Sunday, February 24, 2013

Exploring New Territory

When we decided to move to New Jersey for my job, we thought renting for the first year would be the best move because neither of us knew a thing about New Jersey. We had never even been here before, let alone know where the best place to live and raise a family would be.
Our lease on this place will soon be ending, and we want to be sure we're settled into our new home before school begins again in September. Especially if we choose an area besides Wyckoff. It would be great to stay in Wyckoff, but the home prices are too high for our budget (at least for the homes that are big enough, and don't require a lot of remodeling). But, Christopher loves his school and has made some nice friends. Joey loves the YMCA program here, and will be entering Kindergarten in September. The good part about having two of them in public schools, is that they will be together in the same place again, and it helps cut some expenses for us. For these reasons, Wyckoff stays on the list.

In the spirit of attempting to learn New Jersey, we try to get out and go to a new place every weekend. Even if it's just a new place to eat in town, we try to do something new (that is, if the weather cooperates, seems like we've had snow a lot).

Morristown was top on my list of places to go. After learning that there were historical landmarks dating back to the Revolutionary War (Morristown's welcome sign states it's "The Military Capital of the Revolutionary War"),  I was very interested in checking it out. Growing up in New England, and being surrounded by such rich pieces of American history was always cool for me. The northern part of New Jersey definitely has a New England feel to it, and I love it.
Friends at work had said they go there often for lunch or dinner because the downtown area is filled with cool places to eat and shop. The National Historic Park and Washington's Headquarters were really a sight to see. We will go back in the summer, when we can really take advantage of the park and go hiking. We also have plans to check out the downtown area and shops a bit more too.
Washington's Headquarters


We've also been encouraged to explore Rockland County, NY. This area of New York is closer to the Hudson River, and seemed like it may be worth checking into. Some colleagues at work live in this area, and seem to enjoy it. We went over to Nyack, and Nanuet yesterday (foggy, dreary day) and really could not take in all these towns had to offer with such bad weather. From what we can see, the area seems cool, but we haven't decided yet if it's for us.
Since the weather prevented us from getting out and walking around (thus no good pics), we went to the Palisades Center in West Nyack because I had stuff to return anyway. We liked that mall a lot. It's probably the first mall we've found since moving that had all the stores we really shop in on a regular basis (you know, like Target). It was full, but not ridiculously crowded like the Garden State Plaza in Paramus. No matter how hard I try to like that mall (the stores are AWESOME), I get overwhelmed by the size and all of the people. There never seems to be a "slow" time, and I think part of the reason for that is the fact that Bergen County still abide by Blue Laws. Everything is closed on Sunday, thus making Saturday miserable for everyone.
Boys in the Princess Castle! Look out!
Here's a picture of the kids at the Palisades Center yesterday. There are a ton of distractions for kids in this place. If you are they type of person who loves to shop solo but usually have the rest of your family with you (like me!), then this is the place to go. Ice skating rink, Climbing Area, bowling, movies, FOOD, you name it!!

After all that driving around, we needed to eat! Greg and I were craving hamburgers, so we decided to check out East Coast Burger Company. It was just what we needed. Loud, fun environment where the kids could be even louder, the burgers were tasty, and the fries were awesome. We ended the meal with some of their freshly made ice cream. We will definitely be back! Of all the towns in Bergen County, Ridgewood is the most hip. Great downtown atmosphere and always lots of people in the shops and restaurants. Pricey homes, though.



We've also been strongly considering Oakland. It's a beautiful town in Bergen County and is only one town over from Wyckoff. We went to an open house a few weeks back, just to get a sense for the neighborhoods and we really liked it. Oakland has great schools too (in fact share high school with Wyckoff, who are known for great schools), but the home prices are much more down to earth. This place is top on the list for these reasons. 

Next up on our list of towns to explore: Montclair, NJ. Hearing lots of good things about this up and coming area, and from what I'm reading, it sort of reminds me of some of the hip places in Rochester.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting Ready for Valentine's Day

Christopher surprised us on Valentine's morning with this handmade card


This year, the boys had more Valentines to write out than ever. We got a jump start (for once), and actually wrote out all of the Valentine cards on Saturday. Christopher wrote out all of his own, and what a difference it makes having him be able to do it all himself. I helped Joey do his cards, though he insisted on writing out a few of them (which were later deemed illegible, thus I re-wrote many and finished off his pile for him). He gets an "A" for trying, though.

Counting their Valentines
Carefully checking his list over to be sure no one is left out
Given this was the first year we actually had the basics done in advance (as opposed to the last minute, night before, frantic searching for the list routine), I thought it might be a nice touch to "plus up" with some baked goods for their friends at school.

My sweetie loves to bake with me.
So, I made the trusted sugar cookie recipe that everyone loves, and enlisted the help of the kids to place the glitter on the heart shaped confections for their friends.
As an added touch, I placed one cookie in a treat bag, along with the Dark Knight Valentine and a matching pencil for every one of Christopher's friends. Since Joey's class all made Valentine-holding contraptions out of tissue boxes, we are just bringing in a plate of cookies for the class.


And of course, I couldn't forget my friends at work. They make me laugh and smile every day and I thought they'd like a sweet little surprise. 
I love these little paper treat bags


 

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