Friday, September 30, 2011

Home Sweet Home

In the military you get to move around a lot. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes this is a bad thing. Since we have been married we have lived in 5 different homes so far. We went from just a room to a 2 bedroom apartment, to a 3 bedroom townhouse to owning our own beautiful home. We were there for 5 years until we moved up here to Virginia and now we are in a tiny apartment (made to feel even smaller with two crazy boys-and all their toys- underneath your feet all day long). I have had a really hard time here because most of our stuff has had to stay packed up and in storage (which is really frustrating when you realize you need/want something and you can't get it because you have no idea where it's packed and even if you did there is no way to get to it easily). Also, I really loved our house in Savannah, we had spent a lot of time making our home "ours". I hate apartment living, not having a yard to send the kids out into, the lack of privacy, ect. So we knew when we moved to our next duty station that if possible we would be finding a house to rent.

It was hard a first because there was not a lot in the areas we were looking into, in the price range we wanted that met our list of criteria. Then, we found it. Our perfect rental home. While it wasn't in our top area choice it was on one of our area choices. It means a slightly longer commute for Christopher than we wanted but since it had so much of everything else it was a compromise we were willing to make. Then we had to fight for it because it was a very popular listing. I am so glad we did because this is what we are getting:

Cute little cottage type house. I can already picture it with a layer of snow, a wreath on the front door, that walkway nicely decorated for Christmas...oh yeah I will be hitting up Pinterest for some good ideas.

Part of the kitchen-don't you LOVE those stained glass windows? I can't wait to watch the boys in the back yard while I do the dishes. ;) 

Living room, I love all the built ins in this room and of course, the gas fireplace! That will be necessary in the winter up north!

The bathroom. This house only has 1 1/2 baths but since I hate cleaning the bathroom anyway I guess we can live with that. It is a very nice looking bathroom. 

The sun room! I will definitely be making this space into a quiet area where one can relax, read a book, have a cup of tea and enjoy the view.

The house has 3 bedrooms and an office/den area. There is a large dining room area with fantastic storage built into the walls. Getting this house has made me really excited to get my family settled into it so we can start enjoying the Niagara Falls/Buffalo area. 

Ok, because you are dying to picture it, here is the dining room:

Loving it! I can't wait to move. More pictures to come once we get settled in up there. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Bucket List

Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 

Her early leafs a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.
-Robert Frost

Ah! Don't worry, you are not getting a poetry lesson today. Autumn is my favorite season and it makes me think of poetry. Since I am not very good at writing it myself I turn to my favorites of others who are good at it.

Autumn is here even thought it felt more like fall last weekend than it does right now. When we lived in Savannah it would take forever for "fall" weather to finally hit and by the time it did we were pulling Christmas decorations out. After living in Maryland for most of my life and having seasons, changes in leaves, weather cooler than the 80's in September/October/November I am greatly looking forward to autumn in Virginia where we can experience all that with the kids. Hopefully it will cool off a bit in the next few weeks (and yes, I realize that Virginia is technically "the south"). At least I know that this time next year we will be experiencing fall weather up in New York. :)

Autumn is my favorite time of year. It was hard to miss it living in the south. I love the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground. I love the mums, pumpkins, gourds, all the smells and flavors of fall. I just love it all. This year I am determined to enjoy it with my family and make some good fall memories.

On Pinterest I found a great Fall Bucket List and I told Christopher that we would be doing everything on the list. I can't wait! Since the first official day of Fall was Friday (Sept. 23) that was our official kick off date. It will be a few more weeks before we can do some of the stuff on this list (like leaf art and taking a nature walk. Well, I guess we could take a nature walk now but the leaves are not changing yet so it wouldn't be very exciting).  I am looking forward to doing this stuff before we move because I have the feeling once we hit Niagara Falls it will be straight to winter weather. Hopefully by then I will be ready to bring on the snow!
fall bucket list

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another check off the bucket list....

I am going to ENGLAND!!!!!!!!

