Sunday, December 23, 2007

NYC Trip

Okay, so I found the time to post (I wanted to post every day while we were there, but the hotel charged $16 a day for the internet connection - I don't think so!). I'm in between loads of laundry, the kids are in bed and Ryan's out with a friend. It's now or never....

Sunday: We flew to La Guardia Airport. It was Sydney's first plane ride. She was quite excited.


Monday: Ryan left for work and we ventured out into the city. We got lost. But I eventually figured out where we were and we found our way to Rockefeller Center. It was cold and Sydney was hungry, so my photo op didn't go so well:


A quick snack beneath the 30 Rock building had Sydney back to her jovial self:


She really enjoyed watching the skaters, too:


We visited the American Girl Store and oohed and aahed over all the dolls and their accessories. We had lunch with Ryan, went back to the hotel for some rest time and then met our friends, the Saksons (friends from home who happened to be visiting NYC at the same time), at their hotel, the swanky Waldorf Astoria. Sydney was quite impressed with the decorations there:


Ryan met us (me, Sydney and our friends) at Radio City Music Hall where we saw the famous Rockettes and their Christmas Spectacular. Dinner followed at a yummy, but less than hospitable Italian restaurant.

Tuesday: Sydney and I headed out in the right direction on Tuesday. We visited St. Patrick's Cathedral ("It's just a really big church, Mommy") and once she spotted the big Christmas tree, we had to head back inside Rockefeller Center for a snack. I had my only (semi) celebrity sighting when we saw NBC reporter Hoda Kotb enter the building as we were leaving. We headed to Bryant Park where Sydney finally saw enough snow to actually do some playing:


She also liked watching the ice skaters there (it's free to skate there, versus Rockefeller Center where it cost about $30 a person):


Sydney was thrilled to see some old friends (they were there promoting the release of their movie), and wanted a picture, but didn't want to sit next to Homer for the photo op:


We walked next door to the famous public library, but Sydney was only interested in two things: the big lion outside and the free bathrooms within:


I decided not to take a picture of the bathroom.

We took a quick trip through Grand Central Station and had lunch with Ryan. After all that walking, Sydney took a 2 hour nap that afternoon. Yippee!

That evening, our friends, Stacey and Shiran, picked us up and drove us out to Brooklyn eat yummy Israeli food with his mom and sister's family. Sydney had fun playing with their niece, Naomi. Naomi had fun playing with Sydney's camera!

Wednesday: We made our way toward Central Park and saw the Disney store on the way. She begged to have her picture taken with, who else, but Cinderella:


We found ourselves at Central Park's Zoo where we had fun watching the penguins and the bats. Their habitats were indoors and dark so the pictures didn't turn out so well, but the polar bears were outside napping in what was likely balmy weather for them:


We met Ryan and rode the subway ("It's a big train with lots of people!") to Union Square to meet my friend, Jill, for lunch:


Another subway ride and another two hour nap followed.

Thursday: We met our friends, the Saksons, and rode the subway downtown to Ground Zero. The girls didn't quite get why we were looking at a giant hole in the ground and I didn't quite know how to explain it, so we quickly walked toward the water. Sydney and her friend, Zoe, posed in front of the Statue of Liberty (on the left) and Ellis Island (on the right):


Ryan happened to be working downtown that day, so we met him for lunch, rode the subway back to our hotel and rested that afternoon.

On our way to dinner with the Saksons, we stopped in and drooled a bit in the M&M store. We ate at a diner with singing waitstaff and had milkshakes with dinner (a real treat for us). We then tagged along with our friends to the Top of the Rock, or the top of the 30 Rockefeller Center building. It was quite chilly, but we got a good view of Manhattan and the Empire State Building (or the "Vampire State Building" as Sydney likes to call it):


While there, we even got a rare picture of the three of us in front of the big Christmas tree:


A quick trip to the NBC store had Ryan laughing at the Dwight Schrute bobble head dolls. I wish I'd had the forethought to snag one for his stocking!

Friday: The Saksons left for home, so Sydney and I were on our own again. We headed out toward Central Park again, but got sidetracked by FAO Schwartz. She had a blast seeing the giant stuffed animals and walking on the giant keyboard:


We visited the Hershey Store ("Look - a giant Hershey Kiss!") and the big Toys 'R Us store. We rode the ferris wheel inside (too dark for good pictures, though) and met Ryan for lunch again.

