Monday, April 27, 2009

Amanda & Josh Visit Maryland

Amanda and Josh came to visit from April 24 to April 27.

We picked them up from the airport, took them to eat at Cheeseburger in Paradise, went to look for a lighthouse that we never found, showed them around Pax River Naval Base, took Alex to the park, went to a surprise birthday party for my friend Stephanie, went to DC (and rode the METRO), ate at Outback, played a bunch of Wii (well, Josh and Larry played more Wii than Amanda and I did), and took them back to the airport! We had a busy, fun-filled three and a half days! Larry, Alex and I are so glad that they came to visit - we love having visitors!

We had such a great time with them! Here are some pictures from our trip to the park, as well as a picture of Amanda on the METRO to DC and Josh on the METRO to DC:

Thank you for coming to see us...we can't wait until you come back!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stephanie's Surprise Birthday Party

Here are pictures from Stephanie's surprise birthday party today:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Aunt Sheena Comes to Visit

Aunt Sheena came to visit from April 17 to April 22! These are the pictures that she took with her camera! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mommy's NYC Get Away

In Alex’s 18 months of life, I have never been away from him for longer than a few hours at a time. Sure, Larry and I have gone on a few “dates” here and there! But we were never gone for more than a few hours and we always came home to Alex. I have never spent the night away from Alex. This weekend (April 17 – April 19), I finally did it! I, along with Aunt Sheena and my good friend Stephanie, went to NYC for a “Girl’s Weekend”.

We left for New York City on Friday, April 17, after picking Sheena up from the airport. We got into NYC around 5:30 pm and we were lucky enough to get to sit in traffic for over two hours (notice the hint of sarcasm there). In those two hours, we probably moved about 5 miles. Once we got checked into our hotel, we got ready for dinner. We decided to go to Carmines – a nice little Italian restaurant that served their food “homestyle”. The food was yummy! After eating dinner, we walked around Times Square for a little bit and then went to have a drink at a nice little restaurant/bar. Before we went back to our hotel, we decided to get cheesecake at one of the most amazing places – Junior’s. Seriously, if you ever get to NYC, make sure to check out Junior’s. The cheesecake is amazing and you won’t be disappointed! We went back to the hotel room to hang out and decided to call it a night early (afterall, we are wives and mothers and we were pretty sleepy)!

On Saturday, we went on a tour bus around the city. We were able to hop on/hop off the bus at any of the stops, so we took advantage of the great NYC shopping. We walked around one of the really nice shopping districts – mostly just window shopping. Our next stop was Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty. Sheena decided that she didn’t want to ride the ferry over to the Statue (there were a lot of people crammed into a small space – I can’t say that I blame here), so we just decided to take pictures of it from Battery Park. After stopping at Battery Park, we got back on the bus and rode it back to our hotel. We got some great pictures on the bus of the sights, each other and the Naked Cowboy (c’mon…you know you have heard of him)!

Saturday night, we got dinner at a cute little Cuban restaurant. The food was great and the atmosphere was even better. After dinner, we decided to get back on the tour bus to see NYC at night. I really do think that nothing beats NYC at night – the lights are incredible and the sights are amazing. One of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen at night. Again, we got great pictures! After the night tour, we got ice cream at Cold Stone – YUMMY! We went back to our hotel room shortly after that and were able to spend some time in our hotel room before going to bed.

Sunday morning we woke up, had breakfast and got on the road for our long journey home. We got home around 4 pm. I was so excited to see my boys and I think my boys were just as excited to see me…well, at least I hope so. It was nice to walk in and see the excited look on Alex’s face – one that is usually reserved for Larry when he gets home from work! As much as I love my son and wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world, being a stay-at-home mom and being with him 24/7 is exhausting! I was able to re-charge my “mom batteries” – something I have needed to do for awhile.

As for Larry and Alex…they had a great “boys weekend” together! On Saturday afternoon, they went to the park to hang out with Matt (Stephanie’s husband and fellow TPS student) and Bella and Austin (Matt and Stephanie’s children). Alex and Larry spent a bunch of quality time together – something that they both loved!

