Archive for November 2011

Giving Thanks

November 28, 2011

Back in July, while we were helping our North Carolinian friends CPQ and Mr. CPQ move into their new house, we casually mentioned that it could be fun to get together for a holiday this year.  We all thought that Thanksgiving might be a good time to have a laid-back get-together.  You know, just a small, simple affair, with a small, simple meal.

That lead to “Hey, instead of being at one of our homes, we could meet halfway.”

That lead to “If we’re meeting halfway, we might as well meet someplace interesting.”

That lead to … well, you get the point.

Fast forward to last Wednesday, when each family was driving to the 7 bedroom beach house we had rented on the Outer Banks, with each vehicle full of enough food to feed a small army (or an even smaller group of 12-year-old boys).

While we were traveling, one way our kids entertained themselves was by singing a little song about the number of miles left, as shown on the GPS.  This was cute for, oh, 3 or 4 miles.

30 miles later, not so much.

Arriving on the OBX

A was a “little” excited.

Some weather headed in during our drive up to Corolla

Once we arrived, K had to head directly for the beach.

Even though we warned the kids that the water was a little chilly, they had to experience it barefoot.

J even got his toes wet ...

... and realized what "chilly" meant.

Insert obligatory "Kids Looking Cute in a Posed Beach Picture" here.

K insisted that I and my receding hairline be in some of the pics.

Later on Wednesday evening, the CPQ family arrived.  From earlier posts about our get-togethers with the CPQs, you may recall that it’s always somewhat of a shock when we first see the boys, since they seem to grow 2-3 feet between visits.  We even have a tradition of taking a picture with K and T, the tallest of the boys, each time we see them.  Here are three pictures, showing how much T has grown in 8 months.

March 2011

July 2011

November 2011

Did I mention that the CPQ triplets are 12 years old?  This is one reason why, despite our attempts to make this a “simple” Thanksgiving meal, this is what the beach house refrigerator looked like for a 4 day visit:

This is only what we brought with us. We also has to go to the local grocery store. Twice.

Thursday was mostly about preparing to eat, eating, and thinking about what we were going to eat next.

Part of the spread.

MrCPQ provided the smoked turkey, which looked a lot less blurry in person.

We did have one casualty. One of CPQ's pies didn't survive the transfer from the oven to the counter.

But we did just fine without the pie.

And having this view during the meal didn't hurt.

A even helped by crafting some place cards.

After eating, MrCPQ paid up on a bet we made (Va Tech vs. Wake Forest football game) by cleaning up after the meal. Even CPQ looks disgusted with the pitiful performance Wake produced.

The rest of Thanksgiving was spent lounging and loafing.  Possibly a little football watching.  And of course, with 10 TVs, 2 iPads, 3 iPhones, an Android device, and the Atlantic Ocean available, keeping the kids entertained wasn’t a problem.

We all spent Friday and Saturday loafing, eating, going to the beach, eating, watching football, eating, seeing a movie, and possibly some eating.

Mornings with some coffee, donuts, knitting, Words with Friends, conversations with real friends, and a view of the Atlantic Ocean did not suck.

I even made myself useful by acting as K's yarn spool.

J made himself right at home by posing dinosaurs on the stairs.

CPQ spent a lot of time on Friday knitting and watching Arkansas play LSU. Unfortunately, this is one of the few time we saw her smile during the game.

Even thought the outcome wasn't what she wanted, at least she watched the game while sitting in front of a fire and looking out on the beach.

The weather was near 70 degrees all weekend, so the kids spent a lot of time out on the beach, undeterred by the 60 degree water temperature.

A looking for a cheaper, faster trade route to China.

JJ was the bravest of all, wading out where no mere mortal 12-year-old would sanely go in 60° water.

K and CPQ, poised to leap into action to save the lives of their children at the first sign of danger.

Why this child wanted to sit down in the cold water is beyond me.

J, as happy as a clam digger.

One time, I thought JJ had finally succumb to the cold and headed in.

But then he came back out WITH A BOGIE BOARD!

Saturday night, we loaded up the gang and drove to the closest theater.

T teaches J the finer point of zombie killing at the theater arcade

Fun for the whole family.

J recreates some of the finer musical highlights from the movie:

Sunday morning rolled around and we had to bug out before traffic got too bad.

Loading up for the trip home.

The house across from us was flying this ugly scrap of material. Since I knew their team hadn't done so well this weekend *cough*38-0*cough*, I tried to cheer them up with a rousing chorus of HOKIE, HOKIE, HOKIE, HI! At 7am.

Heading home wasn’t too bad, although it’s never good when you see the flashing traffic warning signs on Interstate 95.

This is why it was flashing. Overall, traffic wasn't so bad, adding less than an hour to the trip home.

