Back to New York After 4 Years

We began our trip on Friday with the long journey across the country. The flight east was a success. Leif slept the entire flight as well as the drive up to the airport. Gavin slept for about 90% of the time, waking only a few times for bathroom breaks and snacks. I slept quite a few hours, although I’d hardly call it a full night’s sleep. Holly didn’t sleep much. She’s not all that keen of planes, although she did manage to sleep long enough for Leif to slip off her breast and leave it exposed for a while. Luckily, most everyone on the plane was sleeping.

We were met Saturday at the airport by my mother and sister. It was so good to see them again. My mom came to visit me in CA 2 years ago, but I hadn’t seem my sister for a little over 4 years. I can’t believe how time flies.

My sister drove us in circles in NJ for a little while before pausing at a Dunkin’ Donuts and eventually stopping at my sister’s house. Kammy was standing out in the snow in front of the house waiting for us to arrive. Before we could even get out of the van, we were doused in hugs. I love my niece.

After some down time at my sister’s house, we finished the last leg of the drive up to my moms house. There we got to settle down a bit, unload our luggage, get ourselves cleaned up and relax a bit.

img_6821When it turned dinner time, we went out to dinner to a nice restaurant where my mom’s friends and family all gathered together to yell “SURPRISE!” as she walked through the door. Jonathan had arranged a wonderful surprise birthday party for my mom a few weeks after her birthday so she could properly celebrate it with all her kids. The look on her face as she walked in was priceless. I wish I could get a copy of the pictures that were taken. After the initial shock wore off, she turned to me and said “You knew? You knew? All this time, you knew?” Yup. To what extent, I wasn’t sure, but I knew. Happy birthday mom.

img_6881Sunday was Valentine’s Day. To Holly’s surprise, I had actually planned ahead and had flowers delivered to her at my moms house where we were staying. This made her quite happy.

Although we didn’t go on a date for Valentine’s day, my brother had suggested that we go bowling. So we did. Me, Holly, Gavin and Leif, my brother, his wife, and two kids, my sister and her three kids. Twelve in all. There were a few jerks at the bowling ally who apparently were drunk and didn’t like kids all that much, but my brother, being all tough and police-ee told them where to shove it and we continued bowling. The grumps eventually left and we had a really good afternoon of bowling.

Sunday was also ribs day. Jonathan started thawing the meat around 8am. He started cooking them around noon. We ate the ribs at around 7. They were incredibly delicious. I ate one or two of them, then had to run after Leif, who was being a total pill. When I got back to the dinner table, most everyone was done eating. Fortunately there were still plates and plates of cooked uneaten ribs lying around. I sat and savored another 4 or 5 ribs before I had to stop. There were a few veggies and potatoes on the table, but really they were just there for show. We all knew what was for dinner.

After we all ate what we could of the ribs, my mom took a bunch of the gnawed bones and placed them out on the porch for the stray cats that she has living around. It wasn’t long before they were discovered. Only it wasn’t just cats that discovered them. The kids were all called over to the front door to look out at the raccoon that was stealing all the little rib bones. The cats were not happy about that and they had a little face-off. Gavin was incredibly excited. He had never seen a real live raccoon before. It was a pretty big one too.

img_6951Late that hat night, Gavin’s stomach virus finally caught up to me. We thought we had escaped it and left it back in Hawaii, but it followed us. I was sick and uncomfortable all through the night. I didn’t get out of bed until almost noon the next day. Even then, I plopped myself on the couch, where I stayed all day long. The kids all played Wii and ran around making forts and lego houses and all kinds of fun. It was nice watching them all run around, even if I was couch ridden.

That evening, just after the sun went down, Gavin was called and told to go outside because there was a surprise for him. As he got to the front door, he started jumping up and down with excitement. “Mom! Dad! You have to come look at this!” For the first time in Gavin’s 7 years of life, he got to see snow falling from the sky. In all our visits to NY, and our year and a half in California, he’s only ever seen snow already on the ground. And now, here he was, so excited, watching it fall from the sky and painting the earth white. Despite my body’s protest, I stood up and took two steps to see Gavin in the doorway with the flakes of snow gently falling just beyond. I love seeing my boy so  happy.

That night, my illness faded as I lie on the bathroom floor curled up in pain waiting for Gavin to use the bathroom. He was having leftover side effects of the virus. I spent much of the night this way, while Gavin, having finished his business, went right back to bed. I on the other hand was quite content curled up on the nice cool tiled bathroom floor.

img_7098Fortunately for me, the tiled floor had some healing powers. Amazing how they usually do. In the morning, I still was a little worn down, but by 11 am, I was well enough to go outside with the kids and watch them all play on the fresh and still falling snow. Leif realized that it was cold outside and was a little more accepting of wearing all those heavy clothes. He was still not all that thrilled with gloves though and complained of very cold hands.

img_7129We then walked across the street (one kid was dragged on a sled) to the frozen lake and let the kids make snow angels and foot prints. With the snow still falling, it was such a beautiful sight.

img_7170Wednesday and Thursday were pretty relaxing days. We did a little shopping and spent more time with my mom along with my grandparents. We went out to breakfast one morning with my grandma Mc. We went to IHOP. I’ve lost respect for them when they turned away from the fresh squeezed orange juice, but my grandmother really likes it there. Anyway, she was quite thrilled to see Gavin and Leif. Gavin was a really good kid and had nice conversations with her and told her stories of snow angels and raccoons along with all kinds of other really childish things. It was quite a lovely breakfast. I love my grandmother dearly.