Can you tell I am excited about this? My husband's best friend Jacques lives in England and is getting married in May of next year. The wedding is being held in Kent, England at Sophie's  (the future bride) parent's estate (I need to be specific because they have other estates in other countries too). I am so excited! If you know me, you know what a HUGE Anglophile I am. How I am obsessed with the Royals and just about everything British. How I have been dying to go to England for years now. I was supposed to go in college but lame friends who didn't make the effort to save for the trip made those plans fall through. Then, before the last deployment we had decided to go to England for two weeks, one to visit in London and one week in the Cotswolds (Jacques offered to rent us a place there for a week, who are we to say no?). We planned to go for R&R. A week later however we found out that we were expecting Mr. Henry and spent R&R having a baby instead (well, actually he came 12 days  early and R&R was spend in a madness of getting used to a newborn and none of plans going as well, planned, but we wouldn't change it for anything).  Now I will finally get to go. And not just for any little touristy trip. Oh no. I will be going to England for a Traditional British Wedding. And you know that means:

Wedding Hats! This had been a secret fantasy/wish of mine for so long and I thought I would never get the chance to wear a crazy hat concoction to a wedding (well, at least not to one where no one would think I was crazy for doing so). I have been assured (and will get more details this weekend when we meet the bride to be and Jacques when they come and visit) that it will be a very British wedding. Rumour has it (from the groom's mom) that the guys in the wedding (which I think Christopher will be a part of-they promised to be each other's best man back in like, 7th grade. Jacques was Christopher's best man, we will see how this weekend goes, or if he will just be a groomsman or what) will be wearing-wait for it-TOP HATS and TAILS! Yep. Another fantasy of mine to check off my list. I am getting excited just thinking about my handsome husband in tails. Mmmmm....

Ahem. Of course there are lots of other details to think about like.....what kind of hat am I going to wear? My mother in law has already called the top hat maker in Baltimore (she makes all those fabulous hats for the horse races over here-the kentucky Derby, stuff like that) and she needs a month to do do them so I have been searching for ideas. Of course, I need a dress first so I know what kind of hat I going to have. Or if I will go with a fascinator. Of course Pinterest has been a huge help in finding ideas for what I want.
For example, something like this:

Or like this (gotta ask "What would Kate do?") :

Or maybe even this:

But definitely not like this (ha):

Princess Beatrice in her Phillip Treacy 'marvellous monstrosity'.

I cannot wait! We are going to make it a second honeymoon type trip for us and spend a week and half or two weeks over there and do some sightseeing. There is the possibility of getting tickets to the Globe Theater, afternoon tea in a posh hotel in London, visiting Stonehenge, the Tower of London, seeing those palace guards, maybe (if my stepdad is to be believed and it's true) to stay in a castle for a night! I am so excited for this adventure. More details to come!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Epic post: Longest post EVER-Mr. & Mrs.-the Wedding!

You have seen the Bridal Shower and the one not-so-scandalous picture of the bachlorette party. Now, it is finally time for what I *know* you have all been waiting for: The Wedding!

My little brother Kyle got married over Labor Day weekend. He had been married a whole week! My little brother, a married man! That makes old. I still can picture Kyle as a little baby. He didn't learn to talk properly until he was about 4 because I talked and did everything for him. He was my baby before I knew what it was like to have real babies of my own. And now he is married. At least I held it together a bit better than my mom who was broke down and cried through most of the ceremony (although you would have too had you seen Kyle trying to hold it together when he watched Ashley walk down the aisle! Talk about a tear jerker!).

The whole wedding weekend was crazy busy! It started Thursday night with a final "Last Night" for Ashley. Plans changed about 5 times before the day was over but basically we all (the bridesmaids and a couple other friends)  dressed up in black dresses, played some games then all went out to dinner to a place called Jalapenos, which is a fantastic little restaurant in Annapolis. They have a $5 tapas menu on Thursday night so we all ordered and shared and had a good time. Here we (well, most of us) are:

Ok, so *some* people didn't get the message that we were supposed to be wearing black dresses even though it said it clearly on the invite that everyone got. Oh well. I got my dress for $24 at Target, it is actually very classy looking and normally I don't have a phantom baby bump going on. Terrible picture of me from that angle. Oh well.

