A bit ago, I posted about my trip to NYC with my youngest daughter. It was her first time, and we crammed an awful lot into the three days.
It was her first time on the Amtrak.
Which left really early - we got up at 4. She was a bit springier than I was.
And super excited to be there. She was in love with the seats, the roominess of the overhead bins, and the ginormous size of the seat tray tables. (She's also the queen of selfies, angles and all, as you will see soon.)
She had absolutely no separation anxiety as she waved good bye to her dad.
My other kids, however, didn't fare so well. Here is the text she received, about 45 minutes after the train pulled out. Apparently, should one desire to shake a bottled protein shake, it's preferable to leave the top on - who knew?
The business class car was last, which gave us the luxury of looking out the back window. Great fun!
We made it into the city by about 2:30, and then the fun began. Every building we saw was the EXACT building that Jessie is filmed in! She just knew it was the one right behind her in this picture - or maybe it was another. (Yes, I know what building that is, and where the show is actually filmed.)
She also said that there weren't as many people on the streets as she thought there might be.
She had very few "must do's" while in NYC - and we were there for a work event for me, and I needed to visit the office, and had a few ideas of my own - but one of her goals was visiting the Hershey's store - and of course, the M&M store is just right across the street....
One of the other BIG goals was to visit the Today Show plaza and, of course, you simply MUST have a sign. So we went to a Duane Reade and picked up poster board - she'd brought all of her markers and such - and drew herself a sign. She decided to decorate it with a slice of pizza and an apple, duh. She pulled images off her iPod to make sure she drew just the right things.
We got up really early to grab breakfast before - and she took a backseat of the cab selfie -
And we made it to the Plaza, where we managed to slide in up front and she took another picture of us, and I took a couple of her with Dylan and Shanelle from the Saturday Today show.
(Apparently, I make all the goofy faces in the world when I take a selfie. Gah.)
We went to the work event, and by the time it wrapped up, we were pretty spent. We went back to the hotel, changed, and went for a piece of pizza. Then she said she really, really, really wanted to see Central Park, and so we went there, and she found the rock climbing area, and it was a really great, centering and calming activity - for someone who doesn't like crowds and had a couple of stressed out points on the trip, this was the perfect way to get everything back under control and in order.
And we walked and walked and she bought a strawberry juice pop and we listened to a ton of pop up musicians and drummers and she gave them money from her wallet and we killed both of our phone batteries and had to beat feet back to the hotel in the dark
Sunday we got up and went to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral - one of my goals, I try to go to Mass there every time I'm in the city - and then it was time to get back on the train.
Which was probably the most stressful part of the trip, filled with a broken shopping bag, losing my lunch on the sidewalk (not throwing up, but my lunch fell out of the bag and rolled away), rude people on the train, a total and complete falling apart which was way overdue, and then, finally, we did homework and missed classwork and I caught up on my work and she slept for two hours and I read and reflected on our trip.
It was fantastic.
One of the best parts of being a blogger is attending events. One of the best parts of my job is working with awesome people to put on said events. Last weekend, both halves of my life were able to connect in a whirlwind 48-hour NYC trip for my youngest daughter and me.
We attended the premiere of the upcoming move, Ratchet & Clank.
We did Red Carpet photos before - my kid absolutely LOVES the camera.
Modeling the spiffy 3D glasses - yup, the movie was shown in 3D, in a Dolby Laboratories Screening Room which featured Dolby Atmos®. I'd never heard of it, but it really made the movie seem lifelike. The amazing sound and fantastic 3D effects really made the movie pop!!
Before the movie began, we had a fabulous buffet spread.
I am a long time fan of charcuterie, yum!
What movie is complete without popcorn?
All of the bloggers and their families, ready for the movie. Gotta love 3D glasses!
The film follows Ratchet, who is an ambiguous animal but most closely resembles a cat - or maybe a fox. In fact, one of the characters pokes fun at Ratchet because he is unable to distinguish what sort of animal he might be. Ratchet is fiercely determined and sets his sights on becoming a Galaxy Ranger, which is like a policeman of the universe. He overcomes a variety of obstacles including species discrimination, and ultimately triumphs when he meets his partner in crime, a robot named Clank.
