In case you were wondering why I haven’t been blogging, it’s because I’ve been out of town helping with this little guy.

How cute is he? And how happy am I that I managed to get this shot and that my sister-in-law has such good editing skills. We make a pretty good team.

And now I’m in AZ to help with my sister’s newest. Lots of babies around these parts. And lots of quality time being an aunt.

a princess cake

When I was in fifth grade, I took my first cake decorating class. My mom was quite the baker, so I had been decorating under her tutelage for a while, but fifth grade was my first formal class. Through the years, I would occasionally use my skills, but then while living in Utah before grad school, I decided to take another class. Since then, I’ve done very little decorating of cakes…that is until last weekend when I took on a serious challenge: a princess cake for my niece’s fourth birthday.

My sis-in-law asked me if I would do it a few weeks out and then sent me an instructional YouTube video (that my niece watched several times…her job was quality control and she was serious about it). I watched it once and then we just went for it. And here’s what the process looked like:

I feel pretty good about the whole thing. My favorite part, by far, was my niece repeating to me parts of the video verbatim because seriously, is there anything cuter than a new 4 year old saying things like, “put a nice dollop on the top and then you’ll want to take an offset spatula…” Adorable!


Now that I covered the Thanksgiving drama, here are the highlights: my cute niece and nephew. 

Somebody really doesn’t like Thanksgiving dinner options.

Somebody also learned how to ride a bike in about 10 minutes…and that’s what he wanted to do all day long.

Of course little miss didn’t want to be left out…she’s still on training wheels of course.

Family ride time

Apparently somebody has been dying to try this jumping thing at the mall. Luckily I got to be there to witness it.

Clearly they hated it. 😉

Flying high!

Little Miss loves her grandpa. Lots of cuddling going on.

a weekend in nyc in photos

Don’t worry. These photos all have people in them. This is not one of those posts (I have plenty). I just thought it’s been way too long since I’ve posted any photos of myself…and my family is so adorable (even the old peeps). I figured since my sis-in-law had posted all of these on FB, I could post them here. Hope that’s true…
Waiting in the taxi line after connecting in the JetBlue terminal at JFK. And yes, I basically flew in my PJs. And yes, this is me after a red eye and without any makeup on. Hot, right?
Day one in Times Square. After naps…but still tired.
A little harbor cruise. My brother was enjoying it, I swear. 

Empire State Building. For those wondering, I prefer Top of the Rock for its park views, but you do kind of have to do this one.
Our night tour. Isn’t my nephew the cutest?!
Shelley might be holding that balloon because she won “best tourist” of our night tour. That’s our tour guide on the left. She was so fun!
Central Park on Sunday. My brother was kind of over the walking at this point.

Monday morning on Liberty Island. You can see the new World Trade Center in the background. I can only imagine what that view was like when the Twin Towers were still standing.

The end. See, that wasn’t so painful!

new york in a long weekend

Living in NYC, you kind of forget that most people aren’t used to walking so much. Or so fast. And that people don’t readily understand distances when they are walking them in regular shoes to get somewhere and not for exercise purposes alone. And so, in an effort to ensure that my brother, sis-in-law, and nephew saw all they could possibly see, I may have overestimated how much we could do/see/experience in three and a half days.

