Friday, August 29, 2008

Our tips for going to Manhattan with Kids on the Cheap

We spent a lot of money so far. Oh well. Here are some cost-saving methods we could have utilized but didn't:
(1) Don't buy milk for your kids at stores or restaurants. Just go to Starbucks, fill up the sippy with whole milk or half-and-half at the milk and sugar station and high tail it out. You never have to worry about hitting up the same Starbucks twice for free milk because there are over 1.2 million Starbucks in Manhattan with 10,000 more popping up each day.

(2) Just go to Central Park and ride the State Island Ferry everyday. They are both free. Also, stiff the Met when they say "whatever you wish to contribute for enterring"

(3) Forget your hotel, either stay at P'Diddys or sleep in the Subway--its warm!

(4) Buy from the Off-Broadway hot dog vendors--they are $.50 cheaper per dog.

(5) go to Manhattan Kansas

(6) Skip the M&M Store and go to the Skittles store in the Bronx. It is a lil' riskier, but probably cheaper

(7) If some dude can play guitar in Times Square in his underwear, then so can you! Grab a pair of drumsticks, an empty five gallon bucket, play and panhandle

(8) When the guys at the Plaza hotel (a ritzy hotel on the southeast edge of Central Park) tell your their bathroom is "under construction" and is not open to the public, then go in a plant in the lobby.

(9) There are enough pigeons and other birds in the parks and the City that you can eat by hunting them. Plus, no one will miss them.

(10) "Can I have a lot of crackers with my soup? I said a lot of crackers!"

The M&M Store in Times Square

We went to the M&M Store in Times Square. It was right across from our hotel.

Who would put their kids in these pants?
OK M&M marketing Dept. You are really funny. 4 out of 5 M&M characters look really stoned. Just put the bloodshot eyes on them and get it over with.

We saw more shoplifting at this store than any other store in Manhattan! You can fill a bag full of M&Ms from these colorful chutes. The cost is only a meager $11.99 per pound (in the store it is about $3.00 per pound). We saw more people taking handfulls of M&M's and munching away.

"Behind the Colorful Chutes of M&Ms: The darker side of the M&M store"

Empire State Building

We went up to the 86th Floor of the Empire State Building. The wait was attrociuos, but the views were great. Plus, it is an outdoor viewing deck!
The Financial District, SoHo, Chelsea, East Village, Chinatown and Little Italy


Uptown Baby!

Tina Fey and Alec "S'posed to be in Canada" Baldwin

The restraining order against us says we are allowed in Rockefeller Center only before or after the Today Show is completed filming, so we went to the NBC Studios around noon on Wednesday. They were filming some scenes from 30 Rock which we never watch in Rockefeller Center. We snapped these shots of Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin.

Ok, enough pictures. Go away crazy tourist!

At a Park in Central Park!

As Wisconsinites, we feel it is appropriate to disrobe our children at a public park to their diapers when we feel it is best to keep their clothes dry. Needless to say, the other NYC children kept their clothes on.

Our Visit to the Met!

Melissa, Tubbypillar, and a BF Pillar in the Greek Section of the Met!

Nice Sword!

On the Roof of the Met with the Giant Balloon Animals and a beautiful view of Central Park and the Manhattan Skyline!

Hayden and a giant Balloon Dog!

Wow, that is a big balloon dog!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Interesting facts about New York City

Did you know that there are 1,239,283 Starbucks on Manhattan alone! Additionally, more than 1/3 of Manhattan residents are employed by Starbucks. Now I know why they are shutting down so many stores. After I decided to keep track today, I counted 19. I only counted 4 Duane Reades, 4 Mcdonalds and 4 TGIFridays.

The crazies in City Hall Park

Walking around City Hall Park!

The guy (shirtless) in front of the fountain was a real pleasure to be around. He walks up right next to us when the boys and I were near the edge of the fountain peering in. He started to dance and we walked away. He then laid on the ground and started pulling coins from the fountain. He then started to dance again, quite erotically. Fortunately, he kept his pants on and did not pee in the fountain, which I thought he was going to do. He then proceeded to pray, throw coins into the fountain, smile and then he repeated this cycle a few more times. We did not wait around to see what he did next.

Stop looking at us P-Diddy! A few from the room overlooking times square.

The Brooklyn Bridge

Man that is a long walk! No sleep til Brooklyn!

Not even a 1/4 way to Brooklyn!

View from the Brooklyn Bridge!

