Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NYC....There's Something About You!

This year we have debated back and forth about what to do for our family vacation. We thought about several options like going to California or Florida or just Myrtle Beach. But Laura and Lindy went on a mission trip several years ago to Boston where they even got to sing with our youth choir at a Red Sox game and they fell in love with it. So, since Steve and I have never been there, they really wanted us to go together so we could see it and they could show us what they loved about it. So that is what we decided to do this year. We would go to New York City, then go to Hyannis Port and Cape Cod, and then end up in Boston for the Fourth of July!

Yesterday we left bright and early from Charlotte and drove most of the day and finally got to New York about 6:00 last night. (We wish Ashley could have come with us, but she and John are house and dog sitting for us!) We are staying outside the city, but we decided to drive in and get some dinner. I don't know why I love New York so much, but it is just one of the most fun places on earth to me. You can not possibly be bored in NYC. There is so much energy and excitement here and I never get tired of it!

Anyway...last night we ate dinner at Heartland Brewery right in Times Square.


We were pretty tired, but dinner was delicious and we also had fun strolling around Times Square for a little while and getting some M&M's at the M&M store.


This morning we rode the train back in and, of course, we had to find a good bagel place! I wish I knew the name of it, but I didn't even look. We just saw a little bagel place that looked good and we stopped there. I got my favorite everything bagel with veggie cream cheese! Yummm!


After our bagels, we went to Rockefeller Center.






We were too late to go to the Today show this time, but we did see a giant Lego creation they were making of the Big Apple!


After that we took the subway to SoHo.


It is a little different going to New York with Steve and Mark. When my girls and I go on our trips together, we all love to shop and could browse the stores on Canal Street and in SoHo all day. But the guys aren't that into shopping, so we didn't do as much of that today.


We did go to the Scholastic Store though. If you are a teacher, you know how wonderful Scholastic stuff is so I always love going to that store. And Mark, Laura, and Lindy had fun trying on all the Harry Potter clothes they had there!






We also got some coffee and smoothies at a place called, "Cafe,Cafe" that we thought was really good! I love all the local restaurants and cafes in New York. Each one is unique and it's fun trying new things that you can't get anywhere else.


From SoHo, we took the subway to Greenwich Village. Bleeker Street has so many interesting stores and shops that are fun to browse. We got pizza there at Bleeker Street Pizza. It has been named the "Best Pizza in New York" by the Food Network and we all agreed it was some of the best pizza we had ever eaten!

This afternoon we went walking in Central Park. This day was absolutely gorgeous. I think the temperature was in the 70's and the air wasn't humid at all. That is such a big change from what it was like in Charlotte when we left!! So we had a nice day just enjoying being outside and watching people and walking. I could be entertained for hours with people watching and New York is the best city ever for that!






I will say that it seemed like we walked about a million miles and my legs are going to be so sore tomorrow! Mark even carried Lindy piggy back for a while!


Tonight we had dinner at an Italian place called Nonna's that we had heard was really good. I got eggplant parmesan and it was so good. I loved it!


We are all pretty tired. I bet we will all sleep great tonight! haha Tomorrow we are leaving for Hyannis Port. I have never been there, so I am looking forward to it!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Saturday

One of the best things about the summer to me is all the fresh vegetables that are in season. I think vine-ripe, homegrown tomatoes are probably one of my favorite things in the world! They are something completely different than what you get in a grocery store. I don't think they taste alike at all really. And, unfortunately, you can only get the good kind of tomatoes during the summer from someone's garden. So...today when I woke up, I was really wanting to get some of those yummy tomatoes and a few other things that I love like corn on the cob and some peaches. So Steve and I picked up Ashley and headed to the North Carolina Regional Farmer's Market. I had never been there before and had heard alot about it. It was so much fun and it had every delicious thing you could think of there!


Here is Ashley with the flowers we bought...


I got some corn and tomatoes and blackberries that were HUGE!!


I made a BLT for lunch and tomorrow I think I am going to make a homemade blackberry pie.

This afternoon the heat continued, so we decided to go to the pool for a few hours. It was fun, but seriously we had to pretty much get in every five minutes just to be able to take the heat!


Tonight we got to do something really special. My youth pastor from high school, Ken Dibble, was in town, so we went over to my brother's house for kind of a reunion/cookout. Here I am with my brother, Blake...


Ken was even in our wedding, but we haven't seen him in probably 25 years!


Here he is with Blake and Angie...


He was such a good youth pastor for us and played a big role in our lives. He was really young at the time and he would play basketball with the guys and come eat lunch at school with us and he just took a lot of time to talk to us and be a good role model for us. So tonight was really fun! Our youth group was really big, but this get-together was kind of last minute, so only a few of us could come.


