Hitting double digits is a big deal.
Or, at least it is in our house.
In John Paul’s case, with seven ER visits under his belt, it’s nothing short of miraculous!
I’ve mentioned this before, and I highlight it on my parties page, but when our children turn the big 1-0 we hop on a plan and head to a great adventure. There are many reasons why, but the most important is spending special time with a parent in a place that has significance for that child. As the parents of many, individual time with our children doesn’t just fall out of trees. I can’t imagine our family any other size than what it is right now, and for that I’m grateful.
This week John Paul turns 10 but because he’s the biggest Jets fan alive (don’t ask, we have no idea) and wanted to see them play, we moved up his trip to early December. Since the Jets stink as bad as the Cowboys, we knew they wouldn’t be playing in January! Here’s a peek at his trip, the highlights and a few quotes from the birthday boy himself.
Days One and Two
Scott and John Paul left out just before lunch and caught a direct flight to NYC, arriving in the Big Apple around dinnertime. John Paul was most excited that he got to ride in a plane, train and automobile (a scary NYC cab!) all in the same day. The hamburger photo above is referred to as the “exploding burger.” It was huge and he loved every single bite.
The next morning, the boys set out to see as much of the city as possible. They began with a ferry ride, albeit cold, but scenic. They captured some great photos of the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty. They opted to admire Lady Liberty from afar, rather than brave the long lines. It’s not often you get such clear, sunny days in the Big Apple, but that’s what they enjoyed their entire trip – no snow and clear skies – crazy awesome! After a quick lunch at the Corner Bistro (hat tip to former NYC resident Uncle Cory for all the great restaurant recommendations), the boys headed to one of the most meaningful parts of the trip, Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial.
It’s hard to believe something that horrific ever happened in our lifetime, but even though John Paul wasn’t born when it did occur, Scott wanted him to know and understand that important day in U.S. history. The significance of that flower below? Those identify birthdays and are changed out each day. John Paul is a bit of an architecture buff, so the new Freedom Tower captured his attention, as well. Prior to their departure he made a list of about 20 different buildings he wanted to see in NYC. I’m fairly certain he hit about 75% of the list! Scott was ingenious enough to purchase tickets online before they arrived for most of the exhibits and tours which not only saved money, but tubloads of time not waiting in long lines. Look at that! I’m rubbing off on him.
For the architecture highlight, the boys braved the fear of heights and headed up, up, UP to the top of the Empire State Building. They arrived just before dusk. Look at this view!
After a fun, but very busy day, the boys enjoyed Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and walked around Rockefeller Plaza. St. Patrick’s is undergoing some serious renovations, but the boys both said Mass was both beautiful, and peaceful.
Being in New York during the holidays carries a very special feel and the boys most certainly felt it in Rockefeller Plaza. There was singing, picturesque lights, lots of ice skaters and of course, hot peanuts. The picture of John Paul with the peanut guys cracks me up because it is SO John Paul. Scott had to keep reminding him that he couldn’t strike up a conversation with every new person he met. He’s a talker and NYC was his kind of city.
After a stop at the Lego store for “the” lego (Empire State Building architecture lego), the boys enjoyed what they both said was the greatest meal in all of New York. Sosa Borella. There are no photos from this very special dinner, but the memories made were many. Scott took Will out for a similar “big guy” dinner in Washington, D.C. He said it was on this night he caught a glimpse of the young man, waiting to emerge. They laughed, they ate and then the entire restaurant sang “Happy Birthday” to my sweet ten-year-old. Oh, how I wish I was standing in the corner to catch a glimpse of his wide grin. “It was the best dinner, Mom,” he told me, as soon as he got home.
This was the day John Paul had been waiting for the entire trip. We never tell our kids when exactly they’re leaving. On Thanksgiving Day, we heard John Paul exclaim: “This just stinks. The Jets are playing the Dolphins on Sunday and I won’t even get to watch the game.” Scott and I looked at one another and shared a smile. A few hours later, we handed him an envelope. In it, were his Jets tickets. And, yes, we got that on film. Classicly awesome. Or, as JP would say, “epic.”
Before the big NFL game, John Paul begged Scott to take him by the United Nations and Chrysler Buildings. They set out early and captured them both on film.
Then, they got down to business.
Hellooooo New York Jets. The weather gods were smiling upon them. The sky was clear, the weather a bit warmer and their seats spectacular. We are so grateful to a wonderful family friend who gifted the boys with an amazing ride to the game and two fantastic seats. They even had access to the Lexus Club which Scott said was a true gift, allowing them time to warm up when it got too cold! Of course, there were pre-game festivities, food to be eaten and players to point out. Scott said John Paul barely stopped talking.
Well, that is until the Jets really started stinking it up. This was the classic shot from the day, however. The Jets made a huge stop on fourth down. Clearly, John Paul was elated.
There’s no pictorial proof of the horrific meltdown that ensued post-game. Scott said it was “brutal.” But, a car ride back to the hotel, a stop at Dylan’s Candy Bar, a walk through Times Square and dinner/dessert at Serendipity 3 and the birthday boy was good as new. He has passion for the game and fiercely loves his team. We should all be that loyal, I say.
The boys were grateful for a slightly later morning after one very big Sunday in the city. Because their flight didn’t leave until the early evening, they were able to squeeze in one more full day of sightseeing and shopping. There was Macy’s, Tiffany’s and FAO Schwartz. Scott said the folks at Tiffany’s couldn’t have been nicer or more welcoming. I was slightly beside myself when Scott Instagrammed a photo of John Paul holding a Tiffany’s bag. When I opened it, there was a catalog. Stinker.
Of course, what’s a trip to THE New York City if one doesn’t hang out in the Financial District and Wall Street. “Does anybody work here? Because it sure looks like all people do is walk around,” John Paul commented. HA! You can’t explore the floor of the NYSE without an escort, so the boys just admired it from afar and snapped a few photos. Then, it was off to Central Park to enjoy a hot dog, a little rock skipping and some pretty spectacular scenery. They did learn that sparrows like bread, but not lamb. Good to know.
And just like that, their trip came to a close. They jumped on the train at Grand Central Terminal one last time, packed their bags and headed home to Austin.
To capture this trip and its many memories, we created a hardcover book for John Paul, just as we did for Will three years ago on his experience. Here’s a bit of what Scott wrote that I think is worth sharing with the big wide world of blog readers.
ONE UNFORGETTABLE TRIP. There are so many things to share about our time in New York City.
You talked. A lot. About everything. You also talked to lots of strangers, especially on the subway.
Even though you were inconsolable after the Jets’ loss to the Dolphins, I enjoyed your passion. You’re the most competitive kid in the house and I love that about you.
Our big dinner out was made even better when the entire restaurant at Sosa Borella sang “happy birthday” to you. You still say that was one of the best moments of the trip.
You enjoyed the NYC architecture and getting to see your “list” of must-see’s was pretty fabulous.
You absolutely loved going on a plane, train, subway and taxi all in one day. You talked about it the entire trip.
You fit right into the crazy Manhattan lifestyle. I am so not surprised.
Hearing you share about life, your dreams and how much you love football just made me that more proud of who you are, and who you are becoming.
You ate like a trucker, especially that exploding burger.
In total, I think you earned $1.26 while playing the penny game. I’m still not sure that money is sanitized.
I know there were some moments you got homesick and missed your Mom and siblings. But, you dove into the city and all it had to offer with such joy. It’s an honor to be your Dad, buddy. I already see the beginnings of a fine young man. Happy birthday!