Wednesday, September 30, 2009

apple pickin'

Apple Picking at Applewood Orchard
Monday, September 28
After flying into Minne on Monday, we quickly changed into our fall/winter clothes & headed out to Applewood Orchard in Lakeville to pick delicious Honeycrisp apples to take home with us! We met friends from church, Brent & Kelli, out there.
Parker enjoyed sitting in the little red wagon with all the apples while his daddy pulled him.
One of the highlights for Parker was getting to pick the apples up at the top of the tree with Daddy's help!
Parker's special apple that he picked all by himself!

Aren't they just the cutest couple?! They are expecting their first baby next spring! We are so excited for them!

Let's head to the raspberries patch!
Parker would start eating them as fast as we could pick the raspberries so we didn't make it home with any in our little basket! ha!

One of Parker's happiest moments...getting to sit & pretend drive the big green tractor!

Clay & Parker playing on the big haystack!

The Applewood Orchard store was fun to shop in. Delicious treats such as Abdallah Caramel Dip, sweet honey sticks & caramel blocks, hometown cookbooks with plenty of apple recipes, & of course more apples than you could count!
Clay & I ended up taking home a bunch of Honeycrisp apples to eat for sweet snacks & a variety of tart Haralson apples for autumn cooking! Yumm...
Applewood Orchard was such a fun & simple place! They offer hayrides (for $1) for the children along with little green John Deere "kiddie tractors" for them to ride...thankfully, these were put away when we arrived. I don't know if we would have ever gotten Parker away from those things if he had seen one! ha! ...a great variety of apple picking...14 different kinds while we were there...Also offered, are a variety of pumpkins & gourds for purchase, sweet jams & butters in the store, & other candied goods! It was a delightfully chilly day & slightly overcast, which although made us bury underneath our jackets a little more, made for great pictures!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

visits with family, bachelorette party & new goodies for Parker!

We're back from a fun trip down South! Parker & I flew in yesterday; Clay was happily awaiting our return! I was pretty zonked all day because of the late nights & wee early morning departure for the airport, but we fixed that by going to an Apple Orchard & having some adventures! Did I mention that when we arrived in MN Parker & I were both dressed in summer clothes & everyone else was in long pants, long sleeve shirts & coats?!?! This always happens...every year I leave for a quick trip & when I return the cold temps have set in for winter! Ugh! It was kinda cute dressing Parker in some of his new fall clothes when we got home though; he looks so handsome in his little carpenter blue jeans! :)

First, a recap on our trip to MS:

Wednesday, my sweet hubbie dropped Parker & me off at the airport to catch a late morning flight out of Minne. Everything went so smoothly that I had to ask myself a few times, "Am I sitting at the wrong gate? Did I actually miss the flight we were supposed to be on?" because it was as sweet & simple as apple pie. Besides looking out over the planes & watching the people work, Parker read this book over & over while we were waiting to board. It's been one of his favorites for awhile now!
When we arrived in Memphis around lunchtime, Granny & Papa, who were kind enough to come pick us up, treated us to Crackerbarrel before heading to Grenada. Parker immediately spotted this basket with lots of trucks & fun boy toys. When we asked him a few minutes later if he could put the toys back in the basket so that we could go eat, he sweetly placed them all back...except one. The yellow digger that was in his pudgy right hand didn't budge. He carefully & discretely put it behind his back as if to hide it from us! ha! Granny couldn't bear the thought of big tears sliding down those little cheeks, so she just waved her hand as we picked Parker up & said, "We'll just buy this one for him; it's not worth the tears!" Parker has been proudly displaying & playing with his little yellow digger ever since. Thank you Granny & Papa. :)
Thursday, we left for Jackson early that morning to see family. Clay's grandmother (aka "Grandmother" to everyone) had had 2 strokes the week before & was at the University Hospital. She is doing much better now...still is weak on her left side, but her speech & cognitive ability are amazing! She is such a strong woman! While we were there, with some assistance, Grandmother stood with her walker, looked around at everyone in the room, spoke with each of us individually & did some therapy exercises. We were all so proud of her. Granddaddy has been such a rock through this all....staying by her side throughout every moment & making sure everything is in order at all times. He is so good at that. In the picture above, Granddaddy was showing off his great-grandson to some friends he had recently met in the hospital.
I think this is the sweetest picture...Parker is sitting in Granddaddy's lap while watching over Grandmother in the bed.
Poppie, Nana & Aunt KK had flown down, so we had a good time visiting with them as well! Later in the day, Aunt KK & Parker had some good playtime, which is evident by the big drool spot on Parker's mouth from laughing so hard! (Do you like Parker's new everyday shoes for fall? Parker does!!! Thank you Grandmother & Granddaddy! Word to the first-time mothers...check your child's shoes often to make sure there is space between the end of the shoe & his toes. I was more embarrassed than you could imagine when we had Parker's feet measured a week ago & he was measuring at a 6 1/2...his current shoe size was a 5...we had checked his feet out about 3-4 weeks prior and they were fine!!! I know... another strike against me for the mother of the year award!)