While we were talking and hanging out, we had the South Carolina vs. Clemson baseball game on because if USC won tonight, they got to go to the College World Series. And they won!!! Woohoo!! We are pretty excited at our house! Go Gamecocks!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heatwave

So...it has literally been almost 100 degrees here today and I think with the heat index, it was! This past week has been extremely hot. Today my little nieces, Bailey and Brooklyn came over for a little while. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a baby pool for them to play in. Bailey loved it...


but Brooklyn wasn't as excited about it. She preferred to stay on the deck and eat goldfish!


Once they left, it was so hot that I decided I needed to put my bathing suit on and go get in that baby pool myself! So I took my magazines and a drink and I actually stayed in the pool for over an hour just relaxing and enjoying not being hot! :) I think I will be doing that often! Rocky even got in there with me and he loved it too. He LOVES water. I could keep him entertained all day with the hose! Look how hight he will jump just to get in the water!! He is a crazy dog. haha


I am loving summer. I think I am still trying to catch up on my rest though. I don't know if it's the heat or just that I was so tired from the end of the year or what, but I have been taking naps every day and sleeping late, too! I feel a little bit guilty about all that sleeping, but I know I better enjoy it while I can.

And I haven't watched this much TV in I don't know HOW long!! Yesterday I was watching Oprah and I saw the little girl that I blogged about here.


Have you ever seen her?? Her name is Charice and she is from the Philippines and let me tell you...that little girl can sing like crazy!! Plus she is adorable. I just heard she has been signed on to the cast of Glee! Glee is going to be so good with her on it and John Stamos, too! I love that show.

Another show I am excited about watching is Boston Med. Have you seen the previews for it? It is a real life hospital and it follows the lives of the doctors and nurses that work there. It kind of reminds me of a show called Hopkins that came on a few years ago that was really good. I love stuff like that, so I know I will enjoy watching it. I already have my TiVo programmed to record it.

Another good thing about summer...I can watch lots of TV and get caught up on everything I have been missing out on all year!! Yay for summer!

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day Of Summer

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE summer??? Oh my word...it is the BEST season ever to me! Three of the best things about being a teacher really are June, July, and August! I am almost giddy about it. haha

We had a wonderful trip to Florida. The last day we were there, we rented chairs and really big umbrellas on the beach. It was pretty much heaven. The water felt perfect and those umbrellas kept us nice and cool. It was a beautiful and relaxing day.


But....we had a very loooonnngg trip home. The trip home always seems longer, don't you think? I was so glad to be back and see Steve and Mark and just enjoy being at home.

Yesterday we went to church, then went to lunch with Ashley and John. It was Father's Day so we also went to dinner last night with my parents and Steve's parents to celebrate. We are both very blessed with wonderful fathers. They are both godly men and role models for their children and grandchildren. And I am blessed with such a sweet, hard working, loving, and giving husband. My kids all think he is the BEST dad in the world and I happen to agree! :) Here is a picture of my kids with Steve and both of their grandfathers.


Today was the first day of summer and I loved every minute of it! I am still not used to sleeping late since I get up so early every day during the year. To me, sleeping late means sleeping till about 7:00!

By 9:30 this morning, I had already put in some laundry, cleaned out the fridge, gone grocery shopping, made pasta salad, and gone for a walk! I think the thing I love most is having the whole day to get done whatever I need to do and whatever I want to do! I even got to take a nap this afternoon. Rocky and I slept for about an hour and it was great. He loves sleeping next to me!

Tonight we grilled hamburgers for dinner and had corn on the cob to go with it. I wish corn on the cob was this good all year round. Corn, watermelon, and tomatoes are just so delicious at this time of year! I planted a tomato plant on my deck a while ago and I can't wait for those homegrown tomatoes to start growing soon!

So...my first day of summer was really good. And tomorrow is another day just like this one. I have nothing specific on the agenda and that's the way I like it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Florida

Greetings from sunny Florida! Before school got out, my girls and I decided to take a much needed vacation to somewhere tropical and beachy. It has been a long year and I think Ashley and I especially needed to rest and relax and celebrate school being out. I have been so looking forward to it!! So we drove all day on Tuesday and finally got here Tuesday night around 7:00. It was a long day, but it was worth it! Steve's brother, Mike, lives here and he is always so sweet to let everybody come stay with him whenever we want to! When we got here, he made us some fajitas on the grill for dinner. He knows what we like! :)

Of course, one of our favorite things to do here is go to the beach, so that is what we did most of the day yesterday. We just load everything up and pack a cooler with drinks and sandwiches and take a quilt, towels, and umbrellas and make ourselves at home for the day.

