Monday, July 30, 2007

NYC pictures

Here are some high

lights from our trip to New York. We visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as well as the UN. We were surprised to be let into the security council room. The highlight of our trip was seeing Avenue Q and The Color Purple. We were not even a block away from The Color Purple building, and a short walk away from Avenue Q.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A summer of movies

This summer, as usual, we tried to catch up on our movie watching. We both enjoy movies, but during the school year we never have time during the week and usually end up playing games on the weekends. So during the summer, when we don't have to get up at the ungodly hour of 5:15 AM, we can stay up later and watch movies. Here is what we have seen so far:
  • Harry Potter 5 (Benjamin saw it twice - once with us and once with Jeff)
  • Pirates 3
  • Shrek 3
  • Ratatouille
  • Night at the Museum (we rented this after visited the Museum in NYC)
  • The Terminal
  • The Fountain (Jeff's suggestion - we hated it)
  • Little Children (Karen's suggestion - Chris hated it)
  • Marie Antoinette (watching it tonight)

We have a little over two weeks before teachers go back to work. We're looking for suggestions of some good movies to watch. They have to be rentable, because then we can get them at the library. I just put Music and Lyrics and Dreamgirls on reserve. Any other recommendations??

Friday, July 27, 2007

The rest of our photos

Here is the link for our final batch of photos, all 215 of them! They include New York City, the Poconos, time with Cindi and kids, family reunion, and more.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pictures from Cindi's visit

Here are a few pictures from when Cindi and kids came to Allentown. We took them to Crystal Cave, which is still active. We were able to see stalagtites and stalagmites still being formed. Plus, it was 98 outside that dave and the cave stays in the 50's. Thought that was reason enough to visit. Note the one that looks like "jack frost". The kids really enjoyed it.

More pictures....

Continuation of pictures: Benjamin in the corn, looking a little scary, Alexander at camp with his counselors and friends, Benjamin and Jack with their counselor Ben, The Phantom Regiment, and the Reading Phillies ballpark, a AA baseball team.

Pictures from trip

The beginning of our pictures: Here is Jonathan washing his "car" while we washed the others. My cousin Becky, celebrating her graduation from high school and going on to Elizabethtown college. My cousing Pete with the boys. And finally, pictures of us playing in a cornfield. This was the first time for everyone but me. We used to play in the corn by Grandma's house, before they built houses all around there. It was quite an experience for them. As you can see, the corn was getting very tall. By the time we left, it was at least 10 feet high.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What we'll miss from Pennsylvania

  • Cool summer nights
  • Built in babysitters
  • Uncle Jeff
  • Soft grass in the backyard
  • Fresh garden veggies
  • Vanity Fair, the best outlet store ever!
  • No big hours projects we must do
  • Visiting friends and family

Why we're glad to be back in Florida

  • Flat places to run - not hill after hill after hill
  • The sun rises around 6:30 and sets at 8:30! Many of the places we visited had early sunrises and late sunsets.
  • No potholes
  • Predicatable, reliable access to the internet
  • Our mattress
  • Two bathrooms in our house
  • All Saints Lutheran Church
  • No gnats!! (of course, we do have to deal with fire ants)
  • Disney
  • Publix

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We're finally home!!

Well, we made it. Yesterday morning we left Allentown at about 5 AM (pretty impressive, huh?) and started the big drive. We went through PA, MD, WV, VA, NC, and ended in SC. We arrived around 4 PM, which was pretty good time considering our passengers. Went to Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, where our friend Shelly works. Shelly was one of the members when we ran the youth group years ago. (It was a bit startling to hear that she is now 29 years old...) She took us on a tour and we had lots of time to visit. Benjamin especially was thrilled that she has two large dogs. I, on the other hand, reacted to them after a little while.

Shelley arranged for us to stay in one of the Seminary's guest houses on campus. It was wonderful! Much more comfortable than a hotel and lots of room for the kids to play.

This morning we left around 8:45, and arrived back here at 4ish. Yea! Jonathan had fallen asleep in the car, and when I woke him up in the driveway, he said "you brought me where I wanted to go!" He spent the afternoon rediscovering all his toys, occasionally walking into the living room with a truck saying, "I remember this one!" Very cute.

We now have the huge task of unpacking and putting everthing away. To make things harder, we don't have a power cord to our laptop yet (left it in the hotel at NYC...waiting for the new one to arrive in the mail...dumb, dumb, dumb) and thus have limited computer access until the mail comes tomorrow.

That's okay, though, because three of us are still trying to finish the new Harry Potter book. We've been taking turns reading. We've all taken a vow of silence until everyone is done. I'm about 2/3 of the way through, hoping to finish up tomorrow or Thursday.

