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!

When things don’t make sense…

When things don’t make sense…

There are times when we realize that things just don’t make sense. But once we think about it, they make perfectly perfect sense.

We just don’t understand what it means.

Maybe we’re not meant to.

Three years ago, I took my niece to NYC for her 13th birthday. We spent several hours in the rain walking around the newly finished 9/11 Memorial. I wrote about finding Todd Beamer’s name and thinking back to his wife’s book and then…

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As strange as it sounds, I think of Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas and her Unborn Child often. I mean, not every day, but sometimes I’ll hear a word and think of her. Coozie, Grandiflora (plant word), Lauren (my sister’s name)… They all spark a memory of that moment.

I don’t understand why, but at the same time, I don’t question it.

Thanksgiving week, while we were in New York, we went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was the first time there for Jason and Henry, and my first time at the Museum. Let me tell you. It’s amazing — a must-see when you’re in the city.

In the museum, they have a room that is lined with photos of all who lost their lives on 9/11/01. Faces are smiling up and down, as if they are actually looking at you. And you feel them. I wasn’t paying attention to names, just the eyes in the pictures, when a name grabbed me on a photo.

Yes, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas.

The one name that had grabbed me before, grabbed me again almost exactly 3 years later.

Sometimes what we believe as coincidence
is really just getting ourselves caught
in an angel booby trap. ~Terri Guillemets

In the center of this room, there was a small theater that ran on loop, videos about those who lost their lives narrated by people who loved them. There were no seats available, so I looked into the room and on the wall were the words Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas. Of course I started crying because, WOW!  

I don’t know what any of it means, but I know that for some reason Lauren and her Unborn Child have a place in my heart. I know nothing about her except what I have seen in the memorial but I’m going to try to find out all I can about her. There may be nothing that ties us together, or there may be something.

I may never understand what it means. Maybe I’m not meant to.

The Big Red Boat OF DOOM!

The Big Red Boat OF DOOM!

All the chatter about Carnival Cruise Line’s doomed cruises lately has reminded me of my family’s cruise history. I give you the story of doomed cruises, Herbert style…

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When I was young and my parents were still in the jewelry business, we bought from a company that gave cruises if you bought a certain amount of product from them over the course of a year.

We cruised the seas on the Premier Cruise Line (aka The Big Red Boat, aka Disney Cruise Line before DCL existed) and it was great fun.

A few years in, after cruising every year to Nassau, they switched it up and we went to The Abacos.

The trip was uneventful until the morning we were supposed to go through a small channel to enter The Abacos or some other nonsense. The weather was bad and we couldn’t get through.

Apparently this had never happened before. OF COURSE IT HADN’T.

We turned around or something and went over to Nassau. Again. (I know, rough life?)

Premier gave everyone 50% off cruises and we took them up on it.

The next year, we hopped the same boat with the same itinerary.

Guess what?

Yup. It had only happened once before and again, we found ourselves on the cruise that couldn’t thread through the teeny tiny channel.

Back to Nassau. More braids and haggling with people over $1.50 trinkets made of paper (or imported from Vietnam).

Oh well. 50% off another cruise for 4 people. We’ll take it.

Third cruise booked. This time with my Aunt, Uncle, and two cousins. It was great fun!

UNTIL WE COULDN’T GET THROUGH AGAIN!

According to the cruise line, this had only happened TWO other times in the history of navigating the miniscule channel that had been dug by hand by Oompaloompas apparently. And guess what? We were on all of them.

Free cruises for all! WHEEEEEE!!

We booked another cruise. Same ship. Same place. Because, well, obviously we’re insane.

When we boarded the ship, the Captain greeted us. We were “the family” that was doomed. I’m sure he wanted to kick us off so they would make it through the pin-head size lane to The Abacos.

But instead, he greeted us with open arms, a fruit and champagne basket in our room, and an invitation to breakfast in the steering room of the ship to watch him thread through the channel.

