A Magical Week in New York City... Day Two (Central Park and NEWSIES!)

A Magical Week in New York City... Day Two (Central Park and NEWSIES!)

After a very full first day in NYC, we headed out on Wednesday for day two with a full itinerary (courtesy of Brook's phone) to follow.

I couldn't resist taking this picture... it felt like a "Captain Planet" moment on the subway. I'm also sad we didn't get a group picture that morning since we were all wearing stripes. =)

 Our first stop was H&H Bagels (recommended by our personal travel agent, Ron Davis =) and it was really good. They had just about every type of bagel and spread imaginable, and it was a nice place to start the morning. (Travel observation: New York City, while magical, is decidedly unconcerned about its visitors' need to go to the restroom. I feel like half the "exploring" we did was searching for places with public restrooms. Starbucks? Hit or miss. Crate & Barrel? Surprisingly, yes!) 

Herb and Garlic Spread- yummo!

Then we headed down to Central Park, where I could have easily spent the entire day. It is so pretty and there's so much to see (I didn't even put a dent in my list of statues/monuments) but we were in a bit of a hurry since we had to go back to the hotel that afternoon. 

We had planned to rent bikes to ride around Central Park from a place called CitiBike. But the first location we tried wouldn't accept our credit cards so the process took a little longer than we anticipated. Also unanticipated? The SUPER creepy guy who was offering us his "own" bike rental service and absolutely would not take no for an answer. (How many ways can you say, "No, thank you"? I'm pretty sure we exhausted the possibilities!) Like, literally, he stood right behind us for a good five minutes and then continued to follow us down the street! Creeper! That part of the day was a little disconcerting, to say the least. I'm pretty sure I was looking back over my shoulder all the way across the park. (Yes, I'm paranoid... and once I saw an episode of Diagnosis Murder where a group of criminals were killing people for their vital organs. Um, no thank you. I need my liver.) 

Anyway, Jonathan and I ended up riding around for about thirty minutes and along the way, stumbled upon William Shakespeare's statue (it was his birthday... irony!) and happened upon a sweet jazz quartet that I could have listened to all day. They stopped a few times to sing some old (jazzed-up) gospel songs and it was delightful. 

Finally on our bikes and headed into Central Park (and those poor people behind us were getting harassed by more bike-peddlers.... no pun intended.) 

These guys were the bomb! 

After our bike ride we set off on foot and walked down Author's Row (or the Literary Walk.) Jonathan downloaded an audio tour given by Jerry Seinfeld (ha!) who entertained us as we walked past Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and other famous writers. 

Yes, I sang "That's How You Know" from Enchanted. =)

We only had a little time left before it would be time to head back to get ready for dinner and our show (NEWSIES!!!) but we still needed to eat so we headed back towards Times Square. 

Our first time in Times Square for the week!

Only my favorite place in the world... oh, man. Just walking in and smelling it put me RIGHT back in Santa Clara. I love Jamba!

Happy with my Aloha Pineapple! =)

We REALLY wanted to see Aladdin but it's sold out through, like, forever, so taking a picture had to suffice. (Did you know it's up for a Tony Award for best musical?)

So, after getting our first look around Times Square and full of delicious smoothies, we headed back to our hotel (alllll the way back down the subway... seriously, Times Square and Flushing were the first and last stops on the 7 train) and cleaned up for our night out. We knew we wanted one good (aka expensive =) meal in NYC and we decided on Bobby Flay's Bar Americain. I was skeptical because I am cheapskate and I'd much rather skimp on food that anything but it was very, very good. 

My handsome date =)

Our very concerned and eerily calm waiter was happy to take our picture. =) (For real, he seemed like the type of guy who could face gunpoint without blinking.) 