And finally, the only way I could think of to end this post one last story.  One day while we were on the beach, a large group came out to take one of those ubiquitous “Let’s all wear white shirts, jeans or khakis, and pose on the beach, because nobody has ever done that before!” shots.

We must be the only family that doesn't have one of these pictures hanging on our wall.

I much prefer the un-posed, floppy-hat-wearing, scruffy-faced, eyes-closed, real-world shots.

On the road again

November 23, 2011

As I type, we’re headed down to the Outer Banks to spend Thanksgiving with CPQ and her gang. Planning for this trip started a while back when one of us said “Hey, we should do Thanksgiving together some time.” As is our want, any simple plans tend to grow exponentially. Long story short, we ended up renting a house on the beach. And our initially simple “Let’s just get a rotisserie chicken and some pre-made mashed potatoes,” Thanksgiving dinner has slowly evolved into both of our families bringing enough food to feed a small army.

Go big or go home.

So, we’re now headed south to stay for 5 days. Our only goals are goofing off, watching football, and eating several times our own body weights.

In other words, a typical ImNotNed/CPQ family experience.

New York Minute

November 8, 2011

OK, since I’ve been getting more and more dreadful about making timely updates, here’s an only somewhat delayed weekend update.

Get comfy, this is gonna be a long one. And as always, click on a picture to see a bigger version.

K and I had been to New York separately, but never together.  When she saw that Hugh “I Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Be This Talented” Jackman was staring in his own one man show, she found the impetus for us to schedule a slightly delayed anniversary celebration:

At the airport, but fashionably dressed for a weekend in NYC

The Statue of Liberty, as seen from our arriving plane

Our first Genuine NYC Experience upon landing was taking a cab into the city.  Let’s recap the top five ways this was life-threatening, shall we?

  1. I’m not sure the cab was being maintained at its best, since every warning light on the dash was illuminated.
  2. We used parts of the road never intended for traffic, such as shoulders, emergency stopping spots, and possibly on top of several pedestrians
  3. We did all this while the cab was doing 70 mph at times.
  4. We did all this while the cabbie was completely asleep at times.
  5. I’m not kidding about #4.

So after arriving at the hotel and kissing the ground, be noticed that our hotel was really conveniently located on the same block as Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

Our NYC-tiny, but nicely decorated and impeccably clean hotel room.

But the view looked out onto an office building.

K at the Rockefeller Center ice rink, directly across from our hotel

Rockefeller Center

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Saks Fifth Ave ... ON Fifth Ave.

Inside Saks, K collects decorating ideas.

Luckily for our wallet, K did not collect anything here.

The "Looks like a hole in the wall, but opens up into an incredible Chinese restaurant" we Yelped for Friday night dinner.

We so wished we could have wrapped up the leftovers and mailed them home.

Walking around Friday night, K found more decorating ideas.

We spend most of Saturday morning and early afternoon on a group tour, starting with a boat ride from midtown to Battery Park, walking around and touring the 9/11 Memorial, walking through the trendy East River port, boating over to Brooklyn and around the Brooklyn Bridge, boating around the Statue of Liberty, then back up to midtown.

K and our tour guide, with her "Follow Me" lightsaber.

This is as close as I will get to winning a Heisman Trophy.

Walking up to Ground Zero

Waiting to enter the Memorial

Inside the Memorial, at the base of the new WTC1

The South Tower Memorial

The waterfalls are a very nice part of the memorial

Included on the South memorial are the names of those killed at the Pentagon ...

... including the name of a former coworker of mine.

I saw a show about the building of the memorial where they mentioned how the panels are slightly heated or cooled, to make sure they are always comfortable to the touch.

Remnants of the original WTC on display in a soon-to-open museum

This tree was recovered from the wreckage of the WTC. It was taken offsite, tended for a decade, then returned as a part of the memorial.

Leaving the memorial, we ran across the lovely "Occupy Wall Street" protest. The less I say about this, the better.

Tall ships at the East River harbor.

On the boat, heading under the Brooklyn Bridge

Approaching the Statue of Liberty, and listening to some bad jokes:

Could be a postcard

Closed for renovations, so we didn't get to go inside.

But we do have proof we were actually there.

After our tour, we spent a little more time walking around, just seeing the sights (of which there are many).

M&M World, just in case you need chartreuse M&Ms.

Where Dave Letterman films his show ...

... and the often mocked Hello Deli next door.

And what NYC trip would be complete without a pretzel from a street vendor.

After walking 1,423 blocks during the day, we headed back to the hotel for a little rest, before heading right back out for dinner and show.

Bad cell phone shot of the huge filet I had for dinner.

Headed through Times Square after dinner

I call this shot "Proof that we visited another planet"

K giddily awaiting the sight of Hugh Jackman

The show was great.  As I alluded to earlier, one guy shouldn’t be so good looking AND talented.

