Life as we know told by Heather

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Around the house

We haven't really been doing much of anything fun lately, but we have tried to make a few changes around the house.

Jordis has been in her big girl bed for over a year now and we decided the time was right to finally put the frame on, as the mattress and box springs had just been lying on the floor. She has started amassing a few collections that she refuses to part with at night, even though there is barely any room for her little body in there. Books, dolls, cars and hats are her favorites, and she knows if you sneak a few things out. The twin beds we have were built by my grandpa and have a shelf on the headboard, so we thought maybe this would be a way for Jordis to keep her prized possessions, but perhaps NEAR her and not so much all crowded in WITH her. However, once it was up we realized that we can no longer attach the guardrail. It's been a few weeks now and she hasn't fallen out once, but she still refuses to sleep without her things.

Jason has also been painting the office while he's up overnight on his days off. I love to paint and would normally want to help, but there's such limited time to be up in the office without the kids being unsupervised that it's just easier this way. Our desk tops are a speckled pattern of black, brown, white and gray so we got a brownish-red color that is similar to the color of cherry wood. I think it kind of looks like Dr. Pepper. We really like it next to the white woodwork and we're planning on getting white shelves when it's done.

Alas, I'm having issues with my plants. My vegetable plants continue to grow but there are no vegetables. So I'm not real sure what the problem is there. And then there are the gladiolus. I agonized over what colors to buy and kept them separated so I could plant them alternately as to avoid clumps of color in one spot. I've been eyeing them since May and got real excited one day last week when I noticed there were going to be flowers. Upon closer inspection though, I realized they looked pink, and I detest pink. Luckily they have ended up more of a coral color, but the bulbs I bought came from bins that were labeled as being purple, yellow and white. So I guess I will have to live with this combination instead.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our weekend with mass transit

So we just spent a childless weekend (thanks Mom and Anthony) in Kentucky and were actually able to avoid using our car for the whole weekend. That's a great thing these days when you consider the price of gas. The transit authority has a shuttle system that takes people between Covington and Newport via Cincinnati. It's only $1.25 per person per ride, which ends up costing much less than the gas money and parking fees we'd have incurred otherwise. It takes longer, of course, but if you're there for leisure and don't have anywhere to be at a particular time it works out pretty well.

The trip was for our 10th anniversary and we had a nice time even though it was really hot. I of course took lots of photos.

This is our self portrait from our balcony. Our second balcony. Our first room we did not deem acceptable, as it didn't quite fit the description of "river view room." So we got a new room a little higher and on a better side of the building. Apparently checking in right on time does not give you the first pick of choice rooms when a lot of the housekeeping staff has called off and most of the rooms aren't ready yet. Enough said about that.

Here are a few other views from our room. The first is looking northeast towards Cincinnati. You can see the Reds' baseball stadium on the Ohio side. The blue and white curved building is a new high rise condominium building called The Ascent. Apparently Sarah Jessica Parker has purchased a condo there, but don't know if that's true or not.

The second view is to the northwest. The bridge is I-71/75. For as close as we were to it the noise wasn't so bad. There were double glass doors and it was loud if they were open but when the doors were closed you could only hear the traffic when the AC wasn't on, and it still wasn't that loud. We kind of like white noise and have always owned homes near an airport, so it was okay with us.

Jason had never been to Fountain Square in Cincinnati, and it has been remodeled some since I was there last, so we got off the shuttle to walk around there for a little bit.

After that we headed off to Newport, KY to check things out. They have Newport on the Levee which is kind of boring compared to Easton here in Columbus. It's next to the aquarium though which looks pretty nice. We didn't want to tour the aquarium without the kids but we did go into the gift shop and look around. Most of the restaurants there were chains and I had kind of wanted Italian anyway, so we took the advice of the hotel manager and walked 6 blocks to Pompilio's.

Even though we saw practically no people on the way there, it was very crowded when we arrived. This is where the locals eat and they are known for their homemade marinara sauce, meatballs and pastas. It's also where they filmed the toothpick and pancakes scenes from the movie Rain Man. I didn't think I got much food for the money, but it ended up working out since I couldn't take leftovers with me anyway. And they had soft butter which ranks high with me. I don't like going to restaurants where the butter's hard and you rip the bread trying to spread it. Jason got more value for his meal. He had a meatball hoagie with fries and a salad and I had homemade cheese ravioli. The sauce was fantastic and I wanted to buy some but it had to stay cold so I wouldn't have been able to get it back to the hotel.

Newport is a little boring and desolate, but I will say it is very clean. My beaded flip-flop broke after dinner and I had to walk six blocks back to the shuttle, and not once did I have to step around any glass or other debris. At that point we kind of had no choice but to go back to the hotel but once we got there I got different shoes and we took a walk to the gas station for snacks. Jason went out on the balcony to take nighttime photos of the skyline and realized there were fireworks going off over the river. Apparently the Reds put them on after Friday home games.