I am so thankful & glad that we were able to go visit Grandmother; it was so good to see her & Granddaddy. This was the first time I had been in a hospital since visiting Daddy right before he passed away (other than giving birth to Parker which was a whole different experience!) so I ended up being a lot more emotional throughout the whole day than I ever would have guessed. I felt bad because on top of that, I got sick that afternoon & stayed under the weather until the next morning. Yuck. But everyone was, of course, unbelievably sweet & understanding about it. Family is awesome.... (We would appreciate continued prayers for Grandmother & her recovery!)
After a day of hanging out around Grenada, running errands & just relaxing, guess who came to visit us for a little while on Friday afternoon?! Cousin Alyssa & Aunt Kathi! What a fun time we had chatting & playing!
On Saturday the fun begin with Grace's Bachelorette party out at the Gore's cabin at Grenada's a group picture at 333 of all of us (for supper)...excuse the poor quality of the photo...I'm just so thankful I got one of all of us!

I already know that when Ashley sees this, she's going to call me & say, "Why the hell did you find it necessary to post this picture of me doing a flying leap on your blog?!" And I'm going to say, "Because it's cute & it tells a story so get over it! But you know I love you!" :)

I drove out to the lake with Ashley pulling her huge boat behind the vehicle...well, after we had spent almost an hour stopping to fill it up with gas & waiting for my bathing suit, towel & pillow that I had forgotten to pack to arrive at the gas station! (Thank you mama!) The road to get to the boat ramp at the lake is one of those curvy, narrow, dirt ones that make you really nervous to drive on (especially when people who aren't carrying monster boats on the back of their vehicle come flying around a corner towards you!) just getting out there without any hiccups was a relief in itself!

Anyway, we got out to the lake & realized a fishing tournament was going on. I was actually really impressed with how Ashley got the boat in the water practically all by herself. I have to say though that it was quite comical. She backs the thing into the water right down the ramp and this little bitty fishing boat backs down right next to us. He had that thing ready to go in a matter of minutes! We, on the other hand, took a tad bit longer! :) I won't get into all the details because I don't know all the technical terms of a boat, but after we did get it in the water Ashley asked me to make sure it didn't float off while she was parking the truck. I snagged this victory picture of her coming down the ramp shortly after. Cute right?!
We drove the boat over to the Gore's cabin (it's the red one to the right of the white house kind of hidden behind some trees...I have a better picture of it close up but I liked how this one showed the lake, the boat launch & the house) This place is perfect for parties & get-togethers! The cabin will sleep about 10 people in beds plus couch space! It also has a terrific view of the lake! It's always fun spending time here!
The soon-to-be bride, Grace! Isn't she adorable?! I love how at any moment I will hold my camera up & she will come up with some fun, great looking pose! I actually got a lot of really cute ones during her lingerie shower & realized that I can't show any of them because her lingerie is in the background of all of them (hanging up on a clothesline for cute!) We can't chance her sweet fiance seeing these now can we?!
Here's a picture of the couple from their engagement party in Grenada! (sorry for the size of it!)
Meagan & these two...they can always make you laugh about something!
Here's part of the crew on the boat...
Some of the bunch chatting & catching know you're getting older when while everyone else is talking about their work, news, & gossip I'm sharing an update on what my 20 1/2 month old is babbling about! ha! It's fun looking back & reminiscing on old times & then thinking about what we're all doing now...among this bunch we have nurses, accountants, a former Miss Tennessee (that would be Grace), former Miss Georgia, girls in the marketing field, some girls still in school, physical therapists, work-at-home moms (the only 2 moms there!), speech language pathologists, & so many more! ...neat to think about!
We had a good time at dinner with a lot of great laughs!
All of her fun gifts! Micajah, you will like them; we promise! :)

