Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation part 3...

We left DC none the worse for wear, safe in the knowledge that NYC was only a few hours away, Silverfox and I decided to challenge ourselves on the mean streets of Baltimore by trying to find Duff Goldman's Bakery, Charm City Cakes. We're both big fans of Ace of Cakes, but had no clue where to even start looking. After several wrong turns, and giving serious consideration to calling the place and asking if they knew their latitude and longitude (Geocacheing GPS units know no address...) we pulled up on the corner across the street for a few choice shots...
and of course I had to get one of Duff's Vespa...
Silverfox was a little dissapointed that the windows were all blacked out, but I explained that that's probably because of the film crew needing to white balance their cameras. Still, it was neat seeing the place in person. Short Stuff of course was in the back seat wondering why on earth we were wandering aimlessly around a strange city when Papa Rob's house was only a few hours away. (sigh)

Before long, we pulled up in front of my Dad's house and immediately ordered pizza. ( I so miss New York Pizza) Pint Size surprised us all by eating two whole slices, before quietly falling asleep on the love seat.

We woke early the next morning, and went into the big city for some sightseeing:

Even though I'm well versed in the geography and history of New York, we decided that it would be better for the kids if we took one of the double decker tour buses (Silverfox had never been on one) Gray Line had a hop on/hop off for three days deal that worked into our budget nicely. While waiting for the buss to arrive, a Cop let Short Stuff know that he shouldn't chase pidgeons in the Big city:
You can see just how much I care. Pint Size is telling the officer to feel free to use excessive force. Seriously, this had to be the nicest NY cop I've ever met. He was really paitent with Silverfox while she got the pictures of the boys she wanted. Before long, our bus arrived and off we went to see the sites and sounds of the Big Apple. Pint Size adjusted really much better than we expected:

In fact, he was loving every minute of the bus ride and the city. We had been worried that he would react badly to it all, but he was a little trooper. The same goes for Short Stuff, who didn't really whine at all on the tours, and dutifully posed for all of Silverfoxes pictures:
Of course, it helped that the Toys R us on Times Square was one of our stops... Pint Size really freaked out at the sight of the giant in store ferris wheel, but I took him into the Sesame Street section and he was cool. Short Stuff was facinated by the largest Lego section he had ever seen:
He kept calling me over to show me something else made of Legos, (Like the Statue of Liberty and empire state building in the background) but I really had my hands full making sure Pint Size didn't see the ferris wheel. (SERIOUSLY! Instant Freak out!) It shocked me though when Pint Size, who really hasn't started talking yet pointed at a shelf and yelled "ELMO!" I handed him the toy and he smiled up at me, as proud of himself as he has ever been. It was a really cool toy, I had to admit... A small Elmo doll that talks when you shake it. Worried that Pint Size's sudden verbal ability was a fluke, I called Silverfox over immediately.

"Elmo?" she asked, taking the toy from him.

"Elmo!" He said confidently, reaching for the doll.

I thought for a moment that my wife was going to cry with happiness. We bought him the toy as quickly as we could, and a Spongebob Squarepants Lego set for Short Stuff.

We are such soft touches when we get the kids in a toy store.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our Anniversary weekend...

On August 8, 2008 I did the smartest thing I've ever done, and made Silverfox my wife:

Yes, we celebrated a wonderful year of wedded bliss over the weekend by getting away from our everyday lives for a while. I had been trying to plan the perfect weekend for a few months now, but had my options severely limited last month when we found out that one of Silverfoxes oldest and dearest friends was getting married on August 8th as well. I grumbled a bit when I found out, but I also knew full well that missing the Fisher wedding simply was not an option. The other happy (copycats) couple were getting hitched out on the Mississippi Gulf coast, and so I spent a week researching my options for a romantic weekend before settling on a great package deal from the Isle casino/resort...

