Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our Stop

This is our subway stop, a place I love and loath all at the same time.  Love it because it is so close to our house, cheap, and transports us all around this magical city. Hate it because it is a hot as hades in the station, and dragging Blake and the stroller up and down countless stairs gets old.  But Josh?  He has no hate, only love.  He studies the maps, watches and memorizes routes and directions, and honest to goodness thinks it’s the greatest adventure he’s ever had. When we were going to the Brooklyn Bridge there is a section of track that goes above ground.  Josh was sitting a few rows away from the rest of us, and all of the sudden I heard whooping and hollering and laughing.  Yep…Josh had noticed we were above ground.  He talked about it for weeks.  He also loves when we take express trains and “Zoom past stations.”

One day I pulled out my map to see which subway we should take to get home.  Josh said, “Mom—we should take the 2 express train to 72nd, then transfer to the 1 train.”  After consulting my map I discovered that he was exactly right.  That kid has always been so good with directions. 

the other things we did

Besides Long Island, we had lots of fun doing kiddie city stuff while the Birds were here.  We went to AMNH, FAO Schwarz, and played at the Hippo Park.  We also took a jaunt down to the Staten Island Ferry.  The only reason you should do this Ferry is because it is free.  Just kidding.  kind of.  It was a little bigger ordeal than I though it was going to be.  The ride itself was fun, but you actually don’t get very close to the Statue of Liberty at all.  AND—we had to wait forever to catch a return ferry to Manhattan.  Oh well.  Live and learn. 


DSC_0705We also rented rowboats at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.  My kids thought this was a blast.  They wanted to row the whole time, which made for very slow rowing.  Mostly they loved to splash the oars in the water.  One time Josh splashed a little too hard, and the oar went flying off the boat into the water.  He was terrified and started bawling, sure we were stranded under Bow Bridge forever.  Luckily Uncle Michael was the hero and rescued our oar.  Notice that they all brought a stuffed animal along for the ride…..
boats in central park


Darn my lactose intolerance!  Everyone was inside enjoying amazing Gelato, and I was left to watch from the window…
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Adult night out

I love adult night out when we have visitors. It’s a chance to leave the kiddos behind and relax and actually get to catch up and talk.  We didn’t want to overwhelm Rachel with 5 kids, so she brought along a friend.  One NYC babysitter is expensive—two NYC babysitters about break the bank :)

We went to dinner at Joe Allen’s—just ok, except for the chocolate explosion dessert, which was delicious, and then on to Zarkana, the Cirque de Soleil show at Radio City Music Hall—AMAZING. Radio City Music Hall is exquisite—by far the most beautiful theater we’ve been to in NYC.  And Cirque de Soleil always does a fantastic job.  Our only complaint was that the show didn’t last long enough.  We wanted more!  After the show we went up to Rusty’s office on the 33rd floor of 1290 Avenue of the Americas and took in the view.  His office is right across from the Rockefeller Center and also looks down on Radio City.  He told us how he daydreams that he’s Spiderman swinging on his web from rooftop to rooftop ;)  Natalie doesn’t like heights and so she wouldn’t stand up and look out his window. 

We ended the night walking to Columbus Circle and just fully enjoying our night in the city. 

The babysitter had given us a full report of the kids bedtime shenanigans and so in the morning Michael said to Jack, “Jack, did you scream at the babysitter and make her give you Teddy Graham’s in bed?” Jack’s reply, “HECK YES I DID.”  It was very very hard to keep a straight face through that.  Love that kid. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Long Island