Once our computer is up and running, I'm going to post the remainder of the pictures. We have a ton, as you can imagine, so I'll put the highlights here. Tomorrow morning I also have to run over to the kids' school because they posted not one, but two openings on the hotline yesterday. Here's hoping!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

NYC, day 4

Day four was an incredible day. We started with a guided tour of the Gilder Lehrman Museum of American History They had a fascinating exhibit on slavery in New York. We saw actual documents from Susan B Anthony and others. For all the history teachers on our trip, it may have been the highlight. Afterwards, the two of us walked across central park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We rented headsets that describe many of the paintings and other objects in the museum. We were there for about 3 hours, and saw maybe 25% of the museum. It was overwhelming.

We took the subway back to the hotel, and as we emerged, it was pouring. I'm talking about pelting, horizontal rain. Since we were going back to change anyway, we started walking. I've never gotten so wet from rain in my entire life. Not a piece of clothing was left dry. Our shoes were sloshing with water. And by the time we had walked the 4 blocks back to the hotel, the rain had stopped and the sun was breaking through. This morning as we packed, all of those clothes were still damp.

After a forgettable dinner, we went to see The Color Purple starring Fantasia. We didn't watch that season of American Idol, but I wish we had. She was absolutely phenomenal. It may have been the best broadway show I've ever seen. The music, the story, the cast, everything was amazing. If you ever are in New York, it's a must see.

Today we have a guided tour of the Museum of Natural History, then we are going to meet Chris' friend Rob for lunch. Then it's back to Allentown. We have only spoken to the kids once since we've been here. I'm sure they are doing fine and probably don't miss us much. We'll spend the weekend doing laundry and packing before our long drive home!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Odds and Ends from NYC

Last night we had dinner at a small German pub, callled Loriley. They serve their beer in liters! Beka and Doug met us there, and we had a great time catching up. It was fun hearing about their adventures living in New York. Oh, to be young again!

We then walked down the street to the Bowery Ballroom to hear They Might Be Giants. The opening act was a strange guy called Corn Mo. I think he would be better suited to the comedy channel. Think of a cross between Meatloaf, Elton John, Queen, and They Might Be Giants, and you have a good idea of his style. TMBG finally took the stage at 10 PM and played for about an hour and a half. It was a fun concert, with a ton of energy from 5 guys who are probably older than us.

It took us awhile to get back by subway, which seemed a bit strange at the time. We just attributed it to slow late night subways. Turns out there was an explosion of steam around 6PM and all the subways are running slowly. That was about the time we sat down for dinner. We had been in the Empire State Building a few hours earlier. I'm glad we were down when the explosion happened. That would have been frightening. We probably would have run down 86 flights of stairs!

For all our Florida friends, it looks like we'll be returning late Tuesday night. We're going to do the drive in two days, leaving early Monday morning. We are ready to get home after almost six weeks away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NYC, day three

Right now I am sitting in Craig's office, which overlooks Macy's department store. This morning, we took a tour of Harlem. Much to our surprise, Harlem is now livable, and families have moved back into the area. Our local tour guide was quick to point out that this rejuvenation was happening before Bill Clinton set up his office in that area. She was a bit annoyed that the first question was not "where is the Apollo Theater" but "where is Bill Clinton's office?" She was quite talkative, offering us many personal anecdotes, but after three hours of that, we were ready to be on our own.

We took the express subway (what a great invention) down to the TKTS booth to try to snag tickets to an afternoon matinee. Unfortunately, all the shows we wanted to see were either sold out (Spring Awakening) or still too expensive even at half price (Mamma Mia). Instead, we walked down here to eat lunch with Craig and get some high-speed internet time.

Tonight we are meeting Beka Wedge and her fioncee Doug for dinner and then a They Might Be Giants concert.

Some additions from the past few days: Yesterday we visited the "bull" from Wall Street. It's a statue that suddenly appeared on Wall Street during the stock market plunge of 1987. It's now been relocated close to Battery Park. We were amused to see that it is anatomically correct. Some of our fellow teachers took some very interesting pictures... We're hoping they don't end up on myspace!!!

