Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our weekend

Pretty busy weekend for us...

Friday night, while the guys played poker, we locked our kids upstairs in baby jail.


Saturday, we took B to the lake with friends while Jake got some good grandparent time. :-)

She looks like she was made for a boat, doesn't she?

Then we met up with Jake at Panera sunday morning. The kids were very happy to see each other :-).

Precious, i tell ya.

I hope you all had a great weekend, too!

And for everyone starting school tomorrow (especially those kindergarten babies), good luck!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of School!

Brooklyn's gonna rock out her first day of second grade today!

Growing up fast....

First days of kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dead Dad (alternately titled "I'm a proud sister!")

So, I briefly mentioned Dead Dad in one of my California posts. If you don't get my posts on Facebook then you may not know that my brother was the cinematographer for a film titled, Dead Dad.

Dead Dad is a low budget, but high quality film made by my brother and some of his graduate classmates from Florida State film school.

From the website:
DEAD DAD is a feature film created by friends. It was shot in the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas over the course of one month. Produced entirely from the funds of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the production embodies the independent filmmaking spirit. With limited means and an abundance of passion, the cast and crew devoted their free time to complete the film and bring DEAD DAD to life.

Dead Dad: Cast and Crew

(Borrowstole the pic from their website)

It's been screening in film festivals across the country the past few months and doing GREAT!

We saw the film while we were at the beach with Eric in July. I thought it was amazing.

But you don't have to take my word for it.

"Hell, there have been a few major studio releases this year that are not even on the same level as Dead Dad from a technical standpoint. The transitions in certain scenes come across as if a veteran crew was working on this...not a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears graduates."

VIP Movie Snob
"The story is so solid and the production so well done, I forgot that I was watching a so-called 'small budget' film."

The Dropp
"Some films try to hard too make this connection and end up coming off as fake, cheesy, or stereotypical. Out of the towering stack of screeners I have viewed, Dead Dad was hands down one of my favorites."
The Daily City
"Everyone responds to tragedy differently, and everyone needs their own catharsis, and that's something that director Ken Adachi and co-writer Kyle Arrington observe very well."

IMDb User Reviews"Perhaps the strongest endorsement that I can give to Dead Dad is that on the two hour drive home, I felt compelled to call my own sister and reconnect. It hadn't been too long, but it suddenly seemed more important than ever. If Dead Dad doesn't get a wide distribution, it'll be a shame, but I have an inkling that this won't be the last time you hear from Ken Adachi, Kyle Arrington, and the rest of the cast and crew."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Family Camp '12: Been there, done that, tie dyed the shirt

Lest you think that my "poor children" missed me while I was gone, let me give you a quick peek at what went on during Family Camp.

In no particular order, there was:
Build-A-Bear, tent napping, Golden Corral, giant cupcake baking, library visits, picnics, National Science Center, puppet shows, McDonalds, bandana painting, t-shirt tie-dying, Great Grandma visiting, pin worm treating, Burlington City Park rides, dollhouse playing, story reading, pedicures, napping with Grandpa, tea parties, and CiCi's pizza.

And that was just Wednesday.

Ha ha. Joking.

But that still was all impressively squeezed into 5 days.

Oh, and Welcome Back party planning.
Here were some of the great tidbits I got via text and email while I was away:
Text from my mom 1:14pm Wednesday (not 3 minutes after they were picked up): "Brooklyn says to gpa...want to see my sports bra when we get to your house?"
Email from Brooklyn 10:14am Thursday:
Dear Dad and Mom,
We baked a big cupcake. We ate pancakes. We played dollhouse a lot. vyrrgfgfhhvfgdyfjd that means i love you.
Text from Brooklyn 5:19pm Saturday: "I love you. Mommy and Daddy this message is for both of you you now 12. Your the best. I love you guys. Good bye."
Text from Brooklyn 4:09pm Sunday: "Jefghdghasgdhjasgdhag it means how are you? Your the best! Do you eat meat there? Do you eat cereal there? From Brooklyn. What are you doing tonight in calaforna? How are you doing with the cat?"

