Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Viva La Mexico!




I guess we have truly become northeasterners as we fled from winter in NJ for the warmth of Cancun, Mexico for a few days.

I love this photo of Chloe. She had fallen asleep on the way to this market and after she woke up we put this sombrero on her. She's not very happy about it.


Because Matt traveled so much for work for so many years, he maintains the highest preferred member status with a few hotel chains. From time to time this gets us some good offers from the hotels. About a year ago, Starwood hotels made us an offer we couldn't refuse, 4 nights/5 days in Cancun for $156 and $200 in hotel cash. Done deal.


So last Friday we set out from JFK to Cancun for a nice long beach retreat. We had a great time soaking up some sun, playing in the sand and swimming. We lounged most of the time but did one excursion, which we had promised to do with Chloe, a dolphin swim.

Chloe playing in the sand on the beach. She would play on the beach for about 10 minutes and then want to swim in the pool. We constantly spent our day moving from beach to pool.



Matt and Chloe in a Cuban restaurant in Cancun.

Chloe got to write her name on the wall of the restaurant.

And below are our photos during our dolphin swim. Here, we are getting a "kiss" from the dolphins. We got to splash, pet and kiss the dolphins. The water was very cold, which Chloe didn't like at first but we convinced her to stay in the water. She wasn't scared of the dolphins even though they are big. She just wanted to touch them.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Chloe and I had a great Friday the 13th yesterday. I was reminded why I so enjoy living in this area--there is so much to do. You can't possibly be bored. Chloe and I set out to get Matt's Valentine's Day present yesterday. A friend recently made us aware of the NYC cookie wars--a battle over which bakery makes the best cookie. Sue brought us some yummy goodness in a box from this bakery and we were hooked. Then, to heat up the competition, Deborah sent me the link to this bakery. I had to check it out and thus Matt's Valentine's gift was born...cookies from NYC's best cookie bakeries. He could determine the winner.
So, after prying the W*ii remotes out of Chloe's little hands in the morning and running some errands around town, we set out for NYC. We had multiple stops to make so we drove.


It was a sunny, not too cold day. Perfect for heading into the city. Every time I go into the city I think I should go into the city more. Our first stop was Ruby *et* Violette. Its in a mixed neighborhood, one that has not quite turned over for the better, one you wouldn't normally go to unless there was some fantastic little bakery in it that you just had to go to. So, it was surprising to find this darling little bakery.


They had a few customers inside the small storefront but they were very nice, gave Chloe some samples of brownies and were very nice when Chloe screamed that they had "gross, green cookies" (which were Creme de Menthe). We picked out Matt's cookie selection, 18 cookies nicely boxed up and tied with a silk ribbon.

We headed back to the car, and went to Le*Vain Bakery. It sits basement level, below a big storefront with a small sign. You have to look for it. If Sue hadn't told me you had to keep an eye out for it, I wouldn't have found it and thought I had the wrong address. Chloe and I found a rockstar parking space and headed to the bakery. HOLY MOTHER! I could have gone into diabetic shock just stepping foot in the door! This place makes cookies that are meals. It too is tiny. I wouldn't stop in here to sit and have a snack like I would Ruby *et* Violette, but I would stop in for the heavenly goodness they bake. We picked up a batch of chocolate chip walnut and chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Realizing that I may have entered cookie overload, I decided to call Matt and bring the Le*Vain cookies by his work for an afternoon treat for him and his coworkers. So, we called Matt's work number, no answer, only voice mail. I tried Matt's cell phone. No answer. I called work again, left a message and thought about what Chloe and I could do until Matt called us back.

Its almost Valentine's, I have a four-year old in tow, we only need to waste a little time until Matt returns our call, so lets go here and so we did. Literally, Chloe was like a kid in a candy store. After spending 30 minutes or so fighting the crowds and having to cut Chloe off on her candy spending spree, we headed back to the car to see if Matt had returned our call. He had not. I tried calling again. No answer on either number. So we drove through NYC. It was nice. I kept hitting every bakery, restaurant, store I ever wanted to visit and found it. Chloe ate red hots, sour gummy worms and pixie sticks. She was also busy trying to pry the wrapper off a giant lollipop. She was as happy as Larry.