All in all, it was a great weekend for everyone. I am blessed to have an understand husband that allows me to have some time to myself when I need it and I am blessed to have a great sister-in-law and great friend to have shared the weekend with! It was the perfect girls weekend!

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Aunt Sheena!

Happy Birthday, Aunt Sheena!

We hope you have a great birthday! We wish that we could be there to celebrate your birthday with you! We are so excited that you are coming up to visit us this weekend! We love you and miss you!

Happy Birthday!

Stay Safe, Uncle PJ! We love you!

Uncle PJ is leaving today for Iraq, but we were lucky enough that that he had a seven hour layover at the Washington-Dulles airport. Larry, Alex and I went to spend a few hours and have dinner with him! We were really happy to be able to see him and spend some time with him before we left!

PJ hadn't seen Alex since October for Sheena's wedding, so he was amazed with how much he has grown! He couldn't get over how quick he was running around and all of the things that he was saying! Alex told Uncle PJ all the animal noises that he knows and showed him where his belly button is and where his nose is! Alex also made sure to give Uncle PJ plenty of hugs and kisses!

We are so proud of PJ for serving our country! We are both proud of him and honored that he is our brother (and uncle)! We will miss PJ, but we know that he will stay safe and that God will protect him! We love him so very much!

Please include PJ in your thoughts and prayers!

Here are a few pictures of our adventure at the airport:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Why the Change?!

Welcome to the new website for The Cothren Family!

Hopefully everyone from the old website will be able to find this new one!

Some of you may be wondering why the change! Well, the answer is simple…money! This website is free, the other was costing us money each month.

While this website will have a little different layout, it should have all of the same information, journal entries and most importantly, PICTURES! There will no longer be one page (or several pages) dedicated to photo albums, instead the pictures will be embedded in each journal entry. At times, I will add a slideshow (especially if I have a bunch of new pictures on one specific date) and at other times, I will add a few images into the journal entry. As always, if there are any pictures that you want me to e-mail you, please let me know and I will be more than happy to do so! This website also allows me to upload video, so rest assured you will still be able to get your “Alex Video” fix! There will not be a “Guestbook”, but each journal entry will have a comment section (just look at the bottom of the entry and click on the word “comment”) and you can still leave your messages to Alex (and us!). We enjoy reading the comments, so don’t stop sending them!

Some of you may be wondering what will happen with the old website (the entries, pictures, guestbook entries, etc.) – well, I am in the process of printing up most of the website pages. I want Alex to be able to see it all and it has been a great tool for me to record his milestones and memories. I am also going to transfer most of the older posts over to this new website – you know, in case you ever want to go back and read about what Alex was up to six months ago ;). I will also transfer the pictures over here, too. Please be patient with this process though, it may take me awhile! I will not be able to transfer the guestbook comments over here, but they will be printed out and put into a book for Alex to look at when he grows up!

Enjoy the new website. Thank you for loving our family enough to check up on us, look at our pictures and watch our son grow up!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

We had a great Easter here in the Cothren house!

Alex woke up and discovered his Easter basket that the Easter Bunny had left him. He got "food" for his kitchen, a new "Yo Gabba Gabba!" DVD, a divided plate, a few books and puzzles, a shirt and a few Easter eggs with Hot Wheels Cars in them (because what boy doesn't love Hot Wheels Cars?)! He loved the brightly colored Easter eggs that the Hot Wheels came in!

This year, we decided not to color Easter eggs. We decided that Alex was a bit to young to participate without making a HUGE mess everywhere and we knew that he wouldn't really understand what he was doing! I remember coloring Easter eggs every year with my Mom and Dad and I am looking very forward to continuing that same tradition with our child(ren)!!

Here is a slideshow of our favorite pictures from the day! Enjoy :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New York City

Larry had a four day weekend this past weekend and we decided to take advantage of that and go to New York City! Neither one of us have ever been there before, so we were very excited to go an experience “The City”!