Meredith, sister of the bride-to-be, had this pretty & delicious cake made for the lingerie shower! It not only looked great, but tasted so yummy! Meredith, you did a phenomenal job putting this whole thing together. I know it meant so much to Grace! And how much fun it was having all the girls together!!! Thank you for a great time! Grace, Clay & I wish we could be at the wedding in a couple of weeks; Clay & I wish ya'll the best though & can't wait to see pictures! :)

It's such a blessing to be able to see girlfriends that you have known since before kindergarten & catch up on old times as well as to meet new ones!

This past weekend, we also were excited to get to see Mama Sam & Shorty & Aunt Laurie & Ashland!!! Mama & I made it by a few of our favorite shops (that I seem to have to go by EVERY time we're in G-town...Puddleducks, The Gift Box, & Knicks)

Of course, each time we travel South, we get spoiled with great new things for Parker. When we got home I told Clay he wouldn't believe all the shoes, books, clothes, pjs, & even a couple of fun new toys!! Our family is so good to us...ya'll definitely keep Parker looking stylish & make sure that he is dressed for the season! Thank you all so very much!

It's getting late & I've still got quite a "to do" list to work on, so I'll have to post pics from our Apple Orchard fun tomorrow!

Friday, September 25, 2009

This sailor has my heart!

...still in MS having fun with family & friends...I thought I'd post these pictures of Parker that I thought were sooo sweet! One day, he's going to be mad that I took these...or that I dressed him that cute in the first place! But for now... :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

what did mama say?!

"Did Mama just say we're going to MS?!!!"
Now let's see...that means that I get to see Rassie, Granny, Papa, Aunt Laurie, Uncle Butch, Ashland, Collin, Nana, Poppie, Aunt KK, Grandmother, Granddaddy, Aunt Kathi, Mama Sam & Shorty.....oh boy!

Parker & I are in Grenada; we arrived yesterday afternoon & will be here through the weekend!
So excited! I came down for a Bachelorette party for one of my good girlfriends & we're squeezing in lots of family & friend time in between. Fun! Fun!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Final Chronicles of the Nolen's in Vietnam '08

Trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2008
September 13 - September 27

Parker's Favorite Memories of Vietnam:
1. Watching & observing the Vietnamese people
2. getting to ride in our laps anywhere we went instead of his carseat!
3. playing with Nana & Poppie in the evenings
4. Poppie treating him to Cheese Puffs for the first time
5. Mr. Nam & Mrs. Nga playing with him & talking to him
6. eating with chopsticks
7. Seeing the fun sights of Ho Chi Minh City
8. Having the Vietnamese ladies touch & "oogle" over him
9. sitting with Poppie at his desk at the office

Clay's Favorite Memories of Vietnam:
1. Carrie going down the tunnel at Cu Chi Tunnels
2. Swimming in the backyard pool with Parker & Carrie
3. touring the city & the Presidential Palace (see, I told you he liked this one a lot!!!)
4. going to the MeKong Delta & riding in the boat
5. tea downtown with mom
6. the markets
7. seeing mom & dad's office & classroom
8. the factories (candy factory in the MeKong & the lacquereware in Saigon)
9. eating was an adventure (dragon fruit, fresh pineapple, etc.)
10. visiting the Cau Dai temple

