Monday, September 29, 2014

#148 He 'Climbs' the Empire State Building

Weekend I’d Forget
One thing that used to bother me when I was working was the dreaded question asked by all on Monday mornings, "How was your weekend?"

How was my weekend?  It's 8 am on Monday morning.  My weekend is the furthest thing from my mind right now.

Then I would stutter and squirm through trying to remember what on earth I actually did during the weekend.  I'd attempt to make it sound exciting, knowing that regardless what I had done it couldn't make up for the fact that it was now Monday morning and I had five days ahead of me before I could reach the freedom of another weekend again.*

*Note: I have always loved my jobs.  But I do not, repeat do NOT, like Monday mornings or 8 am.

This leads me to Weekend I'd Forget.  As an attempt to make sure I have something to write on Monday mornings, I am holding myself accountable to write a Weekend I'd Forget every Monday morning.  The point and purpose is to find one positive about my weekend to share with you.  I hope that in return you might find one positive about your weekend to share with me in the comments section either here or on my Facebook page.

So here goes.

Fortunately, my first Weekend I'd Forget was jam packed with fun and excitement.  We literally had plans every minute of the weekend, which is a big deal for us.  If I had to pick one favorite from the weekend though it would be this:


We went to NYC with my SIL, Sam, and her boyfriend, Kurt.  The purpose of the trip was to use gift cards we exchanged over the past two years to the Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao.  Initially, I thought dinner was going to be my Weekend I'd Forget entry.  Naturally, the meats were delicious.  The dessert was delicious.  My drink, Super-fruit Lemonade, was delicious.  Our after dinner drinks at my favorite coffee shop, Caffe Bene were delicious.  But our excursion following dinner was really what made my weekend.


Despite having visited the city a billion times over the last ten years, I have never experienced the Empire State Building.  It always seemed too touristy for me.  But when Hubby took some out-of-state coworkers, I realized through bitterness just how much I actually wanted the chance to climb the Empire State Building.


Most people find rolling hills and soothing seashores to be relaxing.  For me, the view of the city causes me to sigh romantically as I gaze longingly down the city streets lined with taxi cabs and skyscrapers.  

I also had to fight the urge to quote the movie, Elf, the entire time we were there.

We were in and out of the Empire State Building in roughly three hours.  I could have stayed longer, leaning against the bars staring down at the city streets.  A lot of tourists were daring, holding their phones out beyond the bars in order to get the best pictures possible.  My only regret was that I didn't have my fancy SLR camera with me to do the same (of course, while it was safely strapped around my neck).

Oh well.  Next time.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

#147 He Doesn't Do Drawings

It isn't often that I win random drawings.  I have one moment in time a little blurred in my memory.  I was with my father and Hubby at some sort of college meeting at a hotel in Cherry Hill.  It was one of those, 'Let's get you excited about the college you're going to attend!', kind of meetings.

They raffled off a few door prizes and I won a teddy bear wearing a sweater with our school's name stitched across the front.  I was overly excited about winning that teddy bear.


Now that I think of it, I'm not even sure if I won the teddy bear.  It might have been Hubby.  Perhaps I was just so excited to hear one of our names that over time it became mine.

Random drawings, raffles, and gambling of any sort get at me.  I know someone is going to win, but it is typically such a small percentage that I think why even bother tossing my name into the hat?

I usually don't enter the door prize sort of contests for this exact reason.  Too many times of eyeing up the prizes, putting my name in, and feeling eagerness surge within me at the thought of winning have left me burnt when Susie McWinsemall's name gets called.  Like a sucker though, I continue to go back to places where the possibility of winning may occur because I've made some sort of monetary commitment to it: Chinese auctions, casinos, 50/50's, etc.

A few weeks ago, Hubby and I went to the Jersey Fresh Wine Festival.*  Before reaching the entrance to the festival there were two tables set up with pads of entry forms.  I hardly even glanced at them as we hustled past. 

When we were leaving, somehow, someway, we got hooked by the man behind the tables.

"Did you enter on your way in?" he asked.  

Gosh darn my honesty, but I stopped dead in my tracks, looked at him and said, "No, we didn't".

