The big apple

Well, all I can say is if you’re one of those people that loves to look at slideshows of other people’s vacations, then today is your lucky day.

Of course if you like to look at slideshows it may also mean you like to time travel back to 1984 when people still watched slides on those little carousel things. I can still hear the “CHA-CHOO” that my Nanny’s slide carousel made when you hit the remote control to advance to the next slide. Now that was technology.

Way back when Caroline was only about four years old, she began to talk about how much she wanted to go to New York. I have no idea why except that Bops used to fly to Newark for business trips all the time and brought her back a little Statue of Liberty. I guess at that moment a dream was born. A dream to see the big city.

So Mimi and Bops decided this was the year and told us way back in early September that they wanted to take us all to New York for Mimi’s birthday/early Christmas present. This works out since Mimi’s birthday is in December. P declined to go because he isn’t a fan of the big city and, also, it’s hunting season in South Texas. But Caroline and I jumped at the chance along with my sister, her husband and daughter, Sarah. They left Luke at home because he’s just three and would probably whine and cry and be bored and cold.

Which are really the same reasons that I was glad P decided not to go.

We decided we could always just photoshop them in to any important family photos we took while in New York. And that right there is why slide technology is almost obsolete.

On Wednesday morning we had a 6:55 a.m. flight. Which meant we had to be at the airport by 5:30. Which meant we had to wake up at 4:30. Which meant that I didn’t sleep at all the night before because that is what I do when I have to get up at an hour that I still consider to be the middle of the night.

We made it to the airport in plenty of time, got through security and made a necessary stop at Starbucks for caffeine. Except Caroline and Sarah had hot chocolate because kids don’t really need caffeine for extra energy. Even at 5:30 a.m.


When we arrived in Newark, a Good Times van picked us up to drive us to our hotel. (Not really, but how awesome would that have been? Maybe a brown one with a scene of a sunset on the side.) It was actually a very tasteful, roomy black van that wasn’t heated to the surface of the sun like the flight we’d just been on.

As we drove into the city we pointed out the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge to the girls. And Caroline was fascinated by the Lincoln Tunnel even though she was sure she could see it leaking.

We made it to the city by mid-afternoon and immediately walked down to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree.




I decided it was a good day to do my impersonation of a member of Fat Albert’s gang. Note to self: NICE HAT, LUCILLE.

And then we just walked up and down Fifth Avenue, looking at amazing store windows, until we realized we were all starving and needed to eat dinner.

It was 4:15 p.m.

We party like rock stars.

Or senior citizens. I can’t remember which.

But after some good Italian food, we had renewed energy and made our way to Times Square. That’s where the girls discovered the M&M store and I accidentally bought $20 worth of M&Ms because ALL THE COLORS. And then we saw Johnny Manziel’s billboard and discovered that New York isn’t like Disney World and if you take your picture with Mickey and Minnie Mouse they expect a tip.




And, finally, we went in the Toys ‘R Us store where a kid can be a kid or suffer some kind of sensory overload because they’ve been up since four in the morning and there is a FERRIS WHEEL IN THE STORE.


Caroline looked at me after we’d been there about thirty minutes and said, “Mom? My head kind of feels like blelrlsh shiflenth flvuen”. I felt like that was a sign it was time to head back to the hotel and get some sleep.

So that’s what we did.

At 7:30 p.m.

In our defense, it felt like midnight.

(On a side note, the Toys ‘R Us in Times Square is open twenty-four hours a day now through Christmas. I bet that’s just how the shepherds who visited the manger envisioned future generations commemorating the birth of our Savior.)

The next morning we were up and out early because that’s how Bops does vacations. Time is money. We went to the American Girl doll store so Sarah and Caroline could get their dolls ears pierced and hair styled. This was a precious time filled with running commentary by Bops about how the economy can’t be that bad if the American Girl doll salon still exists and wondering how you keep a straight face while you give a doll an exfoliating treatment.


But the girls loved it and the hairdresser who styled Caroline’s doll’s hair marveled at what good condition it was in. And it took everything in me to say it’s because that doll has spent its entire existence sitting virtually untouched in the playroom.

We made our way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral after that. With freshly coiffed dolls in tow.


And then walked until we got to Central Park. Where Caroline discovered the beauty of climbing every single rock in the park and causing me to hyperventilate.



