Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Andrew Hits NYC

When I was in High School I was in the school's elite choir called the Delphian Chorale. Both of my brothers have been in the choir and I know my sisters will follow suit when they are old enough. Each year the choir goes "on tour" When I was in it we visited Chicago, NYC and Europe. This year they returned to NYC for the first time since I was in HS. I was really excited to see my brother preform. He even had a tiny solo in my favorite song, "He Never Failed Me Yet." They preformed in St. Paul the Apostles church which is located across the St from ground zero. They did wonderful despite the fact it was super hot and the church has NO A/C!
I LOVED seeing Andrew. I was surprised that he spent as much time with me as he did. It was good to get him one on one and talk to him about life. We went on a harbor cruise around the city and he got to see the Statue of Liberty and some breath taking views of the city.

After the Harbor cruise we went to dinner with the group somewhere in midtown. I forget the name of the place we went, but thats ok because the food was just ok.
We got to walk through time square after dinner. Andrew thought it was pretty cool.
The original plan was for me to say goodbye after dinner. The group had tickets to see "Wicked" and since I didn't buy one I wouldn't be going. To my surprise the group ended up with one extra ticket and invited me to join them. I was trilled. I have seen Wicked on Broadway 2 times prior and loved it both times. I was more excited to see it with Andrew. I was anxious to watch his reaction to the show and all of its splendor.
After the tour guide showed the group where the theater was he told us we had an hour to go out and look walk up and down Time Sq. I told Andrew we should go find him a souvenir so off we went. As we walked away from the theater I noticed the sky was looking a bit ominous and that a storm was coming. And I was right. While we were inside one of the shops it started to pour. But we didn't have the luxury of just waiting it out in the store since we had to be back in time for the show. So Andrew and his best friend Caleb decided to start running back the the theater. It was every man for himself. LOL. I got a pretty big laugh out of the whole thing though. I used a bag as an umbrella and managed to get back without being soaked. It was very memorable.

The show was wonderful (naturally) and I loved every minute of it. However, Andrew was sooo tired from all the walking and heat of the day he feel asleep several times during the show. I had to keep waking him up during the songs I knew he would be sad if he missed. During intermission I went and got us a drink and a snack. The woke him up and we were able to watch the second act together without him drifting off. After the show we were able to be a part of a question and answer session with some of the members of the cast (Boq, Fiyero, the understudy for Elphaba, a dancer and one of the costume and make-up people.) It was really cool to hear them talk about the industry. When it was all over I took a taxi (the first one I ever hailed and rode in all on my own) back the grand central and headed home. I was very tired the next day at work but it was all worth it. One of my favorite memories with my brother ever!

Jared and Maryle Visit

On the Monday after our busy saturday (cfa/fundraiser) Mike's brother Jared and his wife Maryle came to visit. They came late on Monday night and stayed till Friday.

Tuesday we spent most of the day getting ready for there next few days in the city. I did take them to the mall where we looked for some Yankee attire for the game that night. We ended up going to Modell sports for our shirts. Mike came and picked us up after work and we headed to Yankee Stadium.
It was a beautiful night for a baseball game. We all wore our new Yankee shirts and felt like real fans. The Yankee's played the Red Socks and ended up loose but it was still fun (especially since we were all closet Red Sock fans.) I have to admit I paid minimal attention to the game. I was content watching people and playing on Mike's phone. It was fun to be there but watching every second of a baseball game just isn't as exciting for me. College football, that another story.

One of the highlights of the evening was the chocolate shakes from the Johnny Rocket Stand at the Stadium. Mike got one last year and has been dreaming of it since. I'm the type of person who likes to sample lost of sweets but not have a whole milkshake or anything like that to myself. I asked if we could share one and I would only have about a 1/4 of it. Mike decided that would not due. He wanted one to himself plus some of mine. So we got two. Mistake. The milkshakes were delicious, but to rich for any of us to finish. From now on Mike and I will think a little more carefully when we order our food.

It was a fun night. Just spending time with family we don't see all that often is wonderful.

Jared and Maryle spent Wed in NYC and had a blast. They did however pass along some unhappy news. Our favorite Mexican place in the city (Mama Mexico) had shut down. We don't know if we'll ever find a place we like more :(

Thursday I took the train into the city with them. We went down town to see my brother Andrew and his choir group preform. Which deserves it's own entry. :)

The Fruits of My Labors.

