Summer was a bit of a whirlwind this year. Paige stayed in Tallahassee, working as a nanny for a local family and taking a class…coming home for beach weekends whenever possible. She also babysat for her cousins and a few other local families and managed to save quite a bit of money for the next semester.

Clay was working two part time jobs, sending out resumés and applying for jobs on handshake and LinkedIn daily, contacting recruiters…and hoping something would turn up. Let’s just say that the environmental field is not what it was a couple of years ago.

Tim and I traveled to North Carolina to visit my mom at the beginning of the summer and to Washington D.C. at the end of the summer.

New York, Part Deux

I should probably begin by explaining that Tim has a hotel room in the city for the month, courtesy of his company. And so we decided to take advantage of that, since New York City is very expensive… Anyway, Clay had classes, so Paige and I flew up last week for a few days. It seemed like a great idea since the forecast was for rain here…and we had a boil water advisory for our little beach area. Sadly, I didn’t bring my (real) camera this time, so snapchat photos will have to suffice. 

We left Thursday and got to spend that day with Tim before he left for work. He surprised us with tickets to Something Rotten, which was fabulously funny and absolutely great. We loved it! 

The next day Paige and I headed to Chinatown to do a little (ahem!) shopping on Canal Street.  After a bit of haggling, we walked to Little Italy for a quick snack and to rest our feet and people watch for a bit. 

After our respite we headed on to Greenwich Village. We did a bit more shopping, a lot of walking, and finally had a late lunch/early dinner at Famous John’s (Thanks for the recommendation, Theresa!) It was delicious!

While we were noshing on our pizza, we checked on the status of our lottery entries for some of the sold out shows we hoped to see – Hamilton, in particular. Sadly, but not surprisingly, we did not win. So we opted for discounted tickets for an old favorite. And it did not disappoint. 

Saturday was museum day. We went to The Met and we spent hours there, yet probably were only able to see about a quarter of the exhibits. It was all just amazing. And slightly overwhelming…so much to see!

And Sunday (when it started raining in the city, and the sun came out at home) we decided to head home. 

It’s good to be back. Thankfully, the boil water advisory was lifted right after we got home. Perfect timing! 😊 I love visiting NYC…but it makes me appreciate my quiet, peaceful, tranquil home even more. Although…it might be worth the frenetic pace and constant barrage of sirens and honking horns to have access to those museums…

Strawberry Fields Forever (Day 4)

We all slept quite late our last day in the city (after our late evening at School of Rock!) Thankfully, it had stopped raining, although still chilly and overcast, so we decided to explore Central Park. 

It always amazes me how tranquil and serene the park can be, especially considering that it’s right in the middle of this huge, frenetic city. I also always forget how much I love it there. I was quickly reminded of the many things I love about the park…from the boats, to the statues, to the placards on the benches with lovely quotes, to Belvedere Castle and the Ramble (probably my favorite, honestly) and the street performers. 

Walking through the Ramble was my favorite part. It’s so lovely. And so amazing that those beautiful woods are right in the middle of a giant, crazy city. 

And that was it for our family getaway to the city. It was great. It was fun. 

I love New York. I really do. But, honestly, it wears me out. It is a city full of energy and I’m a middle aged mom who needs her sleep. 

I’m happy to be home. But I’ll be back, New York, I’ll be back. 

I Want to Wake Up in a City That Never Sleeps (Day 3)

Our third day in the city, we set out for the American Museum of Natural History (scene of Night at The Museum). It was another rainy day, and it was packed. But once getting through the long, long line to buy tickets (hint: the suggested ticket price of $22 is just that; a suggestion. You can pay any amount. 😊)  the museum did not disappoint. Actually, even as we were waiting in the interminable ticket line, we were entranced….

The dinosaurs were pretty awesome. I was expecting T-Rex and Stegosaurus, but was quite surprised by the enormous stag/deer/elk thing and the humongous ancient armadillo, among others!

I must admit, however, that finding T-Rex made us very happy. We were all quite taken with him. 

Clay was enthralled by every single thing about the oceans exhibit…from the sharks to the jellyfish to the huge blue whale. 

The museum was lots of fun and the perfect activity for a cold, rainy day.  We could have spent hours more exploring, but we needed to get back to the hotel and freshen up before heading out again…

We saw School of Rock and IT WAS FABULOUS! Alex Brightman (Dewey Finn) is amazing, and the kids all play their own instruments and are just so incredibly talented. It was wonderful!

Here’s a little clip from 

These Little Town Blues Are Melting Away (Day 2)

Our second day in the city was filled with touristy stuff. Which was actually a lot of fun, in spite of the drizzly, dreary, 50 degree day. 

