I took this on the way from New Jersey to New York City, while I was on a train. It was so serene and I could not let the moment pass without capturing it. I boosted the color a bit as it was too gray.
Aaron and I took a spontaneous road trip to NYC. The city invigorates Aaron; he is such an explorer at heart, and I love having new experiences. So we decided to spend a day at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Neither of us had been to it before and it was on my bucket list (a rather long list that seems to grow each year). A tip about the Met: if you visit in person, you can pay whatever you like, but if you buy tickets online they are $25. So, Aaron and I went to the Met for a mere $5 a piece, and spent hours walking around and admiring art and armour, alike.
A bit of history about The Met: It dates back to 1886 in France, when a group of Americans decided to create a national institution and gallery of art, to bring art and art education to the American people. By the twentieth century, The Met had become one of the world's great art centers. To learn more about this museum, click here.
We could spend a whole week in this place, and not have enough time to see every collection. Since we only had a day, we selected a few exhibitions we would like to see, and did just that. Time flies in a place like this and the only way you can tell that you have spent hours in this museum is when your feet start screaming at you for torturing them without giving them a break! We had spent 4 hours or so in there before we realized that we had to leave and enjoy the rest of the city before the the rest of the day slipped away from us.
It was a gorgeous day in the city—blue skies, sun shining, and tourists and native New Yorkers milling around, greeting friends, eating hot dogs, taking in the sights and sounds, just like we were.
Here are some photos of our stroll through the Met:
After we had spent several hours inside, we made our way outside, and Aaron bought us some knishes, and a couple of pretzels, and a hot dog, we played the part of native New Yorkers, while we ate our snacks on the steps on the steps of The Met, people watching. We walked for a few blocks to the subway, and I bought a scarf and a pair of sunglasses, and made our way to Port Authority, figured out the bus system, and rode the bus back to New Jersey, much to the surprise of Aaron's cousins, with whom we were staying.
It was a lovely adventure in the city. I was happy that Aaron surprised me with this trip—I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Tonight, we had one of our favorite couples over for dinner. It was so much fun to see them and spend some quality time with them, as it had been a long time since we hung out together. I will go ahead and say this: Team Bessey ROCKS! Aaron and I loved having them over!
No, this was not their dinner attire, but they are so awesome, that if they did show up with these ginormous life jackets hanging around their necks, we would have still let them in to eat with us :D
There are some couples with whom the conversation can be quite stilted and filled with awkward little laughs, that are more high-pitched than normal (although I think Aaron has a really high-pitched laugh and that is normal for him), and punctuated with long moments of silence. Then, there are couples that you get along with famously, where the conversation flows easily, and gets quite loud and rambunctious, and even though there are only four of you at dinner, it sounds like a party of 40! Kaylyn and Ryan fit the mold of the second description—we have loads of fun with them. We laugh a lot, mostly at each other; we talk about work, we share thoughts and ideas and good food, and have the best time. Tonight was no exception.
Thank you, Team Bessey, for bringing a delicious salad and your fabulous selves (and Kaylyn's little pregnant tummy) to hang out with us. We love you and may we not be strangers in 2012!
Today, I reached a milestone in my blogging—I doubled the number of blog posts since last year!!! I only had 34 entries last year and this year, I have 68 blog entries, and will have a few more before the year ends. I have not been as dedicated to my blog as I would have liked to be, but this is certainly encouraging and has got me thinking that maybe in 2012, I could double the current number of entries! Who knows, maybe it can happen. I hope I have a full year of life to record and share in my blog next year.
On Christmas Eve, after running around town (ok, driving because it was quite chilly) delivering Christmas treats to our friends, we landed at the Kachers home. Ben & Bonnie Kacher are one of our dearest friends, with whom we have shared several great and fun experiences and always have the best times with them. This occasion was no exception. We arrived late, and they had delicious food for us to eat, and they let us play with cutie pie, Paije, before she went to bed.
We love the Kachers and always feel quite at home with them, no matter where we are. We had missed the Nativity skit, but thoroughly enjoyed their company for a couple of hours. With our families being so far away, we were so thankful to spend Christmas Eve with Ben & Bonnie & Paije.
Thank you, Kachers, for sharing your Christmas Eve with us! We loved it!
Every year, Aaron and I talk about baking and delivering goodies to our friends. And every year, we sleep in, laze around and never get to it. So this year, although I started late—Christmas Eve—I was determined to bake some things that we could take to our friends, many of whom had stayed around for the holidays. This is what we ended up with:
We somehow managed to package these things into Christmas plates and take them to the homes of our friends, and it was nearly 10pm. If any kids happened to be awake, they would have thought we were Santa! I know it was late, but we really want to keep our goal and share our love and treats with our friends, who make living on the East Coast, a blast!
I took this picture just days after Lanaeia was born.
On December 18th, dear friends of ours—Adam & Poppy King—had a final get together before they begin their journey to the land of sunshine—Hawaii. They are moving there for work, and are leaving behind a large group of friends who love them and have been a part of their lives. So, they decided to have a spontaneous gathering.What a great idea!
We met in the clubhouse of their apartment complex and it was great to see many of our friends whom we have not seen in a long time. The Hammocks, the Wheelers (we see them every Sunday and love it!), the Jansons, the Bowlers (who just had a little baby girl), the Madsens, and a few others. We had hot chocolate, and some sugary treats, and a whole lot of laughter!
