I hereby officially declare that I can only blog a month in arrears. I just can’t seem to get to things any quicker than that… So since this is December, I now give you: November! Ta-da!
Our big November event was going to New York to visit family and have some fun playing with everyone out east. As usual, we managed to pack in a lot of things (although we never managed to get a very early start in the day…). There are easily enough pictures for several blog posts, but I should probably strike while the iron is hot, right?
Let me preface this whole thing by saying that we had our best cross country flying experience ever on our way out to NYC this trip. We tried out JetBlue, which had received many rave reviews from people we know, and I’d now like to echo every single rave review (although I’d like to add the disclaimer that we’ve only flown them once, so there is plenty of room for them to screw up in the future). The staff we encountered were really nice, and everyone was really family-friendly. The seats were the roomiest we’ve ever had on a long flight (and there’s only one class of seating, so everybody wins!). A wide variety of awesome free snacks were doled out constantly (the flight attendants actually kept coming back specifically to our seats to check and see if the kids were hungry or wanted something to eat or drink). There was free DirecTv in each seat, and I could actually turn off the kids’ TV sets so they didn’t spend 6 hours with commercials or crap flashing in front of them (but I could also watch a little bit of a movie in my seat once I got them settled with the iPad and some Little Bear episodes. Let’s hear it for some Eddie and the Cruisers on VH1 Classics!). And each person got to check a bag for free, which is really some great savings when you’re a family of 4 flying cross-country for more than a week. All of these services, which you get nickle and dimed for on every other airline, made it a really great flying experience on top of the stellar customer service. It was quite a let down when we had to fly another carrier home (we flew back on Black Friday and JetBlue didn’t have much service out of NYC that day). At this point, JetBlue ranks as the most family-friendly air carrier we’ve flown to date.
After our swanky ride, we arrived fairly late in the evening, had some pizza and went to bed. The next day we took the kids to a park. Or was it the library? I can’t remember the order of events, but we essentially took it easy. Here are some pics from the library trip (which was an excellent thing to put at the front of the visit, so we had plenty of books to read while we were there. We’ll have to remember that for future visits):
Also in the first few days, Calla and Satchel made friends with Boris The Cat:
Boris decided that one-on-one, the kids were ok. Together, though…he turned tail and fled.
On our second day, Calla received her big birthday present from Grandma Lynn: her first Broadway musical. Mary Poppins!
Before going to the show, we ladies had dinner at the family dining establishment on the upper west side: Popovers. (The guys stayed behind in New Rochelle and ordered Chinese for dinner.)
Then Grandma Lynn had the idea that we should take a cab down to the theater and walk through Time Square so that Calla could oggle all of the lights and Big City Action. She definitely oggled!
Then it was straight to the theater and our magical journey to London, where it rained confetti on us, a man walked up the wall and upside down across the ceiling, and Mary Poppins actually flew out across the heads of the audience (with her feet genteely crossed at the ankles so that we couldn’t see up her knickers).
Calla had neither seen nor read the story before, so it was a total surprise. Although right before the curtain opened, I realized that she had no idea what a nanny was and I had better explain it quickly in order for the story to make any sense. She got it and loved the whole show (except for the parts with the evil nanny who made the kids drink poison). Afterwards, Calla desperately wanted to go and meet Mary Poppins, because she was trying to figure out if she was real or a person pretending to be Mary Poppins. She wanted her to be real, and I decided to leave her guessing. Grandma Lynn suggested we write her a letter and see if we get a response. Which we might still do…
The next day Great Aunt Leslie came to play, and we took a trip down memory lane for Josh by taking the kids to a racetrack.
Apparently Josh, Uncle Jeff, and Uncle Brett used to spend a lot of time at this racing place when they were kids. They even had their own race cars. We had to settle for the rental cars, which are apparently slower. But it was still a lot of fun!
Afterwards there was pizza and then back home for naps, visiting, and then a beer can chicken feast whipped up by Joel and Grandma Lynn.
The next day we moved Base Camp out to Long Island to spend a couple of days with Great Grandma Ruth. We always enjoy spending time out there, and Josh was really looking forward to inhaling all of the Deli King corned beef he could hold. On our way over, we got a good look at some of the storm damage from Hurricane Sandy. It was about 3 weeks after the storm, but there were trees and limbs down everywhere. In some places, they’d barely managed to clear the roads enough for cars to pass. Grandma Ruth’s backyard hadn’t been cleared yet, so we put the kids to work burning off some energy by helping gather sticks and branches.
There was also plenty of monkeying around:
Back inside the house, Josh took them downstairs to the traditional kids’ play area in the basement, which included messing around with the pool table.
Along with our Deli King feast for dinner that night, Aunt Leslie brought along a family favorite 7 Layer Cake. Yum!
(this one is supposed to be Cousin Emily, but Calla was getting in the way)
Don’t you wish you were there?
The following morning Aunt Leslie took us to Satchel’s living dream: The Long Island Firefighter’s Museum.