Jonathan got lobster (which I didn't care for, but then I'm not really a lobster fan), I had possibly the best fried chicken I've ever had in my life, Blake had lamb (I'll take his word for it that it was good) and Brook had shrimp and grits which she said were good. We all raved about the fries, though, because they came with some kind of Bobby Flay signature mayonnaise that had other spices mixed in. It was heavenly, and I'm not a big mayo eater. Overall, it was fun to eat somewhere fancy and have a waiter that seemed genuinely happy to be serving us (unlike, well... almost every other restaurant ever.)

We got done eating before we thought we would (they asked if we were seeing a show and then made it a point to get us out fairly quickly, which was nice) so we killed about twenty minutes at Starbucks. And then, it was time. Time to head over to 41st Street to the Nederlander Theatre, time to stand in line, time to anxiously await the curtain to go up. Little did I know what I was about to experience.


There's really no way to explain just how much I loved this production without sounding like a crazy person, so I guess I shouldn't try. (Here I go, trying.) This is a phenomenal, mind-blowingly awesome show whether you're familiar with the story or not, but since I grew up watching the movie, it was extra-special to me. I promise, from the moment the curtain went up to the end of the first act, I was leaned forward in my seat with my eyes bugged out and I'm pretty sure I didn't take a full breath until the intermission. (I also teared up multiple times... tears of pure joy.)

 I just recently bought Newsies on DVD and had introduced Blake and Brook to it (just for the show, of course) and even purchased the soundtrack so it's been in my head lately... but nothing could have prepared me for how much I loved this show. The acting, singing, dancing, sets... MAN, it was just so good, and as always when I see a Broadway production, I get super dissatisfied with my life and want nothing more than to be on the stage. (Then I remember how I have to hold a microphone with two hands to keep it from shaking and come crashing back, but still.) Also, Corey Cott, who plays the lead Jack Kelly, is a Christian and it was super cool to see a believer (a devout one, not just someone who thanks God in the playbill =) as  a star on Broadway who has a pretty huge platform to share his faith. (Can you tell I'm a big fan?)

Right before the magic began...I love these people!

It really was one of the best nights of my life... I know that sounds dramatic, but I don't even care. It really was that good, and you better believe I'll be seeing in whatever nearby city I can when the tour begins this fall. I've been singing and playing the songs constantly since then (because I have a problem in that I become consumed by new shows and movies and music I love... remember?) I do feel justified with Newsies, though, because it was truly so fantastic that I feel that every bit of love in my heart is deserved. (After the show I could.not.stop. smiling. I told Jonathan, "I may never come down from this," and it really did take a few days. Wait, am I over it yet? Nope.) 

I could go on (and on and on and on) but I won't. We walked to Serendipity (yes, like the movie) for dessert... and what a dessert! 

I have to admit that even a cereal-bowl-sized frozen hot chocolate and humongous hot fudge sundae were a bit of a step down from what we had just experienced, which should indicate just how great the show was.

So, that second day was a totally amazing experience... ending with a magical night that I'll never, ever forget (and that I wish I could relive... oh, once a week or so. Although I might have to cut back on the sundaes.) 

Stay tuned for the rest of the trip! I'm loving the chance to share it with you guys and relive all these glorious-and not so glorious, Mr. Bike Harasser- memories! =)


A Magical Week in New York City: Getting There and Day One

A Magical Week in New York City: Getting There and Day One

I'm not sure where to begin talking about this trip, because it was so amazing and I feel like writing it all down might really mean it's over, and I enjoy living in denial believing that maybe it's just a dream and I'll wake up and find myself back in the city. But, I know that's impossible (*sigh*) so here goes.

I went to New York City for a very quick trip in college, but it was really rushed and while I loved everything about it (including seeing Wicked at the Gershwin!), there just wasn't time to savor the entire experience. Ever since that trip, though, I've had the "bug" and have been determined to go back. We've always talked about getting up there, but it wasn't until around January of this year that we really started to look into it in earnest. 

