Sunday, 15 March 2015

New York New York - Shopping Shopping Shopping

As previously mentioned we were Amazed with New York City.  On our first trip in we all visited Time Square and just soaked in the atmosphere.  Michael saw the MnM Megastore so of course we had to go for a visit!  It was 3 storeys full of MnM goodness!  We loved the elevator doors painted as red or yellow MnM Also loads of people there so it was easy to get caught up in all the excitement and buy anything we saw but luckily Dad was with us and helped talk kids through what they wanted to spend their money on.  We spent nearly 2 hours just in this store.  So after lunch we split into two groups...those who wanted to shop/browse with mum and those who wanted to go to Yankee Stadium with Dad.


Raechel, Jordyn, Matthew and I went shopping!!! I couldnt believe Matthew came with us so we started with the Lego store first to give him something to do if bored later.  It was absolutely packed with people so it was difficult to view the great Lego displays properly BUT overall it was fabulous and we were able to buy a few things.  Then Raechel and I were able to do some clothes shopping whilst Jordy had a little look here and there.  The girls loved Forever 21 and H&M and I loved the Macys and Guess store.  It was just fun walking up and down and around and around and to finish off the afternoon shopping I visited Tiffany's....I dont think my mouth closed the whole time. (I didnt buy anything but gave Raechel a few ideas to let Dad know about for Mothers Day) - And yes the others had a great time at baseball as well.


Then after dinner the children and I lined up to go up the Empire State Building.  The lines were no where as long as 15 years ago when Jason and I went and when we got to the top I realised why...very windy and cold. However it was still amazing to look all around and we were lucky enough to be there for sunset so that was beautiful.  It was also surreal looking down Manhattan to see where the Twin Towers used to be and of course are no longer.  Made me reflect on how blessed I truly am!  So after we came down we met up with Dad who had found a place to fix Jordyn's ipod screen for $20...Bargain!  We all knew we had to catch train back which by the time we walked there and home it would be about another hour which would be very late....I wasnt really looking forward to it.  Then at that exact moment I had that thought a Limo driver asked us if we wanted quick ride around city for $50. We dismissed it straight away.  However children really wanted a go.  Then Michael suggested he would pay.  Very generous. Jason then asked how much to New Jersey...$100. No way....and we walked off then driver suggested $80 and we said YES. We were all sooooo excited.  We got this great ride around the city and down Times Square in a LIMO and then a lift back to the RV.  We had so much fun with music and neon lights in the car!  It was one of the best parts of the whole trip!


Sunday was abit of a slow day and unfortunately it was actually really hard to get to any wards for church but we also wanted to do Wicked lottery so we got on train into town again and waited with no luck and then spent afternoon in Central Park.  It was beautiful and loads to do for children including watching a puppeter doing 1/2 hour shows for children. When we got back to RV we realised that the temple was about 3 blocks from Central Park so we were kicking ourselves we didnt go visit!



Thursday, 12 March 2015

New York New York - Wicked!

AMAZING crazy New York!

We had four great days/nights in this area and it was just amazing the whole time being there and an absolute BUZZ travelling on subway and walking around anywhere that was New York.

We luckily found a Caravan/Trailor Park in downtown New Jersey so it was only a 20 minute train journey up to New York City which is what we did on the first day!  I was just amazed to think here we all were standing in Times Square New York City.  We took some time to just soak in all the atmosphere.  We wanted Jordyn, Matt and Joanna to attend Wicked Broadway show whilst we were there so we thought the Time Square bookings office was for cheap tickets but it turned out it was going to cost $600.  Then they suggested lining up for cheap seat lottery which meant only a small chance of  your name being called for two tickets at $30 each.  We all wrote our name down and unfortunately no one called on that day....we met some lovely people in line and also met them the next day....We met a man from Utah who asked us if we were Mormons ourselves which felt great that he could spot that in us. That day was Sunday and we thought because we were lining up that day we wouldnt get picked and thats right we didnt.  We were supposed to leave New York on the Monday but we all conned Dad to stay one more day as there were no Wicked shows on Monday, just to try lottery on the Tuesday for the last time.  Third time lucky....woohoo - Michael and Jordyns names were called out which meant everyone who hadnt seen it could go plus mum of course. Jordyn, Matthew and Joanna loved the show and the atmosphere! I love watching them being so happy and experiencing new things.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the show again and felt proud that the Aussie production was just as good.

Washington DC

One of the places I really wanted to visit whilst in America was the White House but of course whilst we happened to be there they closed the building for visitors for three months!  After hearing about that disappointment it gave us more time to focus on all the Smithsonian Museums.  I thought the Smithsonian was just one historical museum of America but in actual fact it is a group of museums and galleries with all various types of of history and art.  No way did we have time for all so the older ones chose places to go and off we went exploring.  We started at the Air and Space Museum which had alot of interactive things to do which was great for the children and it was great reading about all the history especially the moon landing.

We visited Smithsonian Institute commonaly referred to as the Castle,  American Art Museum,  American History and Natural History Museum which probably tired us out alot. I couldnt believe how many people were visiting all these places espeically on a week day.  Obviously there was alot of tourists and school groups but it just seemed like thousands and thousands of people coming and going, it was a little overwhelming at times.  I thoroughly enjoyed the American History Museum and learning more of their history and seeing all the dresses most American Presidents wives had donated for display.  I was really excited to also see some church history included due to the major role it played in settling the west of America.

