March Miscellaneous

Some things don’t need a whole blog post but they’re pretty fun and deserve to be included.

Here we go:

Anna pointing to a bird, an airplane, or Superman, I don’t know, but I was mesmerized by my cutie with the sunset and our bridge in the background.

Sometimes you just miss your old bed so much you fall asleep on it under your new bed. (What? You’ve never done that?)

Oh, my little dancer-girl:

Hayden trying his artistic skill at making things out of clay.

Looks so real!

Walking to our car after a birthday party… a view of the Empire State Building. It’s my favorite building in NYC and I can see it from so many places. It’s weird to just be heading to the car and BAM… there it is! (And no matter what I do, it always looks way smaller in pics than it does while I’m actually looking at it.) In case you’re not as familiar with it, it’s the building just above the center of my head.

I love that my phone shows me a tiny memory every time I open it. Sometimes I have to laugh at what it picks… pun intended:

I wanted a place to set my computer in the kitchen without it taking up counter space or being near water so… Amazon to the rescue! (Unrelated… we didn’t like the knives there so we have since moved them.)

My little butterfly loves the rain.

When you’ve been to church and then to the city for the brothers to get their first COVID shots, the ride home is for napping.

(And I matched my backpack perfectly.)

Anna loves the dentist as much as I do!

First fire of the season!

Getting a “tattoo” from the artist.
Who lives in NYC, has a backyard, and a water view?!? We are counting our blessings!!

That hair… that face…

We’re in love…

Written on 4-16-2021 and backdating to 3-31-2021.

Posted in family, NYC/Brooklyn, Probably only interesting to the boys' grandparents. | 2 Comments

Bailey’s 17!!

My first surprise kiddo is now 17!

What an absolute joy Bailey has been to raise. His musical ability in the past year has grown tremendously and in some ways he’s surpassed Matt’s guitar ability. He has been creating music on Garage Band (plus some other kinds of software) that sound radio-ready.

We can’t wait to see what he decides to do with his skill… it’s definitely something he can use to make a living if he wants to.

As of Bailey’s birthday our bigs are 19, 18, and 17. What a wild ride it is to have three adults in the house. I recently had to prepare a meal for just myself and four kids who were all 11 and under and I prepared double what I needed. I’m very much used to preparing a meal for seven people with four of them being adult men! Eh… we had leftovers so it was a win for me!

I made Bailey’s cake and tried out making it three layers. It was SO MUCH CAKE and delicious. He was kind enough to let Anna blow the candle out, something she’s not very good at doing. It always takes her multiple attempts… and yes, we walk on the wild side eating cake after she’s blown out the candle.

I’m soaking up these last months as a family of seven and while I am thrilled to see what my grown kids will do when they launch, I know I will be sad to see them go. I recognize the treasure it is to have them here under my roof more than ever before and I’m just so honored I get to be their mom.

Just a little throwback to my ‘baby’ Bailey:

Written on 4-16-21 and backdated to 3-18-21.

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Parker’s 11!

Parker is smart, hardworking, loving, and kind. I have loved having him as a student this year and I can’t believe this is his last year as an elementary school kid! Covid has kept him from being able to play sports and also kept him from meeting a lot of new kids, so he’s on a screen more than mama would like, but I bet that’s probably something most moms in 2021 would say.

I am learning how to make birthday cakes from my cake-hero and managed to make a few practice cakes before Parker’s that turned out amazing. Parker’s tasted like heaven but I learned something on his… there is a limit to the cake’s ability to hold icing. (Not saying there was too much icing… that’s not a thing… but I am saying that my cake wasn’t strong enough to hold the amount I applied.)

Parker picked a few toys as toppers and I also learned that some toys are too heavy to be cake toppers.

In spite of those lessons, his birthday party was a success and we had a blast celebrating him. His friends came over (the ones I mentioned in the previous post and the brothers of the friend we had over for Anna’s birthday) for cake and ice cream, and I’m fairly certain there was some kind of Minecrafting that took place. I’m writing this blog post from his birthday present: North Carolina! We surprised him with tickets to visit his cousins! (I’ll write about this visit later but it’s been filled with late nights, loud music, and four-wheeling.)

I’m so glad I get to be this kid’s mom!

My mouth is telling me I need more of that cake right now. I’m not listening…

We love our Parker!

Written on 4-6-21 and backdating to 3-13-21.
Also, I recognize there were more errors with Parker’s cake than I mentioned above… bulging and melting… I need to allow more time for it to settle before doing the final icing. I’m getting there! And since March 13th we’ve had two more birthdays, so two more opportunities for me to practice.