We checked hotels and prices and all that and ended up getting such amazing deals on airline tickets (thank you, Southwest!) that it seemed crazy not to go. And then, to make it even better, we asked our best friends if they wanted to come (duh!) and to see about whether they could swing the tickets too (they could!). So what began as a fanciful, "someday" idea of a trip became a reality and we spent the next few months obsessing over what we would do and eat, where we'd shop, etc. (Oh, and the icing on the cake was buying tickets to see Newsies, which I'll gush about for several paragraphs later.) 

Anyway, last week we headed to Goldsboro, spent Monday celebrating my birthday (25... ancient!) and then slept fitfully (aka not at all) for a few hours that night before getting up at zero dark thirty to be at the airport for our flight at 6:05 A.M. After a relatively hassle-free security experience (luckily for Blake and his fear of scanners), we grabbed some breakfast (lemon pound from Starbucks for me... don't judge!) and then impatiently sat through our first flight to Nashville, where we had a mercifully short layover (didn't even change planes!) and then arrived at La Guardia around 10:00. (Travel observation: SkyMall magazine is simultaneously the dumbest stuff I've ever seen and strangely intriguing... "Why, yes, I DO need a built-to-scale garden T-rex statue! Also, a travel vest with 37 pockets to discreetly store all my important documents!") 

On our way!

Whew... all that and we just arrived? Oh, well; let's continue.

So, we arrived at La Guardia and waited for our bags and then hopped on the van from our hotel. Our driver was super nice and told us all about the area. He grew up Queens (where we were staying) so that was pretty cool. He probably could have told us more but since we were all a little in awe of our surroundings (and exhausted) (random observation: how in the world do graffiti artists paint on the sides of those skyscrapers? I must know!) we mostly just let him do the talking (and the blaring rap station filled in any awkward silence.) We dropped our bags off at the hotel and noticed immediately that things had a certain ethnic flavor, but it wasn't until we hit the streets to start exploring that we realized exactly what was going on.

Unlike "The Nanny" would lead you to believe, Flushing, Queens, is not a Jewish neighborhood. We were staying in the middle of what literally felt like Beijing, China. EVERYONE was Chinese, all the food was Chinese, all the signs were written in Chinese (or Mandarin? There's no way I can know for sure!). It was quite an experience, walking down the street where every single person is speaking a different language than yours. 

A shot of "our" neighborhood that doesn't even come close to doing it justice. That Popeye's, a Burger King, and a McDonald's were the only familiar restaurants on Main Street! (Although, surprisingly, the McDonald's had the best sweet I've ever had.) 

Anyway, we got out ready to start the day, but we didn't really have an idea of where to eat lunch, so we started walking Main Street and discovered, like I said, that EVERYTHING was Chinese. We actually saw a sign that said "Food Court" at a "Mall" but we rode down the escalator to find more... you guessed it... Chinese food with menus written entirely in Chinese (or Mandarin... I've heard it both ways.) So, yeah... we had to venture a little further out.

Hitting the streets for the first time! 

Fortunately, Blake (our resident Brazil expert since he lived there for eight weeks) knew of a Brazilian restaurant in nearby Astoria and we headed that way. 


Me and Brookie

I was a little skeptical because I don't really try new food, but I forced myself to branch out (you're in New York City, you dummy!) and I was not disappointed. This burger had ham and pineapple on it and it was soooo good... maybe my favorite thing I ate all week. 

Our next stop was the Museum of the Moving Image, which was right across the street from The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (founded by Tony Bennett... what?). When we walked in and saw that it was all very white and modern and... kind of empty, we were a little skeptical but it turned out to be extremely interesting and really fun. 

Oh, Bing...

One of Cliff Huxtable's sweaters on The Cosby Show.

In the mummy exhibit... it pulled open the coffin!

The museum had all kinds of  artifacts from different shows and movies and some really cool interactive exhibits (like the one where you could record your voice in place of the actor's in different movie scenes. I did "the rain in Spain" scene from My Fair Lady and it was totally embarrassing but super fun.) 