A minute later we were both filling out entry forms for who knows why with our names and phone numbers for what sort of prize I couldn't even tell you.

*The festival was held on the first weekend in September but it felt like the first weekend of summer.  The heat traumatized me a little.  By that I mean that I was literally soaked with sweat and cursing days that hit 90 degrees or higher.  Despite the awesomeness of the festival and my thought that it would also be awesome to blog about, not a single note was written down nor picture was taken because of the vicious heat and my anger towards it. 


A voice mail message in my inbox last week confused then excited me. 

"I have some GREAT news for you.  You have won a fabulous prize and some additional prizes as well,"

At this point, I was starting to think I was listening to a recording.  The inflection in the woman's voice, the strange emphasis on the word great, and the larger than life appeal of it all had me convinced she was a robot.  Tell me you've gotten this one before: When you answer the phone your eardrum is blown out by the sound of a horn and then a man's voice saying, "This is your captain speaking,".  He continues to tell you that you've won tickets aboard a cruise ship.



When I realized it was a real person on my machine and she mentioned that my winnings were due to my entry at the Wine Festival I thought, perhaps, this might be legitimate.

She didn't say what I had won though.  I imagined it was too big to say over the phone.  A car?  Cash prize?  

I was no dummy though.  I figured if this was a scam, she would have called Hubby too since he had filled out a separate entry form.  My gut was telling me: Too good to be true.; You don't win things.;  There's something behind it.  But when Hubby said he hadn't received a call, I already began picturing myself trading in that new car for freshly printed cash.

Even in the first ten minutes--ten minutes!--of calling her back and being told that I had won four round trip airplane tickets to anywhere in the USA or Europe I was thinking, Sweet!  It came around the point where she began to tell me the "extra" prizes I had won that I knew I'd been played the fool.  If I went to Atlantic City that weekend to pick up my airplane tickets, I also would get a three night stay at one of their luxury hotels as well as $100 dining credit.

Are you thinking timeshare?  Because I was already there.

She then proceeded to straight up ask me if I've ever been to a timeshare presentation before.  I told her, quite bluntly, that yes my husband and I, both young and stupid on our honeymoon, agreed to give up what turned into four hours of our romantic getaway in order to score three nights in Virginia.

Yes, we're definitely winners.

I humored her and even set up a time on Monday to come in and hear their presentation in order to get my airplane tickets.  However, when I received three--THREE--calls and one voice mail message confirming that I would be coming and that my husband and I would have our ids and a major credit card with us I decided there was no way free airfare was worth it.  

If you've never been to a timeshare presentation, consider yourself lucky.  

Here's the deal.  Once you get your free item, in our case three nights in the most fabulous wondrous state of Virginia, when you check-in to actually enjoy your free item you are then told you have to participate in another short presentation.

Three hours later and you have free airfare to the Bahamas which you will more than likely opt not to use because of the major portion of your life that simply staying in a hotel room cost. 

The moral of today's ranting?  Go with your gut.  Don't enter such contests unless the bucket is completely empty and the prize and your car are both in your line of vision.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#146 He Loves Fall

I peeked through scrunched morning eyes from underneath the fortress of my heavy feather comforter as Hubby got ready for work this morning.  "It's 47 degrees out," he said

"Right now?" I asked as if he might be talking about next week or the weather in Canada for some odd reason.

New Jersey's weather has been so unpredictable it has put me in quite the moody state.  Of course, I loved our summer days that felt like fall and wished that they would remain.  But the current days where the mornings start cool and then turn into a muggy 75 by the afternoon make me want to cry.

Today's temperature seemed like the perfect true start to fall.

I've been ready for fall since the end of winter.  Winter is bearable for me, except last winter--I'm not sure what happened there.  I despise spring and while I enjoy some elements of summer, it gets old after a week or so.

I'll spare you the generic lists you've seen on social media for why girls like fall (hoodies, pumpkin spice lattes, boots, cooler weather, etc).  Naturally, if you like fall you must be a fan of cooler weather.  I don't necessarily have a fall favorites list, but here are a few things I'm looking forward to now that it is fall:


1. Hot Chocolate

The best hot chocolate I have ever experienced was from Eleven Madison Park in NYC.  It was several years ago, so who knows if they even serve it anymore, but it was like drinking melted milk chocolate.  The next best thing I've found is at The Bent Spoon in Princeton, NJ.  Warning!  It is extremely thick, but full of chocolate deliciousness.*

Then of course, there is always homemade which sometimes is just as good.  

