The Year In Pictures

It’s that time of year again, and this year, I really hope to keep up with ThinkIt’s Year-End Blog Wrap-Up. The prompt for December 1st is the Year in Pictures. I had a hard time reducing it to one moment, so I collected these, in no particular order:

This year, I discovered Pinterest, and have spent a good deal of time trying out ideas from the site and blogging about them.

This year, I discovered Pinterest, and have spent a good deal of time trying out ideas from the site and blogging about them.

Met this guy at PetSmart.

Met this guy at PetSmart.

Met this guy in the back yard.

Met this guy in the back yard.

Over the summer, I spent a week as a counselor at a wizard-themed camp. It was really fun, like working in an acting troupe for a week.

Over the summer, I spent a week as a counselor at a wizard-themed camp. It was really fun, like working in an acting troupe for a week.

We also discovered Breaking Bad this year and got all caught up on all five seasons so far.

We also discovered Breaking Bad this year and got all caught up on all five seasons so far.

Some of the best moments of the year were spent looking at this.

Some of the best moments of the year were spent looking at this.

Aaarghhh.

Aaarghhh.

IMG_1174

Is it me, or has this been the "Year of Bacon"?

Is it me, or has this been the “Year of Bacon”?

Family vacation

Family vacation

I’m surely leaving out many memories of the year, but hopefully they will come back to me as we continue this process over the next few weeks.

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NYC Vacation with the kids

Manfrengensen and I just got back from a nice trip to NYC with the kids. He and I had been there in May to see The Motherf**ker With the Hat (which was hilarious, btw), and while we were walking in Central Park on an absolutely perfect May afternoon, we thought of how much the kids would enjoy climbing those rocks and seeing all the sights.

photo by Bruce Davidson

We got there Monday and checked into the Hilton Midtown, which was very nice. NYC was hot as Hades in July though. High 90’s each day with very little breeze. In a misguided effort to travel light, I didn’t bring any extra clothes, so it was also a bit stinky. We kept joking that we’d been struck by a Harry Potter curse (Expellyarmis!), but we kept saying “The smelly armpits!” The kids complained a lot about walking, but they got through it, and we did have a good time. We were only there three days, but we packed those days full of activities. We thought we might take them to a show one evening, Mary Poppins or Billy Elliot, or even the Cirque de Soleil that’s currently at Radio City, but they were so wiped out at the end of each day that we just ended up back at the hotel after dinner.
We had some laughs, a few postcards for you:
On the way up, on the NJTP, there was a minivan driving in front of us with its side doors open. I looked over as we passed and it looked like the old man who was driving and his old lady in the passenger seat were totally naked. Of course we were stunned and tried to get a second look by slowing down so that they could pass us. Upon a second pass, however, we realized she was in a small tank and he was wearing short shorts. Not necessarily disappointed, but not as funny in the end.
Standing on a corner with The Princess and Edison, waiting for the light to change, I was too busy listening to what Edison was saying to notice that no cars were coming and just go ahead an walk. An old man came from the opposite corner, walking that quick-paced NYC walk, and as he passed us, he said, “What are you waiting for? Christmas?”
Coming down the elevator at the Empire State Building, your ears really pop, so I started doing this thing silently that Felix Unger does in The Odd Couple movie to clear his ears — as a joke — and when Manfrengensen looked over, he totally lost it. Didn’t get the reference and thought I had Turrets, which made him laugh even harder.
At the end of the whole weekend, after we’d taken the kids to Times Square, The Harry Potter Exhibit, The Natural History Museum, The Central Park Zoo, The Empire State Building, The Disney Store, FAO Schwartz, The LEGO store, The Statue of Liberty, bought them a bunch of memorabilia from the trip, stayed at a pricey hotel in midtown, had no meals that cost less than a hundy, were so hot coming back from the statue that we spent our last few bills on four bottles of water to share between us, we put the kids in the car and our souvenirs in the back. On top of the kids’ bag, Manfrengensen found a twenty-dollar bill. “Oh,” I said, “That must belong to the kids.” And he just looked at me like I was crazy and said, “The hell it does!”

Family Trip

Manfrengensen and I are on a California adventure with the kids. It was a long flight out, to say the least, traversing this land by air. I thought I had prepared pretty well. We brought the iPad and the computer and planned to take advantage of USAir’s in-flight wi-fi to stream Netflix and keep them occupied. I also bought the kids new summer workbooks (which they enjoy doing), and Edison also got a Scrabble card game. We were all set with snacks and entertainment.

After about an hour in the air, I tried to connect to the wi-fi to no avail. When I asked the flight attendant about it, she told me that the in-flight Wi-fi wasn’t working. After another hour, I asked a different attendant if they had any in-flight movies available.

