Thursday, July 22, 2010

To Canada we go...

So today we made the next leg of our trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. So yeah sure it is just across the border but we made a big deal of it b/c it is the boy's first trip to a foreign country. We've had several "plans" to go abroad since Xander was born but this is the first one to actually happen. We got off to a good start- our plan was to leave at check-out, which we did, but I think the grandparents were chomping at the bit to get going. It's not so easy to pack up 4 people after 4 days in the same place. I got up at 6am with James and didn't go back to sleep and it still took us till 10 to leave the hotel.

So we got some lunch on our way out of town and our timing worked out well with the boy's nap schedule. We passed through passport control relatively quickly and we made it to our hotel just in time for check-in. We parked the car, threw the bags in the rooms, and headed out to explore. We stayed at the Days Inn which was perfect. They had free parking and it was right at the top of Clifton Hill- where all the really garish touristy stuff is located (glow in the dark indoor mini golf- really?)- but only a few short blocks from the falls themselves. We bought an Adventure Pass which worked well for us b/c we wanted to do some of the really touristy things. First we headed to the Maid of the Mists- b/c you can't go to Niagara Falls and not go on the Maid of the Mists. It was awesome! I can't imagine the power that those engines must have to fight against that current. We had seen the plume of mists as we were driving in but it was really neat to be right in the midst of it and just feel the power of all that water pounding down around you. James didn't think too much about the whole boat thing but I think Xander enjoyed it. They had the cutest little ponchos for the kids!

Then we headed up along the river to the horsehoe falls. It was a beautiful day- not too hot but warm enough to not mind the misty air around the falls. We went to the Journey Behind the Falls, which was also pretty cool b/c you got to get right up next to the edge of horsehoe falls. It was pretty wet I have to say. I think the Cave of the Winds on the American side looked a bit more interesting but hey we got to to visit some pretty wild tunnels back behind the falls. After the Journey we went back up to the welcome center and went to Niagara's Fury, which was like an interactive ride a la Universal Studios. It was actually really fun. They had a cute little video before the ride part which Xander really enjoyed- the polar bear was hilarious! And the ride part was pretty cool too. Xander didn't like the thunder much and James fell asleep but the adults enjoyed it. They spat us out through the giftshop which was interesting b/c Xander ended up suckering me into getting him a stuffed Mammoth by beelining right to the stuffed animals and them sucking on the tusks-sigh... After that we headed out to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner, which was my choice and I think I enjoyed it more than anyone else. Well Xander didn't much care for the thunder storms but he liked the fact that our table was right underneath a fish tank and right behind us were gorillas that talked every 10 mins or so. After a very long afternoon we all headed back to the hotel and collapsed!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A visit to Thomas

This morning we headed out to Lake City Hobby so the boys could try out the rideable Thomas. They weren't quite open when they were supposed tobe so we walked around Geneva for about 45 minutes- did a little window shopping at the Ashley Furniture Homestore... Finally they opened and we got to go check out the trains. The boys were so cute! Xander couldn't quite figure out how to push the button to make the train go- he'd push it but in order for the train to move you have to push and hold it. Xander had so much fun he tried to take Thomas with us when we left and as you can see it wasn't a little train!

After the hobby shop we headed down the street to the yarn shop. I love hometown yarns hops- they have such a nice cozy feel to them. I had fun picking out some yarn to begin my first ever sweater project! We'll see how long it takes me! I just hope that I get it done before Xander outgrows it- fingers crossed he deosn't have a huge growth spurt. I also got some yarn to make a sweater for James so the goal is that if I can get Xander's finished I'll make one for James but if not then at least the one I am making for Xander will fit James. I got some lovely painted yarn in a washable wool so they should be good for this fall.

Then the boys and grandma headed back to the hotel for lunch and naps and I headed out to the spa for some mama time. It was heavanly. I got a hot stone massage, my eyebrows waxed, and I to a pedicure. I had her do my nails hot pink! After my massage I got to take a shower and they had one of those giant shower heads, which if we ever redo the bathroom I am totally going to have to get, b/c that was awesome! After my pampering I went back to the hotel where I found grandma and James asleep together on the bed and Xander loose playing- the joys of him learning to climb out of the pack n play.

