Wednesday, October 1, 2014


The first time I went to New York City, I was just a kid. My pom pon team qualified for a national competition--which was out east--so the entire family packed their suitcases and we hopped on the road. We stopped in many states along the way, including New York. 

Because I was so young, I only remember bits and pieces and, what memories still exist, are foggy and dreamlike. What I do remember, though, is how little I felt among the masses of buildings that seemed full of opportunity. I remember the feeling of excitement I experienced just by being in the streets of New York City.

Fast forward to 2014. Me. Married to a man who is obsessed with soccer, and, particularly--the Arsenal team. Thomas mentioned earlier this year that Arsenal was playing a "friendly" (that's a game that doesn't take place as part of a competition, such as a World Cup) in NYC. This was a big-deal game. Arsenal hadn't played in the United States in 25 years. I knew he wanted tickets. And I also knew this was the man who never asks for anything. Like, EVER. I had to pretend as though this was just "too much"in a year of so much going on because I knew if I didn't, he'd just buy the tickets himself. I didn't want to miss an opportunity to gift something to him that he would remember for a lifetime.

Conspiring with a group of ladies that are on my Facebook Moms group (for suggestions on where to buy these tickets that seemed completely elusive), my husband's boss, my boss and my family, I was able to get two tickets, time off of work for us and a sitter (thanks, mom!) for the baby. The family all chipped in with the cost and we presented a card with this drawing (I use the word "drawing" loosely) to Thomas for his birthday:

Thomas was beyond shocked and over-the-moon happy. In late July, amidst the chaos of our busy schedules, we packed our bags and headed for the airport. 

We arrived safely in NYC. While in the city (I love saying that), we stayed at a boutique hotel, which turned out to be a fantastic idea. Boutique hotels--in my experience, anyway--tend to really put the customer first and make sure you have everything you need and are totally content. Plus, they are a little more unique than your big chain hotels. You know this girl loves that.

No matter what I do in life, I will always be the kid who grew up rich with love, but money poor. Couple that with my interest in design and aesthetics and you have an adult who will always be tickled and amazed with a cool hotel room. So, here are some pics. 

All the artwork in the room was by local artists. 

Loved the wingback chair and the wood floors. 

Our window looked out on to Broadway Street. Seriously, how cool.

Even the "do not disturb" signs are cooler in NYC. 

After we were settled into our hotel room, we were exhausted from running on about four hours of sleep and then traveling all morning. Thomas ran out and picked up some NYC pizza as I started in on schoolwork. Oh yes, even NYC couldn't keep me entirely away from that lovely homework of mine. *grumble*

After we were fed, my homework was done and we caught a nap, we headed down to Grand Central Station where there were Arsenal players having some sort of exhibition. The place was so crowded that we couldn't really see the players, but the energy of all the Arsenal fans in the building was still exciting. And the station itself was structurally beautiful. 

Afterward, we headed to an athletic store where Thierry Henry (former Arsenal player) was scheduled to have a meet and greet event. When we got to the store, the line was down the sidewalk and around the corner. We were famished, so we decided to pop in to an Italian restaurant for a quick bite before getting in line. We were only in there about a half hour and when we came out, the line around the store was completely gone.

I knew there was no way all those people had met Thierry that quickly. I was feeling like an awful wife for not having suggested we stand in line first, so I asked one of the store employees if Thierry had actually met all the people in line. Apparently  the event was cancelled at the last minute. The trip to the store wasn't totally a bust, though, as we picked up a few items. 

We also met up with my old college friend, Maya, whom I haven't seen in fifteen years. Seriously, fifteen years. Oy, time flies. She was a sport and braved one of the crowded-with-Arsenal-fans bars to hang out and catch up with us. Sooo good to see her! We were so deliriously tired and the place was so crazy crowded that I didn't even snap a pic of us. An excuse to get back out there soon!

The next day--the big day--was GAME DAY. We started bright and early by catching...brunch. Yes, we slept in. Hey, with our crazy schedules, sleeping in was just what the doctor ordered!

Luckily, even the "drop by" places in NYC are fancy schmancy and totally delicious.

Might as well have a mimosa in Manhattan. Cin, cin!

My handsome husband in his Arsenal gear. :)

 Getting to Newark--where the game was held--was a small journey. We walked. We took a subway. Or two or three. We took a train. We walked. We walked some more. It wasn't bad;it was fun, actually--just, a journey

 When we arrived and were seated, the heavens parted...

...and hallelujah!

I like to imagine my husband thinking, at this moment, a thought similar to what the dad in "Rudy" said when, for the first time, he saw the inside of the Notre Dame stadium--"this is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen". 

It took a loooooong time to get back on the train after the game, but it was a little awesome in that we were surrounded by an arsenal of Arsenal fans. All singing, in dialects from across the globe, happy to have been a part of this day. 