*It is so thick that leftovers in my fridge turned into a chocolate pudding-like state. 

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2. The Colors of Fall

I recently realized that I keep some items that really should be labeled as "fall decorations" up all year.  The only reason I can assume that I do not take them down is that these items fall into the color scheme that I love.  Bright summer colors are nice, but warm fall colors set my mind at ease.  

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3. Fires

We've used our fire pit once or twice this summer.  While it's nice to have a fire in the summer, it's better in the fall.  In the summer you have to battle mosquitoes while balancing not being too close to the fire.  Because the fire is hot, and chances are the day is still hot--because it's summer.

In fall the mosquitoes are gone, the weather is cooler, and bundling up near a fire with a stick packed with sugar just seems like the right thing to do.     

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4. Pumpkin Carving

I was in my twenties before I carved my first pumpkin.

Shocking, I know.

I've done it a few times since then and discovered it to be too much of a hassle for me. (You'll note that I do not have a pumpkin in the above picture).  However, I love to see what other people can do with them.  In case you can't tell, and I'm sure you can't for some of them, the first pumpkin pictured above is Gizmo from Gremlins, the second is one that Jonathan taped pictures to (much safer than giving him a knife to hack at it with), the third pumpkin is Hubby's carving of the world (it looked much better from a different angle, I promise), the fourth pumpkin is Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas, and the last pumpkin is Edgar Allen Poe.  

Carving pumpkins is so much more fun when done with family or friends.

If all else fails, I like to purchase plastic pumpkins that have had inspirational sayings "carved" into them for decoration.  It saves the whole rotting step from happening.


5. Thanksgiving Breakfast

I have been thinking about Thanksgiving breakfast since summer.  Now that it is fall I'm actually allowed to begin thinking about it.

In case this is your first time here, my Thanksgiving breakfast is a little---different.  For well over ten years now, my family begins Thanksgiving morning by having dessert for breakfast.  It's pretty much my favorite thing about Thanksgiving, aside from the turkey...and the parade.  I usually get a little out of hand and make about ten desserts too many.  I promise, this tradition didn't begin this way.  It started with my mother and my aunt eating one piece of their pumpkin pie in the morning and it has turned into something that perhaps one day I will seek therapy for.

This year I'm thinking of making pie the theme.  The only problem is I have never experimented with the perfect pie crust.  

Looks like I'm going to be busy this October.


6. Hot Coffee and Holiday Coffee Cups

In the summer I usually give up my hot coffee for the cooling delight of iced coffee.  When fall comes and I can begin ordering my hot coffee again, it warms my heart--literally and figuratively.  Poor Hubby then has to endure the shrieks and childish giggles that I somehow produce at the sight of holiday coffee cups.  It means, just as the start of fall means ultimately for me, that Christmas is almost here.  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#145 He Opens My Door

If I have yet to share this sappiness before, let me say it now, Hubby and I were high school sweethearts.*

*I promise, there is a point to reminding you of this.

And here it is.  The Christian high school we attended required chapel attendance every Thursday.  During one of these chapels, the pastor preached a message where he referred to chivalry in men.  What the overall point of his message was--I shamefully would not be able to tell you today--but he made a major point of saying that men of all ages should still be in the habit of opening doors for women and doing chivalrous things of that sort.  He told us how he always opens the car door for his wife and challenged the 'men' in the room to do the same.

As I sat in my seat, separated from my love by grade level (he was a senior, I was a junior) I thought, That is really sweet.  No one will ever do it though, especially none of the boys in this school.  I gave it no further consideration until my boyfriend came up to me after and said, "I want to start doing that."


There hasn't been a day since that message was preached that my boyfriend, fiance, and now husband has not opened a door for me.

Ordinarily, I would find this not to be an earth shattering-news worthy-go tell your momma ordeal.  However, over the past twelve years of doors being opened for me, I have realized that chivalry truly is endangered.  Most would imagine that it should be a natural habit for men to open doors to buildings for women.  However, the number of arrogant men out there who don't even recognize their shadow following them into the building, let alone the woman standing behind them, is appalling.  

