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    Archive for 2011

    The most wonderful time of the year

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Christmas was wonderful. We still have one more celebration left. On Christmas Eve Mike made our traditional mussels, which were delicious as always. The kids enjoyed their Mac and Cheese and before bed we put out some cookies, milk and carrots for Santa and Rudolph. I probably say this every single year, but I don't know who was more excited - us or Benjamin (Lucy is pretty much totally oblivious to the whole thing). I barely slept that night just from the sheer excitement of seeing their faces light up and hearing Benjamin exclaim "Santa came! Santa came!" And Christmas morning delivered. It was just as magical as I'd imagined. First we opened up our stockings:

    Benjamin and our stockings Opening stockings
    and then we all traveled downstairs to see the tree: 
    Only shot of the two kids I could get
    Lucy was feeling it:
      Santa is ready! 
     We opened our presents and tried them out: 
    Lucy and her shopping cart from Benjamin "Cooooool!"Harry Potter/Benjamin Lucy and her gift from Uncle Mark and Aunt Debbie Benjamin and Daddy's Mommy-Made Race Bib Holders Mommy's iPad! 
    (I got an iPad!!) 
     And then we packed up the car and headed up to the Schmitt celebration:
      AJ and BenjaminLucyPackers Popcorn for Grandpa! Jennifer and Albert Benjamin and Uncle Andy Lucy hanging out with her godparents Grandma and her calendar
    It was a busy, but great day.  Benjamin and Lucy had so much fun playing with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.  Now we are looking forward to (we even restarted our Christmas countdowns) our next celebration with my parents...

    Twas the Week Before Christmas

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Christmas anticipation is at an all time high in the Schmitt household this week. Benjamin keeps busy with changing the days on the advent calendars and with scouting out our elf every morning. His mischief making has increased and so has the fun. Here are some of his latest antics: 
    Elf on the Shelf - Day 8 Elf on the Shelf - Day 10 Elf on the Shelf - Day 12 Elf on the Shelf - Day 13 Elf on the Shelf - Day 14
    We only have a few more days left with Ormint and then he'll be flying off to the North Pole to help Santa for the rest of the year.  It will be sad to see him go.

    Benjamin's acting class session came to an end last Saturday with a special performance of Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Basically it was just a short little improv skit where the kids each had roles in the story as one of the teachers read it aloud on stage.  It lasted for 5 minutes, but Benjamin was so pleased to finally have a chance to perform a "play" on a real stage instead of our living room.  He regularly writes up scripts for Mike and I to perform with him, complete with costumes.  I signed him up for the next session of acting classes that begins in February.  He's very excited to do it again.  Here is a video of some of his performance (I apologize for the quality.  Somehow I forgot to grab my camera on the way out the door and all we had were our cell phones.  The sound is horrible so you'll have to turn the volume way up to hear anything...sorry!):

    Five more days.  It is hard to believe.  I only hope the next few days go by quickly!

    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    We've all been working hard on our holiday preparations lately. Saint Nicholas Day is over, we are dabbling in a new family tradition with our Elf on the Shelf, the kids had breakfast with Santa, my shopping is nearly done and the Christmas cards should arrive later this week for so I can mail them to everyone. This time of year always seems to move much more quickly than any other. Maybe that is because it is filled with excitement, anticipation and even a little dread. After all, busy schedules, work and school, the weather, and gift buying stress can really take a toll on everyone. But we are looking forward to a wonderful Christmas and New Year and will enjoy every fun and stressful time along the way! As I mentioned, we have started a new tradition with our Elf on the Shelf that St. Nick brought for the kids. If you aren't familiar with this, check out the website. Benjamin named our elf Ormint because "he looks like an ornament!" Mike and I have been having so much fun with hiding the little guy and making up mischievous things for him to do in the night. Here are some of the hiding spots/mischief:

      Elf on a Shelf - Day 6 Elf on a Shelf - Day 3 Elf on a Shelf - Day 2

    As far as we can tell, Benjamin believes the elf is magic.  It has been a good way to reinforce good behavior this time of year!