Saturday night, we hopped in a cab and went down to Times Square to just take in the wonderful circus that is Times Square. 

 Meanwhile, at an NYC grocery store....

 Olives anyone? This girl's dream store.

While in NYC, we also took in a Broadway show.... well as a hop on, hop off tour. (Where we hopped off in China Town for shopping and Little Italy for lunch.)

I had to take this picture. (Sorry, not sorry.)

This one, too. Bling, bling. 

(Later that evening) We had such a beautiful view from one of our hotel's terraces.

After a day of touring, going to a show and meeting up with Thomas' friend Wally for dinner at a French restaurant in Times Square (seriously, I think we have more friends in NYC as there wasn't even enough time to meet up with all of the people we knew), we kicked back in our hotel lobby Sunday evening. 

And what a cool place to kick back in and have a drink. The following pictures were taken in the daytime. At night, though, the garage door that is in one of the pictures below is opened up to the street and a band plays right inside the garage. Very NYC.

Monday, before we headed back home, we walked around Manhattan snapping up some last minute souvenirs and grabbed breakfast. 

I already miss the energy of NYC. The people walking by the restaurants. The brownstones. The feeling that you are in fact, in an international hub.

The last thing we did before we left was walk past Yoko Ono's apartment and take a moment to reflect on the death of John Lennon. This was a biggie for Thomas and I was more than happy to oblige. After we stood near the entrance to the apartment building for a few minutes, we headed down to Central Park and walked around for a long time, just taking in the beautiful scenes and savoring our last moments.

We have so much that we didn't get to while in NYC. Next time, my friend. Next time. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn is Officially Here

Happy Tuesday and WELCOME TO FALL
One of my favorite seasons--the other is spring--is officially here. 

With the air turning crisp just a teensy early here in Michigan, I celebrated the arrival of fall just a little early over the weekend with delicious apple cider and rum, infused with mulling spices I picked up from World Market. 

The great thing about Michigan, and having four seasons, is once you are feeling bored with one season, Mother Nature brings on the next show. And fall in Michigan is an absolutely beaaauuutiful show.

I love when the air begins to turn slightly crisp and you can leave the doors open for a cool cross breeze.  I adore the moment the leaves dry just a little and the wind shakes them about and makes the most peaceful nature's music. Don't even get me started on the utter gorgeousness of the leaves when they begin changing colors. Oof. 

I have not been able to enjoy fall the way I'd like to for the past couple of years due to being unnaturally busy. Although I am still working on wrapping my degree up, I am determined to partake in all that is wonderful about fall, including recipes, cocktails, long walks in the evening, pumpkins, candles and more! I have a checklist of things I'd like to enjoy/do this fall and I can check the following off that list:

1. Make Pumpkin Dip

 Well worth the wait!

2. Cook with squash. 

Oh my. I pinned a delicious butternut squash recipe with brown rice, chicken broth and parmesan cheese. Low-fat and absolutely scrumptious. 

3. Drink wine infused with mulling spices

Who knew Witch's Brew was more than just wine packaged in a cute bottle?

I actually followed the suggestion on the back of the bottle by lighting up my "cauldron" and heating the wine. 

It was absolutely delicious, but I remain unsure what the temperature of a witch's tongue might be...I took my best guess at it. 

This is just the beginning and I will share more completed items as the season progresses.

What is on your fall fun list?


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Seven Months Old

Our little buddy has another month in the books!
Jackson Nazir Morgan
Seven months old on 7-18-14

Milestones and Memories

1. Green Beans

As new parents, we were a little spoiled in that Jackson easily and quickly took a bottle from day one. Never fussed--save for the brief period we switched formula in the early days and who knows if that was even stemming from the formula--and would take a bottle like a champ. From anyone. So admittedly, we were not the parents to get him going on other means of nutrition early on. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?)

Well, his pediatrician recently recommended we start introducing other foods. This month wasn't the first month he ever tried food outside of formula, but it was when we decided to regularly start giving him other food. Just a little bit at a time. 

It's so funny to see babies' faces when they start eating something other than their formula. All that flavor. Woah. Hey. Too much. What IS this?? After a little adjusting, Jackson is beginning to happily eat the new food, too. He especially likes carrots and green beans, as is evidenced in the picture below. ;-)

2. Getting More Teeth

Jackson has started getting his teeth brushed regularly because he now has FOUR TEETH. Tooth number three and four came in during month seven. Jackson loves getting his teeth brushed because mom and dad's finger inside the little baby toothbrush serves as an EXCELLENT teether. 

3. Still Loving Bathtime

I laugh when I think back to Jackson's first bath. He hated it. I was worried as I thought it would be the one thing a baby would love. Luckily mom and dad just had the bath water a little too cold for his liking. We adjusted the water temperature the next time around and he has loved taking baths ever since. 
We only put him in his little bath chair out of convenience, rather than necessity, these days. He kicks, splashes and squeals while taking a bath. He is completely relaxed during bath time and it's so much fun for us as parents. The most intriguing part of bath time for Jackson is when the water is draining. He likes to feel the pressure near the drain and pat at it. 

