Disclaimer: This is a REALLY long post--sorry!
By some miracle BYU's winter break was three weeks long this year (+/- the extra days I had thanks to not having finals the last couple of days). Having this much time off felt like a luxury, and in the weeks leading up to the break I went through a number of potential vacation scenarios. It's always been a dream of my Mom's to go see the Rockettes--this year we made it happen. We took a mother-daughter trip to NYC.
I hadn't been to NYC since summer of 2011. Coming back to the city felt like coming back to visit an old friend. Everything felt familiar, from the chapel where we attended church, to stops on the subway. If I had to describe New York this time around, it would be tiny, but yet big. Tiny elevators, tiny hotel rooms, tiny restaurants, and yet big skyscrapers, big city.
You know those trips or events in life where everything falls in to place and you think to yourself, "this is divinely blessed." That was New York for me. I joked, 'the gods are looking out for me.'
Literally the day before we left for NYC, I saw a facebook post that my melhor amiga was in the city with her husband on an anniversary trip. What were the chances?!? There was some changing of plans, and she and Mahonri were the sweetest and delayed their departure so we could spend time together. It was the first time we had been physically in the same place in 5 years, and yet it felt like time hadn't passed at all. We had ramen, talked politics and life dreams. Seriously, Mao & Shelly you are my couple goals.
^^pointing to an invisible Daniela, because we love her.
^^There was something special about being in Times Square and watching the Light the World campaign play on a big screen. It was a beautiful moment of stillness amidst the bustle of the city.
^^We visited the Christmas Market at Columbus circle and resisted spending all our money on these beautiful lamps.
On Sunday we attended Church where I ran into two of my neighbors from Freshman year who now live in NYC. Such a happy reunion. My Mom and I snuck into the ward's kitchen after the services to eat the subway sandwiches we had purchased the day before. We then caught the subway (train--not food this time) and visited the 9-11 memorial/museum.
^^Leanna & I were next door neighbors in the dorms our Freshman year!
I could not think of a better way to spend a Sunday in New York. I cannot begin to describe the sanctity and spirit I felt at the 9-11 memorial. The museum highlighted the best and worst in humanity, and I can still physically feel the reverence I felt in my heart that day. It was beautiful.
For the most part, we stuck to Healthy food spots (organic, veggie, gluten-free type joints), but I cannot deny my love for Burgers. Favorite food. Hands down. So, of course, I knew if we were going to have one bad meal, it was going to be at a burger place.
We went to Black Tap, and waited in line in the frigid cold for 1 1/2 hours. I felt like one of those people that Rory interviews in the Gilmore Girls revival. I had become a person who waits for things! AND, not just that, but a man approached us and kind of rudely asked, "what are you waiting for? Those better be good burgers. Good luck with that."
Worth the wait.
I got the Mexico City burger, because #mexican [pepperjack cheese, pickled jalapeños, chipotle mayo, crispy onion ring]. Mouth watering.
^^That milkshake was a sweet and salty fantasy in a cup.
- The Emilio & Gloria Estefan musical. Of course the one musical we went to see in NYC was a Latino musical.
- The Nutcracker Ballet. I owned a VHS version of George Balanchine's nutcracker growing up and would watch it religiously. You know, the one featuring Macaulay Culkin (yeah, I had to google how to spell his name). I have that whole Ballet memorized, and getting to see it live was a dream come true.
The day after we came home from New York City, we went to San Diego. If you have followed this blog, you know that my family is a HUGE fan of Old Town San Diego. That is San Diego for us. We usually go to San Diego in the summer, but my Dad & Brother wanted to see BYU play at the bowl game. Naturally, no Flores trip to San Diego is complete without a day in Old Town.
^^I want this Nativity scene!
^^One day my I will have a Christmas Tree in my house that looks like this.
Christmas Eve is a much bigger deal in my family than Christmas Day. A friend from my Home Ward posted this on Facebook, and it is too accurate & true.
Christmas day is just like any other day for us...This year for Christmas Eve, my Mom invited over a family who used to live in the apartments my grandparents rented. The bond that my mom and her siblings have with this family is absolutely beautiful. The spirit was so strong in our home when they were over, and the memories shared was just pure happiness. We watched old family videos [like 1960s old] and watched Christmas parties of years past. There were old jokes told, and stories about my grandparents shared. I know they were there with us.
^^This woman was like a second mother to my Mom. The emotion of the reunion was so beautiful and strong.
^^Some of the BEST churros I've ever tasted topped with Horchata ice cream and a dulce de leche drizzle.
^^Concha stuffed with horchata ice cream and dulce de leche. Heaven.
I grew up going to MOLAA (the Museum of Latin American Arts Museum in downtown Long Beach). A friend from middle school now works there, and gave me free tickets. I treated Pay (I call my Dad by my first name, because I love his name and think it sounds so endearing [it's pronounced Pie]). My dad is a talented artist, and I knew this would be up his alley.
^^I wrote my life motto and contributed it to the museum's wish wall.
^^Attempting to take a selfie.
Lastly, New Years. We had two families from our ward come over for my Mom's delicious pozole on New Year's day. We have been blessed with the greatest people in our ward! I've been very fortunate to hit the ward jackpot.
My Mom has also had a lifelong dream to go to the Rose Parade. This year was the year of my Mom's holiday dreams coming true!
^^I had to get a ghetto dog, because look at it! OF COURSE all the latinos were out there selling elotes, churros, tamales, ghetto dogs. There was a literal squad stationed at a street corner with about 10 different vendors—even the paleteros were there.
^^Probably my favorite float.
^^Definitely my favorite band. Aztecas!
^^Although, LAUSD comes at a close second because I am a product of that school district.