Riley's favorite quote from the movie? "You don't have to do big things to be a hero. Just the right things." That's a lesson I've worked hard to incorporate into my kids' lives.
If you are looking for a great flick to watch with the kids, you'll enjoy this movie. Themes of heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering your own identity abound, but it's not in your face preachy - it's a light lesson that really hit home.
There's also a great cast of voice talent such as Sylvester Stallone (it took a minute to figure out who he was!), Paul Giamatti and John Goodman. And of course, super sci-fi nerds will recognize Armin Shimerman's voice (he played Quark on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as the super-cool mad scientist Doctor Nefarious.
If you're ready to "Kick Some Asteroid," then get your tickets now and set your sights on Ratchet & Clank, IN THEATERS FRIDAY.
Watch the trailer here:
When I took my kids to Texas, we were able to visit Whataburger.
Now, you should know that I rarely eat fast food. Don't often take my kids to any of the choices. Nothing against people who do – it's just not my thing. But visiting Whataburger is a tradition – every time we visited my father, that's where we go. And I was anxious to take my shorties, neither of whom remembered ever having been there before. Well, I wouldn't say anxious, because that's overstating it. But they were super excited to go.
And if they're interested, I'm interested. :-)
My youngest pronounced it, "the best fast food I've ever eaten!". Her siblings agreed. When we got home, I decided that I would see if there was a location anywhere near us. Just for kicks. Just because they liked it, and Riley could not stop talking about it.
I decided to look and see if there was a location near us. I figured it was a crapshoot, especially because the restaurant chain is based in Texas, but I thought I'd give it a try. For my first step, I went to their website. I entered our city and ZIP Code in the Whatsburger website, and came up with no results found.
I then went to Google, just to look, and entered "Whataburger locations" into my search bar. The search bar completed itself, surprisingly, with a location in a neighboring city about 1- 1 1/2 hours from me.
I popped my four youngest in the car on Friday afternoon, and we headed for a "road trip adventure". I didn't tell them where we were going, but I did give them clues. The guesses included Cracker Barrel, Busch Gardens, and Great Wolf Lodge. Other guesses included: The Taste Unlimited, Olive Garden, and "somewhere to eat, can we be there already? Can we stop for a snack on the way?"
Tunnel traffic, weather, and accidents all conspired against us, and it was easily 90 minutes before we were there. People were crotchety. People were hungry. People were irritable. But then we pulled up in front of this, and their surprised faces made it all worthwhile.
It's totally not the same thing. I mean, it's not the same restaurant, it's not even part of the chain. It's a teeny tiny little place, walk up only, staffed by older church lady types, who call you "Dearie" and ask you, "Didn't you want no soda with that?" And they were really overwhelmed with customers, and it took a long time to get the food.
It was good, for fast food - fresh and hot. It wasn't too expensive, and the people were really super friendly.
It was a fun summer time adventure.
And I guess we will save our Whataburger cravings for our trips to see Grandpa.
I didn't tell hardly anyone, but we took a road trip last week. We spent a week away in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. This was the first of three big trips for me this summer.
We did things like play vintage board games in the hotel....
Have Dead Man's Float competetions in the pool - my husband won each and every time, he's very good at being a dead man - I'm not sure if this should alarm me or not....
We went to a Children's Festival, where my more adventurous musical kids tried out new instruments.
We took bathroom selfies at dinner - and it took my dad to point out to me that my right hand looks a little odd in this photo....
We took a LOT of silly selfies on the bed -
And we enjoyed the Florida beach.
31 hours to Texas.
26 hours to return. (we didn't go home the way we went.)
Sunday was the worst day of the entire trip.
Don't ask. No, really, you most emphatically do NOT want to know. It was really brutal - and it was the day with the least amount of driving. I cried twice - and I NEVER CRY.
The whole trip was worth it, though, for sights like these:
Diaper babies (shhhh - don't tell the Coast Guard, but if you wear a life jacket on your bum, you will float like you are in a seat. The things your Grandpa teaches you...)
