Our lice thing turned into a week of laundry and hair combing and ultimately a prescription lotion, Ovide, which I elected to use prophylactically on the entire family. FYI: if you ever need to get this lice and nit killing potion, start at the pharmacy at Walmart because that was the only place that had it in stock. Insert socioeconomic targeted population wise-ass remark here. I am optimistic that we have eradicated the problem, but will remain vigilant. Please keep your fingers crossed that the nightmare is over and in return I will pray that your house is never visited by this plague.
Now, for the dreams…
After my recent dropping of the hammer on my underperforming son, he has really been making strides in the right direction. His grades and attitude have improved and I felt comfortable recognizing his efforts with a reward. His cell phone has needed an upgrade and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to buy him one that he is equally thrilled to own. I will hold tightly to the spontaneous (and public!) hug he gave me during the future’s more challenging moments. And that gushing text he sent me? I’m keeping that forever!
Making a dream come true can be as simple and spontaneous as agreeing to purchase a smart phone or a more involved process requiring reservations and tickets and an overnight bag. The latter describes the realization of my oldest son’s birthday request, albeit an event we marked a week prematurpely. Shortly after his 15th birthday last year, my boy-man asked that we go to NYC’s Metropolitan Opera House to take in a performance. You’ve got to applaud a kid who can begin to plan a NYC adventure a year in advance – that’s my boy.
Our trip began from at the Rensselaer train station where we popped our figurative MegaBus cherry – overall not a bad experience, but it would have been nice if the Wi-Fi had been more consistent. We stayed at a classic NYC hotel, the Ramada New Yorker, which was comfortable and convenient. But, really, it was all about Carmen. Our box, with its ever so slightly impeded view was remarkably comfortable and I think I only dozed for a minute. Twice. The show was beautiful – the voices, the orchestra, the setting. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the night, which concluded with a cab ride back downtown and midnight snack eaten at the hotel.
Isn’t he handsome?
So, two out three isn’t so bad. I’ll take it.
On the anniversary of John Lennon’s death I can’t help but remember where I was at that time. Freshman year, high school, almost winter. The news took me by surprise, of course. First John Bonham, now John Lennon. Two of my favorite bands were clearly never ever getting back together, a reality that predates Taylor Swift’s assertion by more than 3 decades.
I heard the news on the radio, I have vague memories of lying in my twin-sized bed listening to WPLJ in the dark, and hearing the breaking news. He was shot – injured – dead, all reported in an amount of time which seemed so rapid in those pre-Internet days, yet would certainly seem impossibly slow in our current digital days.
I was just becoming aware of NYC as the city at the center of fashion, entertainment and opportunities. After this tragedy, I wasn’t scared about what had happened in this wondrous city, just sad that a man who had chosen to make a home here with his family, had fallen victim to one of the mentally unstable attracted by the magnetism that is New York City. There was a memorial service, and Yoko asked those wishing to show their respects, to honor John’s memory with ten minutes of silence, a request I solemnly granted. The time passed quickly.
I have vague memories of a bean bag chair and a window looking out to a sky filled with snow of the most pure white imaginable. There was a sense of peaceful quiet, a cottony muffled feel to the afternoon which was comforting. Things were going to be different, but life would continue. Thirty-two years later, I still subscribe to that belief.
“What we’ve got to do is keep hope alive. Because without it we’ll sink.” – John Lennon
Boy on a train, reflected.
Uncle Sam sprang a leak!
Times Square from the west.
ESB lit for Thanksgiving.
Mom + boy = love
Maybe it is just that simple…
Rocco’s. We went for 1/2 price coconut custard pie – divine!
The Scream @MOMA. Awesome opportunity to see it in NYC.
