Friday, November 22, 2013

Mid-Trip Lamentations: Why am I doing this?

Two days ago I had a bad "Ian" day. That's what I am calling it. I don't know how else to describe the dark days that accompany loss. Most people, at least people I know, know exactly what I mean when I am having a "bad Ian day." They just don't know what to do. They nod silently. Serious in expression. There really isn't anything to say, is there?

It started with a "do-nothing" day. We were in central Massachusetts in the lake house we have rented for 3.5 weeks while touring New England. We just had returned from a 4 day jaunt to Vermont. We had a marvelous time (blog coming soon). We were tired. We didn't want to do anything.

Being Irish, I feel that means I need to cozy up to a nice mixed drink, snuggle under a blanket in the living room, and multitask between my iPad and TV. All day.

Now friends... Lets talk.

I know you don't know that I am having a bad day, but did it HAVE TO coincide with the most sappy day of shared videos on Facebook. I watched quadriplegics being carried on the back of their new wives. I watched chubby wubby babies being adorable. I watched videos of children being achingly honest. I watched old men/women mourning the loss of their spouses.

It was torture!

As a woman, I MUST torture myself with this sappiness on a regular basis to keep my "woman card." I actually usually like it. Relish it. Perpetrate several happily-ever-after scenario in my head.

It was too much.

Couple that with the kids watching that HORRIBLE movie "Up," which just happened to be one of Ian's favorite movies.

I was a leaking, sappy, sobbing mess. All day.

It made me start thinking. Why am I doing this? Why am I traveling? Why am I away from my bed, my cat, my home, my friends, my bar, my family?

I'm not sure. Maybe that is WHY I am doing this. To figure this out. To figure out what I want to do. What Chris and I want to do. What we want to be. Everything has changed. Our future is unclear.

On the other hand, I feel that I am avoiding. I am avoiding the empty bedroom. I am avoiding the framed pictures on the wall. I am avoiding the "niceness" of everyone who feels pity.

I also feel that I am doing what I would have wanted to do with Ian. Packing into one short year. I would want him see these cities. Tour these factories. Play in the snow. He had done a ton of stuff in his short six years, but I had plans for so much more.

So, as I sit in the bitterly cold north, sipping drinks, trolling Facebook, and working on doing nothing. I want you to know, I am working on everything. Working on my future. Never thought I would have to do that.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Leg 8: Salem: Where do YOU trick or treat?

Obviously, on posts like today, you can tell how far behind I am on blogging, but I plan on this being a week of catching up.

We left New York City on October 30th and drove 4-5 hours up to Salem MA. Just in time for Halloween.

Poor Sierra thinks that she needs to trick or treat this year at the old age of 14. I disagreed, but allowed it if she coordinated with Isabel's outfit. Her Mother complained that Cici has ALWAYS been a vampire. I stood my ground and the two of them dressed as ninjas this year.

We arrived in Salem in time for dinner, and since we were in Massachusetts, we NEEDED lobsters. We headed to The Sea Witch (because I liked the name) and partook of lobster. Cici's wasn't quite ready to try that yet, so she ordered the shrimp. Isabel, Chris and I delighted in our lobster heaven.

The next morning, I was CRAVING bagels for breakfast. I had missed out on getting some in NYC, so Chris ran out to the local Bagel King and we partook of a feast in our hotel room before heading out for Halloween fun.

^^She looks this happy every morning^^

Cici was familiar with the story of Salem and their Witch Trials, but Isabel hadn't learned about it yet in school. Our first stop in Salem was the Witch Museum. It was a hokey set up in a large room with a narrated story depicted my mannequins set up in scenes. About midway through, Isabel had HAD ENOUGH and started crying. "It is scary Mama!" Isabel and I sat in the gift shop until it was over.

We then traversed through the town streets, where many of the witchy stores were located. We pursued the merchandise as I explained to Isabel how she needs to be "accepting" to people who think they are witches.

It is an interesting conversation to have with your child when you encounter people who share different beliefs than you want to instill in your child. I, personally, don't believe in witchcraft or the idea of spells, charms, etc. I straddle the fence on how "accepting" to be when teaching your child your own beliefs. We decided to tell Isabel that "we don't believe these things, but they do, so be respectful and keep you mouth shut if you disagree." I think that was the best way to do it.

^^Some founder of Salem, who WAS NOT a witch!^^ 

Look! It's Samantha!

Chris found his buddy, Locutus!

We went to this historic cemetery in Salem, and when I mentioned to Sierra that she probably isn't supposed to smile in cemetery pictures, she gave me THIS face instead. Her sarcasm comes back to bite her in "the blog"

Sierra is trying out of America's Next Top Model soon...

After wandering for a while, the rain started and we escaped to a local sushi restaurant near the center of town. The most interesting part of this restaurant experience was that I ordered a tuna tartare that was presented prettily. Also, Cici, who has been eating different seafoods while on the road with us, decided to try rolls other than Californian. Score!