I truly realized that chivalry is near dead by the number of comments we have received over the years when my husband has opened my car door for me.  Initially, I tried to fight it.  I know spoiled when I see it, and having my car door opened for me made me feel extremely spoiled.  He made it clear to me early on that this was not something I could fight him on.  He was going to open my car door for me--all the time.

We have experienced continuous comments from people of all ages during the years we have been together over this simple act of opening a car door.  It has ranged from hopeless romantic teenage girls cooing out, “Aww, how sweet!” to older gentlemen commenting that “you don’t see that too often”.

I saw the lengths this strive for chivalry had covered when I observed my younger brother carrying on this same habit that my husband began back at the age of seventeen.  When I commented on it, Joel basically shrugged his shoulders as if what he was doing was purely natural.   He went on to say the he was merely following after his role model.

I'm sure most pastors never know the impact their messages have, especially when their audience is a crowd of hormonal teenagers who can barely see past the end of their noses.  Fortunately for me, one day back in 2002 a teenage boy listened to the heart of the message and has carried it with him and even made his own impact on others simply because he chose to listen.


*Note: I realize these are not car doors that I've pictured.  I've made peace with it, I hope you will, too.

Monday, September 15, 2014

#144 He Wears Nike

The overall feeling of unemployment is that something is missing.  Although I definitely pack my day with a schedule of cleaning, exercising, writing, and playing violin there is the lurking feeling that since I'm not being paid for those things I'm cheating somehow.  I shouldn't be enjoying what I can do even though I now have the time to do it.

I must have some kind of serious guilt complex.

That said, I often jump at the opportunity to add an occasional day of something different to my week.  When my brother, Joel, told me he would be nearby and needed some help with his work, I was the eager front row student with my hand waving in the air to be chosen.


At the beginning of August, Joel and his wife, Mallory, began working for Camfel Productions, a non-profit that sends teams all over the country to present student development programs based heavily on building character and eliminating bullying.  After training in California for two weeks, they drove across the country and wound up only a few miles away from home after a month on the job.


My family was pretty excited over that.

The presentation takes close to two hours to set up.  It is a three-screen projected video and setting up the screens and projectors is no joke.  On my visit, Joel and Mallory had to do this as the auditorium was filled with students for their different orientation periods on the first day of school.


I didn't expect to be so impacted by the video they presented.  They were supposed to be motivating the students, yet I was sitting in my chair feeling the rise within me of inspiration and excitement.  If I remember much about my attitude in high school, I'm guessing that not even half the students reacted the same way as I did.  Hopefully the key points sunk in, but I'm sure there weren't many students stifling tears throughout different segments of the video.

Okay, that one may have been PMS's fault.


The video was called, The Pledge.  Though the main focus was pledging not to bully or spread rumors, the especially moving part, for me, was when the video focused on stories of students who have overcome obstacles and disabilities, yet still manage to live without a worry or care.

Being part of or starting a nonprofit is something I hope to eventually make a part of my future.  I'm sure they had no idea, but spending the day with Joel and Mallory propelled my aspirations and shook inside of me the need to do something.


Nike cleverly coined the phrase "Just Do It" in 1988, and I feel like I need those words tattooed on my forearm so that I can always be haunted by them.  At the writing conference I attended in August one of the presenters used those words as a way of telling the audience they need to write constantly.  No muse is needed, the writer need only to just do it.  It doesn't matter if what you produce is bad.  Just do it, again and again, and it will get better.  Joel and Mallory followed "Just do it" by taking on this job.  It was risky, it was different, but they felt a desire to do it.  And they did.


I think the same is true with anything else we aspire towards in life.  Just do it.  Follow your dreams.  Don't allow inhibition to hold you back, don't allow the thought of what others will think or say to worry you.  It's a simple, but also powerful, concept.  Don't allow it to be used only as a fashion statement.

Just Do It.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

#143 He Went to School

Most schools in New Jersey have completed at least their first full day of classes by now, some their first full week.  Teachers have been preparing not only their classrooms, not only their plan books, but also themselves mentally for days upon weeks previous to the first day of school.

