6:00 and 8:00 am today.
at 7:00 I got a text message letting me know I was next on the route.
I got out of bed and bra'd up.
at 7:20 I got a text that said they were here, sure enough there was a the truck in front of my house.

The nice man unloaded all of the groceries from the truck and brought them right to my door. I had him put them all of the floor of the patio. He couldn't believe I ordered 6 gallons of milk. Yeah, sometimes I can't believe that, either. In my defense that should last 10 days. In Utah, it would have only lasted 5.

He handed me the cartons with my eggs in them and asked me to inspect them, to make sure none were broken. They looked great. It all looked great. Better than great, in fact because when I go to the same store, the milk and produce they have out on the floor is not this fresh. It's been touched by hundreds of people who poke and sniff and mangle it before deciding it isn't perfect and putting it back on the shelf. The lovely unmolested ears of corn and Bartlett pears they delivered were a wonderful thing to see.

The delivery guy was super nice. He told me that if I had coupons, the way that works is that you hand them to the driver, who brings them back to the store and they add them up and put the savings right back on your credit card. He said it's a great way to save even more money.

He reminded me that I had opted for a paperless receipt, so if I needed to see it, it was all online and to call them if anything was missing or unsatisfactory by noon today.

I won't be calling.
I am THRILLED with this. Absolutely thrilled.
Now, it costs more than going out to the store yourself because there is a 7 dollar deliver fee and you have to tip the driver. I need to figure out what the right amount for that is, I had no clue so I tipped him five bucks. If he thought I was a cheap schmo, he didn't show it, so I'm guessing that was okay.

This is a game changer for me, folks. With the money I saved on impulse buys alone, the service paid for itself. I didn't shop hungry and buy a bunch of pastries and chips. I wasn't at the store buying extra crap when all I really needed was milk or cheese. I planned my means and shopped from my menu, I stocked up on sale items.

If I can manage to plan my shopping list even a day in advance, my days of battling the roads and the treats on the end caps of the aisles are done. I can even schedule the delivery for after Matt and the kids are home and get them to help with the six gallons of milk I will often order.

This is also perfect for when I have sick kids (like today, poor Romy) and when I am sick but the kids have eaten every last Hot Pocket in the freezer. I can't wait to do my Thanksgiving meal shopping this way. All of my holiday baking supplies will come right to my door and I won't forget things because I'm tired, since my recipes and what I have on hand are right here.  I never have to load and unload bags in the rain or snow again. For an arthritic old bag like me, it's a lifesaver.

Oh, life is good. Life is very, very good here in the big city.

And that helps, because on Monday, life was very bad and I had a really bad day. I cried, I was super sensitive and finished it out with yelling at my kids. I'm not a parent who does that very often, I grew up with so much yelling that I'd pretty much rather eat paste than bring that energy into my home, but I'm also human and some days, when they're being butts- you yell at your kids.
You then follow up with apologizing to them and having a family talk about pulling together and remembering that we all need support- even Mom- and even when it's not your assigned day to do the dishes.

I woke up Tuesday, still feeling as fragile as a China doll so I rolled up my sleeves and did the think I know will help: I baked.
I baked three apple pies from scratch. (Yes, even the crust, Doreen.)

I used pie filling I had canned a couple of years ago with apples from the Holmgren's tree. That made me feel good, to think of Karin and Marcus and to remember the days I spent in that red kitchen making that pie filling. I never thought I'd stop feeling sticky.

One of the pies was made as a gift to our friend and neighbor, Ron, who sprained his foot mowing the lawn. In spite of that pain he and his family still came over to our house Saturday night and had an ice cream party with us (along with the Hawkins family.) We love having Ron and Cyndi so close and they are seriously some of the funnest and most interesting people.

Making sweets for neighbors has always been a way to help pull me out of a craptastic mood and it worked it's magic on my soul yesterday and I felt like myself again. Instead of a family meeting when Matt got home yesterday, we instead enjoyed some pizza, apple pie and family games.
Much better.

This place still freaks me out. It isn't home yet. I miss my Parker so much I can't stand it. I miss kids with sticky smiles calling me Auntie Christmas.  I miss our family and I miss the familiarity of Utah, but I am finding some things I LOVE about New Jersey.
 There are some wonderful people here, the gospel is just as true and amazing here as it is in Zion and they will deliver your groceries right to your front door for seven bucks.