Of all the things I wanted them to see and they wanted to see the only things we missed were Tom’s Restaurant (aka the Seinfeld diner), the City of New York Museum (which actually isn’t that amazing…except there’s a movie they show that I really like), and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Now, how much we got to take in the other things…well, that’s another story. We kind of hurried through a lot of stuff. And the bus tours did not cooperate (I will be getting some money back when I call tomorrow).
I’ll post some of the more fun stories a little later, but I wanted to just get the details down so I could have a record of what we did/saw/experienced…so you can now stop reading this post if you haven’t already.
They arrived on the red-eye from PHX, I was on the one from SLC. Taxi home from the airport. Apartment Tetris in order to fit both queen and twin air mattresses in my living room. 
Power nap so we can make it through the day. Out the door at 11. 
Pick up tickets for tours, etc, at Times Square. Grab Shake Shack to go and eat while basically power walking to the pier (only like a mile…nbd). We’re the last people they let on the boat which was a Christmas miracle. Fabulous harbor tour. 
1:30 get off the boat and head back to Penn Station to get the subway downtown for our 3:00 reservation time for the 9/11 Memorial which was amazing. We also stop at St. Paul’s cathedral. After the memorial, we pop over to Wall Street and get to take in the Occupy Wall Street crazies in person (video to come). Oh, and we get a pretzel from a street vendor. The fam likes the pretzel. 
We then head down to Battery Park to catch the tour bus that never came! So subway it is…up to 59th Street and then a walk across town…taking in the Plaza and all of the fabulousness that is Central Park. Dinner at Carnegie Deli. This has been on my list for a while, so I am excited!
And day one ends with The Lion King. It is really good. Also something I haven’t done before, so I am very excited to get to see it…even though it might not have been top of my list. It should have been. It really was so good. 
After the show, we head over to Junior’s so the fam can have real NY cheesecake. The wait is way too long, so we get it to go and head back to my apartment to enjoy cheesecake in our PJs while watching 30 Rock (this is what we will do every night when we get home). Shelley also discovers black and white cookies at this point. She’s a fan, as are the two men.
Day one ends with me feeling very successful. Granted, my fam is pretty easy going, but still such a relief that they enjoy day one as much (if not more) than I hope they will. And my brother makes it really fun for all of us because his head is full of interesting information about all kinds of stuff.  
We sleep in a little. Josh and I go grab real New York bagels for breakfast. Finally get out the door (I’m not very good at sleeping in) and take the bus tour (after waiting a little for the bus to finally come). As we wait for the bus, we chat up the City Sights guy there. He’s very friendly and quite entertaining…giving my family the impression that New York is full of nice people. 
The bus tour starts and it’s pretty good. Not a huge fan of the tour guide, but whatevs. I’ve already kind of exhausted everyone, we they are happy to sit on the bus. We see lots of fun sights (including the street where I lived during my internship–Cornelia St). 
We get off at Battery Park to do Liberty and Ellis Islands. The line is ridiculous. So back on the bus tour we go (with a better tour guide). We get off at Rockefeller Center and take a look around. Then head down to the Empire State Building. We do this additional little Empire State Building Experience thing that was super corny, but kind of cool. 
From there we hit Grand Central so they can see it and then head over to Times Square on the shuttle to get on the night tour stopping at Shake Shack for dinner (yes, again) before getting in line. This line goes pretty fast and we have this awesome (if slightly crazy and sexually frustrated) tour guide. She is seriously awesome. I don’t think seeing the city at night will ever stop amazing me.
We get back to Times Square and do a little shopping at the Hershey’s store and the M&Ms store. My brother makes an Ms mix that might be the best I’ve ever had (no offense, Alisa). And then it’s home and time for bed (after 30 Rock and some pizza and garlic rolls from Famiglia next door). 
We get up and go to church. Brad keeps commenting what a different life this is. It’s fun to have them at church with me. After church we head home to change. Brad really wants a nap, but it’s not happening. We head out. 
I really want to go to Good Enough to Eat, but the line is really long. So we head down to Sarabeth’s and, in reality, probably wait just as long. I’m starting to stress out because we are burning daylight and we still have museums and the park. We wait quite a long time, but everyone loves the food so it works out. 
After lunch, we hit the American Museum of Natural History (aka the “Night at the Museum” museum–I haven’t seen the movies, but my nephew has informed me that it’s very disappointing to realize the movie takes so many creative liberties). The museum itself does not disappoint. And I have a lot of fun seeing things I’ve never seen, having only been there once. Brad gets distracted by all of the “shiny” objects (information about dinosaurs, etc) so we have to pull him along.
After the museum, we head into the park; Belvedere Castle, The Lake, Bethesda Fountain, and Poets’ Walk were the highlights (and about all the walking they wanted to do). We head to SE corner to get the uptown bus tour, only to discover that there’s a parade on Fifth Ave so much to Brad’s disappointment, there is more walking across the park. As luck would have it, the Wafels and Dinges cart is at Sixth Ave, so I let them rest and introduce them to my favorite waffles ever! 
After the rest, we head to Columbus Circle to catch the bus. I can’t find the bus stop, so we head to the next one. And wait. And wait. And wait. My anxiety is starting to kick in and I call City Sights to see what the deal is. We watch five busses from another tour company go by. Brad just wants to sit down. I don’t want to miss the tour because there are some cool things on it. And we’ve already paid for it. Finally, a City Sights bus comes. And there’s no room on it. Another call. More waiting. Shelley then calls…and Shelley can be scary when she wants to be. Even scarier than me. (I know, right?) 
So, finally a bus comes and…it’s our favorite tour guide. We take the tour and it’s great and then we head back to my apartment. Everyone is beat, so we rest for a minute and then head to Big Daddy’s for dinner, which is a perfect end to our day. And then we watch some 30 Rock.

I get everyone out of bed early so we can make it downtown and have time to visit the Statue of Liberty (which I’ve never done) and Ellis Island. Then we make our way up to Union Square and I introduce everyone to Max Brenner. No time to eat, though, so Shelley just picks up a couple of fun souvenirs for her mom. And then it’s off to H&M. My family does not know the glory that is H&M. And now they do. Josh, Brad, and Shelley all find stuff they liked. And Shell finds some great stuff for my two nieces who stayed at home.

And the final stop on the tour de New York? Doughnut Plant and it does not disappoint. Then back to my apartment. A little more 30 Rock and off we go to the airport, via public transit, you know, so they get the tourist and non-tourist experience.

It was so fun having them here and I still miss them. They are now, with the two girls, in Hawaii and I’m super jealous I’m not there, but I have to pay the bills somehow.

Pictures to come…

To be continued…must sleep now.