31 December 2007

SNL-Ebony and Ivory

For whatever reason, as I was searching iTunes for songs I was reminded of the Eddie Murphy/Joe Piscipo skit on Saturday Night Live where they played Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra doing Ebony and Ivory. It is hilarious so I thought I'd share it with everyone to give a good laugh. Happy New Year!!

Christmas in NY - Day 2

For Day 2 of our Christmas visit to Manhattan we started the day with ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park. We decided to go here instead of the rink at the Rockefeller Center because I thought it would be much less crowded and it was about half the price (~$40 rather than $70+ for me and the kids...Nicole didn't want to skate). Anyway, as you can see it was pretty busy and we ended up skating for about 30 minutes before they brought out the Zamboni to scrape the ice. Needless to say we left at this point because we didn't want to sit around for 30 more minutes to wait to get back on. Plus we were all skated out at this point already.

Since we were up at the north end of the 5th Ave shopping and we had an appointment to go to the Top of the Rock at 2pm, we decided to start at the Apple store (check out this panorama view of the store) and work our way down to the Rockefeller Center.

After Apple (which we just cruised through very quickly) we visited the world famous FAO Schwartz store on 5th Ave (which was where the piano scene in the movie "Big" was filmed).

Since we were getting short on time, after FAO Schwartz we headed over to the Rockefeller Center to get lunch and cruise around there a bit before going to the Top of the Rock. The first picture below is the kids in front of the Penny Harvest which was a national educational program designed to teach children about their value as contributors to society. The Penny Harvest Field includes an estimated 100 million pennies — plus a few nickels, dimes and quarters that slipped in by mistake. The second picture is Nicole and the kids in front of the Rockefeller tree (not a very clear picture...sorry).

The first picture is in the elevator going up to the observation deck looking up the elevator shaft through the plexiglass ceiling of the elevator. The rest of the pictures are views from the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Center which include views of St. Peter's Cathedral on 5th Ave.

After we went to the Top of the Rock, we mosied back up 5th Ave to the American Girl Doll store for Rebekkah and Tiffany's for Nicole.

For dinner we went to a quirky looking Greek/Italian restaurant called "Astro." The food was so-so, but the service was atrocious. I think it was probably the worst service that either of us have ever had. Anyway, to make a long story short, when we only tipped him about $1.50 (it should have been about $5 if there was any service at all) the waiter proceeded to chase us about a half a block to tell us that we didn't pay for the service. A heated conversation ensued and then he finally left. It was sort of humorous but also a little spooky at the same time. Needless to say, we do not recommend this restaurant.

Finally, we have a view of Times Square where we were picked up at the conclusion of Day 2.

30 December 2007

Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth

While we were in Tiffany's on Fifth Ave in Manhattan I heard the Little Drummer Boy song that I just remembered today that I wanted to find and download. In my search I learned that it was by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. I also learned that it was from a TV Christmas special "Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas" in 1977. Apparently it was recorded about a month before Bing's death. Anyway, I think it is a beautiful arrangement of the piece and thought I would share with everyone on our blog. Merry Christmas!

29 December 2007

Christmas in NY - Day 1

We had planned on going to New York City while we were over in this general area of the country and Nicole had the thought, "what better time to visit New York than Christmastime." And so about a month out I began planning. As most of you know, I'm such a techno-geek that I had to do it all on Excel.

First, I consulted with my travel agents at work to see what sort of things we should do while in NY (many of the people I work with are from the Oradell, NJ). Next, I began searching the web to reserve lodging and tickets for the various attractions.

For the hotel I searched on Hotels.com to find the best value with the easiest travel. I first reserved a room at the Ramada Inn in East Orange and I made all of my travel arrangements from here. Then two days before I was going to stay there, people at work asked where I was staying and when I told them "East Orange" they all started laughing and thought (hoped) I was kidding.

They said that this was one of worst areas to stay and that if I wanted to get mugged in the middle of the day that this would be a good place to stay.