Posted in family, friends, parker | 1 Comment

Museums, Zoos, and Turkish Coffee

Those are only related in that we experienced all of those things in March! Seasons passes are the way to go and we have zero regrets in the purchasing of them.

American Museum of Natural History

We got off the train and the station was decorated in honor of the Museum!

Our first visit to the Museum left us looking forward to our next visit. (Our second visit did the same!) There were two temporary exhibits that we wanted to see before they closed so we had those as our priorities, but just after that was the Easter Island head that was featured as “Dum Dum” in The Night at the Museum. (It’s a cast from a real one.) If you want to see some cute little boys with a real fragment of one of the Moai statues in Paris, go see this blog post from May 2011.

The Color Exhibit:

Central Park Zoo

We did not attempt the zoo on the same day as the museum. That would be madness! I’m just putting these together in a single blog post.

The most important thing on our list was the penguin exhibit. Both Parker and Anna love penguins and we ended up in this exhibit twice.

As fun as the penguins were, the sea loins were even more playful and entertaining. Not to mention the view was spectacular and it smelled a lot better out in the open air than in the penguin room.

I’ve seen this clock in person before but never when it was playing its music. I was determined to see it in action so we strategically timed our second visit to the penguins to align with the clock. It did not disappoint.

Tropical Exhibit
Sharing Dippin’ Dots.

They might have been a tad worn out:

Turkish Coffee

Matt and I are on a quest to find a Turkish doner to compare with what we had in Germany. We’ve found some good food, but nothing quite like what we are looking for. This lunch date was the best Turkish food we’ve had so far, though on our Plan we aren’t eating the bread, so we had it in salad form (if you’re curious about the plan, send me a message).

Found this gem on the wall of a building we’ve driven past a number of times, but this time, walking, we actually noticed it. It’s a brick-work of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge… the one we call “our bridge.” There’s something magical about walking your own neighborhood. Soon after we moved here we met a podcaster I’ve been following since we learned we were moving to NYC. She invited us and another brand-new-to-NYC family to Central Park. Since that time, that other friend has started a podcast about walking your neighborhood. I’ll link to both at the bottom of this page! I love both podcasts!

Last week I found myself washing laundry at the local laundry mat because our washing machine is dead. (It died March 28th… this blog post is being written on April 7th but backdated to March 10th… I hate writing them out of order and backdating, but I’ve got to give myself some grace… I can’t keep up but I can take pockets of time to write, then post them in a logical order.) I needed to go to the commissary but also needed coffee. There are multiple Dunkin’ Donuts and a few Starbucks in Bay Ridge, but I wanted to find a local place. I found one called Pep Bakehouse and Coffee Shop. I needed pep, so I went there and got an Americano. I will become a regular at this place! You should check out their quiche!

My selfie game is lacking but I am really trying to be real, not too worried about make-up, wrinkles, and such. I want to be in pictures for my kids to see later, and since I’ve been on this plan for a few months, I feel more confident, even in my make-up-less, straight from the laundry-mat state. I was so happy that I found a local coffee shop that I was willing to try a selfie, and I’m being brave and posting it here. (Not brave enough for the socials, but here in my own house {er, blog-house} I’ll share.)

And that concludes a whirlwind blog post of an amazing museum, a beautiful zoo, and not one but two kinds of delicious coffee.

Coming to New York City Podcast

Walking Distance: Where Love for Neighbor and Neighborhood Meet

Posted in family, homeschooling, NYC/Brooklyn, weight/health | 2 Comments

Visits do the heart good.

A year ago we were in the early days of our Germany-quarantine. We were still doing a daily-count, thinking the quarantine would be short enough to document in two-digit numbers.

Boy, were we wrong!

Very glad to see that things are moving in a positive direction but we are still not quite done with the COVID-era.

Moving during a pandemic was challenging in many ways, but the most difficult part was leaving established friendships and moving to a place where the pandemic hit the hardest, making meeting people nearly impossible. We went 4 months before we knew that the townhouses on either side of us (literally, attached to our house) each had three kids! They simply did not go outside… ever.

We are so thankful that we have met a family down the street who has a friend for Anna and two for Parker! We visit with them multiple times a week and we have each others’ backs! (I took care of her family during their scary bout with COVID and she’s had my back during this season of a broken washing machine… she knows the woes of “large family laundry.”)

The teens have each had close friends come visit which has done their hearts so much good.

Hayden’s friend M, lives in NJ so she comes over often, and Elizabeth is hoping to come this summer. Bailey’s friend, Landon, came from NC and the two had a blast. Carson’s friend, Gage, came from AK, and though it’s been 4 years since they saw each other in person, they picked up where they left off. Mil-kids amaze me.

