Wild Week in the City!

Wild Week in the City!

Last summer, Jason, Henry and I were discussing what we wanted to do for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’d all been hankering for a trip to New York, but also to St. Simons or anywhere else, really. We decided that New York it was. We would go for the Macy’s Parade and take a whole week to make it the most amazing trip ever!

So of course, I started planning! We’ve been so many times, I knew what all we would do, but wanted to add some extra fun! I got help from so many friends and together, we made a super fun itinerary that pleased a mom, a dad, and a 10 year old boy.

This is long, so skip ahead or whatever!

Monday, November 24

Our favorite way to go to the city is to leave before the sun comes up and get there before people even leave for work! This was the earliest we’d ever left, though, on a 6am flight out of Atlanta. Yes, that means a 3:30 departure from our house. But? We landed in NYC at 7:50 and were in the hotel by 9. Boom. Full day in the city!

Jason had started a new job November 1, so he wasn’t technically off for the week. He spent Monday and Tuesday, day and night, in Long Island while Henry and I stayed in Manhattan. He would join us on Wednesday morning. So we got to the airport and said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Odd…

Henry and I got to our hotel around 9 and surprisingly, our room was ready! We love to stay at the Hotel Metro, a Midtown hotel about half a block from Macy’s Herald Square, because of their family rooms. For about the same price as a Times Square room, we get two bedrooms — one with a queen bed and one with two doubles. Space for each of us! It’s close to Metro stations and a Starbucks! They have a wonderful bar and restaurant attached and did I mention how convenient it is? Win Win WIN!IMG_0856

It was strangely warm that day, so Henry and I ditched the coats and any extra layers and headed out. First stop — Times Square. We grabbed a hot dog, hit the M&Ms store and Toys R Us and took a bunch of goofy pictures.

We had planned for a while to meet up and hang out with my friend Neil who lives in Queens. He had found a cool exhibit going on at Discovery Times Square that Henry was so excited about. It was an interactive Avengers exhibit that takes you through intelligence files of the Avengers or something. I didn’t fully understand but Henry thought it was the bee’s knees!

Henry and I met up with Neil after the Avengers exhibit at John’s Pizzeria for some lunch. The pizza was excellent, the beer was cold, and the company was fun! Afterwards, all three of us went and walked around the area. We hit Bryant Park and the NYC Public Library (which Henry thought was really cool) (I thought there were way too many steps considering we woke up at 2:30am).

Afterwards, we headed to Grand Central Station to look around and get a snack at Junior’s. There, Neil treated us to cheesecake and real chocolate egg creams. Uh, I thought the egg cream sounded disgusting until I tried it and now I think about them at least once a day because hello deliciousness!IMG_0875

Henry and I headed back to the hotel where he promptly went to sleep — at 5pm — and I didn’t dare wake him. I wasn’t far behind!

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Tuesday, November 25

Tuesday morning, we slept in a little. We met Neil at Macy’s to head up to the UES for breakfast. Because Jason and Henry are such Seinfeld freaks, he thought it would be cool to go to Tom’s Restaurant. Tom’s is the restaurant they used as the facade for Monk’s Cafe on the show. Since Jason couldn’t go, it was just us and Henry thought it was way cool! We had pancakes and eggs and a typical (but delicious) diner breakfast. We plotted out our day and set out for more fun!

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Since we were up on the UES, we went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Oh, it was absolutely beautiful! Henry was in awe on the inside of the cathedral and even more so outside when a few peacocks walked by. In the city. Peacocks. Just seemed odd!

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Walking back over towards the main road, we walked through Columbia University. It was beautiful, too. I was freaked out being at a university where people weren’t decked out in orange and blue, saying War Eagle to each other, though. I did feel my IQ points jump up a little just being on campus!

We took a cab down to The Met where Henry enjoyed the Egyptian exhibits and the Knights exhibits. It’s one of the museums I’d never been to, so I was excited to see the Tiffany windows and the Death Becomes Her exhibit.

Lunch was at Alice’s Tea Room, a place I’d wanted to go for a while, but apparently it’s not as awesome in real life as it is online. Lunch was good. The wait was horrible. And Neil and Henry thought it was girly. Oh well…

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We moseyed down to Rockefeller Center where Neil was meeting someone to take pictures later. We did some run-throughs so he would know the best places to take the pictures over near Radio City Music Hall.

