This is the second installment on the Top Ten from our trip to New York and Boston to read part 1 click here.
5. Cheesecake at Juniors…mmmmmm
Best Cheesecake ever! We went twice…we even had cheesecake as our main meal one time (hey cream cheese has protein!) Besides their famous classic cheesecake we had the chocolate mousse cheesecake, strawberry shortcake cheesecake and pumpkin swirl cheesecake. They were all truly scrumptious!
Juniors Restaurant has been around for over 50 years and their tagline is…”you haven’t really lived until you’ve had a cheesecake from Juniors” And guess what? You can order online and have it delivered fresh to your house and have a taste of New York come to you! (and no I am getting a thing for that shameless plug – here is the link to Junior’s) I am so tempted to order a pumpkin swirl cheesecake for Thanksgiving!
4. Please don’t let this feeling end!
Ok….so I couldn’t help myself. I was a romantic teenager when the first version of the movie “Ice Castles” came out and while even at that time I thought it was pretty “sappy”…the song stuck with me and every single time I go ice skating (which isn’t all that often), I find myself singing that tune.
Bryant Park in New York was no exception! Kristen and I laced up our skates and enjoyed almost an hour of ice skating under the stars while Michelle and Rebekah watched (and took photos). It was fun! It was exhilarating! It was great exercise and it will be a memorable moment that we take with us always. We laughed and hung onto each other as we slowly remembered the feel of the ice and began to skate freely around the rink (although stopping to catch our breath quite often!)
The weather was lovely, the atmosphere festive, skating was fab and my partner was perfect! Good times!
3. A College “Do Over” …
…or is it living vicariously through my kids?
We attended two college preview days while on our trip – The King’s College in New York City and Gordon College near Boston, Massachusetts. I can honestly say that in the past several years as I have visited colleges with my daughters I have often wished I could have a “do over” of my college days. As I sit through presentations on everything from campus life to academic advising, take campus tours and attend classes I catch myself thinking….if only I could do this over again. I would likely choose very differently. I would most definitely take advantage of more collegiate opportunities. I would not “wish away” this amazing time in life. (Isn’t hindsight 20/20?….I wrote a blog titled “What would you tell your college age self” that you may want to read if you are in the high school and college age season of life)
I am so very excited and pleased with my first two daughters choices for college and I often find myself living vicariously through their experiences. My first born who is at a college in the Big Apple (I already shared that if I couldn’t live my dream life at the beach, I would live in a big city!) and she attends a college whose mission and purpose and vision would have fit me “to a tee”! The students at her college are amazing….they are smart, articulate, critical thinkers and have depth. (quite different from the superficial shallowness I experienced in many of my college co-eds) And the professors there? Wow…is all I can say! They are invested greatly in the lives of the students, they are inspiring and influential and they “know their stuff”. What an opportunity to sit under their teaching and leadership. I would have not just “survived” college but thrived and flourished at King’s.
My second daughter in Texas is having the athletic and team experience that I longed for as a college athlete. She plays soccer for a Christian university that values the character development and moral living of their players while striving to achieve excellence in competition. She has teammates who she has already bonded with and will likely be friends for life and a coach who is also a godly mentor, role model and friend. Oh what I would have given to have that in college! She also has the amazing opportunity to take time out to be filled up and inspired by God’s word and worship at chapels that take place daily! And the icing on the cake – she lives in a typical dorm style setting (well a brand new facility that looks like a sparkling hotel!) and her roommate and suite mates are young women with a heart for the Lord who encourage and build her up in her faith quite unlike my dorm experience in college of daily stepping over beer cans and vomit on the way to the shower, listening to the mindless drivel of the latest frat party or sorority rush conflict or hoping the wall pounding music would possibly stop before 4am so I could finally get some sleep. Yup! I would take her experience over mine any day!
The third daughter will take off next year after her high school graduation and is in the midst of filling out college applications and making decisions as to where she will attend and the fourth is not far behind. It was exciting to get to see and experience yet another college (Gordon) that is as impressive and has so many great things to offer:
- a college that is centered on Jesus Christ and desires to glorify God in everything they do
- a solid academic education with a small teacher to student ratio where it is obvious that the professors are involved as mentors in the lives of the students
- a strong athletic program with high moral standards for their athletes and coaches who really care about their players personal growth.
- students we met who are obviously flourishing and loving their experience in college
- a beautiful and impressive campus (I must say that California colleges can not compete with the beauty and majesty of the ivy covered brick campuses on the East Coast…well with the exception of my alma mater…UOP)
We shall see where the next two land….but I know this….you bet I will be rejoicing in their opportunities and experiences along the way! (and yes living a bit vicariously through them)
2. Doing What I Love!
If I could do anything I wanted to do in this life, besides being a wife and mommy, it would be to inspire others through writing and speaking to live a life of passion, purpose and praise! In my adult life I have been paid to be a minister, teacher, coach, counselor, administrator, school founder, business owner, sales director and fund raiser. And I have loved them all! But I have come to realize that the thing I am most passionate about is speaking into the lives of others and helping them to live the life they were created to live! My desire is to spend the second half of my life (or if I don’t live to be 98, maybe final third) doing just that!