The next day we got to sleep in and then headed off to a place that I read about in the local paper. I'm a huge conniseur of French toast and don't make it well myself, so I had to have what I read about from a local Newport restaurant called Mokka. It was French toast battered in corn flake crumbs with a creme brulee topping and bananas. Upon arrival the place was a bit scary because it's attached to a banquet hall that can best be described as a cross between 40's glamour and bad 80's decorating. They had just switched locations and I don't know why they share the space with the banquet hall, but for whatever reason it was pretty tacky in there (although the tablecloths were cute).

Anyway.....Jason's not a huge fan of breakfast food but he did well at hiding his lack of interest. I think he was so hungry at that point that he didn't care. But now he can't stop telling people about the French toast HE had. It was battered in graham cracker crumbs and topped with cheesecake topping, cherry pie filling and whipped cream. I had mine a la carte but he had the whole meal and the potatoes were fantastic as well. They were coated in something that made them nice and crispy. If we are ever back in Newport we will definitely eat there again, even if it's still pink and neon and chintzy inside.

After breakfast we headed off to our next adventure. We had originally planned on riding riverboat with the lunch buffet, but we didn't plan in advance because we wanted to wait on the weather, and then once we were there it was booked. There was just a riverboat ride with no buffet but it was at 11 am and we weren't sure we could get up and catch the shuttle and get there in time. So we opted for the Ride the Ducks tour. This had only started a few days before so was very new. It was a few dollars cheaper than the riverboat tour and you get kazoos shaped like duck beaks, so we figured we'd end up with souvenirs for the kids as well. This was booked every hour until 4:30 so bought some tickets and hung out at Newport on the Levee for awhile. Jason went to GameWorks where he won the kids some more trinkets and we also went to Barnes and Noble. Then we found a sno-cone booth outside so we each had giant sno-cones. They had at least 30 flavors. Jason had wedding cake and I had strawberry-coconut. They were perfect on a hot day. There was also a kiosk that sold body jewelry and I got a great deal on some new belly button rings, which came at just the right time because my favorite one broke about a month ago. That was pretty much the most exciting shopping we came across, with the exception of some handmade papers and statues from different countries.

Then we got in line for the boat ride. Although it was a little cheesy, it was actually lots of fun, although I must admit I had reservations about something that can drive and be a boat at the same time. There's something very Thelma and Louise about just driving into the river. Our captain and tour guide were slap-stick funny, though informative, and there was also music. We also came across a wedding party taking photos so we had to drive the boat over there and quack at them with our kazoos. Then their photographer tried to take a picture of them with us in the background. I suppose that's one of those "you had to be there" moments.

The funniest thing I saw was on the way back to Newport while the boat was driving in front of the baseball stadium. It was a game day so all the people who sit downtown with their signs that say "Need Help" or "Will Work for Food" or "God Bless" or whatever they say, had worked their way down to where all the people were, as opposed to staying up at Fountain Square. (I hestitate to call them homeless because they've done stories here where they spy on these people and watch them walk off at the end of the day to their Mercedes parked down the street). Had my camera been out I would have taken a picture of this particular man because he had the best sign ever. It said, "Why lie, I just want a beer." Jason said he would have given him a dollar just for being honest.

And yes, we bought the overpriced souvenir picture of ourselves when we got back. Although I was able to talk Jason out of the photo keychains.

Next we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. There was a revolving restaurant at the top of our hotel, so we'd made reservations for 8:30 in hopes of being up there for both daytime and nighttime viewing. We figured out you have to be up there about two hours to make one full rotation. Since we were up there so late and they didn't need our table they let us stay for awhile so we could rotate some more and see the skyline. The food was very good and again, more soft butter. I think they sprinkled it with parmesan cheese, too. It made me happy.

For dinner, Jason had a casar salad, filet mignon with butter sauce and macaroni and cheese. I had a BLT wedge salad and crab cakes with a red chili aioli. We got a chocolate opera torte for dessert.

Covington bell tower

Cincinnati skyline

My blurry version of the stadium, suspension bridge and Ohio River

Of course it wouldn't be me if I didn't take some silly pictures as well. Though there weren't enough of them, the elevators in our hotel were very fast, and they were pretty. They were covered in wood and had brass handrails.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

What a week!

So we've had a pretty crazy schedule this past week, but loaded with lots of fun!

The zoo is open late on Wednesdays, so after Xander's OT last week he and I met up with Jordis and Jason at the zoo. Not long after we got there and Xander climbed some inflatables, Jordis decided she had to walk, of course. Xander took advantage of this opportunity to hitch a ride in the stroller and not 20 yards from her starting point Miss Thang strutted herself face first into the concrete at the entrance to the tunnel.

