Rupert the Dinosaur and my 2012 in review

Wishing all my readers and followers a very Happy and Prosperous 2013. I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind quite a lot whilst visiting my lovely family here in New Jersey. We leave tomorrow for our three-day trip back to New Jersey, and on January 12th we have a trip planned to Belize, so I’m sure I’ll find lots to tell you about that.

Yesterday’s visit to the Natural History Museum  in NYC was most enjoyable, and the kids really had a great time. I will post a few more pics in a couple of days, but for now, here is ‘Rupert the Dinosaur’. For some unknown reason, little Max decided that this should be his name. 🙂

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Here is my WordPress annual report, just in case any of you are interested to see how I’ve been doing this year. I would like to thank you all for your great support and encouragement. It’s meant such a lot to me, as I started on my WordPress blogging journey in January. At that time, comments were very few, but I persevered, and now I can hardly keep up with the inflow of e-mails. I follow so many blogs, and try my best to visit and comment on a very regular basis, as I find your posts so fascinating. Thanks for entertaining me throughout the year, and keep up the good work. 🙂

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 45,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 10 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Les Mis and Frosty the Snowman.

Just a quick pop in to say that ‘Les Mis’ was absolutely wonderful. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway gave magnificent performances. It had humour, heartbreak, romance and of course lots of action. I didn’t fall asleep even once, which really tells you that  I was riveted by the whole spectacle. At times, I wished I’d brought a box of tissues with me, so that I could have a good ‘blub’. Anne Hathaway’s performance of  ‘I dreamed a dream’, was absolutely heart-wrenching, and young Daniel Huttlestone, who played Gavroche the street urchin, was so adorable; I just wanted to hug him and take him home with me. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, just get yourself there. It’s three hours long, but an absolute ‘must see’, a classic movie, which embodies, love, war, abject misery, and redemption.The ending is so uplifting, and I walked out of there full of praise. I couldn’t begin to compare it to the stage show; you’d have to do that for yourself, but why would you want to? It stands on its own as a brilliant epic production. The fact that it was a ‘dine-in’ (no, not drive-in) movie, and we watched whilst being waited on, eating and drinking, made the experience even more enjoyable.

Now for something completely different: I thought you might like to see who suddenly appeared in our son’s back yard, yesterday afternoon. He is obviously a keen New York Yankees supporter, and had blueberries for eyes, a carrot for a nose, and small rocks for buttons.

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We had about four inches of snow, and the kids were so excited to get out there and build a snowman and also get the sled out. Sienna used her muscle power to pull Taylor and Max around. What fun they had. I watched from the warmth of the family room. 🙂

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Here’s the whole family with their frosty friend.

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Today we had the most enjoyable few hours at the Natural History Museum, but those pics will have to wait for another post. Hope your weekend has been a good one.

Sharing my world in New Jersey

At last, I can sit down to do a post. I have to take the chance when I can, as there always seems to be something going on here. This morning, I grabbed my laptop and was just about to start wading through my 750 e-mails, when our son called up the stairs, “Mom, are you ready?” “Ready for what?” I asked, fearing the worst. We were apparently expected at a 3rd birthday party, so on with the boots and jacket, into the car and off down the road. I think that parents of small children are so brave to invite all these little people to their house for a few hours. The dad was in one corner of the kitchen, churning out little handmade pizzas, as if his life depended on it. Various moms and dads were trying to control their toddlers, and stop them from destroying the property. Much food had been lovingly prepared, labelled and set on plates, ready to be half eaten, dropped on the floor, or left for the family to consume over the next couple of days. The cake was really lovely, and I did have a piece, against my better judgement. Sugar overload! 😯

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It started to snow after we’d been there for about an hour, and looked so pretty out of the window, but it made me wish I’d brought a long sleeved jacket instead of just a fur vest, and had worn my snow boots rather than my fashion boots with heels.