We started out on the Staten Island Ferry…which provided lots of photo opportunities with beautiful views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty. And it was free! 


Then we walked. We walked through Grand Central Terminal, ate lunch downstairs in the food court, and then walked to the Empire State Building – after a quick stop off at the library for a few more photos. Yes, the ESB is predictable and touristy. And it’s expensive, and the lines are crazy-long. We know. But the kids have never been…and it’s just one of those things you have to do. 

And those views! You really cannot beat them. 

After that, we were beat. We had a quick dinner and called it an early night. 

New York State of Mind (Day 1)

Last week the family hopped on a plane and took a little vacation. What’s unusual about this is that we decided to stay within the U.S. and explore an American city this time. The kids, even though they’ve traveled throughout Europe, have never been to New York City. We decided to remedy that. 

Before we left, I had reserved tickets for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Unfortunately, the only day available was the day we arrived and we had to be at the studio to check in by 2:30. Our flight arrived in Newark on time and our driver was waiting to take us to our hotel, so that was good…but, of course, we had to deal with the traffic. By the time we arrived at the hotel, we had just enough time to dump our bags in our rooms before catching a cab and heading to the studio…through more crazy, city traffic. We arrived at the studio at 2:28! But we made it. We got our tickets and ran to get a quick slice of pizza before the show started because we were starving!

Once we arrived back at the studio, we waited in line a bit more and then a guy came out to tell us about the rules. We would be allowed to use the bathroom before entering the studio, but once in the studio there would be no leaving (so no more bathroom breaks).  Chewing gum was not allowed. Nor was eating or drinking. 

After our bathroom break, we went through security (just like at the airport) and then into the studio. 

We sat for a while and some guy came and explained what would happen, and what was expected of us (lots of enthusiasm and applause – not too hard to do!) and eventually, the warm-up comic, Angelo Lozada, came out. He was very funny and interacted with the audience quite a bit, even us! At one point he asked people from out of town to raise their hands and then he called on Tim. When he asked him what he did for a living, and Tim answered “airline pilot,” he was off with a whole thing about pilots. And, if you know Tim, you know he had some funny responses. He asked Tim who he was with, meaning…at the show….and Tim answered with the name of his airline. That got a good laugh. But eventually he answered his wife and kids and Angelo talked to the kids a bit about their studies at college. Very entertaining!

And then…Trevor came out. And the audience went wild. He spent a bit of time answering questions from the audience and was charming and funny. Tim even got to ask a question, “If you could go back in time to any one day, what would it be?” His answer, after first saying he wasn’t sure about going back in time as history hadn’t always been kind to blacks, was to a year ago when everyone was laughing at the idea of a Trump nomination so he could warn us all to take it seriously. 

And then the show began. And it was great. 

The Daily Show
The Daily Show, part 2 
The Daily Show, part 3

Erin go Bragh

Last week Tim and I embarked on another empty nester adventure to celebrate our anniversary. (26 years!) We were originally planning on going to Lisbon, but after checking flights and loads and realizing the impossibility of getting to Newark to get the Lisbon flight, we did what all good non-rev travelers do and we changed our plans. We decided to go to Dublin instead. Yes, Dublin in February is overcast, rainy, and cold…but the flights were wide open and we got a great deal on our hotel, so off we went!

I mentioned that we got a great deal on a hotel, but I have to say a few more words about our hotel. We stayed at The Shelbourne and it was one of, if not the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. From the moment we arrived, everyone went out of their way to ensure we had a pleasant experience…and we certainly did! The hotel itself is beautiful and is located directly across across from St. Stephen’s Green and down the street from Trinity College. When we awoke from our “jet lag nap” after arriving, we were delightfully surprised by a sweet surprise from the hotel. 


A bit of trivia about The Shelbourne; in addition to the many famous guests who have stayed there over the years, the Irish Constitution was written at The Shelbourne, in room 112, which is now known as the Constitution Room. 


We strolled through St. Stephen’s Green, which was lovely – even in February. 

We did the touristy hop on-hop off tour bus, went to  Dublin Castle (which was, frankly, disappointing. It was built in the 1800’s. Big deal. We have stuff older than that in the U. S. 💁🏻) and saw the Chester Beatty Collection, which was quite amazing. We tried to tour the Kilmainham Gaol, but the queue was over two hours and it was 40 degrees and raining. No thanks…maybe next time! 

The next day we took the train to Kilkenny, where we saw a  real castle, Kilkenny Castle, (dating back to the 1200’s. Now, that’s what I’m talking about!) It was beautiful. We strolled along the old cobblestone streets and ate lunch in an old pub in front of a huge fireplace. We saw gorgeous old cathedrals and abbeys. It was a cold, but fun, day. 

