Welcome to our exceedingly messy, beautiful life: "a big world is OUT THERE WAITING for us to live in every day. Outside, you will find, there is love all around you... It's a beautiful life & it's a beautiful world & it's a beautiful time... to be here!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lando is 19!!!!!!!

19 years ago on July 20, 1990, our little Lando was born.
(I need to scan and upload some baby and 'little one' photos of the kids... when I do I will update.)

He was not the easiest baby or toddler. Strong-willed and determined from day one!
But always tender-hearted, wanting to please, loyal, and (believe it or not) slightly cautious.
He loved to be able to quantify things and explain things with numbers and percentages. "Mom, I like steak WAY better than chicken... I'll bet 93% of people like steak better than chicken."

He has always had a strong sense of justice and fairness. Once you earn his respect and admiration, he will go above and beyond to please you and to earn your respect... loyal to the end. But if he believe someone is unfair or unjust, he will cease to care about anything that person thinks or says. He tends to be a "black and white" thinker... if something is black, it is always black - in all circumstances. But if it is white, it is white... not ifs, ands, or buts about it. He doesn't easily change his thinking either, but once he does, it is fairly locked in unless something comes along to deeply challenge it.

He is a learner and a thinker and a grower. He is SO smart and talented. Our whole family loves to listen to Lando play guitar or piano and sing.

Being related to Lando is a joyful ride.

19th birthday party


Picnic dinner
Grammie ("don't-poke-eyes-out-with-a-stick") and Grampie making marshmallow roasting sticks from hangers. (With TN cousin Mike looking on.)

Roasting marshmallows with "cousin" Ali.

We showed "Yes Man" from a projector on a white sheet screen.
Mike & Lando watching movie.

Around the firepit.
It was a week night (work night) and it got kinda loud, so we had to shut down festivities around 11:15 so we didn't overly annoy our lovely neighbors.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LANDO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

DC/NYC Day 15 (Tuesday - Coming Home)

We got up at 5:55AM and quickly got ready and headed out to the Reagan National Airport outside of DC. We returned our rental car and got through security without a hitch. We ate a little breakfast and waited to board. We flew to Minneapolis and had a very short layover. Both flights were without incident - just the way we like them!!

We arrived at LAX got all our bags, got picked up by the shuttle and taken to our parking place and our Suburban was there waiting for us. We got home, unloaded, started some laundry, unpacked a little, opened the mail, washed the cars, and even went to Trader Joe's for a few necessities.

Ahhhhh... Home Sweet Home!

DC/NYC Day 14 (Monday)

Our last day in Manhattan had us up early, packing.
D & I walked across town (20 minutes) to get our rental car.
On the way, we popped in to St. Patrick's Cathedral... it really is quite amazing.

Walking back & forth across town I got a photo with New York's finest.
Then we got to the National Rental Car office where had dropped of our first rental car and waited in line for 15 minutes only to find out that we were at the wrong office!
So we walked 20 minutes back plus an additional 15 to the new office only to get there and be 15th in line!!!
I ran out to get some breakfast, by the time I got back 25 minutes later, D had moved about 1 inch in line and some people at the front were being told there WERE not minivans available even though they had made a reservation well in advanced!... This did not bode well for OUR minivan reservation!
By the time we got to the front, the Employee said she could call other Nationals to see who had a minivan... but then right at that moment, some "runners" delivered a brand new Volkswagen minivan with only 500 miles on it and she gave it to us!!! Woo hoo!

This is our new friend Richard who we met in line at National.

We dropped Jade off at the "Pod" hotel where he was going to spend one night alone before flying out of la Guardia the next day.
A little sad to end on this note... ending all the togetherness and separating.

As a result of all this, we left the city MUCH later than anticipated and got on the road back to DC. We had to battle rush hour traffic as we approached DC but we eventually made it there at about 6:30. We had no reservations and no idea where we were staying so we just drove around and found an Embassy Suites and got a room.
We quickly unloaded the car and headed out for dinner at Clyde's
and a night viewing of the monuments!
This was pretty awesome... the temperature was cool and lovely and we were SO glad we went!
We hailed a cab from the Lincoln memorial and got back to the hotel around 11PM and went to bed instantly because we had an early morning to have to get to the airport by 6:30 and return our rental car and get our seat assignments fixed.

nightie night.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

DC/NYC Day 13 (Sunday)

Our last full day in Manhattan.