Needless to say I asked them to tell me exactly where I was allowed to stay. So I scrambled for the next hour to find a Howard Johnson that was a hundred times better than what I had previously booked. It was about 10 miles closer and it had a $5/person shuttle into Times Square every day and had a continental breakfast. Plus I was told the area was a hundred times safer which was the most important reason. Disaster averted.

On my internet search I secured tickets in advance for the Radio City Music Hall, Statue of Liberty, Top of the Rock, and the Empire State Building. The rest of the stuff we payed for at the sites. When we said we visited New York, and when most people visit New York, we really only visited Manhattan because that's where everything cool to see is located. In case you did not know, Manhattan is just one of the five districts or boroughs of the city of New York (all five are The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island).

As shown in our itinerary, Day 1 included seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and visiting the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or MET for short). We also got to see Times Square, Central Park, and take the subway. Plus we ate dinner at Bubba Gump at Times Square.

Our first drop off at Times Square

In front of Radio City Music Hall

During the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Our first subway trip

At the American Museum of Natural History (better known by my kids as the place where "Night at the Museum" was filmed).

Walking through Central Park to get to the MET from the Museum of Natural History. We got lost a few times in the park and after walking through some portions I can see why they recommend you do not be in the park after dark. It was really quite spooky.

At the MET in the Egyptian Art section at the temple of Dendur

At dinner at Bubba Gump at Times Square. Nicole and Rebekkah enjoy dessert...mmmm...mud pie!

Finally at the end of Day 1 at Toys R Us and Times Square. The Toys R Us at Times Square was totally amazing. When you first come in there are people there to greet you and take your picture (of course because they want to sell it to you later). The first thing you see, even before you enter, is the ferris wheel inside. Also inside as we have taken a picture of and filmed is a 5-ton, 20-feet high, 34-feet long animatronic T-Rex from Jurassic Park. Plus it was a total madhouse in there since it was Christmas week. I was amazed that I could even pull off any of these pictures!

10 December 2007

Visit to Michigan

My grandfather (Dad's dad), who now lives in Michigan, has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. This is only about a 6 hour drive from where we are in Ohio and so we decided to go see him and visit my dad's side of the family (aunts, uncles, and cousins) as well. They all live in the Battle Creek (where I was born) and Hastings areas which are about 2 hours west of Detroit.

We stayed at my Uncle Brian's (dad's brother) cabin which was just north of Battle Creek. The kids had a great time with their grand aunt and uncle. My uncle took the kids on a rid out on his 40 acres of forest on the tractor. They had a ball! (thanks for letting us crash your pad Brian and Polly! we had a really good time.)

These are my childhood houses in Battle Creek. The first house was the one I was born in (Baseline Rd) and the second house is the one we moved from to the Tri-Cities (Borden Dr). I pretty much only remember them from old pictures and movies.

Here we are at my Aunt Sonja's in Wayland, MI (near Hastings) with my Grandparents and the kids with their first cousins once removed.

On the way home we ran into some serious rain. It was raining so hard that you could only see about 10 feet in front of you and even that not very well. We saw someone else pulled over under an overpass because his windshield wiper was ripped off from the force of the rain.

09 December 2007

Niagara Falls

On the way back from Boston we stopped at Niagara Falls. The first picture is of the kids playing in the snow outside the hotel before we went to the falls. We stayed on the Ontario, Canada side since we heard that the view was best from there and that there was more to do and see there. Our hotel was really nice. The hotel had an indoor pool (in which we did not swim since we didn't bring suits) and each room had a fireplace.

While at the falls we spent $40 to take an elevator to the bottom of the horseshoe falls called "Journey Behind the Falls." Unfortunately, since it was winter, the Maid of the Mist was not operating.

After visiting the falls, we drove through town to the outlet mall. I thought that the attraction to the towns was the falls but the town in Ontario looked like Las Vegas complete with casinos, Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe, IMAX, Cirque, Ripley's Believe it or Not, magic shows, arcades, haunted houses, wax museums, and an aquatic theme park. It was insane.

Anyway, here are some pictures for your enjoyment.