We left California (Maryland) after Larry got done flying on Wednesday, April 8. I think we finally left the house around 6:00 pm. The drive was uneventful – Larry drove the first half and I drove the second half. We each got to drive through a tunnel – Larry’s was in Baltimore and mine was in NYC! I’m not sure that I have ever driven through a tunnel before, so that very well could have been my first one! We arrived in NYC around 11:30 and got checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton in Times Square and highly recommend it to anyone that is in need of a hotel in New York City. Once we got into the hotel room, we gave Alex a bit more milk before putting him to bed. I was getting ready for bed and all the sudden Larry yelled my name – our sweet baby boy had puked all over the bed, my pillow that I brought from home and himself! Other than when he was a tiny baby, he has never thrown up and I think he was a bit concerned with what had happened. We called down to the front desk for someone to come up and change our sheets and comforter, changed Alex out of his icky pajamas, and threw my pillow away! Once we had taken care of all that, we finally got to sleep!

We woke up bright and early on Thursday morning – ready to tackle our first day in New York City! We had 48-hour passes for a double-decker tour bus and had planned on taking the Downtown NYC tour during the day on Thursday. Before boarding our bus, we decided to get tickets at the bus company for the Statue of Liberty! We rode the bus around the city and it was great! We were able to see so many sights – again, we highly recommend this to anyone that is planning on visiting NYC. We rode through Times Square, rode through 5th Avenue and all the shopping areas, toured a few of the ethnic areas, went to see the World Trade Center site and stopped at Battery Park. We were excited about going to see the Statue of Liberty, but quickly discovered that the line to get on the ferry was over 2 hours – completely impossible when you have an active toddler with you! We decided to cut our losses for the tickets and not spend the time waiting in line. We did take plenty of pictures from Battery Park and had the opportunity to test out our new zoom lens for our camera! After looking at the Statue from a distance, we got back on our tour bus and continued our tour of downtown NYC! Once the tour was over, we decided to go back to the hotel room to chill out for a little while before dinner. We had dinner that night at a place in Times Square called Chevy’s – we had great “Fresh-Mex” food and wonderful margaritas!

After dinner, we decided to hop back on the double-decker tour bus for a nighttime tour of New York City! I have one word for it – INCREDIBLE! New York City is absolutely beautiful at night – it is so lit up and so neat to see! We took a trip over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn and had a beautiful view of the NYC skyline! Another tour that we highly recommend! Once the night tour was over, we stopped by the best cheesecake restaurant ever…JUNIORS! It was the best cheesecake that I have ever eaten! After Juniors, we went back to the hotel room for the night and went to bed fairly early. It is hard to stay up too late when all three of us are sleeping in the same room!

On Friday our first stop was the amazing Toys R Us in Time Square. For those of you that don’t know…Toys R Us has a Ferris Wheel in the middle of it! It is four stories tall! When we first walked into the store, we had the following picture taken of all of us:

After that, we went to look around the store and tried to decide if we needed to buy anything. Surprisingly, we walked out of the store with no purchases (well, except for the picture of the three of us). When we got done walking around the store, we decided to take Alex on the Ferris Wheel. We were lucky enough to get to sit in the Toy Story car, which is a VERY popular movie with Alex right now! He loved the Ferris Wheel and could not stop looking around and smiling – it was so cute! When we left Toys R Us, we decided that it was time for lunch and Larry and I looked for a New York Deli. I had an awesome pastrami and corned beef sandwich and Larry had a pastrami sandwich (amazingly, it was his first and he LOVED it). Alex had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and he loved it (for those of you that remember, he was not a fan of peanut butter when he had his first pb & j sandwich a few weeks ago). Once our bellies were full, we hopped back on the tour bus for a tour of uptown NYC. We were able to tour Harlem, Central Park and a few other uptown hotspots. After the bus ride we headed back to the hotel room to get ready for dinner and have a little downtime!

For dinner, we attempted to go to Carmine’s, but we were unsuccessful. The wait was just too long for us (mostly because of the active toddler I have previously mentioned!), so we left Carmines. We headed back to Times Square and walked around for a little while before heading back to the hotel. We put Alex to bed a little while after we got back to the hotel and turned in early for the night also!

We left New York City after eating breakfast at the hotel on Saturday morning! We had a great trip and I hope we get to go back as a family before we leave Maryland.