D & I woke up and left all 4 of our sleepy-heads still sleeping.

It was about 11AM and the city must have been in agreement with our kids!
The city that never sleeps apparently just doesn't sleep at night but sleeps in pretty late on Sunday mornings, because WOW, was it quiet out on those streets!

We walked through Bryant park and it couldn't have been a prettier day: clear and warm (but not hot), blue skies, a couple wispy clouds... ahhhhh!
We had brunch at the little restaurant in the park that had just opened for the morning.
Spectacular setting for a Sunday morning brunch!

When we were finished, we walked next door to the New york Public Library which is undergoing renovations and was closed because it was Sunday, but still, I got to see the outside.

We walked a few more blocks downtown and ran into the Empire State building.

I thought by this time the lines would be 3+ hours (because it was not early enough), but we were in luck on the Sunday morning after Independence Day because it was only about 45 minutes (you could SEE all the empty roped-off lanes for the lines - ugh!).
D was not as excited, because he and Deevs had done "Top of the Rock" (Rockefeller center) the day before while the rest of us were at West Side Story... he was a good sport though. We DID get the upgraded tickets to the 102nd floor and were glad we did. It was a clear and gorgeous day... couldn't have BEEN any prettier. We spent quite a long time on the 102nd floor (behind windows and with air conditioning) then went to the 86th and spent time there too (outside with the rails).

We came down and I had a throbbing headache and the boys had been calling and asking when we would be back with money and their metro cards so we caught a pedi-cab back to the hotel. This was unexpectedly fun... our "driver", Mohammed was from Senegal and was a PRO at navigating the tightest traffic spaces. D quite appreciated his skills!!!

pedi-cab date

We got back and instantly left with Lando, Deevs, and Miss M to go to a few thrift stores in Gramercy & the East Village.

(Jade met up with his new friend from Virginia in Brooklyn and spent the day with them - and most of last night as well. he is QUITE enthralled with the city and is ready to move here! He is a pro with the subways and is happy to get lost and reorient himself and try it again he will talk to anyone and doesn't mind asking questions or making mistakes... all excellent traits in a traveler.)
Dad & Lando hugging/wrestling
We took the subway to downtown to Gramercy and walked a while then grabbed lunch for the kids. Miss M liked this area a lot and said THIS was definitely a spot she could see herself living (she did NOT like Greenwich so much - too many young people and a touristy feel - she wants more of a neighborhood feel.)

We found the thrift stores and the kids each made at least one purchase and tried on some things.
Finding some good treasures
Trying on hats

Members-Only in East Village
bro & sis
Then we caught the subway back uptown to Byrant Park so Miss M could shop at H&M. She didn't love the current styles at the East Coast H&M, so we left fairly quickly and headed to grab some pizza.

J is still out with the girls from Virginia (Sara & Michelle)... I think they were going to maybe try to catch (tonight or tomorrow night) Anne Hathaway in Central park performing Shakespeare, which definitely sounded fun!

J & Sara rowing in Central Park

DC/NYC Day 12 (Happy 4th of July)

We slept in a bit on the 4th of July - everyone is entirely EXHAUSTED.

Then we got up and got ready for the theater.
All 6 of us ate a pre-theater meal at Planet Hollywood... definitely NOT our first (or second or third or 20th) choice, but Times Square was PACKED and we did not allow enough time.
Then 4 of us we went to see "West Side Story" at the Palace theater (me, jade, lando, Miss M).

Our seats were good and the theater was pretty crowded.
It was fun to see a play set on the west side of NYC when we were IN the city.
West Side Story is a modern version/interpretation on "Romeo and Juliet" - so how could you go wrong there? The music/songs are AWESOME!