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Yesterday, was also quite a cold day, and the family decided to go to the ice rink,

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I didn’t try skating, as I figured that I’ve got this far through my life without it, so why do I need to risk a twisted ankle at this late stage. One young woman did fall, and it was a good hour before she was stretchered off, after lying there on the ice whilst someone with a clipboard asked her a whole lot of questions, and made copious notes. I’m sure she must have been quite frozen.

Little Taylor made a valiant effort, helped along by her dad.

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After a while, she gave up and came to watch with me, through the glass.

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Down in the basement here, I was cajoled into playing hula hoop. Sienna is an absolute star.

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We had a competition to see who could hula with the most hoops, and I was the loser. 😦

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Whilst little Max was busy ‘cleaning’ the floor with his favourite Christmas present,

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I was roped in to sing Christmas carols with Sienna and her cousin.

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We also had a visit to the doctor, for Max. The waiting room was so beautifully decorated with murals,

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but Max was much more interested in watching the fishies.

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Out in the car park, I spotted this rather long limo. We could really fit the whole family in that, no problem.

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Tonight we’re going out for dinner and to see the movieLes Misérables. I’m so looking forward to it, and wonder how it will compare to the stage show I saw a few years ago.

We are still here for a few more days, and tomorrow were going into the city to the Natural History Museum. I always love a visit there, as the exhibits are so fascinating. Thanks so much to those of you who have visited my blog over the past few days. I will catch up with you all as best I can, even if it’s only on the long drive back down to Florida. I hope to manage another post before then, children permitting, but now my presence is required elsewhere. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Thursday’s ‘Cold’ Windows

For Sandra Conner’s ‘Thursday’s Windows’, I took a few pics from inside the house, after our slow drive home from the mall, yesterday afternoon. The houses across the road looked so pretty in the snow.

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The play house in the back yard, the scene of so much fun in the summer months, must feel very abandoned in the winter.

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The garden furniture gets no “bums on seats” either. 🙂

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The next door neighbour’s  house looked very cosy through the playroom window.

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There was a bit of work to be done on the driveway, after dinner.

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Lastly, here is another couple of store windows which we saw in New York on Christmas Eve.

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If you want to see more entries for the challenge, just click here.

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.

I’m just off to bed, after another wonderful day with the family here in New Jersey

There was great excitement after dinner, when Santa delivered two sacks full of new pj’s outside the front door. The children rushed out to see what was happening, but they were just too late to actually see Santa flying away on his sleigh.

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Little Max loved his Batman pj’s so much, that he climbed up on the coffee table to show them off.

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After the children were all in bed, all the presents were brought up from the basement and stacked under the tree. This is just the front; there are many more behind.

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The stockings are all lined up ready for morning.

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The letters have been written to Santa and answered, together with the half eaten cookies, and the reindeer chomped carrot.

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The stage is set, and just to make it all perfect, it started to snow this evening.

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I’m off to bed now to dream of a ‘White Christmas’. Wishing you all a very merry and joyous day tomorrow. My South African family and friends will probably be up already, and those in England won’t be far behind. Enjoy your Christmas Day. 🙂

 

Christmas, New York Style.

It’s been such a busy time since we arrived here at our son’s house in NJ. The grandchildren almost knocked us over in the rush for hugs, when we arrived. The house is looking very festive, and there are stacks of presents in the basement, away from the prying eyes of little Santa believers.

We all went into the city yesterday, first to our son’s church, ‘Hillsong’, where there must have been a thousand people all singing Christmas carols, and listening to a message about the real meaning of Christmas. Sienna managed to make centre stage. 🙂

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Then after lunch, we were off to the ‘ABC Carpet & Home Store’ where we patiently stood in line to see the ‘real’ Santa. Max and Sienna were wide awake and very eager to bend his ear with a few requests.

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When Sienna’s turn came, she spent some time telling him her tale about needing an armoire for her American Girl Doll’s clothes and shoes, so that she can keep the playroom tidier. He was very attentive, and told her that she’s been a very good girl this year, and he will see what he can do. 🙂

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Sweet little Taylor was out for the count, and missed her chance, but I’m sure Santa already knows what she wants for Christmas. He knows every little child’s heart…..right?

