Mount Laundry

It’s that day again. The dreaded day where we stare at Mount Laundry, hoping to tackle it’s insane heights and strong smell.

It’s a daunting chore that, unfortunately, does not do itself. Oh how I wished it would. It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have to take Mount Laundry to a Coin-op Laundry to do it.

We gather the clothes, throwing them into three to four baskets (depending on if it’s been 1 or 2 weeks since it was last conquered). Walk them three flights down, squish them into the vehicle, drive to the laundry mat, sort the clothes (taking up 2 to 3 large washers), then wait till it is all finished. Of course, after washing we toss them into dryers, then fold them as soon as they are finished. At that point we do the first three steps, just opposite.

It’s not so bad when the clothes consist only of Jon and I’s, but with the kids here, Mount Laundry became as tall as a small sized Mt. Everest. Okay, so maybe not that large, but it’s big.

I don’t mind folding my clothes. They are large enough that when stack on top of each other, they don’t plummet to the ground. When folding kids clothes, one pile of shirts must become two.

No matter what it is, laundry is never fun when you have to do it somewhere else other than your home. We make do with it cause it saved us on rent, but I miss having my own washer and dryer.

I was able to do laundry throughout the week rather than once a week or every other week. I was able to put them away rather than let them sit in baskets for a week.

After we finish at the laundry mat, we are so pooped from that chore that we don’t even want to put our clothes away.

Oh well, at least they are clean.

Now off to conquer and defeat Mount Laundry. Wish me luck.

-Jay

LEGO Madness

Have you ever stepped on a lego?  

If you have kids, go to someones house with kids, or have nieces and nephews that play with Legos, than you know how it feels. It’s like sticking a hot poker up your foot. The piece may not be burning, but the moment you step on it, your whole foot feels like it’s on fire. It’s not pleasant. 

Since my kids have arrived, I have not had a day without stepping on at least one lego piece. They are usually scattered throughout the office space since it is the largest floor space we have in the house. I debated having them relocate them to their room, however, we would never find another lego again. 

We love Lego’s in this house. We will sit with the kids and build all kinds of things. At this moment in time they are building bases, forts, and houses with stores. 

I remember when they first got them. They felt like they needed an instruction manual to build anything. They would get frustrated because of the lack of exact pieces to create whatever they wanted to do. Through the years they gradually opened their mind and expanded their imagination. 

It’s hard living in a place without a yard, so the Legos are a blessing. I’ve wanted to take them to the park, but I came down with a severe cold so the park has been out of the question. However, another blessing is the XBox 360 Kinect. They each got a game for the kinect and for 40 minutes they play it. Josh’s favorite is Star Wars, and I don’t blame him. He was working up a sweat playing that game.

At least they get to keep busy. Just hope I don’t have to step on anymore Legos!

-Jay

 

Recording Debacles

For the past year I have been trying to record some of my music. My husband bought me a mic which came with a recording program. As soon as I started using it, it started to freak out on me. The program would only open if the mic was plugged in and you couldn’t use the mic for anything else. We didn’t have a hub/interface to work everything through so the mic plugged straight into the computer. In case you ever feel the need to start recording, don’t ever buy M-Audio mics with Pro Tools software. There is one too many glitches. Sometimes in the middle of recording the program would stop working and I’d loose all of my work. This happened more often than not. Gradually it got worse to where it would distort my voice.

I was done with it. I stopped using it.

My husband could see how bad it was and felt terrible that what he got for me was not what he expected. Wednesday evening he came home and surprised me with a new recording system. This included a new mic, interface, desk boom stand, plus a stabilizer for the mic itself. I cried. We are not sure what to do with the old mic now, but I’m excited I don’t ever have to use it again.

I have not recorded anything that is my own just yet. I’ve been working on a cover of Ed Sheeran’s piece called “I See Fire”. I’ve done a full recording, but it is not perfect. There is still a lot to do.

I’m blessed to have a husband that loves to support me in what I like to do and help me in my endeavors. He has deemed himself my recording manager (although I’m not sure that’s a real title or not). Basically he’s the one who helps mix everything.