Living in the city with no car is really easy and convenient, until you want to leave.  Then it’s a huge pain.  Nat, Michael and Jack came for a visit and we decided it would be fun to head out to the beaches on Long Island for the weekend.  For some reason car rentals in the city that weekend were more than double what they were on Long Island.  So we decided to take the Long Island Railroad and rent a car once we got there.  Try hauling 5 kids, 3 car seats, 2 strollers, and enough luggage for 9 people through the streets of Manhattan.  Wow.  We convinced Rusty to take a taxi to Penn Station instead of the Subway, and even then things were hard.  We finally got everyone and all the luggage on the train and settled in for our hour journey. When we arrived at our stop we pulled down all our luggage and headed for the door, only to find it had already closed and the train was pulling out of the station.  Crap!  We got off at the next station and Rusty and Michael had a fun little jog back to pick up our rental car while Nat and I fed the kids lunch. FINALLY we got the cars and headed to Jones Beach. Cute little Leo HATES his carseat, and although they were a few car lengths behind us we could hear his screaming as clear as day.  But the beautiful beach was worth the hassle.  It was incredible—wide, clean, and about a million seashells for the kids to find.  The water was pretty warm, and the waves were just the right size for the kids to play. 
Jones Beach
After we got the kids good and tired, we traveled to East Marion, on the very tip of Long Island to stay in our cute little VRBO house.  Rusty and I got to sleep in twin beds.  It was awesome.  We had some great seafood for dinner—lobster, lobster, yum, yum, yum! 

The next day we headed to the city beach in Southold. It was VERY different from Jones Beach.  It was narrow, and very pebbly—not a lot of sand, mostly rocks.  We were glad not to have to deal with the sandy mess of towels and swimsuits, but our feet were pretty raw by the end of the day.  There were no waves here because we were on the Long Island Sound, and the water was really, really warm, which made it fun for the kids to play in.  Even cute little Blake went all the way into the Ocean and floated around in his life jacket.  He was equal parts thrilled and terrified. 



We hit up a cute little lighthouse on the way home, and picked up some food for a BBQ.  After we had eaten we tried to roast marshmallows for Smores, but the coals were to cold.  We improvised over the gas range in the kitchen.  Rolo smore?  Divine. 

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And what trip to LI would be complete without a jaunt through the Hamptons?  On our last day we loaded the kids into the car and caught the ferry over to East Hampton.  We drove up to Montauk to see the famous lighthouse. Only to discover that it cost $10 to park and another $8/person to actually go see the lighthouse.  Yep….should have researched that a little better.  At least the drive was beautiful.  We’d planned on hitting a beach in the Hamptons, but the parking attendant told us we could use our parking pass at the nearby Hither Hills beach, so we gave it a go.  I love how each of our beach experiences were so different.  This beach had HUGE wave and was freezing cold.  The water temp took my breath away. All the adults and Halle braved the cold and had fun getting pummeled by the waves.  And I didn’t take any pics!  BOO.  When we asked Josh if he was ready to leave the beach he said, “I desire to stay longer.”

It took about a decade to get home, more running from the rental car drop off to the train station, a medical emergency by another passenger on the train, and we were all very glad to see our little apartment.  All in all it was a Fun and Exhausting trip!
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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Super Blake

Flying through the streets of New York
super blake

Coney Island

photo 4

Coney Island really exceeded my expectations!  Admittedly, my expectations were very very low.  I actually hadn’t planned on going to Coney, but Dan really wanted to go, and we are always up for an adventure.  True, it’s expensive. True, it’s dirty.  But, I always LOVED the Carnival as a kid, and this place is like the biggest Carnival on Earth.  A Carnival right on the beach.  What’s not to love?? The beach was fairly dirty, but this is NY.  Everything is dirty.  The kids loved the rides in kiddie land, and snow cones on the boardwalk. Carlie and Dan said the roller coasters were really fun.  And what trip to Coney would be complete without a Nathan’s hot dog?  I can count on one hand the number of hot dogs I’ve eaten in the past 5 years, and I have to say—this hot dog was really good!  I would eat another one if we ever went back.  We ended the night on the Ferris Wheel with some beautiful views of the Ocean and of Manhattan.  There are lots of things in Manhattan I’d do first, but if you are visiting for more than 3 or 4 days it’s totally worth the hour long subway ride to get to this little wonderland.

Coney Island Collage

Carryin’ the Banner!

The NYC day I’ve been waiting for finally arrived!  Newsies on Broadway! Newsies was my FAVORITE movie as a kid, and I couldn’t wait to share it with Miss Halle.  We bought the broadway soundtrack a few weeks ago and have been listening to it non-stop.  I’m glad we bought the soundtrack early because there were some changes.  At first I was sad…I didn’t want them to change a word.  But the more I listened to it, the more I liked it.  The show was such high energy!  The songs were wonderful, and the dancing superb.  I loved Jack Kelly.  Davy….not so much.  In the movie Davy is smart AND cool.  In the play he is just a big nerd.  Pulitzer was phenomenal and I really liked the new love interest, the reporter Katherine.  The show did not disappoint, and I want to see it again!! 