Psst - my SON wishes me to tell you that I did NOT take these pictures. No. I didn't, because I DON'T HAVE A CAMERA ANYMORE. My step mom took the top two and my SON took the rest. Except that *I* took the one of him with my dad - but with HIS camera.
It took just over 31 hours of driving time to get to my dad's house.
11 on the first leg - we got off onto the wrong highway and it added almost an hour. 10 hours on the second leg, that landed me at my beloved Kalisa's house. 10 hours on the third. Then we stayed for 6 days.
We had a total blast.
Today we began our way home. We drove from 8:15 - 7. Tomorrow is short - it's about 4. And then 10 home. I've broken it up this way so that I can visit with friends and not have to stay at a hotel - I love me some hotels, but by myself with five kids, not so much.
I'm exhausted. Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you - she's not one for car trips. 7 hours is about it for her. So I've been doing really well. My kids have had a complete and total ball, and matters that caused us issue in the beginning have, somewhat, shaken themselves out.
Not completely. Never completely.
But I'm tired and I wanna go home.
Tell me, what's the longest road trip you've ever been on?
Giveaway of Bagel Bites here -
Discussion of female issues here -
Thursday I will have an AMAZING giveaway - seriously, I'm ridiculously excited for you
...meeting people you have never seen before
...swimming in a bathtub with your sister, three serving spoons and four cups - for two hours
...fishing in 106 degree heat
...swimming in a lake of incredibly warm water
...trying to catch minnows with your swim goggles
...stopping the car to get an ice cream cone, just because (Grandpa is MUCH nicer than Mommy)
...sitting at the biggest table at the restaurant - looking around and seeing happy faces
...juggling madly to try to keep everyone happy and failing, but being ok with it
...bugs all over the windshield
...seeing deer by the headlights
...stopping the van to take pictures with your phone of gigantic ELK
...watching hundreds of movies
...eating too much
...sleeping too little
...10:30 bedtime for little people
...sand in the sheets and mud on your flip flops
...being deeply grateful for all of the people in this huge enormous extended family who love my children so. I don't deserve all of the nice things that they all do for me or my kids. My mom, my dad and step mom, my father in law and all of the sisters, sisters and brothers in law that I have, well done, you.
...knowing that you may never have this chance again. Grabbing it and holding on for all you've got
Vacation is not time for
...arguments - I'm proud of myself. I walked away from three arguments in which others were trying to engage me. I'm not ruining this trip with your crap.
...calorie counting - see also, ice cream and cake and Red Lobster and Whataburger and coke
...worrying about your blog stats, twitter following, facebook standings, Google + invitations or Page Rank
...letting other people's feelings and expressed ideas weigh you down
Vacation is a chance to get away from my day to day life. I'm loving every single minute of it. Well, except for the exorcism part. And maybe the antlers.
The trip has been a wee bit difficult for the smallest of the Screaming Masses. Today, she went outside and looked around for something to destroy look at, and she discovered half of a pair of deer antlers. She grabbed them up and brought them in to me, and begged to keep them. I turned down her request, which didn't go over well.
Allegra took her outside to calm her down and Riley threw the antlers off the porch. She became immediately upset, because she just knew that someone would find those antlers and take them. My dad overruled me, Allegra told Riley she was now ALLOWED to keep them, and she went flying off the porch and rescued them. The next thing I knew, we were the proud owners of a half pair of antlers. (I know. You want to be me.) I told her she'd have to take them outside and leave them on the porch, and she was less than enthused. But there she went, and they sat for a minute or two, contemplating the beauty that was the half antler.
Allegra: Wow, Riley, I'm getting eaten alive by the mosquitos.
Riley: Yeah, me too.
Allegra: I'm gonna head inside, you coming?
Riley: No, someone has to stay outside and guard my antlers.
Allegra: Well, Riley, no one is going to take those antlers.
Riley: I don't wanna leave them out here!
Allegra: Ok, well then, let's hide them.
Riley: Ok, good idea.
Allegra walked over to the other side of the porch where it's cooler and shady.
Allegra: How about over here?
Riley: Allegra, people aren't stupid! Obviously, they are gonna see them and take them! They are so awesome!