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Henry and I headed back to the hotel and had a little bite to eat and crashed! A winter rain/sleet storm was predicted to come in overnight and Jason was already planning to come into the city earlier the next morning than originally planned. Sleep came easy after a long day in the city!

Wednesday, November 26

Wednesday was a very lazy day. It rained buckets, was cold and painfully windy.

Henry and I got up super early and threw on clothes so I could meet Catherine, a mom who lost her daughter to Group B Strep earlier in the year. I take every chance I can to be able to give real life hugs to fellow bereaved moms. Braving the elements was nothing compared to the early days of grief that she was facing. We quickly scooted back to the hotel to warm back up, though!

Jason came straight to the hotel from Long Island and we decided that we would ditch our plans to go to the Statue of Liberty that day. The only thing worse than walking around in the city in wind, rain, and sleet, would be going on a boat to an island in the wind, rain, and sleet!

The three of us took advantage of a day of rest. We napped, had lunch next door at Playwright Bar and Lounge.

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We went the half block over to Macy’s to goof off and then napped some more! Dinner was also close to the hotel at Liberty NYC. I highly recommend this restaurant — it was excellent!

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Back to the hotel we went to hit the bed early and get our plan of attack for the Macy’s Parade the next morning!

Thursday, November 27

Up EARLY for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This has been a goal of mine — to go back and be a spectator — since I participated in the parade in high school. So of course, I jumped out of bed like it was Christmas morning! We bundled up (not enough) and headed out at 6:30am. Yes, the parade starts at 9. No, we’re not insane. We got a sweet spot at the corner of 38th and 6th, right on the fence. Front row, baby!

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We sat. We waited. We met the people next to us who were absolutely amazing. We watched protestors get tackled to the ground and arrested. We complained. We squeeeeeed when we could finally hear the parade coming!

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The parade in person is absolutely nothing like what you see on television. There’s a lot of behind the scenes scheduling that is too long to share in this post, but that makes it not flow well in person. But… if it’s a bucket list item, it’s one of the most amazing things you can do! In fact, put it on your bucket list right now! You’ll be glad you did.

Yes, I cried like I always do. Yes, my boys laughed at me. Yes, it was totally worth it all!

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Of course, Henry got too cold and then overheated (frostbite?) and almost passed out. He was fine, but jeez, kid, can’t we go to a parade without you falling out?

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It was snowy and drizzly and by the time it was over, we were done. D.O.N.E. Done. We hobbled back to the hotel on frozen numb feet and grabbed lunch at the hotel. And then napped.

I had made reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at Rock Center Cafe. We walked up to Rockefeller Center and had a glass of wine (and Shirley Temple) at the bar. Our dinner was amazing. Best filet ever, maybe! It was fun to eat on the skating rink level and see people enjoying skating while we dined.

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But we were exhausted. We detoured through Times Square to see it all lit up before going to the hotel!

Friday, November 28

Breakfast was at Andrew’s Coffee Shop. You may remember this restaurant from our last trip.

Stupidly, we decided to walk to the Intrepid Museum. It didn’t seem like it was going to be THAT far, but it was extremely cold and windy and well, it was dumb. But, in spite of that, this may have been the highlight of the trip for both Jason and Henry. Boy or girl, I HIGHLY recommend this museum as part of your visit.

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The Intrepid Museum is not only an aircraft carrier with many aircraft on board, but it also houses a submarine, a space shuttle and the British Airways Concorde. Tickets aren’t cheap, but I can say with certainty that they were worth every single penny. It was really all worth it just to see Jason’s excitement while he sat in the Concorde’s cockpit jump seat!IMG_1245

After the Intrepid, we took a cab over to 5th and Central Park and walked down 5th Avenue back towards the hotel. A stop at Tiffany (I got a ring), Saks, Louis Martin (Jason got a watch) and the Lego Store and we were done for the day.

We headed back down to the hotel and decided to eat at the Korean restaurant nearby. None of us had ever eaten Korean and it was to DIE for! Like the egg cream, I think about Korean almost daily. Must find a good restaurant near us!

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Saturday, November 29

We had breakfast at Andrew’s again. It’s so close to Hotel Metro and delicious, it was hard not to!