We went to Ellen’s Star Dust Diner for dinner before the show and it was a big fail.  Everything near Times Square is expensive, and so you end up paying $20 for a hamburger. And not even an amazing hamburger.  Just a plain old burger.  But at this place the waiters and waitresses are aspiring Broadway stars and they sing all during dinner.  Sounded fun in theory, but in reality it was just really loud.  Our waiter sang to Halle and almost reduced her to tears.  I wouldn’t go there again. 

Fireworks, the 4th of July. BOOM!


Wow.  Fireworks in NYC are crazy!  Crazy fun!  Awesome Uncle Dan went into the crowd very early to secure us a good spot.  We got pizza for the kiddos and then made our way downtown about 7:30.  We hadn’t realized there would be bag checks at the entrance points and the lines were HUGE.  Danny had called to say we were in danger of losing our spot—the cops didn’t like that he was saving space.  Luckily we found a friendly officer on a side street who let us skip the line. 

I know I know, here I go mentioning the heat again.  But, it was very hot.  I really miss Colorado nights!  It just doesn’t ever cool down out here.  Hot in the morning, hot at night.  Add that to thousands of bodies packed in the street, and it was a hot, stinky 4th!  But the fireworks made it all worth it.  They launched them from 4 barges on the Hudson river, and we could see all 4 explosions in the sky.  And it was so long!  About 25 minutes of fireworks.  The funniest thing ever was after the 1st fireworks went off flocks and flocks of birds were frantically flying away as fast as they could.  That alone was worth the long wait.  Josh was mesmerized and loved every minute of it. 

Funny story—while we were waiting, I heard Blake talking in his high, soft, “Nice” voice.  But, he wasn’t talking to me.  I leaned over and ask him what he was saying.  He said, “I am saying excuse me to those people but they aren’t listening to me.”  I asked him what he wanted from them and he said, “I wanted to ask them if I could have some of their chips!”

When the fireworks were over Carlie and Dan rushed home to get cute Gwen to bed.  Halle asked why they had gone home before us and I said that babies don’t like all the loud noise, and Gwen was tired.  Halle said, “Mom, Gwen sure does disturb Carlie and Danny’s fun, doesn’t she?” 


Our Nation’s Capitol

We are trying to take advantage of being on the East Cost, and so we had a quick weekend get away to Washington DC.  We stayed at One Washington Circle hotel and it was AWESOME.  We arrived very late at night, and I think the hotel clerk felt bad for us.  Rusty and I were both exhausted and the three children were running around like banshees.  She upgraded us to their biggest room—which is probably bigger than our NYC apartment.  King sized bed for us, full kitchen, two bathrooms.  Ahhhh…..

Washington is significantly hotter than NYC, and we felt like we were melting the entire time we were there.  We couldn’t quite face the heat so we decided to do the Smithsonian Museums during the day and then tackle the monuments at night when it was hopefully a little cooler.  We visited the American History Museum, The Museum of Natural History, and the Air and Space Museum.  Halle and I LOVED the exhibit with the First Ladies’ dresses—it was so fun to see the style changes throughout the years.  At the MONH, the run away favorite was the butterfly exhibit.  They could have stayed all day! We were walking past the gift shop and Blake saw this cute little stuffed giraffe. For whatever reason he immediately fell in love with this giraffe and we could not leave without it.  Blake isn’t usually like that, so I gave in and bought him the overpriced giraffe. He said it was his friend and he named him Fly Guy. (Anyone read the Fly Guy books??) 
By Air and Space everyone was a little tired…. We passed the carousel on our way out, and of course I was not going to get away without letting them go for a spin.  I will be sad the day they are too grown up for carousels.  Blake again named his horse Galaxy. 

Halle and Josh both have an old camera we let them have for our summer adventures, and they must have taken 1000 pictures between them.  Also on this trip we let Josh and Halle ride the elevator at the hotel without us, and you think we’d given them permission to visit the moon they were so excited.  Josh especially loved this new found freedom, so often times we had to wait for 3 elevators.  One for Halle, one for Josh, and one for Rusty, Blake and I. 

