Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kids In the City

You will never hear me say that things are perfect, because nothing is ever perfect, but our second full day in Manhattan was pretty much as perfect as it could get. So I'm going to go ahead and just start with the good stuff and gloss over our first day where everyone was a little jet lagged and cranky. Work for you? Good. Let's get started then.

Has anyone reading ever been to Manhattan? Or rather, has anyone ever visited with children? As much as I was excited to show the kids around the city, I was admittedly a bit overwhelmed at first with what exactly we were going to do. There is just so much to do that I didn't know where to start, how to cram it all in such a short time frame. After a lot of thought and some discussion, we decided to just keep it simple and avoid the usual "tourist" sites considering the kids age. We figured that the sensory overload from the city alone would create such a lasting impression we weren't really sure how much they would truly remember of the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.

So our plan then for Saturday was to first secure an eating spot for lunch and dinner, and then head on out. After we all got a full 12 hours of sleep and woke past 9:30, we decided to skip breakfast and start out our day by visiting the world famous Serendipity. They opened at 11:30 and we were advised to arrive at 11 to stand in line and secure a table when they opened. So we hopped in a cab and on we went.  I felt like a true tourist standing outside in that line in 15 degree temps, but it was a fun experience.  I said many times last week, "I'm on an adventure!"  I think you have to say that to yourself sometimes or else life can get you down.

For geographical purposes, our hotel was in Soho and we traveled to Midtown, where we spent most of our day, first stopping at 60th and 2nd.
 I have no idea how the kids didn't get sick from these hot chocolates.
 Below, the table on the left is the one where John Cusack & Kate Beckinsale sat during the movie
After our bellies were full we walked up the street to Dylan's Candy Bar.  Considering Project 2011, our goal for this trip was to not "buy" the kids anything, but rather spend our money on experiencing the city through visiting interesting places, riding in the subway and taxi cabs, and eating at fun and unique restaurants.  With that in mind, candy from Dylan's was the only thing we actually bought the entire time we were in the city.  Everyone I spoke to, upon hearing I was bringing my kids on this trip said we had to visit FAO Schwartz.  Art and I were both in agreement though that that was the last place we wanted to take them.  Spending money on more toys a month after Christmas and lugging them all over the city seemed like a recipe for disaster.  Spending 20 bucks on overpriced candy didn't seem quite so bad though ;)
  Look at the smile on her face!  priceless.  This is when we first got there and told her she could fill her bag half way to the top.  And Syd begged for that stupid M&M fan for 20 minutes but we stood strong and somehow managed to negotiate our way out of the situation temper tantrum free.  
 After the kids were on a sugar high, we used that energy to our advantage and walked several blocks up to Central Park.  Luckily I've spent a lot of time in Manhattan, especially Midtown, so I felt comfortable navigating us through the area.  Manhattan can be very overwhelming at first, but Midtown especially is overall simple and is pretty much laid out on a grid.  I orientate myself by either being to the East of the Park and 5th Avenue or, to the West of the Park.  So on we went to Central Park to let the kids run around and see about possibly doing some sledding or ice skating.   
This such a breathtaking shot with the bridge, the snow covered trees and The Plaza directly behind.  This was the day after Central Park had received 18 inches of snow.
We decided to go ice skating at Wollman Rink.  Since we weren't sure how long they would last, and the prices were a bit steep, we just paid for one adult and one child.  It worked out perfectly because Taylor skated for a good hour with Art while Syd and I hung out, and then Art took Syd (using Taylor's skates) for about 15 minutes, which was plenty for his first time.  We were shocked at how well Taylor picked up skating, after only been a couple of times.  I think the roller skating practice helped.  She had a ball.
My boys taking a break.  I just love this picture.
  After some ice skating we walked, ran, and threw snowballs through the park.  We had to get to the northwest corner of the park so we could catch the subway to get back down to Soho and make our 6 pm dinner reservations.  By this time it was dusk and it was getting very cold, yet you will notice that my crazy kids are not wearing hats or gloves (Taylor did finally put on her gloves when she decided to throw snowballs).  I can't explain it.
 We hopped on the train and off we went! 
The subway system can be confusing for a visitor not used to public transportation. I myself got off on the wrong stop earlier in the week when I was alone, but when all else fails, ask for help and/or directions.  You can never get truly "lost" in Manhattan, maybe just a little turned around :)  My advice?  The money you save by taking the subway, not to mention the interesting characters you see, is well worth the time and possible frustration it takes to figure out how to navigate the system.

After a pit stop at our hotel to pick up the kids "blankies", we took a quick cab ride over to the restaurant where we had 6 pm dinner reservations.  Now here is another reason the day was nearly perfect.  We made early dinner reservations after learning our lesson the first two nights.  We had taken the kids out to eat at 9 pm because we were still on west coast time.  By that time the restaurants were packed and even though we had reservations, we felt extremely out of place having our kids out so late.  I had to resist the urge to tell all the patrons that they were on west coast time!  