I think we're going to be just fine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Sofa, Old Friends

The retro room is coming along nicely.
Our new, curved sofa arrived.
 It's totally the wrong color, but for the price we got it, we can recover it.
Mail order furniture involves some gamble, and we knew the color was wrong when we ordered it.
What we didn't know was what a complete pain in the butt it was going to be to assemble. It seemed really straightforward: line the pre-drilled holes up, insert the bolts and twist. 
Easy peasy if the pre-drilled holes actually lined up. 
I will admit that there was some swearing involved in the assembly of that couch.
Knowing we have to do it all again when we recover it has put it much lower on the list of urgent "to do" items. 

It's still in transition, the table holding the radio is just two side tables, we're on the hunt for something vintage, similar in scale, just a few inches taller. 
The rug is new. 
We're going for retro without the 50 years of smoke and pet smell and without breaking the bank.
So yeah, Ikea.
Honestly, I don't want to imagine a world without Ikea.

The summer has reached a point where the kids are all too bored for their own good and we're starting to look forward to school starting. It starts later here than in Utah because the schools here honor Jewish holidays, so school doesn't start until after Rosh Hashanah.  
That's one thing that is different here- everything is open on Sundays (okay, pretty much everything is open on Sundays in Utah now, too) but you have HUGE kosher sections at the stores and almost every place you eat has a section the menu for Kosher items. 
There are school breaks for all of the High Holy Days and there is a lot more religion here than "Mormon" and "not Mormon." 

That probably came across weirder than it sounds in my head. 
 I'd have been a lousy missionary,lol.

Speaking of missionaries...... did I ever post the picture from when we fed the Elders a few weeks ago?

Here it is again, if I did.

If I didn't...look! The missionaries came over for dinner!
 This fine young man is Elder Pico, from Mesa, Arizona.

His mom was my visiting teacher when I was pregnant with Greyson, his big sister use to babysit Parker and Zane.
 He's a great kid and his mom was a person who helped me hang on to that mustard seed of faith I had at a time when I wondered if it wasn't just too much for me.
Sometimes it's hard when you look at the 'great reward' and it's not necessarily something you want.
 At the time, the idea of an eternal family was not something I actually wanted outside of a bond with my children. "Families are Forever" was not an appealing concept.
 I didn't feel like I really fit into what I was taught the master plan was. It never dawned on me that I had been taught a master plan that wasn't actually God's plan or a plan that church had. 
I just knew that no matter what I did, I felt like it wasn't good enough, it never was going to be good enough and I was tired of feeling worthless about everything.

Sister Pico was always accepting and reminded me that life is supposed to bring happiness and if the 'plan' isn't bringing happiness, you're probably not understanding it all- and that is an okay place to be, too. Just remember that the way we see things- even the big things- changes in time. Choose the bridges you burn and make sure they are ones you are certain that you don't want to cross again.
I wasn't certain of burning that bridge between myself and the church, I just knew it wasn't working at the time.
Sister Pico helped me see that I had time to figure things out and I didn't need to decide until I KNEW what I wanted and that I was still worthy of being loved and having happiness  no matter what.
 I have wondered for years how she was and what became of her sweet family. Now I know, and was able to tell her son how much his mother changed my life, by simply loving me and accepting me. I was able to thank this family for the life lessons I was taught and to let her know what an example she was to me. 
I'm not where I want to be in life yet, but I know that I get to figure it out and that whatever plan God has in store for me, for my children, for my family and loved ones--that it's a plan that brings happiness and doesn't make you feel like garbage as you follow it. That doesn't mean it doesn't include a lot of crummy, hard things, but it does mean that when you're dealing with those hard things, you know that the road you are on leads to somewhere better. 
 Whatever one's belief system is, there really is joy in the journey and if one isn't finding an ounce of joy-- maybe you have the map upside-down.
I know my map was completely upside-down and I'm glad I had someone in my life who let me know that I didn't need to throw the whole map in the trash. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Instead of taking his usual 2 full week vacation time this summer, Matt has been taking Fridays off.
It adds an extra fun day to the weekend and gives us the ability to do things in the city without having to fight the weekend+ tourist crowds.
There are still a bajillion people, but slightly less on Fridays.
There are also less if you go before lunch, but we can't always drag ourselves out of bed early.
This Friday, Matt got tickets to go and see the 9-11 memorial with the older kids.
I went and saw it in April when we were up here house hunting, it was really neat, but not something I needed to see twice and with little kids who couldn't care less.
We parked at Staten Island and I hopped on the subway with Grey, Jane and Roe while Matt and Zane, Emma and Kate went to the memorial,.
Our first stop:
FAO Schwarz.

Home of  every toy you could ever think of and the giant piano.....

So much fun.

They have you pose in front of a green screen for a picture before they let the kids go play on the4 piano, then they let in groups of 5 or 6 at a time go play for 3 minutes.
That was great because the kids didn't have to wait to go try it out, but they didn't play on it long enough to have it be a parent's nightmare.