I’ll be diving into it more when the kids go back to their Mom’s. For now I will be recording a couple pieces with my daughter as she wants to do all the songs from Frozen!

-Jay

Bouncy House Madness

It’s been a crazy week here at the Angell household!

After the kids and I came back from New York we had to start on Fun and Fitness week. Fun & Fitness Week is a summer activity that my church puts on every year for kids ages 12 to 5. They come for about 4 hours and sing, play games, hear a small story, and make a craft. If you’ve ever heard of VBS at other churches, it’s like that, just not themed.

The activities are quite fun and the kids always have a blast. This year I had planned to sit out because of the pain I had been going through, however they needed help in the 9 & 10 age group so I did. By the grace of God I have been free of face pain for 4 days now, and that’s without taking medicine. Not sure if it has gotten “better” per-say, but I’m happy with how I feel so I will not complain. I was able to focus on the kids a little more and work on developing friendships with kids that don’t always have a friendly person around them. Quite a few of them I had in my group last year, so it wasn’t nearly as challenging.

Every Friday they rent a couple bouncy house activities for one of the game stations. This year it was a bouncy slide and the bouncy obstacle course. One rule of advice: these were not made for adults!

As a leader we are asked to participate. I have no problem joining in on the fun as it gives me great joy to see the kids laugh at me as I embarrass myself. The first time I went through the young lady I raced won and I came out unscathed! However, the 2nd time I was not so lucky. My daughter (who was in my class) begged me to race her through the obstacle course. It is an enclosed bouncy structure with two entrances next to each other. Your first mission is to fit through the entrance which is no bigger then a small beach ball sized hole.  Once you suck yourself through the hole (keep in mind this was made for kids so an adults body looks pretty silly going through these) you must maneuver your way through a wall of five horizontal tubes; two at the bottom, one in the middle, and two at the top. It’s like putting yourself through a pasta maker with five large rolls ready to squash you flat at any moment. Once through the rolls of death, you must scale a netted hill which takes you to the tip top of a slide. There, you will plummet to the ground as fast as your butt can bounce you down.

It was go time. I lurched my body through the hole, praying my pants would stay on my hips. I made my way  diving over the first roll, ducking under the middle, and landing my stomach on the 2nd roll. As I reached for the netting to pull me up off the roll, my stomach sank in the little canyon that divided the two sections and preceded to fold me in half backwards. At that moment I felt nothing but sheer adrenaline as I climbed up the netting and bounced my butt down the slide, my daughter following right behind me. I stood up from the slide, instantly feeling like someone just took my spine and put it through a ringer. I couldn’t move. Walking made me cry. I slowly walked to the nurses station where they helped me lay down and place a cold compress on my back, after which they prayed for me.

I can’t begin to tell you how much pain I was in. I tried hard not to cry in front of the kids, but with every little movement I made, my back would go into the very depth of the fiery furnaces of hell.

The kids were all sweet and even a couple of them went to grab me water. Luckily my husband had the day off of work and was helping us out so he spent the majority of the time by my side. Now that the day is done and it’s time to go to bed, I dread what I will feel like tomorrow.

Lesson learned: Never enter bouncy house that is not made for an adult, good times will be few.

-Jay

There is no End to the Adventure

Sadly, today was our last day in New York. While my husband is there on business for another week, we were only able to be there for a week ourselves. Eating out for a week is a bit strenuous on the pocket book.

We have had lots of fun and laughs, with many ooo’s and ahh’s. Thursday we partied at the hotel by swimming all day. We took a break for lunch and that was about it. Friday, however, I took the kids to the American Museum of Natural History.

There is not a lot of young kids there unless they are on field trips or summer camp, and I’ll tell you the reason why: there is a lot of history and reading involved. While observing my kids around the museum I came to the conclusion that all they are really doing is looking at the pictures and displays, and assuming or guessing about the object in front of them. The museum is not like the Museum of Science where you can walk around and touch stuff. In fact, the only place you could really touch stuff was in the Earth and Space exhibition. The kids liked that area a lot. Although they really enjoyed looking at all the dioramas and other displays, they weren’t interested about the history itself. Could just be my kids.