On Thursday night, two of my best friends came over to hang out a bit. We just sat around and talked story the whole night, but how great it was to see them again.

img_7265Friday was an exciting day. It was our last full day before we had to head back, and our plan was to meet up with the aforementioned two best friends and drive down to NYC where we would meet my other best friend. We would all be together yet again. On the way down to the city, we stopped at one of our favorite eating establishments, Bagel Train. There we ordered up some of the best bagel, egg and cheese (with ham, sausage or bacon if you’d like) sandwiches money can buy. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Upon arriving in the city, we found ourselves a parking garage and headed to one of the three destinations we wanted to visit. Purl Soho; a very famous (yet really small) knitting store that focusing on natural fiber yarns, needles, books and accessories. Holly was in heaven. She made all her Ravelry friends jealous. It was here that the third friend joined us. How awesome.

img_7216The other two places we had set to visit was the Anthropologie store on Broome St, and the big Toys R Us store in Times Square. Anthropologie was only a few blocks from Purl Soho, so off we went. It is such an awesome store and Holly has been wanting to go to one for years now. Shopping online just isn’t the same. We spent quite a bit of time in here looking at awesome door knobs, a beautiful quilted nursery rhyme book, tea cups, and a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff that was incredibly awesome. We walked away with a few really nice items.

At this point we were all pretty cold and hungry. We weren’t sure where to eat, so we consulted the best restaurant guide we knew at the moment. The iphone. After plugging in a few options into the app “Urbanspoon“, we found a Thai food restaurant that was pretty close by that had amazing ratings. I only wish I could remember the name of the place. It was a fairly small place with low lighting and amazing food. We ordered some dumplings for Gavin and he ate them all before we could get a chance to eat our own. The bathrooms there were pretty cool too. It was a unisex bathroom with two stalls (one for men, one for women) and a trough-style sink with waterfall faucets.

We all ordered from the short menu (maybe focused is a better word) and handed out samples to whoever wanted. The food was incredibly good and I can’t believe how much Gavin ate. And to top it off, the deserts were amazing as well. So delicious. The thing that threw me off was how well priced it was. For the amount of food we got and the quality of the food, I was expecting to pay a fortune. Well, we didn’t pay a fortune. It probably came out to something like $10 – $15 per person depending on if you ordered drinks or desert or whatever. I highly recommend the mystery Thai place to everyone. Go eat there. Now!

After eating, we realized how late it was getting. We weren’t sure how much time we had left before it got dark, and we still had to head home and pack. But we hadn’t visited our third destination yet, and poor Gavin really had his heart set on it. I felt so bad. It was the one thing he had been looking forward to on our NYC adventure. So us grown ups sucked it up and took the sweet child to the 110,000 square-foot, multilevel, Toys-R-Us up at Times Square. The place was huge. It had a working 60-ft. ferris wheel, a five-ton, 20 ft. high, 34-ft. long animatronic T-Rex dinosaur, and more legos than Gavin could dream of assembling. It was quite a site. Kids and adults alike were everywhere ooh-in and ahh-ing all over the store. “Look at that giant lego Empire State Building with King Kong on it!” “Whoa! Did you see that dinosaur?” “Hey, there goes Spiderman!”. We followed Gavin and Lief around the store as they tried hard to lay their hands on everything. In the end, Gavin walked out with a remote control helicopter and an action figure, and Leif came away with a set of dump trucks. Happy kids they were.

It was practically dark when we exited the toy store, which indicated that it was time to head back up to my mom’s house. It was a good long day spent with amazing friends. I only wish we had more time. I miss them already.

The very next day it was already time to leave the state of NY and head back home. We packed up all our gear and luggage and shopping bags and toys and snacks and packed into my sister’s van. We decided to head out just a little earlier than needed so that we could stop at my brother’s house to say goodbye. Also, since my brother bought this house years ago, I have never actually seen it. So this was our chance. He was proud of his home and all the work he had done on it. It was a lovely home with a good size back yard, beautiful kitchen, a few bedrooms and an upstairs bathroom that made me want to postpone our flight. It wasn’t a large bathroom, but it had beautiful hardware, closet space, a shower, and a hot-tub that overlooked the forrest behind the house through a large triple pane window. It looked so relaxing. Needless to say, we didn’t postpone the flight.

It wasn’t long before we were saying our goodbyes at the airport, sniffling and shedding tears as we parted and headed through security. We were back on our long non-stop flight back home. Eleven hours later, we arrived on clear, sunny Maui, ready for the long drive to the house.

The next day I received a phone call from my sister. She wanted to make sure we arrived home safely and also wanted to make sure we knew that we spread the virus to the entire family.

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