But no one eats out as early as 6 pm in New York, so when we arrived at the tiny little restaurant The Rabbit In the Moon in Greenwich Village, we were literally the only ones in the place.  And the kids were so exhausted from our adventures that they laid in our laps for the first 45 minutes, cuddled up with their blankets (so glad we stopped and got them; we never let them take their blankies out in public but we had a feeling they would come in handy).  The restaurant was so unbelievably cozy and warm that Taylor literally said "Mommy, I'm so happy I could just go to sleep."  
 These pictures of the restaurant don't do it justice.  I didn't want to use my flash so these were the best I could get because it was so dark in there.  It is classified as an English gastropub and was recommended by the hotel concierge.  The food was wonderful, the service was just average, but the bartender and ambiance were spectacular.  They had the most amazing playlist going all night.  Think slow rock by Weezer, Elton John, even Metallica.  Such an unexpected mix.  The pictures below were taken in the upstairs eating area and it had this amazing text running all along the ceiling.  This was the kind of place that makes you want to open your own restaurant.  If you click on the Yelp page, you can see the table we sat at (far right corner underneath Shakespeare). 
The bartender was the friendliest one in the place.  The hostess and waitress were a little odd.  But he was welcoming and encouraged us to have the run of the place.  He even let Syd sit on the bar.  Please note, the bar was a part of the large dining room, so it's not like we actually took him to the bar area :)  This meal was definitely the most we spent on food the entire trip, but since it was our last night and we had been pretty conscientious the entire trip, we decided we could have one last nice dinner.  I'm so glad we did.
These past 6 months since I've returned back to work have had its ups and downs.  There's been times I missed the kids so fiercely that I literally cried at my desk with my head in my hands (try doing that discreetly in a room of 10 other people).  But this last week as I walked around the city, feasted on all it has to offer, I saw that good or bad, I am grateful for these experiences.  All the experiences I've had throughout my career have had something to offer.  And even though sometimes I've felt that I've stretched more than I've grown, there is always a positive lining to look for in every path you take.  This weekend proved just that and I was reassured that although at times I may doubt my decisions, it had something positive to bring into my life.  Even if it was just the simplicity of watching my daughter get out of her first taxi ride and lay her eyes on the rows of skyscrapers and say "WOW".


  1. It is truly the greatest city in the world. Looks even more special with children. Gorgeous photos & story - great post.

  2. Andrea, there are so many reasons I love this post. I love that you were brave and took your kids to NYC, in FREEZING temps. (I would have just stayed in the hotel and sent them out with my husband) I love that you are sharing adventures with them. I love the things you did, and didn't do. It looks like an amazing trip.
    You are a rockstar mom!!
    I have been to JFK 5 times enroute to somewhere else. Someday I'd like to get out of the airport and do just what you did.
    I also love the honesty at the end of your post. Thank you for sharing your heart. we doubt ourselves so much as mothers, but really what our kids need from us is lots of love. You are clearly giving them that--and a zest for life. I love that!
    Love from

  3. Andrea, In all the years we have worked together @SJK...I have LOVED your spirit and your love of life. You and Art are such a great couple and I just knew you would be an amazing MOM. I am so proud of you for getting back to work and as I always knew you could fine a way to balance it ALL. Your trip around NYC with the kids sounded fantastic and without all the toys and crap you gave them a trip of a lifetime. You know I don't have kids but i do understand, kids just want to share time with their parents doing anything. That one on one time is precious! Hope to see you next trip on east, JoJo

  4. All of your pics are so amazing.I loved reading about all your adventures, but the end of your post touched me the most. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Andrea - I have never been to NYC! I would LOOOOVE to visit :D Maybe without children, at least for the first trip. Looks like you all had a blast. The photos are amazing! Glad your trip was a success.

  6. I can't believe you took your kids. I've done NY once, and I was so selfish I never thought of it through kids' eyes.
    Next time I may need a small traveling companion.
    Sounds "perfect." Glad it was so amazing. I can't believe CA kids stayed out in the cold that long.

  7. oh, this was one of my favorite posts of yours. it looks like your family had a wonderful time, and you just sound so happy! isn't it so nice to sometimes receive a cementing (does that make sense?) of our decisions? an assurance that we did/are doing the right thing?

    wonderful pictures too!

  8. What a fab vacay! I love your takeaway about "even though sometimes I've felt that I've stretched more than I've grown" re: returning to work. That is pretty much how I feel about a lot of areas in my life and believe it or not that was freeing to acknowledge it. Now I feel like I can be aware and work on the growing part. And I'm uber impressed with your spending or lack thereof in NYC...quite a feat.

  9. i love this! i visited "the city" with my kiddo when she was about 5 and she had a blast as well, just seeing what she could see! love that you all were brave enough to get out in that weather and still had a blast!!

  10. i can't wait to one day take my kids to the city. i've been there a few times. went to serendipity b/c i love that movie so much! sophie was in my tummy, so technically she's been there too. amazing job at the FAO ban. also that restaurant looks killer. kind of like the side door in CDM that i love sooo much. been there?


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