Then, Friday was the rehearsal dinner. My parents were in charge of the rehearsal dinner. First we went to the Marriott (downtown Annapolis-more on that place later) for the ceremony walk through. I will let the pictures do the talking.

Christopher keeping Henry occupied.

Awww, we are so cute. 

Ashley and Kyle. So in love. 

Where is Wesley? Not where he is supposed to be! 

My brother Brad (the best man) and his girlfriend Lauren. 

The Three Amigos-Kyle, Brad and me. I cannot picture my life or a big event without these guys! 

Ready for the big day!

Walking the red, er, white carpet. Look at me in the background,   such a mom!

After all that practice we headed up to Park Place to their party room for the dinner. My mother in law who has done a lot of catering did the party for us. The food was fantastic and I am not just saying that because she is  my mother in law (trust me on that one). There was homemade Chex mix (my brother's favorite) cheeses, fruits, crackers. Then there was pear and walnut salad with gorgonzola cheese and a champagne vinaigrette, roasted potatoes, beef tenderloin, grilled chicken, and rolls. Everything was excellent, even Ashley's parents were saying they thought it would be better than what was going to be served for dinner at the wedding (crab cakes and filet mignon!). There was a bar set up with wine, home brewed beer, iced tea and water. The room look beautiful too, very nicely decorated. Everyone had a good time. 
Kyle, digging into the Chex Mix.

Henry giving Ashley's dad and brother a taste of what the future will be like with grandkids around. 

Hilarious picture of Lauren.

My cousin Matthew, Wesley and my brother Seth. They reserved the table for  themselves and no one else was allowed to sit there. 

Henry, using his charms to catch the ladies. 

Alex, Anna, Candace and Amanda. Partners in crime and other bridesmaids. 

Mom and Kyle. 


Me and my parents. Obviously my dad did not the get the dress code memo. 

Brad and I. 
Saturday was the wedding and the day started with Mom and I getting our hair done (we picked up the flower girl too, my cousin Caroline. My mom almost forgot to pick her up in our frazzled attempts to get out of the house and where we needed to be. After hair and make up (airbrushed-way expensive but it looked fabulous!) we headed home (ok we totally stopped at Chick-a-leg first) and then went home, gathered up the boys (and the men) and headed off to the hotel to get ready. 