Our friends, Stacey and Shiran, met us at the hotel that afternoon and took us another subway ride ("My feet hurt from all the walking - can we ride the subway?") toward Central Park. Sydney finally got to see Belvedere Castle (I'd been promising her all week that we'd see it):


The tour guide inside (who also plays Santa there on the weekends), made Sydney an "official princess of Belvedere Castle" and absolutely made her week:


She made us call her Princess Sydney the rest of the afternoon. We visited one of the many playgrounds within Central Park and then went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She enjoyed seeing the Egyptian mummies and temple (an entire temple inside the museum!) and I really enjoyed the medieval exhibit with the magnificent tapestries.

One last subway ride later, we all met Ryan and ate some yummy Lebanese food for dinner.

Saturday: We packed up, checked out and left our luggage in the hotel storage closet while we had one last walk around the city. All of us were pretty walked out and tired, so we went back to Bryant Park to buy some souvenirs at the market, ate some pizza, enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate at Starbuck's and rode in a fancy town car back to La Guardia for the long flight home.

I loved watching Sydney light up with excitement and wonder at all the things we saw. If you asked her, she'd tell you that her favorite parts were seeing the castle, riding the subway and going through the "silly revolving door" at the hotel:


We had a fabulous time and I hope that she remembers it for the rest of her life. I know I will.

We're Home!

We're back from NYC. We had a blast. And now we're tired.

I promise to post pics sometime after Christmas. Of course, after a week in NYC, I'm spending today doing laundry, hosting my family for Christmas Eve tomorrow, celebrating Christmas with two families on Tuesday and traveling to New Orleans for four days starting Wednesday, I don't know when exactly I'll have time to post, but I promise to do it.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2007


We told Sydney at dinner on Wednesday evening about our NYC plans for next week. She seemed mildly excited, but as the days have passed and she's told a couple of people about our trip, she's getting quite worked up.

Last night, she went to bed at her usual time, 7 pm. We expected her to play for a bit before falling asleep, but when she was still awake at 9:30, Ryan went in to check on her. She had "packed" two bags and pulled out her sleeping bag all in preparation for the trip. Her two bags included a couple of books, some toys and her bear's dress-up clothes. Ryan told her to go to sleep.

I checked on her at 10:30 as I was getting ready to go to bed and she was STILL awake. Wide awake. I stretched out next to her in her bed and she would not stop talking about the trip. She eventually fell asleep around 11:30.

I am SO glad we didn't tell her any earlier than we did. But I'm thrilled she's excited about the plane ride and the trip. And not only will I be taking tons of pictures while we're there, but she's packing her camera as well so you'll get to see NYC through the eyes of a 4 year old.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Can I Rest Now?

I am so tired. Exhausted, really.

All of our decorations are up. The Christmas shopping is done. All of the presents are wrapped and under the tree. The Christmas cards have been mailed out. All of our Christmas candy (hundreds of molded chocolates, chocolate covered cherries, peanut butter cups, fudge squares, four kinds of truffles) has been prepared and is taking up space in our fridge and freezer. All that's left to do is to bake cookies for Santa.

Can I rest now?

You'd think so, but nope.

We have friends coming in from out of town today and tomorrow and we will be entertaining them either tomorrow evening or Saturday so I get to clean the house. Yay.

I get to spend all day Saturday doing laundry and packing for our trip to NYC next week. Not only do I have to pack my stuff, but Sydney's and Liam's, too. Granted, Liam doesn't need all of the warm gear since he'll be out in the 'burbs with my folks, but that also means I've got to pack all of his food and type up an instruction sheet as well.

And did I mention that Sunday is our 7th wedding anniversary? At least I don't have to do anything for that since our trip to NYC is our present to each other.

And somewhere in there I have to find the time to stuff 60 amaretto truffles into teeny tiny plastic purses as party favors for my mom's friend. At least I get paid for this chore. My first paying gig - woo hoo!

Anyway, I'm tired. Between the Christmas hoopla, preparing for our trip ("Does everyone have long underwear and wool socks?") and oh, yeah, growing another person inside of me, I'm tired.

I think I'll go take a quick nap while Liam's down for his. Nighty, night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not a Fan

I am not a big fan of the US Post Office. Although both of my grandfathers and my mother worked as sorters and carriers, I just don't like the post office. Wanna know why? No? Well, too bad (sorry, I'm in the mood for a rant today). Here's my list, Letterman style:

10. Somedays we don't get any mail. No big deal. Sometimes there isn't any. But when we get mail TWICE the next day, then I know someone's falling down on the job.