Eventually I gave up the fight and climbed up there to join her. And I’m so glad I did because this may be one of my favorite pictures ever of the two of us.


We also ice skated, and by we, I mean my brother-in-law and the two girls. And I’m also playing fast and loose with the term “ice skate”. It was more an “awkward ice walk”.


Afterwards we visited Eloise at The Plaza.


Right after this we learned you’re not supposed to take your picture with Eloise.

And then we played the giant piano and visited Zoltar at FAO Schwarz. Caroline also ended up getting some kind of mini-facial from a salesgirl who told her that she needs to take good care of her skin because “most damage occurs before the age of seventeen”. And Caroline proved that she is her mother’s daughter because she was immediately ready to own the entire beauty set. This is a child who complains about having to brush her teeth so I didn’t feel bad about turning down the purchase of skin care regimen that would make Victoria Principal weep.

But she has reminded me a million times that “most skin damage occurs before the age of seventeen”. Yes. Let’s start with remembering to shower every day.


Later in the day (Are you exhausted yet? Because I am just reading all of this.) we rode the subway down to Chinatown and Little Italy. Caroline bought a cool bag, we ate some delicious homemade pasta, and made our way back to the hotel to crash.


And I think that has to be it for today because MY WORD at the lengthiness. Good news for all of you who love a good slide show. There’s a sequel.

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  1. says

    I loved this! We have been into the city twice since we moved to New Jersey and have yet to accomplish all of these things! I went into the American Girl store because I am 23 and can’t let go of my childhood and could not believe all the AG things available for purchase. 3 stories? My word.

    Also, where were all the people in your rockefeller center picture? It’s like a ghost town! When we were there two weekends ago, there was not space to breathe much less pose for pictures! I guess that is going-to-NYC-on-a-saturday punishment.

  2. says

    I went to NYC for the first time when I was around Caroline’s age and I feel in love with the city. I vowed to live there someday, and now I’m here! I hope you had a great time. I always say that NYC is magical during the holidays. I love it, and I never want to leave to spend the holidays back home because of it. I hope you’re coming back for a book signing because I will be there! Better yet…can you and Sophie plan a joint book tour? Because I would pay money for that! 😉

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Beth says

    That picture of you and Caroline on the rock truly is beautiful and perfect in every way. And I love your bangs!!

  4. Colette says

    Love the picture of you and Caroline on the rock! She looks so grown up these days, I weep for you!

    I absolutely cracked up at ‘Caroline bought a cool bag’, I was thinking ‘why does she need a cool bag in NYC in December, what could she possibly need to chill!?’ Then I saw the picture of the ‘cool bag’, I’ll get back in my box now…

  5. marjie says

    In the picture of you climbing up the rock, my daughter asked , “is that a real monkey?”

  6. says

    The picture of the two of you in Central Park is beautiful! Looks like a wonderful trip! And thank you for being honest and showing the real parts of vacation i.e. getting nervous when your child jumps on rocks. Caroline is a hoot!

  7. says

    Love reliving your trip with you; brings back memories of our visit there when our girls were similar in age. My husband proved his devotion to us by standing in line at AG to make hair appointments for their dolls, and then paying more for their beauty treatments than his own haircuts- ha!

    The picture of you and Caroline is fabulous for sure, and she is growing up so fast, and so beautifully:-)

  8. says

    1)My Middle daughter Maggie wants to go to New York City so band she can’t see straight. If I remember correctly she’s the same age as Caroline. And she’s wanted to go for just about all of her life. I also have no idea why. But, when she was about 5 she began saying she wanted to go and see “that lady in the water”…..

    2) My girls AG dolls hair looks so bad that I am ashamed to take them to get fixed at the store. Though, I hear that if a dolls hair is a hot mess that cannot be fixed, they get a new head. Wonder what happens when the doll is retired…..wonder if they have a stash of Elizabeth heads for just such an occasion. I sure hope so!!

  9. Spiritmom says

    Love the fact that P wouldn’t go. My South Texas man says New York is too many rats in a box. As for the shower battle with caroline, last night my 8 year old showered and put back on his dirty underwear and clothes he wore that day and went to bed. I give up.

  10. Marcia Compton says

    The rocks you climbed where all I had to play on as a child. Did you see Alice in Wonderland? That is NYC best. The sailboats in Central Park? Everyone should go to NYC over Christmas.