So then we headed out to the Waterloo Premium Outlets - man you could totally get lost in that place! We got Xander some new shoes at Stride Rite b/c his old sandals were really rubbing on his feet and giving him blisters; probably b/c we ended up buying him shoes that were 2 sized larger than what he was wearing! Now he is in a size 7. We also hit up Harry & David, Gymboree, Osh Kosh, and Carter's. I think in all honesty there were too many choices of shops. It was really overwhelming. Busted at Gymboree but major score at Carters. I go back and forth between those 2 store for boy clothes. Sometimes Carters is great and sometimes there is just nothing that I like- this time I liked everything. I think that I like Gymboree better for summer and Carter's better for fall/winter. I never find good stuff at Osh Kosk but my mom always does so I keep trying! Now though we are stocked up on PJs which is what we really needed. We got the boys some dinner and then headed back.
Then for the SECOND time that day- shocking I know- we left the kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa and Frank and I went out for dinner just the 2 of us. We actually went back to Belhurst Castle to the tavern there. We had yummy wine and cheese and dinner and another glass of wine and desert- it was true decadence, but so delicious. I was so full when we left I thought I might explode!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wine Tasting and the Amish Country Store

Well you can't come to the Finger Lakes without doing some wine tasting so the goal for today was to do just that! We headed south along the west side of Seneca Lake b/c we planned on making our first stop at Weaver View Farms, which isn't actually a vineyard but an Amish/Mennonite Country Store. Mostly I just thought it would be an interesting stop but then I found out that they were also a fabric store so... of course we had to go! It was a total maze of a place but Lynn and I lost ourselves in it for awhile while Hadley entertained the kiddos outside- actually Xander was napping in the car and I think Hadley was just enjoying some face to face time with James. We had fun looking at all the fabrics and especially admiring all of the beautiful quilts. If only I had a few hundred extra dollars to spend on quilts! There was this absolutely gorgeous turquoise batik dark to light wall quilt that I was seriously coveting. I could plan a whole room around that little gem. Anyway they also had a wonderful selection of books. I have decided that we just need to purchase every book by Storey Publishing. I got a whole book about cheese- hopefully if we have extra milk I can make some!
After the Weaver Views we headed down the road to the Fox Run Vineyards where we had lunch and did a little wine tasting. They had a tour of the vineyard leaving right as we go there that would have been fun but we were all starving and the tour was an hour so food won that battle hands down. We didn't find any wine to bring home but I got some delic creamed honey and found a really cool wine tote that I am hoping I can replicate (Christmas gifts anyone...).
We decided we needed to hit at least one more vineyard before we called it a day so we went to Belhurst Castle. Talk about would be a fabulous spot to have a wedding. Anyway it is a winery, hotel, spa, and restaurant all rolled into one. Quite the place. And they had a very nice semi-dry Riesling that came home with both Lynn and I. After that we headed back to hotel to meet up with Frank and went to dinner at the Ponderosa Steakhouse, which was very reminiscent of Cactus Willie's in Baltimore where Frank and I had our wedding rehearsal dinner. It was alright but by then we were all pretty tired and the boys have been quite destructive in restaurants recently so I was pretty glad to get back to the hotel and put the little devils to bed!
In big news James took his very first step this afternoon in the hotel room from grandma to me. It was so exciting! Just one tiny little step but the herald of more craziness to come!

Monday, July 19, 2010


So today as part of an accompanying persons tour organized by Frank's conference we went to a Wegmans Store on an organized tour. We visited their store in Canandaigua and got a tour of most of their departments. It was pretty cool. We don't have many store like that around here- maybe Price Chopper would be the closest comparison. Anyway after our tour we had a very nice lunh in their Market Cafe- Xander and I had sushi-yum! Then we went back to the hotel and everyone had a nice nap, after which we went to the Conference BBQ.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

James is 10 months old!

My little bit is 10 months old today! I can hardly believe it- double digits already. Soon he'll be a year- yikes! He's been a bit of a devil child recently. He's having a very hard time with teething first off but also he seems to be having a hard time staying asleep as well. He's fine as long as he is in bed with someone but try to put him in his own bed and he's not having it! The problem with this being that mama doesn't sleep so well with a squirmy worm in bed with her! especially not one that wants to be permanently attached to the breast! Oh well I am sure he will be out of this phase soon enough and then I will miss my little baby wanting to cuddle- what's a little less sleep? sigh.... But atleast now he has 2 front teeth to go with his fangs! Both have cut mostly through the gum and are working their way down

He's going to be off and walking soon it seems. He's crawling everywhere and cruising all over too- just not ready to lift that one little finger off and go!
Road trip update: we made it to Geneva today. Took a beautiful drive through Ithaca and up between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes- we resisted the urge to stop at several wineries along the way as the kiddos were sleeping. We made it to Geneva in time for lunch where we had Philly Cheese Steaks! Which were delicious! Went for a dip in the pool (which was literally I am not kidding the size of a large hot tub- the pool had a limit of 10 people!) where Grandma and Grandpa found us. We had a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant and then the kids spent some time with the grandrents and Frank and I sampled some wines and cheese at a welcome reception for his conference. Then bedtime for all...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cooperstown, NY

We got a pretty early start today and drove from Oneota to Cooperstown, which was another nice drive through a lot of scenic farmland. We drove by the Cooperstown Dream Park, which is quite the complex I must say. Someday maybe the boys will have baseball camps there. Anyway we parked at an outlying lot and took the trolley into town. Xander really enjoyed the trolley ride- a little terrifying though for his parents as he kept trying to lean out the windows.

