Category Archives: Travel

Our brilliant trip to London (in photos)

I’m back from a week across the pond and already missing London. When Jacob was 12 I took him to Paris with a friend and her son, so I promised Aden and Eli I would take them somewhere special when they turned 12 and this year was Aden’s turn.

I had not been to London since a family trip when I was 8 and was eager to see it as an adult. My friend, Raquel, has been living in London as an ex-pat for four years with her husband and 9-year-old son. She was gracious enough to invite us to stay with her in her North London apartment for a week. My friend, MaryEllen, and her son, Pat– Aden’s pal-  joined Aden and me on our English adventure.

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At the Tate Museum looking at St Paul’s Cathedral

I’m a researcher so I bought a guidebook and map and was online for hours in the weeks leading up to the trip, trying to plan the best itinerary and find great places to eat near all the sights we wanted to see. But like the saying “man plans and God laughs,” I planned and the kids laughed. I quickly learned it was better to keep expectations low and go with the flow or I would end up very frustrated.

We chose a daytime flight because we figured the boys would be too excited to sleep on the plane and then the first day in London would be spent sleeping (that’s what happened when we flew overnight to Paris) so we arrived in the evening.

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The boys were great travelers and with the help of iPads, a well-stocked snack bag,  and a deck of cards, they managed the 12 hour journey with little complaint.

The first day we were all a bit groggy and got a late start. I tried not to be impatient despite my eagerness to seize the day in a new city. Rushing 12-year-old boys to go see historical sights in a foreign land is not advisable. Better they move at their own pace and eat a hearty breakfast.

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Our first day was rainy so we decided to go to the Churchill War Rooms and Museum. We took the Underground to Westminster and as soon as we stepped out, we were in awe of Big Ben.

It was starting to feel real for the boys, who even agreed to dodge raindrops to pose for several pictures.

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(We had to)

Big Ben London on

We hit several tourist sights the first day and were impressed with the boys’ stamina.

Having an apartment to return to every evening was a huge bonus.

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Raquel and Jonas (and MaryEllen) on the balcony of their London flat

We had space to move, there were several bathrooms, and we had friendly faces eager to hear about our adventures and help plan our next destinations.

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Hanging with Jonas

One of the best parts of the trip was watching Aden soak in a new culture. We took several rides on the top of the famous red double-decker buses, where he always wanted to sit in the front seat to check out the city. His eyes were wide open and his curiosity buzzing as he commented on the architecture, cars, and people.

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Riding a red double decker bus

Wilson has indulged me twice, supporting these one-on-one trips and I am grateful. As I explained to him, most of our family life is spent playing, watching, and talking about sports. I live in a virtual ESPN Zone.

I didn’t grow up in a house with sports fans and rarely watched a game on TV. I have a mild interest in sports from a pop culture perspective and I love watching my boys play. But it’s not my thing, and they know it. So they don’t strike up conversations about college football stats in the car or call me in the middle of the day to discuss a Mets trade. Only Wilson makes those daily connections.

So I wanted to do something with each of my boys that took them completely out of their scene, and exposed them to a new environment that would open their minds about their place in the world. These trips allow us to share new experiences– learning about history, seeing amazing sights and eating different  food– while building memories that hopefully they’ll look back on warmly.

One day on the trip we were on the Overground and missed our stop. The boys correctly said we needed to get off at the next stop, but MaryEllen and I doubted them and looked up at the map to see which stop we missed, and in the confusion the doors closed and the boys were standing on the platform outside, and we were locked inside the Tube!

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The boys on the Overground right after surviving 10 minutes alone on a London platform

Luckily we had already discussed what to do if this ever happened and they knew to stay put until we returned. But that didn’t stop MaryEllen and I from screaming “STAY THERE!” ten times as the train pulled away. There were 3 or 4 people in the car staring at us– the irresponsible, loud, stupid Americans–  aghast… as we burst into giggles. Parenting skills at their finest, we left our children at a tube stop in a foreign country.

