Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Scenes From Christmas Break


Finally caught up on all of our holiday stuff... The day after Christmas we're usually super lazy, which we did enjoy a quiet morning at home and let Tatum play with his toys a bit but then that afternoon we packed up the car and made our way to Northern New Jersey to visit with Derek's family.


We had a wonderful visit and ended up staying an extra night.  Tatum had the best time trying to keep up with his older cousins, staying up late, etc. and we saw a lot of family members that we don't get to see as often too.  We even squeezed in a little day date and a night out with friends.


When we got home it was back to classic Christmas break - I kept most of the things Tatum got by the tree to play with a few days since we left right after Christmas, we had a big family Christmas dinner and got in a day date too while my parents and brother had a fun night with Tatum.


On New Year's Eve we did a brunch pollyanna party with Tatum and his friends since we never got together a time before break for them to open up their gifts to each other.


Our New Year's Eve plans are never usually anything big but this year they were extremely low key and I think that's going to be a new pattern - it was great.  We visited with friends a little bit early in the night, got sushi delivered and then put Tatum to bed and watched the New Year's festivities on TV.

I never got around to our usual cinnamon roll breakfast for Christmas Eve so I got that together and a casserole for New Year's morning and we had a nice lazy day playing and cleaning up most of the Christmas decorations except a few trees that we've still be enjoying in a winter/cozy way.  We had family over for a simple pizza dinner that night and another year was underway.


The last weekend of break before Tatum was back to school we went to our friends mountain house to relax, have friend time, go out to lunches at the lodge, let the kids play in the snow and all over the house and the last night we finished up with a steak dinner - a nice way to end the break.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sesame Place


Catching up on things that I didn't get to before Christmas - the weekend before Christmas we took Tatum to Sesame Place, about 45 minutes away from here.  I'd heard it was really special at Christmas time and while it was very fun to visit, we enjoyed the Sesame Street aspect more than the Christmas aspect - there were some shows and of course decorations - maybe if we had have been at night for the parade and things lit up but I look forward to taking Tatum back in warmer weather to do more rides and focus on the actual park and not be cold trying to see the Christmas things.


We got there close to when the park opened - partly because we had something to do later in the day and partly to avoid crowds.   We walked around a bit and did a ride then got in line a couple minutes early to meet Elmo and Cookie Monster - we had about a five minute wait and two families in front of us so it wasn't bad - Tatum was so brave and stood for a picture by himself.


We saw one of the Christmas shows, quickly met Big Bird and then rode the carousel, which was our last ride - the weather was cold but not unbearable but having the wind hit you on the rides was not pleasant (part of the reason we want to go in spring!) so we went into one of the stores for a while to warm up and Tatum fell in love with an Elmo and Big Bird that he picked out himself.


We went over to the Christmas Village which was nothing special but Tatum was very into the train display which we watched for a bit.  There happened to be not much of a line for Grover and a few other characters so we jumped on that before wrapping up the day.

I had no intentions of waiting in line for Santa but saw that Rudolph was there and was hoping to find him since that's a Christmas character we don't usually see.   We decided to just go ahead and leave - Derek ran to the bathroom on the way out and I wondered over with Tatum to watch one of the shows from a distance then I noticed a cute Christmas setup - it was Rudolph with no line!  I let people go in front of me until Derek found his way over to us - I was thrilled to end the day on this note... Tatum was not, ha!

After this we left the park and grabbed a nice warm lunch then headed home for naps!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Christmas in New York City


Exactly a week before Christmas we went up to New York City for an overnight and to do all the Christmas things.  This was the first trip where Tatum really showed his toddler age and a lot of excitement over things - it's such a fun time for us as he can enjoy things a little bit more.  

The traffic going into the city was worse than we've ever seen before (and Derek having used to work in NYC, we've driven in a lot) so I was nervous the city would be the same.  Luckily, since it was a Wednesday, things weren't bad at all.