The tunnel at the zoo is a great place for echoes, so not only was she screaming at the top of her lungs, but it was amplified times one-hundred. So everyone's staring at us and probably thinking we made our poor baby walk while the big kid got pushed. At any rate, she's much more cooperative than Xander where ice is concerned, and 30 minutes later we were off to the picnic tables to eat the dinner Jason had packed for us. Then we rode the train. Jordis' forehead is finally back to its normal shape now, but it's still got a bruise. She bounced back like a trooper, though.

Friday of course was July 4th. We went to my mom and step-dad's to have a cookout and also celebrate my step-dad's birthday, which was on the 6th. We had lots of good food, the kids got plenty worn out, and I got a little nap. Jason's brother and his family were also in town and staying with us for the weekend, so after coming back from my mom's we attempted to keep the kids up to watch the Delaware fireworks, which can usually be seen from our backyard. Xander fell asleep before they even started and not just asleep, but he was practically in a coma. After trying to herd three kids outside and get them all situated, the fireworks started about 15 minutes late so the kids were completely over it before they ever saw anything. Xander was the only one who actually stayed outside.

The next day we went to the Independence Day parade that, for some reason, was held on July 5th. But at any rate, it was a good time and the kids enjoyed getting all the candy that they will hopefully forget about in the next few weeks. We let them have a sucker of two while they watched and Jordi.s got hers all over. She had an orange mustache, and it was on her temple, in her hair and somehow on the back of her shoulder. They also practiced a lot of waving and Jordis seems to have learned the pageant wave.

Jeremy, Dominic, Sarah and Autumn

Jordis was mad because she and Xander had to eat out of the same bag of snacks as opposed to each getting their OWN bags.


Jordis pretends not to look but leaves a space for her eyes to peek out.

After dinner Jason's sister and her boyfriend came over and we had a nice time sitting outside, playing pool and playing poker. On Sunday, Jason's parents came to visit, then took the whole family out to a yummy dinner at Max & Erma's. We had our fill of tortilla soup and all four kids behaved, so I consider that a succesful dining experience.

On the way home we stopped at the splash pad for the kids to play. Dominic wasted no time and Xander did surprisingly well after running around the perimeter for awhile. Autumn enjoyed herself with some help from Sarah and Jordis stood on the edge looking pretty.

Autumn gets a little help from her mom

Looking pretty

Xan loves to jump in water

Dominic and Xander give it a joint effort

The week was full and lots of fun so this week we're cleaning and relaxing. We're had all the excitement we can handle for awhile.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Thus Far

Can you believe it's July already? Knock on wood we haven't had to put the air on as much as usual for this time of year, so that's been really nice. Yesterday it didn't even hit 70 degrees, so I was one happy girl.

We haven't really been doing too much lately. Xander's balloons are still on the back of his chair. Tomorrow is Trader Joe's day though, so perhaps he'll get a new one. Last time we were there we met an employee who's from New Orleans, so perhaps we'll chat with him. Xander was wearing an LSU shirt the last time we were there, so he stopped us to talk about it.

The kids seem to be enjoying summer so far. Last month we took them to my aunt and uncle's for a family cookout and they got to play with cousins. Neither of them were into the sprinkler but they loved the sandbox.

We've also gone on some family walks and the kids are enjoying their swing set.

A few Friday's ago I took the kids to the zoo and we met up with two of my friends and their little boys. We had a nice time and then ate lunch together before checking out the elephants and stopping for cotton candy on the way out. Not surprisingly, the cotton candy was a huge hit with the kids.

This guy was redecorating with some greenery and a carboard box.

Lunch! Xander's all about it.

This is Jordis with her prom date, Arjun. We've already set them up in the event either of them need a date in 16 years.

Nomey decided to walk, she was too big girl for the stroller, so Xander happily took her place.

Not to leave out Jason...he brought his woodworking tools up to the garage and spent some rare free moments building a shelf to display his stein collection in the basement. He gets the Budweiser Christmas stein each year and also has some random others in the mix. He doesn't have quite the fancy tools my grandpa used to own, but enough to do an awesome job, and it looks great on our graffiti wall in the basement. Jason really likes woodworking and is really good at it, so hopefully he can build his tool collection in the coming years.

It's kind of hard to tell from the picture but all the edges are routered, too. I think the next project may be a stool for Jordis so we can put the frame on her bed and she can still get in by herself, because she has to do EVERYTHING herself. The other night we asked the kids where they'd go if they could drive and she answered "the mall." We didn't even realize she knew what the mall was, but knowing her she'd drive there herself today if she could figure out how. Hopefully we can get through a few more summers before she starts hanging out there on a regular basis.

Hope you're all enjoying summer, whatever it is that's going on at your house.