We got back to the boys within 10 minutes and they were also laughing hysterically and didn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the trip. It was absolutely one of the best things that ever happened to them.

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Abbey Road Studios in North London

Raquel happens to live across the street from the famous Abbey Road Studios where the Beatles made magic. All day and night tourists come to graffiti the walls outside the building and take photos on the iconic cross walk, like the cover of the Abbey Road album.


One night, in the cover of darkness, we went down to the studio in our pajamas  and spray painted our names on the wall.

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It felt naughty and thrilling all at once.

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We also got incredibly fortunate when we got bumped up to business class on the flight home. It was the most luxurious 7.5 hours of Aden’s life, as he stretched out on a cozy bed, watching movies and ordering snacks from an eager flight attendant.

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We did a lot of amazing things in London– as you will read in my next post– but it’s the funny and unexpected adventures that they’ll remember, more than the Crown Jewels or Picassos at the Tate Modern.

I’m cool with that.

Huge thanks to Raquel, Chris, and Jonas for being terrific hosts and enhancing our trip! Stay tuned for the next post about all the fun things we did and many more pix.


NJ Grounds for Sculpture is worth the trip

We recently had a rare day with no sports obligations so we took advantage by exploring the Grounds for Sculpture park in Hamilton, New Jersey. I had never visited before but heard great things, and it definitely lived up to the hype and turned out to be a really fun day for everyone from picky, eye-rolling kids, to high-brow grandparents.

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As you may know, I usually persuade my culture-averse boys to do something new by offering a tasty meal as part of the deal. The park has two restaurants– one is an upscale cafeteria that has some healthy options, the other looked like a fancy restaurant– despite its name: Rat’s, (really?)–  set on a small lake. We didn’t eat there because it’s crowded on the weekends and pricey with kids, but it looked very pretty and I liked many options on the gourmet French menu.

There’s not much around Hamilton, but I found a famous breakfast place in Princeton that fit the bill. PJ’s Pancake House is in the heart of Princeton on Nassau Street, about 15 minutes from the Grounds for Sculpture.

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Chocolate chip banana pancakes met Jake’s high standards of food excellence

We ordered eggs, pancakes, waffles, and French toast and every plate was delicious. The mound of bacon and sausage links were also popular with the kids.

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It has old-school diner atmosphere, the service is quick, and the prices are very reasonable for such yummy food.

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It’s the kind of place where the berries are fresh and the syrup was probably tapped in Vermont the day before.

So with bellies stuffed, we had the energy to walk the  42-acre park. It’s the former site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds so there’s lots of room to run and most of the sculptures are touchable, if not climbable. Many were larger recreations of art by the masters, like this version of Manet’s “Olympia.”

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The outdoor museum features contemporary sculptures of many sizes, but the ones that get the most attention are enormous….

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and iconic……

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Mom and I trying not to look up!

making art accessible and engaging…. even to those who assume it will be boring.

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We spent about an hour and a half wandering through the park, which is full of surprises.


In addition to the sculptures, there are beautiful gardens and a lake, and plenty of shady places to stop and rest.

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Wisteria walkway

It was a successful outing all around. It’s a perfect destination for family days when you have many age groups to please.

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I like it because my kids are getting some culture without even realizing it…

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…and they like it because they have the freedom to run free and use their loudest outside voices.

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What are some of your favorite family day activities? Tell me in the comments. Summer vacation is just days away and I need ideas!

Staycation 2015: the week in photos

My kids were on spring break last week and we stayed home because Jacob had 5 baseball games. Was I bitter? Maybe a little. But it was actually nice to be home with few plans and time for the kids to relax.

My boys overindulged on-screen time for sure, but I planned at least one outing a day to make sure they got some stimulation that didn’t include a remote or joystick (I know, no one calls them joytsicks anymore but ‘Xbox controller’ is so undescriptive.)

We’re so lucky to have New York City in our back yard, and I took them in a few times to get a change of scenery and sneak in some culture without the boys realizing it.

Here are the highlights of the week in photos…..

