It’s a beautiful day in New York.

Dear friends,

It’s Saturday morning and I’m sitting in a Starbucks window seat on the Upper West Side drinking my latte and watching the world walk by (so very “You’ve Got Mail”).

It’s a beautiful day in New York City.

Over the last four days, my responsibilities and anxieties have melted away and all that remains is one fabulous, monumentally memorable mother-daughter trip.

I’m relaxed. I’m happy. My heart is full with gratitude for the gift of this time with Kate. I’m guessing it won’t surprise you to hear that I have very nearly burst into tears a million times — so many things have moved me these last few days. Even as I type this and look out the window while waiting on Kate to fill her coffee order, I am overflowing with joy.

There is beauty everywhere.

We’re off now — to soak up one last day in the city. Truth is, though, we could be anywhere. Mostly I am off to soak up one more glorious day of memories with my sweet child.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful Saturday, too!

With gratitude {for all the love and beauty in this world},

Joan, who is convinced travel is a fool-proof tonic for the soul

A tale of two shoes.

Dear friends,

It was the best of fashion, it was the worst of fashion. It was the age of color, it was the age of drab. It was the epoch of glamor, it was the epoch of frumpy. It was the season of style, it was the season of comfort.

It — is my life in May.

I’m headed out next week to the teeming Texas cities of Houston and Austin for a four-day business trip. My itinerary includes a three-hour tour of NASA. (I’m not dropping names or anything, but I know a couple of astronauts so, you know, this is a really cool trip.) Anyway, I was pretty pumped about this part of my itinerary until I learned I needed specific footwear for NASA. As in — something I can walk and stand in comfortably for three hours, and no open toes or sling-backs.

I’m guessing you can figure out I have no such shoe. (I only buy cute shoes. So shoot me.)

Kate and I spent Thursday evening trying to find suitable (read: ugly) black shoes, since NASA also recommends trousers and I’m doing my best to “cute” things up a bit with my kicky Ann Taylor black pantsuit.

Here’s what I found.

Dreadful, I know. I aged 20 years as soon as I slipped them on. But they met all the criteria, including being surprisingly comfortable, so mine they are. I suspect they will get worn to NASA and never again, but that’s the price I’m willing to pay for our nation’s space pioneers.

Oh, and while I was at the store, I picked up these.

Now that’s more like it, baby! Purple suede, orange suede and gold lame. Is there a better combo to be found in a shoe? No, I say!

These adorable wedges might make an appearance at a Houston dinner party — I’m not sure yet — but I’m certain they will be seen at Kate’s graduation and they are most definitely going to Broadway. (Note to self: be sure to arrange a taxi from our hotel to the theater. Carrie Bradshaw might walk all over Manhattan in cute shoes, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.)

With gratitude {for new shoes and plenty of fun places to wear them},

Joan, who wore her spectacular suede shoes to the office yesterday and realized she was a towering 6’4″ in them, but seems to recall that Vogue declared “more is more” and surely that applies to stature, right?

From tears. To smiles. To oh crap. To cardiac arrest. To laughs. To epiphanies. Holy cow what a day!

Dear friends,

Yesterday was one wild ride.

It started with tears at home because, you know, I got all choked up over my own post even as I was posting it. (Yes, I’m a goofball.)

But then things started looking up as I read your very kind and insightful and empathetic comments, both on this space and on my Facebook page. (I can’t thank all of you enough for sharing your stories and bolstering my spirits.)

Then on my lunch hour I finally got around to booking our trip to NYC — er, Hoboken — for Kate’s graduation gift. I had been procrastinating because — while I’ve been to NYC four times in my life, I don’t know it all that well — and I was fearful of making dreadful, regrettable mistakes. On the other hand, I wasn’t about to pay $500 a night for a hotel room, so I eventually had to just pick one and go with it.

So I chose a little “boutique” hotel on the Upper West Side. (I don’t know why, maybe because it was close to the subway, and I stayed in Times Square once and didn’t find it all that appealing, and I didn’t think I wanted to be downtown, so I just, you know, went with the one with the pretty pictures and the good price.) And after I picked the hotel and prepaid for it, I realized it’s so “charming” and so “historic” it doesn’t have an elevator. And some of the reviews said it sometimes doesn’t have hot water, either. So lord only knows what I’ve gotten us into in the name of frugality.