Our first stop of the day was at The Farmer's Museum. It looked really interesting to us and we figured it would give Xander a chance to really run around and stretch his legs. Also that way we could spend the hottest part of the day inside, instead of out in the heat. The Farmer's Museum is a 19th century village and farm. Xander really enjoyed the carousel... by the end. He really wanted to go on it but then when I took him he started to cry- until it started moving. Then he thought it was the coolest thing ever and I had to carry him kicking and screaming off of it. I enjoyed the exhibits of sewing and fiber crafts the best and I think Frank enjoyed a lot of the agricultural exhibits. They also had some animals, but mostly the same types of animals that we have at home- sheep, cows, chickens- so that wasn't too exciting for the kids. Although Xander enjoyed petting the calf. Before we left we went on a horse drawn wagon ride. Then we hopped back on the trolley and headed into the village of Cooperstown.

We had lunch at an overpriced street cafe but the food was good at least and we got to eat outside and watch all the people go by. Cooperstown on a Sat in July is a pretty busy place! The we headed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I think every baseball enthusiast has dreamed at some point in their life of going there and it didn't disappoint. There were lots of cool exhibits and trivia and memorabilia. We got to watch a bunch of neat videos and interviews- including a copy of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" which was hilarious. I especially enjoyed the Women in baseball exhibit and the baseball in the movies exhibit, as well as the team locker exhibits. And the Hall of Fame gallery itself is pretty impressive. Luckily both boys fell asleep for part of our visit so we were able to stop and read through all the trivia for at least part of the time. Museums are definitely not Xander's thing! Too much standing around and not enough moving.

After the Hall of Fame we went to visit Doubleday Field and happened upon a baseball game in progress so we stayed and watched for a bit. James happily sat on our laps and Xander climbed up and down the bleachers. Then we headed back towards the hotel and to find someplace for dinner. We ended up at Applebees, which was delicious despite the fact that Xander was shall we say not well behaved. The Applebees was in a mall so I took Xander for a walk after I finished my dinner and he happened upon a toy store with a table full of toys out front and he quite happily played there until we had todrag him away kicking and screaming. Poor guy was pretty tired by that point. So after a quick bath and a marathon bout of screaming by both children we all fell asleep!

Our future hall of famer...

It's been so hard to get photos of Xander recently- he's decided he is camera shy! So when i got this pic of him I just had to share- isn't he the cutest thing ever!

Friday, July 16, 2010

On the road...

Well we are on the road- heading to Cooperstown NY. The beginning of what will be a really fun road trip or a harrowing experience I will never want to repeat. We are going to Cooperstown on our way to Geneva, Ny where Frank is attending the NABEC conference. Then we're off to Niagara Falls, followed by a stop in Oswego to visit family before heading home via Aldi's in VT to stock the pantry. Wish us luck!

The first part of the journey was a sucess! We all made it in one piece with no major meltdowns. Kids napped as planned and we only had to stop a few times. The drive across Vt was scenic and we didn't run into too much traffic- just some road construction in Bennington. I took this photo of James at a gas station in NY right before we got on the highway- fueled up and legs stretched for the last leg of the trip to Cooperstown. Tomorrow we head for the Hall of Fame.

ps- I'm writing this as we go but as our internet access is spotty I'm posting when I get the chance so that may mean some mass uploads for my few followers- sorry!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In memory of Grant...

I dedicate this Fourth of July in loving memory of Grant Linnenbringer who went to be with Jesus this morning. My prayers are with Andrew and Kim and all the family in this dificult time. I cannot imagine the sorrow of losing a child. So hugs your little ones tight and tell them you love them and pray for God's newest little angel.

Happy Fourth of July!

Unfortunetly I have to work this 4th of July but it's only every third so... the price you pay for being a nurse! So I missed the bulk of the neighbor's big bash this year but I was able to stop by at the beginning before heading off to work. Xander and I got to play in the bouncy house. We had a ton of fun bouncing but I had to stop after a short while b/c I was getting really sweaty (and stinky...) and I didn't want to spend all night at work stinking the place up! Sadly I missed the snow cones- what a bummer! Xander was clothes when we got there - I promise but seeing as it was a very hot day he decided to take advantage of the kiddy pool- luckily we got his clothes off before he dove in! Then he spent the rest of the time I was there bustling back and forth between the sand box and the playhouse. Busy boy! I tried to get a better photo of him but I was only able to get his attention for split seconds at a time- which do not translate to good face shots. And James was just loving his plastic bottle! When it was time for me to leave Xander said, "where go?" (a sentence, gasp...) and when frank told him that mommy had to go to work he kinda looked at me and went "bye!" It's so nice to be loved...
So off to work I went. Luckily, we did get to see some of the Keene fireworks through the window of the hospital and what we saw looked pretty. Happy Birthday America!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Reno Update...