NYC Day two

Yesterday we took the subway down to Ellis Island and the Statue of liberty. Neither of us had ever been to Ellis Island, so it was very interesting. We could have spent hours there, but had only two. After lunch, we took a tour of the UN. Then we hoofed it over to 45th and broadway and meet our good friend Tom for a Japenese dinner. That evening was the much anticipated performance of Avenue Q, and it didn't disappoint. Watching puppet sex is an experience unlike any other. Today it's pouring and we don't have an umbrella. Good thing we're taking the bus!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NYC at a glance

Very quick update...we're in New York, staying in a hotel at Broadway and 52nd street. Yesterday we went to Wall Street and Ground Zero, and finished with a huge Italian dinner. Today we are going to Ellis Island, Liberty Island, and the UN. We got tickets to see Avenue Q tonight, and can't wait. Internet access is spotty, we hope to update tonight.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bear Creek Camp, part two, as dictated by Benjamin

On Wednesday morning, we woke up on our tarp and had breakfast, which was dry frosted flakes. I probably had ten handfuls. Once we had our food, we put our gear in our backpacks, put our backpacks on our shoulders, and started hiking back. My backpack had to have the compost in it. It was a lot heavier. Luckily, the hike back only took us about 15-20 minutes. Our counselors were very proud of us.

When we got back, we unpacked. I put my sleeping bag back onto my bed, brushed my teeth, and then went outside to play "man from mars." That was what try-camp was playing, so we decided to join in.

We went on a nature hike that afternoon. We hiked all the way to a stream. There, we took out nets and caught critters like crayfish, water striders, and land beetles. We even caught a BIG spider. I thought that was one of my favorite parts. We hiked back and then went to general swim. After general swim, we had rest hour, which I did not like that much. The only reason I laid down was that there was a surprise coming up, or, so the counselors said. But I did trust them. What they said was true.

After rest hour, we went rock climbing. That was VERY fun. Basically what happens is you put on a harness which goes around your waist and a helmet. To keep you safe, there are six people on a belay team. They are hooked up on the rope on which you are hooked up to by your harness. If you slip, then their weight will be more than yours and you will just hang there. If they walk in, then you will lower. If they walk out, then you will get higher. My cousin, Jack, reached the top and kissed the red pole that was there. I don't know why, but the counselor said it was good luck. Jack was the only camper to do that.

After rock climbing, we ate dinner. Tonight was lasagna night. Yum. And, as usual, we went to canteen. We went to sleep after that.

On Thursday, we woke up at the bell, and ate breakfast as normal. Then we went to A and C, or, arts and crafts. There we made pet rocks. All we did was we went out side, got a rock of any size (just not a pebble) and then we painted it to look like a pet. Mine was not that big.

After lunch and dinner there was a dance. All of the girls were very, very very excited about it. The boys were not so sure. But, it did turn out to be fun. They played good music to dance to, and it even rained. They played the song called "no rain" and everyone danced outside. That was my favorite part. From then on, everyone was wet. Me and my group, as juniors, were the first ones to leave. Even after reading some of The Twits, we could still hear the dance going on, which wasn't very good for going to sleep.

After breakfast the next day, we went out to the upper A. There we played fun games with Ashley, who was in charge of the juniors. After lunch and dinner that night, we went to bonfire. There we sang fun, fun songs. It was basically like the day we got there, except it was the last full day. They had a very big fire that day. Probably because it wasn't windy.

The next morning was the day when we would go home. We woke up, had breakfast, played a little of man from mars, and then our parents came. We sang Pharoh, pharoh for them, and we saw some pictures that were taken from camp. That was all of my third time going to Bear Creek Camp. I am definitely going to go back next year.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter 5

This afternoon, we took Benjamin to see Harry Potter 5. It's rated PG-13, but he's read the book over and over so we figured it would be okay. The movie was great! He loved it and it wasn't too intense. I like watching the actors grow into their roles. Now Harry is the shortest of his friends. They cast well, too. I especially liked the woman who played Delores Umbridge. Now we have to re-read the 6th book in preparation for number seven, due out next week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bear Creek Camp as dictated by Benjamin

Last week I went to Bear Creek Camp. It is a camp in Bear Creek, Pennsylvania. You go there and sleep away for a week or two weeks if you're in high school. It is a camp consisting of four cabins, ten tents, and hundreds of acres of woodland. The first night when I got there, when everyone was there, we took a tour of the camp. We went to places like the lake, the tetherball court, and the upper A. After dinner, which takes place in one of the cabins, the counselors did skits for us. We also sang songs in between skits. I had no trouble at all getting to sleep that night.

The second day we woke up when the first bell rang. The first bell is one ring, the second bell is two. The first bell means wake up. The second bell means get out of bed. And the third bell, which is one ring also, says "time for breakfast." For breakfast that morning we had bagels, eggs, and pancakes. We went to swim at the lake after that. We had our swim test and then played a game. The water was very cold. We then went to the upper ashley and then played some games. They included Darling if you love me (a game I did not really like), Man from Mars, and The boat game. We then went to lunch, where we had sloppy joes and tater tots. That was one of my favorite meals. After lunch, we had general swim. That happened every day. It lasts two hours, and you are able to go either boating, swimming, or lie on the beach. After general swim comes rest hour. That is probably my least favorite time of day. It is just what it sounds like it is. You rest for an hour.