When we finished there, we headed back to the hotel to actually check in (a process which always seems to take faaaar longer than necessary), got cleaned up (you know, after being up for 12+ hours already) and headed back out, this time to find dinner (yay) and visit a few more places on our list that the very organized Brook diligently referred to to keep us on schedule. (Jonathan was our subway-memorizing, mapped-out leader and got us from point A to point B with very little trouble, thank goodness. I probably wouldn't have been able to lead us out of Macy's on 34th Street.) 

Day one, round two... love my sweet friend!

We went to the NYC Public Library (well, the main branch... there are over a dozen different branches throughout the city) and it was amazing. Huge, ornate, so quiet... and I felt pleasantly intellectual running my hands over early editions of Twain, Frost, and well, everyone else. It was SO BIG. My only regret is that I didn't get to visit the children's exhibit (it had already closed for the night.) I guess I have two regrets, since I'm also really sad that we didn't get to spend more time there. (Nerd alert... Jonathan and I were in heaven.) 

Somewhere (before or after the library... we visited Grand Central Station. Wow... so many people, so many destinations, so much to see... I loved it! (I'll have to dedicate an entire post about the decision I made this week... pretty sure the Lord revealed it to me... that I'm going to live in New York City at some point in my life.) Anyway, it was awesome. Also, they have a pretty sweet food court at GCS which is where we ate dinner Tuesday night and again on Thursday. There were tons of options but it was all pretty unique to the city (definitely not chains from home) so everyone got to pick what they wanted. 

Excuse me... it's not a food court. It's a "dining concourse." Big different.

During one of our planning meetings before the trip, we read about the "High Line," where you can walk along this path of some kind and get a good view of the city. It sounded cool so we decided to head there Tuesday night... not realizing that it was a lot farther than we had thought. So after walking (and nearly getting hit by a cab... Brook yelled and I jumped about a mile high out of the way) for what seemed like FOR-E-VER (Squints voice) we found it and fortunately, it was worth the trek. (Also, the weather on Tuesday was by far the mildest that week so it was perfect timing.) The High Line was practically empty, it was well-lit, and beautifully lined with all kinds of plants and flowers. Plus, it did have a great view. We walked for a while, took some pictures, sang a little on some empty theater-type bleachers (well, I did), and just enjoyed a leisurely stroll (not the much faster pace we'd kept up all day.) 

My love (thank goodness for his neon shirt... it made him easy to follow all day!)

The best best friends.

And to cap off our first day, we headed back down to 83rd Street to Cafe Lalo, which you may remember from You've Got Mail as the place where Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly meet and he figures out she's ShopGirl and then she's mean to him and all that. (Favorite!) Anyway, they have fantastic cheesecake and it only felt right to end the night with a slice. (FYI, though, that the quiet, "meeting-a-stranger-from-the-internet-first-date" setting from the movie is not the same in real life. I remember it being loud when I visited as a student, but it was SUPER loud, with live music that was a few decibels too deafening to be considered pleasant. However, the cheesecake was slammin' so I guess I can't complain.) 

"If you don't like Kathleen Kelly, I can tell you right now... you won't like this girl."
"And why not?"
"Because she is Kathleen Kelly."

Sometimes simple is best... plain cheesecake is my favorite!

After cheesecake, we headed back to the subway, staggered back to our hotel, and tumbled into bed. It was a long 20-hour day but TOTALLY worth every minute. I just kept smiling all day and thinking, "I can't believe we're here!" Our flights went well, the hotel was as nice as we'd hoped... Brook pointed out that we had a very smooth first day and I agree. It couldn't have gone better. And it was only the beginning...

Day two (spoiler alert: NEWSIES!) coming soon. =) 


Disney Playlist Series: Buddy Songs

Disney Playlist Series: Buddy Songs

Hello, my lovelies! I had a glorious spring break and felt a teensy bit guilty about neglecting the blog, but I was busy traipsing around New York City and it was absolutely ah-mazing. (Plenty more about that coming this week. Probably too much. For now just know that it is my new favorite place and future home.) Anyway, back to business. I'm super excited to kick off my Disney playlist series with some of my favorite songs. 