So I have been procrastinating posting pics of our renovated office b/c it isn't 100% done but it's 95% done so seeing as it looks like next winter before it will be 100% completed I figured I had better let y'all see some of the fruits of our labors! So in the first picture here you can see the new flooring. Despite the absolutely horrible smell of floor varnish that lingered it he house for a few weeks- the floor came out beautifully. They had to tear up all the old flooring b/c the hearth had damaged it, so they re leveled the floor and lay down new oak hardwood. Then they sanded the whole room down and refinished it. You can not even tell where they laid the new oak- it is pretty amazing! Someday we're going to have to have them come and redo the floors in the living room too but we'll have to be out of the house for a few days for them to do that and they aren't in dire need of it yet! The rug is fro Ikea (Frank is finally convinced that he likes it!) and the coffee and end tables I bought years ago and actually go quite nicely in the room. We moved them out of the living room once Xander started to get mobile (glass top, sharp edges, you get the idea...) but now they have a nice safe place to live seeing as the kid are supposedly not allowed in this room!
Next you have our beautiful new library. The shelving is also from Ikea- I just love the corner shelf and we really needed more space to store our books. Frank and I are both a bit obsessive when it come to keeping books. Now we have enough room to store most of our books and display some of our photos and nick nacks. I have determined however that I really have way too many knick nacks but I am really having a hard time making myself let go of them- they all have some sentimental value and meaning to me! Mostly they are little trinkets from my various travels so I have made a new rule that we have no need of any more souvenirs! All that is left here is to do some more organizing of books (I need to go get many boxes of book from my mother's house and Frank needs to sort through all the boxes he has stored in the barn) and there is some cabinet lighting that Frank and I are in disagreement over. I want it, he doesn't but I need him to install it. Hence the lights are sitting in their boxes on top of the shelves!
So then you have the seating area. The curtains are also from Ikea (I really need to hem them but currently they are tied up to keep them mostly off the floor...). I haven't decided what (if anything) we are going to do for a window treatment on the small window- maybe a roman shade? The chairs are, if you can believe, the hideous gold velour chair that Frank has had since college and my little blue chair. We got matching slipcovers that fit well enough- certainly cheaper than custom ones or new chairs! The we have the diploma wall in the background, along with Frank's handmade ironing board/step stool that is currently serving very nicely as a plant holder! So we still need to pain the radiator, figure out window treatments for the small window, hem the curtains, install cabinet lighting, and the big thing- finish the 4th wall. Originally it was all covered with plastic to protect the built in shelving but now that has all been taken down but somehow that wall never got painted- probably b/c painting in between the shelving is going to be a giant PITA! So the last wall remains as it was before white with built in desk and shelving and as soon as we figure out how we want to arrange the desk area, filing cabinet etc we'll probably get around to painting and finishing it off! (I hope!)

Friday, July 2, 2010

A trip to the zoo...

So Wednesday we loaded up the kids and headed off to the zoo. We went to Southwick's Zoo in Mendon, MA where we met up with Nan and May and R and N. Check it out here. We got there pretty much right after they opened, which meant we got a prime parking spot- whoo hoo! (it's a bit sad how exciting the little things in life can become...). Both of the boys really seemed to enjoy it. Xander had a lot of fun saying "bye, bye" to all of the exhibits as we moved on. He was definitely a little man on the move though- he just wanted to "go, go, go." And he has the attention span of a gnat. He'd check out the animal and then he was like "bye,bye, go, go!" He got his first scraped knee- running and tripping on concrete will do that to you! But he tolerated it well and then the rest of the afternoon kept pointing at it and going "ouch."

James was interested in the animals but he, unlike his brother, consented to taking a nap while being carted in the stroller. All in all I think it was a good trip. James was interested and checked everything out and Xander spent the whole day running. I'm not sure he had a favorite animal, but he did seem particularly interested in the giraffes- a boy like his mama! He liked the llamas though too and he had a blast feeding the goats at the petting zoo- why I am not quite sure seeing as he does that everyday at home!

After the zoo we went and got some dinner at a local family restaurant. It was super yummy! Thank you Nan! Xander, however, after the not napping all day fell asleep on the 5 min car ride to the restaurant and slept through dinner. Some how he didn't sleep the rest of the ride home though... James and mama did though! Poor daddy was forced to stop for coffee and singing country songs at the top of his lungs to stay awake! Hopefully we will have more summer adventures to come!