Saturday, February 27, 2010

Flat Stanley's New York Adventure

About a week before we left for NYC, one of my Facebook friends put out a call for help with her students' Flat Stanley projects. Several of her students had no one to send their Flat Stanleys to so I volunteered to take one to NYC with me. So, since most of my pictures include Flat Stanley, I thought I'd sum up my trip for you by cutting and pasting the letter and pictures I sent to my friend's student.

Dear A,

Thank you so much for allowing me to take Flat Stanley along with me on my trip to New York City. We had a fabulous time! We rode on airplanes, took taxi rides and even rode the subway. Here he is at the subway station underneath New York's Museum of Natural History:


And here he is outside the museum. This is the same museum from the movie "Night at the Museum."


Here's Flat Stanley with the dinosaur skeleton that chased the main character in the movie:


Here he is in front of the famous clock in Grand Central Station. If you've seen "Madagascar", it's the clock that the giraffe, Melman, had on his head!


Flat Stanley also got to watch ice skaters at the famous Rockefeller Center:


And he made a trip to the American Girl store to help me buy some doll clothes for my daughter:


He also saw the famous New York City Library (it was being renovated). You may have seen it in the 1980's movie "Ghostbusters".


He got to visit the United Nations (kind of like the world government) and we learned a lot about other countries and their leaders:


The weather was kind of yucky on Tuesday, so I didn't get any pictures of him outside, but I did get some good ones of him inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here he is in front of an actual Egyptian temple that was brought to the United States stone by stone. It was really big and over 3000 years old!


And here's Flat Stanley in front of several pretend horses and knights in their suits of armor. The suits of armor are real suits of armor that knights wore five hundred years ago!


And finally, here he is in our hotel room. There were too many skyscrapers to count, that's for sure!


Thanks so much for lending him to me. I hope he had as much fun as I did!!

Miss Jana

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NYC Lessons

I'm back from my whirlwind trip to NYC and I had an absolute blast. I'll post an itinerary and pictures of all the nerdy grown-up, intellectual things I did once I load the pictures off the camera, but for now, I'll leave you with my lessons learned.

* Traveling alone is not as bad as I thought it would be. I rode the subway, took a cab and flew home all by myself. These things may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, Miss Nervous Scaredy-Pants, they are huge.

* The worst part about riding the subway is coming up from the tracks and having absolutely no idea where you are or in what direction to walk. ("Am I on Lexington or 42nd? And if it's Lexington, which direction do I go?")

* Meter maids are really nice and will gladly point you in the right direction when you're lost. Not that I would know about that. :)

* The clock in the middle of Grand Central Station is apparently the place to meet people. There are always a dozen or so people standing around it waiting for someone. I observed a blind date meet-up while I was standing there waiting for Ryan one evening.

* While I felt a little weird being pretty much the only person in NYC wearing a red coat (everyone there wears black coats), it made it a lot easier for Ryan to spot me in Grand Central Station.

* Only foreigners are interested in touring the United Nations. Of the 25 people in my tour group, I was the only American.

* There must not have been anyone in France on Tuesday because they were ALL at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

* I must have looked pretty confident coming off the subway and walking toward my destination because I actually had someone ask little old me where the Met was. And I knew! And pointed them in the right direction!

* It is not a good sign when your cab driver relies a little too heavily on his talking GPS. It's also not a good sign when he asks you which airport terminal you need to go to. Umm....hello? I told you the airline - aren't you supposed to know which airlines go to which terminal or at least be able to read the signs differentiating between the terminals?

* My parents are absolute saints for watching the kids for four straight days. I think they have a whole new appreciation for what I do all day.

* The four day break from my hectic life was really rejuvenating. Somehow I've got to make this sort of trip an annual thing!

Monday, February 15, 2010


The sun was finally shining, the temperatures were fairly mild (for February) and we were all excited that Ryan had a three day weekend ahead of him (gotta love those bank holidays). Everything was set for the perfect Valentine's weekend of family fun.

And then I got the stomach bug that has been making its way through The Land of Fruit. It hit me about 4:30 Saturday morning and by noon of the same day, I thought I was going to die. Terrible stuff.

So, our weekend of family fun was not to be. Instead, I spent the weekend watching cheesy chick flicks while clutching a sleeve of saltine crackers and a glass of Sprite.

By Sunday evening, I did manage to find the time and energy to make Ryan's cheesecake-stuffed, chocolate covered strawberries. I even managed to eat a couple of them. So for those of you interested in the recipe, here it is:



Very large strawberries (the biggest you can find)
1/4 - 1/2 package of softened cream cheese (I use Neufchatel)
Melting chocolate (I use dark, but you can use milk chocolate if you prefer)

First, wash and dry the strawberries. Make sure they are completely dry and at room temperature. They won't coat well if they are cool or damp.

While the strawberries are drying/warming, mix the cream cheese with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. Taste. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter.

With a very sharp knife, cut the bottom tip of the strawberry in wedge like fashion. You'll be left with a little "plug" and a hollow strawberry. The bigger the strawberry, the larger the hollow area. If you'd like a larger hollow area, use the knife to scrape out some of the strawberry's pulpy inside.