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I met two gal pals at Penn Station Friday night. We were having dinner with our husbands in Chelsea at 7pm so we bought ourselves chilled mini wine bottles (at the little store by the stairs to the Garden) which we dumped in paper cups. Then we picked up the High Line at 31st St. and 11th Avenue to walk to the restaurant.

There’s nothing like an outdoor cocktail hour, walking above Manhattan, and people watching on the High Line on a lovely spring evening!

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On Monday I took Eli to see the animated movie Home. We both liked it a lot– it’s a very sweet and engaging story, with characters voiced by Rihanna, Jim Parsons, JLo, and Steve Martin. I also like any excuse to eat movie popcorn.

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Tuesday I took Aden and Eli to the batting cages at Frozen Ropes to hit balls off a pitching machine.

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It aint cheap: $30 for 30 minutes, and the time went quickly, but it was a productive, fun activity.

We took the train into the city Wednesday and the kids picked Shake Shack for lunch. The line wasn’t too long….

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and we chowed on our burgers and fries.

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Then we walked a few blocks to see Matilda on Broadway. Eli and I read the Roald Dahl book and we had been listening to the music in the car and explaining the plot to Aden.

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I was worried because Aden wasn’t so psyched when I told him I bought the tickets. But we all loved it! Amazing performances, inventive staging and dancing, and terrific music that we are still humming days later. I highly recommend!

My boys had never been to Dylan’s Candy Bar so after the show we headed east and wandered the sugar sanctuary for almost 45 minutes.

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Giant gummy bear and candy necklace!

I gave them each a $15 limit but still managed to spend an obscene amount of money I can’t think about ever again. Oh well. You only live once right?

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Like mice in a cheese factory….

Two friends and I took our boys to the city Thursday to walk around Chinatown. We had never been to Chinatown in NY and I thought we’d walk the streets, taking in the new culture, marveling at the colorful fruit and vegetable stands, and wandering into little shops.

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But I forgot I was with 7 boys whose only interest was consuming as much sesame chicken as their bellies could hold. The authentic eats at 456 Shanghai Cuisine didn’t disappoint. As you can see here, we tried a little bit of everything. The pork dumplings– both standard and soup– were gobbled up instantly, and the moo shu pork, shrimp and vegetables, chicken lo mien, and sautéed green beans were delicious. Nothing was greasy and no one felt sick 30 minutes after consuming an impressive amount of food. And the price is nice too. The lunch specials were just $5.75 each and came with soup and rice.

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Although I couldn’t eat anymore, the children managed to cram in shakes and cones from the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory down the street. In addition to the standards, they have some very inventive flavors, including Black Sesame, Ginger, and Lychee. Thumbs up from the fellas.

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Chinatown is very close to the Criminal Court building, where our friend Chris works, so the boys got a bonus tour of a courtroom and a holding cell.

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We also stopped at the mecca of sneakers, a place called Flight Club, near Union Square. Literally hundreds of technicolored sneakers line the walls of this store and I couldn’t find a pair for less than $150.

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Much like me at Bergdorf Goodman, the boys browsed the shelves, knowing they could never afford the laces of most of their coveted shoes.

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A boy can dream…..

I must admit I enjoyed Flight Club from an anthropological perspective. It’s a whole culture of people who purchase, trade, and collect high-end sneakers and seeing so many creative designs made it feel like an exhibit in a modern art museum.

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Check out the price tags on these babies! This is what thousand-dollar shoes look like

The prices of some of the shoes were as expensive as art– going up to the eye-popping $7,000 to 11,000 range! Who knew?

On Friday it was back to work for me so the boys had a free day to play with friends.

I asked them tonight what the highlights were of their break. Jacob groaned, which he does at any question I ask him of late.

Aden said “Everything!” I’ll take it!

Eli? After a detailed recap of all our adventures, he chose the playdate with his friend Kieran yesterday.

Can’t win ’em all.





Spring Break staycation? What to do with kids in NYC

Jacob made the high school baseball team: yeah! Now we can’t go anywhere for spring break: boo!!

