Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve sushi is one of our longest standing holiday traditions, and one that originated wholly with us. Neither of our families enjoys sushi on Christmas Eve (though Kyle's family does like holiday shrimp). This was our 8th year!

We were in Aiken for Christmas Eve, so we again joined friends at New Covenant for the Christmas Eve service. The kids enjoyed the songs and editorialized (without volume control) on everything else. I'm not sure if we'll be invited back. Yikes. One very kind man who had introduced himself when we first walked in did make a point to come over to us after the service and say how glad he was to have met the Manimal before the "show". He was very friendly, thankfully.

Then to Sakura for sushi. While both kids ate some good gyoza and yakitori, the Manimal also chowed down on maki. Yay.



We tried to break tradition and get a family shot (instead of just the across-the-table pictures). It didn't really work out. We also tried to have our usual conversations about the past year and our goals for the next year. That didn't really work out either. :) But we did enjoy the conversational stylings of our precious 2 year old and 4 year old.



2008 2009 | 2010 (No sushi in Laos) | 2011 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Friday, December 16, 2016

It's been a big year for Nana. We had her 80th birthday celebration in February in the Bahamas. In May (for my birthday) she got a new hip. And earlier this month Hamish and I took her to New York.

Nana and I have been talking about going to New York since Mom and I went eight years ago. This was the year. Hamish, of course, is a New York pro now, so we knew she'd be up for it.

We just spent two nights, but we packed that time full. I got a great hotel on Priceline: the Hilton Garden Inn in Midtown Manhattan. Great location, nice rooms. We flew up on Saturday morning and went straight to our hotel to drop bags. Hamish was wearing her jammies (it was early!) so she changed clothes, got lunch at a diner on the corner, and then we walked up to Columbus Square and Central Park.

Nana had wanted to take a carriage ride through the park, but we were convinced to take a pedicab instead. Our tour guide--Madison--was friendly and entrepreneurial. He gave us a tour of the park and then took us all the way to Times Square. The ride was cozy and fun, but the best part might have been arriving in Times Square. The look on Nana's face! Especially when our apparently-fearless pedicab driver pulled into the middle of the street to do a quick 360. Priceless!

From there we hopped on the same City Bus Tour Mom and I took. It was a welcome rest (Hamish slept a bit) and a lovely overview of the city.



We did the entire loop and it was dark by the time we got back to Midtown. My always adventurous friend, Leah, (she came to Lisbon with me when I was pregnant with the Manimal) met us in Midtown to go see Rockefeller Center. She was a Godsend.

See, although Nana is the proud owner of one brand new hip. She also has one 80-year-old hip. And that one was not up for the absolute crush of people at Rockefeller Center.

With Leah on Nana's arm, and Hamish on my shoulders we saw the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue, saw my favorite light show to Carol of the Bells, and of course saw the Christmas Tree. Hamish gasped when we turned the corner. "It's so big!"



We talked about getting dinner with Leah that night, but we were all swamped. She suggested delivery instead, and we happily went home in a cab and ordered Steak and Shake for delivery. Milkshakes and french fries for dinner. Yum.

The next day we got up and had breakfast at Starbucks--coffee for us and hot chocolate for Hamish. Then we got back on our bus for another trip downtown. We got off at Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty.



It must have been snack time because as we passed a cart, two separate conversations were happening on either side of me. On the left I served as a stabilizing presence for someone who wanted "Nuts! Nuts! Nuts! Nuts!" On the right I was restraining someone who wanted "Hello Kitty! Mom! Hello Kitty Popsicles! Can I have a Hello Kitty Popsicle?"

Somehow everyone survived the walk to the Staten Island Ferry and we got our snack aboard the boat instead. We stayed inside out of the wind, but we got a great view of the Lady Liberty as we passed by. And I bought nuts and dried fruit at the snack bar.



We caught a cab uptown from the Ferry Terminal back to our hotel to change and take a mini-rest for the highlight of the trip: the New York City Ballet's Nutcracker at Lincoln Center.

Last year Nana got Hamish a book about the ballet and it aligned with Balanchine's ballet perfectly. She knew exactly what was going on, and couldn't contain her excitement. Every time we clapped--after every number--she looked at me and said, "It's not over is it?!" And the couple in front of us giggled.



Hamish knew her ballet: in the second act when a lone ballerina took the stage I said, "I think that's the Sugar Plum Fairy." "No, mom!" she said. "That's a snowflake!" She was right, of course.



After the ballet we went to the Plaza Hotel to see the tree in the lobby and the hotel bar. Then back to our room to crash.



Monday morning--our last day--we packed up before we left the hotel. At one point I had tickets in one hand and postcards in the other. I carefully put one in my suitcase and the other in my purse. A bit later, when it was our turn to hand in our tickets for the Empire State Building Observation Deck, I realized I'd made a mistake. Thankfully a WONDERFULLY kind guard let us in anyway. We looked just exhausted enough to take pity on.

Our time at the top of the Empire State Building was the worst weather of our trip. We had pretty weather for most of the weekend except--of course--when we were up there. Oh well.

Our last stop before heading home was the American Girl Cafe. Willa came with us and was thrilled (I'm sure?) to be back. And they do such an amazing job, it's a relaxing spot for lunch before we left.


After the requisite delay at LaGuardia we were on our way home. We made some very special memories, but it was a very full trip, and we were definitely worn out. We'll wait until Nana has two new hips before we go back.

Friday, December 9, 2016

It feels like we are REALLY overdue here, but when I count on my fingers, we are LESS than 4 months late. I'm going to go ahead and round down to 3 months late, which is, practically, on time.

Anyway, as you'll see a lot has happened this year, lots of good, some quite bad. The anniversary, perhaps, came and left without an appropriate level of celebration. There was talk a while back about a 10-year trip to Ecuador, but we *did* go to Tahiti and the Bahamas this year, and so another big trip fell off the table. When it came down to it our biggest celebration was a trip to Climb Nashville, which, of course, was awesome, but looking back on it, nobody seems to feel it deserves credit as 10 year anniversary celebration.  I think we might be banking something for later in the big trip category.

Without further ado, here is a solid ten plus minutes of pictures from our our tenth year of marriage. Thanks to God for putting us together and sustaining us.


Music:
Josh Garrels - For You
Aldebert - La remueuse
Josh Garrels - Farther Along