We then ate dinner. After dinner, you have to clean up, obviously. So, how that goes is, counselors decide on a game. Tonights game is freeze. All you do is the counselor yells, "Freeze!" and you do exactly that, you freeze. Three people that move after the counselor yells freeze are the cleaner-uppers. They divide three chores among themselves. One person does the cups, by dumping the drink into the compost bucket and them putting them in a rack. Another person does the silverware and that job works like this: you take the silverware off of peoples plates and then you simply sort them into a bin. One part of the bin is for forks, one is for spoons, and so on. My least favorite job is scraping. That is when you take the plates, you use a fork to scrape off all of the leftover food into the compost bin. I think now you can understand why it is my least favorite job.

After dinner every night we go to canteen. That is my favorite part of the day. When you go to canteen, the counselors give out canteen cards. The cards are divided into ten sections, and each of them say 65 cents. You go up to the counter of the canteen and then a counselor tells you what is there. It's candy or soda. Some candies included Twix, Twizzlers, Skittles, and Reese's. Sodas were things like Canada Dry and RC. In my time at the canteen, I either got Twix or Skittles.

The next day was Tuesday, our overnight day. Our overnight is where we hike into the woods about half a mile and then camp out. The only bad thing is, on the hike you carry about a 35 pound backpack that has stuff that you'll need for the campout like flashlights, sleeping bags, and food. We left for this around midday, and got to our camping place around one. We ate lunch there. After we ate, our counselors made a fire. It wasn't a bad one, either. For dinner, we had lazy lasagne. That is where you boil noodles over the fire, put in some cheese and spaghetti sauce, and then eat. It's very good. Jack, my cousin, ate about four bowls. We slept on a bed of ferns. Basically, what we did was put a tarp down and then put our sleeping bags down. We laid down on a bed of ferns, and went to sleep. That was a very fun night.

To be continued....(typist's fingers are falling off...)

Monday, July 9, 2007

A weekend with family

We spent the last three days with family. On Friday evening, Liz and Craig arrived, along with a basket of games. We spent the evening playing a fairly new game, Octiles. The next morning, we drove to camp to pick up Benjamin. I'll let him blog some other time about that. Needless to say, he had a great time.

That afternoon, we taught Liz and Dad to play four square. We played for almost two hours. We were trying to figure out how many Weight Watchers "activity points" we earned (maybe two???) We grilled brats for dinner and went to a DCI competition that night. Now, I didn't know what DCI was, but it turns out to be semi-professional marching bands with awesome flag corps. We took Benjamin and Alexander along and left Jonathan at home with Gram and Uncle Jeff. It was awesome! (except for the price - $20 per ticket with no discount for kids) We saw bands that Craig and Chris used to watch at home with Dad - their favorite being the Phantom Regimen. Liz had never seen marching bands, and she enjoyed it. Craig, Dad, and I all were in marching bands in high school, so it brought back good memories

Yesterday, after we went to church (and of course Perkins), Cindi came with her three kids. We drove over to Wehr's dam for a good time splashing in the water, throwing stones, and playing on the playground. Chris left to go to the Rush concert - friends in New Jersey just happened to have an extra ticket - and Cindi and I wasted two hours after the kids fell asleep watching The 40 Year Old Virgin. Admittedly, it was funny, but I won't bother to see it again.

Today it was horribly hot. It was forecast to hit 97, and at one point our van thermometer said 99!! In light of the weather, we opted for indoor activities, so we started with Ratatouille (really cute, more for older kids and adults) and then drove to Crystal Cave. This was very different from Mammoth Cave. It was much smaller, and filed with stalagtites and stalagmites. We had a very enjoyable tour that lasted an hour. Cindi then went on her way back to Lewisburg, and we are now in Allentown again. Tomorrow it is going to be 98, so we'll be looking for indoor/water activities. It's hotter here than in Florida!!!