I thought maybe we’d get a 2-day reprieve and head to D.C. or Philly but looks like we’re stuck in Jersey, tethered to a baseball diamond. But I’m not going to complain because we’ll always have Manhattan.

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For those of you staying in the tri-state area for spring break– or if you’re traveling to New York in the next few weeks or even this summer– I’ve compiled a “best of” post of my favorite family activities– and accompanying food of course– in New York City. Enjoy!

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Museum of the Moving Image—  We discovered this little gem tucked into a residential neighborhood in Astoria, Queens last year. Totally worth the extra 15 minutes on the subway from the city. The building is super modern and all white– like you’re on the set of a space movie…

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The museum lobby & cafe

…and has an amazing permanent collection of cool modern art and sculptures, and old TV, radio and film equipment. You see the evolution of still and video cameras, microphones, and sound systems.

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Yup, that’s Mork from Ork’s space suit, Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills cop getup, and snazzy costumes from the movie Chicago.

Other galleries include old TV’s of every size (like walking through a time warp,) pop culture toys, special effect artifacts (Freddy Krueger’s giant sweater  and the Exorcist‘s motorized mannequin of Linda Blair whose head spins around,) and make up, costumes, and actual scripts from recognizable movies and TV shows like Taxi Driver and Seinfeld.

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Several interactive exhibits kept my kids busy, like making 3-5 second videos that can be turned into a flip book, computer animation programs, and changing music, sound effects, or dialogue from famous TV shows and movies in real sound booths. My kids were fascinated by the playable, old school video games like Tetris, Genesis, or Frogger, and I got nostalgic playing Atari tennis.

I highly recommend you pair your visit with a meal at nearby Bare Burger for delicious organic burgers, fries, shakes, and even salads. For more info on the museum click here.

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You can never go wrong in Central Park. You’ve got carriage rides, the zoo, the carousel and plenty of space to run around.  Click here for info on walking tours that look pretty cool.

new york historical society museum for kids

In the shadow of the Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side is the New York Historical Society Museum. Don’t miss the short film about the history of New York in the lobby theater, and then briefly check out the eclectic exhibits– from art (paintings, photography and sculpture) to culture (Tiffany lamps to vintage trains and toys.)

At the Children’s History Museum on the lower level of the building, kids can explore the history of New York through the eyes of children of the past. My boys were completely engaged in the interactive exhibits on voting history, kids’ role in the media, and how children lived at the turn of the century.

The kids museum offers great free programs so check the calendar before you go. There are also two scavenger hunt lists kids can fill out as you walk through the building, which keeps them involved.

Jacob creates his own 1930's headline

Jacob creates his own 1930’s headline

After the museum, the kids will deserve a burger at Shake Shack a block away… or take a short walk to Sugar and Plumm— a bistro with Parisian flair– on 79th and Amsterdam, which features gourmet delights like buckwheat savory crepes and chicken and waffles. Or just skip right to dessert: sundaes, fresh-baked cookies and cakes, chocolate, and gelato. Jacob and I split a banana/Nutella crepe and cappuccino macarons that were sublime…

Sugar and Plumm NYC with kids

….but Eli and Aden went for the fancy candy. For more info on the museum and eats click here.

Sugar and Plumm NYC with kids
If your family is less culture and history, and more outdoorsy, check out the newer part of the High Line near Tribeca. The scenery is pretty and the people watching irresistible.

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Free High Line walking tours and programs– including poetry readings and wildlife talks– begin in April. Strolling makes me hungry, so put your name in at Bubby’s High Line– home of delicious pancakes and burgers– and then walk up an appetite.

Of course, there’s always lunch and a show. Last spring break, I took the kids for sushi at Haru in Times Square and then to see Wicked, which we all liked, despite Jacob’s expression in this photo.

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I get that Broadway is not Jacob’s thang, so this year I’m giving him a pass and taking Aden and Eli to see Matilda. Eli and I read the book recently and have been listening to the CD in the car to prepare. Very excited!