Later in the afternoon we visited near the Capitol Building and walked passed the White House (or as close as we could get anyways) then onward up to Abraham Lincoln statue and a chance to rest in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.  Unfortunately the Washington Monument was under reconstruction so there was alot of scaffolding out and around but the monument still looked magnificient especially towards the end of the day.


One huge day for some of our little people but one to remember.

Before we left this area we had a day visiting other historical places around Virginia such as War Memorial Monument and down south a little to view some of the Civil War history. There was a small hope we would see some war reenactments but unfortuntely we were visiting the wrong time of year.  We also had an afternoon visiting the George Washington Estate and learning some more history.


On the last night we did a driveby the Washington DC Temple....gorgeous at night time!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

East Coast of America!

So on Monday the 29th April 2013 we made it all the way to the other side of America.  We stopped at Wilmington North Carolina for a chance for everyone to have a dip in the water!  It was an amazing feeling to think we had done it!  Jason had been amazing driving all that way without having any accidents! 

In Wilmington we caught up with a friend of Jason’s, Shane Baptista, that he knew from his mission when they stayed in a flat together in Johnsonville NZ.  They weren’t companions but did a lot of work together so became close. We had a great meal with him and his wife Kimberly and her 3 children.  Shane has 2 children as well with another woman.  We had a lovely time catching up and getting to know family.  Jordyn got along really well with their number 2 daughter, Olivia.  I really enjoyed learning about their family history and life together and enjoyed seeing around Wilmington.

Then onwards and upwards.  So many places to visit and see especially alot of historical places.  Our destination was a small place on the map called Falls Church Virginia where Jasons Aunty Dale lives.  Small place on the map but one big area!   It was a very populated area being quite close to Washington DC!  It was soooo lovely catching up with family.  Dale and Jason were talking and reminiscing for ages about old times. Dale took us to a place called Jasons Deli which was fun and introduced the children to artichokes... no one really converted to that taste!  We visited her work at Trader Joes which quickly became our favourite alternative supermarket and then we were able to have dinner with her gorgeous children Jeremy 18, Gabe 15, and Solomon (Zollie) 9.  Greg Brown the childrens father also popped by at the end of the night and joined in the fun, laughter and talking.

Attening Gabe's school production of Hamlet!  She was amazing!!!

We were able to stay 4 nights with Dale which was lovely to get to know everyone a little better but it was also fablous as a base for us to travel into Washington DC!  

You got any Caaandy??? – Memphis Tennesee

After Texas we drove onto Memphis Tennessee which of course is famous for Elvis Presley and Graceland which is the mansion he built and now stores quite a lot of memorabilia about his life and career.  We drove straight to Graceland and toured around everything that was free because for all of us to go through the actual house would have been over $200 and we don’t really love him that much to go through – heck most of the children don’t really know who he was!  However the commercial area around the house was done really well so we got to watch quite a few movie snippets about his life and see a lot of his possessions like two planes and heaps of cars that he owned.  It was actually quite surreal being there.

Then during afternoon we went to downtown  Memphis to visit Beale St made famous by its culture and musical variety which is described in a famous song called ‘Walking in Memphis’ by  Mark Cohn  which of course we had blaring on the radio as we drove into town.  I think our children thought we were a little crazy.  However Beale St was definitely buzzing with loads of people and southern jazz music and vibrant people and colours all around and it was only about 4:30 in the afternoon.  There were a small group of boys performing acrobatics all down the street and collecting some pocket money of course but at least they were really great!

We also had a treat listening to some jazz bands in the local park.  That night we ate dinner at a restaurant on Beale St and tasted some real catfish and Buffalo wings.  One great meal!  As much as I enjoyed this day, experiencing a new environment I would feel quite unsafe taking my children down Beale St after 6pm. The caravan park we stayed in that night was pretty rough as well.  I really felt lucky that we awoke safe without anything being stolen!

The next day we attended sacrament in Memphis and this would have to be one of the most memorable and wonderful meetings we have ever attended.  Everyone was just so happy and friendly and of course wanted us to talk so they could hear our accents.  The lady that Michael sat next to at the end of the row even wanted us all to sign our autograph in her hymn book in case we became famous! During the meeting this same said lady who was probably about 65, leaned down to Michael in her southern Tennessee accent said to him “Have ya got any caaaandy?”  He said he didn’t understand her so she had to repeat herself a little louder so even I heard her this time.  Michael replied sorry no…but I have some gum and showed her and she then took it from him and said ‘oh goody’.    I found it a little amusing that there were quite a few gentlemen with Elvis sideburns throughout the congregation and Jason suggested to me that they may be Elvis impersonators for their employment.  And just as he finished saying this, someone walked in very late and he still had all his Elvis outfit on complete with sideburns, hair and open shirt!  It was very difficult not to laugh!
Throughout the meeting there just happened to be 3 musical items (most normal sacrament meetings only have 1 or 2 at the most).  We thought this may be because of all the musical talent in Memphis and how many of the people may have grown up in gospel revivalist churches where they do a lot of singing.  The first two items where absolutely fabulous and really helped us feel the spirit however the last song a lovely sister stood to sing a hymn and it was really really bad.  One of my kids leant over and asked if she was alright….some of the others were trying not to laugh.  It was a tense situation especially when after verse 1 she went onto verse 2, then by the time she went onto verse 3 some of the other sisters in the ward slowly and reverently arose to the pulpit to help her sing the last two verses.  It was actually really lovely to see.  The original singer was very grateful as well.

Definitely one memorable meeting!