Now, are you ready for my not so nice rant about the service at the Marriott in downtown Annapolis? Here is goes. First, when I called to book a room (they were reserving rooms for people who were with the wedding because they were super booked that weekend) they told me that no rooms were available (and yes I told them I was with the wedding) and that the closest they could get me was 15 miles away at another Marriott. I told them that wouldn't work because I had two small children, one of which was in the wedding and we needed a room for the younger one since I was hiring a babysitter to stay with him until we got back from the wedding.  Her response? "Good luck with that." What the Heck? I just said (very sarcastically, I know, mature) "Thanks for all your help." hung up, called the bride who went all Bridezilla on them and guess what? There were still plenty of rooms available for the wedding party. So, we get our room and the baby sitter arranged and everything was good to go. The only other issue is that we asked (actually it was my aunt to who asked) if we could have a room next to my aunt and uncle because they had their two children (who are 12 and 7) and she was ok with leaving them next door if the sitter was going to be there while they were sleeping in case they needed something or there was an emergency. They (the people at the Marriott) gave us a hard time over it but said they would see what they could do. Fine, great. We were really nice to them over this whole thing and they were quite rude back. So, there I am checking in and we were told that since we were part of the wedding party and needed to be ready early for pictures we could check in earlier than the 3 PM time slot that was normally given. By the time we made it there is was almost 3 anyway so I didn't think it would be much of in issues. I go to the desk and give the lady my name. Almost immediately she says "Oh yeah. You are the one who was requesting a room next to someone else." And not in a nice way either. Like I was totally being irritating and screwing up her whole life for asking for this and she could not *believe* she had to deal with me. Then she tells me, "There is a room next door but it's not ready yet. Would you be willing to take a room down the hall?" Ok, it's almost 3, the room should be ready by now anyway. If there is a room next door then I do not want a room down the hall. I explain about the babysitter situation and say we would really like that room, we are willing to wait to check in so we can have it, how long will it take? She tells me (in a very snotty voice) "I don't know how long it will take."   Sheesh lady, I am only asking to try to make your job easier, I will get the kids dressed in my aunt's room and when our room is ready come back down and check in! By this time my  husband is impatiently waiting with our luggage and two kids (who are VERY excited to be in a hotel and going a little nuts) is signaling to me "what is the hold up?" and I am trying to keep him at bay because I don't want him unleashing his fury on this woman and risking the chance of never getting a hotel room (not that she didn't deserve it but if you are a mom you sometimes know it is better to do what you have to do and suck it up to get that room for your kids so you can have some sanity). Anyway, she finally tells me it will be 10 minutes and she can check us in now to "save time". I hand her our bank card and she says "Don't you have a real credit card to use?". Um, really? Our bank card is not good enough? She explains that it will be a double charge (I don't understand why she couldn't run it as credit anyway) that would even out in the end but she didn't want to cause us a "financial hardship". Um, really? Way to say you think we look like we can't afford this place rude lady who knows nothing about us. Maybe because we don't run up debt on credit cards we have tons of cash in our account and can afford to buy the whole freaking hotel. At this point Christopher does come up and says to the lady "Is our card not good enough? Run it." so she does, then *magically* our room is ready and we head up. Only to find that our TV doesn't work (which never got fixed, our poor babysitter had to sit there with nothing to watch and nothing to read but "shop Annapolis"-which is why you should always bring a book!). Next door at my aunt and uncle's place their closet door got locked shut and they couldn't open it and maintence had to literally take the door off and they never came back to fix that either. Let me just say, I would NOT recommend playing almost $300 a night to stay at the Marriott in Annapolis. There was WAY better places for cheaper or just nicer for the same amount. 

Anyway, enough griping (although  I needed to get that out). The rest of the night went well. The wedding was beautiful even though I think the wedding coordinator there could have done a MUCH better job (she left at 9 PM and the wedding wasn't over until 10. There was serious drama that happened at the end-which I will tell later-that she should have been there for). She never told us about the special room with drink and appetizers for the wedding party they had set up, the whole "walk in and be announced" part of the evening was very confusing-no one knew where to go- and she totally took the marriage certificate and ran off with it (why?! What need did she have for it? Not her job!) and the mother of the bride had to track her down and get it. I did have a blast, dancing, drinking, eating, (although I did not get a chance to eat the $1000+ dollar cake. Ah, regrets...).  Also, my Aunt Karen told my (12 year old) cousin that there was a cousin on the other side of the family who was kinda homely but needed a dance partner and it would have to be him and that her name was "Nay-Nay". Matthew, being on edge of girls are "eh" to "I like girls" spent most of the evening trying to figure out who she was and how to avoid her, a story which it perpetuated by often saying "Uh oh, I think Nay-Nay is on her way over here-you had better run!" I did manage to get him out on the dance floor for some fist pumping action later on. :) He did not understand how I could dance all night-ah the stamina of a mom who had had too many sleepless nights only to get up and do it all again the next day! Overall we had a fantastic time. Again, I will let the pictures speak for themselves because I am really sure you are tired of my writing by now! I will try to pick only favorites (which is like a million of them). 
Mr. GQ-Wesley looking sharp in his tux!

Christopher and Henry's shoes.

One are one good looking couple! Now if only I could get him to smile in uniform! 

My Henry-Bear. Baby tux for $20.  You can't say no to that! 

Family photo. What is Christopher doing with his hand? Any Henry is trying to escape so he can dance. 

My Uncle Randy, my dad, my Aunt Sue and me. 