And then I checked the price of Broadway tickets and had a heart attack. I really want to see Book of Mormon but I really don’t want to pay $600 for two tickets, so I’m trying to decide whether it makes sense to just stand in the Times Square discount ticket line and take our chances when we get there. (Thoughts, anyone?)

Then I sketched out our itinerary for all five days and couldn’t decide if Little Italy or Chinatown was the better bet. MOMA or Met? NBC Studio Tour or TV and Movie Sites Tour? Fifth Avenue or Garment District or SoHo for shopping?

Then I found this — a handy little map of all the shopping in Soho and it pretty much sealed the deal.

Then I got dizzy trying to decide if we could tour Ground Zero and Liberty/Ellis Island in one day, so I abandoned trip planning until I can get my wits about me.

Then I came home, where my entire family dog-piled into the kitchen because we were all starving. And, for once, I made supper while my kids made lists of the friends they plan to invite to our Memorial Day float trip. And Parker — who’s not my most decisive child — was really having trouble narrowing down his extensive list of social contacts to fit into an 8-man raft — causing me to lose patience.

And Kate finally stepped in and said “Parker! Have tryouts and make cuts!”

Which made every last one of us laugh out loud, even Parker. And in that moment — that moment where we were all together and laughing and eating and having fun — I remembered what so many of you said to me about savoring every moment.

And I did.

I surely did.

With gratitude {for the clarity to put down my hanky and embrace your wise words},

Joan, who knows even if the hotel she picked yesterday is a flea-bag, it still won’t be her biggest travel blunder ever, because her friends still tease her about the time she purchased Royals vs. Yankees tickets for their girls weekend in Kansas City only to get to Kauffman Stadium and realize the game was at Yankee Stadium

Joisey girls.

Dear friends,

Not long ago I was kvetching to a friend about how much I’ll miss Kate when she moves away to college, about how time is slipping away, about . . . oh, you know — that thing that mothers do.

And my wise friend, who has been the source of many good ideas and advice over the years, suggested I needed to plan a girls’ trip with Kate — a week’s getaway after she graduates from high school, just the two us, as a kind of rite of passage/celebration/cementing of the mother-daughter bond experience.

I was all over the idea and mentioned it to Kate immediately. I told her we would go anywhere she wanted to go (within reason of course, which my girl is nothing if not reasonable) and to think about it.

A couple of nights ago I followed up with her.

Joan: Have you been thinking about where we might go for our girls’ trip?

Kate: Anywhere is fine, Mom. Wherever you’d like to go, I’m sure I’d enjoy it.

Joan: No, no, no. I want you to pick. It’s your trip.

Kate: Well, I was talking to a friend and I was thinking how fun it would be to go to Hoboken.

<insert screeching tire sound>

Turns out, guess who is in Hoboken?

Photo credit: hddavila2007

Our favorite baker ever, Buddy of Cake Boss!

Kate started her confectionary odyssey before I did. In fact, she’s the one who inspired me to take up baking. Long before I was spending my Sundays making multi-layer, filled cakes from scratch, Kate was creating and selling these little delights:

So Hoboken it is! And while we’re in the neighborhood, I suggested we ought to drop in on the Big Apple. Because there’s just a few things we might enjoy over there, like hanging around outside 30 Rock and stalking Tina Fey.

I’m so excited, I’m tingly! I’ve been to NYC three previous times, in 1976, 1987 and 1999, but Kate has never traveled there. The last time I was in Manhattan, I went to the top of the World Trade Center for the first time. Kate and I both want to see Ground Zero.

If you’ve been to NYC more recently than 1999, would you do a girl a favor and drop me some suggestions? Where should we stay? Where must we eat? There’s so much to choose from, I need a carefully edited itinerary and would welcome your input.

With gratitude {for the anticipation and excitement of planning a big trip},

Joan, who in her secret dreams believes she could have been a real-life Carrie Bradshaw, pink tutu and all (except for the Mr. Big part because she is clearly more into the Mr. Moms than the Mr. Bigs)

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