Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Empire State of Mind

After five years stuck in the middle of the country with a minimum 3 hour flight to get anywhere that was worth getting to... we want to take every advantage of east coast living we can! When the opportunity arose to go to NYC on a whim, we took it!! We booked a hotel room on Saturday and bought train tickets on Tuesday night  -- and on Wednesday, we were off -- to New York!!

Sure, we could've driven. Financially, the tolls and parking were less than the unexpectedly high train tickets. But the kids begged for the train. And since I really didn't want to maneuver an Expedition in city traffic, I was more than willing to drop the dollas' for a nice, relaxing ride on the rails. This train thing?? Not so bad! The seats are big. There's plenty of leg room. No one cares if the kids walk {barefoot} in the aisles. And there are plugs and wifi!! Add in two kindles, an iPhone, an iPod and Nintendo DS... and you've got two happy (although slightly spoiled) and entertained kids and a mom who can read a book for 75% of the three hour ride. Can we say win-win-win??

And yes, I about burst from mom-joy and pride when the business woman in the seats in front of us told me how amazingly well-behaved my kids were as we arrived in NYC. I'm taking this compliment as a nod to my amazing parenting skills and disregarding the thousand dollars worth of twinkling electronics we brought with us.
And what does one do upon arriving in NYC when waiting for friends who are joining you? Well, watch Spongebob in your teeny-tiny hotel room, of course!(And for those who look closely - yes, that IS a presidential bust lamp on the desk. Awesome.)
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After the Millers arrived, we decided to head out on the town! We tried for dinner at NYC's famous Carmines but quickly learned that NYC is better done with reservations. And since Mandie and I are not the type to ever plan ahead, we found a diner off the beaten path and filled the kids up on pancakes and waffles! We treated ourselves to a few glasses of wine too... And then it was time for Times Square! Since this was a kids' trip, we hit all the hot spots - the m&m's store, where I accidentally filled bags with fifteen dollars worth of specialty m&m's. And then {insert drumroll, please}, the three-story giant Times Square Toys R Us!!!!!! {And the crowd of children goes wild!!!} NYC-0030
If you haven't been to the Times Square Toys R Us... well, it's amazing. In addition to three floors of toys, there is a huge Ferris Wheel, Superman busting through the ceiling to stop a giant truck from crushing everyone and a full-size, animated T-Rex from Jurassic Park that comes to life to roar at terrified little kids. Henry. Hated. It.
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The boys both picked out some special Times Square treats - Charlie picked out the Orange Angry Bird to round out his collection and a Bowser action figure. Henry was thrilled to have ANOTHER Lightning McQueen matchbox car.
The next day we had one firm goal - meet Ms. Liberty, up close and personal. This was not the easy task Mandie and I were expecting... First, we couldn't find the subway. Let me correct myself, we found the subway, but we couldn't find how to get to the right side of the subway to catch the train that was headed south... After about 30 minutes, two discussions with a very unhelpful subway attendant, a spilled venti iced coffee, and carrying a stroller up and down and then up and down and then up and down the stairs... we found it!
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Mandie's face just says it all, huh? NYC-0062 Once we got down to Battery Park, we turned a corner to spot Lady Liberty for the first time. Since Mandie's daughter, Bella, is such a huge fan of the statue, we were so excited to see her face once she spotted it! NYC-0067 NYC-0079 After buying tickets to the Statue, we discovered that the line for the ferries kept going and going and going... about three blocks worth of a line in 90 degree heat. I was so tempted to ditch the trip, but we had come so far! A run to the pharmacy for snacks, juice boxes and sunscreen, popsicles from the ice cream stand, lots of pushing and Mandie keeping up our morale with laughs and jokes, we were on the boat! NYC-0074 NYC-0084
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NYC-0142 After Lady Liberty, Charlie could hardly wait to get back in Manhattan so we wouldn't miss a trip to the LEGO store in Rockefeller Center.
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NYC-0174 NYC-0178 After the Lego store, we walked our tired kiddos 8 blocks up 5th avenue to F-A-O Schwartz and upon turning around to go back to Times Square, Charlie's poor legs just couldn't take anymore. We grabbed a couple of pedi-cabs and had a BLAST! Our "cab driver" turned his iPod onto "Call Me, Maybe?" and the kids and I danced and sang. Henry loved it more than I was expecting! He giggled and spent the whole ride turned around and waving to Mandie's family behind us!
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Our pedi-cabs dropped us off right in the heart of Times Square for one wildly amazing last look at the lights... NYC-0193
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Charlie said it best. "This is what I love about New York City: There's something you're not expecting around every corner!" Every single penny, every single headache, every single time I climbed the stairs with two large bags, a suitcase, a stroller and a toddler on my hip was worth it for Charlie to get a real glimpse at such an amazing city! May his dreams grow bigger and brighter because of it!