Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Penn at 11 months

Penn is 11 months old! This month, he...
- Weighs about 20 pounds
- Feeding schedule:    
     7am breakfast (oatmeal/pancakes/fruit/toast/whatever) + 6 oz. formula
       **Might have a snack in between breakfast and lunch
     11am lunch (whatever we have) + 6 oz. formula
     3pm snacks (crackers, fruit, yogurt, etc) + 6 oz. formula or juice
     6pm dinner (whatever we have) + juice
     7pm 8 oz. formula in bottle
*He is on the sippy cup full time except before bed, and he is totally off baby food. He is OVER it.

- He enjoys bananas, oranges, any type of bread (pancakes, waffles, biscuits, rolls), SPAGHETTI, ham, french fries, baby Cheetos, yogurt, pizza, peanut butter sandwich, chicken, rice, broccoli... pretty much anything. He will be starting real milk soon. I just opened the LAST can of formula I will ever buy. Hallelujah. Praise God. Amen.

- Usually sleeps 7pm to 7am
- Size 4 diapers
- Wears 9-12 clothes and 12-18 sleepers
- Size 4 shoe
- Loves to be outside, loves any type of ball, loves throwing things and wreaking havoc in general
- 4 teeth: 2 on bottom, 2 on top (Dr. Pujari said 2 more are coming)
- Major Bam-Bam. Throws, hits, bangs everything.
- Loves to climb stairs and is really good at it
- LOVES to dance. He hears music and can't control himself.
- Waves hello and goodbye
- Claps hands
- Has had 2 hair cuts

He thinks his sister is the funniest person in the world. He just cackles at her running around the den making silly noises. He has a new trick, which my dad taught him while we were in New York. It is so dadgum funny.

And the biggest news is he's WALKING! He started taking a few steps at a time before Christmas, but now he can go pretty far before falling. He has gotten really good at walking without shoes, but walking with shoes is more of a challenge. This video was a week ago... It's amazing how much more control he has gotten since then!

He has also started picking up the phone on his push toy and putting it to his ear. He hasn't said any new words (and really hasn't said "mama" anymore either!). We brush his teeth, and he really enjoys chewing on the toothbrush afterward.

In some ways it's hard to believe he will be 1 in a few weeks... but then I feel like he's been here forever. He's such a cool dude. And he's the sweetest guy I know. I secretly hope he'll grow up to be a successful young man and do great things but always give me those awesome little Penn snuggles. It's perfectly normal for a grown man to let his mommy rock him, right?

PS. MaryCollis at 11 months.

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 in Review

See ya later, 2013. You were crazy.

34 weeks

January brought weeks 34-37 of pregnancy; our 4th anniversary; a new school for me (NEJ), which is the best decision I ever made.... despite the fact that it KILLED me to leave my play babies at West; and a fun date night.

Baby Penn!

February brought Pennington Edmond Patrick.... and that's about all I remember.

MC at 2 1/2 years

Penn's Sip and See

With March came lots of trying times with a newborn; MC's half birthday and Penn's 1 month birthday; lots of birthday parties; and Penn's Sip and See/Easter.

Penn at 2 months

April brought daycare for Penn and my return to work. Also, Penn turned 2 months old. There was a shortage of blogs during this month. :/

Brother and Sister in May

Mother's Day

With May came a visit from Aunt Lindsay and Uncle Andrew; Penn's 3 month birthday; the stomach virus, a seizure, and a sinus infection for MC; a road trip to Memphis, where Chad and I saw DMB and MC spent the weekend with LaLa; Mother's Day; and the start of summer!

Introducing Kayla to Bret for the first time

Mal's shower

June brought Penn's 4 month birthday; Vacation Bible School; Grandmother Rice's funeral; Father's Day + Kayla and Bret's introduction; a sleepover at Shanny's; Mallorie's baby shower for Lucy and Julie's birthday; and NOLA with the kids.

Beach time

In July we celebrated my 28th birthday, fireworks, and a cook out; took MC to her first movie and K-Love moved into the guest house; went to the beach (Penn's first time!); Penn turned 5 months old; MC went to the dentist for the first time (Doc); and we had a girl's weekend in Starkville.

Shenanigans in August

August brought the return to school; Penn's half birthday; and Peyton's 3rd birthday.

Football season!

MC and Emma Kate at her 3rd birthday party

MaryCollis turned 3 years old on September 2; football season; Penn's 7th month and baby dedication; MC's party; and homecoming and MC's little princess debut.

School photos together

MC as Alice for Halloween

October brought Penn's 8th month; my discovery of butternut squash; tubes for Penn's ears; Halloween; Pink out the Jungle, my 10 year class reunion, and the fair.