That said, here is MY review:
I really liked the actress who played Maria. I liked her look, her acting, and her voice.
Tony was adequate. The kids REALLY did not like his voice - too nasal and too much vibrato.
I had a problem with how gay he seemed. I understand that a huge majority of stage actors/dancers/singers are gay and always have been... but I need to be able to BELIEVE they are straight and capable of actually falling in love with Maria and are enjoying holding and kissing her... with this cast, I did not. (The same went for most of the dancing, twirling, singing "gang" members.)
Speaking of kissing - Maria & Tony did a lot more kissing than I remember, this was sad to me... I felt like their love was because they were kissing so much instead of the true connection they had instantly developed. Also, did they go to bed together in the movie and earlier stage versions? They may very well have, but I don't remember it... in this version, they did.
Anyhow, they changed a few musical numbers: "America" is now sung by all the Puerto Rican girls - not the guys & girls together - and many of the word have been changed. Both "I Feel Pretty" and "A Boy Like That" were sung entirely in Spanish (also, a LOT of the Puerto Rican dialogue was in Spanish). While this may have added to the authenticity, it was NOT as enjoyable from the standpoint of being able to follow they story line and enjoy old-time favorite classic songs.
The actress who played Anita was really good.
And the song "Officer Krupke" was a stand out.
I even got a little tear in my eye at a couple of points.

Over all quite enjoyable.

After the play, we reconvened at the room. D stayed and rested. Miss M & Deevs went out into the throngs of human beings in Times Square to shop. Jade, Lando, and I walked down 8th to see the "garment district" (we think we might've been told the wrong area?) down kinda by Madison Square Garden and the Port Authority Bus terminal - kind of a seedy area (side note: D & I were there 17 years ago on vacation and we took a bus to this terminal from Jersey).

We ate at White Castle. Our first real White Castle burgers (not frozen).

Lando shopped for shoes and ended up calling Deevs over and they each bought a pair (Lando actually bought two).
Afterward, it was off in search of fireworks. Macy's had changed locations this year to the Hudson (from the East River & Battery Park locations of previous years). As per our concierge, we headed down around 8 (because you had to stand the whole time - no seating). We got down there and waited in line for 30+ minutes only to find out eventually that they had shut down the street - no access... they told us to walk to 50th.
We walked (with thousands of other people) to 50th. It was closed. Block by block they sent us upward. Block by block we walked. There were no openings. One NYPD officer told us they water front areas had been full since 5:00PM.
Oh well.

We found and opening in the buildings and stood in front of a chain link (razor wire topped) fence and watched a corner of the show. (See video below.) The crowd that gathered behind us still "ooooed" and "ahhhhed" and were still appreciative. It was kind of a sweet reminder about how little many people expect and how satisfied we can choose to be. It was overall a kind of humorous experience and seemed - in the end - to be a kind of quintessentially New York experience; crowds, police, sirens, chain link, poorly planned but still a spectacle.

Notice the crowds behind us and understand that this is a TERRIBLE viewing spot and yet there are a ZILLION people gathered to watch ("I do not think this plan was very well thought out, Master"). Also, notice the wailing sirens in the background!

We had a LONG walk back when it was over and then we just walked around Times Square for a while. It was as crowded as Disneyland on New Year's Day. Literally wall-to-wall people. But the chaos, lights, noise, smells, sounds, sights, variety, etc. are what you go there for... and MAN, did we get it! (Also, I have never seen so many police officers!, so you felt completely safe all the time.)

Over all, another full and fun-packed day.
Happy Birthday America!!!!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

DC/NYC Day 11 (Friday Night)

A "Shout Out" to Sara.
H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y!!!!!!!!!


We went to the Upper West Side for dinner because Jade & Lando had tickets to a comedy show up that way. So we caught the subway uptown and found a dinner place.
We went to Cafe Lalo.
It turned out to be an organic, vegetarian-type place.
The desserts looked PHENOMENAL and we planned to partake, but were too full.
(Miss M & I got delectable tuna sandwiches.)

Waiting to get in to Cafe Lalo
Crowded but fun - well, for most of us! Doesn't poor D look beat??? (He got a HUGE pitcher of water utterly dumped on him only minutes after this photo was taken!!)

Waiting to catch the subway downtown, back to Times Square