Afterwards, we took the subway down to Chinatown. Jason and Henry had wanted to find chicken feet to eat but luckily, they didn’t. I was already planning to gag and be dramatic the whole time. We did find a little grocery store and went in and bought all kinds of little treats! I found some black bean treats that were divine. I need to find out how to get more!

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We lunched in Little Italy at Caffe Napoli where Henry had meatballs the size of his head!

We walked to Lower Manhattan to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. This is also a must-see. I had been to the Memorial, but not the museum. Jason and Henry hadn’t been to either. I wrote about the trip and strange events HERE.

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Being me, and well, us, we went back to the hotel after that because Georgia and Georgia Tech were playing and Auburn and Alabama were playing. So we ate hotel appetizers in the room and drank overpriced beer for the evening!

Sunday, November 30

Our last day. Like we like to get to NYC early, we like to milk the last day for all it’s worth. Our flight is out at 4:30pm so we have all morning plus lunch to goof off before having to head to the airport. And with it being the weekend after Thanksgiving, we plan to give ourselves plenty of time in the airport.

We grabbed breakfast at Tick Tock Diner in The New Yorker Hotel. I had nutella french toast and almost had to go to the hospital due to the awesomeness coma I was in!

All Henry wanted to do the whole trip was go to Central Park Zoo. We didn’t tell him where we were going, but took him there for our last morning! It is always so fun to see the zoo. Such a strange site to be standing in the middle of it with huge city buildings all around.

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Afterwards, we went to FAO Schwarz and back to our hotel to get our things.

It’s always hard to say goodbye to our favorite city, but seeing the city shrink behind us as we drove to LaGuardia was super hard this time. I don’t know if it was because we had been there for a full week or just because it was magical. But there’s always next time… which I’m already planning!

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Oh, 2014. You’ve been good and you’ve been bad. As far as I’m concerned, you can go ahead and get on out of here…

Last year, I chose Intuition to be my word of the year. I’ve worked very hard to trust my intuition this year. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it’s downright impossible, but when I’ve listened? It’s never led me astray.

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2014 was a busy year, and unfortunately I didn’t share a lot of what we did in posts. But here are some of my favorite moments from the year.

January: I cut off all my hair and the entire metro Atlanta area shut down from #snOMG14. Auburn went to the National Championship and lost, Henry won a trophy in the Pinewood Derby and Henry and I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k.

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February: Henry was asked to be in the Austin Chorus that would perform at the local high school. It snowed again. This time, like 6″. We had an amazing time playing in it for days and drinking iced snoffee! I started and completed the hardest weekend of my life, running 19.3 miles over the course of two days. It was stupid and amazing!

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March: March was super busy with Listen To Your Mother stuff. We held auditions and planned, plotted, and schemed. I spent a full week traveling the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi area with my boss and coworker. I got to ride in the backseat of the truck the whole week and needed serious pain meds when it was all over!

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April: In April, my dad tried to catch himself on fire by blowing up his lawnmower. He’s fine… now we just laugh. Henry spent several days camping with his grandmother and her friend at Stone Mountain. The girls I grew up with from the time we were born all spent a day together. We always have such a great time! Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta happened. It was magical!

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May: May saw the end of third grade for Henry. Mom 2.0 was in Atlanta and I was fortunate to have been asked to be on the social media team. It was an amazing conference and I just l.o.v.e being able to see my friends… especially in “my” city! We marked Charlie’s 11th birthday without pomp and circumstance.

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June: In June, I left my job at the wholesale nursery to do social media management full (part) time. Jason and I took Henry to New Orleans for the 70th Anniversary of D Day. We spent the full day at the National WW2 Museum, which I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. On this trip, after probably 6 years of being friends online, I finally got to give Leah a big hug in person!!

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July: July was busy. We moved into a new house where we have a small pond behind us. Henry and his friend had a lemonade stand. He also participated in the GIANT Dunwoody 4th of July parade and went to Camp Winnataska for the 3rd year. I posted my 700th blog post on this here site.

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August: In August, Henry and his first girlfriend Daria were able to get together. Our families went bowling and they were absolutely mortified to have to take a picture together (though later, I saw them playing a game standing about 1cm apart). Henry started 4th grade and I landed myself in the ER with a crazy reaction to a sulfa drug. Fun times, y’all! I also shared a recipe for the Georgia Cash Crop Cobbler. It’s seriously delicious.

