Thursday, December 19, 2013

Last Leg of Road Trip: NYC Baby!!! (photo overload)

Since I had decided not to celebrate holidays last year, I think I promised many family members that I would be in town to celebrate.

I lied...

It was a little lie that grew into a big family trip.

After hemming and hawing with Chris, my husband, about not wanting to do Thanksgiving this year I convinced him that THIS was the YEAR for the Macy Day Parade in NYC.

He agreed. brother in D.C. asked if he could drive up with his family of 6 and join us.

Sounded good to me, but I wanna Black Friday shop with my SIL Megan!!!

We decided to make a complete redirection of the plans and invite everyone in my family up to NYC for a big family vacation over the holiday.

The people who were able to come were:
Me, Chris, Isabel, and Cici.
Brother's family: Scott, Megan, Ashley, Tony, Hunter, and Jackson
My Dad and my nephew Thomas.


We left the Lake House one day early and headed towards Brooklyn. I needed to go to Brooklyn for boots.

I know, boots? But these boots are my heaven. I bought them in Philly and the store that sold them don't have an online store. So there is a Mandee store in Brooklyn. I have to go and try to secure these shoes. Two in every color.

We booked the Aloft Brooklyn, one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed in. It was tacky and uncomfortable. At the end of the stay, the valet over-charged me by $450 and refused to refund me... sigh. Don't stay there.

We headed to the Mandee store and found the desolation which is the Brooklyn location. No boots. At least, not the ones I was looking for.

Time to head to Manhattan...

We decided to stay at the Hampton Inn Seaport again since they were more than happy to accommodate my family of 12. I warned them that there was 7 kids and to put as far away from "people" as possible.

I checked in and family began to arrive.

Dad and Thomas successfully navigated the airport and arrived when expected. Scott and his family were delayed by traffic and arrived in time for dinner in Chinatown.

Rather than going through a step-by-step detail of the trip here is were we went:

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Natural History Museum
Macy Day Parade Blow UP
Macy Day Parade
Thanksgiving dinner at Fraunces Tavern
Black Friday Shopping in Soho
9/11 Memorial
Drive around the city tour furnished by Scott

The best part of this trip was our own personal chauffeur, Scott. He brought his mini-van and drove us all over the city in batches. No wait. No taxi. No subway. Curbside pickup. Nice..........

We sent everyone off on Saturday after Thanksgiving and drive home over the next two days.

I was sooooooo happy to see my bed after 7 week!!!

Next trip: January/Central American Cruise!!! Woot Woot!

The little kids NEVER slept. All weekend.

A little shopping for NYC. Gotta look classy! What a pretty Cici!

The "kids" really liked the egg chairs in the lobby of Aloft


Isabel found the conveniences of Grandpa having a wheelchair at the museum.

The girls got yelled at for getting that close to the Picasso! LOL!

Times Square

Toys R Us Ferris Wheel. Tony, Cici, Ashley, and Jackson are in there.

Lunch at Olive Garden. Great, wonderful, amazing views of Times Square.

Kinda wanted to go see the space ship.

Macy's Blow Up in Central Park


Is that a spongebob butt being blown up?                         Kool-Aid Man!

This is why we keep Uncle Chris around. Tired feet!!!

"Tony! Get away from the news crews!!!"

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Cold, pretty Isabel

Cold Cici

My nephew Jackson was sooooooo happy to see How to Train Your Dragon!

Black Friday!!!!

Look how happy we are on Black Friday. Full night's rest.

Crazy Macy at 3:00 p.m. Black Friday
Wow! It was packed!
Black Friday rest stop. Needed it after Macy's

Last Night!

Family Pizza Party to end the weekend!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas without Ian sucks... Vermont and Montreal

This has been an...interesting week. The preparations for Christmas have been dreaded for the entire year.

Last year, when Ian died in late September, we decided as a family to not celebrate the holidays. We escaped to DC for Thanksgiving and NYC for Christmas. We fully acknowledged that we were avoiding,  but accepted it and moved on with our plans.

It wasn't until Christmas Eve last year that Isabel looked at me, with anxiety in her eyes, and asked "Are we really not doing Christmas? Am I not getting presents?"

Broke my heart. I had gotten her a surprise gift, but had thought she understood that we weren't having a big Christmas morning. I scrambled to buy a couple gifts at a store we passed so that I could put them under the little tree in the NYC condo.