Thank you to my Mom and Dad for making this trip possible by watching my precious angels for 5 days and nights. The kids had a great time and came home appropriately spoiled but well adjusted. :-) And though I didn't like it, they were also good about telling me to "stop calling and enjoy myself like a big girl" so that I kept "mom %" to only 1%. Chad thanks for you that, too. :-)

Hmmm...I wonder if Family Camp runs all year long?

And is there a Groupon?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sunday: Squeezing in every last bit of fun (and food)

Sunday was our last day in Cali. We had plane tickets on the red eye home for 11pm that night so we had plenty of time to catch some more sights.

First, we went to the Farmer's Market and The Grove, where there are cool little shops and some food stands. (Chad and I ate Chinese.) I bought a pair of "Hollywood" sunglasses (hey, when in Rome) and Chad bought some cologne that he had been eyeing for a few weeks.

We went down Hollywood Blvd where we saw the Dolby Theater (formally known as Kodak Theater aka where American Idol finale is held), saw where my brother's latest movie, Dead Dad, screened, and walked by the Wax Museum where I ran into Sue Sylvester.
And saw a few stars...

And then we answered our question from the day before.

Do Sprinkles cupcakes taste as good in the ATM machine as they do straight from the bakery?

Um, yes.

And by the way, the dark chocolate and the peanut butter chocolate chip are both DELISH.

You know, if you are ever in the neighborhood.

We also traveled up into the hills to see the city from quite a distance up.

We then went back home, packed up, and headed to our last meal on the West Coast- Umami Burger.

Honestly, at this point I had to throw in the towel.

I had a salad.

I did try a bite of both Chad's and Caroline's burgers and they were pretty much the best tasting burgers ever. We ended the meal splitting homemade ice cream sandwiches.

And with that ice cream sandwich, we ended our weekend in California. Caroline and Eric drove us to the airport, and we hopped on the 11:05pm flight to Detroit and then to Raleigh.

Eric and Caroline were pretty much the most awesome hosts ever. They were so accommodating from super cleaning their kitty house for my allergies, taking time off of work, to loaning us their air conditioning unit at night (um, we totally brought a NC heat wave to LA that weekend bringing their normal 75 degree temps to 90 degrees), to driving us miles and miles and miles so we could see everything, to eating out way more than I am sure they are used to. The time spent with my brother and his wife was priceless. Having two kids who adore their aunt and uncle is great, but when they are home, it's pretty much constant "UncleEricAuntCarolineUncleEricAuntCarolineUncleEric..." Having adult time with them for 4 days was such a blessing, and we shared so many laughs and made so many memories. I am soooo thankful for this trip- not only because of time with E and C, but of course, time with my sweet husband. It really is true that I am about 90% mom and 10% wife when we are home. To be 99% wife and 1% mom (when I was texting and emailing home), was what we needed. It was wonderful for us as a couple....a not so young couple anymore. :-)

I survived the time away from my babies. I had not gone more than 2 nights away from them before and that trip was just about 2.5 hours away. Flying to the other side of the country to the other ocean was pretty much like ripping off the bandaid. But we all did great.

And I may not even wait 10 more years to do it again. :-)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Saturday: Eating our way up the West Coast

Saturday was "Beach Day." Though ironically, we never actually made it on the beach.

We started with a trip to Venice Beach where the crowd was definitely unique to say the least. Lots of musicians, skate boarders, and doctors. And by doctors, I mean "doctors." "Doctors" that sold "Medical" Marijuana. They even had their own stores. Lots of them. Yes, I am serious. And no, we did not walk on that side of the street. :-) We ate lunch at this place called The Cow's End where I had a great BLT wrap with blue cheese. Yummy.

We walked around for a while longer and then went back to the car to head up the coast. Next stop was the Santa Monica Pier.

I bought a few knick-nacks for the kids, but it was super crowded being a Saturday, so we stayed just a bit and decided to check out how the other half lives.

In other words- Malibu.

Jennifer Aniston- here I come!

Forget a "Star Homes Tour" bus. We had smart phones and Google.

As we drove around Malibu and through the Hollywood Hills, I spent much time googling road names + celebrity homes. With that, we are fairly certain we drove by both Dean Cain's and Will and Jada's homes. Score!