June 4th was the BIG day for Mike and I. Mike took level II of the CFA and I had my big fundraiser. Like most things I do, my idea evolved from something small to something much bigger. I originally thought we should do a spaghetti dinner. After pricing it all out I knew we wouldn't make very much doing that. So we should add a bake sale to the mix and we should auction off some of the best desserts there. THEN I thought I could get a few actual items/services for the auction. In high school my choir always did an auction to raise money and it was pretty successful. The auction idea just snowballed out of control and we ended up with 50 items! Which was awesome. The only thing I didn't take into consideration was how much work it would be. I had to keep track of all the auction items coming in and who was donating them. Make description sheets for all the items. Make a silent bid sheet for all the items. Make posters to advertise the items so people would come to bid. Thats just some of the things I did. It took hours! And the worst part, it wasn't something I could delegate. It was such a tedious task that only one person could do it. My friend Cynda works with me in YW and came over a few times to help as much as she could. We are lucky things went as smoothly with the auction as they did.

Here are some pictures of how the RS room was set up for the auction

So I thought I had most of the work done with the spaghetti dinner until a few days before when I realized I didn't have centerpieces for the tables. I didn't want to spend a lot of money but I wanted the tables to look nice. That is when my awesome coworkers came into rescue me. They came up with the idea for three different centerpieces that would be easy to do and cost effective. They also got their hands on 15 vases for me to use so I didn't have to buy them. I spent a total of $30 on 17 centerpieces. THAT IS AWESOME! I wanted the whole thing to have an Italian theme so the table clothes were red, green and white (the colors of the italian flag) and the centerpieces were all very italian.
The red tables had a vase with multi-colored pasta at the bottom and spaghetti coming up the center fanned out for a full look.
The white tables had a vase filled with lemons (Italy is famous for growing lemons)
and lemon leaves sitting on top of more lemon leaves that were on the table.
The green tables had a box of empty pasta stuffed with red, green
and white tissue paper and an italian flag.
I was lucky to have a lot of help the night of the fundraiser. The girls came early dressed in black pants and a white shirt (like I asked them.) They all volunteered for the "stations" I needed them at and stayed at their post all night. The leaders and mothers were also awesome. It is a lot of work to feed over 150 people and they did an awesome job in the kitchen. I was so lucky to have them helping me.

All in all we raised a ton of money. Enough to pay for all the girls to go to girls camp and them some. It was such a blessing. When we started planning the whole thing the bishop told me 2 things. 1) don't stress and 2) let the Lord be in charge of this. I did stress, I can't help it. However, I did the best I could to let the Lord help me and he did. There were sooo many things I did because I was inspired to do them. Which sounds silly but I would wake up in the middle of the night and think "i need to call this person, check on the price of this and organize this." I was working over 50 hours a week (40 at school and 10-15 babysitting in the afternoon), preparing wed night activities and lessons (because I still had responsibilities for my calling) and doing all the house work (cleaning, meal planing, grocery shopping, ect.) since Mike was in intense study mode. As you can imagine I didn't have much spare time and all the free time I had went into this. There is no way it could have been done (and in such a successful and well organized manner) with out the help of the Lord. When it was all over I just wanted to cry, I literally felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.

I also have to give Mike some SERIOUS credit. He spent all day taking the CFA and just wanted to go out and do something fun to celebrate the end of the CFA. However, he came straight from the CFA to the church to do what he could to help. I have never been more happy to see him. I know what a huge sacrifice that was for him but he came. We stayed at the church until 10pm that night but we still wanted to do something fun. Our friend Ben had taken the CFA that day as well and came to the church to help Cynda. So the 4 of us decided we would go to our favorite place in stamford (Lucky's) for some post CFA/Auction dinner. After that we went back to the Johnson's place and played a game and watched a movie. We stayed up past 3am (which is big for us married people) and still made it to church on time the next day (your welcome, mom.)

I am glad it is over but have never been more grateful to work with such amazing women and girls who did so much to help. And for a husband who supports me, even when it was not convenient or fun. I'm a lucky lady and feel very blessed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"I think I'll go to Boston"

The weekend of May 20th I did my friends a big favor. I was a volunteer for their team in the New England Ragnar Race. If you aren't familiar with a Ragnar race it is where you have a team of 12 people (2 vans of 6 people) and you run a 200+ mile relay race. Each person runs 3 times and the amount of miles you run depends on what "leg" you have. It generally takes a little over 24 hours to complete. One of the tag lines is "Eat, sleep, run, repeat." I have to say I was glad I wasn't running. It looked exhausting.
My friend Cynda and I drove up to the Boston area on Friday night. We went to sleep as soon as we got there seeing as we had to wake up by 3:30 to go volunteer. When I woke up in the middle of the night I started walking to the bathroom and I stepped on someone who was on the floor. I quickly looked around and saw multiple bodies sprawled on the floor. Ben (Cynda's husband) and his van of runners were all sleeping on the floor. They only were able to sleep for about 2 hours before it was there turn to run again.