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Then it was off to the Rockefeller Centre to see the giant Christmas Tree. Everyone else had the same idea, but we were very lucky to find a parking spot.

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Some of the store windows around there were really pretty, but That Rockefeller Centre insisted on being in all my pics. 🙂

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Back home again, we had fun and games at bath time.

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After a delicious supper, and when the children were eventually in bed, all the adults retired to the basement to help Santa’s elves wrap a mountain of presents. It was an exhausting day, and I’m really sorry I haven’t had time to visit all your blogs. It’s a bit hectic around here at the moment, with three small and boisterous children. I need to make the most of every moment with them.

Tonight, and I think we have a lot of people coming around for a party, and then we open our new pyjamas, which is I’m told is an American tradition for Christmas Eve. I believe some people wear their new PJ’s for the whole of Christmas Day, but I don’t think that’s going to happen here. Maybe just for the present opening session, which by the look of things, could take almost the whole morning.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and happy holidays. I hope you’ve all been good, and that Santa will stop by your house tonight.  😀

Christmas for Jake’s theme

Jake has posted some lovely soft images for his Christmas theme, and I still have some up my sleeve, even after posting most of my Christmas pics taken around Savannah a couple of days ago. I thought the decorations on this porch were so simple, but very effective.

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This house looked so beautiful, that I wanted to run up those steps and ask whether I could come inside and spend Christmas there.

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A few days ago, we saw this beautiful crib scene at our shopping centre in Florida.

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Our hotel last night had made the reception area and lounge look very Christmassy indeed,

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With Christmas carols playing on the TV.

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I used to absolutely love these ornaments when I was a child.

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I remember trying to get the bottom off one of them, so that I could get the Father Christmas out. 🙂

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Here is Tamsyn, our oldest granddaughter, all ready to pull the sleigh for Santa.

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We are still en route to New Jersey, and the traffic is horrendous; nose to tail most of the way. We will get there when we get there, I suppose, but I’m impatient and so excited to see all the family again.

I just have one thing left to say to you all on my Christmas post, and it’s this:

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To see more posts on Jake’s Christmas Theme, just click here.

 

Come walking with me around Savannah

We booked into our hotel in Savannah, yesterday at about 4pm. Eliza Thompson House is a grand old home on historic Jones Street. It has been converted into a guest house, and has a reputation for being haunted. Confederate soldiers have been seen at upstairs windows, and a girl in a white dress, in the hallway. Lucky for me, I don’t believe in ghosts. 😕

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The porter who showed us to our room on the ground floor, had the most gorgeous Georgia accent. Our room was beautifully furnished, and very comfortable.

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There was this large bust of what looked to me, rather like Napoleon, right at the bottom of my bed in front of the window.

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I awoke in the middle of the night, and saw this guy looking right at me. The light from the street lamp was shining through the window, and he gave me quite a fright, until I woke up sufficiently enough to remember where I was. A few years ago, writers from The South Magazine, stayed here to get a first-hand reporter’s view of paranormal activity. They stayed awake throughout the night to study the creaks and nuances of this historic home, and using their own “Fright-O-Meter” scale to compare the various local houses researched, they concluded that The Eliza Thompson House was a 4.5 out of 5. Well, even though I’m not a believer, the fright I got was a 5 out of 5.  😯

Before dark, we went out for a walk around the historic district. There were many parks, all with their various monuments.

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I thought this one in honour of a fallen soldier, Sergeant William Jasper, was quite beautiful.

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Chippewa Square was of special interest, because it’s outside this park, that Forrest Gump sat on a bench, and the feather came floating down. The bench has been removed to a museum, but we worked out where it used to stand. There was supposed to be a plaque marking the spot, but although we looked everywhere, we couldn’t find one. Hubby thinks that it was right where the name plaque is. Just the other side of the wall was a group of people listening avidly to a sermon being preached at great length by a very enthusiastic preacher man. There was a table with a couple of cooler boxes underneath, and I wondered if maybe after they’d been sitting on the cold concrete bench for an hour’s preaching, they may get rewarded with something to eat and drink. I certainly hope so.