    This past weekend we made our yearly trip to Macy's for Breakfast with Santa along with my parents. I think this photo sums it up:
    Breakfast with Santa

    Lucy is changing so much every single day. She is an old pro at walking now and is picking up new words all of the time. She can now say "There you go!" and "Thank you!" She also now shakes her head yes or no if you ask her a question. Benjamin has a lot of fun asking her questions that she doesn't understand like "Lucy, do you want to eat some cockroaches?" She always shakes her head yes.  It is very exciting seeing her take in all this season has to offer.

    Benjamin is so excited for Christmas.  Every day after he wakes up he changes the Christmas countdowns we have throughout the house.  We've been keeping him busy with some new activities including acting class and "Little Hoopsters," a basketball class.  The acting class is done by the Rochester Civic Theatre.  He has been learning stage directions, touring the different rooms at the theatre and preparing for a very short (and unexpected - we only found out this weekend!) performance that will be his last class.  I think we have another actor in the family!  He loves it!!  We are a family of actors, but not athletes - at least not in team sports - so he's not exactly at the top of his basketball class.  However, he has such an enthusiasm for learning and is having a great time making new friends.  Plus, Lucy and I have been having fun exploring the community education center during his class.  We can't be in the gym with him because Lucy seems to think she is a 6 year old and tries at every chance to make a break for it so she can join in on the action.

    Christmas will be here before we know it.  We can't wait!

    I'm walkin', yes indeed...

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Lucy is officially a walker! This video captures only a small success. I've been reminded that it is very difficult to capture these things on video! Since it was shot, she has been walking up a storm and is able to now walk across entire rooms, down whole hallways and even on the slick kitchen floor. It has been amazing to see once again how quickly they can go from the first tentative steps to practically running. Now she is choosing to use walking as her main mode of transportation versus crawling. It has been such a joy to watch!