Don't Disney movies have the best buddies? Copper and Tod, Mike and Sulley, Woody and Buzz... I mean, a Space Ranger and a cowboy? That right there is true friendship. So, in honor of these genuine (albeit animated) friends, I bring you the first of the Disney playlists... the buddy songs.

1. When You're the Best of Friends (The Fox and the Hound)- this one is great for two reasons: a) the wise (black?) owl Big Mama (voiced by Pearl Bailey) sings it, and b) it's a foreshadowing of the rest of the movie ("If only the world wouldn't get in the way; if only people would just let you play... they say you're just being fools; you're breaking all the rules... they can't understand the magic of your wonderland.") And BOOM... later, Copper and Tod grow up and realize that the world has, in fact, gotten in the way of their friendship. That tends to happen, doesn't it? And not just to little puppies and foxes. (I'm telling you... you can't limit a Disney song to children; this stuff gets deep.)

2. If I Didn't Have You (Monster's, Inc..)- Man, I love Sulley and Mike...and their relationship (which was explained so perfectly in Monster's University, in case you missed it) is hilarious because Mike really is kind of selfish and stuck on himself, and Sulley's a little bit insecure despite his massive size, but together they just work (an homage to The Odd Couple, if you will.) Their kind of imbalanced friendship comes across even in the song (when Mike says, "Would you let me lead?!" "Why do you keep singing my part?") Also, I really love Billy Crystal. And Randy Newman, who wrote this song.

3. Friend Like Me (Aladdin)- I love this song. In fact, I can't really make this statement definitively, but if I HAD to choose a favorite Disney movie, it might be Aladdin. Quite possibly. And the Genie is arguably one of the funniest characters in any Disney movie (thank you, genius comedic talent of Robin Williams.) Plus, the lyrics are so very clever (I always love the part where he sings, "Life is your restaurant and I'm your maitre d! Come on, whisper what it is you want; you ain't never had a friend like me!") And who wouldn't want a friend who could grant you three wishes? Nobody, that's who. (Naturally, you'd use the last wish to set them free, right?)

4. Nothing in the World (Quite Like a Friend) (The Return of Jafar)- This one is throwing it back to a pretty obscure movie (but one I still love) and yes, it's about Aladdin and the Genie again. But after Aladdin gives Genie his freedom at the end of the first movie, naturally they're friends for life. And this one that is best appreciated when you've seen the movie, perhaps... in all its cheesy '90s animation glory, for sure. (Seriously, how are Jasmine's eyes and hair wider than her waist? And in this movie she goes from looking tan, like a normal Arabian girl, to looking like she rolled around in Doritos. Does the palace have a spray tan booth?) Anyway, I do love this song. 

5. Forever and Ever (Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin)- I love, love, loved Winnie the Pooh when I was little and this was one of my favorite Pooh movies. Christopher Robin leaves a note telling Pooh and the gang that he won't be around for a while because of school, but because of a mishap with some honey, the note gets smeared and everyone thinks that Christopher Robin has been kidnapped and been taken to "skull", sending them off on an adventure (hence the title) to rescue him. Christopher and Pooh sing this song and it is so precious. I may have shed some tears when I looked up the video on YouTube. 

6.You've Got a Friend in Me (Toy Story) No list of buddy songs would be complete without the ultimate friendship song, again from Randy Newman. Like I said, Woody and Buzz... cowboy and Space Ranger... started off as enemies... come on! They survived Pizza Planet, abandonment, Sid's house, kidnapping, and daycare together. Obviously, their friendship was made to last. (I realize I'm talking about toys, and cartoon toys at that. Don't judge me. Or just shout: "You are a TOY! Aw, you're an action figure. YOU ARE A CHILD'S PLAYTHING!!!" "You are a sad, strange little man. And you have my pity.") Anyway, it's a great song! (I also love Michael Buble's version... definitely worth a listen.) 