Go Dawgs

Big Sistering

In November we had lots of sickness, and Penn turned 9 months old; I had a good, healthy meltdown; we enjoyed Thanksgiving break.

MC's first ever cookie party

The first week of December was a doozy with the tree lighting, MC's cookie party, Pancake Day, and the parade + a power outage; Penn's 10th month and walking; the Arts League party and Christmas; and we ended it with a fabulous trip to NYC.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tips for Visiting NYC

We visited New York over Christmas, and I have several tips for you guys who might be visiting in the future.

Transportation/Getting Around

Don't put money (fare) on your card to which you have to keep adding money. Buy a 7-day pass with unlimited rides right off the bat. When you swipe, it'll say "GO - Expires 1/3/13" (or whatever date is 7 days from your purchase) instead of "$3.75 remaining." Don't slide your card too quickly or too slowly.

Bus System
FURGIT IT! The subway gets you close enough to wherever it is you're going. We wasted a lot of time the first day looking for and waiting for buses (especially in Yonkers). If you find it works for you, your unlimited MetroCard will work there too.

Subway System
Hallelujah. Fantastic way to get around. Study the subway map (or Google subway directions or download an app) before you even leave your hotel. Know exactly what trains to take and which direction before you go to the station. Yes, you can look at the map on the walls underground or figure it out as you go... but it's better to have a plan. For example, if we were leaving the Waldorf for Eataly, we would walk to the 51st Street station, take the 6 train toward Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, get off at 23rd Street and walk a block or so. Well, the 6 train goes in different directions. It's helpful to know which way you're going so you skip the frustration.

Not necessary unless it's raining, you're wearing heels, or you're going back to the airport.

Knowing what street something is on means nothing. You have to know cross streets (ie. "between 51st and 52nd"). Don't be afraid to ask directions.

BONUS TIP: Carry a miniature bottle of hand sanitizer and use often.


Only make reservations for lunch if absolutely necessary, so you're not constricted. Definitely make reservations for dinner (scheduling weeks in advance is usually necessary for top-notch spots).

Grimaldi's is worth the trip to Brooklyn, but order your pizza plain. It's almost sacrilege to order toppings (as we later found out). Go early and skip the line.

Street vendor hot dogs are actually really good (and cheap!). We liked ours with ketchup, mustard and relish.

Ess-a-Bagel has some seriously delicious bagels. You can skip the long line and go to the far side of the store if you just want bagels (no sandwich, no cutting). And trust me, you JUST want bagels. There you can order whatever type of bagel you want (cinnamon raising, plain, everything, poppyseed, etc.) with whatever type of cream cheese you want (scallion, plain, sundried tomato, strawberry, etc.). In and out in 5 minutes as opposed to standing for 45 minutes. Don't get me wrong, our bacon egg and cheese sandwiches were great.... but the bagels really don't need anything.

Balthazar was a charming spot, but don't go if you're expecting to have private conversation. We sat in between a French couple and a lady, her obviously new husband, and her two girlfriends... all of whom talked about the "famous Balthazar bread basket" but didn't eat a crumb as well as her HUGE and distasteful diamond ring. The food, service, and atmosphere were all great.

There was nothing about Delmonico's that should have been disappointing. It's beautiful atmosphere, attentive staff, and wine selection alone should have been enough for me to rate it 5 stars; however, we had already had a steak at Bull & Bear that was so tender I didn't even need a knife.... so my experience was tainted. I would absolutely go back, but B&B had the better steak.

Babbo was a really nice experience for me. We enjoyed a long 2-hour lunch over wine and several courses. The portions were absolutely perfect and all delicious. Will definitely go back.

We went to Bull & Bear at the Waldorf in Orlando when we went to Disney four years ago, and we have compared every other dining experience since then to that meal. The one in NYC is just as delicious. We even ordered off the prix fixe theater menu, and it was STILL the best steak I've ever had. Like budda. Do it, B&B.

I love Asian food, so I liked Buddakan. I had one of the best dirty martinis I've had, and all of the food was superb. It's kind of a trendy place with semi-loud music, so you wouldn't want to go there for a romantic dinner. Chad and I both said "what?" a few times during our meal. But the noodles were amazing and only $10 to boot!

Dos Caminos is an upscale Mexican restaurant and tequila lounge. We had a very friendly waiter, and the food was excellent. Best guacamole I've ever had. I'd recommend doubling your guac order and sharing tacos.

Shake Shack was quick, easy, delicious. Very inexpensive. Multiple locations. Great burgers and fries. I was a bit disappointed in the hot dogs (were they kosher? why were they so tough?), but that's okay because you don't go to the Shack for dogs. That's what street vendors are for, right? Also, I'd skip the milkshakes. They ain't got nothin' on PDI.