Finally, we went to Trinity College where we saw the Long Room(old library), which was nirvana to a book nerd like myself. It was a huge, wonderful room filled with old books and busts and beautiful wood and soft light. I wish I could adequately describe the smell of the room. It was old books, and knowledge, and history…and as you walked in and breathed in you could smell it. My only complaint was that I wasn’t able to wander up and down the aisles and peruse the old tomes to my heart’s content. But, it is a working library, and the students at Trinity College do have access to all the books, so….

We also saw the Book of Kells exhibit, which is also at Trinity College, and that was also very interesting and beautiful…and quite amazing. 


 There were many other things we would have liked to have done. We had hoped to be able to visit some museums our last day in Dublin, but we forgot that museums are closed on Mondays. Oops. Oh well, it just gave us a bit more time to shop, and drink a bit of tea, and pop into a pub or two and grab a pint…or two. 



So often when we go on vacation, we return feeling more frazzled and stressed than when we left – with airport delays and “non-rev” travel, it can be even worse for airline families. This vacation wasn’t like that at all. Our cabin in North Carolina was perfect. It was furnished beautifully and had everything we could possibly need. It was even decorated for Christmas. 

We loved getting out and driving around and exploring Highlands and Asheville and Brevard, but we also loved coming home to “our” cabin and relaxing. The view was ever changing. Some days we had long range views of the mountains and others we were enveloped in clouds. We spent a lot of time of the deck outside, enjoying the outside fireplace and watching the changing views…the peek-a-boo views of mountains, the glimpses of waterfalls, the clouds that would rise up the mountain until we were ensconced in a thick layer of fog, the deer scampering through the trees….It rained a lot while we were there, but even that was kind of fun – listening to the sound of the rain while sitting in front of a fire sipping hot chocolate with your family is actually pretty awesome. 



Christmas morning the clouds cleared out out long enough for a glorious sunrise. Clay was happy because we had ham, and we had a very relaxing family day.  We ate, and opened gifts, and read, and talked, and watched the clouds, and sipped hot chocolate. Paige colored. Clay played with his new drone. We listened to Christmas carols. 

Some people might think it was kind of boring. 

We thought it was perfect. 


And…did you notice that I’m not in any of the photos? Someone decided to do something about that…

There I am! 

Family time

We are in North Carolina for Christmas this year. We rented a lovely cabin a few minutes away from my mom and we’ve been thoroughly enjoying the gorgeous mountain views, the fireplaces, and the cooler temperatures. Even though it’s still quite warm for this time of year, or so everyone keeps telling us, it’s cool enough for sweaters and jackets and it feels quite nice to us Florida people! The forecast is for rain all week long – but even that forecast can’t get us down, as our cabin is enveloped by clouds every morning and feels so peaceful and tranquil. 


We’ve explored Highlands and Asheville and had a wonderful visit with Tim’s nephew and his family, whom we haven’t seen for several years. 

We even found time to sneak away for a few hours to see the new Star Wars movie. (4 thumbs up from the VK’s, by the way!) 

We’re completely enjoying our mountain getaway – the fresh air, the quiet serenity, the family time… It’s perfect. 



Edinburgh…last day😢

For our last day in Edinburgh, we decided to walk over to the University of Edinburgh. Wow. Now we are going to try to convince our kids to do a semester abroad there…or maybe even grad school? Just kidding…sorta. 

Seriously, what a beautiful university. 

I also enjoyed the fact that the sexual assault awareness campaign is going on on UK campuses as well…

And, as I’ve mentioned before, J. K. Rowling spent quite a lot of time in Edinburgh and much of her inspiration for Harry Potter came from here. 

I’m just guessing that the name of this street, Potter Row, and the university’s bookstore might have influenced her as well?

Speaking of which, on my bucket list was a visit to George Heriot’s School, which was supposedly Rowling’s inspiration for Hogwarts. Since school was in session we couldn’t get onto the grounds, but I went into full on paparazzi mode and took photos through the fence. 

I know I’m a nerd, but it kind of made my day. 


Edinburgh is filled with hills. Steep hills. And stairs. Lots and lots of stairs. 

The Scots really know how to present a cup of cappuccino…

We ate dinner one evening in Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. I enjoyed learning all about William Brodie, who was supposedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.   
We also made it to Greyfriar’s Tavern and the statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby.  
A few more random pictures…



Finally, our last day in Edinburgh, we had Cullen Skink Soup, which sounds kind of disgusting (I kept picturing a big, fat skink!), but was actually kind of fabulous – especially on a chilly, drizzly, day.