This year, we promised the family that we would be here for the holidays. We kind of fudged on Thanksgiving, by having family come to NYC and watching the Macy Day Parade. Christmas on the other hand, we will be home and do all the required parts.

We have decorated the house with lights. (Chris did, actually). Isabel picked out an awesome hula-ing Santa inflatable. Chris finally got to switch to LED lights (big geek accomplishment). We put up the tree.

The tree...

There is a huge lump of dread when you consider the Christmas tree.

The tradition starts with a trip to Home Depot to pick a tree. There was no fight/compromise about the tree. We only have one kid. She picked it out.

We take down the ornament containers...I shut my eyes thinking about it. It is holding memories. Many years of memories. Many ornaments. There are the special ones.

I bought each child a Lladro ornament when they were born. Who puts up Ian's?

There are the little ornaments that he made in preschool. A little blue ball with his handprint made into snowmen.

There is the ornaments that make me feel like a terrible Mother. This one was never even filled in with the proper photo. That is a stock photo in that frame...

^^Not my kid ^^

The actual Christmas tree decorating went better than I thought it would and Isabel was actually the one who was the most upset.

How do you parents with one child combat the loneliness? She is always upset to be missing her playmate. Is it different since your children never had the built in playmate? I try to make sure she has friends over and that we do things, but she feels the loss deeply. We sat on the couch and cried when we were all done.

We are ready for Christmas...

Since I haven't finished up blogging my trip, I will resume in out last week in Massachusetts, which we actually went traveling.

The girls were feeling a bit cooped up and didn't want to go to any more museums, so I decided to google "indoor waterparks." I found this amazing ski resort in Vermont that has this insane water park.

We packed up the luggage and headed north. Well, actually, we TRIED to head north, but apparently I can't drive. I took my car right into a curb while turning and blasted a hole into my tire... We had to waste three hours finding a place that could change my tire on a Friday evening.

Once we got to Jay Peak in Vermont, we were amazed at the place. It was huge!!! It was lovely!!! I was shocked at the quality for the price I was paying. Very happy.

I did get to this surreal time in my life that I was sitting in my bathing suit, filming my daughter body-surfing, with a huge mountain, covered in snow, in the background! Talk about a dream scenario. I felt very grateful to have this opportunity and this amazing experience.

^^Look at that background^^

The girls literally would play in the snow for an hour, shed their parkas, and then go swimming in 80 degree weather. If anyone is in Northern Vermont, I highly recommend they stay here a few nights.

Jay's Peak is very close to the Canadian border, and I couldn't resist adding a new country to my list.

We drove over the border and headed towards Montreal for lunch. It was scary. Within one mile of the border I lost my Internet on my phone, everything was in French, and I had to switch to Metric... I'm not sure how I felt about that. I was completely unprepared for this little side trip.

Canadian Money!!

Isabel's crepe. Yum!

While in Montreal we had lunch at a little crepe and fondue place. Somehow, in my 3 hours of being in Canada, my debit card numbers were skimmed. I suspect a gift store in Old Montreal, but I can't be sure. My bank caught it fast enough.

We headed out of Montreal back to Vermont, where I had booked two nights at the Trapp Family Lodge. You know, like, Sound of Music... The Von Trapps... My dream!!!

The lodge is in the Waterbury/Stowe area which was lovely to visit. There is a Cabot store there with lots of cheese samples. We bought 3 lbs of cheese there! We also visited an apple cider store that had cider doughnuts. We also had to visit Ben and Jerry's!!!  It was another food day.

Scottish Cows...awwww....

The lodge itself was the best service experience of all of my travels. The rooms are a bit dated, but had been marshmallow-y beds. The staff was very old school and I enjoyed it. The best part was their fitness building that housed the pool. The changing rooms were very lavish and they had this cool contraption that spins your bathing suit dry in 30 seconds. Why don't we have that is Florida???!!!

We had a great time in Vermont and I think it is my favorite location yet.

After that we headed back to the Lake House and packed up and started heading towards NYC. We had to stop at Plymouth Rock. It was quite funny that EVERY person who knew I was in Massachusetts, asked if we had seen the rock yet. The girls were very disgruntled getting out of the car, but I got my rock pics.

Next Stop: No...Sleep... Till...Brooklyn!!!