This blog turned 11 back on April 16th! I somehow always miss my blogiversary (does anyone still use that word?), and it’s also been a couple of months since I last posted. The week before this blog’s anniversary, we went back east to NJ to visit my mom for H’s spring break, and I got to spend a couple of nights on my own in NYC. The trip was fantastic for so many reasons. Adam gave me a ticket to finally see Hamilton for Christmas, and I just had the most amazing time. And it was great for H to revisit her hometown. She’d been missing NJ a lot, and lately starting to compare what she missed about NJ to what she had in WA. But she came back home to WA with a new appreciation for this new home we’re making in a way I don’t think she would have without a visit back to NJ. After 10 months away, she has changed so much, and I think she was able to enjoy the place where she was born but then get back to her new life out here.

One of our first stops with my mom was our old local diner, New Monmouth. These two can’t get enough of each other when they’re together, and it is so nonstop chatter.

I had the best of all NJ sandwiches, the pork roll, egg, and cheese. If you live at the Shore this specialized NJ meat is called pork roll, but in North Jersey, where I grew up, it’s called Taylor Ham. So much strife within our state is about what to call this meat. I don’t care what you call it, it’s delicious. Especially with SPK (salt, pepper, ketchup).

This kiddo ate so many Dunkin’ Donuts on that trip. We don’t have Dunkin’ Donuts in Washington, and it was like a glorious reunion with one of her favorite treats.

She got to spend time with her old friends, too, which was amazing. She had a playdate with these sweet girls at a favorite local park, and another playdate at her old bestie’s house. It was great for her to see them, she’d been missing her NJ friends a lot.

We also made it back to Monmouth Museum, her favorite hometown spot.

Then I was off to NYC for 2 nights while H and my mom spent that time together. That’s H’s dream, to camp out at my mom’s without me for a couple of nights!  I spent that Tuesday working while I was in NYC, but then I was on my own from Tuesday night till Thursday morning. I actually love being in NYC by myself, it’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy it. Just doing the stuff I like. I sat in restaurants eating good food and reading good books (this was my lasagna from Tony’s di Napoli).

I went to all the tacky tourist shops in Times Square that you can’t really get away with visiting if you’re local, I saw a very late-night show of Captain Marvel on my own (so excellent), I wandered Kinokuniya alone and drifted through Bryant Park. I went to the New York Public Library because…well, why wouldn’t I?

And then I went and saw Hamilton by myself, which was just such an emotional experience. I’ve been trying to get to this show for so long, and the tickets before we moved were just too expensive to justify when we were packing up our lives to move across the country. But I was thrilled to be in the room where it happens, it was better than I could’ve imagined, and just the best way to end the whole trip.

I headed back to my mom’s on Thursday and we flew home Thursday night, with our luggage stuffed with souvenirs.