The Family

The Family

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New York in December

"It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It's the most wonderful time of the year"

Nowhere is this catchy jingle more true than New York at Christmastime.

We have been fortunate enough to make it to New York once a year for the past 4 or 5 years. Never, in all those visits, or my own before my children were born, had I been to New York at Christmas. I always wanted to, but that time of year is always so busy. I made it a priority that 2016 would be the year we visited New York at Christmastime.

Saturday Night:

We flew out on a late flight on Saturday night and went straight to our hotel. We always stay at The Lucerne on the West Side.

Sunday (Aladdin, Banana Splits, Rockefeller Center and Snow):
We woke up late, ate a great breakfast at Nice Matin, the restaurant connected to our hotel, and then hit the subway heading to Times Square. Times Square is not a usual New York stop for us, but it was our destination this day because we had tickets to an afternoon Broadway show of Aladdin.

After the show we headed toward Rockefeller Center to get a picture by the infamous tree. Sunday might not have been the best time for that seeing as it is THE tourist destination in the city at that time of year.

It began to snow on us at Rockefeller Center. At this point I was starving because snacks at a theater, no matter how delicious, do not count as a meal for me. So we walked and walked and came upon a restaurant called Bobby Vann's. It was a fantastic meal, and when we ordered one banana split for all of us to share we had no idea it looked like this or was going to cost $22.

Monday (Ice Skating, Macy's, Santa, Hot Chocolate and Basketball):
The plan was to head to Bryant Park on Sunday night, but after walking six blocks in the snow and realizing I was already freezing, we headed back to the hotel and got up early on Monday to make it a full day of activities. It took a while to open the rink because it was so damp from the night before. We killed time by picking out cute hats, riding a carousel and browsing the village shops.

Mattie and I were the two that wanted to ice skate. The boys sat out and encouraged us on around and around the rink. Afterward we dined at one of my new favorite places: The Bryant Park Grill.

Oh, the joy of visiting a department store at Christmas. It brought back so many old memories, and I realized upon entering Macy's that my children, in this age of Internet shopping in which we all live, had never been in a "true" department store to experience the Christmas season.

When you're in New York around Christmas, how can you not stand in the long line to see the most famous Santa of all? It was magical and oh so worth every twist and turn.

A few weeks before our trip my husband realized our alma mater and hometown college team would be playing basketball in Madison Square Garden while we were in town. We actually ran into another family from our church on an escalator in Macy's. Before heading to the game, which was only a couple of blocks from Macy's, we had some time to kill. We found this iconic New York deli that reminded me of Seinfeld, so of course, we had to go in there.

Then it was off to the game. We saw so many people we knew. It was unbelievable how many Auburn fans and, specifically, people from Auburn, made the trip for the game. Matt got in on the action early when he realized we were right beside the players' tunnel.

Tuesday (The Rockettes, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Window Displays and the dreaded stomach bug):
We began our day in front of the most over the top and luxurious window displays I've ever seen. Macy's had some great ones the day before, but nothing could beat what we saw at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Directly across the street was Saint Patrick's Cathedral. We were in time to experience the 12 pm mass.

After a quick bite we made our way to Radio City Music Hall to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.

We made it back to our hotel early, walked across the street and had a mouth watering meal at Coppola's and then went to our favorite place for sweets, Sugar and Plumm. While there Jack started complaining of a stomach ache which unfortunately became clear a few hours later was the stomach bug. We were supposed to fly out on an early flight Wednesday morning, but at midnight I realized there was no way he could make it so early and had to pay a fee to have our flight time changed to later in the day. Fortunately, sickness didn't happen until the end of the trip, and we made it home before Mattie and I also came down with it.

In all our years of travel it has been rare for someone not to get sick. My goal is always to try to leave healthy, but deal with whatever comes along the way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Books at Christmas

This year I bought eight Christmas picture books, wrapped them and put one under the tree a day for eight days.

The thrill of unwrapping something new, especially at Christmastime, is a delightful way to get into the spirit and to start a new day off on the right foot.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Kids Say the Darndest Things

You know all those hilarious comments your kids make and you think, hey, I should write that down, but you never do. I tried it one morning a few weeks ago and captured some real gems.

Sidenote: Sirius is the name of one of our dogs.

Mattie (age 5)
-Oh my goodness, did you give me six pancakes?
-I want to have a pj day.
-Sirius, I am serious. I am serious. Those are pretend flowers Sirius.
-I'm gonna have to wear glasses for that.
-Please tell me we're done with school. Geez!
-Mommy, Jack said that I'm a nice sister.

Jack (age 9)
-Mattie's a sleeper. I don't like to be a sleeper. I like to wake up early, like Pop.
-Is milk good for you? Dr. Liles said it's good to drink milk. You gotta drink it in cereal and then it would taste better.
-Poor Sirius, you smell bad. Do you know that, Sirius?
-I'll smell your feet if you smell my feet. Phew, you smell awful. You smell worse than Sirius.
-I don't know if you can answer this question, but what's the last think we're going to do for school today?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


The day after the 2016 Presidential election, before the sun rose, we headed to Atlanta to board a flight to Philadelphia. The election had nothing to do with our trip, but that morning as my husband and I dressed to leave, and later as we walked through airport security, it seemed like all was a fog and everyone was moving, ever so slowly, in some sort of strange, parallel universe.

What had just happened?

Did our nation just elect Donald Trump as president?

The same sentiment was apparent in Philly. Everything from the young female offering hugs in front of the famous Philly "LOVE" statue to the man screaming at me about fear of African-American men like himself as we walked out of the Philadelphia art museum a few nights later showed the range of emotions so many were experiencing.

There were protests outside our hotel. I didn't realize it until the night after the protests began, and this only after I got several texts asking if we were safe.

Safe? What was going on for me to get several texts such as this?

I don't know why it didn't cross my mind protesters were out in full force in Philly.  I saw on the news they were happening all over the country, but it never dawned on me they were literally going on directly in front of our hotel, which was across the street from city hall.

Even though tension was in the air, and I was in Philadelphia for a work conference and had meetings each morning, our family ventured out each afternoon and evening to explore Philadelphia.

We were not disappointed.

 The Academy of Natural Sciences

 The Best Philly Cheesesteaks EVER at Jim's Steaks

The Philadelphia Zoo

AMAZING works from the Mexican Revolution on Display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Independence Hall

The Liberty Bell

Selfies waiting to play putt-putt and ride the carousel at Franklin Square

The Rocky Statue followed by a run up the Rocky Steps

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fall Reading

In terms of reading, this fall has been a major disappointment. I quit Bradberry's "Farewell Summer" 19 pages in. This one was a random pick off the library shelf - not on my extensive "To Read" list- so I felt no guilt when I put this book down.
I feel a throwback to Damon Wayans and David Alan Greer from the Show "In Living Color" is needed to describe my feelings on "The Casual Vacancy." HATED IT!

And I don't even know where to start with "The Girl on the Train." HATED IT! There is such hype about this novel, and I was more than disappointed by this book. I was disgusted. There was no redeeming quality in any character.
The one book I have liked so far, "The Nightingale," is the story of two sisters and how differently they view love and war. It was a moving portrait of the way both women deal with the Nazi's invasion of France.

I can't weigh in on "Nora Webster" yet because I'm set to begin it tonight. As a novel shortlisted for the Mann Booker Prize, I'm hoping it won't be another letdown.