Hayden and M seeing the city:

Bailey and Landon.


Parker and Anna are too young to have friends come visit so I am writing this sitting in my brother’s recliner in North Carolina, watching them play with their Hyatt-cousins and yesterday their Hamrick-cousin came to spend the day. (The teens are being responsible and working all week.)

Hyatt-side cousins on Easter and matching buns:

Hamrick-Cousin swing-time! (I must let it be known Anna put that bow in her own hair… I’m not really a bow-mom.)

I’ll post later about this trip and will try to do better at taking pictures over the next few days! I’ve been here three days and these are the best I’ve gotten so far! The kids have been busy balancing playing outside and staying in PJs being lazy. Hard to get good photos of that… just soaking in all the time together.

Written on 4-6-21 and backdating to 3-1-21.

Posted in family, military, travel | 3 Comments

Dialog, Date, Depart…

Those words were part of our wedding ceremony. We were challenged to dialog daily, date monthly, depart annually.

Almost 22 years later we are still keeping that in mind.

Matt just returned from a two-week TDY (work trip) and before he left, Hayden urged us to get away for a night. Don’t have to tell me twice!

I found a nice (though tiny) hotel room with a view of the Empire State Building for less than $100 (Radisson Times Square) and Matt and I headed out once I had done the absolute necessities for school on the Friday before Matt left.

We hit several NYC places that the kids had little interest in seeing and realized just how fast a team of two can get around the city (as opposed to a party of seven!).

We shopped at the mall at Columbus Circle then grabbed Chick-fil-a to eat at the hotel.

View from our hotel!

We slept in until we wanted to get up and then Matt made a coffee-run. We stayed in the hotel room watching nonsense on TV until we had to check out… literally, walked out of our hotel room at 11 am! I played a dozen rounds of Solitaire while watching the news about the storm (more snow and even more snow) as well as the upcoming Super Bowl.

Having only Hulu/Netflix/Amazon I am spoiled by no commercials. I think we spent more time changing channels to find something that was actually a show as opposed to COMMERCIALS. I do not miss them!

Matt made a plan for our day. On the way to our first stop I noticed these old buildings that were preserved and left intact between taller, newer buildings. I love them!

In December I read a novel by Fiona Davis titled The Lions of Fifth Avenue, set inside the NYC Library. I wish it were open but due to COVID all libraries here are closed except for a few pick-up/drop-off sites. There are none open for perusing.

Matt and I are working our way toward the end of the series, Elementary. We have really enjoyed this show and hate the end is coming. While the show is set in Brooklyn, the brownstone they use for the exterior is in Harlem.

Starbucks New York Roastery

We needed a mid-day cup of coffee and happened upon one of the biggest Starbucks we’ve ever seen! I took this photo from their website because I didn’t want to be that person snatching photos while standing in awe of the huge roasting barrel in the background!

High Line – we had to walk a bit out of our way to enter the High Line but it was absolutely worth the walk! This is definitely a place we’ll take guests! NYC showing off…

And abandoned raised-subway line converted into a park. Stunning!

Friends Apartment – While Friends was filmed in LA, the show was set in NYC and we found the apartment. Today Monica’s apartment would cost about $4500 a month.

And for 80s kids everywhere, the Ghostbusters Fire House.

I loved being able to see these cool places with my best friend! I look forward to many more overnights with my guy.

Posted in family, marriage, NYC/Brooklyn, travel | Leave a comment

Little trip to Philly

We have been looking forward to going to Philadelphia to eat a Philly Cheesesteak ever since we moved here. Apparently the Best Cheesesteak in Philly is Geno’s, but 7 out of 7 in our group felt that our local mom-and-pop place tops Geno’s by far. If you want to see where we go for Philly Cheesestakes, check out the Philadelphia Grille on the google machine. They also have a mean cheese pizza and I really enjoy their eggplant parmesan. Quite a varied menu AND THEY CAN GET ON POST which is a huge benefit for those of us living in this “gated” community.

While cheesesteaks are perfectly valid reasons to travel, trying an authentic cheesesteak was not our only reason for heading south. Below is a quick run-through of the fun things we saw on our quick overnight to The City of Brotherly Love.

HOTEL: We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express – Penn’s Landing.

Anna woke at 0600 so we snuck down to the lobby, thankful they had seating for breakfast and a staff member handing out breakfast items. We had a beautiful view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. We had a girl’s hotel room with Anna, Maddie, and myself. The boys (minus Bailey, who stayed home) all piled into another room.