It was with a bittersweet ache that I sat by this year and watched as my teacher friends readied for new rosters of students who they, little did their students know, were nervous and excited about meeting.

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Having recently become unemployed due to the closing of my fabulous school, I have spent a lot of time evaluating what I want to do.  Though I loved my years of teaching, I find this occurrence in my life comes at a time where maybe, it's meant to be.  I've spent most of the time of the two months I've been off so far traveling, writing, reading, traveling some more, struggling with writing, struggling with reading, and of course, cooking.  I haven't tossed in the towel on the job front, I need to continue being able to cook after all, but I've started searching in different directions.

I must admit though, seeing Instagram'd moments of the first day of school, of clean backpacks, of organized classrooms, and of eager faces has tugged on my heart strings just a tad.  Those are only a few of the things that are easily missed.  The wonder in a child's eye when they learn something new, the nervous giddiness that students have in coming back together after summer break, the smell of fresh sharpened pencils and the look of textbooks that have yet to be destroyed.  Writing every child's name a thousand times on laminated apples or cartoon owls, then going back to find that one name you realized you misspelled every single time.  Organizing your room, because it is yours and only yours.  You control what comes in and out.  

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Being a first time teacher is no easy feat, don't allow the smiling face of the seemingly confident new hire to confuse you.  When I walked into my first classroom the first ten minutes were filled with a breath of pride.  The following ten hours were filled with deep breaths of anxiety.  Thoughts of I-can't-do-this filled my head as I dug through a mess of a closet stuffed with bulletin board displays, textbooks, videos, manipulatives, science kits, and some things I couldn't even name.  I flipped through teacher's guides never knowing how I would manage to teach it all, imagining the disapproving looks of parents who I knew could see right through me.  My room was a blank canvas with which I could create whatever I wanted, but all I could see was the clock ticking closer to the start of the first day.  I could only hear that little subconscious voice whispering, "You're not ready for this."  

In my five years spent as a classroom teacher, I discovered that teachers do have it easy in many obvious ways: two-month summer vacation, winter break, spring break, sick days/personal days, pensions, tenure; yet the fact that their quality of work will impact children's lives, and oftentimes even their futures, makes a teacher's job among the most influential, and therefore also stressful, of all.

For a good teacher, at least. 

Good teachers are tormented with an irresistible urge to go into their classroom and give their students more than humanly possible.  Good teachers worry to a point that they can't sleep over that one student who is struggling.  Good teachers waste their lunch break to find more challenging work for that exceptionally bright student.  Good teachers don't measure their worth at their job in pay increases, but they measure it in lives changed, in smiles counted, in hugs received.  And unfortunately, good teachers are often not recognized or appreciated as they should be for as much that they do.       

No, I certainly do not miss those parts of teaching, though I can say I have been blessed to have been part of great staffs at great schools, which certainly helped to subside any difficulties experienced.

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For those of you who are so fortunate to be frequenting a school this year under the label of "parent", keep these things in mind as you speak to your child's teacher, when you run into the woman who is 'just an aide', or when you see the office staff.  Remember that each one of them is invested in your child's success.  You have the power to either make what they do easier, or more difficult.

For those of you who are so fortunate to be frequenting a school this year under the label of "teacher" or "staff" though you may never hear it this year, or the next, or perhaps even in your lifetime, know that you are making a difference in the lives of your students.  You may never have stories written of your feats in the classroom or monuments constructed of your likeness, but hidden inside each of your students will be values you instilled with unknown limits to where they may someday reach. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#142 He Loves the Falls

You know you have discovered something wonderful if you are willing to drive to it time and time again.  Even after this second trip, Hubby and I both agreed we would still take the seven-hour drive back to Niagara in a heartbeat.  

Most people grow up knowing what the falls are, but the experience of standing in front of this massive amount of water flowing continuously is unequal to what a simple photograph or description can hold.  Even more astounding is the knowledge that this was not created by man.  It makes me feel so very small, but in the same breath so very important.  If the Creator of the universe could mold water and rock to form something as breathtaking as the Niagara Falls, how much more can he do with me?