Many years ago, pre-children, I remember discussing the merits of instructing children to cross only at the green vs. teaching them how to jaywalk intelligently. Their father and I agreed that the latter was the ideal and vowed to do exactly that when we eventually had a family. I thought about this conversation during my recent trip to NYC with the boys, and am pleased to report that we have accomplished this goal – the Lilly boys have grown to be adept at forging their own way with a wonderful balance of confidence and caution. Let me elaborate…
During our Chinese Thanksgiving dinner, I received a phone call from the parent of one of my 13 y/o’s friends. She was calling to invite Griffin to join them for that night’s Jets/Patriots game at the Meadowlands. (The Patriots are Griffin’s favorite team.) I explained that we were in NYC without a car, and that I needed a few minutes to look into the transportation options and consult with his dad for approval. A quick search revealed a direct bus from the Port Authority to the Meadowlands, and with no protest from the paternal side of things, it seemed doable. I checked in with Griffin to measure his comfort level with traveling solo on a bus to NJ and he assured me he was fine. We made the call to confirm that he could meet his friend and Griffin added yet another item to the lengthy list of things for which to be thankful.
So, I walked him to the very same bus station that was my point of arrival for numerous NYC adventures when I was a teenager 30+ years ago. We got him set up with his ticket, found our way to the necessary gate and I put him on a bus bound for the best football game he could imagine. As the bus pulled away, I quickly considered all the terrible things that could happen to him, things I won’t honor by noting them in writing here. After about 20 seconds of that train of tragic thoughts, I thought about how if something horrible happened, I would be vilified as the mother who placed her 13 y/o on a bus to travel from one unfamiliar place to another. I rejected that thought, too. I knew that I wouldn’t always be able to tell him where he could go and what he could do, all I could do was try to prepare him to live his life, fully. He would be making these sorts of decisions and arrangements independently in no time, and experiences such as this exact one would provide him with the confidence to determine the strength of his capabilities.
Well, he was fine. He found his friends, watched his Pats
stomp beat the home team and made it back to the Port Authority at approximately the same time I often was caught running to catch the last bus north to Greenwood Lake after a show at the Garden. He and I walked back to our hotel at a pace much more leisurely than that desperate-to-catch-a-bus-home speed I recalled from my teens. We may even have jaywalked.
I started writing a post the other day about all the gifts with which I have been blessed. I ran out of time and inspiration and figured it was just going to end up an incompleted draft. I was fine with that – it certainly wouldn’t be alone in the “Notes” folder on my iPad.
On Thanksgiving morning, the boys and I went to NYC on the 7:05 train. The morning was a bit arduous. I slept a little later than I would have liked and the boys were not moving with a detectable sense of urgency. It was stressful to wrangle them, getting in 3 showers and 4 bagels and 2 sliced oranges and 1 cup of coffee for the road, but we did it. Once my butt hit the seat on Amtrak, I exhaled and committed to enjoying the day.
When we arrived in Manhattan we walked to our hotel in Chelsea from Penn Station, ditched our luggage and then spent the next 5 hours walking. We walked uptown to see some of the parade and then continued to Times Square and over to 10th Avenue. We went down the west side to the High Line to Houston to SoHo to Chinatown, where we feasted on Peking Duck, scallion pancakes and soup dumplings.
After our untraditional Thanksgiving meal, we walked to Little Italy for cannoli and cookies and then finally, with bellies full, we caught a cab back to 28th Street. We kicked our shoes off and turned on the Dallas game, just like any other Thanksgiving Day, and I revisited that piece of writing begun a day earlier. I immediately was struck by the realization that each one of the characteristics I recognized in myself were also present in my boys.
- Love – for one another and family, for the adventure of travel, for good food
- Independence – watching my boys walk with comfortable confidence in NYC fills my heart with satisfaction*
- Patience – the boys indulge my lack of a distinct plan with the knowledge that the payoff will be worth the effort.
- Curiosity – our walk was filled with questions, about different neighborhoods and particular buildings, NYC events and history
- Physical strength – these boys of mine easily walked 75 blocks without (much) complaint, pretty impressive.
Photo by Quinn Lilly
I am truly thankful for the fabulous Lilly boys.
*More on this theme in a future post – all I can say is “Wow!”