They insisted on taking pictures themselves so I fearfully let my son (the oldest) man my Nikon 3200. I was nervous at first but he did an incredible job! They both were allowed to get one thing at the store. Josh came out with a stuffed Eagle (a larger version than the one he got at the zoo) and Elizabeth got a stuffed Red-Ruffed Lemur. Of course, with each new stuffed animal comes a new name I have to remember.

Elizabeth has a Polar Bear named Snow, Stitch (which he was already named), and a Red-Ruffed Lemur named Sparkle. Josh has a small Bald Eagle named Baldy and a large Bald Eagle named Frank. Honestly I’m not sure how they come up with their names but I remember each of them. We feed them, fly them around, play catch, and most of all, make sure they are well snuggled.

That evening we went to an Irish pub for dinner (St. James Gate http://stjamesgatenyc.com/), watched some firemen show up at a building across the street from the restaurant, and gazed at all the puppies that trotted by with their humans. The food was great (especially the sweet potato fries and the giant 100% Angus beef cheeseburger I had), however I was disappointed with our server. He was quite unfriendly and did not come to see how we were doing very often. It’s a shame cause I’d much prefer to go to a place with great service and okay food, than a place with great food and pitiful service. Here is a couple of pictures from the Museum.

Run!!!

Run!!!

Dum Dum give me Gum Gum!

Dum Dum give me Gum Gum!

ANIMAL TIME!

ANIMAL TIME!

DSC_1004 (6)

Josh and Ellie in front of Museum

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The Three of us plus animals… and one Dinosaur!

 

Since Jon had the weekends off for work, as a family we went to the Aircraft Carrier USS Intrepid and to see the Space Shuttle Enterprise which is currently housed on the carrier.

I come from a family of military veterans (a long line). I joined the US Navy, however I was discharged just before graduation, on 9/11/2001 out of all days! That is another story for another time. If I would have graduated and gone through A and C school I would have been stationed on the Carrier USS Enterprise which was just recently decommissioned. My husband served in the US Navy as well and did 6 months on the Enterprise.

Being that we have strong military ties the Intrepid was an incredible experience. Jon was having flash backs aboard his time on a carrier and I was crying cause I never got to go. My son was soaking it all up. He loved to see the planes and hear the stories about what happened on the USS Intrepid.

Short history lesson: The USS Intrepid was commissioned in 1943 where she set sail to the Atlantic. She guarded our borders from the ongoing war between the US and the Japanese. The Japanese  put together a small group who’s mission was to fly an aircraft laden with explosives into their target. Their target was the USS Intrepid. She also fought during the Vietnam War and the Cold War. After 9/11 she sat in the middle of the Hudson River housing the FBI agents frantically working to resolve the situation. After this she was decommissioned, pulled into dock (she could still be used again) and turned into a museum.

We had a blast. The SR-71 (my favorite Jet) was on the carrier along with the Space Shuttle which blew me away entirely. I was like a giddy school girl again when I got to walk underneath it!

We wondered back to Time Square and went Midtown Comics to peruse the back issues which were on sale. Got 4 comic books! All Star Trek! Been trying to work on my collection again.

We went to dinner at Red Lobster which had us wait for a good 40 minutes before seating us. I was a bit irritated by a woman who kept telling her friend to steal my husband and daughters seat after they got up to go to the bathroom. Honestly I would have offered until she started telling her friend to beat me up if I did allow her to. Her friend was much nicer and never did but it was still a shock to me.

On to happier notes… here are a couple photos from that day!

See... giddy school girl!  That's the front wheel of the Space Shuttle behind me!

See… giddy school girl! That’s the front wheel of the Space Shuttle behind me!

SR-71??!! YES PLEASE!!

SR-71??!! YES PLEASE!!

We are go for launch... or rescue... either one!

We are go for launch… or rescue… either one!

:)  Yay for family pictures!!

:) Yay for family pictures!!

The first place we went to on Sunday was the 9/11 Memorial. The kids were not even born/thought of at the time it happened, but they had been hearing about it in school and wanted to see it. Jon and I had went a month or two ago for the first time and I couldn’t stop crying.

