Archive for ‘Family’

September 13, 2012

Back to School

The summer has come to an end, and the boys are back in school. I have to admit I’m excited to get back to a daily schedule and leave the chaos of summer behind. The first day of school for both boys was a couple of weeks ago, but I just finally got around to getting the pictures off of my camera.

Simon started 1st grade this year, and Oscar started going to an in-home daycare just 2 blocks away from the house. He loves that he gets to ride his bike to school almost every day.

I’ve finally gotten my quiet days back. It’s nice getting work done without having a screaming child in the background. It sure makes things a lot easier.
 
 

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July 13, 2012

Athens

Ok, as promised, I’m finally getting around to the Athens part of our Greece trip. After 3 nights on the island of Santorini, we took a 25 minute flight to Athens where we spent the next 4 nights. Since we were there for a conference, we had to stay at the conference hotel, the Metropolitan, which was a short drive outside of city central. Luckily, the hotel offered a free shuttle to Syntagma Square every half hour, and once there, everything we wanted to see was within walking distance.

The first night was spent exploring Syntagma Square and Parliament, then walking down Ermou Street. Ermou Street is a pedestrian walking area between Syntagma and Monastiraki Squares. It is full of shops, restaurants, and a cute little 10th century church sits right in the middle of it all. It was an enjoyable introduction to Athens, however, we immediately noticed the gobs of graffiti all over the place. Here is a picture just to give you a little taste:


 

The next day, I slept in while Alex attended his conference. When he was finished we took off for some more exploring. We walked through the National Gardens, then admired the Presidential House and the orange trees lining the street in front of it. We then headed over to Panathenian Stadium, built around 330 BC. We got to peak at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, but the area was already closed for the day by the time we got over there. After walking around Zappeion Hall for a while, then re-energizing ourselves with a cold beverage at a nearby cafe, we decided to find the Teleferik that would take us to the top of Lycabettus Hill, the highest hill in Athens. We read that Lycabettus Hill was a very popular place to go and that most people chose to ride the Teleferik rather than hiking up the hill, so we assumed it would be easy to find. After walking around for what seemed like an eternity, we weren’t having any luck finding it. We even asked a couple of people where it was. One lady had no clue what we were talking about, but she asked a clerk at a nearby store who gave us directions somewhere, but not to the Teleferik. We then asked a security guard who also gave us incorrect directions up a lot of very steep steps. We didn’t find what we were looking for but we did manage to take this picture showing how far up the hill we had already walked:


 
Just when we were about to give up, we came across a very fancy hotel. Alex decided to go in and ask the concierge in a final attempt to locate what we were starting to believe was a fictitious place. We followed her directions, and sure enough, we found it. It did exist! We rode it up to the top of the hill and the views were amazing. Completely worth all the trouble. Here’s a picture of Alex at the top. This give you an idea of how expansive the city is:


 

The next morning, we took the hotel shuttle bus to Syntagma Square yet again, then headed to the Acropolis. This was the first place where we were completely surrounded by tourists and even had to stand in line (to be expected, I guess). Here is a picture of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus:


 

And here’s a picture of me with the Parthenon in the background:


 

After the Acropolis, we ate some lunch, then headed to the Acropolis Museum. Each level of the museum is impressive, but the top floor was probably my favorite. On the top floor, they have friezes and other parts of the Parthenon arranged exactly as they once appeared on the original temple, which can be viewed simultaneously through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

That night, Alex and I decided to go out for a nice dinner. We headed to Daphne’s, a delicious restaurant in the Plaka that is housed in an 1830s mansion. After dinner, we found an outdoor theater, Cine Paris, just a few blocks away and at the foot of the Acropolis. We bought our tickets, then headed to the roof where we watched Snow White and the Huntsman (in English with Greek subtitles) while enjoying a glass of wine and sitting under the stars. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, while watching the movie we could look slightly to the left of the screen and see the Acropolis completely lit up. This was probably my favorite night of the trip.

The next morning, and our last full day of the trip, we decided we had had enough of walking around in the heat and just wanted to take it easy. We hopped on a hydrofoil to the closest island, Aegina. We spent the day lounging on the beach and taking in the beautiful surroundings. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera died after taking just 1 picture, and I didn’t have any spare batteries on me. So this is the only picture I was able to take while we were there:


 

On the last day of the trip, our flight didn’t leave until about 5:00 pm, so we decided to head to Syntagma Square just one more time, then make our way over to the Central Market. This place was crazy!! There were so many locals, pushing their way through the crowds to find the perfect sheep head, calf carcass, live chicken, fresh fish, you name it. I wasn’t able to take any pictures (besides that I had yet to replace the batteries in my camera) because there was so much chaos, and we were being pushed and yelled at from every direction. But the amount and variety of fresh food that was available was astonishing. Definitely a cool thing to see!

Finally it was time to catch our flight to London where we had an overnight layover. Then we boarded our last flight of the trip and headed back to Texas to see the boys whom we missed terribly.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to do this, and just one month after our 5-year anniversary even. Not too shabby!
 