9. Our mail carrier often forgets to close our mailbox and then our mail gets wet (it rains a lot here in the summer).

8. The first Christmas we lived in our house (and had an actual mailbox as opposed to one of 300 hundred drawers at our apartment complex), I left a little tin of chocolate treats for the mail carrier as a "thank you". I even wrote "Happy Holidays to our mail carrier" on it and it sat there for three days. I'm sure they have rules about accepting gifts, but why is it my parents' mail carrier always grabs her holiday gift AND writes my parents a thank you note for it?

7. We have a "Point of Service" barcode on our box that the carrier has to scan when our mail is delivered so that the USPS can keep track of how long the route takes. Sometimes, one carrier comes by and scans our box and our mail is delivered by another carrier several hours later. What is going on with that?

6. Our mail carrier only delivers mail. He/she won't pick up outgoing mail so I have to drop it in the community box at the post office. It's no big deal to do so, but what's up with that?

5. The post office closest to us is five blocks away from our house, yet we are "zoned" to one that is about five miles away. Anytime we have an issue, we have to go the one five miles away (and it only has three parking spots - seriously).

4. The post office closest to us no longer does passport services. It's not like I need a passport since we're no longer traveling to Europe next summer, but c'mon, the closest one that does passport services is near downtown. Yuck.

3. The post office closest to us does not have stamp machines that take credit cards - cash only. And of course, my cash is always too wrinkled and is never accepted by the machine.

2. The workers at the post office move slower than molasses. There are 20 people in can't move a little faster?

1. And the reason for today's rant: It took me 30 minutes to get two books of Christmas-themed stamps today because of items #2 and #3. The lady in front of me offered up her spot in line when Liam got fussy (and I can't blame him for being bored), but I didn't take it. She was holding a huge box and I wasn't about to make her carry it any longer than necessary.

Anyway, I'm not a fan, but what can I do? It's not like there are any competitors I can switch to. Hmmm....

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Our plan for this year's annual Christmas card photo was to use one of the shots we got from our visit with our all too familiar Santa. We need a new plan because this is the best photo we got:

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Of all the shots we got, this is the only one with a (semi) genuine smile from Sydney. Of course, Santa had his eyes closed and Liam looks like he'd rather be somewhere else.

Christmas is two weeks away and we don't have a photo. It's officially time to panic.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Jig is Up

Sydney has figured out the whole Santa thing. Or at least part of it.

Every year, my father-in-law plays Santa at the community center in our parents' hometown (we don't have the same parents - we just grew up in the same town). He wears the Santa gear and is covered head to toe. He does the "Ho, ho, ho" routine and is quite convincing. The only issue is his very thick and distinguishable New Orleans accent.

We take Sydney every year to tell this all too familiar Santa what she wants and to take our annual picture with him. When I told her that we were going this Friday to see Santa, she said, "It's not Santa, it's Paw Paw." Uh-oh.

I just explained that sometimes Santa sends helpers to find out what all the kids want before Christmas Eve. She seemed satisfied with the answer, but I'm still worried.

So when do kids finally figure out the Santa thing? Don't I still have a couple of more years before some kid at school spills the beans?

Monday, December 3, 2007


No new van news to report. Sigh.

We test drove a couple of vans and while both drove well and had the features we wanted, we decided to make an offer on a certain foreign mini-van and not the American one. Unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement with the sales manager and wound up leaving empty handed. The poor salesman was really trying to make it work, but the sales manager just wouldn't budge. Let's just say that the nicest word I can use to describe that guy is "jerk."

It's a shame that we didn't fall in love with the American one because the sales manager gave us a really reasonable quote right off the bat (before we even test drove it). And did you know that owning your own business knocks $250 right off the price of this certain car maker's vehicles? Pretty nice. It had lots of extra bells and whistles that made it quite enticing (back-up camera, pedals that moved up and back for short people like me, automatic stow and go seating, etc). My biggest complaint was that the head rest hit me in a funny spot. I like to drive with my head back and with the headrest all the way down (since I'm short), I was quite uncomfortable. Like I said, what a shame.

Anyway, we're calling this a "semi-success" because we learned a lot from the jerk at the foreign car dealership. And I'm proud to say that I kept my cool despite the rudeness of that guy. I could feel my temper begin to rise, but I stayed calm and collected while dealing with him (Ryan and the salesman were off looking at something at the time). And, needless to say, we won't be returning to that dealership.

Due to holiday madness and our upcoming trip to NYC, car shopping will have to wait for a bit. We're going to do some more research (and maybe a couple of more test drives) and hopefully get back to it after Christmas. I will be very glad when it's all over!