Carrie's Favorite Memories of Vietnam:
1. tea at Gloria Jean's (& dessert of course!)
2. YKC!!!!
3. shopping at Mrs. Teresa's
4. watching Parker smiling, laughing, & taking everything in
5. touring the MeKong Delta with Clay
6. shopping at the markets
7. going down in the Cu Chi Tunnels
8. driving through the countryside & seeing life in a totally new way
9. visiting time with Nana & Poppie at their home
10. Mrs. Nga's cookies
11. touring Ho Chi Minh...seeing everyday life
12. High tea at the Caravelle

Parker's experienced quite a few "firsts" while on this trip:
First time to fly internationally
First time to crawl on all fours (while upstairs one evening at Nana & Poppie's)
First time to make the cute tongue-flipping sounds
First time to try formula
First time to ride in a car without being buckled in!
First time to eat with chopsticks (with a little assistance of course!)
First time to see an international doctor
First time to be babysat by a nanny all day!
First time to have Cheese Puffs! ("thank you Poppie" Parker says!)

Contact & trip info:

I am going to include some of the contact information for some of our favorite places, businesses etc. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, feel free to use any of this information to help with your trip planning. One of the things that made the trip so perfect was our tour guide, Win. He was so nice, very thorough with detail & made the excursions such fun for us with stories & little details that he would point out. He does speak English fairly well, which made it nice in talking to him from one destination to the next! We had a lot of questions for him & he was always so patient & kind to answer each of them as best he could.

Tour Guide:
Nguyen Trong Nguyen (also pronounced "Win")
Add: 49 Le Thanh Ton St
Dist 1, HCMC, Vietnam
Mobile: (+84) 0913.833733

YKC Esthetic & Hair Spa:
219 Dien Bien Phu St. District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: 829 2791-827 5194
Business Hours:
Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 10am-5pm

Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City:

Chu An Seafood Restaurant
27 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Dakao Ward, Dist 1, HCMC
Tele: 84.8 823 7373
*We enjoyed a delicious lunch here with Poppie on his lunch break. He ordered for 3 of can order different platters & then share with a group which is what we did
Our order consisted of:
Morning Glory (stir fry with garlic) - Rau Muong Xao Toi
Spring Rolls - Cha gio
Seafood Soup - Sup hai san
Fried beef in mustard rolls - Bo Cuon Cai Xanh
Grilled chicken with lemon leaves - ga Nuong la Chanh
Steamed shrimp in coconut - Tom su hap Trai dua
Fried Rice Cantonese stule - Com Chien Duong dua
Soda - trang

Pomodoro Italian restaurant
79 Hai Ba Trung, District 1, HCMC
Tele: 823 8998 - 823 8957
This is a great family-style restaurant with fabulous pastas, pizzas, soups, salads & desserts

Co Ngu Restaurant
222 Pasteur St. Dist 3, HCMC
Tele: 848 - 827 -5702
Great place for a nice dinner out!

Shopping in HCMC:

The Vietnamese Refinement
141 Dong Choi St, Dist 1 Ho Chi Minh City
Tele: 00 848 823 9615
Loved this cute shop! It had fun jewelry, purses, linens...I got some beautiful silver errings & bracelet here. One of my favorite purchases was a set of decorative pillow covers in bright, bold colors that will look great in our future home!

NKid Children's Wear
Duong Hoan Tuyen
Managing Director
cell: 090 800 8586
*in multiple locations...the one we visited the most was at
83 Dong Khoi St, Dist 1, HCMC
We purchased some of the most precious outfits & pajama sets for Parker. Also, they had beautiful baby quilts & gifts for mothers too! I bought a gorgeous simple white gown here that I just adore! Toys, socks, can find it here!