The Financial District from the Brooklyn Bridge!



the guy on the 1$

Wasted $$$$$

The S. O. L. and Battery Park

After touring ground zero, we went to Battery Park and we saw the Statue of Liberty. We decided not to take the ferry to the statue because the line was so long and Donovan and Hayden had a bit too much stroller time.

This statue was in the World Trade Center Lobby. This is what remains of it after 9/11. It is now in battery park.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero looked a lot different than the last two times I have visited it. The memorials are gone as is the iron cross. The grave yard is now all picked up and the displays have been moved into a memorial museum. We paid 15 to go to it. It wasn't worth it. Hayden and Donovan screamed most of the time, ruining the somber moment for most. That said, just rent a 9/11 DVD and you will get the same story and picture in a less crowded atmosphere. It is still humbling to see how such a massive area was destroyed and how it is now being rebuilt into a memorial and a new business center.

Ted's Wedding

Ted and Erika!

Ted's proud father Ed

The Mariacci Band (which was phenomenal)

I am looking at 12-story billboard of P Diddy right now

and I don't like it. The boys saw Central Park yesterday. They saw a lot of women who looked like John Lennon. They also walked down 5th Ave. Today they are headed to the S.O.L. (Statue of Liberty), the Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero and other attractions in lower Manhattan.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

15-Month Weigh-In!!!

The BBB (Big Baby Boys) went to the Doctor on Wednesday for their 15-Month check up. They also got shots. If there is anything that can bring Donovan and Hayden to their knees, it is shots. Not shots in the sense of JagerBombs. Shots with a Sharps or a Syringe. Hayden saw the Sharps coming for him and he simply broke.

The BBB are growing a lot though! Donovan "Chunka" Gulya weighed in at 25 lbs 3 ozs (50th percentile). He is 31 inches long.

Hayden "Tubby" Gulya weighed in at 21 lbs. 10 ozs (15th percentile) He is 30 1/4 inches long.

Hayden now bites Donovan when Donovan the Klepto comes out. Since Hayden now has teeth on top and on bottom, we hope he will start eating different foods so he can catch up to the solidly built Chunkadillo.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Something to think about

Two things happened today compelling me to blog.

Today I found out my friend Skye’s husband passed away yesterday night after a courageous battle with cancer. This loss for her and her young son is unimaginable and brings tears to my eyes just thinking about what they are going through.

Second thing occurred at about 5ish right outside my house. While packing suitcases in our living room I heard a crash. I can’t describe exactly what it sounded like other than to say I knew right away it was not a car vs car sort of crash. This was the sound of a car vs bike type of crash. The woman hit was laying face down and motionless in the middle of 63rd street (on the opposite side of Wisconsin as I am on). After dialing 911 I watched from my house as people gathered around her while she laid completely and totally still. After a little bit I could hear her moaning and saying help me. I was hoping she had just been knocked unconscious and when she came to she would get up. I am assuming her coming to and not getting up could not have been a good thing. After what seemed like forever but I am sure could only have been a couple of minutes the ambulance arrived (and blocked my view). About ten minutes after arriving they put her in the ambulance and after about another ten minutes drove off with their sirens on. I am hoping she is going to be all right, she did at least have a bike helmet on. The neighbors were all out there so maybe they will know more the next time we talk.

Life really does just hang in the balance.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Pool Time Fun

The boys spent another uneventful weekend at the lake. Here they are chillin' in the pool on Sunday!

There dad built a bean bag toss game and Grandma Sue made beanbags. It is green and gold with Packer patterned bean bags. A lot of time will be wasted playing the bean bag toss game.

Megathanks to Scott and Laura who are going to watch the Big Baby Boys on Saturday so Melissa can go to her 10 year reunion and so Kyle can go to Ted and Erica's wedding in Chicago. Following is the link to Laura and Scott's blog. I am sorry that it is not as cool as Donovan and Hayden's blog.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Week at the Lake

The boys had a fun week with Momma-ma up at the lake. They went to the zoo, an outlet mall in the Dells, Paul Bunyan's World's Worst Possible Service Buffet (even the Paul Bunyon (sic) is spelled wrong on the sign inside), Walmart, Pritzls and numerous other fun places. They got to visit with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Katey, Aunt Karolyn, Cousins Carson and Sonja, and accompanying pets for the week as well.

the boys hung out a lot on the slide in their kennel. And what we have here is not only a failure to cooperate, but an unwillingness to cooperate:

From a developmental update, Donovan no longer walks like a penguin. He walks like a human. Hayden still walks like a penguin. Both like to toss food and Donovan is really good at feeding Mini Schnauzers.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Big Baby Boys went to the Zoo today

I'll let you know the details when I find out.