After the show, we headed to the Top of the Rock observatory on the 68th floor of Rockefeller Center.

The elevator you take to the observatory has a clear ceiling, so you can see the trip up the elevator shaft.

The view from the Top of the Rock

The Empire State Building was sporting orange, white and blue lighting, in honor of the ING-sponsored NYC marathon (more on that later).

On Sunday, we slept in (obviously).  The rest of the day was spent doing some more sight-seeing and attempting to find the most ridiculously priced products available in NYC.  I think K actually bought several of them.

I kid.  She actually show quite a bit of restraint.  I was actually pushing for her to buy more.  Must have been something in the water.

The back of the Today Show set.When you watch the show, this is where you normally see tourists standing, making complete fools of themselves in an attempt to get 2 seconds on TV.

The famous NYC Public Library lions.

I thought birthday parties around here were over the top. This is a 6-year-old's private birthday party on the Rockefeller Center ice rink.

K at the Kate Spade mothership.

K says "You know it's a good day when you find Lord & Taylor on 5th Ave ... and it has 10 floors."

As I mentioned above, the NYC Marathon was also this past weekend. When did we learn of this?  During the terror-inducing cab ride from the airport to our hotel.  Fortunately it didn’t really affect us too much.  But our Saturday tour guide warned that traffic would be a mess Sunday afternoon, so we either needed to give ourselves 4 hours to get to the airport, or we should take the Subway to the JFK light rail system.  Now, we’ve taken the DC Metro a lot.  But the NYC subway is a whole other beast.

K looks a little worried as we take the subway. Either that or she's reacting to the smell of urine.

But, aside from the desire to attack the entire subway system with a power washer, it was fairly easy to get to the airport. We arrived home safely.  But after a whirlwind weekend of skyscrapers, beautiful vistas, solemn memorials, over the top shows, incredible food, less-than-pure air, dazzling assaults on the senses, and planes, trains and automobiles, we were glad to be back in our little slice of suburbia.

Start spreadin’ the news …

November 4, 2011

… we’re leavin’ today.

K and I are at the airport, about to get on a flight to The Big Apple. This is a slightly belated anniversary trip. But since K wanted to see a certain show in NYC that wasn’t open on our actual anniversary, we delayed things to accommodate her desires.

And I do mean “desires”

We are seeing Hugh Jackman’s one man show

I figure she owes me good after this one.

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Halloween 2011

November 1, 2011

As you may recall from previous posts, I love Halloween.  Usually we have a big costume party at the house.  But this year, our Sunday School Class retreat was scheduled for this past weekend, so we didn’t have the party at the house (there was a small Halloween party at the retreat, but since I got snowed out, I didn’t get to participate). But luckily, our church hosts a Trunk or Treat celebration on Halloween night, so I did get to indulge my inner child (more on that later).

K and the kids traditionally spend the evening with J and A’s best friend T and his family.  We started going to their house years ago since our neighborhood is, shall we say, less than optimal for Trick or Treating (no sidewalks, no streetlights, and the closest house is a quarter-mile away).  And since T’s family lives about 45 minutes from church without traffic, getting to our Trunk or Treat even would take them the better part of a day.  So, K takes the kids there while I am at church.

J as Darth Vader, A as Batgirl, with friends T and J, ready to head out.

Biker chick K, complete with faux piercings and tattoo arm sleeves

The gang out trick or treating. J came to the realization that Darth Vader must not have been able to see squat.

One story about J.  As referenced above, he couldn’t see very well out of his mask.  So most of the evening, he pulled the mask up and wore it on top of his head.  While this improved his forward vision, his peripheral vision was still less than optimal due to the sides of the mask.  One time, he started running in order to catch up with the gang.  When he turned his head to look to the side, he didn’t notice the parked car directly in his path.  After the inevitable physics lesson in momentum and inertia, K knew he was fine when his only response was “Whoa, that wasn’t good.”

Now, on to my exploits at church.  Last year, Nana and I made me a Cap’n Crunch outfit.  Never one to rest on my laurels, I knew I had to raise the bar.  The only problem was that Nana was out of town.  But never fear, my wife has learned at the feet of the master, so the two of us were able to pull together this little number:

If you don’t know the reference, well, shame on you.  Here’s a little primer …

I spent Halloween night walking around, talking in my best Swedish Chef accent.  The best part was talking to some of our church kids who didn’t know who I was under the mask, yet I knew all their names.  And I only scared one small child to tears.

At church for the start of Trunk or Treat

Proof that at least one parent didn't think I was a random weirdo walking around in a mask. (And that joke writes itself ... "No, you're not random.")

UPDATE:

Just had to include another, better picture of K in costume.  This was taken at our Sunday School class retreat:

Our Sunday School teacher has never seen K look so, um, refined. You really need to click on this pic to see her up close and personal.