Thursday, June 28, 2012

Victoria Garden’s

Tucked back on the east side of Central Park near the Carousel is an adorable little amusement park.  With temps climbing into the 90s later in the week we decided to venture over on our only cool day and give it a whirl.  It was the perfect park for my kids.  Any older and there wouldn’t be enough big kid stuff to do.  Everyone had a good time riding the boats, trains, small roller coasters, and other fun little rides.  They sell unlimited wristbands, and the lines were short, so the kids went on ALL the rides, and lots of them two or three times.  There is NO shade, so on a hot day I can image that it would be pretty miserable, but today was just perfect.  After  we had ridden to our hearts content we headed over to Dylan Candy Bar.  The kids thought this was fun. I did not.  It was SO CROWDED.  Total and utter chaos.  And not the fun NYC kind of chaos.  Just the annoying, frustrating kind.  There is a cute little place on the UWS called Chocolate Works.  Go there instead.  It’s the exact same thing without 100 million people crammed inside. 
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brooklyn Bridge

family on the bridge

I have been looking forward to walking across the Brooklyn Bridge for a long time.  And it did not disappoint.  But first…..we decided to make a day of it and go explore some other Brooklyn hot spots.  First up was Pier 6 playground.  This was an impressive place!  There were dedicated areas for slides, swings, sand, and water.  Water was our favorite.  We also ate some overpriced, yet delicious, hamburgers and lemonade.  The lemonade containers then became the kids playthings.  The joys of childhood.  We even had to buy and extra lemonade so all the kids would have a container to play with. 
Then we headed to Prospect Park.  Due to a lack of planning on my part, and a really bad Google map, we missed pretty much all the highlights of this park.  The carousel was listed on Google maps in 3 different places.  We walked to two of them and struck out both times.  Why didn’t we just ask for directions?? Still not sure about that.  But, we did get a yummy popsicle :)

Then it was off to the main event!  First up was pizza.  We stopped by the famous Grimaldi’s, but the line was more than an hour long.  And that was just to order.  On a good tip from Nikki and Carrie we went around the corner to Ignazios and enjoyed some very delicious pizza with no line.  I was worried that the kids were going to be too tired from all the sun and walking earlier in the day to make it across the bridge, so we had a nice LONG dinner, complete with some zone out times on the iphone.  And I read my Kindle.  Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory was next.  I haven’t eaten ice cream in over 4 years, but this took all my willpower to resist.  Rusty said I didn’t miss out on anything special.  I think he’s lying to me. 

I wanted to walk across the bridge at twilight, but these long summer days made that hard!  Josh decided that he wanted to walk across the whole bridge all by himself with no rides on the stroller, and he did it!  I was so proud of him!  Halle loved looking at the city, and marveling at the architecture of the bridge. 

brooklyn bridge

I’m so glad we did this and I’m so proud of the kids and their good attitudes.  I’d rank this as one of the most fun and rewarding things we’ve done so far this summer. 

More fun with Grandma and Grandpa

In case you haven’t noticed, these posts aren’t necessarily in chronological order.

Once on TV I saw these cool little remote control sailboats at Central Park.  I’ve been dying to do them since.  They day was kinda hot, so we decided to seek shelter in the park, and give the sailboats a try.  They were so cute, and pretty fun.  It was a little hard for the kids to get the hang of the remotes, but in the end everyone was sailing great.  Of course, they also loved feeding the ducks.  Halle had them eating out of her hands (and she has the bites to prove it!)


We also went to see the 9/11 Memorial.  It just opened this past  September on the 10 year anniversary of the towers falling.  I am really sad to say that the whole experience was a disappointment.  World Trade Center 1 is still under massive construction, so all the area surrounding the memorial is a huge construction site.  Instead of just walking up and seeing the pools, which is what we expected, we were required to get tickets about 6 blocks away, then wait in really long lines, go through airport style security stations.  The workers were less than friendly—I got yelled at for lifting up my kids to look at the pools (it’s impossible for them to see them from the ground), I got yelled at for letting Blake sit under a shady tree, and I got yelled at for giving Josh a piggy back ride.  (apparently it’s very dangerous, and the consequences catastrophic.)  I had expected a serene experience, and it was really just the opposite.  So, I’d advise waiting a couple years until all the buildings are complete, then come enjoy the Memorial.  It’s just not worth the hassle at this point.  Especially if you are bringing little kids.  But, DO come down and gaze up at the building that will be World Trade Center 1.  It’s pretty incredible! 