Meanwhile, I began to panic. Matt hadn't called back (and its not easy to park where he works and you cannot get in without a guest passed logged into their computer system from within their building--in other words, Matt had to know we were coming, which he didn't, and put us into the system) and I had a boatload of cookies in my car! I decided I had to take one for the team. I opened the Le*Vain Bakery bag, pulled out a mammoth chocolate walnut cookie and took a bite. I had to pull over. On a busy NYC road. It was manna from heaven. I heard choirs of angels sing. Then the phone rang. It was Matt. I told him Chloe and I were in the city and had priceless treasures to deliver to him and his coworkers.

I managed to find a space outside Matt's work (illegally) and we met Matt. He acquired said manna from heaven and Chloe and went into the building to deliver the chocolaty goodness. I sat in the car, watching for the parking/traffic police and watching a group of orthodox Jewish men ask passerbys if they were Jewish as they blared music from the camper they called the "Mitzvah Mobile" or "Mitzvah Tank". (I didn't take this picture, I got it off of the internet. I really wanted to take a picture, but it would have required me to leave my illegally parked car. I always think its funny and so NYC that this camper sits in front of a pretty landmark NY building on Park Ave.)


Chloe and Matt returned. Chloe was all smiles. She loves going to see Daddy at work and going to say hello to everyone in Daddy's office. We said our goodbyes and Chloe and I left...after we set out to find the Ethiopian restaurant someone recommended to us. Which we did.

I wasn't five minutes from Matt's office when my cell phone rang. It was Matt. People were demanding to know where the manna from heaven came from. I shared the good news and address.

It was a cookie overload day, but a good one. It reminded me about one of things I like so much about this area, the close proximity to NYC, how we can go in to the city for the afternoon to seek out deliciousness from the myriad of speciality shops and bakeries.

In the evening, Matt brought home another box of goodness for Chloe and I. It was from one of my favorite NYC stores not too far from Matt's work--Saks Fi*fth Avenue. I got some perfume and Chloe got this--


So, we had a good Valentine's, both yesterday and today. Hope your Valentine's Day was as sweet!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Party

When you have children, Valentine's Day takes on a whole new meaning. I now have a love/hate relationship with Valentine's Day.

WHAT I LIKE:

  1. The cute "heart" t-shirts for Chloe and that she gets excited to wear something special to celebrate

  2. Making Valentine's cards for her friends. I have always given "original" Valentine's. We don't necessarily make them, I buy original hand-crafted cards from crafters at a craft fair or on Et*sy. I don't care for the canned cards (fine if she gets them). I have never endorsed paying for something that helps someone else brainwash my child to like advertise for some cartoon, theme-park, movie, character, etc. As a general rule, I don't do it.


  3. Chloe gets to sign all her Valentine's this year. She signed them: "Love Chloe" on all of them. Of course, she did 18 cards and after she signed card #7 she told me she didn't have to do the other cards because the 7 people that got the signed cards could tell the others who their unsigned card was from. I didn't buy into her thinking. It took two days to sign all 18 cards, but she did it.


  4. The special, handmade gifts Chloe makes at pre-school for Mommy & Daddy.

WHAT I DON'T LIKE ABOUT VALENTINE'S:

  1. The candy--or at least the massive amounts of candy she gets. We didn't do candy this year because of it. We gave handmade, felt heart pins.



  2. The candy & chocolate---after her pre-school Valentine's party we came home and Chloe ripped into her loot. She didn't care to read the cards (though I made her), she wanted the candy and chocolate. And there was lots. She didn't want to eat lunch, she wanted the ring pop, then the marshmallow heart, then another lollipop, then when I was cleaning the kitchen counters, she ripped into the Valentine's Fun Dip candy without my knowledge. Her mouth is now blue. Oy! Thank goodness last weeks pre-school lesson was on dental hygiene.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mother Nature

Mother Nature has a great sense of humor. Its 60 degrees and sunny today in NJ. The snow is melting away and you can hear kids outside playing. It feels like spring. It is a much needed break in the winter schedule. Of course, checking the weather forecast for the remainder of the week quickly brings one back to the senses. Its winter and its supposed to snow this weekend. UGH!

