Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Memorable Trip to Manhattan

My boys and I traveled out to New York City for two quick but very fun and meaningful days last month for my sister Elizabeth's wedding in Central Park. As I've said before, I used to know New York well, so it was really fun to go back after many years away. We didn't have a lot of time to do things (the wedding was the priority), but we had a great time. I'd like to make a trip there again in the hopefully not-too-distant future when we have more time (and Peter can help us navigate the subway and hail taxis and all that fun city stuff!).

The kids and I flew from Cedar Rapids to Chicago to New York (La Guardia). Everything went well. I'd never flown alone with them both before, and they were very good. I was proud of all of us!

 Sam was good at keeping himself entertained while we waited at O'Hare.

The hotel was on the Upper West Side and just a few blocks from Central Park. It was nice--maybe a little too nice for four energetic boys! My sister has two sons (Rocco is 5 and Shane is 2) and I obviously have two sons, and boy (ha ha), do they have fun when they get together! 

The joy of jumping on hotel beds and pillow fights!

Elizabeth's room was down the hall from ours. The kids had fun going back and forth between them (the other guests on the floor who got to hear it again and again...not so much).  

Waiting for a table at breakfast (just ignore all that liquor in the background!)

That first evening we walked down to Times Square even though it was chilly and drizzly out. ("We" being my family: my parents, two brothers, two sisters, soon-to-be brother-in-law, and the four boys.) It was almost a two-mile walk but we did it and we made it there with no wrong turns, thanks in part to my awesome navigational skills. Normally I have a terrible sense of direction, but not in New York. I love its grid system! Getting around my hometown city of Boston is a mystery to me, but the streets of New York are so organized and logical (sorry Boston).

The boys in the hotel lobby before our epic walk to Times Square. 

Looking up at the hotel, which was built in 1903. It's right by where the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade begins.

New York, the city of many cabs!

 I had to take a picture of an NYPD police car. I had officially become a tourist.  

I liked this beautiful building... we took a picture with it in the background.
(That's me, Elizabeth, and our brother Nathan with three out of four of the boys.) 

Justin (Elizabeth's soon-to-be husband) carried Sam on his shoulders for some of the way. What a great guy! 

On the way down to Times Square, we passed through Lincoln Center, where the temple is. It was nice to see it again and I think it's so neat that the angel Moroni is up there right in the middle of one of Manhattan's most popular spots. Peter and I lived in New Jersey when the Manhattan Temple was dedicated and we went to the Open House and the dedication broadcast and we attended the temple a few times before we moved to Connecticut in 2006.

Across the street is the Metropolitan Opera House. It's on my bucket list to go to the opera there one day!

It looks like my mom was pretending to sing opera. Ha ha!

There's my family. 
Did I mention that it was rainy? 

Columbus Circle.

There were some neat Easter eggs on display (Easter was coming up that weekend).

Getting closer to Times Square...

And we made it!

 We ate dinner at the Olive Garden right in Times Square.

It was neat to eat up high with all those billboards and lights right outside the windows.

Don't mess with that big green M&M looking in through the window behind my dad!

 It was late when we finished dinner but some of us went over to the huge Toys R Us store in Times Square. I had promised the kids I'd take them and there'd be heck to pay if I didn't. It's right across the street from where Good Morning America is filmed (I once saw Diane Sawyer come out of the building there).

Sam was in Thomas heaven!

There was this big Jurassic Park dinosaur that moved and roared that Sam was scared of. 
It made quite an impression on him and he talked about it for days.

Sam's reaction. LOL!

 Cool things suspended from the ceiling.

There's a Ferris Wheel in the store but we didn't have time to go on it before the store closed for the night. I rode on this with my niece Hayley when she was 10 (and she just graduated from college last weekend!).
After the toy store, we had the enjoyable experience of trying to hail a cab in the pouring rain to take us back to the hotel. Needless to say, getting a cab in or around Times Square on a rainy night isn't easy. I was so relieved (and soaked) when we finally got one!  