Hayden got really scared from the thunderstorm Sunday night. I felt really bad for him. The thunder was really loud. Melissa got up to console him. It was almost like last fall/winter when one of them would wake up in the middle of the night. Hopefully, all is quiet up north.

This guy addresses the Favre-created Fiasco very well!

Favre to blame for nasty divorce
By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

Aug 5, 2008
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers dropped back, set his feet and prepared to release a routine slant pass when he heard the squeaky voice from behind the fence. The fourth-year quarterback paused during an individual drill late in the Green Bay Packers’ training camp practice Tuesday afternoon and spied a little boy, maybe six, among the hundreds of spectators lining the Oneida Street side of Clarke Hinkle Field.

“We don’t love you,” the kid said. “You suck.”

Rodgers didn’t respond to the taunt, nor did he acknowledge the pockets of fans chanting “We Want Brett” and “Bring Back Favre” at sporadic points during the practice. But given the way things had played out since a certain legendary quarterback’s dramatic return to Titletown less than 48 hours earlier, there was an obvious message that should have been delivered to the kids – and the people acting like them – going to pieces over the messy divorce between the Packers and Brett Favre.


The Aaron Rodgers era has begun in Green Bay, and if you don’t like that, you’re taking it out on the wrong quarterback.

“I know people are emotional, but that’s an interesting way of expressing yourself,” Rodgers told Y! Sports after Tuesday’s practice. “All I know is we have a really good team, and we’re excited to get ready for the season.”

It’s a season which, it now seems painfully clear, will take place without Favre in a Packers uniform for the first time since 1991. And if you want to know who’s most responsible for that, Packers fans, take a look at that No. 4 jersey in the mirror above your dresser.

There have been numerous tactical missteps made by Favre and the bosses he publicly suggested are dishonest – general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy – during this month-long saga, and Packers fans have a right to be frustrated at both camps. But if you believe that the quarterback will soon be leaving Green Bay, most likely via trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because those merciless meanies just didn’t want poor ol’ Brett around, you’ve got more than cheese clouding your head.

As McCarthy stated in his news conference after Tuesday’s practice, and as Favre himself had stated more clearly in his latest woe-is-me interview (this one to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen) earlier that morning, the reason the future Hall of Famer couldn’t come back to the Pack was that he can’t let go of his ill will toward his employers.

Rodgers, meanwhile, has every right to be bitter about the way things went down since Favre stepped onto the tarmac at Austin Straubel Airport on Sunday night. Yet he’s the one biting his lip and acting like the adult.

Let’s see it from his perspective: After waiting three years for his shot, and without much warmth or mentoring from the guy he was playing behind, Rodgers finally was told he was The Man after Favre’s tearful retirement news conference in March. Shortly before training camp, a story surfaced that Favre had the itch to return. Favre, via text message, dismissed the report as “just rumors,” which was a lie.

After floating his desire to come out of retirement, Favre waited for Thompson and McCarthy to embrace him as the reinstalled starter, just as he so often has demanded to be indulged over the latter part of his career. This time, they didn’t respond positively – partly because they didn’t believe he wanted to come back and play, partly because they had already committed to Rodgers and didn’t want to destroy their relationship with a talented quarterback they’d spent years grooming, and partly because they were tired of being in a subservient position.

Favre got more and more resentful, lashing out publicly and privately demanding to be released. The team held firm, insisting that it would only trade him to a team outside its division. To force the issue – and thanks largely to the intervention of commissioner Roger Goodell – Favre secured his reinstatement, flew to Green Bay and, in a shameless bit of showmanship, showed up at Lambeau Field with his wife Deanna to watch the team’s “Family Night” scrimmage from a luxury box.

In that glorified 11-on-11 drill, with some of the 56,000-plus fans booing him, Rodgers completed just 7 of 20 passes. Afterward, he fielded questions from reporters and learned – from them – that the Packers had supposedly declared an open competition between him and Favre for the starting job.


“It was news to me,” Rodgers admitted Tuesday. “All of a sudden people are talking about ‘open competition,’ and I’m wondering what happened.”

For the next day-and-a-half Rodgers, like the rest of us, wondered what it all meant when Packers CEO Mark Murphy said the team would welcome Favre back “and turn this situation to our advantage.”