So, that's the first playlist... turn up these tunes and think good thoughts about your friends! This one is a perfect start to the series since Jonathan and I just went on such an amazing trip with our best friends, so I'm feeling a bit sentimental. (That said, if you cry a little or burst into song along with the soundtracks, clearly I won't judge you.) If you can think of a buddy song to add, please do! (My Disney knowledge is, in fact, only finite.)


A Single Focus

A Single Focus

My very talented dad wrote this poem and it was a huge blessing to me. It sometimes feels like there are a million and one things to focus on in life.... Church, marriage, family, kids, work, finances, health, hobbies... How do we zero on in any of them without neglecting the others? How do we choose what's important and what's not? 

I have been thinking about this very question for a while now, and the answer I've arrived at (in my infinite wisdom) is that the overarching, all-encompassing focus and priority for my life should always be pleasing Christ and growing in my relationship with him. As long as Jesus and I are okay, everything else will be too (eventually.) And how do I keep him first? By literally keeping him first... Choosing time with him before anything else in my day. 

Dad says it best... Be blessed! 

Lord Jesus, I just want to say,
That with the gift of one more day;
If it's the last one that I'll see,
Please make me what I ought to be.

I want my first thought of the day,
To be of You in every way;
I always want to seek Your face,
Before another I embrace.

Your Book, the first I want to read,
Your bidding first, I want to heed;
Your voice, the first I want to hear,
It's still and small and yet, so clear.

The words I speak first are for You,
So that I'll know just what to do;
For cleansing of my heart I'll ask,
So I'll be equal to the task.

And after that I'll ask for power,
For You to fill me every hour;
So through the week I'll speak to men,
And warn them of the price of sin.

The first deeds of the day will be,
The things that only count for Thee;
The first place that my feet will walk,
Will be that place where we can talk.

I do believe if this be true,
I put you first in all I do;
That every day you'll care for me,
Your hand I'll never fail to see.

Help me to live from day to day,
To one day hear You, Father say,
"Because you put Me first, my son,

I'm glad to have you home - well done!"


Disney Playlist Series...

Disney Playlist Series...

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a Disney buff. Blame it a childhood without cable television, or a mom who cries over every animated movie, or a dad who loved to surprise us with a new VHS tape every so often... but we watched and owned and rewatched just about every Disney movie out there (even the more obscure ones.) And naturally, the one thing that our family loved the most about these movies was the songs. I own a lot of Disney music on iTunes but it's my Disney Pandora station that definitely gets the most listening time. 

I've been thinking about this post for a while (probably longer than a grown woman should, but I make no apologies) and I have, after far too much deliberation, decided that I can only address this matter in a series of posts because compiling the Disney playlist is just impossible (at least for today.) So, I've broken it down (if that's even possible) into the following categories: 

Clockwise from top left: 1)Buddy Songs, 2)Tear-jerkers, 3)Adventure Songs, 
 4)Silly Songs, 5)Party Songs,
 6)Fighting/Inspirational Anthems,
7)Love Songs, 8)Villains, 9)Lullabies

What? Did I spend all afternoon looking up Disney playlists and trolling IMDB and YouTube? Don't be silly... I'm almost 25. Actually, I did... and it was probably the most fun I've had in a long, long time. No shame in my Disney game! So, in a couple days (and every week for a while) I'll share one playlist. If you have any suggestions/requests for a particular category, fire away! There might even be a guest post or two planned, so stay tuned. 

(I do realize that spending this much time on a big pile of children's songs might seem like a waste, but hey... I've been smiling/singing along for hours and all this fun was free, so I can't say I'm bothered by it. And as my sister pointed out, some people might not "get" this series, but I'd like to think that such a tragic thing wouldn't be true of any of my friends. =)


Don't Be Stupid!