The next morning was the wedding day (which I will write about in my next blog post).
Sam liked playing on the big windowsill in our room.
(Don't worry, the window wasn't open-able--did I just make a word?) 

The flag was right outside of one of Justin and Elizabeth's windows.

New York City buses are looooong! Sam picked a toy one out at Toys R Us and it was his favorite thing for a few days.

A few pictures in Central Park.

Sam and Rocco had to climb this huge rock when they saw it!

Around the city...

I was in the front seat of a cab when I took this picture on the way back to the hotel from the wedding lunch. Poor Elizabeth was in the back in her wedding dress with all four rambunctious boys. Thankfully our driver was very nice and tolerant of the potty talk that spewed out from the boys in the back (instigated by my oldest son, the shining example).

A few moments of peace and quiet back at the hotel.

That evening, after my family had left to go back to Massachusetts except for me and my boys and Elizabeth and Justin and their boys, we walked over to Central Park and took the kids to a playground there. 

Some pictures I took on the walk over:

This building, or series of connected buildings, was HUGE! It took up a whole city block! It's right across the street from the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. That's some prime real estate right there.

The playground was a fun, easy way to end a busy, eventful day. It was cold out, but the kids had a blast and barely even noticed the cold. Kids are talented and blessed like that!
I love the backdrop of skyscrapers behind the playground. Cities are the coolest!

The fun of tire swings!

One of my favorite pictures!

Great picture of the good-looking newlyweds!

I was so drawn to this beautiful building that was directly across the street from the playground (it's the same one that I took pictures of from the side in the collage above). I posted it on Instagram and one of my friends thought it was the building from Ghostbusters, and I think she's right! We could see the two pillars at the top from the spot in the park where Elizabeth and Justin got married. 

 On the walk back to the hotel, Justin suggested we get pizza for dinner. Oh, how I wish I had agreed to this, but I didn't because the boys had eaten pizza at lunch that day. I decided to just get room service for me and the kids because it was easy. What a fateful crappy decision that turned out to be!

Here we are innocently enjoying our little dinner picnic... 

 And about five hours later, BAM! I woke up at 1:30 a.m. with that foreboding feeling of nausea that we all know and hate. I spent the rest of the night in misery in the bathroom. It was horrible. Fortunately my kids didn't get sick--that would have been even more of a nightmare; can you imagine? The culprit was either the vegan shepherd's pie I ate for dinner (pictured in the bottom left corner above; I may never eat lentils again) or more likely a plate of soft cheeses that I didn't like that much (thankfully I didn't eat more or the food poisoning could have been even worse). I was worried because I was flying halfway across the country that morning alone with my kids--how was I going to do that when I was so sick? Thankfully I managed to get it all out of my system in those early morning hours. The boys went on their first limousine ride on the way to the airport (sometimes taxis turn out to be limos!), where we hit the jackpot of ginger ale, which helped settle my poor stomach. I was weak and tired and very pale, but I was okay on the flights. A kind fellow passenger helped me with the overhead luggage and the kids behaved pretty well. We got home just fine and by that evening I was able to nibble on a few Saltine crackers and drink some herbal tea and keep them down. What a way to end an otherwise awesome trip!
(Just a note: I have now graced two of the great cities of our country with both my presence and my vomit this year. I wonder which lucky city's turn is next? My guess is Orlando or Boston, but Chicago is a possibility too.)  

 This is a cute picture of Sam before going to bed. He and I shared a bed and he woke me up a few times with his kicking (just like the good old pregnancy days!). Of course I wasn't in bed very much during the second and final night, so I guess it wasn't too bad. I gladly would have taken that over what I was dealing with!

It was so fun to be back in New York, this time with my kids and my family. I will never forget this trip.  Next time I will post about Elizabeth and Justin's beautiful wedding in Central Park!