On Monday night, as Favre was staging meetings with his superiors that dragged on so long that McCarthy had to cancel a quarterbacks meeting, it certainly didn’t seem that things were working to Rodgers’ advantage.

Nonetheless, publicly and privately, Rodgers did what Favre can’t seem to do these days: He kept his cool.

“If I was going to get mad, or throw something against the wall, what difference would it have made?” Rodgers asked rhetorically. “All I can do is control the attitude I bring into every day, stay positive and think about leading this football team to the best of my ability.”

Favre, meanwhile, couldn’t overcome the negativity that apparently has been swirling inside his mind for quite some time. In that lengthy vent session last month to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, Favre complained that he couldn’t trust Thompson because, among other things, the GM had ignored his pleadings to acquire Randy Moss and hired McCarthy over Steve Mariucci, the one-time Packers assistant and former 49ers and Lions coach with whom the quarterback was extremely close.

Think about that: Favre was affronted because the Pack’s general manager wouldn’t follow his quarterback’s decree about who to hire as head coach.

The Packers hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer as a PR consultant but, in truth, Favre is the one more in need of such image management.

Consider that Favre, in another interview, said he only wanted to play for another NFC North team – in order to play the Packers twice a season. Now that’s loyalty.

Yet, for all his regrettable posturing, Favre still had the image war won when he stepped off that plane Sunday night and received a hero’s welcome and an invitation to return to the Packers’ roster. At that point, the coach of another NFL team told me, “The game’s over. There’s no way Favre won’t get his job back now. If you don’t start him, how are you going to explain it to all of those fans?”

If Favre, as some suspected, was preparing to engage the Packers in a game of chicken, be it in an attempt to go where he wanted to go (Minnesota) or to get his old job back, this is what he should have done:

1. Not attend the scrimmage. (Perhaps he and Deanna could have stayed home and rented a DVD.)

2. Apologize to McCarthy and Thompson for having called them dishonest, and assure his bosses he had overcome his ill feelings and was embracing a return to the organization under any terms.

3. To prove he that he was totally on board, show up for practice on Tuesday, wave to the adoring fans, meet with reporters afterward and tell them, “I just want a chance to compete for my job and help this team” – even if he believed the competition was going to be a sham.

4. Quietly push for a trade or his outright release and wait for the Packers, facing the prospect of a season-long quarterback controversy and a $12 million tab for a player they’d hoped would stay retired, to blink first.

Alas, Favre couldn’t help himself. On Tuesday, while still in discussions with McCarthy about his future, he took a break to call Mortensen and confirm what many of us had suspected all along: Favre, despite another public statement to the contrary (“My intentions have always been to play for Green Bay,” Favre had told the Sun Herald of Gulfport, Miss. before returning on Sunday), was the one who wanted out.

“The problem is that there’s been a lot of damage done and I can’t forget it,” he told Mortensen. “Stuff has been said, stories planted, that just aren’t true. Can I get over all that? I doubt it. … So they can say they welcome me back but, come on, the way they’ve treated me tells you the truth. They don’t want me back, so let’s move on.”

Move on is what most of Favre’s teammates were eager to do on Tuesday, even some of the Packers who’ve been most supportive of his return.

“I think it should end today,” veteran cornerback Charles Woodson said. “We should be talking about the team; instead, we’ve talked about one guy for the last five minutes. This is a situation unique to itself, and it has become its own monster.

“You’ve got fans out there yelling ‘We Want Brett,’ yelling A-Rod this and A-Rod that, Ted Thompson this and Ted that. That’s not looking at the grand scheme of things. It’s not helpful at all. You’ve got fans that are diehard Brett fans, and they’ve put that above the team.”

If Favre, by forcing the issue, did the Packers and his successor one favor, it was this: We’ve gotten a small taste of Rodgers’ demeanor under intense pressure, and to the young passer’s credit, he has kept his cool a lot better than the outgoing legend.

“Aaron Rodgers has done everything right,” McCarthy said during his news conference. Later, the coach talked about his conviction that Rodgers will succeed in his new role.

“You just have to believe in a number of things,” McCarthy said. “Number one, I think he’s prepared himself for this opportunity. I think he has the tools, physically, mentally, emotionally. I mean, you talk about what he’s been challenged with emotionally of late, this is great (training). Who’s had better training to play in the National Football league than Aaron Rodgers, and I think he’s handled it well.”

Hopefully, that maturity will start to rub off on Favre – and the fans who can’t find the grace to cope with the fact that their hero willfully abandoned them.