We went back to the hotel to cool off in the pool before heading to the monuments.  I’m happy to report that it cooled down to 97 degrees instead of 102 ;)  I have never been so hot at night time.  I think I was sweating out water faster than I could replace it!  Even through the extreme heat, seeing the monuments with my kids was an amazing experience.  We didn’t get to see even half of what I wanted to because it was just too darn hot to walk very far.  DSC_0609Lincoln and Washington Monuments

That night a major storm rolled in—the wind was whipping, and buckets of rain were just dumping from the sky.  We were tired enough that we slept right through most of it, and were surprised to wake and find tree branches down EVERYWHERE and about half of DC without power!  Unfortunately, the rain did not chase the heat away. 

We decided to hit the water and go on a cruise of the Potomac River.  Rusty and I think this was our favorite thing we did on the trip.  We leaned so many interesting facts about DC and the surrounding area.  We stopped off in Alexandria and ate some yummy ice cream on their cute little main street.  The kids loved being on the water, and passing under all the bridges along the way.  It was also very beautiful to see the monuments from the water. 
Potomac River Boat Cruise

Next up was the Tomb of the Unknows at Arlington National Cemetery.  I think this is a beautiful tribute to our war heroes.  On our walk back, we saw Fly Guy sitting on a fence post—Blake must have dropped him in the and someone propped him up in hopes that we’d come back for him.  We hadn’t even noticed he was missing yet, but I am so glad we found him!  I can only imagine the sorrow if he had been lost. 

We also saw the White House, but I am sad to report that it was pretty anti-climatic and no one really cared too much about it.  Rusty and I liked seeing the guards patrol the rooftop.

And how could I forget the National Cathedral?  BEAUTIFUL and fascinating building!  Next time I’m there I want to do an extensive tour with a guide.DSC_0616

Raise your hand if you are jealous that we got to have an adult night night out with these cool cats?  The adults went to dinner while the kids ran wild at the Sampson house.  The kids were so glad to have some friends to play with, and Rusty and I were glad to have some fun, adult conversation!  Paul and Lindsay also took us to see the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.  It was a beautiful, serene tribute to those that lost their lives, both on the airplane that crashed into the Pentagon, and the workers inside. 
hanging with the Sampsons

Our final day was focused on the man who started it all—George Washington.  We went out to Mt. Vernon and toured his estate.  Apparently DC resides in some sort of time warp, because Mt. Vernon is 16 miles from DC and driving 50 mph it takes 45 minutes to get there. Figure that out. 

Mt. Vernon was really interesting and we even got to see GW’s tomb.  Again—the heat was enough to melt the skin off your body.  Someday I’ll have a view as good as this one:


The 4 1/2 hour car ride back to the city was filled with funny kidisms such as, “Blake, keep your hands to yourself.”  “NO! NEVER!”  and this good one from Josh concerning the iphone.  “Mom, I have a really great routine.  First I play Megarun, then Madagascar.  IF I have bonus coins then I do Skylanders.  Last is Jet Pack.”  If only other aspects of his life were that organized! 

I think Jersey has the best views of NYC and the drive back through the Lincoln Tunnel was breathtaking.  I still feel so lucky to live in this amazing place, even if it’s only for the summer. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Empire State of Mind

Carlie, Dan and Baby Gwen are here for a visit.  It is so fun to have them with us, and the kids are just eating Gwen up.  Halle can’t get enough of her, and so when we went to the Empire State Building the other day, Halle got to carry Gwen in the front pack.  I think it was a little heavy, but she didn’t complain at all.  Gwen didn’t like sitting down on the subway, so Halle stood and bounced her the whole way.

The kids have been very excited to see the city from 86 stories  up. They loved looking from all 4 sides and spotting different buildings and landmarks they recognized like Central Park, WTC 1, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Chrysler Building.  Last time we were here on a foggy day and couldn’t see very far.  Today we could clearly see the Statue of Liberty and beyond.  Blake and Josh loved riding the elevator, and Halle was so excited to find a cute little purse in the gift shop to carry her camera in.