  11. Karen Ward says

    I have chuckled at the whole post! Absolutely adore Bops’ feelings on the economy and the American Girl store.

    Glad you all had such a great time! Lots of memories, I’m sure!

  12. says

    I love reading it! I have 4 boys, so I already know when we go to visit NYC, our visit will be VERY different then yours, so its fun to read about the girl adventures! :)

  13. Susan B says

    I want to hear more! I’ve never been to New York and I think visiting would be so much fun!…But just visit! I’m a country/small town girl forever!

  14. Stephanie says

    My husband took me and our son to NYC this past June. He had been working up there and decided we needed to go as a family and visit a big city (we live in TN). I fell in LOVE. It took our 14 y.o. about 2 seconds to figure out the whole subway system for us. We drove there, got lost in Chinatown (thank you gps) at 3:00 in the afternoon trying to get into Brooklyn where we were staying. We rode the L train in every day to the city and had a ball. We loved Little Italy and Chinatown – some of the best food ever! I would love to see the city at Christmas. Our son begged us to go back, (sigh) maybe next year……I just love getting to see your pictures. Thank you.

  15. Carol says

    Love, love, love! Thanks so much for sharing. Really hoping maybe 2013 will be the year to take my girls.

  16. Melissa H says

    I have not been to NYC and would love to go. I have always wondered how hard it is to get around. Do most of the hotels in the city offer transportation to and from Newark?

    Would it be easier to stay in NJ and take the train in daily?

    Advice anyone?

    • Marjie says


      When my husband and I go to the city, we stay at St James Hotel, two blocks off of Times Square.

      However, we took our girls this past October (ages 9 & 11) and we stayed at The Homewood Suites in Edgewater, NJ.

      We could see Manhattan from our room, the hotel was beautiful, clean, free breakfast AND dinner which were fantastic, and two blocks walking distance from the bus stop that took us into the city everyday. You are also pretty close to the train that will drop you at The Port Authority in Times Square area.

  17. BethA says

    I’m lovin’ your travelog!! Can’t wait for part deux. Hubs and I are taking our 16 yo daughter to NYC this summer. She is beyond excited. I pretty much can’t wait myself!!

  18. says

    Thank you for sharing!!! Number One on my bucket list for the last 20 years! Sadly, I actually lived less than 100 miles outside of New York City for the 1st 20 years of my life and NEVER went at Christmas-time. I have many things to be thankful to my parents for, but THAT is not one of them!!!

  19. says

    In your defense, it was actually 5:15 Texas time when you ate supper and by then Luby’s is done serving so…
    Also, if I think Dallas and Houston have too many people crammed in, I’m not sure I could take New York. I’d be much happier with P back at the ranch. But then sad on all the things I missed out on. So I guess I would have gone, but complained the whole time. No wonder my family has never made the trip…

  20. Traci says

    I took my daughter to the big city (from KY) for her 12th birthday and she stilll says it was the best trip ever. Your pictures brought back amazing memories!! BTW, we did Boston for her 13th (she likes travel more than gifts) and she was not a fan. Sad.

    Glad you had a good time. Merry Christmas!!


  21. Kimberly/OKC says

    Well, wow! When we can see “slides” like these with your HILARIOUS narratives, I am IN for the next edition!! Laughed the whole way thru! Thanks!

  22. Kimberly/OKC says

    P.S. When I read “marjie’s” comment, I had to laugh but just now I went back to the actual picture of you and Caroline on the rock and I laughed a bunch more!! Sorry, but that is too funny…thanks for posting it!

  23. says

    You got some great photos! Isn’t NYC in December the best? I must have just missed you. I went up for the day with my sis-in-law on the 8th. You can cram a lot in one day if you ride the subway around. T took me to the city one time, and I will never ever ask him to go back with me, because his experience was very much like the hypothetical one you described in the post.

  24. says

    I must be one of those people who love other people’s slideshows, because I was RIVETED to the screen. hahahahaha. That pic of you and Caroline is adorable!!!! A winner. It looks like so much fun!

  25. Dawn says

    This is on my bucket list…to visit NYC during the Christmas season…looks wonderful!

    But I have to ask…why are you not supposed to take a picture with Eloise??