Thursday, February 28, 2008

New York Recap: Part 1

I apologize for the delay in posting about our big trip. I have been sick with chills and a fever since we returned on Monday. I am trying to work while by the time I get home in the evening, I have spent all my energy. I have received numerous phone calls asking how it went. Since I do not have enough voice left to tell it all one on one...I will try to share the story here as best I can. Remember, this is from my perspective only and the viewpoints held here are not necessarily the viewpoints held by the other parties involved. Hope you enjoy reading about our adventures!

Two of my longtime girlfriends and I took off on our first annual Girls Weekend last week. I am going to try to share the adventure to the best of my ability. However, due to my limited writing skills and the immense amount of time it would take to tell it all, I am not sure how this will turn out.

Taking A Bite Out Of The Big Apple

Thursday morning found us up bright and early to make our 7:30 AM flight to New York’s LaGuardia airport. We were ready for our first real ‘Girl’s Weekend’. We even had shirts made for the occasion.

You would not believe the conversations that these t-shirts produced. We had a chat with a woman about Chinatown while in line for security; once on the plane we had a wonderful conversation with an older woman returning home to New York about what to expect and things to see while we were there; our flight attendants wanted to know if we were meeting ‘Grandma’ in New York and upon learning that we were the Grandmas, a discussion of what the grandchildren will call us ensued. Several others asked us about the trip and what we planned to do while we were away.

Upon arriving at LaGuardia, we were met by our driver, Tony. Tony was nice enough not to laugh as we ‘ooh’ed and ‘aah’ed our way from the airport to the hotel. I felt like someone needed to pinch me so that I would know whether or not this was for real. We saw high rises, taxis, apartments with stoops, signs with places like Queens & Brooklyn & Long Island…places I thought I would only see in the movies. He drove us down Park Avenue so that we could take in the sights a little longer before depositing us at the Affinia 50. (Even though we have lived in the fourth largest city in America, this still felt to me like country bumpkin goes to the big city...complete with the Green Acres theme song playing in my head.)

We reached the hotel before check-in, so after checking our luggage we headed down the street to find a place to eat. We settled on The Blarney Stone…for one reason, it was full! While waiting in line to order, I got to see a little old man get thrown out of the bar. It was bizarre, not only because it was only 11 AM, but also because the little bartender got just as loud as him once he started bickering with her for cutting him off for the day. It was a scene right out of a movie. We ordered our food upon receiving some recommendations from the locals and watched very carefully to try and figure out the proper protocol. The pressure to order reminded me of the Seinfeld episode about the ‘Soup Nazi’. Everyone seemed to have it down to a science, except us. Thankfully, the gentleman handling the orders was very helpful and even made some suggestions when he found out they were out of the cheese that was supposed to be on my buffalo chicken sandwich. I have to say, the food was good and reasonably priced. It was neat to experience NY like a local. We watched as a few guys from a nearby construction site sat and discussed the morning’s events and a group who evidently worked together somewhere nearby enjoyed a nice lunch while discussing their upcoming weekend plans.

We passed some time after lunch wandering down several streets near the pub. We found ourselves at the side entrance of Grand Central Station. The place was huge! There were shops for about anything that you can imagine. The main area was relatively empty at that time of day so we could view all of the beautiful architecture without getting run over. The windows were gleaming and if you look up at the ceiling, you see the constellations painted there. I tried to get a picture, but it just doesn't do it justice. After a short conversation with one of our active military, we walked back toward the entrance. We had to go into Central Market to look around before heading back out on the street, though. I cannot even begin to describe the myriads of food items that were available...from fresh (as in take it home and cook it yourself) to ready made gourmet. Now I better understand why New Yorkers prefer to bring home a small shopping bag daily instead of the weekly grocery mayhem we endure here in Texas. We did splurge on a few treats from the bakery to take back to the room for later.

After finally checking in at the hotel, we rested a few minutes before freshening up and heading out for dinner. We had diner reservations for Sardi’s. The doorman gave the driver the wrong address, so we were a few minutes late. As it turned out, our late arrival was no big deal since we were ahead of the dinner crowd. The food was ‘good’ but the place was a bit smaller than I had imagined. We took turns pointing out the caricatures on the walls that we recognized. We took our time at dinner as we had a few hours before the show started.