Mrs. Teresa's Jewelry Shop
located at Dong Khoi Street
Dong Khoi Street in Downtown HCMC

Places to See & Things to Do:

Indepedence Palace
135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia St, Dist 1, HCMC
Open 7:30am-12pm & 1pm-5pm

Post Office in & Cathedral in downtown Ho Chi Minh City
Caravelle Hotel in downtown HCMC(these 3 places are all right together)

The Museum of Vietnamese History
2 Nguyen Binh Khiem St, Dist 1, HCMC
Open from Tues -Sunday 8am-11:30am & 1:30-5pm
*Cameras are only allowed if you pay an extra fee..the fee is very nominal though..just a 3-5 at most!

Don Khoi Street in HCMC
This is where we did most of our shopping...lots of very nice boutiques, jewelry shops, art galleries, clothing shops, coffee shops (Gloria Jean was my favorite!)
*There are many art galleries (one right after the other) in downtown HCMC. We spent a lot of time in each one of them looking at their styles & such. Each one has several different artists each of which have their own style of course. Some seemed to be better at portraits versus others, whereas other artists had mastered the landscape & scenic pictures. We actually used 2 different galleries to paint 3 different pictures for us. My advice is to shop around until you find 1 or 2 styles that you like & then bargain for the best prices.

Tay Son - Laquereware factory

Touring outside of HCMC:

Cu Chi Tunnels
MeKong Delta
Cau Dai Temple
*we weren't able to make the beach resort this trip, but the Nolen's have been there & raved over the place.
We have been asked several common questions since our return, so as I think of them I will post them up here.
Q: Did you take Parker with you on all of your excursions?
A: We took him on all but the MeKong Delta
Q: How old was Parker when you went to Vietnam?
A: 8mos
Q: What did Parker eat while over there?
A: I was still nursing him, so along with the milk, Nana had gone to a grocery store & bought baby food & cheerios type foods for him. The only food outside of their household that we let him eat was rice & a few things off of our plates from the restaurants within the city.
I will post pics of the Vietnam albums soon! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chronicles of the Nolen's in Vietnam '08 - Part 5

Thursday was such a nice, relaxing day: woke up & went to the spa for some more pampering, picked up Nana from school & enjoyed some tea & dessert at Caravelle one last time before heading home for a delicious meal from Mrs. Nga.

Friday, we were busy doing last minute shopping, packing, hanging out with the family, etc.

Saturday it was time to say goodbye to Vietnam & to the Nolen's. We had such a wonderful time getting to see them & experience a couple of weeks in the city! Thank you, Nana & Poppie, for giving us the opportunity! We flew out from Ho Chi Minh around lunchtime headed to Taipei, Taiwan, which was a little over a 3 hour flight. After another 12 hr flight, we landed in San Francisco. Both flights went really well; Parker slept & played just as we had expected. We had a long layover (about 7 1/2 hrs - we arrived at 4:30pm & were scheduled to fly out shortly after midnight) in San Francisco, so we decided to take advantage of it & spend a couple of hours exploring the city. We rode the BART transportation system to downtown & then walked up & down the streets just admiring the sights.

We managed to snag a picture on the San Francisco trolley but couldn't actually take the time to ride it. After walking for a bit, we found a nice restaurant to sit down & eat supper in. The Daily Grill was scrumptious, though we ate with less gusto than we had had earlier in the day! At this point, we were all getting a little tired...I think jet lag was already kicking in & we weren't even home yet! Our flight from San Francisco to Minneapolis was a little challenging. Everyone on the flight was sleeping...except for Parker...who was more than wide awake...he was ready to play, giggle, coo, eat, anything & everything but sleep. I was thankful when about 3 1/2-4 hours later our flight landed safely in MN. It was Sunday around 6am MN time.