911 MonumentWTC 1 One of the most fun things we did, and which I have no pictures of, was adult night out!  We got all dressed up, and hit the town.  We ate at a cute little Italian place on Restaurant Row, and then went and saw Once.  It was amazing.  One of my favorite shows I’ve seen.  It was so different from your typical Broadway.  The beginning is totally unexpected, and the end leaves you all conflicted.  Rusty was dying at the unresolved ending.  But I loved it.  And the music was just beautiful.  I find myself humming it, even now, a week later.  It was such a great night spent with Alan and Sharon and all the magic that is NYC.  once-poster

Take me out to the Ball Game

As a kid, Rusty was a HUGE Mets fan.  He was heartbroken to find that his idol, Darryl Strawberry, was less than kind to his wife.  So, it was a really fun and special experience to get to go with his Dad to City Field (Formerly Shea Stadium) and watch the Mets in action.  Unfortunately, root root root for the home team didn’t work.  It was a shame. 

The game was just phase one of their Father’s Day weekend extravaganza.  The next morning they went and played tennis on the clay courts at Central park.  THEN—on Sunday, the real Father’s Day, they were treated to some delicious Chocolate from Jaques Torres, and a gourmet brunch made by yours truly.  And when I say made, what I mean is bought. :)


We are so thankful for Rusty and all he does for our family!  He is the best dad.  It makes me a little jealous that the favorite part of everyone’s day is when Dad walks through the door.  We are so proud of him and how hard he works at his job so we can do really cool things, like spend the summer in NYC.  WE LOVE YOU Rust!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Magical day

the girls

Sharon and Alan came for a visit and we had such a wonderful time.  The first day they were here was filled with fun and adventure.  The girls got to have a wonderful day out at the American Girl Doll Store, while the boys finally got to visit the Nintendo and Lego Store. Grandpa Banks sure is brave dragging those two little boys around the city by himself.  Josh has been looking forward to the Nintendo Store for months.  He was so happy.

Us girls had the best time.  We got to go to lunch in the cute little café.  It’s quite the experience!  Both Halle jr, and Julie joined us for our day out.  The dining room is just as cute and can be, and the dolls have their own little seats at the table.  There is a fun little game at the tables, and we had a great time asking each other silly questions like, “Would you rather be able to fly, or to be invisible.”  Halle and Grandma chose to be invisible.  I chose to fly. 

The food was actually great.  We started with cinnamon buns, then a little appetizer try with veggies, cheese, and pretzel bread.  Halle had a tic tac toe pizza for her entrée, and then there was a very yummy chocolate mousse and white cake for dessert. 

Halle’s favorite part was that the dolls had their own chairs and their own little dishes.  Grandma and Moms favorite part was watching Halle soak in all the magic. 

After lunch we splurged and got Julie’s hair done at the doll salon.  I have to say—those AG people think of everything.  And I know it’s totally commercialized, and designed to make me part with my money, but I just love it. 

AG lunchAG collageHalle and Julie

That evening the girls headed out to Broadway while the boys hung out in Central Park.  We went and saw Peter and the Star Catcher.  It was hilarious!  I laughed and laughed. Most of the humor was word play, and so I don’t think Halle really understood the jokes, but there was enough dramatic flair that she still really enjoyed the show.  And I think she loved hanging out with Mom and Grandma and doing grown up things.  It was so fun to take her with us. 

Concert in the Park

One of the coolest things about New York is that you can find some really fun kid friendly activity EVERY SINGLE DAY.  There are story times, both outside and inside, there are crafts, plays, yoga, dancing, fairs and concerts. We decided to give the NYC kid music scene a try.  We went down to Madison Square Park and went to a fun little concert.  This is how the NYC family scene rolls:


IMG_1851There was this really interesting sculpture garden in the middle of the park.  There were all these weird, bright shapes, and they were set to music that changed according to where, and how, you touched it.  It kids were so intrigued and loved exploring all the strange sounds they could make.
But the concert was really just an excuse to FINALLY get to the Shake Shack. In its original location.  YUM.  Josh had a peanut butter milkshake, and Halle chose strawberry.  Blake enjoyed sips of both.  While we were at the Shake Shack, we met the funniest little squirrel.  He was running around like crazy gathering up crumbs from the ground.  He found a napkin, and he ravenously tore it to shreds.  He was so disappointed when it turned out not to be edible.  Then it started to pour rain.  3 kids and a stroller in the middle of NYC in the middle of a downpour is quite the adventure.  Umbrellas everywhere, and frantically scrambling to find the nearest subway station.  I don’t usually miss my car, but I miss it when it rains. 


Hippo Park

We finally left the comfort of Central Park and headed west to explore Riverside Park.  We are sandwiched right in the middle of these two amazing parks.  Riverside is set right on the Hudson River, and I LOVE to run along the Hudson River trail.  We took the kids walking in the park and discovered the Hippo Playground.  It is the best playground we’ve been to to date.  It’s huge, has swings, sand, slides, and water features, lots of big, shady trees, and the best part—BATHROOMS!!  Hip hip hooray!  We liked it so much we came two days in a row.  The second day we stayed for 4 hours, and the kids still didn’t want to leave. Before coming we walked to one of the many UWS toy stores and bought some fun sand toys.  The kids had a great time building sand castles, and using the buckets to play in the water.  I had a great time reading my book :) (And pushing Josh and Blake in the swings over and over again.)
PicMonkey Collage

86th and Columbus

Here are some pics of our humble abode :) We love the open kitchen/living room, and the outdoor space—it’s so much fun.  We do not love the very steep stairs (Rusty and Blake took a tumble today), and the tiny little closet of a master bath.  But all in all, it is so great! 