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September: In September, Jason and I dressed up and went out. It was to a wedding where we knew only the bride, but it was out. And fancy. Henry’s hair got to epic lengths and he looked like a teenager in his school pictures. Type A Conference was in Atlanta and I spent a few nights down in Buckhead with dear dear friends, old and new.

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October: In October, I went to a few Auburn football games, hanging out with Kim and my #BelieveBitches crew! We went to the fair down in Perry, as usual, and celebrated Halloween with the Hollidays for the 5th year.

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November: November marked Henry’s TENTH birthday. Double digits. He had a Game Truck birthday party, which was amazing! I highly recommend having someone bring a game truck to your driveway. You can drink while they play games and entertain your child! The Cub Scout Den went zip lining. What a blast! Henry was a narrator in his class’s patriotic program. If you want, I can have him recite his part in his Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation. My friends got together for an unofficial 20th class reunion. There was much drinking and much Cards Against Humanity going on. 

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We spent Thanksgiving Week in New York City.

This was by far the highlight of our year. Henry and I got to hang out with my dear friend Neil for two days while Jason worked in Long Island, and then we spent the next 5 days as a family doing amazing things, like the Intrepid Museum and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Yes, I’m going to recap the trip after the new year because there is SO much more!

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December: In December, I turned 39. Yes, I’m staring down 40. We celebrated my birthday and our friend’s 50th with all you can eat catfish! We celebrated the holidays with Jason’s side of the family at the annual Anthoine Christmas Party, and of course, took goofy pictures of ourselves with our Christmas tree! Christmas was wonderful as usual, with my parents coming over for Christmas day lunch and then going to Jason’s mom’s for the weekend.

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2015 is now upon us.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope 2015 is better than 2014. Not that it was horrible for my family or myself exactly, but there’s always room for improvement. I’ll be spending the next few days thinking about what I want in 2015 and I’m sure you’re going to do the same.

My big hope for everyone is that we can all find happiness and peace.

Cheers!

 

My Vanilla Is Better Than Your Vanilla. And Other Things I’m Thankful For.

I don’t remember how old I was when I realized the vanilla we used in recipes at home was “adult vanilla.”

Maybe it was when we found out our housekeeper was stealing it and getting wasted off of it while she ironed our clothes. That was probably it.

For all my life, there has always been a fancy bottle with a hand written label on it in one of our cabinets. My mom would add little bits of liquor to it every now and then – sometimes it was bourbon, other times it was brandy. When she got crazy, it was rum! When she found vanilla beans on sale, she would buy some and slip them down into the bottle and remove the old ones.

She would pull out the fancy bottle when a recipe called for a teaspoon or tablespoon of vanilla. I never knew there was anything called Vanilla Extract.

You can call me a vanilla snob if you need to.

Anyway, a few years ago, for Christmas, I believe, my mom gave both me and my sister fancy bottles with hand written labels on them.

She passed down bottles of her own vanilla.

The label read:

Yes, that says “Originally bottled in 1983.”

This was one of those gifts that brought tears to my eyes because it was a childhood memory that was ever present. Every time I reached for (crappy) vanilla extract, I longed to have “real vanilla.” Vanilla out of the pretty bottle in the pantry.

I’m thankful that my mom saw fit to pass this on to us now instead of later. Life tastes better because of it. Silly? Yes.

But whatever.

The only downfall to this magnificentness? You can’t make ice cream with it. BECAUSE IT DOESN’T FREEZE! (Lesson learned the very hard way.)

Time and persistence taste delicious.

I’m thankful for time. Time that helps heal wounds, physical and emotional.

I’m thankful for persistence. Persistence to train, to love, to pick up my feet day after day.

I’m thankful for the obvious. My husband, my son, my Guardian Angel with a name. I’m thankful for my parents and sister and her beautiful family. I’m thankful for my house and my health and the ability to do most things I want without much effort.

I’m thankful for my job and my coworkers. They are a great group to work with and I never could have imagined being excited about going back to work. See also: Benefits.

I’m thankful for my Disney Half Marathon training team and the Ronald McDonald House.