Katz's Delicatessen is a staple (you know... where Harry & Sally had their discussion about "faking"). I don't think you can really get anything bad here. New Yorkers like everything plain, so I had the pastrami on rye and added my own spicy mustard at the table. It was delish, but I just know it'd be better "dressed."

Eataly was far and away my favorite adventure. In addition to the hundreds of cheeses, meats, breads, pastas, sauces, sweets, oils, dairy products, truffles, etc., there are several restaurants inside (including La Piazza where we sampled a plethora of artisanal cheeses, proscuitto and wine). I adore cheese. It's almost a problem. I loved that here we were able to sample 5-6 different types of cheese with bread, proscuitto, and pears with spreads like almond and apricot honey. That is my favorite type of "meal." I loved it so much that we almost bought our own assortment of goodies to have a "picnic" in our hotel room that night instead of going to dinner. I so wish we could have bought some freshly-made mozzarella to bring home, but cheese doest not travel (sadly).

When we return, I'd like to try Prune, Jane, or Mailino's for brunch and Takashi, Momofuku, or Nobu for dinner. My New Yorker friend (from the plane ride back) said her favorites are ABC Kitchen, NoMad, Perilla, Gramercy Tavern, The Red Rooster in Harlem, Scarpetta, Del Posto, Ippudo, Il Buco Alimentari, Taboon, and Feast. I read a NY statistic that you could eat out every single meal (3x/day) for 52 years and never visit the same restaurant twice. Too many choices!

BONUS TIP: Do not go ANYWHERE in the Theater District for food. The end.


Buy all tickets online (Broadway, Empire State, Top of the Rock, museums, 9/11). You can pick your Broadway tickets up as soon as the theater opens - usually by noon - while you're out and about during the day. Buying ahead will save you time and trouble.

Must-See and Do
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge, stroll through Greenwich Village, go to shows (as many as you can!), see all the architecture you can fit in - museums, churches, cast iron buildings, 9/11 memorial (and the new museum when it opens this spring), and Bergdorf Goodman (you may not buy anything, but there's not another one anywhere!).

Unless you just have TONS of time to do touristy things, you can skip the Statue of Liberty. You have to go all the way downtown and ride a ferry absolutely packed with strangers to get there, which wastes half a day. You only need to go to Times Square once to see the insane amount of LED lights... skip the food and the merchandise. Ice skating in Rockefeller Center seems magical, but it's overpriced and overcrowded. Any area NEAR Radio City/Rockefeller Center unless you're catching a show. Forego Madame Tussaud's. They usually have one wax figure outside for tourists to take photos with. That's good enough.

Dress and Etiquette

Theater/Fancy Dinners
Apparently people do not dress up for the theater anymore, but that doesn't make it right. Never wear jeans or tennis shoes to a theater. Just don't. You can get away with a lot of things because millions of tourists come through NYC each year, and some don't know any better, but just act like you've got some sense when dressing yourself for a nice dinner or a show.

Dear Lord, please don't take strollers to New York. It's a nightmare for you, other tourists, and locals. I can't tell you how many times I said "glad that's not me" to myself as people carried strollers down stairs and onto subways and through crowded streets.

Houston Street is pronounced HOWston (much like La-FAY-it County has its own pronunciation). People in New York wait "on line," not "in line." They call corner stores "bodegas." They also call hot dogs "papayas."

Locals do not consider escalators to be a free ride. Keep it moving (much like those moving walkways in airports).

Don't stare at people doing crazy things on the subway or in the streets. And for the love of God, don't ever make eye contact with anyone asking for money.

Don't talk about how expensive things are. It's New York. You will pay $22 for a hamburger. Get over it.

PS. Read about our trip here.

PSS. I'm sure I will think of several more things to add, but I've been working on these NYC posts for a week. I'm taking a break.

New York Trip 2013

I will preface this post by apologizing for its length and any typos that you see. You might want to take a few days to read on this one. We are coming up on our 5th anniversary, and we'd like to go on a nice trip every five years. Chad booked Mexico (where we honeymooned) months ago, but at the very last minute he changed it to NYC. I was planning on 100 degree weather, not 20. I didn't have any suitable boots or attire, but Santa took care of that.

We left Christmas evening for our week-long trip. Nothing was open on the way to New Orleans, so we had a lovely meal at the Sonic in Oak Grove.

DAY 1 - Thursday, December 26

We woke up at 4:30 to catch our flight but slept really well on the plane, so we were ready to hit it when we arrived. After dropping our bags off at The Waldorf, we walked to Grand Central Terminal to get on a train to Yonkers. Yep. Yonkers. LL Bean was sold out of nearly every single boot online, so how convenient that they have a new store in Yonkers. 