The official town rules of Salem is: No Trick or Treating until 5:30, then it ends at 7:30. We were anxiously waiting outside our first house at 5:25, and darn if they didn't make us wait until 5:30 on the dot to approach for some candy collecting.

Salem is built around a town square with streets projecting out from the main square/commons. It made it very easy to trick or treat and we were accompanied by another family from Apopka (weird, right?) for the beginning. We trick or treated for about an hour until Cici's ankle started hurting and I slipped a little on the cobblestone and twisted my own ankle.

The kids had plenty of candy, so there were fine with wrapping it up.

Overall, Salem was a cool experience to do for one day. I know that Cici definitely understood how cool it was to be there on Halloween. Hopefully, Isabel will realize it one day too.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Leg 7: New York, New York!!!

I am currently languishing in Massachusetts and attempting to do very little, so I am extremely apologetic about the delay in blogging. Today, I am going to blog about our stop in NYC. We were there October 26-30.

We arrived through the south end of Manhattan Island. This was my first time driving in NYC was very intimidated. Were you aware that is costs $13!!! to enter the city? I was still excited to see the Holland Tunnel and enter through it. It was actually quite disorienting to drive through. Everything looks the same and it quickly hypnotizes you.

Once we emerged out of the tunnel, it was a short distance to our hotel. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Seaport. It is located at the South Street Sea Port, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last year. It was really nice to wander through the rebuilt area that is about to open up. There was about 10-20% of the shops open, but it was so sparkly and new. I was very happy with the location.



When I picked my hotel, I was motivated by proximity to Chinatown. I love Chinatown. I love the food, the shops, the food, the markets, and the food. Chinatown was only 5 blocks away from our hotel. Heaven.

Out first trip out was actually to... Chinatown! I had to satiate my duck needs. Peking... mmmm... Cici obliged me by looking disgustingly at my plate and reminding me of her pet duck on a 1-2 minute basis. It was delicious.

We wanted to take this trip slow, since we will be back for Thanksgiving. We had a few things on the schedule. One priority for me was shopping. I needed clothes. My jeans are too big and I don't have any pretty winter clothes.

Cici and I headed to midtown to hit up the big Lane Bryant. It was a bit of a mess, since we couldn't find my store and her One Direction (boy band) store was closed. A CATASTROPHE!

Eventually after walking around for a while, we found my clothing store and I STOCKED UP. It was awesome to have access to everything that the store makes. I bought 4 pairs of jeans, a few sweaters, and some other items. I look very city chic!

We then decided to attempt the Statue of Liberty. Last year, when Chris, Isabel, and I went to NYC, the Statue of Liberty was closed after the hurricane. We took the Staten Island Ferry across the river to view it with Isabel, but she and Cici wanted to go to the island this time.

Now, as a Floridian, I am not sure if you are aware, but there are limited tickets available to climb the statue. According the park employees, there are only 240 tickets available per day and they are sold out months in advanced. Bummer.

We still decided to go. It was somewhat a mistake. The line to get onto the ferry took over an hour to get on. Then, once we were there, we couldn't go up into the pedestal or statue.

Then we had to get back on the ferry, which took over a half hour.

I have been to the statue of Liberty three times now, and not once have I had the patience to go to Ellis Island. Now I know why. The lines are ridiculous!

After a few meals in Chinatown, the rest of the family was moaning about wanting something other than Chinese (WHY?!?), so we hit up Little Italy and had some pasta.

We also went to Soho and partook of some Ukrainian food.

Our final night we booked a Broadway show. I had told the girls we were going, but not where or which show. I kept the secret until we pulled up in the taxi.


We were able to secure 4th row seats and had a wonderful view! Isabel really loved the kids singing and dancing. Cici and I were really impressed with the Palace Theater, which is beautiful!

I don't know what makes me cry at Broadway shows, but this one only made me cry twice. Last year, I took Isabel to her first show, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and cried three times. I guess I am making progress...

At one point in the show, when Annie starts singing "The Sun Will Come Up," Isabel immediately looked at me in amazement and whispered "Mommy! They are singing your song!!!" Isabel knew the song because I sing it to her all the time when she is upset, but had no idea that it came from Annie. It was a wonderful moment.

One day, I somehow convinced Chris to take Isabel to Toys R Us, Times Square, while Sierra and I went shopping for trinkets in Chinatown. Sierra and I had a ball. We shopped for chop sticks, jade figurines, and other little things. I decided to splurge on a ring for myself.

My ring!

All the loot we collected in Chinatown

I treated Sean(my brother) and myself to a cleaver. For cooking. I swear.

During this trip, Cici has been collecting bracelets at each stop. I decided as a special treat to visit Tiffany's and Co. and purchase small bracelets for the girls. I was actually quite impressed that there was a selection of silver bracelets that didn't cost and arm and a leg. I bought each girl a bracelet and warned them "to make sure you know this is your standard for jewelry for future love interests." LOL.

Doing Laundry for the fam...


Is it a beet? A radish? Who knows...?

Sierra was unimpressed by the subway. She is a taxi girl.