Don't Be Stupid!

"What a fool," quoth he, "am I, thus to lie in a stinking Dungeon,
 when I may as well walk at liberty." 

I've said this before, but one of my favorite things about teaching English is the opportunities that arise from our literature lessons. When we read an excerpt from Pilgrim's Progress this week, this quote really jumped out at me.

If you're unfamiliar with this part of the book, Christian has found himself a prisoner of Doubting Castle. He stays in the Dungeon for quite a while before finally realizing that he actually holds the Key (called Promises) to the Dungeon and can leave of his own free will! So, naturally, it takes our buddy Chris about two seconds to flee that nasty Dungeon and get back on the road to the Celestial City. 

Think about it... If prisoners held the keys to the prison, how many prisoners would stay imprisoned? (Say that five times fast.) Seriously, though- our jails would probably be empty. Somehow I doubt that all our nation's criminals would just dutifully lock themselves up each day and hang the keys outside the cell like Otis on The Andy Griffith Show. 

But remember, this is an allegory, so every part of the story has a double (in this case spiritual) meaning. Are we any different than Otis, locking ourselves into jail? It's crazy, foolish, and even (dare I say it?) stupid to go around feeling like we are imprisoned by sin, or circumstances, or desires that we know to be wrong. Are some things out of our control? Sure, but most of my daily decisions are just that- mine. And I can either feel enslaved to my own selfishness and carnality, trapped by my own trials, and captured by own weaknesses, or I can take out the key of God's promises , throw open the door to the Dungeon, and walk out in freedom.

I made this point to my students: there is nothing restrictive (in a "prison" sense) about God's love or His will. As Mark Hall wrote, "When you're tired of fighting and chained by your control, there's freedom in surrender- lay it down and let it go." We are often only imprisoned by our own desire to control. The most freeing, liberating thing in the world is to actually relinquish that hold, whatever it may be, and instead trust God's promises. 

Our Bible study group (yes, that again) has been talking about God's sovereignty quite a bit. If God is sovereign and has everything divinely planned, then wouldn't it be a whole lot smarter for me to claim the promises of His word as the key to my own freedom instead of desperately straining against chains that bind me by my own design? (Ouch!)

So, I can either feel like I'm living life in a Dungeon, whether it's a besetting sin or trying situation, or weakness of character (or all those things!) that have me imprisoned... or I can get smart and take the key that is already in my possession and open the door. I'd so much rather "walk with liberty" than live my life in prison.... wouldn't you? Let's not be stupid. =)


Another Winner

Another Winner

As I mentioned recently, my friend Sara came to visit and not only did we have a glorious time, but she also brought me a big ol' bag of birthday presents. Yay! One of them was this fabulous necklace, which I put on immediately and wore that very night (good thing I was well-dressed for our children's play.) I've already worn it again... twice in three days! It's a real winner.

On a related note, I am loving that the weather's warmed up enough to wear spring colors and short sleeves without regretting it instantly each morning. And while I've never been a huge fan of pastels (they just don't really do anything for my complexion), I've seen so many pretty options this spring that I've been snatching them up (mostly pink) at every opportunity. Fortunately, this necklace matches several different spring shades. Win! (That Sara has good taste... in jewelry and friendships. Ha!)

A night at the "theatre": and the perfect brick wall, because fash-un blogger. (Not.)

T-shirt: Target
Skirt: Belk
Flats: Target
Bag: Target

Isn't it pretty?

Those chalk hearts were already there (naturally)... an homage to conversation hearts, perhaps? 

My photographer =)

Sweatshirt: TJ Maxx
Skirt: New York and Company
Flats: Target

One more closeup... because I love it. 

So, my necklace collection didn't really need to be made larger, but since it has been, I'm thrilled to have added another winner. =) Don't you love presents (and those who give them?) I know, I'm a mercenary. I've learned to live with it.