Everyone around me was just walking around, looking at things or talking to each other, while I sat there having flash backs.

I was not in NY when it happened, however it was the day I signed my discharge papers while in Basic Training for the Navy. Just before the first plane hit I had walked back down stairs from signing the papers to see people gathered around the television. It was a horrific sight for all of us and I’m sure those of you who remember know what I am talking about. Sometimes you just don’t get over something like that. It sticks with you.

I thought I would be fine the 2nd go around, but I wasn’t. Tears flooded my eyes as I opened up books in the store and saw the images that have been burned in my head for 13 years. Once over to the memorial it just got worse as I stood looking at the memorial. One thing I like is that you may take something of ours down, but we are just going to rebuild more. :)  There is now 3 WTC’s and the first one is even bigger than the twin towers.

The Statue of Liberty was quite amazing as well. Although the walk up the 195 stairs to the top of the pedestal was pretty grueling. The view was spectacular, but could’ve been better if the city was not so infested with smog! I’m not talking about the dragon either!

Nonetheless we had some beautiful family moments and a couple of extremely happy kids.

Liberty in all her glory

Liberty in all her glory

The new first world trade center!  :D  Taller than the Original! We make them bigger and better!

The new first world trade center! :D Taller than the Original! We make them bigger and better!

One of the new World Trade Centers

One of the new World Trade Centers

Kids in front of the memorial.

Kids in front of the memorial.

The older torch which was corroding so they replaced it.

The older torch which was corroding so they replaced it.

Skyline. The space between the two tallest buildings is where the Twin Towers stood

Skyline. The space between the two tallest buildings is where the Twin Towers stood

:)

:)

Today was the drive home and though the New York adventure has come to an end… and new one has began. Fun and Fitness Week… HERE WE COME!

 

PS: The kids were not the only ones to come out of NY with stuffed animals! I got 4 small ones; a Red Panda named Red, Giraffe named Spots, Killer Whale (unnamed right now), and Snow Owl named Hedwig; a Triceratops named Topsie, and a huge stuffed Panda Bear that I named Po! :)  You can never be too old for a stuffed animal!

My new Panda Po!

My new Panda Po!

 

-Jay

Fun in the Sun… And the Zoo

We are finally in New York! We are staying in Queens so it is a good distance away from the big city. We were able to drive without a huge amount of traffic, but I still to have to drive back on Monday. Not really looking forward to it. Oh well… got to get home some time.

Yesterday we spend the day swimming at the pool. I don’t think I’ve ever swam so much in one day! There was a point we were only able to swim for 15 minutes cause there was a slew of kids coming in for swimming lesson. We came back later that evening and it was just us! It’s fun having the pool all to yourself!

Today we decided to brave the subway and go to central park! Our first stop was the Central Park Zoo!  It was quite a tiny zoo, but the kids had a lot of fun!

Just before the zoo :)

Just before the zoo :)

Here we were taking a break from the walk we took from the Subway to the entrance of the park. It wasn’t and extremely long walk, but in 90* degree weather, it felt like hours went by.

Excited!

Excited!

The kids were extremely excited to go to the zoo!

This birdie thought it would be fun to stare at me

This birdie thought it would be fun to stare at me

This bird (in the Tropic area) seemed to have a tendency to look down at people as they walked under him/her. I loved the colors!

Pretty bird!

Pretty bird!

The zoo has about 3 of these birds. This one was in the tropic area where it could fly around where you were, and the other two were behind glass in their own enclosure.

They liked the birdie above their heads

They liked the birdie above their heads

The kids really liked the bird up above them, probably due to the beautiful colors he possessed.

Can you spot the Peacock?

Can you spot the Peacock?

I believe there were two peacocks that were in the enclosure, however we were only able to locate one of them.

Sitting in the eagle!

Sitting in the eagle!

There was lots of statues, however this one was my favorite :)

Sister and brother love.

Sister and brother love.

I love it when they are nice to each other!

From this point on I will just post some of the pictures with captions. See you at the end! :)

Had to take a photo of a rose on the way!

Had to take a photo of a rose on the way!