Grand Central was, of course, extremely busy but not at all hard to navigate. We had a really yummy lunch at one of the cafes after determining the Shake Shack line was too long. After filling our bellies with pork belly sandwich, we walked around a bit before buying our MetroCards. And here, within our first hour in New York, is where we made our first mistake. Y'all.... Over 50 million people visit New York each year, and somehow they don't find it beneficial to make the MetroCard kiosks tourist-friendly. (I'm doing a separate blog post on tips for visiting NYC, and there I'll give you advice so you don't waste time).

We easily found our train and boarded with almost no one else (this should have been a sign). Yonkers had a lovely old brick train station, and that's about it. We were supposed to ride a bus to Westchester's Ridge Hill mall, but all of the buses outside the station said "Not in Service." We meandered around before asking someone, and they told us directions to the next bus stop. We finally made it there, and y'all. It was just like you see in the movies. Graffiti, rap music coming from everywhere and nowhere in particular, a guy dribbling a basketball down the street. After about 5 minutes of people-watching and waiting for the bus, we just hailed a cab. 

The Ridge Hill outdoor mall was really nice and clean. It had tons of great shops: LL Bean, Orvis, H&M, Sephora, etc. Chad got the last pair of Bean Boots in his size, then went in search for a bus stop. After our third failed bus attempt, we wrote off the bus system and called a cab. I won't go into all the details, but we spent about 4 hours in Yonkers when it should have been about 2.

We FINALLY made it back to the city and took a quick nap before heading to dinner at Buddakan in the Meatpacking District. It's an Asian Fusion restaurant where the food is served family style so you get to taste everything (this is my FAVORITE kind of restaurant - I love a good smorgasbord). Even though everyone says to get the edamame dumplings for appetizer, everything looked so good that we got the Bo Bo plate (a sampler plate) featuring tuna tartare spring rolls, boneless spare ribs, sesame shrimp toast, lobster eggrolls and carrot and shiitake dumplings. For the meal, we had wild mushroom chow fun, lobster fried rice and the sweet and crispy jumbo shrimp.

Everything was really good, but the mushroom chow fun was my favorite, of course, because I'm a noodle fanatic. I had a Grey Goose martini (extra dirty) for "dessert," and it was right up there with my favorite martini from Ralph's on the Park in NOLA. 

Buddakan Verdict: Excellent food. Decent portions. Fairly overpriced except for the noodles. Great atmosphere for a group dinner (close tables, semi-loud music). I'd go back; not sure Chad would.

Fun Fact: Buddakan is where Carrie & Big's rehearsal dinner was held

Day 2 - Friday, December 27

We had tickets to see the 9/11 Memorial at 10am, so we popped into Panini & Co. for a quick breakfast before our tour. Chad had a BEC sandwich, and I had a muffin. It was fairly busy as it's right across the street, and the Ground Zero construction workers are hungry fellers. After wading through several different lines, security, and a good walk around the block, we were at the site. 

If you've never been, it's quite remarkable. There are two huge square structures with water flowing down into a hole in the center. Around the edge of the memorials are the names of the deceased. I would make comments like "I bet this was the exact size of the building." or "I wonder if these are the names of the people that died in this tower, and those are the names of the people that died in that tower?" and Chad would say things like "I doubt it." But I was right on both.

Apparently there was a tree found in the rubble. It was replanted, and it thrived. It has been named "The Survival Tree." I didn't get a photo, but we bought an ornament with the tree on it. There is a museum opening in 2014 that is sure to be amazing.

Does that not just get you? I got a little emotional.

After the memorial, we walked leisurely through the Financial District. We saw the Charging Bull, then we happened upon a beautiful park with a museum at the end called the National Museum of the American Indian. We walked down to the river and through Battery Park looking at monuments and memorials. We admired Lady Liberty from afar (too dang cold to get on a ferry). We passed the old Staten Island Ferry Terminal (gorgeous... why would you ever build a new, modern one??).

National Museum of the American Indian

Battery Park

Old Staten Island Ferry Terminal

We walked until we could see the Brooklyn Bridge, then we turned around and headed back through the Financial District once more. We went inside Tiffany & Co. simply to admire the Christmas decorations and get warm. We saw the New York Stock Exchange.

Inside Tiffany

New York Stock Exchange

We visited Trinity Church on Wall Street, where I fell in love with the pedestrian bridge. The architecture was beautiful inside and out, and we walked all the way around looking at gravestones.

We were hungry, so we headed to the Lower East Side to Katz's Delicatessen. The line looked a little something like this, so we went next door to one of the million different Ray's Pizzas in New York. For $8.95 each, we got 2 HUGE slices of pizza and a drink. Can't beat that with a stick, y'all. And it was delicious to boot. I bet ole Ray is loving the Katz's rejects he attracts.