Trying to catch Bear as he runs off again.

Announcing: Mom and Matt. 

Me and Danny, Ashley's brother. Since Kyle could not have me walk down with Brad (the best man and our brother) he chose the next best thing for his sister-his brother in law. I love how protective my brothers are considering I am married and my husband was there. 

What you can't hear in this picture is my husband yelling "Watch your hands!" to Danny-poor guy! 

First dance to Adele's "Make you feel my love".

Party animal Henry.  Please not that Puppy is wearing a tie-he had to get dressed up too!  Also, in the background is Wesley dancing with his aunt (yeah, I said aunt) Kaelee. Every time he would dance with the flower girl she would cut in! 

Mom and Matt. 

Mother/Son dance. Kyle picked the song "Momma" by BoyztoMen. I seriously do not know how mom got through that song without crying the whole time (because my mom is a big crier, she sobbed through the whole father/daughter dance at my wedding). But it makes me think of when my boys will get married and doing the same thing with them and then I get teary eyed. Although I am seriously considering having them play the "imperial March" for Wesley-or at least the first few bars to get a laugh in so maybe I won't cry so much. Maybe. 

Christopher talking to Ashley. I just like the action shot here.

Oh, so quick note on the end of the night drama. They were supposed to light and send off about 40 chinese lanterns into the night sky at the end of their wedding. Marriott said it was ok. However, someone let their off early, it almost lit an awning below on fire and then hotel management showed up and the police and fire marshall- no one at the hotel had cleared it with the fire marshall. And got fined. It sucked because only about 10 or so got sent off and they were SO pretty (think of the scene in "Tangled" but with less lights). I was so sad for them that they couldn't light the rest of them off. Many people thought they were seeing UFO's. Oh well. Otherwise it was a great night and we partied for quite a while afterwards I actually have some great stories about that (like Aunt Karen spilling all the water in her cooler out in the lobby and then us running to the elevator to not get in trouble). But there are many I can't share (sorry, they are good but I don't want to end anyone's career-I will let your minds wander with that one-ha ha ha). 

Now, brunch, the day after. What? You thought we would be done by now? I did warn you it would be the LONGEST POST EVER. Ok, I will keep is short and simple. We did Brunch at Galway Bay off Maryland Ave. If you are even in Annapolis, check it out, it is a great little place off the main path. Good drinks, good food, good people. It is where Christopher saw me for the first time. Anyway, a bunch of family showed up and Henry tried to drink everyone's Bailey's and coffee and bloody mary's. All in all a good end and a nice way to spend a little more time with family. 
Henry in his tie shirt with his new Aunt Ashley. 

Mr. & Mrs. 

My mom looking thoughtful and Anne.

Action shot of Grandad. Good thing he moves really slow. 

Me and my Mommom. Note that my hair has barley moved. Everyone else's hair was long gone but mine was still in place-I just added a headband. Guess I got my money's worth. 

Me and K-Dog.

Ha ha-Christopher.

Ok, better. 

Brad and Lauren joined us.

Anne and Chris.

Mom and Matt.

Henry, Aunt Karen, Caroline, and Uncle Jimmy.

Danny and Kyle. I love Matthew in the background, cracks me up. 

Danny, Kyle, Matthew and Matt.

Ok, the only person I know here is Anna, this is Ashley's family. 

Brad and I. Oh, and check out my fabulous earrings. They are from the 1850's,  almost 3 carrots of real diamonds. My mother in law got them out of the safe for me to wear for the wedding. They are absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to have the chance to wear them again. :)

All in all it was a good wedding. My brother is very happily married and I could not ask for a better sister in law. She has made him into the man I always knew he could be and I look forward to seeing them grow as a couple, as a family (yep, I am already excited for future nieces and nephews although I hope they wait a few years. Or maybe I can have my last at the same time Ashley has her first. That would be cool too.) Congratulations Ashley and Kyle! My wish for your life together is this: May there be such a oneness between you that when one weeps, the other will taste salt. May there be many happy years to come!