I fill a medicinal syringe that I got with one of the kids' many prescriptions with the cream cheese mixture and then squirt it into the strawberry. Be sure to not overfill the strawberry with the cream cheese mixture because then the tip won't fit back in the strawberry.


Replace the tip and dip the strawberry in the chocolate of your choice. You may have to drizzle it over the strawberry using a spoon or even replace the tip if it starts to fall out.



The final product may look a little bumpy, but it tastes so good you won't care.


(What you see in front are the smaller strawberries that I let the kids dip in the leftover chocolate.)

I think the next time I make them (probably next Valentine's Day), I'm going to mix some graham cracker crumbs into the cream cheese mixture just to make it more "cheesecakey."

Happy Eating!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fun Fact Friday

It's been a while since I've done one of these, so here we go....

1. I can now say that Liam is officially potty trained. He still wears a diaper at naps and a night, but he's in underwear full time now. He hasn't had an accident (#1 or #2) in a little over a week. Hurray!

2. I am officially tired of winter. It has been rainy and/or cold for the past seven weeks. The poor kids want to go out and play, but the yard has been squishy since Christmas. Yuck.

3. Sydney finally finished the first Harry Potter book. As a reward, she got to stay up late on a Friday night to watch the movie. I popped some popcorn and even bought some Oreos for the occasion. Now on to book #2!

4. Evan has been using the phrase, "Aww, man!" whenever he gets frustrated with something. It's adorable.

5. I'm almost ready for our NYC trip that's coming up in a couple of weeks. I bought a cute/stylish coat, hat and scarf and just bought my first pair of Keen shoes for all the walking I'm going to be doing. I've almost got our "instruction manual" done for my mom. That sucker is already five pages long and makes me wish I got paid for all I do on a daily basis.

6. I recently joined a Facebook group that lists the names of students and faculty members of my former high school that have passed away. Since I went to school there and taught there, I thought it would be a good way to find out about former colleagues who happened to pass away. Instead, I'm completely depressed by the number of my classmates who have died (we're only in our 30's for Pete's sake!). I'm even more depressed by the number of my students who have died. I think I might have to "un-join" it.

7. On a happier note, we've got some fun stuff lined up for Valentine's Day. I bought a giant bottle of bubble bath for Evan (the boy loves bubble baths), a puzzle for Liam (his new obsession) and I'm going to take Sydney to the store today to buy some new posters for her room. We don't really go out for Valentine's since eating out with three kids is not fun or romantic, so we're making homemade spring rolls for our special meal. To top it off, I'll be making Ryan his favorite sweet treat: cheesecake-stuffed, chocolate covered strawberries. Yum.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Poor, Bleeding Ears

My daughter can talk. And talk. And talk. It's no wonder, actually, that Liam doesn't talk; the poor boy doesn't have a chance to get a work in edgewise. I've written about her stream-of-consciousness talking before, but she is seriously taking it to a whole new level. She got off the bus the other day and literally did not take a breath as she told me about her day.

Me: Hi, Sweetheart. How was your day?

Sydney: Good. I didn't move my color today.* Guess what? Since it was cold and rainy, we couldn't go outside for recess so guess what? We got two sheets of construction paper to make a craft. Guess what colors I got...light blue and pink. Guess what I made with them...the Texas flag! Except I didn't have white paper, so I had to use blue on the top, too. But that's OK because it still looked like the Texas flag. And it was C's birthday so her mom brought cupcakes for everyone. Guess what was on them...little butterflies! I got a pink one with a yellow butterfly and it was so cute and it tasted good, too. So since I had a cupcake I can't have dessert tonight. Wasn't it fun last night when we made s'mores by the fireplace? You surprised me when I came out of the shower and you had all the stuff ready to make s'mores. I ran to my room and dried my hair and put my pajamas on real quick so that I could have a s'more. You know how we make s'mores when we go to San Antonio with Gram and Granddad? Do the kids get to roast the marshmallows or is it just the grown-ups? Maybe it could be that only kids over four can roast the marshmallows because fire can be really dangerous. What are we having for snack today?

And then I opened the front door and she finally took a breath.

Future talk show host, perhaps?

* The discipline system in her classroom is based on colors. The kids start the day with their name tags on green and if they break a rule, they have to move their tags to different, etc. It's a wonder that she never gets in trouble for talking too much!

Monday, February 1, 2010

So Excited!!

I'm almost too afraid to tell you what I'm so excited about because I fear it won't come true. But I'm about to explode so I just have to tell someone.

Guess where I might get to go in a few weeks?

New York!

With NO kids!!

Ryan is set to go to NYC for a business trip toward the end of the month and my mom, saint that she is, offered to stay at our house for the week so that I could go with him. Without kids! Wait, did I already say that? Sorry....I'm just so excited.

I didn't ask her to do this, I promise. She knew Ryan was set to go and practically begged me to go with him. I don't know if she's psychic and knows how much of a break I really need or just a glutton for punishment. Either way, I'm not going to question her sanity. Out loud, anyway.

So if I'm not around too much in the next couple of weeks, please forgive me. I'll be busy cleaning my house from top to bottom and typing up an "instruction manual" for my mom. And searching for comfortable, yet stylish shoes to wear in the city. And planning all the nerdy cool things I want to do.

Can't wait!!