Texas, Day 4

Lunch at Stubb’s, sunbathing at Barton Springs, happening upon an Austin summer concert at Zilker Park, and sushi takeout and drinks to finish up the day. Oh, and lots of Studio App love. 😉
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Texas, Day 3

Still in Austin. Today we did lunch at Hillside Farmacy, went to the LBJ Museum and the Capitol Building, and watched the bats fly from the South Congress bridge, and finished the night off with Thai from a food truck circle.

Austin, Texas
Austin, Texas

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New York: Day 1

Saturday, July 6

Who’s ready for a trip to New York! Okay, here we go!

Ryan drove us to the airport early Saturday morning to catch our first flight from San Diego to Nashville. This has been our first trip in awhile. I think the last was two years ago when we went to Vegas for the T family reunion. One thing to note here, so I will always remember: the Southwest corridor of the San Diego airport stinks. There are literally no restaurants, so you’re forced to go to the one little snack area to buy gross sandwiches and water bottles that total $30 for two people. $30! Somehow we always forget that, and we just figure we’ll eat breakfast once we’ve checked in, and we always get screwed over that way. So future self, when you read this, get breakfast at home!

Okay, on to New York.

Our first plane was crazy full and we were in the last group to board so we didn’t even get to sit together on the longest part of the trek. Luckily, we were in the middle of a group of kids and adults from Nashville who were returning from a Mexico missions trip, so that entire part of the plane was both sleepy and super nice. The flight was over three hours, but I’ll admit it seemed to go much faster. I must have nodded off at some point because I was shocked to see (on the new Southwest tracker app that one of the missions trip chaperones showed me) that we were approaching Nashville already.

After a quick layover where we found ourselves in a real airport with real food (hello, Quiznos, I love you and your under $10 meals), we were back in the air for the second leg of the trip. The airplane gods were with us on this one, because for the second time in our lives we ended up on a super empty plane, so we were really able to sprawl out for the last two hours of the trip. 

Chris edited. I watched free TV shows on the Southwest app, monitored our progress to New York, and leaned over him frequently to look out the window.

We found Sarah waiting for us at La Guardia. Hurray, we were there! I pulled on a sweater since it was now evening and, you know, the east coast is obviously colder than California. Then we stepped outside and got hit with Palm Springs night weather. If you’ve ever been to Palm Springs you know exactly what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t it’s hot and sweaty with no wind and leaves you thinking, “How can it possibly be this hot at night?”
I took my sweater off. (And didn’t put it on again all week.)
We took a taxi into the city. Taxi’s have gotten fancy, we discovered. They now have credit card readers and TVs in the backseat. Using my maps app, I tracked our movement from the airport to our little accommodations in the city. Down Queens. Over the Manhattan Bridge. Up Mulberry. And there we were.
So… it wasn’t all that great of a place. We were on a dark, cramped, one way street. The building across the street was completely covered in construction. The street was strewn with dumpsters and trash that hadn’t made it in them. Chris had told us that we weren’t living glamourously, we were just renting out a simple little two-bedroom apartment in Nolita. What he did not tell us? It was a fourth floor walk up with no elevator. (What I did not tell him? I will be requesting full descriptions and photos next time we rent out a place. Question # 1: How many flights up is it? Question #2: Elevator?)
When we’d finally lugged our suitcases up those stairs, we were all (more) sweaty and exhausted. 
The apartment was muggy when we finally got inside, so we cranked up the window coolers and did what anybody would do at 10pm after flying all day: we headed to the Empire State Building.

 So here’s the deal with the Empire State Building, and this is something Chris told us beforehand: It’s not that great. You wait in line for a long time. I’d read that the best time to do it is early morning or late night, which is why we decided it might be good to just get it out of the way the first night. It still took 4 hours to get to the top and back down. And really, the view isn’t that great. (When we went to the Rockefeller Building later on that week, the views were much better and we didn’t wait in line at all.)

We made it back to our apartment early the next morning, delighted to find that the window coolers actually worked and our little New York apartment was nice and cold. We decided to never turn them off all week, so it would always be cold when we returned. (Did I mention it was HOT?) We all had to take showers that night because we were so gross from the heat, and we discovered the shower had pretty much no water pressure. It was more of a dribble, which made trying to get all the shampoo out of long hair super fun. (Question #3: What’s the water pressure like? And that and elevators are really the extent of my criteria for a rental.)