We walked down to the theatre but we were very early and there was not even a line yet. The three of us decided to walk on over to Times Square. It is truly a sight to behold. The lights were amazing…and there were so many people!! While we were taking pictures, I received a telephone call from Debbie with wonderful news about Casy’s latest test results. I stood there at Times Square and just cried with joy! The Lord is doing a miracle in my family right before my eyes…and His awesomeness overpowered even the hustle and bustle of Times Square.

We returned to the theatre just before the doors opened. If you have never seen Jersey Boys, I highly recommend it. Apart from some language, it is the wonderfully told story of Franki Valli and The Four Seasons. I did not realize how many of their songs I actually knew. It was totally different from Wicked (which the girls and I saw last year in Houston)…no glamorous stage with lots of ornate props and flashy costumes. It was pretty much just a simple set with a catwalk stretching across the stage and jutting toward the front of the stage on the left side. The costumes were not flashy at all. But the story!!! Oh, the story moved me to tears more than once. And one of my favorite songs –“December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” – it will never be the same for me again! The cast received a much deserved standing ovation.

I didn’t believe that I could handle much more excitement…but we high tailed it over to the Empire State Building before heading back to the room for the night. I say we high tailed it because we thought they closed the elevators to go up to the observation deck at 11:30 and it was already after 11. I don’t even want to remember how many blocks we walked! Let’s just say that it was A LOT! We FINALLY reached the Empire State Building at about 11:40 or 11:45 only to find out that the observation deck does not close until 2 AM. I am so glad we went that first night though. The view was spectacular! The night was so crisp and clear. The lights of the city shone so brightly that it almost didn’t look real. It was like millions of jewels scattered at my feet and back lit so that each one sparkled like it was the only one.

After seeing the view and taking dozens of pictures between the three of us, we perused the gift shop for souvenirs then began the very long trek back to the hotel. I thought my feet would fall off before we reached Third & 50th! I definitely did not wear the proper footwear for walking some twenty or more blocks. Sorry to tell you this ladies, but if you plan to visit NY and you are over the age of 40…footwear must be comfortable above being stylish! Either that…or get a cab!

As we approached our hotel, we began to see tiny snowflakes falling from the sky. The tiniest of flakes that were almost unperceivable to the naked eye except when the street lights caught them just right. It was snowing in NY City!

( Our balcony at approximately 2 AM)

Monday, February 11, 2008

From The Bayou City To The Big Apple

About a year ago, I sat around a table with a couple of friends for Girls Night. The four of us try to get together at least once a quarter to share a meal and discuss the details of our lives. As we ate, we tossed around the idea of getting out of town for a Girl's Weekend. We had talked about it before, but there was always something going on with one of us. We threw around ideas of where we would like to visit...a cruise to Mexico, a road trip to the Gulf Coast, flying out to Napa Valley or visiting New York to see a Broadway play in person. We parted ways that evening with encouragments that we really should try to plan something for 2008.

A few weeks later, after eating my Panda Express Orange Chicken, I opened my fortune cookie which read..."Take A Trip With A Friend". I laughed out loud and then placed the slip of paper under my desk pad. I sent out a email requesting that we all try to make the daydream a reality.

At our next Girls Night...mid-summer I think...Robin asked where we wanted to go. We had narrowed it down to California or New York (leaning more heavily toward NY myself). She pulled out a calendar and told us we had to decide on a date that very night. This thing was really going to happen. We looked over our very busy calendars. Between the three of us that will be able to make the trip we have 11 children, 3 grandchildren (that's a lot of birthdays to plan around!), 2 jobs and 3 households. That doesn't even take into account the pets and volunteer work that have to be covered while we are gone. We chose a date in April, made hotel reservations and began the search for airline tickets.

Almost immediately the April date was at risk. One of us received word that our April may be filled up after all. We regrouped via email and changed the date to February. Our tour guide extrodinaire, Robin, changed our reservations, made the airline arrangements, purchased our Broadway tickets and began putting together our itinerary for the trip that includes a meal at Tavern on the Green. And just ten days, we will be boarding a plane and headed to the Big Apple for five days and four nights of Girl Time!

I am so excited I can hardly stand it! With all the changes that have been swirling around us lately, the trip has snuck up on me. That is probably a good thing. However, now I only have 10 days to get ready to go to New York! From the land of capri's and sandals to the land of cold and snow. I am not even sure how to pack for New York in February. I ordered a long coat from Macy's in January, but they were unable to fill the order so now I am hoping that my mid-length coat will be okay.