June 25, 2012

Santorini

Alex and I recently returned from a 9 day trip to Greece. Although it was very difficult leaving the boys for that amount of time, we somehow managed to enjoy ourselves. Our first night was spent on our overnight flight (yuck), but the next three nights were spent on the amazingly beautiful island of Santorini. We stayed at the Aspa Villas in Oía. Originally, their cave houses were booked when we made our reservations, but when we got there, they had a cancellation and moved us to a cave house for our 2nd and 3rd night for no additional charge. Here’s a picture of the view from our cave house:


 
Our first day in Oía, we walked around the village taking in our beautiful surroundings.
 

 

 
As you can see, the village is up on a cliff. If you want to get down to the bay, you have to take the nearly 300 very steep steps down. You can see the steps in this picture:
 

 
We managed to walk down the steps, but opted for a donkey ride on the way back up.
 

 
The next day we decided to rent a car and drive around the entire island. Many people were renting mopeds and ATVs, but after seeing the crazy drivers and narrow, windy roads we thought a car felt a little safer, or at least easier for other drivers to see. The island is only about 35 square miles, so it doesn’t take long to get from one end to the other (unless you take all of the wrong roads like us). At the other end of the island—opposite from Oía—there is a lighthouse and more beautiful views of the Aegean Sea. Here I am, a little carsick, sitting on some rocks near the lighthouse:
 

 
We managed to find our way to the red beach that we had read about. It takes a little walking and some hiking to get to it. Here is a shot of the beach from up on the hill before our hike down:
 

 
After leaving the beach, we made our way back to Oía, both of us exhausted and me a little more carsick. Since Oía is known for its sunsets and this was our last night there, we decided we should watch the sunset with everyone else in the village. Here is a picture of the old castle walls filled with sunset watchers:
 

 
We were sad to leave Santorini, but the following morning we had to catch our flight to Athens where we stayed for the remainder of our trip. Details and pictures of that part of our trip will be in my next post.

I highly recommend Santorini to anyone planning to visit one of the Greek islands. Of course I’m sure the other islands are just as amazing. Does anyone have a favorite Greek island? Is so, which one and why is it your favorite?
 
 

December 12, 2011

2 months later…

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since my last post (sounds like an introduction at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting). My workload has been insane, which I’m not complaining about. But it did take away most of my spare time, causing me to fall way behind on so many things (e.g. this blog).

Other than work being uberbusy, we also became the proud parents of a new little puppy. Meet Rusty…

We’ve had Rusty for about one month now. My father found a litter of 5 pups abandoned on the side of the road. We had no plans of getting a dog for the kids anytime in the near future, but as soon as Simon laid eyes on Rusty, it was over. He was in love. So I called my husband and told him I was bringing a dog home.

It’s amazing how much more chaotic life becomes when you introduce a puppy into your life. Especially when you have two young boys who just can’t get enough of him. But we are all adjusting and getting into a groove.

We had no idea what kind of dog we now had living in our house. But after a couple of guesses from friends and strangers, we had it narrowed down. And then a trip to the vet confirmed it. He’s a mutt, but the dominant breed seems to be Catahoula Leopard Dog. Then we were told to expect him to weigh 70-90 lbs. Say what!?!

Even with all this craziness, we have managed to get a few small things accomplished around the house, so expect a few updates very soon.
 

August 14, 2011

Vacation’s over. Back to the daily grind.

Why does a week of relaxing at the beach go by so much faster than other weeks? It’s not fair.

We are back from our trip to Surfside Beach, TX. The reason for this getaway was to celebrate all of the big events that happened in my family this year. My mother retired, my sister and her hubby turned 40, I turned 30, my sister-in-law turned 40, and a close family friend turned 50. Not to mention it had been a few years since we had all taken a trip together. It’s hard getting us all together because there are so many of us.

I am one of six kids. All but one of us are married, and my single sister always brings her best friend (that close family friend I mentioned above) whose been part of our family for about 12 years now. Only three of us that are married have kids so far. I have two, my sister has three, and my brother has five. Oh, and out of all 10 of our kids, 9 of them are boys.

We always have a good time when we all get together. And this was the first time we had all been to the beach together. There was a lot of swimming, sand digging, crab hunting, clam collecting and boogie boarding happening all week. Unfortunately, we were unimpressed with the beach house itself. The A/C upstairs went out and didn’t get fixed for 2 days. Two of the burners on the stove didn’t work (not good when trying to feed that many hungry people). And there was a horrible smell in the kitchen that we finally traced back to mildew behind the fridge. Gross!

But even with these few disappointments, it was a great trip! I’m sad it’s over.
 

 

 
Here’s a look at our “big catch” after the first night of crab hunting.
 

 

August 7, 2011

Life’s a Beach

It’s vacation time! And my clan has headed to the beach for the week. Our last trip to the beach was 3 years ago, before we were a family of four. Look at little Simon. Awwww, memories!