After that we hit the sack for a full day of New York, and I learned my first New York fun fact: Construction sometimes happens in the middle of the night on small, cramped streets in the city. Thanks, guys.


Last weekend Chris and I trekked up to Monterey along with his parents, Bethany, and their Aunt Eva. That was two long days in the back of a van, but lucky for me, my resourceful husband found us a car adapter for our laptops. So I got some lesson planning done, while watching season one of Boy Meets World. 
(Pause. Let’s talk about how great that show was. Seriously. It was awesome.)
So Chris and I went up to help photograph his cousin’s wedding. We got a lot of great pictures- Chris is going through selecting the “picks” right now- and we’re excited to start the edits. The wedding reception was at a restaurant on the wharf, and after the party was over, Chris and I headed out on our own to get some snapshots of Monterey at twilight. 

December Staycation: Day One

Let me tell you a little something about the OSF: He is a list-maker.

He loves him some lists. 

Also schedules.

And so, when presented with four whole days to fill for our staycation, he took out a single sheet of lined paper and made a schedule of our weekend.

Everything from addresses to exact times to notes about what to do while at each place. 

I like that OSF. 🙂

Well, as you’ll no doubt read on his blog, the Mexican lunch we had was not up to par. However, the place had excellent light, and I got this great picture…

… which he and Sarah feel is his, “I’m about to go out and kill someone” look. But I think it’s cute. Any outside comments? Is this serial killer or hot guy headshot?

This is an Indian.

We roamed around for awhile, ducking into the little stores of little knick knacks (and Beanie Babies!) until five o’clock began to creep up on us. As anyone who’s ever visited Julian knows, the town closes at five. As in, you can’t even pump gas past five. 

Famous Julian Pie was on our list, so we ducked into the Famous Julian Pie place for a slice. I had the cherry apple with a scoop of vanilla that was really good. Chris got some cider that he loved, but he wasn’t so much
of the pie.


Timeline Part Two

So we left off at pumpkins. Next was the OSF’s birthday at Disneyland.

… followed by our first day of road tripping, which ended with SPRING AWAKENING in San Jose…

… which was followed by American Idiot in Berkeley on Saturday….

Then we came back for a week of work, and on Friday Chris and I left early to start the journey to Fresno to stay with his Aunt Mari and Uncle Moose and play Wii games with Jessica

Saturday morning we all headed an hour and a half north of Fresno (to Mantica?) for Chris’ cousin Kelsey’s wedding (which was freezing!):

Then one last morning of playing with Jessica (tug of war this time): 

And back home to a normal life with no traveling!

Awakening: San Jose

So I’m finally getting around to posting about our San Jose Spring Awakening experience.

We started out early: Ryan, Brittany, and Ryan’s friends Michelle and Jess in one car, Chris and I in the other. We traveled for hours and hours, stopping only for lunch at Quiznos, Subway, Jack in the Box. (The Quiznos, we discovered when we pulled in, had not yet opened: “Maybe tomorrow!” the guy yelled to us. Um, what? You don’t have a set opening day, and yet you look like you’re open… Then the Subway across the street was closed too. And finally when we started wondering if anything in God forsaken Bakersfield was open, we found the others at the Jack in the Box, again across the street. Also, this Jack in the Box offered showers. I’m a little worried about Bakersfield as a whole.)

After driving way out in the country for more hours and hours (including a pass through Gilroy, California, the garlic capital of the world), we made it to our San Jose home. We actually made very good time, so we had a couple of hours to relax and get ready for the night’s festivities.

In the boys’ room, we discussed the options for dinner. Ry, the Yelp fiend that he is, discovered the Firehouse Grill, just blocks from the theater, so we headed there for a quick meal. The Grill turned out to be a bar and grill fashioned after a firehouse, with fire/burning related names for all their entrees. Good food, good service.

Please forgive these pictures. I didn’t bother to photo correct them, and the lighting in the Firehouse was very dim and very yellow. 😦

We opted to walk to the theater, rather than deal with parking closer by, and we set out through the beautiful streets of San Jose.

Let me tell you: I would not mind living in San Jose someday. It’s super clean and super safe looking.

The show was, of course, amazing. This was mine and Ryan’s first time this season (fourth overall!), so there were a few new cast members and swings to watch for. Of course, we were way up in the back, so we couldn’t see the swings well anyway.


During intermission, I was feeling a little mischievous. So I grabbed Chris and our stuff and headed down to the orchestra level, where I’d been watching two empty seats in the fifth row.

