Tag Archives: film night

A Night Out New York-style

I don’t think it’s possible to visit New York without experiencing something of its nightlife and we had 3 very different nights out during our stay.

Ice Hockey at the Prudential Center, New Jersey: Unsurprisingly, the first was an evening of ice hockey and the first time either G or M have been to a proper NHL game. As soon as our flights and hotel were booked,  Mike was on the lookout for who would be playing where over the Christmas period and as soon as the final schedule was released, big decisions had to be made. We were originally considering a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden, but the cost of the seats combined with what we considered to be limited viewing based on our previous visit to see the New York Knicks meant that it looked unlikely we would go.

In a moment of almost sheer desperation, Mike decided to widen his search to see whether the New Jersey Devils were playing at home during our visit and there he struck proverbial gold. Not only were they playing on the 27th, but much to Mike’s delight, they were up against his team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though we were crossing state lines, the trip to the Prudential Center in Newark by PATH train was easy and took us almost directly to the door. The children cheered their way through their first hockey game with G wearing proudly the NJ Devils hoodie she bought beforehand, mostly in a bid to rile Mike. It was a great family evening out for all of us with G and M now fully indoctrinated into the love of the sport and the right final result being achieved on the night, if you are to believe Mike and M!

Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, Radio City Hall:  This is an experience like no other and one that I would heartily recommend time and time again. It was also the reason behind my Mum’s wish to be in New York during the Christmas period for her 70th birthday. For the uninitiated, the Rockettes are a dance troupe started in 1925 in St Louis, inspired by the British Tiller Girls of the same era. They are known for their iconic and incredible dance line and the impressive precision and impeccable timing of their dance routines. To watch 36 dancers perform routine after routine in absolute sync with each other is simply breathtaking and both G and M were totally absorbed from the moment the music started.

Their Christmas Spectacular is, quite simply, that. Spectacular; and utterly awe-inspiring in just how spectacular it is. Radio City Hall is an amazing venue and one that I would happily visit again and I would love to do a backstage tour there if the opportunity should come up in the future. There were some wonderful surprises in store as we watched, the most outrageous of which I won’t share, just in case you are ever lucky enough to visit yourself. Let me just say, that the nativity scenes were not quite what we had expected and definitely worth a watch! M loved the Santa Claus routine, whilst G was hard-pressed to pick her favourite, so amazed was she by their skills and dance moves.

Movie night at AMC Empire 25, 42nd Street: Christmas for the last few years has meant one thing when it comes to films and that has been our family visit to see the latest in the Star Wars saga. 2019 was no different and given the epic nature of this final film, it only seemed fitting to watch “The Rise of Skywalker” somewhere amazing and different. Our unplanned evening out did not disappoint and we lapped up the opulent luxury of the AMC Empire 25 on 42nd Street, just opposite our hotel. We are not a family who splashes out on the VIP seating in our local cinema, but even we know that that has nothing compared to our seats at this NYC cinema, which had the functionality to make them recline and to raise a foot rest so that we were truly comfortable for the duration of the film.

Our last foreign movie night out was during our last trip to Canada, when we went to see “Avengers: Infinity War”  at a wonderfully old-school cinema in downtown Toronto. The experience was just as magical, but so very different in just about every way imaginable. It was a fitting end to our busy few days in NYC and we left the cinema with 2 very happy youngsters.

Rainy days and Mondays

I suspect we must be like every other family when it comes to unexpected free time or the need to find rainy day activities.  We have lots of discussions about what we could do, followed by M complaining that “there’s nothing to do” or “I’m bored” or “you won’t let me do what I want anyway, so there’s no point in asking” and eventually finishing with a decision that at least 3 of the 4 of us agree on, sometimes, if we’re lucky.  This past weekend was no exception.  Amazingly, there was no football training or game for M, no parties for either child and no school events to contend with as it was the start of the May half-term.

20140428_130100Chalk Wall Snakes & Ladders – this was invented by M and Mike and has been the source of hours of fun for all the family.  One wall of M’s bedroom is painted with blue chalkboard paint and they decided to create a gigantic Snakes & Ladders board on the wall.  It featured some individual-looking snakes as well as ladders of varying lengths and can be changed and adapted as the fancy takes M.  Once designed, they played the game using a dice and coloured chalk to mark their progress on the board.

bananagramsBoard games – I doubt we’re the only family in the world to indulge in a board game or 2 on a weekend afternoon.  The kids have been obsessed with two games recently: the Game of Life: Fame edition, where you’re a fledgling celebrity trying to make it big; and Bananagrams, a game that’s similar to scrabble, but each player works individually to create a crossword grid from their tiles.  The latter has become a new and firm favourite in the household, although M struggles sometimes with the challenge of creating words from his letters.  Even though he won’t always play on his own, he is always more than happy to give suggestions to anyone else playing.

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Egg painting – this is an activity usually associated with Easter as the photos show, but I see no reason why you couldn’t do this at any time of the year.  M was fascinated in seeing how exactly you blew the eggs, whilst G quickly learnt just how delicate the resultant egg-shells were.  They were occupied for a good half an hour or so before they had had enough and had run out of eggs to decorate.  G decided to go for 3 unrelated designs for her eggs, whilst M themed his eggs around a Matador, bull and red cape – don’t ask me, I have no idea where he gets his ideas from, though I’m guessing it must be something to do with his father.  Mike identified the eggs from 3,300 miles away via Skype:  I can only assume he saw something I didn’t.

lightsabersLight Saber battles – nothing overly original, though G, M and Mike appear to have created their own battleground, almost Hunger Games style, called “Schwing Schwang”.  This involves each having their own Light Saber of different colours and indulging in a series of highly complex fight moves as well as striking what I can only describe as their best battle poses. This is all accompanied by hysterical giggling from G and ear-piercing shrieks from M.

spacehopperWashing Line volley ball – This offering is an alternative to regular volley ball.  It involves the use of the washing line strung up between the garage and house, a space-hopper and a sense of humour.  We played in teams, had 5 lives each and had to catch and throw the space-hopper from side to side without dropping it or letting it bounce out of the poorly indicated boundary lines. Challenging, but great fun for a sunny afternoon.

popcornFamily film night (or morning, or afternoon) – Finally, there’s sometimes nothing to beat sitting down as a family to watch a film together.  Our biggest problem was agreeing on which to film to watch, with M and G inevitably choosing the same 5 films over and over again, whilst any suggestion from Mike or me to watch something different usually ended in tears.  So, I came up with a rota system that keeps everyone happy and has seen the children enjoying some films that they never thought they’d like.  Now we take it turns to choose the film and no one film is allowed to be chosen again until we have worked through everybody’s turn twice.  I drew up a grid on a piece of paper that lives near the TV and faithfully record who has chosen the film and what it was.  So far we’ve enjoyed a mixture of Disney, Pixar and classic films and would be hard pressed to say which has been our favourite.