We showed up at the volunteer sight at 4:15. For the record, I am NOT a morning person. I was actually pretty bitter for most of the shift. Cynda was good to put up with my bitterness and laugh at me. That what friends are for though. Our team (the Unconquerable Soles) showed up around 5:30. Ben was the runner coming into the exchange point. He did awesome running up and down hills for over 7 miles so early in the morning. That was about as exciting as it got all morning. I spent most of my 5 hour shift writing down the time each runner came in, watching people vomit and gagging from the smell of bad BO.
I have to say, we got a great deal on the hotel room. This is a pile of over 20 used towels. That is about how many showers were taken. The whole team of 12 and the 3 volunteers all slept (at one point or another) in this room, most of us showered and all of use enjoyed the free breakfast. To top it off the Johnson's paid for the hotel with Marriot points... so we got all of that for free... PERFECT!
After breakfast we all went to the Harvard campus where the finish line and party were set up. It was a pretty cool atmosphere. Lots of energy and free stuff ;-) We also scooped out another mormon team, which is always fun. It was a beautiful day and it was fun to be apart of the whole thing.
After the team finished and took pictures we all went our seperate ways for the weekend. I was lucky enough to play 5th wheel to my friends the Johnson's and Jensen's. Mike was at home in Stamford studying hard for the CFA, so proud of him. The 5 of us walked to Mr. Bartley's there in Cambridge. It was delicious. The onion rings were to DIE for!

Then we headed to our hotel. Yes, all 5 of us shared a room. I slept on a roll away bed in the "kitchen" area of the room. Cynda and I forgot bathing suits so we decided we would go buy one. And that we did. We really enjoyed the hot tub for a few hours. We all had big plans for a night out on the town. Especially since Scott and Camille didn't have their son Peyton with them.
What we didn't factor into out "big plans" was the none of us got more than 4 hours of sleep the night before and over 1/2 of us had run a total of 50 miles combined. So we drove 15 minutes down the road to Chilli's (I had never been) where we received poor service and mediocre food. On our way back we realized that there was a Chilli's right across the street from our hotel. Nice work guys. We wanted to see a movie but we were all so tired we went to CVS to buy card games instead. We didn't even open them. When we got back to the hotel we all feel asleep talking. The next morning no one was 100% sure how they got into bed.
We spent Sunday morning in Boston. On our way to the U.S.S. Constitution we saw a bike accident in downtown Boston. The guy was riding right in front of us. He hit a big pot hole and flew off his bike. Meanwhile Ben had to swerve so he didn't run over the guy. Camille is a nurse so she was already jumping out of the car before we were even pulled over all the way. She did awesome. She got him out of the street and put pressure on the HUGE cut in his head. He was in shock and so was I. I remembered very quickly why the medical field never interested me. I was a wreck. All this guy had as a broken collarbone and a nice gash in his head. But the blood oozing out and the perfect droplets clinging to his biking outfit. Oh man I needed to sit dow. We called 911 and there were there in about 7 min. Which felt like an eternity for me as I tried not to magically make my breakfast reappear. SICK. So 20 points for Nurse Camille. YOU ROCK!!
Once we sent our new friend away in the ambulance went to the U.S.S. Constitution which is one of the oldest American war ships still in use. It was cool to see the ship deck lined with canons and the city skyline was the perfect back drop. I had to have Ben and Cynda take pictures with me so I wouldn't look like a looser all by myself in all the pictures.

We also visited Bunker Hill while in Boston. It reminded me of the washington monument. I loved the street we parked on. It was so picturesque and perfect. I only wish the sun would have been shinning. Gray clouds don't make for good picture backdrops.