I’d heard of people moving to better seats at intermission, but I’d never attempted it myself. It’s unnerving trying to pull one past the the ushers.

Sadly, someone else had snaked my two empty seats by the time we got down there. 😦

There were tons of available seats in the back half of the orchestra, which all would have been perfectly fine seats, but for some reason I had my heart set on up close and personal.

Ryan and Brittany joined us soon after, and we had our sights on this one row which appeared to be completely empty in the middle. No purses, programs, or husbands left behind to watch the seats. I finally got up the nerve to ask the family sitting right behind those seats if they had seen anyone sitting there. And the super nice dad tells us, “Nope, there’s six empty seats, starting right here. Feel free?”

Thank you, super nice dad. Thank you. Because of you I was able to score this picture with my 50 mm lens:

I figure it’s okay to sneak pictures if it’s not technically of the performance, right? Right? Oh, well, I didn’t get caught.

Then it was out to stage door for us, to get signatures for our Spring Awakening books. I’ve been waiting since last Christmas, when Ryan got the book for me, for the cast to come back.

First up, Taylor Trensch, the new Moritz, and a total sweetie! You can just tell how excited he is to be touring right now with such an amazing show. 

In this picture we’ve got Kayla Foster, one of the new chairs, and Gabby Garza who plays Anna.

Steffi D.!

Shingledecker and Krystina!

And then, just when we thought the night couldn’t get better, guess who ended up being at the show? Skylar Astin, the original Broadway cast Georg. We’re talking from the days of Lea Michele and John Gallagher, Jr. here, people. And he was soooo nice, chatting with us about Glee and flipping through our books, asking how we’d managed to score Lea’s signature. He ended up being our third original cast member to sign, a total fluke right before our planned visit to get two more

So once again, it was a great Spring Awakening experience. And special thanks to the OSF for following us around as our own personal photographer! 

The One with the Camping Trip

Chris’ good friend Emily wanted to celebrate her birthday with a good old fashioned campout, and so at noon we headed off for Lake Perris, a campsite an hour and a half off Interstate 15.

Here’s a fun fact about Perris, California: It’s freaking hot.

This picture is before we even got there:

Yes. That’s a reading of 109 degrees.

There were seven of us to start out with, and two others arriving later that night. And since the temperature had topped at 111 degrees, we decided to set up camp as fast as possible, throw on the bathing suits, and head down to the lake.
It was pretty crowded, but we managed to section off our own little square of water, and Emily even found someone with an air pump to blow up the pool floats. If you’ve never had the experience of laying out on a pool float in a lake, drifting along in a rhythm that makes you want to fall asleep, with the sun warming your back… well, you should try it. It’s amazing.
I didn’t want to take my camera down to the lakefront, so this is the only picture I’ve got of the lake, with that cute OSF posing in front of it.
Then it was back to the campground, where the boys started a fire in the pit and Cody fired up the grill for dinner. It was still freaking hot, and no one bothered trying to keep the pit alive. Sad, since Cody and Emily had brought up a ton of firewood.
While Cody grilled up a ton of burgers and hot dogs, we sat around in our wet suits and camping chairs, snacking on Goldfish and french onion Sun chips, and wondering when in the heck the heat was going to stop.
Silly, OSF. Why do you hide from the camera?
Our amazing chef, Cody, taking his duties very seriously.
The OSF and I, in our post-swimming, lake gunk covered, gross and sweaty state.

It still hadn’t cooled down by the time the sun went down and the “games” started. I’m just going to say that these games may or may not have involved red cups, a deck of cards, and various bottles. In the middle of the “festivities,” Sarah and Kristen finally made it to the campsite, bringing more ice and snacks with them. We stayed up until around midnight, chatting about Disneyland passes and our favorite characters on The Big Bang Theory, before the “game drinks” and two hour swimming excursion finally caught up with us.
I think it was actually cool for a total of one hour during the night. All I know is that I eventually fell asleep feeling hot and woke up around 7:30 feeling hot, with a brief reprieve at 1:30am when I ventured out into the cool for the bathroom.
Cody was up bright and early when I woke up, already working on breakfast for the troops. Bacon and eggs, baby. Because Chris and Sarah demanded it.

