Watching the news tonight, my thoughts are with my family and friends in New York. This weekend certainly it isn’t the ideal time for a jaunt through the city that never sleeps. As hurricane Irene approaches, public transit is shut down and the locals are bracing for high winds and tons of rain, yet I can’t help but think of the picture perfect day I spent there just weeks ago.
I had a date with my daughter.
As the mother of 4 children, much of my time is divided and distracted. Add being the wife of a military man, and there are many days that I am playing the roles of both mom and dad. It is safe to say that one-on-one time with each of my children is special. We try to be purposeful in making this happen. Sometimes it is just washing the dinner dishes side by side. But other times it is a real splurge and we get to spend a few days together, shopping, movies, travel – whatever it takes to create memories and get to know each other outside the typical roles of the oldest, the youngest, the brother, etc. Some of the best conversations and laughter come out of time completely designed and organized by one of my children.
After an incredibly hectic year…. a deployment, followed by a move, goodbyes, a new school, a new home, shared bedrooms… we decided that each child needed some special time, away from each other. This resulted in individual summer vacations. Victoria and I got to spend a few days together in New York; a mix of time on Long Island and one fantastic day in Manhattan. It was a visit fit for a queen, and a queen my Victoria is! Forty hours in the Big Apple and we hit some of hot spots in the eyes of an 11-year-old girl. Broadway. NBC. Shopping. Star sightings.
It was truly a perfect morning, sunny blue skies, 75 degrees and not a bit of humidity.
We started out early with a quick breakfast. The ideal NYC breakfast of a bagel was not an option for either of us, as we both have to remain Gluten Free, so we opted for made-to-order omelettes and fruit.
Our first stop was to catch a glimpse of Matt, Ann, and Al at the Today Show. We didn’t know what we were getting into. It was ZUMBA day – and the famous plaza was filled with hundreds of Zumba enthusiasts. It was fun, loud and full of action. We saw all of the News Reporters shaking their thing.
We slipped away from the Zumba action and I showed Victoria the NBC back door. Just as I told her that this is where the reporters leave work and get in their cars for home (I know this because I have seen Matt Lauer depart a few times) out steps Ryan Reynolds and Jason Batemen. The Today Show interviewed the stars of the new movie Change Up, and there I was, with the 2010′s Sexiest Man Alive and the brother of the girl from Family Ties just a few feet away from me. And what do I do? Nada. I was star struck. No photo. No autograph. Not even an ”I watched every episode of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.” Since I had nothing to commemorate this experience, I took a shot of their billboard.
With my heart rate just a little higher than usual (yes, they were handsome and charming in person) we were off to the TKTS line. Located in Times Square, there is a booth where you can buy “day-of tickets” at reduced prices. While waiting in line, you get to take in the sights. In past years we have seen the Naked Cowboy and the Naked Cowgirl, some great costumes, interesting people… whether you have a 5 minute wait, or a 2 hour wait, the line is part of the entertainment experience. This time around, our wait was just minutes, and by 9:30 am we had tickets in hand to see the matinée of Mama Mia.
Tkts in Times Square
Next, it was back to the NBC studios to meet Auntie Bean – a beloved sister and aunt who planned to see the show with us – and even more exciting, to meet Kathie Lee Gifford. Yes folks, we were invited into the NBS studios to watch a portion of the Hoda and Kathie Lee show being filmed. Here she is: (Sorry a lousy shot – but flashes were not allowed, and I was shooting directly into sun through the windows.)
We enjoyed a nice lunch in 30 Rock – just below the lobby is a very nice selection of eateries and shops. Our next mission was to pick up some gifts for our family left behind. (Mind you, they were left behind on a tropical island – don’t feel too sad for them.) We hit The Lego Store. Two stories of little plastic blocks to set one’s imagination on fire! We collected a selection of unique pieces for our favorite little brother. I loved the bin of little yellow heads.
Wall of Legos Lime Green Blocks Yellow Heads Lego Dragon
We also had time to hit The American Girl Doll Store, The Disney Store, and The M&Ms Store. Victoria made herself a little “snack bag” of colorful candies – a smart move based on the prices of the concessions within the Theater.
M&M Store Wall of M&Ms Our M&M gal
Next stop – The Winter Garden Theater. I left the play choice completely up to Victoria. I can’t express my secret joy with combining Broadway and Abba – two of my favorite things, ever. I had already seen Mama Mia – both in London and New York, but it didn’t matter. I was happy to see it again.
You see, last year I made the choice when I took the kids to a show. I pushed them into “a classic” – Westside Story. My timing couldn’t have been worse. Just 2 days later we received news that we might be assigned to a base in Puerto Rico. As you know now, we eventually were, and really love it. Now, if you are familiar with the premise of WSS, you know it is about the movement of Puerto Ricans to the United States for a better life. Once they had the song I want to live in America running through their head, it was hard to convince them that they would want to leave the United States for the images of crowded roads, overpopulation, no tvs, and hurricanes. I had faith that Bjorn’s music would not leave any questionable imagery in her mind.
Time for the show!
She loved it! Really, how could she not? I only think she was slightly disturbed, in a very tweenish way, that I was singing along at the end. Oh child – if we were in London, not only would the entire audience be singing along, they would be standing up and dancing too. I love a country that holds Abba in such high esteem.
Next we had the second lesson in The Stage Door. Just like The Today Show, we went around back to see the stars leave work. Unlike the stars of television and screen who have an entourage and waiting town cars – the guys and gals in the theater just walk down the street and get on the subway just like us ordinary folk. Every single one was so nice to my little girl, posing for photos, giving autographs. She has a little bit of the theater bug and this just made it stronger.
Here is her Playbill. What’s a Playbill? At a broadway show, this is the program. They always look like this. Even my Playbill from my first ever show, Annie, when I was a young girl looks the same – black, white and yellow. It is nice to have a sense of continuity and tradition. The actors and actresses signed it for her – a perfect keepsake for the day.
A light drizzle started while we were in the show, but it was NOT going to dampen our day. We walked Auntie Bean back to the train station, and it was time to: shop, shop, shop Macy’s, Little Mismatched, Zara, The Gap, H&M….. we shopped our way up 5th Avenue from 34th to 57th. We also stopped for a few fun NYC tourist photographs.
Public Library Lions Home Alone 2 Lady Liberty
Wet and tired and hungry we headed back to our hotel for hot showers, big beds and room service. V is a huge fan of ketchup. I can’t even begin to explain her joy over these tiny, personalized bottles of ketchup. Some people take little soaps and shampoos home from hotels. We took home ketchup.
And what was hiding under the silver lid?
Hot dog and a salad Turkey club, no bread
After dinner in bed, it was time for my little Dancing Queen to snuggle into her 8 pillows upon her fluffy bed and get some sleep. So much fun can be absolutely exhausting.
To my dear daughter. What a perfect day. Memories to last a lifetime. What a great way to share our loves of shopping, culture and musical theater. I steal these words from our day together…..
Thank you for the music, the songs we’re singing
Thanks for all the joy you’re bringing
Who can live without it? I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For sharing it with me.