Does anyone out there have suggestions on what to pack? Any place we just have to see while we are there? I would love some help!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Our God Who Watches Over Us

"...May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other."

Genesis 31:49 has long been a favorite verse of mine. It is especially dear when the seperation of miles between myself and extended family is made worse due to illness or emergency. It has become even more precious as my children have grown up and began to exercise their independance.

I realize that as Laban and Jacob spoke these words to one another they were speaking as two of the best con men that the Bible records. Jacob deceived his father into giving him the eldest son's birthright which belonged to his brother, Esau, and Laban deceived Jacob into taking his eldest daughter in marriage when he was in love with the younger.

Despite it's original context, it is a wonderful reminder that no matter where our loved ones may be, God sees. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus! Because this was our Monday...

Bri is okay. It is a miracle, but she walked away with only a few scrapes and a couple of bruises. She was driving home from class and lost control in a curve. The car spun around taking out a fence and a couple of trees. The car is toast. She knocked out four of the six windows. Only the windshield and drivers side back door glass are left intact. The damage to the door you see here was done by a pine tree which actually kept the car from rolling over.

As I drove home from viewing the accident sight, I found myself considering how precious life really easily the phone call could have been very we do not always receive 'notice' of an impending loss. I praise God for His ability to watch over my children when I cannot.

We have all been very concerned (as well we should be) about my cousin who at the age of 20 is battling cancer. Monday's accident reminded me that it could be any one of us, at any moment. It is at times like this that I am made even more aware that each of us has been fearfully and wonderfully made and that 'in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." (Ps. 139:16)

Yes, God watches between the deceitful as Witness to their agreements...but thankfully, He also watches over our loved ones as we are absent one from the other.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pretty, Pretty Princess

Guess who is having a birthday?

24 Things About Princess Meagan

  1. Her Poppy gave her the nickname Princess when she was born.

  2. She is our first born child..

  3. ...the first born grandchild on both sides...

  4. ...the first born great-grandchild on the Jenkins side.

  5. Now you know why she is as spoiled as a princess. (See above)

  6. Meagan played t-ball in kindergarten. Her main goal was to make sure her socks and hair bow matched her uniform and that the socks never got dirty. Fashion sense was a natural for her and she never played sports again.

  7. She performed with the theatre group at Killough Middle School, having roles in Get Smart, Anne of Green Gables, and Don't Rock the Boat.

  8. While part of our church's Childrens Choir, she was asked to sing Father's Eyes for a Father's Day service. Jim and I didn't know what a beautiful voice she had until that moment. As soon as she started to sing we turned, stared at each other and then back at her wondering "Where did that come from?" (Thanks Miss Kaye for seeing and nurturing her potential.)

  9. She qualifies as her brother Brian's biggest catch and release on record. During a spring break fishing trip she was snagged in the chin by his hook, complete with worm. She did not want to go into the emergency room because she didn't want anyone to see her with the worm on her face.

  10. Her employment history has included Guest Services for a local water theme park, teller at a bank and Customer Relations for a home builder.

  11. Her first day at work and first date occured the same day.

  12. She made the Elsik Chorale her freshman year, earning the honor of Most Promising Freshman Girl.

  13. Meagan tried out and made the Revies dance team, but had to turn it down in order to pursue Chorale.

  14. She has 'killed' two cars in her driving career...burning up the motor in one and totaling the other on the freeway!

  15. She was elected to Homecoming Court her senior year.

  16. She is a Type A personality...the proverbial first born. She was eager to move out on her own after high school, made a budget, a list of everything she would need and worked toward making it a reality. She achieved her goal the following summer.

  17. She has the ability to scare her younger siblings into submission by using the "BIG EYES".

  18. Meagan loves everything shoes! The higher the heel, the pointier the toe, the better.

  19. She is very devoted to family. Her heart is always soft toward the needs of others.

  20. She is a self proclaimed 'neat freak'.

  21. She has a mischevious side that enjoys teasing her siblings. (Especially licking them on the cheek! Yuck!!)

  22. While working at her last job, she found one co-worker to be unbearable. She later started dating said co-worker and they are now the proud parents of our little monkey.

  23. Meagan is a doting and attentive mother. Her heart has been stolen by Little D.

  24. She will marry the man of her dreams on September 27.