So, I promise I haven’t stayed away to build some of kind dramatic suspense story. The truth is, my six month absence was an accident. And then it got awkward. Have you ever not seen a friend for so long that it becomes embarrassing? And then, you want to reach out to them, but it’s been so long that that would be even MORE embarrassing? Yeah. That’s what happened with my blog. But I’m hoping that, like all good friendships, we can just pick right up where we left off, like nothing has happened. Everybody good with that? Great.
A lot has been happening over the last six months. Nothing earth shattering or terribly important, except that my babies are continuing to grow up and get bigger every single day. As if they don’t know it’s killing me softly. I think they are doing it out of spite now. Gracie is almost as big as Bean at the moment. I’m sure he’ll hit a growing spurt here shortly and leave her in the dust, but for now, she is certainly holding her own in the elementary category of our family. I mean, look at these people.
Other than growing like weeds, it’s been a busy holiday season at our house. We started our December off with a trip to New York. Chris was asked to come teach a master class at Yale on theater for young audiences (TYA, which is what his field is called) and we decided to turn his big adventure into a family adventure. If you follow along on Instagram, you probably already know what a great time we had.
We went to New Haven on our first day because that’s when Chris was scheduled to teach. While he taught, the kids and I moseyed around town a bit. But they were pretty tired from our disastrous travel day the day before. On the way to pick me up from work the day we left Orlando, Chris and the kids were in a car accident. Everyone was fine, except Chris got a few scrapes and bruises from the airbags. But that was not the ideal way to start our trip. Then, when we got to the airport, our flight was delayed by several hours. And then our terminal at the airport lost power. It was less that ideal and Chris and I wondered if maybe we should just go home and call the trip a bust before we even left town. But, we rode it all out and finally arrived in New York around 10:00. By the time we took a cab to our hotel in Queens, it was almost midnight. As if that wasn’t exhausting enough for the kids, we had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to catch the train in Grand Central to Connecticut. But the kids hung in there for all of it and we promised them that after that day, we would slow our pace and really have a great time.
(Can you tell who is a better traveler?)
Even with the bad weather and sleepy babies, we were still able to have dinner with one of our favorite families in New Haven. When we first met Sarah and Jon in Chris’s first year of graduate school, we instantly hit it off with them. They were the first people to come visit us in the hospital when Bean was born and we were the first to visit their daughter, Emma, when she was born. And now look at us! Seeing them was worth the trip itself!
The next day, we let the kids sleep as late as they wanted, which ended up being around 9:00am. Normally, when Chris and I travel, we try to get up and going fairly early so that we can make the most out of our time wherever we are. But with the kids, we slowed our pace a bit in the mornings, and that really made for perfect days. Most days, we didn’t even leave the hotel room until about 10:30 or 11:00. We would grab a donut or bagel on our way through Queens and eat it while we rode the subway into Manhattan. We’d have a late lunch, which helped us skip a lot of long lines, and that allowed us to have a later dinner so that we could go out on the town with the kids. It was a great schedule!
On our first morning in New York, we hit all the major tourist areas in midtown. We went to the Empire State Building (be sure to purchase tickets online before you go; it saved us so much time waiting in line!), the Oculus Mall (which is new since we moved away), the 9/11 site, and we peeked across the river to the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park. It was a busy, busy morning!
At the World Trade Center, we opted not to go into the museum. Chris and I really wanted to, but we just didn’t think it would be age-appropriate for the kids (and probably not any fun, either). Instead, we talked generally with the kids about 9/11 and that two airplanes ran into the two buildings, leaving out anything about terrorism. We focused instead on all the firemen, policemen, and regular everyday heroes who helped save people. It sounds like it was a pretty heavy conversations, but it actually wasn’t. Just a little explanation and then we answered their questions as we walked around the site.
Mostly, the kids jumped around on the big giant cement blocks while Chris and I walked and talked quietly together. I’m really glad we went.
That afternoon, we headed to Time Square. We got there in the late afternoon and spent some time shopping in any stores the kids picked, which were all candy themed! Oh, and Disney. Which is in our backyard, so Chris and I were REALLY glad we spent all that money to fly to New York, only to have them want to hang out at Disney World… (can you feel my sarcasm through the internets?)
We had dinner at our favorite restaurant in New York, “John’s Pizza.” It is right off Time Square, which makes it perfect for a pre-theater dinner place. Plus, the inside is an old church and it is lovely! They have turned the two pulpits into brick ovens for pizzas and the balcony into more seating. Chris and I used to always take people here when we lived up north, and it was so fun to be back with the kids!
(If you ignore the creeper in the background of this picture, it is one of my favorites of the kids!)
After dinner, we walked a few blocks over to see “The Lion King!” This was another thing Chris and I had already done before, but it was just too perfect not to take the kids! And it was even better for the third time! If you are in New York and are looking for a Broadway show for your kids, I recommend this above all else. It is visually stunning, the music is fantastic, the animal puppets are unbelievable, and my kids sat with their mouths hanging open for two hours. It was beyond anything they had seen before and they were mesmerized!
On our second day in New York, we headed to the Natural History Museum right off of Central Park. It was a great museum to explore with the kids. It is so big, we knew we couldn’t do it all since we didn’t want to spend all day there, so we picked the areas we thought they had the most interest in seeing. We saw the animal exhibits from around the world, the sea life area, the gems and stones (Gracie was in heaven!), and the Native American area because Bean just finished a unit in school on indians. We were there for about 3 hours, which was just long enough to keep the kids attention.