I’m thankful for my friends, the ones I’ve had all my life, the ones who only live in my computer, and those in between.

I’m thankful for the freedoms that our country allows us. I’m also thankful for the freedom to keep some of my opinions to myself.

I’m thankful for pretty fall colors, bright spring flowers, light dustings of snow and refreshing summer showers.

But most of all, I’m thankful for fancy bottles with hand written labels that are full of memories.

What are you thankful for?

There’s Nothing A Short Screw Can’t Fix

There’s Nothing A Short Screw Can’t Fix

We learned a valuable lesson at Thanksgiving yesterday. Sometimes things get tough and stressful and you think they’re going to just be ruined, but then when you realize a little screw can fix all your problems, life doesn’t seem so bad.

You see? When Jason got ready to drop the turkey into the 350* peanut oil, he realized that a tiny pinhole was in the bottom of the pot and panicked. Between the fact that the oil was leaking out, there was an open flame in close proximity and OMG THERE’S A HOLE IN THE BOTTOM OF THE POT AND WE HAVE AN 18lb TURKEY TO COOK IN 2 HOURS, we quickly realized we had a small problem.

See? Look at that flame and oil leaking out.

Whatever would we do? What COULD we do? We didn’t just have another giant pot sitting around. We thought and thought, obviously after turning off the gas, and decided to dig through the toolshed.

{This is where you realize you had your mind in the gutter when you read the title to this post.}

Maybe we could just screw a short screw in the hole in the pot to seal it up? Well, couldn’t hurt, could it? Except the oil is hot and we have to get it in there.

But a little finagling, a lot of careful handling, a little bit of spilled oil and a few crossed fingers later, the pot was {hopefully} fixed.

So it worked.

Our turkey cooked up golden brown and crispy, we even made a second smaller one for leftovers and there wasn’t another single drop of oil leaked out of the pot.

We ate ourselves into a coma and enjoyed being surrounded by 26 family members.

All we needed was a good screw to save Thanksgiving!

Thankfulness Abounds!

Thankfulness Abounds!

Today, as I sit and think, I realize I have so much to be thankful for. And like every good blogger, I’m going to tell you about a few of those things.

  1. I’m thankful for the sun, moon and stars. I’m thankful for the clouds, grass and air. I’m thankful for gravity (except when talking about the pull it has on my boobs).
  2. I’m thankful for employment, education and religion.
  3. I’m thankful for the freedoms we have in this country. While it may not be perfect – never has been, never will be – we celebrate freedoms that most countries long to have.
  4. I’m thankful for my family and that we’re close enough to see each other on a regular basis.
  5. I’m thankful for the gifts I’ve been given. No, not just the Coach bag or iPad… I mean the gifts of love, respect, compassion and trust.
  6. I’m thankful for my friends. The ones I see often and the ones that I don’t see often enough. I love that all of us can pick up where we left off, even after years of not being in touch. I’m thankful for old “friends” who are becoming good friends the older we get!
  7. I’m thankful for social media. There. I said it. I’m thankful for it because I’ve made so many people I honestly and truly consider my friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Some of my SM friends are now some of my closest and dearest friends. This is odd to some, but perfectly normal for me.
  8. I’m thankful for my Charlie and the fact that I feel him with me always. There’s not a minute in the day that I don’t know that he’s sitting on my shoulder, guiding me through my day.
  9. I’m thankful for Jason. After 13 years of marriage, lots of rocky Auburn/Georgia weekends and a few ups and downs, he’s still my very best friend. I don’t talk about him much on here, just because he doesn’t want to be an internet sensation (ha!) but I really don’t know what life would be like without him. I’m so glad I agreed to say yes to a date with “that older man I met at New Year’s Eve” back in 1995. Thank you for being you, Jason!
  10. I’m thankful for the my precious Henry. My reason to smile. My reason to get up. The reason our life contains happiness!

Bonus Item:

I’m thankful for chaos. And for the fact that chaos makes me who I am.

I’m a mother, a wife, an employee, a blogger, a daughter, a sister and an aunt. I’m thankful for the fact that I can juggle thirty bazillion things at once and rarely drop the ball. I’m thankful that my life looks like this:

(PHOTO/Ashlee M. Culverhouse)

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