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There were many churches along our route, all architecturally beautiful.

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The Baptist one was the most stunning of them all.

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The shops were all decked out for Christmas, and their window displays looked quite tempting, but we didn’t venture inside as it was starting to get dark, and we still had a lot to see.

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We got quite a surprise when in the distance, we suddenly saw a South African flag blowing in the breeze. We walked across the street to see what it was all about, but the establishment was nothing but a ‘greasy spoon’  takeaway, which didn’t look any too appetising. There were also American, Italian, and Swiss flags, alongside our rather garish Y-Front one.

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Just a little bit farther along, we saw this gift bag hanging outside someone’s gate. The tag simply said, “For Fred,” and I couldn’t help marvelling that one could actually leave something like this out in the street, and know that no-one but Fred would take it. This certainly wouldn’t be the case in South Africa. It would be gone in no time, as would many of the lovely outdoor Christmas ribbons, flowers, and wreaths on display. 😦

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There were so many beautifully decorated houses, and they all looked so cosy and inviting.

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After a really good nose around the neighbourhood, we went back to our hotel, and sat in the lounge sipping wine, and eating cheese and crackers, delicious sandwiches and pesto bruschetta.

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There was a French couple from Paris who were touring around looking for a historic property to buy as a holiday home, a couple from Michigan who had just come from marrying off their daughter to an Englishman, and an elderly couple from the Gulf Coast of Florida, who seemed to know a lot about the political situation in South Africa.

Today we are headed for Fredericksburg, stopping off at Florence which is the closest Starbucks along the route. Clever hubby found an app for my iPhone which tells me all the Starbucks locations. 🙂 It’s nice and warm in the car, but the wind chill factor outside makes it feel like -1 C, and my hair flies around like silk butterflies.

If I don’t get to visit your blog, it’s not that I’m ignoring you. I had to wait for 3 hours to even post this. 4G seems to be a rare commodity on the I-95 through South and North Carolina. 😦 Just talk amongst yourselves until I’m in business again.

Dead ‘Gators in my Thursday’s Windows.

We had a beautiful sunny Florida morning with 21C, as we started our road trip up to the family in New Jersey. After a couple of hours driving on the Interstate 95, I espied a sign, proclaiming “Last Starbucks for 146 miles, coming up Exit 176.” 😯 Oh horrors! A quick detour was definitely called for, and I happily consumed my favourite chai latte and sun-dried tomato, mozzarella and basil Panini, before we continued on our merry way. Sitting at a table outside the window were three old men, one of whom was wearing a rather scruffy Santa hat, which rather curiously said “Happy Birthday” on the front. 🙂

We stopped to refill the tank at a gas station just outside Palatka. Here there were many stalls displaying fresh oranges, pecan nuts and beautiful shell ornaments.

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I realised that we must be in the heart of  ‘gator country, when I looked through the window of the souvenir shop, and saw this.

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Walking around to the other side, I saw even more of them.

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The sun reflecting on the window was too much for a decent photo, so an inside shot was called for. I think even Phil would agree that this one is quite a large specimen. I couldn’t help wondering why there were so many baby ones for sale. Do people actually go alligator hunting? I checked this out, and read that Florida is the alligator hunting capital of the world, and 5,000 permits are granted every year which entitle each hunter to catch and kill two of these unfortunate creatures. The season runs from August 15th to September 1st, so for those two weeks, there must be feverish activity in those marshes. We did buy one of the tiny baby ones about four years ago, for our grandson in South Africa, but today, we just stole a few pics.

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Then it was back in the car, and before we knew it, we were at Jacksonville, almost out of Florida and into Georgia, and not a palm tree to be seen.

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I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on part of my journey, and looking at what I saw through these windows. To see more Thursday’s Windows entries, just click here.

I have very patchy internet, especially through the rural areas, so although I’ve managed to visit some of your posts, I still have hundreds of your emails in my inbox. I’ll try to catch up as soon as I can.