King Penguin

King Penguin

I think the seagull was aiming for their heads

I think the seagull was aiming for their heads

:)

:)

This is what I love seeing from the park!

This is what I love seeing from the park!

 

Well that concludes our pictures from the Zoo. We had a great time there, even with the lack of animals. Apparently their used to be a polar bear there named Gus, however he passed away so they closed down the exhibit.

After the zoo we met with Jon at the corner of the Park. We decided to have dinner in Times Square at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co.! It’s Jon and I’s favorite place to eat whenever we are in NY. We had a great time eating and goofing around in the restaurant like we always do.

She really wanted my shrimp!

She really wanted my shrimp!

 

After dinner we split up. Jon took the kids to the 4 story Toys’R’Us and I went to the H&M Fashion store. I don’t like all of the clothes they have there, but what I do like is the cost! They are not bad on the cost scale. I came out with two really cute shirts for $27.00! It would’ve been more if I had got the dress, but I decided against it. The kids apparently had fun at the toy store!

Dragons!

Dragons!

The Hulk got ELIZABETH!

The Hulk got ELIZABETH!

MINIONS!

MINIONS!

 

We are now back at the hotel. Kids are sleeping and my eyes are getting droopy. I decided to let the kids just do some swimming tomorrow so we will be chilling it out here in the hotel for the day. It’s alright with me, honestly! Friday we may visit the Natural history Museum, however I’m not entirely sure just yet. Need to do some digging.

All and all it has been a wonderful day. I’m glad none of us got burnt either, cause that would’ve been miserable!

Off too tomorrow!

-Jay

The Silence Before the Chaos!

A Mom needs some alone time. A time where she can just sit back, watch an episode of whatever she wants to watch, play a computer game, or simply just sit on the couch and build a puzzle (or whatever other moms do). Usually moms don’t get this time, unless they plan for it! Which is what I try to do.

Since my kids are stuck on Pacific time and we are on Eastern Time, their bedtime ends up being midnight. This isn’t a bad thing cause that means its 9pm where they are from. However, this causes them to not wake up till around 10 to 11am. My husband wakes up around 7:30am so I try to wake up with him. This is where I get my alone time. I can play Star Wars without having my son pull on the back of my chair, looking over my shoulder, and asking me questions the entire time. It’s not a long space of time, but I savor what I have cause when they wake up, you never know what sort of day you will have.

Today we are driving down to NY. It’s a four and a half to five hour drive from where we are, so it’s not too bad. It’s the only place that Jon really gets to drive for his business trips. This particular trip is different than the others. Instead of taking one car (usually the rental that his work provides him), we are taking two. Jon will be driving the rental while I drive our vehicle.

I’ve never driven in NY before. Jon’s the one who does most of the driving cause I have a difficult time when around a lot of other vehicles. This will be a challenge and something I have to get myself through. I’m nervous, straight up scared poopless. I have to Keep Calm and Drive On! Oh well. At least I will be able to relax when I get there. Though I made a deal with my husband that the kids will be riding with him so I don’t have nearly as many distractions.

I only have about an hour left before the kids wake up and I’d like to get some game time in. More to come on our trip to NY. Maybe even a photo show!

-Jay

Encouragement From a 9 Year Old

My daughter is one of the sweetest, most caring girls I know. I’m not saying that because I am biased, no, it’s cause I’ve seen it.

When I’m crying or feeling sad at any moment, she’s there with her arms around my neck hugging me and reminding me that everything will be okay. My boy is just as sweet, however like any boy he’s not to sure of what to do when someone is crying. His eyes do tend to water with mine which is a beautiful sight.

Yesterday was a rough day for me. The finalists for the Today’s show portion of America’s Got Talent (specifically made for the video auditions) had been picked and I was not one of them. It was the first time in a long time that I had put my self out there to audition for anything. I was devastated enough that I cried most of the morning. Before the crying came the frustration which came out at my Husband. I’m glad he’s a calm man. Unfortunately my sweet girl walked in the living room as I got up and went to my room and slammed the door. I laid on my bed and hugged my stuffed hippo.