I had the amazing opportunity to speak to dozens of young women at The King’s College about the complexities of relationships. I shared my life story with them and challenged and encouraged them to be purposeful in their season of singleness and to seek the Lord and His wisdom in their relationships. It was a great time together with these incredible young women and based on the enthusiastic response I think I accomplished my purpose successfully! You know you are doing what you were meant to do when you leave feeling energized, refreshed and exhilarated. It was a highlight of my trip!
1. It’s the Little Things…
Call me crazy but one of my favorite things about our trip to New York and Boston was all the walking we did! Albeit we had great weather (62-68 and sunny almost every day in New York and a rainy but not cold day in Boston) and we were on vacation so there was not the rushing around factor, but I have to say I really enjoy the simplicity of just walking everywhere you want to go.
I kept thinking to myself…why don’t I walk more at home? I live in an area of town where I could feasibly walk to church, walk to the store, walk to our homeschool co-op and walk to Starbucks (which I do do that!) Everyone of the places mentioned are an easy 15-25 minute walk from my house (ok Starbucks is only 5 minutes) There are lots of excuses I could give –>
- It’s too hard to get all the kids together with their “stuff” and coax the middle ones to enjoy walking (the littles would be in strollers)
- I’d have to carry all that stuff back from the grocery store
- I’m not great at being on time for church even when I drive
- I would be wasting valuable time
and on and on I could go! And yet I wonder…would my quality of life be better if I began walking to more places? Here are my random thoughts:
- It would actually slow down the pace of my life simply by the fact that I wouldn’t try to cram so much into so little time.
- It would solve both the diet and exercise dilemma as I would not have to worry about dieting because the walking everywhere would take care of the intake of calories (ie: I could pretty much eat anything as I did in New York & Boston – rich yummy pasta, mouth watering pastries, delicious cheesecake, fancy caloric coffee, lobster ravioli’s in cream sauce, bread with butter, cannoli’s, cream soups, carb laden snacks and pizza, pizza and more pizza – and I weighed in at 1lb less than when I left 10 days earlier, gotta love that!)
and I would not feel guilty about not making it out to the gym or for that designated 30 minute walk because my life would be one of exercising in the midst of living.
- It would get both myself and my children out into the great outdoors and fresh air more often and would release endorphins (happy pills) into our system that would lead to a healthy and happier life.
- It would simplify my life in many ways as I would be more focused on my home life, my kids and what I needed to walk to the store to get for dinner.
- It would save money (and for those of you that are concerned that this large family is destroying the environment…we would be doing our part to be “green”…although that would never make my personal list of reasons to start walking more places…sorry.)
So I have been home for almost a week and I have yet to walk anywhere so my ramblings are probably going to amount to nothing. And I realize that my husband & kids work and go to school 15 miles away and that there are several places that I have to drive to each week so I simply can’t walk everywhere. However, I really do want to incorporate walking as a daily part of my life (as opposed to walking for exercise)….because I really do love it!
I suppose what I really long for is not only a community set up in such a way that everything was in walking distance (which for me it pretty much is except school, sports practices and friends) but also a simpler life without all the crazy schedules, appointments, paperwork, to do lists, activities etc…. Oh wait! I have created that for at least a tenth of my year — beach holiday hiatus come quickly!
So there is my Top Ten List from my trip…hope you enjoyed the tour and that perhaps you were touched, inspired, changed or challenged by one of my “take aways” from our adventure. You will still hear a few more insights from this trip as I have time to write them up.
And I can’t end without just a few more photos of things that I loved!
Did you know that you use to be able to rent a pew at church! It was actually was an enclosed box…you could decorate, leave things in, be late for church and never have to worry about a seat. I see all sorts of advantages to this practice….just sayin’
The fall colors were amazing…I ohhhed and ahhhed and breathed in the beauty. When we arrived in Boston the colors were mesmerizing! I kept wanting to stop and capture each colorful tree, stunning autumn sunset and amazing skyline. Fall is my very favorite season…it is warm and inviting and feels slower and softer than other times of year. I think perhaps it fits my coloring too? What do you think?
There is nothing quite like the top of the Empire State Building! The girls and I enjoyed it at night….the lights were spectacular. I must admit though that while I loved being up there with my darling daughters, it is just one of those places with the wind blowing through your hair, the stars sparkling above and the lights glimmering below that you should have the love of your life by your side with is loving arms around you. Romantic!
Oh and I could not leave Massachusetts without seeing the Atlantic Ocean because….I love the beach! The girls and I made a quick stop by the seashore near Gordon College to put our feet in the sand and see the beauty of the ocean. I felt the grains of sand in my shoes for several days after arriving home which made me vastly contented.