Relaxation Package
  • Two nights double occupancy
  • Romantic Couple Massage
  • Garden tub suite
  • Dinner for two at Farraddays’® (the Isle's high end resturant)
  • $25 IslePlay® per person
  • Turndown service nightly
  • Late check-out, 2:00pm
Of course, I had a few questions, but I was already planning on a spa day for us, and a really nice dinner one night so it sounded like a winner to me. I found out that the "Garden tub suite" meant that there was a Jacuzzi in the room, which would have cost 400 bucks for two nights (which we would need anyway because of the wedding). The package was a little over 500. I told the lady on the phone that she had me at "Jacuzzi".

Getting to our Weekend was a bit of a task... suffice it to say that both cars broke down and one of the deadbeat Dads bailed on our babysitting arrangements the morning we were gonna leave. I had backup plans for most of the stuff that went wrong that morning, but both cars? Was someone trying to tell me something?

After getting to the hotel an hour later than I intended, we saw our room and it was all good:
Yes, that is tropical floral print on the curtains, which was the theme in the hotel. I joked with Silverfox that I could have worn one of my gaudier hawaiian shirts as camouflage.

Below, we see the same room... now with more sexy:
I would like to take this opportunity to point out to the world that my wife is a babe. She has also lost a good deal of weight since we got married... I say it's because being married to me is good for the soul, but she says it's because her activity level went up after she returned to work following her back surgery last year.

I'm the one that's right here, but don't tell her that...

We dressed for dinner (it still sounds strange to me saying that... dressing for dinner just usually means putting on pants to me) and went down to sit in Farradday's bar for a few drinks. We were surprised to find out that an old friend of ours from the sci-fi convention scene was the bartender, and her husband was a waiter at the restaurant! Needless to say we had a few very strong drinks and an excellent bottle of wine (thanks for the recommendation, Mike & Kristie!). Here's Silverfox after our meal... she looks so happy:

The whole Farraddays experience was the great unknown on our trip when I booked it, as I know from experience that casino restaurants... even the high end ones... can be a little institutional sometimes. I am happy to report that this was not the case with Farraddays. The food was outstanding, and better than half of the top of the line steak houses in New Orleans.

On our way back to the room, Silverfox spotted a slot machine she just had to play... but got carded at the casino entrance. Sadly, we had left her ID back in our room, but a slightly tipsy Silverfox was blushing at having been assumed to be under 21. (Well, after the "was that guard blind!?!" rant that is...)

Upon our return to the room we put up the "do not disturb" sign for a while... (that's a gentleman's code, folks) But were surprised again when the front desk called, complaining that they were trying to deliver us champagne, but their policy forbade them from knocking on a "do not disturb" door. I was surprised at the idea that someone had sent us champagne, but it turns out that it was all a part of the package (Note that it's not on the list above). Complimentary Champagne as if from nowhere... this weekend was turning out to be much the awesome...

The next morning, Silverfox got to that slot machine, and used our "Freeplay bucks":
By the time she was done, we were up by about 30 bucks. We had just enough time to get to our couples massage, which got both of us super relaxed and ready for the wedding.

If you are part of a couple and have never done the couples spa day thing... do it. You will not regret it, trust me... it was a highlight of the weekend for both of us. I would have liked to have gotten us the full treatment with wraps and facials and such, but we did have a wedding to get to:
Jason and Sarah are one of the few couples that I would be proud to share my anniversary date with... they are a true geek couple through and through... they even managed to sneak "Princess Bride" and "Doctor Who" music into a Roman Catholic ceremony, and thusly should be an inspiration to geeks everywhere. Furthermore, their wedding cake toppers were Action Figures of The Doctor and Rose Tyler:
We also ran into many more of our friends from the convention scene at the wedding... Silverfox remarked to me more than once that the weekend felt like going to a con because of the people we saw and hung out with.

Here we are with big Tony at the reception:
We spent that night at the hotel as well... enjoying the chocolates from the turndown service and each other's company... the next morning I asked Silverfox if there was anything I could have done to make the weekend better, and she grinned at me.

"There is one thing..." She said, pulling out her iPhone. She put our song ("at last" by Etta James) on the MP3 player, and we slow danced to it there in the room. It was a beautiful ending to a beautiful weekend, and I got really choked up over it... This past year has been amazing. I love my wife.