The plan was to stay until checkout at noon, but as the temperature rose higher and higher, we decided to “get the he out of he” as Chris put it. So while breakfast was cooking, the rest of us packed up tents and bags so we could make a quick exit.
Chris and Emily work on breakfast’s finishing touches.
After breakfast, we loaded up the cars; somehow, even with all we ate, drank, and/or left behind (ahem, firewood), we still had a heck of a time getting everything back in the two cars. It took awhile, but we finally managed to squeeze in the last camping chair, and jumped in the air conditioned cars to “get the he out of (t)he.”
We were back before eleven, to find that San Diego was a measly 86 degrees. 86. Phfffshh. You haven’t felt heat until you’ve been to Perris in July.
And the final trip picture: Chris and Sarah jumping on the pile of blankets and sleeping bags as we unpacked the car.

The Great McDonald’s Coca-Cola Glass Hunt of 2009

Sometimes I’m a sucker for collectibles.


Beanie babies.

Chronicles of Narnia books.

And now Coca-cola glasses.

It started off innocently enough last Friday. I went through the McDonald’s by work, noticed the banner about the free glasses with every value meal, and decided I might as well see what these glasses were about. BTW- they’re freaking awesome. I already love glass cups and coca-cola, and together they freaking rock!

There, on that Friday afternoon, it became my mission to collect all four. And let’s just say that mission has changed day to day in the last week and a half. Here’s the play by play.

Original mission: Collect all four colors: Blue, turquoise, purple, and brown.
Friday afternoon: Got a blue glass at Fletcher Parkway.
Saturday afternoon: Convinced the OSF to take me to the Massachusetts MickyD’s, since it’s next to the In N’ Out for him. They tell us they had “aquamarine,” which I think, and Crayloa agrees, is more turquoise than blue. And yet, when we opened it up, it was a blue glass. Jerks. And then they tell us all the stores were only selling browns for the last week, and we were out of luck with the other colors. Which just fueled my need to collect the other colors!
Monday afternoon: Got a brown glass at Fletcher Parkway. The guy there told me to try back in the next few days for purple. I think the Massachusetts Mcd’s people are liars.
Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon: No dice on the purple glass at Fletcher. But they had only brown, and then only blue on these two days. I’m beginning to think none of the McD’s chains were prepped on the structure of this promo.
Wednesday evening: Brittany and I head to Ryan’s to watch Wall-E with Ry and Chris. We stopped at the College Ave. store, and they didn’t even have any glasses at all. But Brittany later went to the one near Ikea, and found all the colors but turquoise. She picked up purple for me in exchange for one of my blue.
Thursday afternoon: Somehow I get stuck with another blue.
Friday night: Get a call from that cute OSF boy. Turns out he totally took one for the team, and he and his sister stopped at a McD’s near Magic Mountain to see what they could find. Two more purple glasses!

Total tally: 2 blue, 3 purple, 1 brown.

Confession: This sort of situation is prime to bring out the OCD in me. I need to have these things in nice numbers. Either one of each, or two of each, or, as it was looking, three of each.

So since the turquoise glasses were nowhere to be found, Mission #2 became to collect three each of the blue, purple, and brown.

But then.

On Saturday night.

Ryan and I decided to initiate the Great McDonald’s Coca-Cola Glass Hunt of 2009.

We would not rest until we found the turquoise glasses! We would drive for hours, cranking the Spring Awakening soundtrack as we stopped at each and every restaurant in our search for the holy grail of coke glasses.

Oddly enough, the closest McD’s to Ryan’s apartment, the one inside the Walmart on Aero Drive, had both turquoise and brown. Go figure. So we took our food and our glasses and went back to the apartment to watch Ella Enchanted and then take a last minute trolley ride downtown to take pictures (but that’s a story for another blog).

Oh, at this point, Brittany finds out that you can buy the glasses for $1.99, instead of buying a value meal every time. Errrrr…. My stomach would have been happier finding that out sometime on Tuesday.

Sunday morning: Ryan texts me that the power of suggestion is too powerful for him, and he was already the owner of a brown glass too.
Sunday afternoon: Brittany and I run errands and stop at the Navajo store for a brown glass, 79 cent coke, and no value meal. Take that, McD’s!

Tally: 2 blue, 3 purple, 2 brown, 1 turquoise.

Sunday evening: As I explain my OCD plight to Chris and Ryan, Chris suggests I give Ryan one of the purples and collect 1 more turquoise, putting my final tally at 2 each, which is a nice even number that will make it easy for me to sleep at night. Excellent.

Which brings us to today. Monday. No final turquoise glass yet, but I have high hopes for the week. And remember: if you stumble across a MickeyD’s giving out turquoise glasses, give me a call!