    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Mike picking up his marathon bib number
    It hardly seems possible that our New York trip that we've been planning for MONTHS is now over. The story begins with three years of an unsuccessful attempt to break through the NYC Marathon lottery system followed by automatic entry for Mike. Then I won two Delta ticket vouchers in a Travel Horror Story contest in which I shared my idiotic and stressful passport misplacement on a flight from the US to London for Mike's 30th birthday. On Friday, November 4th we finally boarded our plane with those free tickets and Mike's bag of running gear for his first running in the ING New York City Marathon. We arrived in New York in the afternoon, were picked up by our airport shuttle where we met an impressive guy who handles media and course planning for the marathon and were dropped off at our home for the next five nights. We had an amazing night of sushi and meeting new friends. The next morning we found our way to the marathon expo, which was not unlike every other single marathon expo we've ever been to. We picked up Mike's bib number, packet, loads of freebies and then headed out to explore Manhattan.
      Jessica at Rockefeller Center
    We checked out Rockefeller Center and the ice rink.
      Frank M. Cohen statue in Times Square
     And we fought the crowds at Times Square. The next morning Mike was to meet up with some friends to take the subway train to the Staten Island Ferry and the start line of the race. Unfortunately for us it was the daylight savings switch over that morning. Our hotel being the cheapy place it is did not provide an alarm clock in our room, so we attempted to set our cell phones for his early morning wakeup call of 4:30am. Neither cell phone's alarm went off and we were instead awakened by our friend Renee calling on the hotel room's phone. She asked if Mike was on his way down and I said no. She informed me that it was 5:05am (five minutes AFTER he was supposed to meet up with them in the lobby to catch the ferry at 5:45am). We both FREAKED out. Thankfully Mike has a pre-race night ritual of putting his race number on his shirt and setting out everything he needs in preparation for his departure the next morning, so he gathered everything up and RAN out the door as quickly as he could. He RAN to the subway train watching the time tick away and RAN to the ferry dock JUST in time to catch the 5:45am boat! He made it, under great stress and much hurrying. Phew!
      Male marathon leaders at mile 7 in Brooklyn
    Later that morning - MUCH later, thankfully. I set out via subway and foot to Brooklyn, right around the mile 7 marker. The crowds were thick, but not too crazy and I found a nice little spot on the shady side of the street (brrr). I watched in amazement as the lead men ran by and waited for a long time straining to try to catch a glimpse of Mike. I had my camera at the ready and even took a few practice shots, but as these things usually go, suddenly he showed up RIGHT in front of me. I never got my shot of him and wondered if he had even seen me, but I figured that I better move onto my next spectating spot, which was supposed to be around mile 17.
      Mike at mile 25 in Central Park
    The subway cars on the track that runs along the race course through the Upper East Side of Manhattan were filled beyond capacity. It was amazing to watch as people desperate to get on shoved themselves as hard as they could into the other people already on the train. I decided that this kind of fight was not for me, so I bounded up to street level and tried to get my bearings. I was just south of Central Park and about a block or two east of where I had heard would be the busiest spectating spot of the race - mile 16/25. I had wasted too much time trying to wait for an empty spot on the train, so I knew I had missed Mike at mile 16 and there was no way I would beat him to mile 17. I decided to cut my losses and head to somewhere close to mile 25. I walked toward the park, jumped over a row of benches and a fence to get to the race course and found myself a tiny spot under a tree. I knew my photos would be horrible, but in this spot I could at least possibly see Mike early enough to get the camera ready. When I got settled I watched as the sub-3 hour marathoners went by and waited. And waited. Thankfully my Mom was giving me updates on his time and she told me that he must have had a rough mile around 23 because he was running about a 10 minute per mile pace (about 2-3 minutes slower than normal). I was so happy to finally see him and to see that he was still smiling. I did the best I could do to try to get a photo of him through the tree branches, but most importantly was the fact that he had seen ME! He finished the race in 3 hours, 35 minutes and 48 seconds. It was a bit longer than he was hoping for, but he really did not anticipate how difficult the course is. I think most people would be surprised at how hilly NYC is and also at how high up some of the bridges on the course are (five bridges). If you ask Mike how the race went, he'd say "It was epic. I'm glad I did it. But I don't feel like I ever need to do this one again!" We relaxed a bit after the race, but then we had more cheering to do. We found a gastropub that was showing the Packers game and we were happy to watch them in the EIGHTH straight win for this season! A great way to top off an "epic" day!!
      Fred Lebow
    The next day we walked down to the race finish line and snapped some photos of good 'old Fred Lebow, the man who created the NYC Marathon.

    Mike at the finish line
    Mike at the finish line, albeit the day after the marathon.
    Chinatown Chinatown Chinatown IMG_5680
    Chinatown and Little Italy
    Quads are a bit sore from the marathon

    Stretching out those legs.
    IMG_5706 Empire State Building Brooklyn Bridge
    We stopped by lots of iconic scenes around New York City. We watched a taping of the show 
    I signed up on the show's website for tickets MONTHS before we arrived in New York and the first night we were in town they called and told us we won tickets to a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman. It was such a fun experience. We saw Robert Pattinson from the Twilight movies, photographer Annie Lebowitz and musicians Graham Nash and David Crosby. Here's a link to the episode we were at. We were sitting on the band side of the stage, about 5 rows up.
      Mario Lopez filming Extra  
    We also caught a glimpse of Mario Lopez taping Extra!

    It was a great, "epic" trip and confirmed our love for the Big Apple!


    Wednesday, November 02, 2011

    The Halloween season is officially over and we're busy taking down our decorations and storing away our costumes. It was a very successful year as is evident by the amount of candy we are currently hoarding in our house. Our little pink monster and Harry Potter had a great time showing off their costumes and going to the many Halloween activities we had planned. 
    Having way too much fun sorting his candy Haunted Hallways in Downtown Rochester Jessica as Adele Ghostbuster Mike before the Spirit Run
    Our Harry Potter pumpkin Trick-or-Treating