Yep... smartest thing I've ever done.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation part 2...

So, after a long drive through several thunderstorms, (one of which was severe enough that it forced us to stop for the night just 3 hours south of our destination) we made it to Washington D.C. and Melinda's rockin Bachelor pad. Because we had to stop, we arrived there in the early afternoon... not early enough to really hit any museums, but early enough to hit a few monuments. We dragged Melinda with us and started at one of my favorites, the Einstien Memorial, where Pint Size proceeded to have the first of what would be many freak-outs on the trip. Apparently, the kid has issues with large semi-lifelike statues. I still managed to get a nice picture of Silverfox and short stuff in the old man's lap:

Sadly for Pint Size, the next stop on our little night tour was the Lincoln Memorial, with an even bigger and more lifelike statue. Silverfox and Pint Size took the elevator, but Short Stuff insisted on running up the stairs. Sadly, it was "Come on, Dad", not "Come on MOM" that he said before sprinting away.

I'm a good sport about such things when it comes to Short Stuff, but I was huffing and puffing as we reached the statue. After Mel and Silverfox joined us at the top, I plopped down my sorry butt at the top of the stairs and enjoyed the view with the boys while Silverfox took pictures:

Mel was sitting just to the right of Short Stuff, but she hates getting her picture taken. This did not stop my wife, however.... the next morning, Mel took Pint Size down to the car for us, and he kept nearly clocking her in the head with her own Nunchucks... it was too cute not to get a picture of:
He for some reason formed a bond with these instruments of deadly martial arts. We're thinking of changing Pint Size's nickname from "Charlie" to "Chuck" after Chuck Norris.

That's right... the boogeyman checks under his bed for Pint Size. Pint Size is so tough he can eat a Rubick's Cube and poop it out sovled. Pint Size doesn't stand up... he forced the earth down.

But I digress... The next day was Father's day, and it marked the first Father's day I got to spend with the boys. (Usually the Bio-Dads pull rank on Father's day...) Short Stuff and I started out with getting an idea of the size of the solar system by following a path with Kiosks spaced out in scale on the national Mall by the Smithsonian. Here we are at Saturn.

Short Stuff felt that the Solar system was way too far to walk, but in reality it was only a few blocks, and it brought us right to the Air and Space Museum. For those that haven't been to NASM in a few years like myself, let me tell you they have upped their game significantly. Thanks to their upsurge in popularity from the Night at the Museum Movies, they have added a lot of interactive kids stuff to appeal to the younger crowd. It Certainly worked on Short Stuff, who got to fly a plane:
And study the intricacies of gravity:
Pint Size freaked out at almost every room we went into, though. Our theory is that large unfamiliar objects in dimly lit, crowded spaces are one of his triggers. Here we are at the enrance to the "Planets" exhibit, where he had the MOTHER of all freak outs the second we crossed the threshold:
I figure he was just pissed off at the whole "Dwarf Planet Pluto" thing. Anyhow, the boy really needed some fresh air, so I took him for a little walk:
Go ahead, judge me. I still think that the child leash is the greatest invention ever. Short Stuff amused himself chasing pigeons, while Mel filled the kid's head with some bullcrap about homeless pigeons having to panhandle for change. She started to go on a bit about Vietnam Vet pigeons before Shorty lost interest.


After that, we went to the surprisingly disappointing Museum of American History. It had some more interactive stuff for the kids, but they have scaled their "American Culture/TV and Movie Memoribilia" section WAY back, (Combining it with the sports Memoribila, no less) and that was a big part of why we went there. I asked a Museum Worker, and she said that rather than display everything they have like they used to, they now rotate the exhibit every few months. As a result, you may have to visit a few times a year to see Fonzie's Jacket, a Phaser from Star Trek, Archie Bunker's Chair, or Ali's Boxing Gloves.

We were all pretty beat after that, and went back to Mel's to rest up for the drive to NYC the next day, but here we were only a few days into our road trip and Short Stuff had gotten to touch a cloud and a piece of the moon... Silverfox and I wondered how we were going to top it...