We walked off our lunch and window-shopped for a long while, then we walked around Rockefeller Center before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

Dinner was at Dos Caminos, an upscale Mexican restaurant and tequila lounge with several locations in NYC. We started with the guacamole, which might have been the best I've ever had (table-side in Mexico was pretty darn good). We had ceviche three ways: tuna chino-latino, lobster yucateco and crab campechana coctel. It didn't live up to the ceviche in Mexico for Chad, but I loved the crab campechana coctel. The tuna chino-latino was very good but spicy. 

Dos Caminos

Chad had the asadas tacos (grilled chipotle-marinated sirloin steak, caramelized onions, cotija cheese and guac on handmade corn tortillas), and I had the hongos tacos (grilled wild mushrooms, goat cheese and black kale on handmade corn tortillas). Mine were amazing but surprisingly spicy.

Dos Caminos Verdict: Food was very good. Prices were fair. Everything was excellent, but the guacamole was my favorite. And we had a really nice waiter.

After dinner, we strolled the Madison Avenue shops. All of the shops had lights covering the outside of the building, but Bergdorf Goodman was the most gorgeous on the inside. It looked like a Winter Wonderland.

Bergdorf Goodman

Harry Winston

See-through Apple store

We, of course, HAD to go in FAO Schwarz. I'm so glad MaryCollis wasn't with us. She would have had a fit. They had a HUGE dress up section with rows of dresses, a nursery where you could "adopt" a baby, and a candy section with giant boxes of whatever your heart desires (we're talking 8 ounce Reese's cups).

We bought a Christmas ornament to remember our trip, then Chad fulfilled a childhood dream of meeting Zoltar. We walked down toward Central Park and saw the zoo entrance lit with green lights and admired the multi-million dollar homes across the street, then we walked back through Rockefeller Center and headed to our temporary home on Park Avenue.

Day 3 - Saturday, December 28

We slept in Saturday, then set out for the Museum of Natural History. On our way, we stopped at Tory Burch, which led to our my first NYC purchase: the Amanda Tote. We continued down Madison Avenue until we reached Central Park. We hadn't had breakfast, and it was 11am, so we had our minds set on Shake Shack since it's right beside the museum. We walked through the park, which is surprisingly hilly and very peaceful, to get to the tiny burger joint.

The park is so huge it's impossible to see every little detail, but I really loved seeing the skyline through the bare winter trees. I'd love to go back during fall to see the beautiful leaves. We crossed a bridge and came out on the Upper West Side. Here we saw tons of bikers and runners just like you would in the movies. Don't you always find it refreshing to visit a particular spot to find it's EXACTLY how you thought it would be?

We waited in a short line at Shake Shack (It was only 11:30; by 12:30, I'm sure it's insane) and waited for a small table to become available. It's a tiny place - probably only 10-15 tables altogether - but we didn't have to wait long. Burgers are a quick meal, so tables are constantly turning over. We woofed down a ShackBurger, a SmokeShack, a Shack-cago dog, an order of fries, and a chocolate shake in record time.

Shake Shack Verdict: Amazing burgers. Delicious, crispy fries. Fast. Cheap. Skip the hot dogs - leave those for the street vendors.

With full tummies, we walked across the street and hopped in the seemingly long line in front of the Museum of Natural History. Before we knew it, we were inside staring at an enormous dinosaur.

I couldn't think of anything else but "Night at the Museum" and "The Nanny Diaries" the entire time we were there. It was really neat to see the dinosaur bones, and Chad loved the Teddy Roosevelt room (this is where I heard a father say, "Look kids! Something you'll never see..... DEER!"). After a quick tour of the museum, we went to the hotel to change clothes for dinner.

On our honeymoon, we ate at the Waldorf Astoria's restaurant Bull & Bear. To this day we compare every other meal to that one. The New York Waldorf has the same restaurant. Since we were seeing the 7:30pm showing of Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular and didn't have much time to eat, we opted for the prix fixe theater menu at Bull & Bear

Y'all. It was even better than Orlando, I think. I'm not a huge meat-eater. That is to say I don't just crave meat. If I had one meal left on earth, it'd probably be pasta or a baked potato or something warm and comforting.... definitely not meat. The steak I had that night was last meal worthy. A perfectly medium rare filet topped with bleu cheese and roasted garlic on the side. I didn't even need a knife. It was like butter. I don't care how uncouth our perfectly trained waiter thought I was... I didn't leave a crumb.

Bull & Bear Verdict: Best steak I've ever eaten. Truly religious.

We were cutting it close, so we rushed to Radio City and arrived just before the show began. Everything was exactly as I remember it from 1996.

Fun Fact: Chad saw the installation of this chandelier on TV and said they placed each crystal one at a time.

Day 4 - Sunday, December 29

Sunday morning we waited 45 minutes at Ess-a-Bagel. I had a BEC on everything bagel; Chad had BEC on plain bagel.

Ess-a-Bagel Verdict: Out of this world bagels. I think ordering a sandwich was a mistake. The best way to go would be a plain bagel (any kind you want - cinnamon raising, everything, plain, etc.) with whatever cream cheese you want (scallion, plain, sundried tomato, strawberry, etc.).


It started raining while we were eating our bagels. Even rain seems magical in New York. We walked across the street to buy an umbrella then went to Times Square. The line was super long at Madame Tussaud's, so we just snapped a quick photo with Morgan Freeman.

We contemplated seeing a movie since it was raining but thought better of it. The ticket office opened at noon, so we walked to the Gershwin to get our "Wicked" tickets at will-call. Afterward, we went set out to do some shopping. And right there on the corner of Madison Avenue, we had our first street vendor hot dog. It was really good. And cheap.

After our snack, we visited Sak's to look for a pair of nice black flats that I could wear in lieu of the heels I brought for our theater/fine dining outings. I decided on this pair after discovering that they were THE most comfortable flats I've ever put on my feet. I also found a Vera Wang flat in cream that was on sale, but they couldn't find it's mate. :( 

We browsed watches and handbags before heading back out into the rain and onto the subway toward the Lower East Side. We figured we might get into Katz's without a wait if we went around 4pm, and we were right. It was still SUPER crowded but not around the block crowded. We waited about 20 minutes (inside) for waiter service. 

Chad had already decided on the brisket sandwich before we arrived, and I opted for the pastrami on rye at the last minute. I totally won the food battle at Katz's. Again, I'm not a big meat eater. I prefer a little sandwich meat with all the trimmings... but that big wad of tender pastrami on plain bread with tons of spicy mustard really did it for me.

Katz's Verdict: Loved the pastrami. Didn't love the brisket. We need to share when we go back.


As we finished our meal, it was nearing 5:30. "Wicked" was at 7, and we still had to change clothes. We booked it back to the hotel and put on our theater best. 

Fancy dress, fancy shoes, fleece-lined tights.

We rushed down the sidewalks (in the rain) toward the Gershwin, getting frustrated by the tourists (how dare they walk so leisurely like they're on vacation or something?!). By the time we arrived, I'm sure I looked like a drowned rat. We were seated on the second row just in time for the show to begin. 

I glanced around the theater to see blue jeans, short sleeve polo shirts, even a CAMOFLAUGE jacket. Suddenly I was extremely saddened by the fact that people don't dress up for the theater anymore. Since when is going to the theater nothing special? It's supposed to be a treat. A cultural experience. A luxury. So there we were.... in cocktail attire amid hundreds in resort casual. And you know what? Instead of feeling silly for being "overdressed," I just felt sorry for them for not knowing any better.

"It's good to see me, isn't it?

The show was absolutely fantastic. Tom McGowan was the wizard (you know, the guy from "Heavyweights). Elphaba was phenomenal... she was played by the standby Christine Dwyer. When she sang "Defying Gravity," I had tears in my eyes. Can you imagine being there for the original cast with Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda? I die.

After the show, we walked through Times Square and saw them preparing for New Year's Eve. Despite the rain, people were visiting "The Center of the Universe." We made our way to Junior's Cheesecake for a late night snack, then walked back to the hotel to enjoy it in our PJs.

Day 5 - Monday, December 30

We slept in again on Monday. We never get to sleep, so that was a real luxury. We caught a subway all the way downtown and got off at the Brooklyn Bridge, then walked the mile-long landmark with Grimaldi's Pizzeria on our minds.

That such things exist is kind of mind-boggling, isn't it? Can't you just imagine how people might have laughed when John Augustus Roebling shared his idea about a road that would connect two cities?

When we reached Brooklyn, we turned back under the bridge for Grimaldi's. People were already piling in at 11:30AM (New Yorkers eat later than we do, so this is early), but we managed to walk right in and get a table. By the time we left, there was a line down the block.

We ordered a small pie with pepperoni, mushrooms, olives and onions. And that is where we made mistake #2. While it was exceedingly delicious, we learned that you don't order toppings on a Grimaldi's pizza.

Grimaldi's Verdict: Had we ordered a plain pie, it might have been the best pizza I've had. The crust was great.

We caught a Subway back to Greenwich Village to do some exploring. First stop: the Huxtables townhouse from "The Cosby Show" (10 Leroy Street, GV). The actual townhouse had scaffolding outside and didn't allow for a great photo, so Chad posed with the twin house next door.

The actual townhouse

We walked around a bit then happened upon Pasticceria Rocco, where we popped in for a cannoli. They had case after case of sweets. Cakes, pies, tarts, eclairs, cookies, you name it.

I've never had a cannoli, but I think it's safe to say they make a pretty darn good one. Chad had the plain cannoli, and I had the chocolate dipped. Both were delicious. By this point we had decided that Greenwich Village is totally our jam. It boasts designer boutiques as well as quirky, bohemian shops, and there are plenty of great restaurants. It has the best parts of city life, but it's quiet. We wandered all over - visiting a hat shop, Jonathan Adler, Greenwich Letterpress, and a pet shop - before heading back to the hotel to change for the theater.

We walked to the Walter Kerr Theater to see "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder." It's a new musical comedy featuring one man who plays an entire family (8 people, including men and women). He was incredible. I've never seen such quick costume changes. One minute he was a man in a 3-piece suit, the next he was a woman in a ballgown. It was really funny, plus they served wine in adult sippy cups. Who wouldn't be down for that?


They said not to photograph the stage, so of course we did.

We hadn't eaten since our cannoli at 2PM, so we were hungry and desperate. We walked across the street to Hurley's, which looked well-decorated and had photos of Scarlett Johannson and other celebrities at an Emmy party they hosted. Despite my knowledge that you don't eat in the Theater District, we walked inside and ate what is probably the worst meal I've ever had. Then we went home and ate cookies in bed.

Hurley's Verdict: Horrible. Don't go. You CAN find bad food in New York, and this is it.

Day 6 - Tuesday, December 31

Once again, we slept in. We had reservations at Babbo at 11:30, so we made our way back to the West Village around 10:30. We walked down Perry Street and found Carrie Bradshaw's famous stoop (66 Perry Street), then made our way to lunch.

For the antipasti course, Chad had the prosciutto san daniele "riserva," and I had the warm grilled lobster with wild mushrooms. For the primi course, Chad had beef cheek ravioli, and I had the pappardelle bolognese. We shared the warm cranberry and pear "sottosopra" with cranberry gelato for dessert. Everything was delicious. It was a really leisurely lunch that lasted about 2 hours, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. Usually restaurants push you in. It was refreshing to sit and take our time.

Babbo Verdict: Solid Italian. Knowledgable staff. Nice atmosphere. Perfect portions. Would definitely go back.

We walked across the street to Washington Square Park, where a nice-looking gentleman asked us if we wanted some "smoke." We politely said no, and he said, "Okay then. Happy New Year!" So there's that.

We left the village for Midtown, where we visited Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. Bryant Park was a really neat area. Kids were iceskating while their parents sipped coffee, and there were little pop-up shops all around. 

Right next door was the library, which was a welcomed respite from the cold. 

The library was really beautiful with painted ceilings and lion-mouthed drinking fountains. The study rooms were exactly like you see in the movies: rows and rows of tables with tiny lamps. We weren't supposed to take pictures in the quiet rooms, but I'm a rule breaker.... so I did. We walked around and stopped in several stores, then we stumbled upon Penn Station, and it made me ache for my little man.

We both needed new jeans desperately, so we found the nearest GAP. Chad miraculously found a pair of standard fit jeans (Why do men's jeans keep getting skinnier? Yuck!), but they didn't have any always skinny jeans in my size. While we were inside GAP, it started snowing, which is always magical for a person who rarely sees snow. We walked back to the hotel while flurries floated down, and all I could think about was how MaryCollis has never seen snow.

I took a nap while Chad watched the MSU bowl game (victory!), then we fancied ourselves up for dinner at Delmonico's. As we were checking our coats, a hip young girl said, "Your hair is to die for. I just love it! It's so chic and now. That might just be my next cut. I just..... wow." I'm not even exaggerating.... she was THAT over-the-top about it. I said, "Well, thank you very much. I'm from Mississippi, so that means a lot to me." She replied, "I would've taken you for a real New Yorker! But really, I'm in makeup by day so I know what's in. Your hair is it." So there you have it, Nikki Dill.... a compliment all the way from New York City.

We were seated next to a little family - mother, father, two girls (about 7 and 2 years old, I would say). The girls were in sweet little dresses and were well-behaved throughout the meal. I can't imagine taking my children to a nice restaurant on New Year's Eve without wanting to commit murder or suicide.... or both. We started with the foie gras, which was amazing, then we both had the Delmonico steak with Delmonico potatoes and brussel sprouts. The surprise winner for me was the brussel sprouts. I could've eaten my weight in them.

Delmonico's Verdict: Excellent service. Great food. Nice atmosphere. I think the steak at Bull & Bear was far better; however, it's hard to compare since I had a ribeye at Delmonico's and a filet at B&B.

The fireworks in Central Park weren't supposed to start until midnight, so we went back to the hotel after dinner, where they were having their own New Year's Eve party. Around the clock in the lobby was an all-you-can-eat buffet and an open bar.

I ended up taking a nap and really didn't want to get up when Chad poked me at 11PM, but I made myself. We dressed as warmly as we could and made out for Central Park. Hardly anyone was on the subway because, of course, they had been out celebrating for a while. It was us and a bunch of people in spandex. Apparently there is a 4-mile Midnight Run in Central Park on New Year's Eve. It worked out great because we didn't have to think about which way to go from the subway... we just followed the spandex.

We found a spot with large rocks to sit on just before the fireworks began. At midnight, the fireworks and the runners started simultaneously.

I thought leaving the park would be a nightmare, but it was really very painless. We were some of the only old geezers leaving at 12:05! As we walked back to the train station, we admired the window displays along the way. Ralph Lauren had window after window of smart young children dressed in their equestrian gear for the country and their Sunday best for an evening at the ballet. With each passing display, we made comments like "Look at MaryCollis in her cardigan and tutu" and "Penn looks dashing in his riding gear." Behind us a girl said as she was passing, "Yeah, Ralph Lauren. Cause everybody buys equestrian pants. That's real practical." It tickled me. 

Despite having two naps that day, I was worn out and it was WAY past my bedtime... so home we went.

Day 7 - Wednesday, January 1

New Year's Day was our last day in the city, so we had big plans to visit the MET and the Empire State Building and stop in any shops we had missed (like Barbour). A surprising amount of things are closed in New York on New Year's Day... like the MET.... and Barbour. So we had to alter our plans.

We had brunch at Balthazar in SoHo. The eggs benedict and french toast were equally delicious. (Verdict: Delicious. I'd love to go back and try lunch/dinner). We spent a few hours just meandering around SoHo, walking into shops that were open: J.Crew, Kate Spade, a weird clothing shop with hundreds of old sewing machines on display, Top Shop, Bloomingdale's, and a Women's GAP (where I scored 3 different washes of always skinny jeans).

We happened upon an old police department building that has been turned into fabulous apartments. We visited Little Italy and Chinatown, which are strangely intertwined in some parts, then it got real at the Chinese markets. Fish heads, fresh vegetables, Chinese lanterns all right there on the sidewalks.

And right there in the middle of these two cultures was a gun shop. It was closed, but Chad had to peek inside.

While we were in Little Italy, Chad mentioned wanting to go to Eataly so off we went to the Flatiron District. We admired the Flatiron Building and statues in Madison Square Park before making a b-line for the Eataly entrance.

Eataly is what heaven must be like for us cheese-lovers. Case after case of cheeses, meats, breads, pastas, sauces, oils, and cheese. Did I already say cheese? I love cheese. Cheese.

We stood at a high-top table and ordered a selection of artisanal cheeses, proscuitto with pears, and wine. Now prepare yourself. This is an extreme statement. It was my favorite meal in New York. If I had ordered the cheese plate for dessert at Babbo, then I'm sure that would've been my favorite meal, but I didn't.... so this wins.

We walked several blocks to the Empire State Building, but the line was out of control (it's one of the few things open New Year's Day). My knees were killing me after walking what must have been a million miles that week, so we headed back to the hotel for some rest. On the way to the subway we passed Macy's but didn't go inside, then we walked by Rockefeller Center and Radio City for the thirteenth time that week. 

Sak's Fifth Avenue had been my familiar marker all week. Every time we reached Sak's, I knew we weren't far from the Waldorf. I spotted it once last time and knew I wouldn't see it again for a while. Back at the hotel, I poured myself into bed and took two Advil for my knee pain. I took a good nap then got up to pack. We decided to just order room service and rent a movie on our last night since we had to wake up at 4:30. We rented "Gatsby," in which I was completely disappointed. If you're going to be in keeping with the clothing and cars from the 20s, you should do so with the music. Don't put Jay-Z and Beyonce music in a movie about the roaring 20s! Sheesh.

Day 8 - Thursday, January 2

We woke up super early to falling snow. The high that day was 17, and they were expected to get 5-6 inches of snow. We hailed a cab and drove out of the city looking at all of the Christmas lights one last time.

On the flight, I sat next to a lady from New York who was headed to New Orleans for vacation. I told her all our favorite spots in NOLA, and she shared her favorites in New York (for next time we visit). Breakfast had been at 5AM, so we were starving when we landed. We went to Drago's in Metairie, where a 12-inch po-boy with a huge helping of fries was only $11.95. Hallelujah.

When we got back home, Penn's hair had grown an inch, he had another tooth, he was waving hello and goodbye and was nearly walking. It was so nice to get away from it all, but we missed our babies. It's good to be home!

PS. Click here for my tips on visiting NYC.


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