Final Stop: Niagara Falls, Canadian Side

We arrived in Canada around dinner time giving us little time to explore the falls during daylight.  After we ate, we wanted to walk around and get closer to the falls so Jonathan could see them with the colorful lights they are lit up with at night.

On our way we ran into this cutie...

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Alright, I'm calling him a cutie now, but I'll admit I wasn't quite so calm and cool as I stood a foot away from him.

This was, apparently, the night of the crazy spectacular moon.  Naturally, I didn't realize it until we were back in our hotel room.  Jonathan hadn't taken to the idea of standing in the dark against a railing overlooking a deep drop into the water with about a thousand other tourists so we cut our walk short after grabbing some much needed Starbucks.

I tried my best to get a picture of it from out room.  It looked amazing over top of the buildings on the American side of the falls.

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But the pictures either came out too blurry...

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or caught too much glare from the window.

The fireworks we watched from the same hotel window came out perfectly.

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Jonathan was still recovering from the trauma of standing near the railing to look at the falls, so he insisted that he was going to stay in his side of the room and not watch the fireworks.

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Which prompted Hubby to drag him across the room and force him to sit with us as we watched the fireworks over the falls.  Jonathan kept his body turned away from the window, as if looking would cause him to fall out.

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The next morning we made Jonathan face his fear of the railing.  This time, I think he was more aggravated with the mist blowing in his face than the height.

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The weather was absolutely perfect.  The last time Hubby and I went it was July and it was hot!  The mist had been a refreshing delight.  We caught some strange fall gust of weather this time and our days were between high 60s and low 70s.

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I wasn't complaining!

Apparently, the Maid of the Mist is now called, "Hornblower Cruises".  The American side still runs Maid of the Mist ships though.  

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We figured this was the one excursion Jonathan would like best.  It also was my favorite from our last visit.

Because where else can you get a view like this?

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For the first couple of minutes on the boat, Jonathan stayed sitting on top one of the lifesaver bins.  Once we got closer to the falls I coaxed him to come stand in front of me.

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There are two major negatives about visiting Niagara Falls.  

1. Dining is ridiculously expensive.  We paid $40 one day for breakfast...for three people...and before tip!  If you want to save on food, you have to drive at least five minutes away from the falls.   

2. There is a lot of walking.  To get to the falls you have two options: walk down an insane incline (which means, walk back up the same incline to go back to your hotel) or take the Falls Incline Railway.  Last time, we didn't use the railway.  We decided we needed the exercise.  This time, since we had Jonathan we planned to buy a day pass and use the railway all day long to spare our legs.  A one way ticket is $2.50, a round trip ticket is $5.00, and an all day pass is $6.00.  We figured we would use the railway at least four times so the round trip ticket would be well worth it.

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On our first use of the railway, we were thrilled.  We have saved probably a half hour of time and spared our legs the torture of walking down the strip only to have to walk back to the same spot the railway would drop us at.  Confusing, I know.

The only problem?  We huffed and puffed our way back to the railway after having spent most of the morning looking at the falls, walking down to go on the Hornblower Cruise, only to find that the railway was not working and we would have to walk all the way back from where we started, and up the incline.

I'm not normally one to demand a refund, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I made them refund our round trip ticket purchase.

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While we were in Downtown Niagara, Jonathan wouldn't rest until he could play arcade games.  The above game is a great example as to why I do not go on rides at amusement parks.  It shook, rocked me back and forth, made my head bang against the seat, and had me ready to jump off, run out of the arcade, rush to my room and lay on the couch for the next two hours.

I know, I'm a big baby.

After avoiding the window for the first day and a half that we were in Niagara, as we were getting ready to check out was when Jonathan decided to tackle sitting next to the window.  His response?  "I love falls!".

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It's always hard to end a vacation.  As much as part of me misses home and needs to go back, another part wants to stay away enjoying life somewhere so different from home.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

#141 He Doesn't Need Me to Drive

Spoiled is quite the understatement when choosing words to describe the life my husband has created for me.  Over this entire summer, we have collected somewhere near sixty hours of driving time in our travels.  Do you want to know how much of that time I have been in the driver's seat?

Two hours.

T w o.

Again I say, spoiled.