It was blazing hot here yesterday. I think the heat index was like 104 degrees or something, but the water felt so good and we had so much fun just being lazy.


After we left there, we headed over to the pool for the rest of the afternoon...


After spending the whole day in the sun, we decided to go get Thai food for dinner and do a little shopping at City Place. Here we are right before we left...


Ashley and Laura about to eat some yummy Thai food...


City Place is so pretty at night. We love it there...


This morning Ashley and I got up and went to the Farmer's Market. It is really interesting because they have so many things that we have never seen before! We had the best time browsing around looking at everything. Plus I got some fresh pineapple and some beautiful, homegrown tomatoes!

These are cactus leaves. I have no idea what people use these for??


And aren't these baby bananas cute? haha


If I lived here, I would go here all the time! Everything looks so fresh and yummy!


Today we decided to just hang out at the pool and read magazines and swim and be lazy.


This afternoon we came home for a little while and took naps and read and watched Food Network and just layed around for an hour or so before we started getting ready to go out to dinner. We went to one of our favorite places here...Rocco's Tacos. If you have read my blog for very long, you might remember that we saw Kelly Ripa here last year! Anyway...they have the BEST guacamole ever and we got fish tacos too. Yummmm!




After dinner, we walked down to where a band was playing '50s music. Everybody had their lawn chairs and blankets spread out and people were dancing and enjoying the beautiful night.


There is also a big fountain there that kids love to play in. We took our kids there every year when they were little and it's so cute to watch! Mike and his girlfriend met us down there and we had fun listening to the music and walking out on the new boardwalk was just built out on the water.





We have been having so much fun but time is flying and tomorrow is our last day! We are planning to go to Delray Beach. I will fill you in on everything later! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

School's Out For Summer!

I finally made it through last week of school! Yay! I gave lots of hugs and we had our end of the year party and I waved all the kids off as they all drove away on their buses. I was a little sad for a minute, but I did okay. I think the week just seemed long because I was trying to move out of my room and say goodbye to everyone and it was sooooo HOT!! Everything combined seemed very tiring and I was really glad when I finally moved the final box into my car and I was handing over my keys for the last time. When I drove away from school last Friday afternoon, I was more relieved than sad. I loved working at that school, but I am looking forward to a new start and a new chapter in my life next fall!

Meanwhile, I intend to soak up every minute of summer fun! I started working on that on Friday night. My team got together at Jacki's house. She is our grade level chair and she just bought a gorgeous home near the lake. This is Jacki on the left with another teacher friend of mine, Sarah...


I just have the best team ever and I sure will miss working with them. We all get along really well and have the best time together. They were so sweet to get me a gift card and they also made me a platter at a pottery painting place called Dish-It-Out. It had all of our names on it...


and on the back, it said, "A Team Forever".


I love it! We were out very late at Jacki's house just laughing and talking and dancing and celebrating our last day of school. I know even though I won't be working with them anymore, we will all still get together and we will always be friends.




>


Saturday we went to a cookout for a couple who used to be in our Sunday School class who are having a baby. I am so excited for them and God has answered so many of their prayers. It was good to see them so happy.

Saturday night we had John and Ashley over along with Lindy's boyfriend, Sean. Have I ever shown you a picture of him?? Here is a picture of him with Lindy...


Laura is still on her mission trip to San Diego. You can read all about it here.

Anyway...I grilled chicken and made garlic mashed potatoes and salad and squash casserole. And Ashley brought over a couscous salad that she had seen Paula Deen make. Well, I fell in love with that salad and I even made it again today! I love salads in the summer and thought you might, too, so here is the recipe if you are interested!


Tracie's Couscous Salad

Ingredients
1 box flavored couscous (garlic or Parmesan), cooked
1 can chickpeas
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 3 limes, juiced
Directions
In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients with the olive oil and lime juice, to taste.



We played a little ladder ball and Catch Phrase and watched the Braves and Lindy and Ashley made peach milkshakes for dessert.

Today was church and then Ashley and I hung out at the pool this afternoon. One of the best things about summer is Sunday nights. Just knowing I don't have to get up the next day makes me so happy!

Laura is coming home tomorrow and we are washing her clothes and packing up again because all of us girls are all leaving bright and early Tuesday morning for Florida! That is one of our favorite places to go and we are all looking forward to it. I wish Steve and Mark could go, but Mark is taking a Spanish class to try and get ready for his trip to Spain and Steve has to work.

So...that is what we've been up to lately...just enjoying summer!! Hope you are too!