We were able to leave the Truckster in the hotel parking lot and walk the old part of the city on foot. It was pretty cold but Anna wore her “cold pants” (ski pants), and she never complained about being cold. I wish I had known that this was a thing when the bigs were little. Germany taught me so many things about cold-weather living.

Elfreth’s Alley – The oldest residential street in America

Hayden and his friend, Maddie.

The Betsy Ross House

We didn’t take a tour but will go back to do that someday!

Independence Hall – So. So. Cool.

Liberty Bell

Six of us. Bailey stayed home… he’ll go another time. (Thanks, Maddie, for the photo!! I’m rarely in them!)

Benjamin Franklin’s Grave

Rocky Steps – Matt, Carson, and Parker ran the steps!

The Truckster’s selfie… (Do you spy Carson? Tan coat, black shirt, jeans.)
Before leaving the city we stopped by Starbucks for a mug! Funny story… there was a Target just to my left but they had a bar that cars had to drive under to enter the driveway… The Truckster was too tall!

There will be another blog post when we go back for detailed tours. This was a scouting mission and a taste-testing excursion. Next time I want to actually tour the Betsy Ross House.

There are so many historical sites here in this part of the nation that I have yet seen. Excited to be here for a few years to check them out.

Posted in family, friends, travel | 2 Comments

Even more snow.

Our 16 inches hadn’t even melted when we got a second storm.

It only gave us about five inches but it was fast and furious. It arrived on Super Bowl Sunday and while our church was not cancelled it was shortened a little to allow everyone to get home before things got too icy.

To show you how much attention I paid to the super bowl, here’s a picture of my super bowl – I ate none of that, as I’m on a plan to be healthy, but my kids enjoyed a TON of chips and salsa, thanks to the USO:

On the way home from school:

Anna’s snow mountain.
How deep were the snowbanks? Trash can deep.
View of our backyard from my bedroom window.

Painting the snow blue with a water bottle filled with blue-colored water.

Posted in family, NYC/Brooklyn | 1 Comment

More snow!

I am still not tired of the snow, though I may be standing alone in this opinion by the time winter is over. I enjoy the falling snow and I actually enjoy shoveling. This is largely because I don’t have to go many places and my daily life isn’t negatively impacted by the white stuff, so I’m throwing no shade at those who dislike it.

I do feel horrible for those who suffered during the snow storm in Texas this month. In fact, I didn’t really share much of my excitement about our own snow here because I felt that would be insensitive. We had our share of anxiety during it as we were caring for neighbors who were sick with COVID… they had to call an ambulance twice, during the biggest storm NYC has gotten in the past five years, with 16 inches falling in a 24 hour period.

Matt walked to work in a literal blizzard, and also to the pharmacy a few times for our neighbor, as the doctors were trying everything they could to keep her from having to go to the ER, something she eventually had to do.

MTA doesn’t shut down very often….

Our house during the snow storm!

Of course, we had FUN, too.

I love watching Anna go full-steam ahead into the snow!

I post this video with permission.

Sledding! The first video shows you just how steep was the hill that Anna and Parker were sledding. This video makes me laugh at just how hard it was for them to get back up this hill. There’s no way I would have tried that hill!

The truckster enjoying the snow!
The irony… our neighbor’s poor car.

Another few storms came later in Feb… I’ll share that later!

Posted in brothers/boys, family, NYC/Brooklyn | 1 Comment

Anna Turns 5!!

For the past three years Anna has known what kind of birthday she wants to have months before her actual birthday. So far once she’s set it in her mind, she hasn’t changed it.

She enjoyed turning four with Olaf and decided to turn five with him as well.

We met her best buddy because she is the little sister of Parker’s best buddy here at Fort Hamilton. When preschool started we were thrilled that they were in the same class! They were the only family we had over for Anna’s birthday party and once the festivities were over, Parker headed to their house to play and the little sister stayed here until long after dinner.

I’m used to much larger parties and though I scaled much of it back we still had food leftover! We snacked on fresh cut veggies for days!

Anna has absolutely loved the playdough her friend brought her and plays with it about every other day. She wears the Brown Ballerina shirt from Miss Kayla at least twice a week! And we plan to go to FAO Schwarz soon to buy new Tonies with the money sent by grandparents.

We miss those with whom we’ve celebrated in past years and pray that next year we will be able to celebrate on a larger scale. Our family loves parties!

I wish you could see this video. I haven’t asked permission to show Anna’s friend’s face so I’ll just add this screenshot. Anna was rocking back and forth, admiring her creations, snacking on gummy bears, and hanging out with her friend. It was a sweet moment and I’m so glad we were able to have this special day to celebrate her. I’m so honored to be her mama!

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