Next we headed to little italy and the famous pastry shop "Mike's." We all got a cannoli (it was my first one ever and I have to say, it was good, but I wish I had gotten the cupcake.)
We nibbled on our pastries while we people watched in little italy by the Freedom Trail. Then we headed to the Italian place Camille and Scott had been looking forward to going to for months. Apparently it was on Dinners, Drive-ins and Dives (triple D) and they had great lobster ravioli. Well when we got there (after a 20 minute drive) it turns out the were closed on Sunday. Good for them for honoring the Sabbath day, shame on us for wishing they didn't.
So we headed back for CT. But we started looking at all the other triple D restaurants from Boston to stamford. We found 2 in Providence road island. The first one we watched the clip from the show that featured their food and everyone (but me) was salivating over the fisherman's stew (yuck sea food!) But they closed at 3pm on Sundays, it was 3:15. Fail. So before we went all the way to the other restaurant we looked up the hours online (thank you smart phones) and it was closed on Sunday as well. So we were pretty let down. But Cynda came through. She rallied the disappointed troops telling us about this great Italian place this Italian cop had raved to her and Ben about when they were in the area earlier this year. Ben had put the name of the restaurant in his iPhone. So Bam. we had a place to go.
HOLY COW!! That place was good. I still dream about their vodka sauce. I love that we are all such good friends we just passed our plates around and everyone sampled and oww'ed and ahhh'ed over the food. I don't think anyone ended up with their actual plate in front of them.

The rest of the car ride was full of road trip games and laughing. I don't think I had laughed that hard in a while. May was SUCH a stressful month for me since I was putting together the fundraiser. This trip was seriously what the doctor ordered for me to be able to make it through the rest of the month. I am so blessed to have such great friends (and not just these guys. So many other have made living on the East Coast some of the best years ever. And there will be PLENTY more to come.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

The In-Laws

Mikes parents got into CT on Monday May 9th. We wanted to take them out to dinner somewhere nice, but we just ended up going to Lucky's, go figure. It was fun to spend time with them since we hadn't seen them in about 10 months. We caught up and ate way more fries and onion rings than we should have.
The next day we went to the city. It was a BEAUTIFUL day. We started our afternoon by going to a taping of "The Late Show with David Letterman." I'm not the biggest fan of late night shows (probably because I never stay up late enough to watch them) but it was fun. It was cool to see how all of it was done and to see the guest. I didn't know any of them well but I had seen Mark Harmon on NCIS before.
After the show we walked to Rosa Mexicano. We had heard a lot of really great things about it. It was mexican so we loved it but it didn't blow me away. I was slightly disappointed. I think my standards when it comes to mexican food are pretty high. Or maybe I just like cheap American mexican like taco bell and Cafe Rio. Who knows. If you like mexican than you will probably enjoy it.
To end a great day in the city we went to see "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Daniel Radcliffe (AKA: Harry Potter) was one of the leads in the show. And yes, Aubri, he was AMAZING!!! I was really nervous that as a huge Potter fan I would only be able to see him as Harry. But that all changed the minute he starting talking in a NYC accent, sang and danced. It was incredible. I can't say enough good things about the show. GO SEE IT!! Do anything and everything it takes to see it. You won't regret it. Unless Dan comes down with the flu that night and they have an understudy play his part. That would be sad.
Sterling and Joleen
Mike and I after the show.

Mike and I had to go back to work on Wed and mom and dad left for a NAC meeting in Boston on Wed afternoon. So that we the end of that short but memorable visit with them. I will say that day i the city was fun but my allergies were off the wall. I was miserable. I ended up being sick for a few days afterward. This year should go down in the books as WORST ALLERGY SEASON EVER!!

Thats all :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

As of Late...

So I have basically taken a leave of absence from the blogging world for the past 2 months. I don't like it. I feel like there is a two month gap in my life. I hope to be able to catch up over the next month, but it doesn't help that I'm leaving for another vacation in a few days. In the past two months I have:

*Organizes and executed a massively successful fundraiser for the YW in my ward (which literally took up ALL of my free time at nights and on weekends for almost a whole month.)
*Was a volunteer for the New England Ragnar Race with my good friends. Which was followed by a weekend in Boston (without Mike :( He was studying for the CFA.)
*My in-laws came for a short visit in which we went to NYC and saw the David Letterman show & the Broadway musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
*Started my very first herb garden
*Mikes Brother and sister-in-law came from MI for a visit. It included a trip to a Yankees vs. Red Socks game.
*My brother Andrew came to NYC with his High School Choir. I met him in the city and spent a wonderful day with him which was topped off with my 3rd viewing of Wicked on Broadway!
*I had my last day of school for the year and was offered a contract with the same school for next year. Very Cool!!
*Spent a week in Florida with my family and had an absolute blast!! (My brother and sister BOTH preformed @ Disney's Hollywood Studios American Idol Experience and ROCKED!)

It's been a very busy but fun past 2 months. Hopefully I can catch up with all my pictures.