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Apple Store

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Kids today certainly live in a different kind of world.  They have only ever known a world where iphones, ipads, and a myriad of other technology exist.  They are not in awe or amazement over these things. I actually think it is hard to awe them in general.  We were hanging out on 5th avenue, making our way to FAO Schwarz, and we walked past the Apple Store.  IT IS AMAZING! It’s a huge glass cube situated over an underground building.  There are floating glass stairs, or a glass elevator that descends down into the store.  Then, it’s just like any other apple store, but they even had a special kids section with mini tables, and ipads filled with kids games.  The kids were not amazed by the building, but they sure did love the ipads :)
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Then it was off the FAO Schwarz and the Big Piano.  I like this toy store MUCH better than Toys R Us in Times Square.  They all got to pick a toy, and then go for a spin on the big piano.  For a mere $250,000 you too can have a Big Piano of your very own!

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Pinkalicious: The Musical

When I saw this production of Pinkalicious was playing at the Manhattan Movement and Arts center over by the Lincoln center, I knew I had to take my kids.  They are all big Pinkalicious fans.  (And Purplelicious, and Goldilocious, and Silverlicious).  They play was one hour, and it was adorable.  All 3 kids were enthralled.  The music was cute and the storyline was simple and followed the book quite well. 

I got up that morning and went for a run while Rusty took the kiddos to help clean the church.  I didn’t get up early enough, and was disappointed that I didn’t get to run a few more miles.  I got all showered and ready, then put on my “pretty” (non-walking) shoes b/c the theater was only a couple blocks from the subway.  I got down in the subway station only to hear, “There are extensive delays of the 1,2,3 trains.  Please seek alternate transportation.”  Ahhhh!  I was at the station on Broadway and 86th, so I ran down to Central Park West and caught the subway there.  The B train wasn’t quite as close to my destination, so then I had to run and run some more to make it to the theater on time.  Needless to say, I was glad I hadn’t run those few extra miles in the morning—I more than made up for it running to Pinkalicious! 

After the show the kids all got to meet the cast and get autographs and pictures.  Fun Fun!

We then took a little walk over to Sheep’s meadow for the Ward Picnic.  It was fun to be able to meet and hang out with more members in our ward.  Again, I just can’t say enough good things about how nice and welcoming everyone has been to us.  I even found a running partner!  Yay! 

Times Square

Joshua has been dying to see all the hustle and bustle of Times Square.  So, we decided to brave the Friday night crowds and grab dinner and take in the sights.  But, our first stop was to the Library at Bryant Park. I am proud to say that I am now in possession of an official NYC library card!  After loading up with some books we headed over to Times Square.  We had spent a little to long at the library, and so all the restaurants had long wait times.  I am ashamed to say that we went to McDonalds.  I promise it won’t happen again :)

The kids had a great time at Toys R Us, and we somehow got conned into buying toys even though we’d just been to FAO Schwarz a few days earlier.  We got M&M’s at the flagship store, and then just enjoyed watching all the people streaming by.  It was a fun night, but I’m pretty sure we won’t take the kids down there too often.  The crowds are just too crazy.  Times square is no place for a stroller. 


Children’s Museum of the Arts

I think that so far, this has been the kids favorite thing in NY.  It is a totally hands on art “museum”  where the kids get to participate in all sorts of fun projects.  I liked it because it’s off the tourist path—most the mom’s there were local moms just having a fun day out with their kids.  First, the kids made cute little shell creatures, then they were taught how to use an Imovie program to animate their creatures.  They had fun making a very short video of their creatures getting eaten by a whale. Next up was painting and comics.  The boys painted pics while Halle wrote and illustrated a very funny comic about a worm and a flower.  The space was bright and open, with lots of fun things to look at. 

The coolest art project they did was at the Clay Bar.  They had teachers who would guide you step by step in making the creation of your choice.  Halle chose a dolphin, and Josh chose the yellow Angry Bird.  Blake wanted to make a tiger, but he was way too impatient, and just ended up smashing it.  I was really impressed at how well their clay sculptures turned out!

After also making pipe cleaner sculptures, they were ready to burn off some energy.  Enter the ball pit.  This was not your ordinary ball pit filled with little colorful balls.  This was a super mega ball pit filled with giant exercise balls.  The kids bounced and played to their hearts content.  They are already asking when they can go back.