P.S. Linked up with Lindsey!

Weekend with a Twist

Weekend with a Twist

This past weekend, my BFF Sara came down for a visit (her first since I've been married... shame, shame) and we crammed as much as fun as possible into a 26-hour trip. (She had to get back for church on Sunday... something about responsibilities. Pssh.) 

I left school a little early on Friday, ran home to rush-clean the last remaining areas of my house that needed attention (including one final OCD run-through with the vacuum cleaner) and then gleefully waited for her to arrive. Of course, this reunion was made even more joyful by the fact that I had been calling Miss Thing for like an hour and she hadn't answered so I, of course, assumed she was unconscious in a ditch somewhere. Nothing makes you appreciate seeing your friend like a little terrorized worry at the last second. 

Anyway, she brought me a great big bag of birthday presents (which I opened immediately because I am nine years old) and then we went to Target (because, what else do Ashley and Sara do? Nothing.) THEN we came home, changed, and went to Baker's Kitchen, which was heavenly as always.

I'd been excited to show Sara around downtown New Bern because it really is adorable and the weather this weekend was perfect, but since it only takes a couple hours to see everything there is to see, I decided to plan another way to pass some time and still be entertained (by something other than our own cleverness =) so I bought tickets to a local production of Cinderella.

What could be better? A girls' weekend, a historic downtown theatre (with the fancy spelling), a little Rodgers and Hammerstein? I was feeling positively- dare I say?- cultured as I led Sara proudly down the street to the theatre and we claimed our tickets. 

Not exactly the Gershwin =)

Seems legit..

When we got inside, I immediately sensed that something was off. (For one thing, the theatre- fancy spelling notwithstanding- was not much better than my classroom and then seats were older than me... but not in a "I'm experiencing history" way. More like a "I think they performed Cats here in the '80s" way.) Also, the audience around us was decidedly... young. (Think a ton of little girls in tiaras and princess dresses. I won't say I wasn't a little jealous, but still. Not a really sophisticated crowd.) THEN an old lady got up and started talking about theatre etiquette and mentioned "when the kids come down the aisle." Oh, sure... she's like 102 so of course she calls all the actors kids. She is old enough to be their grandma!

HA. As soon as the first number started, it became very clear that we were watching a production made up of CHILDREN. Not just the roles for children in the play, either... the king and queen, stepmother, godmother, you name it... all kids. (Also the king looked about 10 and was a good foot shorter than his "wife.")

Now, the kids were cute and they did a great job, but since a) I had no idea this was a kids' show and b) I had been feeling so cultured about taking my friend to a night at the theatre, all I could do was laugh uncontrollably for about the first 10 minutes of the show (which, by the way, only lasted 52 minutes. Rodgers and Hammerstein probably wouldn't have loved for their beloved tunes to be sped up to marching band tempo, but hey. The cast had a bedtime.) And since Sara started crying uncontrollably as she laughed, everyone around us probably thought we were big jerks. We aren't... we were both just in shock. 

So, after stumbling out of the theatre still dying laughing when it was over (but trying to conceal our giddiness since we didn't want to offend any mommies, daddies, or proud grandmas) we finally made it back to the car and topped off our evening at the children's show with ice cream cones, because we are grown-ups. 

Oh, man. I'm still laughing about it! (By the way, one of the main reasons we were dying is that the prince was like watching Ted from What Not To Wear at age 13.... seriously.) So, yeah... the whole thing was pretty unexpected but way more memorable than a typical BORING night of watching professionals sing and dance. Where's the fun in that? =) I'm so glad Sara got to come visit... besides experiencing so much New Bern culture, we got to stay up late, get pedicures, shop (naturally), and talk, talk, talk. For two busy teachers, it's not always easy to stay connected like we want to, so even though it was brief, the time together was appreciated. I so love this girl! 

How was your weekend? Also, have you ever forked over money that really didn't turn out to be what you thought? I'd love to compare stories. =)