What makes me really spoiled is when Hubby takes me somewhere we've already been....without complaint, with my younger brother, and with driving the entire way.

I suppose I should repay him by never making fun of his fantasy football obsession and watching every Sunday night game with him.

The latter might be pushing it.

But he so deserves it.

Third Stop: Jamestown, NY- I Love Lucy Museum

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Though I Love Lucy was a show of the fifties, my brothers and I grew up alternating between recorded video tapes of Lucy, The Three Stooges, and The Marx Brothers.  

To us, it might as well have been 1950.

Not a one of our friends ever knew what we were talking about when we told them of the shows we watched, but it didn't matter.  It was something we shared and something that still today when we see it we think of home, we think of falling asleep in the living room, and we think of each other. 

This is of course part of the reason I simply couldn't refuse the chance to take Jonathan to the Lucy Desi Museum in Jamestown, NY.

After several hours on rainy highways, we needed nourishment immediately upon entering Jamestown.

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With its Lucy memorabilia displayed on shelves, in frames, and on counter tops, Babalu Cafe fit the bill to start our day filled with Lucy.  Used to the lunch break time restraints of the workers in this tiny industrial town, our waitress made sure to inform Hubby that the burger he ordered would take twenty minutes to make.  I could appreciate recognizing that lunch rush diners are most often in a hurry.  

I also appreciated the prices.  No one wants to pay over ten dollars for a sandwich at lunch time, even if they are in Lucille Ball's hometown...that's just silly.  For the three of us, our total bill was under $25.  The only addition I would make to the Babalu Cafe is what Jonathan asked for the minute I told him where we were going for lunch: tables made out of drums.* 

I became a "Cast Member" on this visit.  For a $50 donation to the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy a few of the perks I received were:
  •  Membership card and certificate
  • Unlimited free admissions for myself and one guest
  • 15% discount on all gift shop purchases
  • Lucy-Desi Center bumper sticker
  • Lucy-Desi Center Member tote bag
  • Laughs, Luck...and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time written by Jess Oppenheimer

 My membership basically paid for itself because Jonathan and I spent ridiculous amounts in the gift shops.  Regardless, I had planned to become a member this time because I Love Lucy was such a part of my childhood that contributing to the lasting memory and preservation of all things I Love Lucy seemed the thing for me to do.

*Think of the first episode of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour: Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana

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There are two different entrances to the museum.  Visitors can either begin on the Lucy-Desi Museum side or the Desilu Studios side.  On both our visits, we started on the left at the Lucy-Desi Museum.  This section is a collection of memories and pieces of Lucy and Desi's childhoods, adult lives, and lives together as a married couple.  While there is some mention to I Love Lucy on this side of the museum, it is not the highlight.

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Towards the end of the museum is a room playing a video about the Lucy Festival held every August.*  In the back of the room is a movie projector that was in Lucy and Desi's Beverly Hills home along with a sketch of the layout of their movie room.  Their setup was pretty high tech for the time this must have been used during.  They had a projection room that the projector was hidden in to block out the heat it produced and its noise.  The heat was taken up through chimney stacks that were connected to the top of each projector.  A screen came down from the ceiling when movies were to be viewed.

*We missed going to the Lucy Festival by only a few days!

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At the end of the Lucy-Desi Museum you can sign their guest book.  Here is what Jonathan wrote:

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Desilu Studios is dedicated to all things I Love Lucy.  I didn't notice any major additions from the time Hubby and I had gone alone.  More than likely, finding new pieces for the museum requires hunting down people who knew Lucy and are willing to part with something of hers or something that was used in her show. 

On this visit, I saw this: 

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In case you can't read that tiny print, in 1981 the mayor of Los Angeles proclaimed October 15th to be "I Love Lucy Day" in honor of Lucille Ball and in recognition of the talents of the cast members of the greatest television show of all time.

I think I'll be participating in that holiday from now on.

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At the end of Desilu Studios, you can recreate the famous "Vitameatavegamin" scene from the episode "Lucy Does a TV Commercial".  I forced Jonathan to do it.

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The museum can be completed in under two hours, and there aren't any glamorous bells and whistles, but if you love I Love Lucy it will certainly find a special place in your heart from the minute you drive into the city of Jamestown.