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One activity we haven’t tried yet is exploring Chinatown. My kids are obsessed with Asian food (it’s always about the food) and loved walking around Chinatown on a road trip to Toronto a few summers ago, so it seems crazy not to check it out in our own back yard.

Please let me know in the comments if you recommend any specific sights or restaurants great for kids in Chinatown, or anywhere else in Manhattan.

Happy Spring!

Y’all jonesing for a jello shot? Bachelorette party in Austin!

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The bachelorettes after a margarita-soaked dinner

You may remember that Wilson’s brother got engaged  (in an uber romantic way you can read about here) last summer, and we’re all looking forward to the nuptials in March.

The whole family will play a part: Wilson is serving as best man (his speech is going to kill) I’m a bridesmaid, Jacob and Aden are groomsmen, and Eli is a ring bearer.  I had almost forgotten all the hoopla surrounding a wedding, and in the zillion years since we got married, customs have become more high brow.

Apparently dinner at Sparks and a lap dance on 42nd Street is no longer sufficient to celebrate the end of bachelorhood. Wilson had to travel to Puerto Rico for the bachelor party. I didn’t get all the details (probably best,) but it sounded like a lot of standing around the swim up hotel bar drinking Medalia beers.

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At my bachelorette party, we got drunk at Coyote Ugly in the East Village, flashed our bras and danced on the bar before falling asleep in the cab home. Nowadays all the hip gals hop on a plane for fine dining and shopping in a funky city like Austin.

I’d never been to Austin, and we all loved the vibe in the Lone Star state’s capital city. My only complaint is that we were there for too short a time.

We arrived Friday night and dug into some famous BBQ at Ironworks.

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It’s not the place to keep good habits from your nutritional cleanse.

Wiping sauce from our chins, we took an Uber (no ride was more than $5!) to an area downtown with lots of bars and restaurants and walked around.

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Live music is everywhere– the city feels young and hums with great energy.

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I ordered an amazing cowboy hat for our bachelorette, decorated with sequins around the brim and light up letters spelling”BRIDE.” (Shout out to the peops at Red Sky Trader who got me the hat on time!)

As I walked into each bar I was slapped with nostalgia. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a place with that familiar stale humidity, coupled with the smell of beer, whiskey, and sweat. It’s the smell of possibility and abandon. I had missed it.

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6th Street was packed

We stopped into a few places before finding our way to the famous 6th Street. It’s party-central in kind of the worst way. Lots of drunken frat boys, tourists, and crowd wranglers making deals better than Monty Hall to get you into their place to spend cash.

But we are New York City girls, too smart for such traps. We surveyed the scene and settled in at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar which was just our speed.

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A bunch of talented musicians took turns on two pianos and a drum set singing oldies and popular songs by request.

Austin bachelorette party at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar on  We quickly realized we weren’t the only bachelorettes there and had to compete against at least 3 other groups before we could get our bride onstage to be serenaded.

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We chugged our cocktails, did a couple jello shots, and belted out the words to favorite songs.

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Good times!

The next day we walked around the South Congress area, an artsy, retro neighborhood with cool cafes and antique and used clothing stores. Iconic neon signs, bright southwestern colors and the occasional bearded guitar player on the corner felt authentic and cozy.

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We ate at the South Congress Cafe where the carrot cake french toast with cream cheese-pecan syrup is out of this world, especially washed down with their award-winning Bloody Marys. Great way to start a Saturday.

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We stayed at the minimalistic, chic boutique Hotel San Jose. Saturday night we gathered in a hotel suite to sip chardonnay from penis straws while the bachelorette opened gifts of lingerie and answered relationship quiz questions that made us giggle.

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Next we headed out to La Condessa for some upscale Tex-Mex fare and buckets of margaritas.

After dinner we hailed a couple pedi cabs to take us to Rainey Street.

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Maybe it was the tequila, maybe it was the freedom of the girls weekend, maybe it was the open air, or the 80’s hip hop music blasting from a boom box– I’m not quite sure. All I know is I haven’t laughed that hard in a long while.