4. Getting Sick

Not that this is a great memory, but it's a part of his month, so I thought I'd include it. This was the first time Jackson really got a bad cold. His dad had put this Baby Einstein contraption together and while he was mildly amused with it, his cold kept him from really enjoying it. 
This was also the first time we had to take him in to the pediatrician for being sick. When we took him in, we found out he had a double ear infection. I just wanted to take the pain away as it broke my heart to see him suffering so much. 

And the worst part about babies getting ear infections is that oftentimes, the ear infections come back. 

A couple of weeks later, Jackson got another ear infection in one of his ears. My poor buddy spent that entire Saturday at a birthday party, completely miserable. We didn't know at the time that he was sick as he didn't have a fever and just seemed fussy. We figured it was due to his nap schedule being totally thrown off that day. 

We took him in and found out about the ear infection. His pediatrician put him on an antibiotic and he was back to his happy self a couple of days later. 

5. First Cousin Birthday Party

It was not the first birthday party Jackson had attended, but it was the first cousin birthday. Jackson attended his cousin Audrey's fourth birthday party. The party was held across the street from our house and had a pink butterfly theme.

The kids played all sorts of games and Jackson was happy and content watching the kids play. I know he can't wait to join in the fun next year!

6. Six Month Checkup

Although technically in the seventh month, due to the six month appointment being made slightly after Jackson's six month mark, I'm including it in this month's memory list!

Jackson loves his pediatrician. He is always so smiley and happy for her. He bats his eyelashes and now can happily roll around the paper they have on the medical examination tables. He loves the way the paper makes sound. Jackson is still middle-of-the-road for height and weight and has a head circumference that is nearly off the charts. The doctor did a double-take when she saw the numbers for his head circumference. So, she checked again. Yep, still has a big noggin'. He definitely has his dad's head. (Though large heads run-on mom's side of the family, too.)

 7. Working on Sitting Up

So I know there are a lot of babies out there who probably sat up on their own very early on. Many of those babies do not have head circumferences in the 98th percentile, either. It's hard work holding all that up when you are a baby! 

I knew Jackson could sit up on his own without assistance, but he just didn't seem motivated to do it. I'm telling you, I have one of the world's most laid-back babies. I don't like to push anything, but I felt it was time to gently prod my little man into sitting up. 

Over the 4th of July weekend, I really worked with him and it was amazing how in just a couple of weeks' time, you would never know he hadn't been sitting up. He is still a little wobbly at this point if he gets too excited, but he is gaining independence so quickly now by being able to sit up on his own. 

8. First Fourth of July

Jackson had an event-filled first Fourth of July!  We hung around the house earlier in the day and headed to Aunt Margaret's in the afternoon to meet up with the rest of the family. 

At Aunt Margaret's, there was a huge spread of delicious food, drinks and fun that awaited us. 

I finally got to try out this fun fruit arrangement I'd pinned on Pinterest at least a couple of years ago. Super easy, festive and fun!

 Grandma Jody wore a dress that Jackson could not resist. The pattern and fabric--baby heaven!!

The weather that day was absolutely perfect. All the kids were playing with water guns and in the pool. Most of the family sat out in the backyard on my Aunt Margaret's gorgeous deck. 

Jackson dipped his toes in the water. This was only his second time standing in a pool. 

He loved it!!

After a dip in the pool, he enjoyed a ride atop dad's shoulders.

It was a bonus that dad had so much hair to play with. :)

Jackson was tuckered out a couple of hours before the city fireworks began. We put him in his pajamas and laid him down in my aunt's spare bedroom. I had no idea how he would do since the fireworks were going to be LOUD. My 30 year old baby slept right through the booms of the fireworks! (With the slight aid of one small sound machine we put on, of course.)

Here is the view of the city fireworks from my aunt's backyard. 

After the fireworks were over, we woke Jackson up to take him home. I have to say we were lucky parents because as soon as we got home, Jackson went back to bed, right away with zero issues. 

9. First 5K

While Jackson was not in the 5K, he did cheer his mom on from the sidelines. Here we are together after the race was over. 

I wanted to hug him so badly, but I was also sweaty, gross and had "paint" all over me. It was such a nice treat having my guys on the sidelines to cheer me on!

10. Second Soccer Game (First With Mom)

Jackson, dad and I all headed to our alma mater campus--MSU--to watch Lansing United play. It was an extremely toasty day, so Jackson and I hung out under the shady tree. Jackson was so good--completely calm, happy and watching passersby. 

He was so good that we decided to take some pictures. 

Lansing United won the title that day. All in all, it was a great family outing!

And here is an outtake from Jackson's month 7 photoshoot. Enjoy!