She smiled that wide flight attendant smile, and like the Cheshire Cat, she cooed, “Nooo. Did you bring any DVD’s from home?” When I said I hadn’t because I was counting on the wi-fi, she smiled again and said to The Princess, “Silly Mommy. She’s just going to have to play games with you, huh? How about some tic-tac-toe? Or Mommy could have thought to bring a book; those are always fun.”

I’m usually pretty sympathetic when it comes to those who have to deal with rude people as part of their professions. There are always stories in the news about rude airline passengers giving flight attendants lip, or cases of in-flight rage, but I am telling you, I came this close to being one of those stories. This woman deserved nothing but knuckle-sandwich at 30,000 feet.

No wi-fi and no in-flight movie? Had we travelled back in time to 1960? Who was flying the plane? The Wright Brothers? Needless to say, there was a lot of squirming and whining during our five-and-a-half-hour flight. And the kids did some as well.

We got to the airport and drove to Anaheim with the help of our GPS friend, whom we have named “Gladys”. After settling at the Grand Californian Hotel, we sauntered into the park.

The first ride, was The Matterhorn, which had been Manfrengensen’s favorite when he was a kid. Our kids loved it as well, and we had a great day in the park.


Doh!

Manfrengensen was watching the start of the All-Star game with the boys. At the beginning they did a tribute to America’s real-life “all-stars,” and they had all five living presidents appear during the presentation. When Bill Clinton came on, Clooney exclaimed, “Hey, I know that guy! He was on The Simpsons.”

bill clinton simpsonsSee, it’s educational.

We just got back from one of the nicest family vacations ever. Just went down to the beach, stayed at my parents’ place. It was actually really relaxing, though admittedly, Manfrengensen did most of the work. He’s the guy who packs everything in the Wonderwheeler and hauls it all down to the tide’s edge.  He does it all, takes chairs, buckets, boogie boards, sets up the umbrella. He made lunches for everyone too, and packed them in the cooler. Why is it that sandwiches always taste better on the beach? (Edison says it’s because of the sand factor. Get it? Sand?) Manfrengensen is some kind of husband, let me tell you. He would let me sleep in every morning, while he took the kids out to the playground and then around to the Wawa for donuts or soft pretzels depending on their personal preferences. Then he would bring the kids home, where I was often still working on my morning coffee. He’d take a brief rest, and within the hour he’d start packing that Wonderwheeler.

And he hardly Eddie Haskelled me at all about how my only jobs were applying everyone’s sunscreen and packing the sweatshirts with our books (I always packed his though, unlike me, he never seemed to have time to read on the beach) into the tote bag, which, eight days out of the eleven, rode to the beach with the rest of the gear on the Wonderwheeler.

We had perfect weather, though the wind was a bit brisk a few of those days. The final Sunday was the best one though and the water was absolutely perfect for sea bathing.

Let me see if I can draw you a few postcards:

Took The Princess with me to find myself a new bathing suit. She was pretty good in the store and “helped” me pick out one that I was happy with. Later that day, when she put on her own suit in preparation for the beach, she went straight over to the full-length mirror, turned around and pondered how her butt looked in it. Osmosis, I guess.

All five of us played skee ball side-by-side one chilly afternoon on the boardwalk. Later we went to an amusement park where we got $50 worth of tickets for the rides. Those were gone exactly 32 minutes later.

Clooney, the social butterfly, moving from one set of kids to another on the beach, often spending more time talking their parents’ ears off than the kids’. Even the lifeguards know him. In fact, one day when he’d ventured too far over in the water, rather than blowing their whistles, the guards just yelled, “CLOONEY!” and then pointed to where they wanted him to be.

The Princess, learning how to boogie board, the same way the boys did, just waiting on the sand for the tide to come and give her a ride. Each day, she would go a little further out. One day she was even bold enough to follow Edison out a little too far. We were watching closely, of course, and just as Manfrengensen was getting up to call her back a bit, she got clobbered by a wave and went under. Edison quickly pulled her up, and then we took her out to calm her down. She had kept her mouth closed (so those swim lessons are paying off) but she was a little freaked out by the experience. She did get back on the board later, though. She’s a trooper.

Overall, just a great week in the life of this little family. Great routine we’ve developed with getting to the beach, the kids playing there, keeping our eyes peeled for the ice cream man, The Princess sleeping in her little tent, then home for showers, dinner, and walking for more ice cream. (Ice cream two times a day! If not always for myself – still watching those calories- at least for the kids. But even for myself, it was nice to have a week where my toughest decisions involved weighing the caloric content of the Choco-taco over that of the frozen Snickers ice cream bar.) The simple life, perhaps, but one full of lots of laughs and lots of fun. Who could ask for anything more?

p.s. – I also had time to read two books and part of a third while we were away. You can check out my thoughts on those on the “Books 2009” page.