As we were getting ready to leave, the Kings' little girl - Lanaeia - wanted to give Aaron big hugs, and he was totally smitten with this little, precocious baby girl!
We are so glad to be friends with this wonderful couple and their beautiful baby girl! We will miss them a lot, but are delighted to know that we will have a place to crash if we go to Hawaii :D
What are friends for!
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy introduced the tradition of Christmas
Tree themes in 1961 with a "Nutcracker Suite" theme featuring trimmings
derived from the ballet by Tchaikovsky. Ornaments included gingerbread
cookies, tiny toys, wrapped packages, candy canes and straw ornaments
made by disabled or senior citizen craftsmen throughout the United
States. (Pictured: 1961 Blue Room Christmas Tree, President John F.
Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy)
Checked off on my bucket list—visit the White House.
Walking through the White House was a dream come true. If the walls of the White House could talk, they would tell a thousand stories. A tradition that started in 1961 by the Kennedy family, visiting the White House decorated in all its Christmas finery has become something that America looks forward to every holiday season.
On December 21st, Aaron got us tickets to do a White House tour. I was so excited to do this because, like people all over the world, I was fascinated by this place of power. I know this will sound strange, but I was not so taken in by the Christmas decorations, but I was by the fact that every American president since John Adams had resided in this space and walked these halls. I walked through each room, wanting to know more about its history, and imagining our nation's leaders, walking the same halls, with their hands clasped behind their backs and deep in thought, pondering the fate of the country and its people.
This year, more than 400 volunteers came together to decorate the White House, and over
85,000 guests were expected to visit over the holidays. The White House had 37 trees delivered and the main one is located in the Blue Room. This year, the tree was dedicated to those who are serving in the military. A couple of highlights for me were to see the famous painting of JFK and to listen to Christmas tunes played beautifully on the piano by David Osborne, the "pianist to the presidents". He played for an hour, with no sheet music in front of him, and the crowds loved it! Some even danced in the halls, while he played to his heart's content.
A magical experience! We loved every minute of it!
“I love to hear a choir.
I love the humanity to see the faces of real people devoting themselves
to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic
about the human race when I see them cooperating like that.” ~ Paul McCartney
Last year, Aaron and I attended a concert at the LDS Temple in Washington. The concert was an interfaith one that combined the Mormon Choir and The Alfred Street Baptist Choir with a guest soloist - Alex Boye. Both choirs were amazing, and the Alfred Street Baptist Choir had people sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to burst into clapping, or even clap to the beat of their music. It was infectious! So, when we heard that they did an annual Christmas concert, we just had to go!
This choir is about 300+ strong and share their talents in music in a beautiful and joyous way, that it is hard to sit back and just listen. It makes you want to jump up and clap and sing praises to God, along with everyone, regardless of your faith. The event was held in the T.C. Williams High School, of the "Remember the Titans" fame. One of the best gospel choirs I have ever heard! I appreciated the love and the devotion they have for God, and how dedicated they were to share that talent with everyone. We had invited some friends of ours, who managed to make it in time for the second half, and I made a friend, who was sitting next to me, and a part of the Baptist church. A wonderful evening of celebration of sound and voice singing praises to the newborn King!
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in,
they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from,
the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"
~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol ~
On December 6th, Aaron and I had the chance to create what will now be a Taylor Tradition—watching the play 'A Christmas Carol'. It was at the historic Ford's Theatre, which I have written about here. The intimacy of this theatre, coupled with the magical story of Christmas by Charles Dickens, made for an enjoyable evening to ring in the Christmas 'spirit'.
We had some great seats, and the special effects were incredible! But most of all, Dickens words were timeless and made me reflect upon my life in a different way. It was wonderful to see families attend, and I resolved that I would introduce plays to my children from a very young age, so they could learn to appreciate the arts that Aaron and I so enjoy. Besides, it could save me a lot of babysitting money, as well! If you haven't had a chance yet, please read 'A Christmas Carol' or watch the play. It will be an unforgettable experience!
“I keep to old books, for they teach me something; from the new I learn very little.” - Voltaire
The other day, Aaron and I went to the local Goodwill to drop off a bag of clothes, and some other things. Much to Aaron's dismay, this Goodwill happens to be a store as well. So, we browsed for a few minutes and realized they had a basement. We made our way down the stairs and turned the corner to come face to face with walls covered with old books. I thought I had arrived in heaven! Aaron's reaction was quite the opposite - it was an audible groan :) Yes, he knew what was coming—hours of endless thumbing through old books, taking in the smell, and wishing I could cart them all off to my house.
So, after selecting half a bookcase of books, I parted with all of them except this gem—a 1967 edition of the Random House Dictionary Unabridged version. Its yellowed and spotted pages showed its age, the smell of it made me imagine it being housed in a bookshelf, along with its other friends. Its tattered covers lead me to believe it was well used, and there is something comforting about a worn dictionary—the owner loved words, just like I do!
Aaron saw that look of joy on my face, and he knew in that moment,that I was attached to it. Being the darling husband he is, he shrugged his shoulders and I bought a beautiful, old, well used, repository of words. A lovely addition to my growing library at home :)