Friday, July 6, 2007

-est things we saw on our trip so far

Longest cave: Mammoth Cave
Widest bridge: Lockport, NY
Biggest falls: Niagara Falls
Cheapest Gas: Allentown, $2.87
Hottest Day: Toronto, believe it or not
Wettest Day: July 4th, Allentown
Biggest Zoo: Toronto Zoo
Quietest front porch: The Emquist's house in Rice Lake, WI
Tallest Lift Bridge: Duluth, MN
Cutest baby: Liesl!!!!
Latest sleeper: My brother Jeff
Freshest food: potatoes, beans, peas, and sugar peas out of mom's garden
Coldest weather: Duluth, MN

Hanging out in Allentown

Now that we're back from the Poconos, we've been relaxing here in Allentown. On the fourth, we had a get-together here. Chris, Emily, and Katrina Duque came on their way home from Bear Creek, as did George & Martha, Bob & Denise, Becky, Matt & Erin, Pete, and all of the Schaeffers. We grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and finished off with smores. The kids played outside until the rain came. This was the first time we have seen a full day of rain since we began our trip. That night, we were treated to thunderstorms instead of fireworks.

Last night Chris and I finally saw the third Pirates movie. Yea! We enjoyed it, but I don't think I need to see it again. Today we went to the farmer's market and a local park. The farmer's market is great - it has the typical fruits and vegetables, plus meat, seafood, and lots of other foods, most fresh from the farm. If we lived here, we could do weekly shopping here. It's indoors, and they even have shopping carts for all of your purchases. The fruit is a bit more expensive than in Daytona. But here they are just really beginning their season, whereas it is about over in Florida. We sure timed that right. Tonight we are having sugar peas and string beans fresh out of the garden.

Craig and Liz are coming later tonight and staying through Sunday; Cindi and kids arrive here Sunday and stay through Tuesday. It will be a busy, exciting weekend - a bit different than the last two days where we were able to sit around and actually read a novel!!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bear Creek Camp as dictated by Alexander

I went to Bear Creek Camp yesterday. It was really fun. I was kind of homesick, but I still liked it. I swam in the lake. It was a cold day, but the water was warm. We played lots of games. We hiked up to a cookout, and we cooked macaroni and cheese above a fire. And I also made smores. There were 15 people in my group, including the counselors. We went to arts and crafts. We painted rocks. I will go back next year for a week. This year I went for half a week.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Our anniversary trip

We have had a lovely time here in Hawley. Settler's Inn has served us wonderful breakfasts. Check out this link to see our room:

Yesterday we spent the day walking around the town, browsing the shops (including a candy store!) We also went to Lake Wallenpaupack, a manmade lake. It was created in 1927 in order to make hydroelectric power. We also ran 5 miles, all of which seemed uphill.; When we get back to Florida, running will be easy!

Today we hiked a 3 mile trail. We looked for wildlife, and found lots of birds and a few chipmunks. We also walked around a different area of town for over an hour. It's not that big a town, but it is spread out.

What is most notable about today, however, is that we went HORSEBACK RIDING! This is a first for me. As you may know, I'm not much of an animal lover, so this was a big step. We really enjoyed ourselves, guiding our horses through the woods. We were even able to trot for a stretch. Chris has a sore butt, but he doesn't have much padding to protect it!

Tomorrow morning we pick up Alexander from camp. I'm excited to hear what he did. Hopefully he had a wonderful time and will be ready to go back again next year.

One other note - I added some more pictures to the photo link below. Now there really are Niagara pictures, plus more from PA.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Toronto Pictures

Click on this link to visit snapfish to see the next 80 pictures from our trip. Most of the pictures are from Toronto, and a few are traveling to Toronto.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Niagara Falls pictures

Pictures: Alexander looking at the Maid of the Mist, which we rode. Alexander and Benjamin with their first glimpse of the falls. Jonathan on Three Sisters Island, Our kids with the Seiler kids (Mason, Kay, and Anna), and a boat going through a lock on the Erie Canal. We took almost 100 pictures at the falls, but narrowed it down to these. It's such an incredible sight. We're glad we did it last, because everything else would pale in comparison.

Bear Creek Camp

After attending church this morning, we drove Benjamin and Alexander to camp! Alexander is staying for 3 days, and Benjamin is staying for the whole week. They both were excited. Benjamin is in the same cabin as his cousin Jack (hoping that will work!) and Alexander is in a group with his friend Emily. They both said goodbye easily and got right to meeting their new friends. We were especially proud of Alexander, who shed no tears!!!! What progress he's made in the past year.

Chris and I are staying at a quaint bed and breakfast called Settlers Inn in Hawley, PA. It's a sleepy town right by a big lake. We'll be here until we need to return to Bear Creek to pick up Alexander. We may try to canoe or tube down the Delware River. Or we may just stroll around the town, checking out the small shops. Definitely a quiet place to relax and celebrate our 15th anniversary, which is on Wednesday, July 4th.