We got a little delayed with traffic but had enough time to drop our bags off at the hotel and walk over to see the tree for a few minutes and right to our noon reservation at Bills Bar & Burgers - it gets pretty crowded during the holidays since it's so close to the tree.  It's nothing special but we used to go a lot when we were dating and my train would get in - it's a great family spot for us now though.

Very close to the tree there was a pop up bar that welcomed kids and had anything from wine and beer to hot chocolate so we spent a quick bit of time there to enjoy the tree before moving on.


Our next stop was FAO Schwartz - we waited in a quick line and then were in.  I remember last year saying "next year Tatum will be at such a fun age for this" and he was!  He went into the store running and was literally the definition of a kid in a toy store.  We just let him play and run around and didn't leave with anything as we'd already done so much Christmas shopping already. 


We walked over to Bryant Park next and walked around a bit then Tatum loved watching the skaters. We had plans to let him skate the next day (with our help and the things you can push and skate) as skates started at size six but it was so so cold... next year!


We walked down to Macy's next to go to Santaland.  I had seen online you had to make a reservation but I thought that was just to meet Santa but it was actually for the whole experience so we left pretty quickly.  We could have gotten in the next day but decided not to go back.


We took a taxi closer to the Upper East Side to run in one boutique to grab a final quick special Christmas gift (and saw Jennifer from RHONJ).  We went into the store and it was a nice sunny day and we came out and it was heavily snowing.  People's phone's had gone off constantly in the store with updates about a snow squall but we didn't really get it until we got outside - it was actually kind of neat to see and luckily Tatum was covered in the stroller for the not too long walk back to the hotel.

He took a much needed late nap in the room while Derek and I had a nice amount of time to rest before heading out for the evening.


We usually stay at the Lowell Hotel but got this trip together last minute and also really wanted to keep things centered around family activities so stayed at the Lotte New York Palace and it was perfect for this trip.  It was about a block over to Rockefller Center and the tree and our room was great.

This was the first time we tried two queen beds instead of a king and a crib since it was just one night. Tatum and I shared one bed and he did fantastic (even if bedtime was 11pm that night - he really goes with the flow which I can't be more thankful for).

The hotel was very busy during the happy hour time and while Tatum was allowed into the bar areas, there wasn't a ton of space so we used one of the tables in the big lobby area - we were actually seated near and older southern couple from Atlanta who were kind as could be and we loved talking to.


We switched our trip from going Monday to Wednesday about a week or so before to be able to attend Tatum's Christmas party at school so the only dinner reservation we could get at the location we wanted was at 8pm but that worked well for us actually with his late nap.

This also gave us plenty of time to do any nighttime attractions we wanted before dinner and then just head back to the hotel after.  Right after we started walking another snow squall popped up and by the time we got to the tree just a few minutes later it was the perfect Christmas new york moment - it made it so special.

After the tree, a little bit of the Saks light display and watching the skaters, we walked past Radio City Music Hall and then braved Times Square to pop into the Disney Store since it was on the way to dinner.


We ate at Tony DiNapoli's Italian restaurant since we loved it so much the year before (next year we will definitely go earlier though as it was crowded and not many kids by the time we got there).  We were supposed to meet good friends from college for dinner but because of the snow they couldn't make it.  Tatum ate his pasta and watched a show as he was getting a little tired so Derek and I enjoyed splitting somethings and enjoying our meal.

Rockefeller Center was on the way back to the hotel so we stopped to let Tatum watch the Saks Light Display since we'd only caught a tiny bit of it before.


We slept in the next morning, packed up our things and checked them at the front desk and then headed outside.  It was COLD!  We knew it was going to be really cold today but it was really really cold.  We walked to The Palace Hotel for breakfast at Palm Court.  Tatum went to town on his pancakes, I got eggs benedict and Derek got the buffet.  We walked around the hotel a little bit afterwards.

Our other plans for the day included Central Park, a carriage ride, playground, skating, etc.  It wasn't even pleasant to be outside so we decided to just skip that since we had so much fun the day before. Next year we'll make Central Park a priority since we skipped it last year too.

We had to get back home by mid afternoon anyway since Derek had meetings so we just decided to go ahead and get out of the city earlier and start the drive home.