There was a memorial area dedicated to the victims of 9/11, especially the local firefighters who were lost that day. Calla wanted to explore every inch of it, videos and all. It was a bit hard to explain but her questions were fairly simple and straightforward. I gave her a pretty PG version of the events, pretty much leaving out the terrorist parts and focusing on the bravery and heroism of the emergency responders. But it was a reminder that we’re getting into trickier waters the older she gets and the more she encounters the world…
On the following day, Josh and I had plans to be in the city. I had a work meeting set up with a colleague at NYU and we built a whole day around it, with plans for visiting a craft shop, a bookstore and then a fancy dinner. We successfully got about 2/3 of the way through our agenda, and then on our way to dinner I felt a migraine coming on hard and fast. By the time we reached the restaurant I could barely keep my eyes open and spent most of the time with my head on the table trying not to smell or think about food. It looked something like this (Josh was bemused by the fact that we were sitting in a really fancy restaurant of my choosing and the only thing I could do was put lay my head on the table as they brought out an amuse bouche of sunchoke soup with crispy sage leaves. I really wanted to try it, but I just couldn’t!).
Josh hopefully and helpfully left me there for a few minutes to run around the corner and purchase some Aleve, but it couldn’t really make a dent in it fast enough. Josh ate a few bites of his steak and then asked for the whole meal to be boxed up. Truly a gentleman, though, he asked the server what kind of dessert would travel well and keep to the next day, and thus brought home some fancy donuts which I was able to nibble on a few hours later. We made it back to Grand Central and onto our train, and I spent the whole ride with my hood pulled over my head and a scarf over my eyes, trying not to barf on everything. A pretty seriously disappointing end to our grown-ups’ day out.
While we were in the city, the kids spent the day with Grandma Lynn and Joel. They got some exercise and fresh air at the park:
And then returned home for lunch in front of the television. An awesome treat!
And there was some snuggling:
Are you still with me? Only a few more days to go.
The next day, my migraine gone and things back to normal, we went back out to Long Island for some more family time. And we finally got to meet Cousin Avery!! Calla was enchanted.
She wanted to hold Avery and carry her around like a doll. Or a pet. Avery, however, is very mobile and independent for her age…and also a very good sport.
There’s Satchel. He also thought Avery was pretty awesome, but he didn’t feel the need to grab onto her and try to manhandle her around the house.
Cousin Emily was also there again, and Calla was in heaven with both a baby and an Older Girl to play with.
Grandpa Neil was there, too, and I managed to get the squirmy bunch together for a quick photograph.
Followed by a Ladies Only photograph (at the insistence of Calla):
By that point, we were wearing out Great Grandma Ruth, so we gave hugs all around and called it a night. Aunt Leslie joined us for a good diner dinner, where we had the Best Waitress Ever and the kids scored some great desserts after they ate their meals:
Then it was home to bed. Because the next day, Grandma Lynn had gotten us tickets for the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center (are you tired yet?).
We arrived early enough that the kids had some time to play around the fountain outside:
And then we went inside to eat some hotdogs for lunch and find our seats in the Big Top. Say “cheese!”
We had excellent seats, and at intermission the kids got their first taste of cotton candy.
The circus was fantastic, and it gave them plenty to talk about on our looooong ride out of the city and back to New Rochelle that evening. It was the night before Thanksgiving, so we had to join the large exodus of holiday traffic on our way back home. But it was worth it. We loved going to the circus.
Our last day in New York was Thanksgiving Day. Grandma Lynn had some last minute baking to do, and Satchel turned up in the bedroom wearing some it:
Calla was running a bit of a low fever, so we had a very quiet morning watching the parade on TV while getting organized and packed up a little bit. Then we loaded up and headed back into the city for dinner at Aunt Dana’s childhood home in Chelsea.
Uncle Brett was Master of the Feast, and the kids helped a little bit with the salad.
Mostly we hung around and played and visited with everyone, which was LOVELY.
Uncle Brett made roasted ducks for the meal, which were delicious!
As a side note, last year Uncle Jeff cooked our Thanksgiving Dinner, and this year Uncle Brett took his turn. Will 2013 be the year that Josh ties an apron on and does the honors? A girl can dream.
My family was not so cooperative with the pictures:
I tell you, I could have just packed Avery up and brought her home with us. She’s adorable, delightful, and delicious!
Too soon it was time for desert, and then we needed to pack up and get back home for a decent bedtime ahead of our early morning flight the next day.
We clearly had a full trip, and the kids were starting to drag and whine a little, so it was definitely time to say our good-byes and get back on a plane. We made it back home, where Uncle Adam was happy to see us.
Josh took these pictures on our bus ride back from the airport:
And it seems like no sooner had we unpacked the suitcases and gotten everything put away, and then I was pulling it all back out again for our trip to Iowa for Christmas. But I guess you’ll have to wait for those adventures until next month…which apparently starts tomorrow! ;)