I coughed up the $22 bucks for the picture, but I haven't scanned it to post yet.
I think the candids of the kids playing are cuter, anyway.
We stayed for about 2 hours, and left before we had seen everything.
We walked about 6 blocks to go to our next destination, Dylans' Candy Bar.

Oh my.
It was REALLY crowded and the candy was crazy overpriced, but they had everything.
It was a literal Candyland, for sure.
The kids had a blast.

Ten cent candy sticks for a buck each?
Mom's a softie, she said yes.

It was like a candy museum, they had candy from other countries, candy that I haven't seen since I was younger, and Grey was cute saying things like 'I haven't seen this candy since I was a kid!!"
Hey- you're still a kid.
Don't you be growing up on me too fast.
 If  Mom still takes you to toy and candy stores,  you're still a kid.

After we spent way too much money on not very much candy we went to the third floor and ordered their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate from the cafe.

We all had so much fun.
 I think it was the favorite thing any of them have done so far since we moved here. We've done some seriously fun things and it was a good one to serve as a final summer trip to the city for Jane. She, Grey and Roe were smiling from ear to ear the entire time.
That's going to be one they talk about for years to come.
I'm thankful that we've been able to pack so many fun, new things into this summer.
I hope that when school starts next month, the things that are different can have as many good things that come with the change as we've experienced with out family activities.

The closing ceremonies of the Olympics is about to start- another sign that summer won't last forever.
I have about 40 hours of games I fell asleep during on the DVR, so hopefully I can drag it out until I'm sick enough of it to hold on for two more years.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


So, I saw this post:

and fell in love with the polka dot walls.
Like, more in love with them than I ever was with Ricky Martin.

We don't have to tell him that.
I'm sure if he saw these cute dot walls that he would understand, though.

I totally copied the idea.
I made my own stencil out of a stencil blank and circle cutter.
They aren't as evenly lined up as Kimbo's, but we all know I don't measure things.

I love how it turned out.
So does Miss Roe.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When We're Not Touring.....

I'm still doing that class at Big Picture Scrapbooking with the sketches.
I haven't done all of the sketches, partly because we've been traveling so much and partly because some of the layouts involve way too much photo hacking.

Here is what I have finished:

I'm using supplies from my stash, which was one of my goals. For some reason we scrapbookers tend to spend a ton on pretty papers, then we save them for the perfect layout. We all do it and it's silly because I have never done a layout and thought "If only I hadn't used that blue swirly paper I bought last month!!" A large part of the craft is making something cute out of the variety of supplies you have on hand.
It's too easy to just have too many supplies and then you really only use what's on top.
So some of this paper is 5 years old, which is nerdy and sad but I'm glad I'm using it and keeping the looks of the layouts current.

I did go out and waste 20 bucks buying a dozen rolls of washi tape.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Because You Care Where I Put My Sofa..

We settled on what to do with that difficult front room.
It's not for everyone, but Matt and I are both excited about it and we're going to go mid century modern with it.
Don Draper, eat your heart out.
There are so many vintage shops here and massive eclectic flea markets here, we're hoping that we have a lot of fun searching for the items we need.
We settled on the furniture layout  after playing around with the layout of the room on this site:

Every single wall has either a radiator or a door on it except for one. Ergh.
Since it's a vintage house, we're going to go with it and take the room back into a time warp....

 I purchased this leather covered table for $25 bucks last week, we pick it up on Saturday.
Depending on the actual color and condition of the leather, I may swp that out for something more contemporary.

 We also purchased this sofa. I'm hoping the dimensions are right because the price really was.
It will probably need to be re-upholstered in the long run, but in the short run, I think we have found our perfect curved sofa for our wacky space.
Next on the list...

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I'm so so tired.
We went to Washington DC, just for the weekend.
Grey and Roe stayed with their dad and it was just us and the kids who are less prone to whining.
It was too hot. 
We saw the Lincoln Memorial, The White House, Washington Monument and The Wall.
A post about our trip to The Wall will come later, when my eyelids don't feel like they weigh 100 pounds.
It was too hot to keep walking outside, so we ran for cover in The Smithsonian
Hours and hours of art, history and amazing things that we'd mostly only read about and seen pictures of.

Now we have pictures, too.

Words will come on another day.
Too tired and I have a heavy heart.
Aunt Gail passed away last night. We saw her in November and she gave the kids rubber ducks. Roe has about 20 rubber ducks now,she started collecting them after that visit.

It was cancer, we thought she had it beat, but it came back and wouldn't let go this time. 
The date on the calendar changes and just like that, she's gone. 
I'm sorry, Mom and John.