We were tired & decided to play it low key around the house for the rest of the day. You know me though; I couldn't let the laundry sit...I think I did about 8 loads just that afternoon! We actually got most of our things unpacked that day.
Here are some of the goodies we picked up while we were abroad:
Love these Vietnamese paintings...
We also had an oil painting of the Cafe Terrace at Night by Van Gough painted for us while we were there. It now adorns our kitchen in a simple black frame.

Here are some fun, random pics of Vietnam that weren't shared in earlier posts:
Clay at High Tea at Caravelle hotel...what a treat. It was so relaxing to sit & watch the people go by as we sipped warm tea & munched on these delicatessens. Sipping tea & visiting with Nana at this hotel was one of our favorite afternoon activities.
A view of part of the Nolen's lens wasn't wide enough to get the whole thing inside the gate
Sweet Mr. Nam (the driver of the Nolen's)...we miss you so!
Traditional Ao Dai garments worn by the Vietnamese's somewhat hard to see with her on the other side of the bike, but you can get the jist of it!

The owner of YKC & Ky's wife (who just had their first baby!) is the one who is holding Parker. Oh, how I miss the ladies & Ky at YKC!!! They can seriously work some magic like nothing you've ever experienced before...Oh! And how do you like my haircut from last fall? (I don't have Ky here now to keep it looking that good! ha!) While I was there, I was treated to manicures, pedicures, a cut & style, full body massages & aromatherapy ear candling; I don't know if I've ever felt so relaxed in my life. Even when they did the cut & styles they spent 45 minutes just doing a special treatment on my hair along with a neck & scalp massage....ok, I'm going to cry if I don't stop talking about it...."Clay, I know what I want for Christmas! I just need an airline ticket, a driver & directions!" :)
When in Rome...
We spent a lot of time & 'ahem' other things too! at Mrs. Teresa's shop :) Mrs. Teresa was the sweetest & had the best jewelry store in all of downtown Vietnam!
Parker could get used to eating with chopsticks! least playing with them if nothing else! :)
More fun things to see when driving down the road
Parker & Mrs. Nga (the housekeeper/cook/whatever she needed to do!)

Reasons we miss Mrs. Nga:
-because she loved us so & we love her too!
-her sweetness & generosity
-her delicious meals that were lovingly prepared for us at every meal
-the way she ironed our sheets, blue jeans, socks, underwear....(actually, this is what Clay misses most! ha ha! He said that one of his dreams is to come home & be able to sleep on freshly cleaned & ironed sheets every day....umm, yeah, so would you settle for the ironing part once a'll be a special day for you baby!)
-her scrumptious cookies...I still HAVE to get that recipe...I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in them while over there
-the fresh fruit that she prepared for us each day
-how she washed & ironed our clothes, etc. from Tuesday & had them in drawers neatly folded ready to go on Wednesday by lunchtime...and repeated that every single day of the week. i still have no idea how she got those things to fold so perfectly! Ha ha! I remember us thinking on Friday, that we needed to make sure we chose our clothes wisely because she wouldn't be back to do laundry until Monday...and we had brought enough clothes for everyone for 2 WEEKS! Clay & I both laughed over that one! It's amazing how quickly you can get used to some things!
-how she took care & loved our sweet Parker!
We miss you Mrs. Nga!!!

Parker with one of the security guards on the property...he was a really nice guy & always was so excited to see us each day & hear about our adventures!
I was almost amazed at how many people could fit on these things...the most people I saw on one motorcycle while over there - 5 (2 adults, 2 children & a toddler)

Why do they wear those masks over their face? Pollution? Nope

It's to protect their skin from the sun...they don't want to be dark (especially the ladies)

What are those people doing out on the grass? They're cutting it....
Nana's had beautiful grounds & spacious rooms. So nice to be able to get a tour of where she was teaching & working each day!
In Vietnam, they cut the grass with other words, they literally manicure their lawns down to the smallest detail

Parker & Mr. Nam - Mr. Nam was so good with & to Parker while we were there. He even bought Parker this special little red bear that suctioned to the window so Parker could have something to play with on the days we had our long drives through the countryside & such.