Some unexpected heavy traffic made our trip to Malibu a few hours longer than we expected it to be, so we went straight to dinner.

An experience I had been waiting for.

Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ is a pretty cool Melting Pot meets PF Chang's experience where you receive sauces, rice paper, some random sides, a green salad, potato salad, and then you choose your (raw) meats to cook on a griddle in the middle of your table. It's all you can eat and you start with 4 meats and can ask for more after you finish what you have. We started with marinated pork BBQ (yum), beef BBQ (yum), pork belly (kinda like bacon- yum with sauce in a rice paper), and spareribs (yum yum). We then added chicken (nothing special) and squid (Eric and Caroline's favorite. I tried it- not a yucky taste, just a weird rubbery texture.).

Caroline had much enjoyment in cutting the squid with scissors while Chad was utterly grossed out.

Though we were stuffed to the gills, we had a very important experiment to conduct.

Do the cupcakes that you can get after hours from the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM machine taste as good as the cupcakes you get fresh from the store?
That's right, folks. As if California couldn't get any cooler, they now have CUPCAKE ATM MACHINES.


Fatness 24/7.

Someone slap me because that was the most awesome thing ever.
I went to sleep very happy (and very full) that night. :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Friday: Crossing State Lines

Part of the fun of the vacation was the mini road trip we had planned with Eric and Caroline. We checked out of our Vegas hotel Friday morning and hit the road to LA- approx a 4-5 hour drive. Traffic was great, temps were hot, and yummy Greek food was consumed at Mad Greek in the middle of the desert.

Oh yeah. And Wilson Phillips was rockin on Pandora.

We made it to Eric and Caroline's super precious home sometime that afternoon and settled in. Which for me, meant popping a few Sudafed thanks to Furbaby. :-)

Furbaby was NOT happy that his Mommy cleaned up and thus banned him from the guestroom. He was very curious who we were and why we had invaded HIS kingdom. :-)

We decided to go see a movie. ("The Campaign" was opening that day and I wanted to experience a "Hollywood movie theater.") Not to mention, Chad and I rarely experience movies at home anyway so its always a treat. We also walked around some and passed by Nickelodeon Studios- home of iCarly and Victorious. We immediately took a pic to send to Brooklyn.

After the movie, we headed to Malo Cantina, where Eric and Caroline had held their rehearsal dinner last year.
I had a yummy beef and pickle taco and a chicken taco. They also have really cool soft tortilla chips and a "salsa fleet" where we could try lots of yummy salsa.

With full bellies and still cracking up thinking about the afternoon's movie, we went back home for a little bit of TV watching (they turned us on to Honey Boo Boo Child and we showed them The New Girl) and then bed time.

More fun- and lots more eating awaited us Saturday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thursday: All Vegas, All the time

So, last I left you, I was dreaming of this:

And why shouldn't I when the temps looked like this:

Chad wanted to play a few poker tournaments and I wanted to bake in the sun, so while we did spend a half a day of our "honeymoon" apart, we were both in our element.

And I was thrilled that I only had to sunscreen ONE person.

Eric and Caroline spent the morning and part of the afternoon with me at the pool and then the four of us cleaned up and headed down the strip.

First stop: Caesar's Place

Then we moved on to the Cosmopolitan where we ate at the Wicked Spoon.

Also known as the best.buffet.ever.

We were very happy to be there.
Very happy.
The thing with this buffet is that eveything comes in its own tiny bowl, plate, cup, basket, etc. It helps with reducing waste but also makes everything self contained.

And just looks plain cute.
(spaghetti and veal meatballs and mac and cheese)
(fish and chips)

And can you believe that they actually open all your crab legs for you? Yup. Split right in half.
They should for a buffet that cost more than our two night stay at the Excalibur hotel. :-)
Oh, and the desserts......

After we all left in a food coma with smiles on our faces, we walked down the strip and just enjoyed the sites.

We all had an "awwww" moment when we walked by the Bellagio fountains and they had just started their "show." Each time I have been to Vegas there is a new song and show, but what a cool moment when we realized that this evening's song was Elton John's "Your Song," the song that our parents danced to at their wedding, the song that Chad and I had played during our wedding ceremony, and the song that Eric and our mom danced to at his wedding reception.


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