Even on vacation, we bounced out of bed at some ungodly hour and went down to the ship’s steering room. If it had been me NOW, I would have had my sister hold me while I hung off the front of the ship ala The Titanic, but alas, we just sat there and minded our manners while a (probably drunk) Captain steered us SUCCESSFULLY through the channel.

We were thrilled to finally see The Abacos. It was as gorgeous as reported in all the travel brochures.

The only part of that cruise that truly sucked, was the fact that it was the end of the line for free and discounted cruising for us.

Dreams DO Come True

Dreams DO Come True

This email came through to me last night.

Thank you for signing up for the Rockettes event on Friday, August 3rd, at 7am, at Radio City Music Hall! This email confirms your space at this event. We can’t wait to see you there!

I’d be totally lying if I told you I didn’t tear up. And squeal out loud. And immediately call my 14 year old niece.

This is totally a dream come true for me.

Let’s back up a little… like to when I was two.

At two, I got my first pair of ballet shoes and started taking classes. I danced non-stop until I graduated from high school, taking ballet, tap, and jazz.

In 7th grade, I was a majorette and a cheerleader in 8th grade.

When I was a freshman, I was one of two freshmen to make the high school dance team — The Vespidaettes.

August, 1990, y’all! I’m 2nd from the left.

Dancing took me many places.

I went to camps during the summer, training with several professional ballerinas.

My dance team earned the chance to dance in two Cotton Bowls at NCA Camps.

I was invited as a senior, to dance in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland. My whole family went. (Shoutout to Mama and Daddy for doing everything they could to allow me to experience these trips.)

Twice I was invited to dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The first year, the 5 of us who went from my school were front and center. We opened the parade and it was AMAZING! The second time, we were almost front and center, in a group of 1000 high school girls. We marched the parade route and experienced the whole shebang.

There were two groups that, all my life, I’ve looked up to. The Rangerettes from Kilgore College in Texas, and obviously, The Rockettes.

I knew I would never go to Kilgore College, so my dream of being a Rangerette was dashed (although I could totally kick my hat like they could) (they didn’t call me Miss Dance America for nothing, you know).

But I did look into auditioning to be a Rockette. Crazy? Hell yeah. But why not?

Only… I was too short.

My hopes for being a Rockette were dashed, also.

In college, I took ballet from a wonderful man, Mr. Curtis, and kept myself semi-in shape. But now? Not gonna lie… I’ve let myself go.

I could blame it on grief, marriage, laziness, birthing babies, arthritis. Whatever. At the end of the day, I’m out of shape.

So it’s highly likely I’ll rip pull a muscle on Friday morning. It’s highly likely I won’t care one single bit.

I’ll be dancing with the Rockettes, y’all. Probably with tears rolling down my eyes from both joy AND pain!

 

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Anticipation

Helloooooo! It’s time once again for Stream of Consciousness Sunday!

This week has been a whirlwind of emotions, decision-making, planning, scheming, worrying, and anticipating for me. I’ll be able to tell you more later but it’s good stuff!

Anticipation… that makes me sing Carly Simon and now that song will never leave my head.

Since a lot of us are anticipating of lots of different things (school, BlogHer, new jobs, etc), I think it’s the obvious prompt for today.

Today’s (optional) prompt is: Anticipation.

Your five minutes starts now!

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When I was little, we went to Disney almost every year for my sister’s birthday. We won’t discuss how jealous I always was because I got stuck with a December birthday and she got dang Disney World.

The night before we would leave, we would always sleep in the same room. I don’t know why, but it was just what we did. We would stay up late, trying not to go to sleep in case we overslept. Even if we hated each other at the time, we tolerated each other for that one night.

We always got up way before dawn because we usually flew in my dad’s little Cessna. But if we ended up having to drive because of weather, we had time to do that, too.

From those times on, any time there’s something I’m anticipating and I can’t sleep or wake up so so early because of the excitement, I always say it’s “like I’m going to Disney World.”

That’s how I feel about BlogHer next week. I’m already itching with anticipation. I love the city more than any other place in the world and can’t wait to be surrounded by gobs of other bloggers.

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This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post (in the sidebar).
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

 

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