A couple minutes later my husband walked in and laid on the bed next to me, trying to cheer me up. He said that when I went into the room our daughter said “I love my mommy.” I cried so much. Joy overflowed my heart. Hearing those words when you are a Step-Mom is the most beautiful thing in the world. This helped me smile, dry my tears and continue on with my day.

While at the laundromat (since our apartment lacks a washer and dryer) I apologized to my daughter for her having to see me like I was. She asked why I was so upset and I told her. She knows how much I love to sing. As soon as I told her she looked me in the eyes and said “Never give up Mommy…. NEVER GIVE UP!” She smiled from ear to ear and told me how much she loved to hear me sing. Another moment of overflowing. I really didn’t know my heart could overflow as much as it had yesterday.

She speaks the truth… I can’t give up! Music is a passion of mine. I don’t want to be famous (at least that isn’t my goal), but I don’t want to hide anymore either. I’ve done that for far too long! One of these days I’d like to sing at a restaurant like some of the local talent from Nashville, Tennessee do. My favorite artist to listen to lately has been Colm Kirwan. He sings at McNamaras Irish Pub in Nashville (http://www.mcnamarasirishpub.com/). I saw him when I visited Kay a couple months ago. His music was so beautiful and I adored hearing his voice. Most of all, he inspired me. He’s my age and doing what he loves to do.

I love to write and I’m thankful that I get to do that, but I can’t forget about my music. I love it just as much and I pray, I pray that God will grant me to do that as well. It doesn’t even have to be all the time. The thing is, I was about to give up. I felt like I failed. It was those sweet words of my 9 year old who reminded me that given up is NOT an option. So I will try, try again. I won’t give up! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). Maybe I should plaster that verse on my wall.

-Jay

Holiday Movie Choices

It’s Independence Day my friends… and it’s raining. All the firework shows around our area have been postponed till tomorrow as well as civic days down in Fitchburg. However, I’m not complaining. This is the first 4th of July that I have not had to rush around trying to prepare certain potluck meals, or get a neat red, white, and blue outfit together to go see the fireworks. I really do like seeing the show, but we have to make do with what we have and that is wet rainy weather.

Then what do we do on this wonderful 4th of July? Watch movies! What else?

We were debating on watching Captain America, Avengers, Battle Los Angeles, Battleship, or Independence Day. Independence Day is our usual go to July 4th movie for obvious reasons, however we watched that one last year. While my husband and kids were out barbecuing hot dogs (which I am still not a fan of but tried to eat one anyway), I looked through our arsenal of blu-ray discs. I kept thinking; what would make a good movie that talks about the history of our Independence? BAM! Right in front of my eyes there stood the movie National Treasure. This was it! The one we needed to watch.  Luckily the rest of the family agreed and it wasn’t just my idea.

Needless to say we had a great movie night with hot dogs, chips, and green fruit salad (Pineapple chunks with whip cream, pistachio pudding, mini marshmallows, and sweetened coconut flakes). We finished it off with some Vanilla Bean Ice Cream topped with homemade strawberry sauce and whipped cream.

It has been a wonderful family day.

Tomorrow we conquer laundry!

-Jay

 

Another Trip?

If most of you don’t know my husband works as an Application Engineer. Every now and then he is called to travel. The one thing I hate most is when he has to travel while his kids are visiting. What do they do? They schedule him for a work trip in the middle of the summer! When it’s just me and he is going to NY, I usually go with him. Of course, now it is a different story. Kids don’t want to be cooped up in a hotel room for two weeks. Luckily they found a hotel with a pool and an easy walk to the subway station so we can go into NY and walk around.

We will only be going for a week with him, while he stays another week to get his work done. It’s unfortunate, however this gives us a chance to take the kids to a place they’ve never been. I’d say they are pretty lucky to get to travel so much.

Of course, we still haven’t fully unpacked from our last trip so packing may be a bit easier. Though we do have at least 4 loads of laundry to do so we will be doing that this weekend.

I’d like to know your out look on traveling. Do you like it? What places do you like to travel? What’s your favorite WAY to travel?

I like to travel by car and just drive! See the sights, no matter where it takes me. There’s just something about getting in the car, snacks all packed and waters filled, hitting the road to some unknown destination.