In the meantime, we having been taking full advantage of the nice weather. Chloe has been riding her bike. We have a goal to lose the training wheels this summer. The nice weather is giving us some practice.

And, here's our West*minster winner, Lizzie. I returned home this morning from taking Chloe to pre-school and this is what I opened the door and saw.


What dog needs to be a show dog when you have a life like this? All she needs to do to make it better is figure out how it reclines.





Friday, February 06, 2009

Ticking Away the Moments that Make Up a Dull Day...

Last year we received the season flier from our county performing arts center. This group was on the season tour and Matt went wild. So wild that he bought 10 tickets on the 5th row. We invited two of our friends from Dallas to attend with us, he works for a company in NYC and was in town. Matt gave the tickets to his team at work. We made an event of it.

I made reservations for us to have dinner at a well-reviewed Vietnamese restaurant near the performing arts center and then we went to the concert. It turned out to be a very fun night. I was worried at first because the band came out, started to play and the people just sat there. We were even told to be quiet by the "older" group in front of us. WHAT? You're at a concert, on the 4th row and you tell us to be quiet---they weren't even singing. Later on the lady who first told us to be quiet, laid her head on her husband's shoulder and fell asleep? You picked this concert to take a nap?

All in all, we had a great time. I questioned Matt's sanity when he nearly bought out the row, but I have to say it was worth it. So, for your viewing pleasure I leave you with a video (not taken by me, it was on Y*ou Tu*be) of the "experience". Yes, at the end of the concert they have a giant pink pig that flies overhead.




Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Registering

I registered Chloe for kindergarten today. We live in an excellent school system that many want to attend. Our school district has cracked down on making certain that people who attend the schools really do live in the district. In order to do so, they required more paperwork and documentation this year, which slowed down the registration process.

I arrived at the elementary school at 3:22 p.m. (in the middle of a snow storm I might add) to line up for the 3:30 p.m. registration to find about 30 parents already waiting in a line. The line swelled after I arrived. Other friends registering their kids at other elementaries in the district reported a shorter wait time. Rumor has it that our elementary kindergarten class is going to be large. I gathered that already by the number of people in line.

While I registered Chloe she stayed at our neighbors house and played with their son, one of her best pals. I picked Chloe up after I left the elementary, around 4:45 p.m., and told her she was going to kindergarten next year. Here's the conversation that ensued:

Chloe: "Good, I'm not a baby anymore. I'm a big girl now."
Me: "Kindergarten makes you an official big girl?"
Chloe: "Yes. You have to let me do things now that you think I am too young to do, like sleepovers."
Me: "I don't think so."
Chloe: "Yes, because soon after kindergarten I am going to move out and buy my own house."
Me: "Really? Soon after kindergarten? When is this going to be?"
Chloe: "When I am your age."
Me: "Well, you are going to be in kindergarten for a looooong time then if you are moving out when you are my age and that is going to be 'soon after kindergarten'".
Chloe: "Yea, and you can live with me."
Me: "I can?! And your buying the house?"
Chloe: "Yes."
Me: "Sounds great."
Chloe: "And you can sleep in my bed. We can share clothes too."
Me: "If you are my age when all this happens I am going to be in my 70s. You won't want to share clothes with me."
Chloe: "Yes I will. See you think I won't want to share clothes with you because you think I am a baby."
Me: "No, you won't want to wear a 70 year old woman's clothes when you are in your mid-30s."
Chloe: "Yes, I will!"

So, I hope when I am in my 70s I am not wearing clothes made for someone in their 30s, something also tells me that Chloe and I will never be able to share clothes. I'm a tall woman by anyone's standards and probably a little bigger than she will ever be. But, evertheless, apparently kindergarten makes you a big girl eligible to buy houses---I hope Chloe doesn't become a mortgage lender.

 
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