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Deep, rolling belly laughs that couldn’t be stifled. All of us were like a pack of hyenas howling at the moon as the pedi cabs rolled on. It was hilarious.

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We danced and laughed at a few bars on Rainey and then headed back to the hotel to squeeze out the last moments of a super fun weekend.

I’ll admit I thought traveling to Austin for a bachelorette party seemed excessive at first, but all the girls were great and it was really a bonding experience that will make celebrating the wedding together even more sweet.

When I travel with my crew, I’m always trying to find things to do to satisfy everyone. If we had gone to Austin as a family we would have visited the zoo, walked around UT to check out the football stadium, and probably tried to catch a game. We would have stayed in a conventional hotel with an indoor pool for the kids.

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It was so refreshing to spend the weekend with people who wanted to do what I wanted to do: walk around, eat, shop, and stay up late talking. I didn’t realize how much I needed it!

Warning to you Wilson: I’m going to make sure I take girl weekends more often.

Who’s in?

Christmas New York style

Our clan kept up our annual Christmas traditions– cruising the 5th Avenue windows, gaping at the Rockefeller Tree, indulging in Christmas Eve sushi, and watching the Knicks at the Garden– to ring in the holiday.

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Tiffany’s on corner of 57th and 5th

Thought I’d share my pics. It’ll be just like you were there, without all the rain, crowds, and pain of losing (the Knicks got schooled by the Wizards 91-102.)

Sure, it was drizzling and the Midtown streets were packed with tourists walking too slowly, but I didn’t care. I love seeing how the visionaries at the big department stores create art in a small space.

Bergdorf Goodman is always my favorite. This year the theme was the arts so each window represented a different artistic discipline.

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This was the literature window…..Every image framed here is a tapestry, needle pointed, or stitched by hand. All the objects were made of fabric so the texture adds a dimension to the intense red colors. Amazing!

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Architecture had a blue vibe.

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That’s Eli’s silhouette against the original neon representing theater arts. He’s my go-to guy for window gazing. My other two find it a snore so I left them in the car with Wilson.

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Each window tableau is an individual expression, thought out and styled with precision and purpose. Eli noticed that the giant objects here mimicked what was in the painting.

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I loved the glittery jumpsuit in the music window– reminded me of Cher.

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Next we moved onto Tiffany’s. The rings in the window are real giant diamonds. The box behind the gentleman’s back moved back and forth in anticipation.

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Eli and I liked how they incorporated the real Tiffany jewels into New York scenes. He wanted to buy me the ring and said it probably only cost “like a thousand dollars.” I wish!

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Fendi kept it simple and meaningful with neon words spelling peace in various languages.

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There’s my trusty admirer in front of the Saks windows. We loved their whimsical take on fairy tales, with a New York twist. Each window started with “Once upon a time in New York……”  and ended with a funny modern line.

This is Cinderella who was willing to entertain the prince who brought her a pair of designer shoes. Rumpelstiltskin was the meanest spin teacher in all the land, and Sleeping Beauty was having trouble keeping up in the city that never sleeps.

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Here Snow White is worried about getting a poison apple on the street.

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This was as close to the Rockefeller tree as we got this year. Close enough!

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New York sushi = yum.

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Carmelo Anthony taking a free throw

The boys were excited to see the Knicks, but were less than pleased with their performance. I like seeing the celebrities and the dancers.

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Hope your holiday was merry and bright!






Thanksgiving California style


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Eli and me at the top of Runyon Canyon

I’ve been traveling to southern California to spend Thanksgiving with Wilson’s family for 16 years. My brother, cousin, and two close friends live in LA, so Eli and I went a few days ahead of Wilson, who stayed behind with Jacob and Aden so they wouldn’t miss too much school.

The weather was stellar– 78 and sunny every day– so we took advantage, taking a swim and soaking in the rooftop pool view at the Sixty Hotel in Beverly Hills.

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Not too shabby.

I also managed to do some retail damage at Fred Segal  in West Hollywood with mom (sweatshirt for Eli, silk top and boots for me)…..