Here are a bunch of pictures from our trip:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

TPS Tour & Park Time

Larry is able to take any of our visitors on a tour of TPS. He is able to show you the school and the hangars – you are able to look at the jets and helicopters up close and personal. It is really neat because you are able to see where Larry is spending most of his time while we are up here. If you are planning a visit to see us and you want to see Larry’s school, please let us know!

That totally just sounded like an advertisement for TPS or something…didn’t it?!

Back to the point of all that – when Jenny, Keith, Kyle and Katelyn were visiting us, Larry scheduled a tour of his school for them today! Kyle was SO excited to see the helicopters and jets. Larry first showed them the actual building that he goes to school in (not really much to see, but afterwards you know where Larry is spending MANY hours a day)! Once we got done with that, we were able to tour the hangars. We were able to see the jets and helicopters that TPS uses – Kyle was in amazement the whole time that we were in the hangars! After looking around the hangars, we were able to go in one of the jets outside of the hangars. It was huge plane that I will have to get the name of from Larry. The boys loved looking around in it!

After the tour of TPS, we went to a really nice park on base. We let the kids run around and run off some of their energy. Alex loved the time at the park – going UP slides, climbing on everything, swinging in the swings and falling face first in the dirt. For some reason he decided to go down the slide on his belly and when got to the end and was stopped he propelled himself onto the ground! He was fine, just a little dirty. Larry eventually got a football out of his car and the little guys had a great time running after it and “tackling” each other. Since Jenny and I have been friends for so long, I love seeing our boys run around with each other – it is something we always talked about growing up and so nice to see it happen in reality!

Here are some pictures from the TPS tour and our time at the park:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cherry Blossom Festival

Part of the excitement of moving up to Maryland was the prospect of being able to see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom in Washington, DC in the springtime. Today was the Cherry Blossom Festival and the blossoms were in full bloom and they were absolutely beautiful!

My best friend, Jenny and her family, Keith, Kyle and Katelyn came from Ohio to go to see the Cherry Blossoms with us. Truth be told, I don't know if I was more excited to see the Cherry Blossoms or spend time with Jenny!

Since we have been living in Maryland, Larry and I have been lucky enough to meet several wonderful new friends. Our friends, Matt and Stephanie along with their children Bella and Austin also came to see the Cherry Blossoms with us! It was great to have old friends and new friends enjoying the day with us.

Our day started out VERY early! We met up with Matt and Stephanie and followed them to a train station near DC. Kyle was SO excited to ride the train into DC! I do have to admit, it was a much easier way to get into DC than to ride around for 2 hours trying to find a parking space (yes, Larry and I did that on our first trip to DC on Valentine's Day).

We got into the city around 9:30 and found a spot to watch the Cherry Blossom parade. The parade route was packed, but we managed to get a decent spot. The parade was okay - nothing spectacular, but at least it had a few bands, floats and Alex Trebec (I did however think that Alex was Bill Clinton...oops!)! We wound up walking away from the parade before it was over and headed towards the monuments and Cherry Blossoms. We walked over to the Washington Monument and let the kids play around in the grass in front of the monument! Bella and Kyle loved chasing each other - they were hysterical together! Alex tried to chase them, but mostly fell over when he tried to run after them! I got a few good pictures of Alex running around with Bella, Kyle and Larry!

After the monument, we walked over to the Cherry Blossoms. There really are no words to describe how beautiful they were. They were in full bloom, a lovely pink color and looked incredible along the river! I would love to have a yard filled with them.

We ate lunch at a great little Japanese place near the zoo and after lunch went to the zoo. The kids had a blast running around to the different animal exhibits. The zoo in DC is definitely a place that we will be going back to. It is located along a busy DC street in a little neighborhood - a place that you will never expect it to be! It was huge and had so many different animals. And one of the best things is that it is owned by the Smithsonian people and it is FREE! Yes, free - another added bonus! Alex finally took his nap for the day at the zoo...I think it was nearly 5:00 pm before he finally stopped fighting sleep!

It was such a great day! We had a great time with all of our friends! We are so thankful that we got to spend such a nice day with everyone!

Here is a slideshow of some pictures from the day: