I Heart New York – and Book Riot too!

Waiting for our adventure to start.

Waiting for our adventure to start.

I went on a whirlwind three days in New York City.  This was a pretty big deal for me because as I love to travel, and always say I want to travel, I have gone places, but nowhere far lately.  I haven’t flown since my honeymoon in 2002.

So when Jolene – my dearest friend, the eggs to my bacon, told me almost a year ago about an event that was coming to NYC – Book Riot Live – naturally I thought it sounded cool, but never really considered going.  Jolene being the seasoned traveller that she is, saw it and thought to herself – of course I’m going to that – I wonder if Danielle will go with me.  Book Riot is an awesome website and community about everything books.  If you’re a reader at all, you should check it out.  They had announced that they were having Book Riot Live – basically a two-day event, with authors, panels, vendors, games, signings, live recordings of podcasts, you name it.  Basically drool worthy stuff for bibliophiles like myself and Jolene.

Book Riot Live!

Book Riot Live!

We had been planning this trip for so long – it never really seemed like it was going to get here, but it did – and it happened November 7th – 9th.

I feel like I want to write this blog post so I don’t forget.  It’s been a week and I already feel like the feeling is starting to go.  The amazing feeling that I felt while I was in New York City.  Admittedly, it’s probably not for everyone.  But I feel like everyone could probably find something there for them.  Jolene was telling me about how much her Dad hated big cities, but he loved New York.  I seriously can’t blame him – there is so much there to love.

Our flight took off on Saturday morning around 5:50.  Between the time I arrived at Jo’s house on Friday night, and with the Niagara Airbus picking us up at 2:20am, I had gotten about 1 1/2 hours of sleep.  It was a good flight and we arrived in one piece on the tarmac at JFK at just after 7am.  We took a cab into the city and dropped our bags off at the hotel.  From there we walked to the Metropolitan West, where Book Riot Live was happening.  It was about a half an hour walk from our hotel.  Our hotel was located on 7th Ave between Central Park and Times Square.  We had to walk through Times Square to get to the convention.  I loved walking in New York.  It really is the best way to absorb everything, and feel like you’re really part of the experience.

Oh yeah - that's Margaret Atwood!

Oh yeah – that’s Margaret Atwood!

Book Riot the first day was awesome.  We got registered, and had our first look around.  We got to do a bit of shopping at the various vendors – all selling bookish goodness.  The day went very fast and included a bunch of different interesting panels, being part of a tattoo chain and actually meeting and getting my book signed by the one and only Margaret Atwood!  That was so cool.

At the end of the day we made it back to the hotel, where we cleaned up, and then went out for dinner before going to see Kinky Boots.  Now…Kinky Boots was awesome.  So much energy, so much light.  If you ever get the chance, I would totally recommend seeing it.

After walking back to our hotel, Jolene and I totally died.  With only 1 1/2 hours of sleep since Friday morning at 5:30, we were both totally exhausted.  No bed was ever quite so comfortable and no pillow was ever quite so soft as ours were that night.

We headed back to the Metropolitan West the next morning – feeling like real New Yorkers as we grabbed coffee and breakfast and ate while we walked.  We had another full, interesting day at Book Riot Live.  I want to take a second to really commend the folks over there.  They are a really quirky (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible) and interesting group of people.  They are so diverse, so forward thinking, so unique.  I love reading their content, watching them on YouTube and following them on Twitter.  They didn’t disappoint in real life.  They’re an amazing crew and should be proud of themselves for putting on a fantastic event.  I hope it’s the first of many.

First sight out of the subway.

First sight out of the subway.

After Book Riot Live was over, we hopped on a subway and made our way down to the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and museum.  To be honest, I didn’t know really what to expect or how I would feel going there.  We came up out of the subway station and the first thing I saw was the new 1 World Trade Center jetting up into the sky.  It is a beautiful, impressive structure and the first sight took my breath away.  We walked over to the memorial fountains, that sit in the exact footprints of the fallen twin towers.

The museum itself completely blew me away.  In a way, I’m still processing everything I saw while we were there.  It was huge, and beautiful, and so incredibly sad, while still preserving the pride and resilience of New York, the United States, and Americans and Western Civilization on a whole.  In building this museum, they have found a way to preserve the details of that day, and the events leading up to it and following it, in a way that no one will ever forget even the smallest details.  The human factor will never be forgotten.  The planes flew into the buildings that day, but it was in no way about the planes or the buildings.  It was about the people.  The people in the planes.  The people in the buildings.  The people on the ground.  The service people, the families.  I walked through this space, full of people, and for the most part, you could hear a pin drop.  I was quite overcome by emotions several times throughout my time there.  It hit home several times – I remember this day.  I remember where I was, how I heard, how I felt.  This is part of the history of this generation, my generation.  The events of this day changed the world.  For me, there will always be life before 9/11 and life after 9/11.  I can say that.  My son will never be able to say that.  He never knew what life was like before.

Memorial fountain.

Memorial fountain.

Needless to say, if you are ever visiting New York City, please don’t leave without taking a trip down and making this part of it.  It was worth it, and it was definitely one of the things I will never forget about this experience.

Back on the subway we went, and got off at Penn Station so we could walk over to the Empire State Building.  We crossed off another bucket list item for me by stopping for a slice of pizza on our way there.  The Empire State Building was definitely another highlight of the trip, and I’m so glad we got to see it at night.  Manhattan is so beautiful from up there at night.

After some dessert and some drinks, we made it down to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Centre, and (the outside of) NBC Studios before heading back for another amazing sleep!

Empire State

Empire State

Amazing shot from the Empire State

Amazing shot from the Empire State

Monday dawned a beautiful day.  We checked out early, and headed over to NBC Studios in the hopes of going on the tour, which was unfortunately booked.  So we went for breakfast instead, after doing a bit of shopping in the store.  After breakfast, we went up to Central Park.  I had been very excited for this for the whole trip.  It occurred to me at one point walking down the street when a dog stopped to do his business on the sidewalk that New York (Manhattan anyway) is a city without grass.  Not a blade to be found everywhere.  So walking into Central Park was crazy different to the rest of the city.  It is an absolutely beautiful green space, and standing there within it looking out at the city around you is an incredible contrast.  One I don’t think you can fully appreciate unless you are there in the middle of it.

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park Selfie

Central Park Selfie

library

New York Public Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a trip to the BEAUTIFUL New York Public Library, a stroll down 5th Ave looking at all the stores that I could barely afford walking through the front doors, we stopped at Macy’s.  Decorated for Christmas, Macy’s is a feast for the eyes and senses.  To be perfectly honest, we walked in the door and into the handbags.  Beyond that was the cosmetics and fragrances.  Jolene went to some of the other floors, I never made it past that one area.  I was totally in my element.

After a bit more shopping, and a couple more slices of pizza, it was time to hop the subway to head back to JFK.  We got our bags and headed down to the subway, which was just down from our hotel.  Before we went down into the station, I stopped, and did a complete 360, looking around and trying to take everything in.  I knew when I next came out of the ground, we would be at JFK.

Heading home. See you soon NYC!!

Heading home. See you soon NYC!!

I was happy to get home, happy to see my family and crawl into my own bed, but I will always remember this trip and how amazing it was.  How addictive this city is.  I already have looked up flights for the spring so that I can go back and take Joe with me.  It’s completely exhausting.  I normally like to average about 10,000 steps in a day.  In the three days we were there I logged over 57,000 steps.  I ate everything under the sun and still lost 3 lbs while I was there because of all the walking.  It was wonderful, it was life changing, it was one of the best times of my entire life, and I can’t wait to go back again someday.

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Family Time

Buddies

Buddies

Today my baby boy turns 6.  It’s hard to believe that 6 years ago today he entered our lives.  Each day has gotten better since.  He has truly made our lives complete.  Being a Mom can be the toughest job in the world sometimes, mostly because you simply love that little one so much that they become an extension of you.  When they laugh, you laugh.  When they hurt, you hurt.  When they feel bad, you want to step right in and fix whatever the problem is.  Even when you can’t.

Anyway, I just wanted to fill you in about the little trip that our family took to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls.  We had gone in February and spent a couple of days, and we all had such an amazing time, that we thought we would take another trip to celebrate Nicholas’ Birthday.

So last week on Wednesday, we packed up the car, and headed for Niagara Falls.  It was a lot better drive than it was the time before, as we were in a snowstorm that time.  We had my parents with us, as we had the last time, and this time was even better because we had all been there before, we knew the ropes and how to go about doing everything, and how to best utilize our time there.  We had such an amazing time, I thought I would share the experience with you, and show you some of our pictures.  I was able to get some awesome pictures, as we purchased a waterproof camera a few weeks before our trip, which came in very handy in the waterpark, as I didn’t have to worry about it getting wet, as well as it allowed me to leave my phone in the room and causing me to be unplugged for hours at a time, which astonishingly enough, did not bother me at all.  I kind of liked it actually!  I got some great waterpark pictures, and I plan on using this camera a lot at the beach this summer too.  Already a great investment.

We arrived at GWL at around 2pm on the Wednesday.  We were delighted to find that our room was ready, so we were able to check in.  So we unpacked, suited up, and hit the water running!  Here are some pics from Day One:

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And from Thursday, Day Two:

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And lastly Friday, Day Three, and the day we came home:

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As you can see, we had a lovely, fun filled trip, where Nicholas spent a large amount of it under the water.  It’s such a nice place, we’re already planning our next trip, probably for October or around there.

Hope you have a great weekend, and a very Happy Mothers Day to all the Moms out there. 🙂

Summer Vacation – First Update

 

 

Good Tuesday Morning! Second official day of vacation, but technically, I've been off since Friday. It feels good. It's nice, because for the first time in recent memory, Joe and I have vacation at the same time.

So what have we been up to? Keeping busy I guess. The weather has been so so up to this point, but I'm hoping it turns around. Saturday was Nicholas' last day of soccer and it was downright cold. Yesterday we went to visit our friend Jolene in St Catherines and went all tourist to Niagara Falls. I haven't been tourist there for many years unless you count when Joe and I went in October for our anniversary, and we didn't really do anything touristy then. Nicholas has never been to Niagara Falls before, so we thought this would be a good opportunity for him to experience some of it.

Needless to say, he thought it was pretty cool. All our talk about the “big waterfall” didn't really prepare him for how big Niagara Falls is. Even after seeing it as many times as I have, it still fascinates me.

One thing I never got to do in all the times I have visited Niagara, is go on the Maid of the Mist. I did the Journey Behind the Falls as a kid with my family, but we never made it on the boat. Perhaps because every time we went growing up it was in the summer time, and the waits were too long. This time, I did a bit of research about it and decided that we were going. I wanted to see it, and I wanted Nicholas to see it. I knew he would love it.

So we did. It was awesome.

The wait wasn't too bad. Maybe a half hour or so. The view while we waited was pretty great.

 

 

And the boat ride itself was amazing. Nicholas loved it.

 

You really don't realize how massively fantastic The Falls are until you see them from this angle. It makes you realize exactly how small we are compared to this natural wonder.

It was pretty amazing. I highly recommend it.
So yesterday the weather was crap, and after a busy weekend, we pretty much took it easy. We vegged out, and I watched most of a season of How I Met Your Mother – which I have just discovered, and am totally loving by the way.
I love vacation. Whether we do everything, or absolutely nothing at all, it's pretty great. And sitting here on a Tuesday morning, with most of the week still laid out before me, the possibilities are endless. We'll see where we end up.
I'll keep you posted. 😉

 

Summer’s Here

Copyright 2013 - Aaron Pellerin

Copyright 2013 – Aaron Pellerin

I’ve spent some time away from this blog.  I’ve been journaling a bit lately, but that’s it.  There’s lots of stuff going on, but at the same time I feel like I don’t have anything to write, and I don’t want to put stuff out there unless it means something – at least to me.  

So summer is here.  Beach and pool season is upon us.  Time ticks on…it literally seems like yesterday that it was Christmas, and a week ago that my son started school.  Now we’re into July, his first year of school is over, and he’ll be entering Senior Kindergarten in September.  Full days, every day.  It’ll be a big adjustment for him, and for us.  I think we’ll all do fine though.

Summer is my official favourite time of year.  I always used to say that Fall was my favourite season, and it is definitely up there, but in the last few years, my family and I have started frequenting the beach, and I have to say – summer has stolen my heart.

The beach never used to be a big deal for me.  I hated the sand caught in everything, the having to walk and carry everything from your car parked a mile away down to the water, the semi-clean lake, the buff bikini bods prancing around everywhere making you wish you had brought more towels to cover yourself with.  Also, most of the beaches we went to got deep fairly quick so I spent the majority of the time listening to my mother shout: “Bring it in Danielle!  A little closer to shore!!”  I’m quite a strong swimmer, but she is not, so it definitely worried her when I was too far out of her reach.  Even as I got older.

All that has changed in the last couple of years.  Nicholas was born in May, so honestly, he didn’t get out into the pool too much during his first year.  Since you’re not supposed to put sunscreen on kids less than 6 months old, I spent the majority of that first summer in the shade, making sure his sensitive baby skin wasn’t overexposed to the suns rays.  His second summer was a little better, we spent some time in my parents’ pool, but again, he was so little, that the majority of the time in the water was spent with me holding him and the rest of the time was spent with me worrying that he would fall in the water.  Very nerve wracking. I was identifying with my Mother and how worried she always was about me.

The last couple of years though, we have discovered the beach.  One Saturday we just packed up the car, and took a drive out to Kettle Point to spend the day.  Now let me tell you a little about Kettle Point that makes it perfect, and how it gets past some of the crappy beach stuff that I listed above.  First of all – the sand thing – well, it’s a beach, so there’s no really getting rid of that.  But it’s harder packed sand, so it does cut down a bit on the sand getting into everything.

Another nice thing about this beach is that you drive right up to the water.  A totally new concept for me, you just simply drive your vehicle across the sand, and up to the water.  Pop open your trunk or hatch filled with all your beach stuff, and badda bing, badda boom, you’re done!  No carting all your stuff for miles before you get to the water.  It’s great.  It’s also filled with lots of families, not just the young, buff, “look at me” crowd.

The best thing though, and the reason why I love to take my son there, is that it stays shallow forever.  There is no sudden drop, and you can walk out quite a while before the water even hits your waist.  This is awesome for kids, and I can sit comfortably by the water’s edge and let my son play (luckily he doesn’t venture too far on his own yet) without worrying that he is going to fall into the pool.  I still make him wear his PFD and I along with whoever is with me watch him like a hawk, but he is perfectly content to play in the shallow water and play with the waves as they come in.

The beach has become a source of great joy for me and for my family.  I can literally sit for hours in the non-humid climate, letting the breeze hit me and soak up vitamin D.  The sound of the water is so soothing for me, it is truly my happy place.  Last year I took a vacation day from work, and I spent the entire afternoon at Kettle Point, all by myself.  I sat and read, listened to music, watched the water, swam a bit, probably nodded off a bit.  It was awesome for me and I totally plan to do it again this year.

We’ve made it to the beach once so far this year, and have several plans to go again.  Nothing beats that first breath of air that hits you when you first step out of the car onto the sand.

Do you love summer?  Are you a beach or pool person?  Or would you rather be snowshoeing? Please feel free to hit up the comments.

Have a great summer – and don’t forget your sunscreen.  The sun is awesome, but we must respect it the same way we do the water.

‘Twas the Night Before Vacation Ended…

Summer lovin

Here we are. Summer is over. Okay, summer is not officially over, but come on, everyone looks at Labour Day weekend as the last long weekend of the summer. The kids start back to school tomorrow (mine starts Thursday), the nights are getting cooler, the mornings are getting cooler. When you drive down the road, you see the odd tree with the leaves turning already.

Not to say that's it's going to snow tomorrow. Heck, I can even see myself getting to the beach a couple more times in September. But the feeling is there. It's in the air. Fall is coming. I'm not complaining. Of all the seasons, fall is probably my favourite. I love walking outside with jeans and a sweatshirt on. I love the feeling of the crispness in the air. The leaves turning is inspiring and beautiful to me.

It's back to work for me tomorrow. I've had an amazing 10 days off. It's been full, but not to the point where I feel like I haven't had a vacation. We've spent plenty of time out and about, with a few veg days thrown in for good measure. Actually, the last couple of days we've been home, and I have to say….between the kid, and the dog…and the husband, if I wasn't going back to work tomorrow, I may have already said a few things that I would regret later. They are all starting to get on my nerves.

I got some stuff done. Some school shopping – I think we're pretty much ready – got the dog a haircut – I started and finished the biography of Steve Jobs. I got this book for Christmas and said that I wanted to read it on my vacation, when I would have time to dedicate to it. I totally didn't have much time at all to dedicate to it, but I finished it anyway today, and for sure in the very near future, I will be posting a review on it.

My kid starts school on Thursday. I have no idea how this is going to go, and though I'm thinking about it quite a bit, I'm trying not to dwell on it too much. If I really try to wrap my head around it, the waterworks will start. I'm thinking about it, but trying to block out the emotion of it until the day. It's hard, but so far I'm doing okay.

So back to work tomorrow to put in my vacation request for the first week of October. I hope I don't have a problem getting it – we will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary that week and I really want to be able to go away. Since our 5th we haven't done much more than go out for dinner, which has been fine, but for 10 years, I think we should do something to mark it. It should be special.

I hope everyone has had an amazing long weekend. Labour Day is definitely one of my favourite long weekends of the year. I hope that it marks the end of an amazing summer for everyone, and the start of a wonderful fall.

Till later 🙂

 

Calm Before the Storm

Content at one of my favourite places to be – the beach.

What an awesome vacation I have had.  Relaxing, calming, amazing.  I’m on Day 7 and I have spent 5 of them so far by a body of water – either the beach or a pool.  It’s not over yet, so there could definitely be more.  I’m actually counting on it.  To say I’ve got a tan is a bit of an understatement.

The best part has been the time that I’ve spent with my son.  We’ve always been two peas in a pod, but this week it seems like we’ve gotten even closer.  He starts school next week so as you’ve read before, it was very important to me to make this week amazing, and I think I have.

Sometimes I find that after a vacation, I feel like I need another vacation.  Usually I feel that way.  This time, not so much.  I’ve spent time cuddling, laying on the beach, reading, floating on a pool raft, stretched out on the sand staring at the water rolling in.  I feel relaxed, I feel content, and I feel like I’m ready for what lies ahead.

The storm is coming.  That storm is called: Nicholas Goes to School.  He says he is excited, he says he is looking forward to school, to the bus ride, and all that stuff.  But he doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t really grasp what is coming.  That he is going to be out there on his own.  No Mommy, Daddy or grandparents to cling to.  He is such a shy little boy.  We go anywhere and he meets new people and he literally clings to me until he warms up.  We were at the beach the other day with Joe’s parents and I literally moved ten feet over from where he thought I should be and I heard him yell “where’s my Mommy??” as he ran up to where his Nana was sitting.  Once he realized I had just moved over a bit, he came over and put his arms around me and said: “you’d never leave me, right Mommy?”

Talk about breaking my heart.  Because I have to tell him that of course I would never leave him.  Then I have to go and betray him as I make him get on the school bus by himself.  Make him spend the day at school without me.  I try to explain to him that of course I would never leave him alone without someone there to look after him.  That even when I’m not there, there will always be someone to turn to if he needs something.  That even when he goes to school and I’m not there, he will have the teacher, and all the other kids there with him.  He won’t be alone.

But come the first day of school, I know he isn’t going to understand this.  He’s going to be absolutely devastated.  I know that he’ll be fine.  I know that once he gets used to school and gets into the swing of things, that it is going to be amazing for him.  He’s going to make friends, he’s going to grow in so many ways – socially especially.  It makes me so excited to think about all the things that he is going to learn.  The world is laid out at his feet and it’s all there for him to possess.  He’s so lucky.  We just have to get over this little hump called the first day – week – month – of school.

But now, it’s Friday night.  I have three more full days left of my vacation.  Lots of time to soak up some more sun, and some more cuddles from my little guy.  I’m not going to dwell on that first day until I absolutely have to – on that day.  I’m not going to ruin the rest of my vacation worrying about the inevitable.  I’m going to make the absolute best of it.  For all of us.

Vacation – Day 4 – Update 1

I could set up a hut and live here.

Officially, I guess this is day two, if you don't count the weekend. But considering I was on vacation starting on Friday at 4:31, I count the weekend, so today is day four.

As most of you know, my four year old son is getting ready to start school next week. So it's very important to me to make this week awesome and spend lots of quality time with him because it is his last pre-school summer. He'll never be a not-gone-to-school-yet kid again after next week. He doesn't really realize it, but there are huge changes coming for all of us. So it's extra important that we have a great week.

So far, so good. Saturday we went up to Port Franks and spent the afternoon and evening with family at their cottage. Nicholas had an awesome time playing with his cousins, two of whom he's going to be attending school with. We spent the afternoon at the beach (pic above) and it was really really great.

Frolicking in his grandparents' pool

Sunday we went in to spend the afternoon with Joe's parents and go swimming in their pool. Another great day in the sun, in the water, with family. We've certainly gotten our share of vitamin D this summer, and we're loving it.

Yesterday I took a couple of hours for myself and met a friend for breakfast. We had a nice visit, lots of laughs (as usual) and I returned home feeling refreshed and content.

Today was the busiest so far. Nicholas had a dentist appointment, and sat in the chair like an angel while the hygienist cleaned and polished his teeth, and the dentist came in to have a look. No cavities for him, and we were so happy that he seems to enjoy the dentist almost as much as his parents do. Yeah, we're weird.

After his appointment we went into London and had some lunch, and then strolled around the mall for a bit before going to see a movie. We saw Ice Age: Continental Drift. It was cute, and funny. Nicholas fell asleep, but mostly because he had been up early and was pretty tired.

After the movie we did some shopping, including some school shopping for him. A very productive day all in all.

I've got some plans for the rest of the week, including a couple of beach days. I want to take advantage of the amazing weather we're having. I hate to say it, but winter will be here before we know it, and the beach days will be over for another year.

My big plan for reading for the week was to start an finish Steve Jobs' biography. It's been pretty busy, so I haven't had much time. I'm only about 50 pages in. I'm hoping I'll get some reading done on the beach this week.

I hope everyone is having a great week. I'll check in with some more tidbits later. I feel you all trembling with anticipation. 😉