 

August 1, 2011

The hubs has done it again

This isn’t the first time I’ve bragged about my uber-talented husband (read here), and I can guarantee you it won’t be the last. This time he has designed some oh-so-sweet posters for a local music venue. And not just any music venue. It just so happens to be family owned.

My sister hosts house concerts in her backyard, using her very own Domino Hall as the backdrop. It’s a very intimate setting for watching local and national musicians perform. Alex (the hubs) decided this venue would serve as a great inspiration for some poster designs and a great way for his sister-in-law to promote her venue. And he was right. These posters won a gold medal at the 2011 DSVC show.

You will be able to purchase these on Etsy soon. But in the meantime, feel free to let me know if you are interested in owning one or more, and I will make it happen. Oh, and visit his website to see even more great work.

July 10, 2011

The Big 3-0

It’s official. My twenties are over. My birthday was last week, July 3. Due to the continuous birthday celebrations (mine and America’s), I never got a chance to share with you how I spent this momentous occasion. Better late than never, right?

My day started with the best gift ever…sleeping in. Sometimes I miss those younger (kid free) days when I could sleep until noon without a care in the world. But now, the more mature version of myself sees that as a huge waste of a day. But of course, given the opportunity to get a little extra sleep, I took full advantage and slept until 8:30 AM. (Lame-o, I know).

My boys then treated me to a very delicious brunch at a local restaurant. This was very daring on my hubby’s part considering this is a white table cloth type of place and we have a crazy 18-month-old. Oscar was so confused as to why this white fabric was covering up the table. He was getting very angry at it and folding it over so he could see the table underneath. Fortunately, my boys love nothing more than breakfast. So as soon as the food came, everyone behaved (for the most part), and I was able to enjoy my Grand Marnier French Toast and a cranberry mimosa.

After brunch, we returned home to open presents. Alex bought me an Anthropologie gift card (love!) and two posters from an Etsy shop called strawberryluna. We’ve been looking for art for our bare living room walls. I found this shop a few months back and thought the designs were adorable. He remembered and chose these two posters.
 

 
I love them. The colors couldn’t be more perfect for the living room. There will definitely be a post in the near future showing where we decide to hang them.

After presents, it was nap time. The kids both took naps and so did I. That mimosa really knocked me out. I’M SO OLD!!!!

After naps, we all enjoyed a piece of this strawberries’n’cream cake. Yum-o!
 

 
We then packed up and headed to my brother’s house. I failed to mention that a few days before my b-day, my mother celebrated her retirement, and my entire family was in town – all five of my siblings and their families. We decided to have a family cookout and do some swimming. So the rest of my birthday looked a little something like this…
 

 
My family being in town threw a slight kink in Alex’s original plans for my b-day. So this past weekend, he treated me to a night out, just the two of us. We did a little shopping (had to use my Anthropologie gift card!), enjoyed dinner at a nice Greek restaurant, and saw Greg Behrendt perform at the Improv. Hilarious!

Oh, and since my in-laws agreed to take the kids for the night, both Alex and I got to sleep in…until 10:00 AM! Go us!
 
P.S. I forgot to mention I also received a very special surprise from my BFF in Boston. You can check it out here.
 

May 8, 2011

A Mother’s Day Adventure

Whenever possible, I enjoy finding new places to go and new things to do. I especially enjoy finding new places for us to experience as a family. So when Alex asked if there was anything I wanted to do for Mother’s Day this year, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Sandy Lake Amusement Park. This place isn’t exactly new, 40 years old to be exact. But we had never visited this old school amusement park before, even though it’s only half an hour from our house.

I found a coupon on their website allowing us to get in for free (typically costing a whopping $2 per person). Free admission? Hello, I was all over that. If this place stinks, we can just turn around and go home, no money spent.

So we pull up, hand them our coupon and drive through the gate. Where are we? And what year is it? It was surreal. We felt like we had stepped onto the set of Adventureland. (Great movie!) Simon was so excited I thought his head was going to explode.

Once you are in, each ride takes between 3 to 5 tickets, and tickets cost 50¢ each. We immediately went to the ticket booth and bought the biggest book of tickets you could get – $20 for 44 tickets. It took Simon a long time to figure out what ride to do first. It’s an important decision, you know. But once he started, he went very quickly from one ride to the next. There were no lines!!! We blew through those tickets in less than an hour. Oscar even got in on the action.
 
 
After doing the rides, we walked over and checked out the arcade, the miniature golf course and the paddle boats. At this point we were all hot and tired and decided ending the day with a train ride around the park would be perfect.
 

 
Needless to say, the kiddos crashed as soon as we got into the car. It was a successful adventure and a wonderful Mother’s Day.
 

February 7, 2011

I ♥ NY

I’m so excited to be on vacation this week! It couldn’t come at a better time. Although I’ll miss our kids terribly, I’m very much looking forward to the break and spending some quality time with the hubs. We are headed to New York City! Unfortunately this trip is business related for Alex, but we will definitely have time to enjoy ourselves and meet up with friends. We’ve always enjoyed our trips to NYC, so I’ve dug up a few old photos of past trips. Enjoy! See you next week.


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