I ate a September tomato with salt,
I went for a run,
I breathed air that was the freshest of fresh,
I bought a cooked and chilled whole lobster and made myself an amazing salad for dinner,
I climbed between semi-crisp cotton sheets and stretched my tired legs long,
Continued from here -
For nights 2 and 3 of our winter break, we shifted our base to an Embassy Suites
in the Old Town area of Alexandria, VA, a 15-20 minute ride on the Blue Line of the Metro system. I’ve stayed here before and I like the location. It is close enough to D.C., around the corner from some great retail shopping and restaurants on King Street and very comfortable. We did, however, have an issue. The hotel is being renovated, which meant that the breakfast service was a bit disjointed. I don’t expect to eat in a hotel using disposable flatware – call me princess if you must. The other issue was something we had, ironically, encountered during our other stay at this particular hotel. The pool, other than our first day, was unavailable due to maintenance. Had I been made aware of this scheduled maintenance, we would have perhaps stayed all three nights at the Foggy Bottom location. Here’s what’s cool, though. I Tweeted about my annoyance and within an hour, received an email from corporate apologizing for the situation. Ultimately, I was credited the price of one night’s accommodations to compensate me for the inconvenience, a nice gesture on their part. I would still consider staying at this hotel in the future, but I would certainly confirm the availability of the advertised amenities.
|The magnificent marble stairs at the Monaco
In Baltimore we stayed in the plushest digs of our trip, the Kimpton Monaco
. This recently opened hotel is in a gorgeous historic building and our room was fantastic! The superior quality of this place was apparent even to my 7 y/o, who quickly declared it to be the “best place” we stayed. Our room was spacious, quiet and included a banging bathroom complete with garden tub and walk in shower. and my favorite Aveda products as a bonus. Our two days here were exceedingly comfortable and we were very well taken care of by the staff. Price-wise we lucked out with a deal from Hotwire and paid only $200 and change total for 2 nights. Speaking of Hotwire, another special offer came my way while we were in Baltimore which provided me the opportunity to cancel the reservation we had in place for our final night in NYC at the Radisson.
The Hotel Belleclaire
, a small boutique hotel on the UWS, was offering a special for approximately $115 a night and I pounced on it. The hotel was just west of Broadway on 77th Street – a great location for exploring, or revisiting, one of my favorite areas of Manhattan. The lobby was being renovated, which made for some noise and dust upon entry, but the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating, storing our luggage and providing a suite to guests complete with snacks and beverages. The room itself was standard NYC small, but it was clean (no skeevy carpet!) and equipped with a modern bathroom and a comfortable bed. I would definitely consider staying here again, although it is more appropriate for a couple than a family. Guess I’d better work on that!
I’ve come to the conclusion, however, that my favorite hotel in New York City is the Millenium Hilton
, on Church Street in the financial district. A week after my epic train trip with my youngest, I headed back to the city with my oldest and this is where we stayed. I believe I’ve stayed at this particular Hilton at least a half dozen times and I’ve never had a bad experience. The staff is always pleasant, the room immaculate and the location perfect for my needs. And there’s a pool! I know that I’ve landed at this place through the luck of the draw when using Hotwire and/or Priceline, but most recently I’ve been booking using a combination of Hilton Honors points and cash. The going rate for this place on a weekend is often a bit less than the more centrally located Hiltons in Manhattan, generally about $250 a night, I’d say. Using a combination of points and cash brings it down to about $100 a night – a real New York bargain. The added bonus of staying in the business district is that onstreet parking is generally available on weekends and holidays, which can save you a bundle. If you’re unfamiliar with this part of the city, be aware it is NOT like midtown – at all. There isn’t much in the way of shopping other than Brooks Brothers (natch) and Century 21. No worries – there is a Starbuck’s around the corner and tons of green space for kids and adults alike, as well as the 9/11 Memorial, the Staten Island Ferry, Southstreet Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m already thinking about gathering up the girls and getting down there again – asap.