After the museum, we originally planned to have lunch at my one of my favorite restaurants, Serendipity 3, because it was my birthday. But when we got there, the wait was two hours long. So, we put our name on the list and then walked a few blocks over and had lunch instead at Jackson Hole, another favorite of ours. It serves great burgers in a warm, small, cozy basement restaurant. It was just what we needed and much better than waiting for two hours.
(Actually, I should point out that I think being in a city where Chris and I were really familiar with our surroundings made a huge difference in traveling with the kids. We didn’t have to worry about the subways, we could reassess if our plans needed to change quickly, and we had some great places up our sleeves where we knew what to expect and if our kids would like it ahead of time. Just something to think about if you’re planning your first-time big trip with your kiddos.)
By the time we finished our lunch and walked back over to Serendipity, it was time for us to be seated. We ordered desserts to share because everyone knows that you eat lunch at Serendipity just so you can have dessert there! It was my first time ordering their famous frozen hot chocolate and it made my birthday DELICIOUS! We also ordered this brownie/ice cream/fudge monstrosity that gave us all sugar rushes the minute our spoons hit our mouths.
After our late lunch and dessert, the kids and Chris hijacked the rest of my travel plans with two birthday surprises! They took me down 5th Avenue, stopping to look at the Christmas decorations along the way. It was super crowded and we had to carry the kids at some points so they wouldn’t get squished. But the windows on 5th Avenue at Christmas are just not to be missed! Plus, I had to say hello to my boyfriend, Winston.
We kept walking until we got to Rockefeller Center, which was as breathtaking as ever. We watched the Christmas lights display for a while and then took some pictures next to the Christmas tree.
And then they took me ice skating! Ice skating in Rockefeller Center at Christmas is pretty magical all on it’s own. But Chris proposed to me the last time we were skating there, so that made it even more special to be back there with our kids. It was just absolutely perfect. We had the BEST time, too! It was Bean and Gracie’s first time ice skating, so we took turns skating around with them. Bean eventually became pretty good, but Gracie reminded me of that spider on roller skates from Harry Potter. She was a disaster! But she laughed and squealed the whole time, so who cares?!
We skated until they made us get off the ice, and just when I thought my birthday was over, they surprised me again! This time, with tickets to Radio City to see the Rockettes! This was so great for two reasons. First, we had talked about seeing the Rockettes on this trip with the kids, but decided it was just too expensive to add another show to our itinerary. And, secondly, because on the night Chris and I got engaged, we went to the Rockettes right before heading over to ice skate in Rockefeller Center! It was just a beautiful trip down memory lane for me and Chris, and to have the kids with us made it even better.
I have a pretty good husband. Have I mentioned that before?
After such an awesome birthday, I couldn’t imagine topping that. But I think our last day in New York might have taken the cake. We spent the morning sleeping in again, and then met our sweet friends, Brett and Linda, in Chelsea for brunch. We have been friends with Brett since we were in high school, and his stock only went up when he married Lovely Linda last year. It was so good to hug their necks and catch up in person for once!
After brunch, we parted ways with the Haley’s and headed to Madison Square Garden for the kids first Rangers hockey game! Chris has been a Rangers fan for years, and we went to a game or two when we lived up north. But, like everything else, it was so much better with the kids! Before our trip, Chris ordered all of us Rangers shirts to wear to the game, and I don’t think he had ever been more proud of his family than having us all geared up for the hockey game! Hahaha!!!
(Also, do you see that Rangers Santa hat Chris is wearing? Appreciate that hat, please, because I had to knock over about 13 small children to get that for him.)
We had great seats and an even better time. My favorite part was that the kids knew all the cheers and even some of the players, since we have the Rangers on TV all the time at home. It was so fun to see them experience it in person!
After the hockey game, we met up with one of Chris’s oldest friends, Justin, for drinks. I wish I could tell you the name of the bar where we went because it was beautiful with lots of personality. The kids ate appetizers and played with Lego sets they had bought earlier in the day while Chris and I caught up with Justin. It was so nice to see him again and spend some time with him. We miss him here in Florida.
(PRETEND I WAS A GOOD BLOGGER AND TOOK A PICTURE OF JUSTIN AND CHRIS HERE)
That night, we planned to head over to Eatly, near the Flat Iron Building. But the line was crazy long for dinner and we were pretty tired by that point. We hung around Eatly for about an hour waiting on a table before finally giving up and heading out to catch the subway back to our hotel. The kids were getting grouchy and hungry (I was, too!), so we stopped at a little convenience store and bought them PopTarts to snack on on the way home. That ended up being their dinner and Chris and I ordered room service at the hotel for ourselves.
That last night sort of sums up what I learned about traveling with kids. I mean, like, REAL traveling with kids. Before kids, we traveled to experience the place where we went. We wanted to soak up every moment of tourism we could get while we were there, and that was the mark of a good trip. But with the kids in New York, I learned that traveling is more about soaking up as much of THEM as we can. Whether it’s on top of the Empire State Building, or sitting in stands at a Rangers game, or running through the subway station, or even goofing around in the hotel room in the mornings. Being with them is the vacation. Experiencing things through their eyes is the adventure.
Chris and I have traveled quite a bit together, and every trip seems to be better than the last. But we both agree that as much as we love to travel together, traveling as a family is by far our favorite.
Here’s hoping 2017 brings more travel adventures our way!
P.S. I promise not to be a half-assed blogger anymore. I don’t like doing something halfway. I’m either going to do it or not. And I’m going to do this again. No more disappearing. Thanks to those of you who have stuck around through my half-assed year. xoxo