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…. and hike Runyon Canyon with my bro and our friends, Cindy and Jett.

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Jett and Eli had a strong connection. Look at these two cuties….

We had lunch with my friend Julie at favorite eatery Jones on Third and if the curry chicken salad and homemade lemonade were not enough, we had a celebrity sighting: Will Arnett, with some hot young thing.

I had to pretend to take a pic of my bro and Eli to get this silly shot:

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Then we packed it up and headed down south to Orange County to meet up with Wilson’s family. We stay at Wilson’s Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Ron’s house, which manages to sleep 14 people and a minimum of four dogs. We’re a close family, but there’s something to be said for personal space and this week, that was in demand.

There’s also really only one TV available so since the family is overrun with testosterone, football is on 24/7 for the entirety of our stay. By end-week, I was Jonesing for a visit with the Bravermans, the Pritchetts, or the Goldbergs.

We’ve developed certain reliable OC traditions: spending a day in Disneyland, eating baked ziti and sausages the night before the holiday, running to the grocery story no less than 8 times in two days, and staying up Thanksgiving night drinking lots of wine, gossiping and belly laughing til the wee hours.

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Eli and cousins about to down Splash Mountain

Disneyland was definitely a highlight of the trip this year. It was gorgeous weather and Wilson’s brother got us all free park hopper tickets, so we could do Disneyland and California Adventure. We arrived at the park around 10am and stayed until 8pm, crushing all our favorite rides. We had fast passes from last year so we never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride.

Thunder Mountain at Disneyland

Right before the drop on Thunder Mountain

Wilson’s brother recently got engaged, and his fiancé (whom I’ll call BB for blushing bride) had not experienced our family Disneyland routine. We like the roller coasters, and we don’t take no for an answer without a doctor’s note.

It was fun witnessing her indoctrination, especially since she doesn’t particularly care for roller coasters. But she got sprayed on Splash Mountain.

Splash Mountain at Disneyland on

BB before getting soaked on Splash Mountain

Toughed out the drops on Thunder Mountain…

Splash Mountain drop at Disneyland on

And avoided snakes and a giant careening boulder on Indiana Jones’ Adventure. We screamed and laughed, while white-knuckling the safety bars all the way down.

I don’t particularly care for Space Mountain as it gives me vertigo and nausea, but I knew if I opted out, BB wouldn’t go. So I took one for the team. While I hated the ride, I loved hearing BB screaming invective behind me, while the cousins laughed with glee.

“Make it STOP!” When’s it gonna be over?!!” “I DON’T like it!!”

Good times. Reminded me of my Space Mountain initiation several years ago. It’s a rite of passage.

Small World lit up at night at Disneyland on

We took it down a few notches and headed over to Small World. Every night at 5:15pm when the sun sets, the park turns on all the lights on the Small World castle and even the least sentimental in our crowd oohed and ahhhed.

Cars ride at California Adventure on

We finished the day off at California Adventure Park with the Cars ride (based on the movie) which quickly became a favorite.

Cars ride at California Adventure on

You slowly tour a realistic looking desert in a swanky convertible, before the ride revs up to a car race through a bumpy canyon. Really fun.

Thanksgiving turkey on

Aunt Ruthie makes an outstanding Thanksgiving feast, including two turkeys (one roasted, one deep-fried) three kinds of potatoes and many sides and sinful desserts. My pants were bursting but I couldn’t stop. I only get creamed corn once a year!

Thanksgiving turkey on

After dinner, we sat outside on the patio drinking wine and playing Heads Up.  To say we laughed really doesn’t do it justice. Belly-aching, snort-inducing guffaws. Uncle Ron counted 17 empty bottles of wine for 16 adults.

‘Nuff said.

After one last glorious day of sunshine, running, leftovers, more football and laughing, we headed home Friday night.

Reentry is always tough after this trip. No family is perfect, but we manage to have fun no matter the circumstances. I’m thankful for that!

What are your holiday traditions?  Tell me in the comments.