Toddlers and the City

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What a great time we have been having this past week. My two sorority sisters flew in to Jersey from California with their two children (ages 2 and 3). We have been seeing the sites of NYC and the surrounding areas. We have surprisingly accomplished a lot with 3 toddlers in tow! (Of course, we aren't going to let that slow us down...our children are little troopers. I'll detail our week's events below.

Melanie flew in from L.A. with her son, Grant, and her cousin, Lisa. I picked them up first because Christi and her daughter, Madeline, were delayed. After a hail storm, we successfully made it from terminal C to A at Newark to pick up Christi. At terminal A, we were yelled at by a Transit Authority police officer through the bullhorn of his car to "keep it moving". I stopped at the terminal where Christi and Madeline were waiting and the policeman kept harrassing me, pulling up right on my bumper to yell at me that I could only stop if I were picking up someone. Well, I'd like to believe he felt quite a fool when 3 adults and 2 toddlers hopped out of the car to meet another adult and a toddler. He left it at that with a wave. It was a warm welcome top Jersey...a copy harrassing a car load of mom's and toddlers.

We made it into the city with 3 kids on a train! We began our tour with a walk through Times Square and then hopped on a Grayline double-decker bus tour of Uptown. The kids were well behaved considering it was in the 90s. We hopped off a Central Park where Melanie, Christi and Lisa were introduced to the joys of trying to find a place to eat with young children. After circling many blocks and attempting many times to find a restaurant with high chairs, we finally decided on Houston's. Chloe had given up by this point, choosing to take a nap instead. After lunch, we had great fun in FAO Schwarz's. The kids loved the giant piano and all the hands-on activities. Grant & Chloe built their own Hot Wheels cars, as Grant loves cars. Chloe built a Mustang and Grant built a Corvette. After walking 20 blocks, we made our way back to Penn Station and the train back home during rush hour.

It was back to the city for the 2nd leg of the double-decker tour...Dowtown. We drove into the city on this day as we had "free" parking (which really cost $8). We had it all planned out on this day. We weren't going to wonder aimlessly searching for a restaurant with high, we weren't going to make the same mistake twice. We had consulted City Baby New York, the book to turn to for parents of young children living or venturing in to NYC. We had it all planned out...we would tour to SOHO and then go eat at Tenneessee Mountain as the book had suggested. At our stop, we unloaded and were delighted to see that the street was shut down for filming of the new ABC show, 6 Degrees. We got to see actress Bridget Moynahan and actor Campbell Scott shooting a scene. After the shot was finished, we headed to the restaurant only to find out that the best made plans often fall short. The restaurant had closed down. It was boarded up. What to do? After walking a few blocks, Melanie took it upon herself to ask a group of locals lunching at a "not-so-friendly to toddlers" restaurant. They recommended we walk back a few blocks to Bar 89, which they assured us was not a bar and would be a great place to take kids. If I ever meet up with those people I will be sure to ask them if they have ever even come in contact with a toddler. The place was ONE GIANT BAR. It was a hip, trendy-looking bar with steel and glass. A place most unwelcoming to children. Luckily, there was a children's store next door. We popped in their long enough to ask for a lunch recommendation friendly to toddlers and for Chloe to attempt to climb out of her stroller and flip herself over. The shop owner recommended Jerry's a block over. We walked there and were greeted by an incredibly rude hostess who told us,

"We have no high chairs. We have no air, we have no ice. We don't take charge or
debit cards as we accept only cash because our credit card machines take too
long and we can't seat you all together. Do you still want to eat here?"

After that warm welcome, we declined their hospitality and set out for a more pleasant dining experience. Lisa ran into a nearby restaurant where we were warmly greeted and told that they did accept toddlers! Yea! It is safe to say that the restaurant, Zoe, is now on our favorites list. It was very nice inside. While we were being seated, the Bridget Moynahan, the actress we saw filming a scene came in to eat as well. After a nice lunch, we headed to Bliss to make a purchase and then set out back on our tour bus. We made our next stop at Ground Zero in the Financial District and then headed down Wall Street to Pier 17. We made a stop into a local Barnes & Noble to search for the updated copy of City Baby New York (because we were told at the children's shop that a 2nd edition had just been published making my copy obsolete considering it recommended restaurants that were shut down). only to find out that it was sold out! What luck. At Pier 17, we waited to take our 3rd leg of the Downtown tour. The bus was packed and we had to sit downstairs. You couldn't see much of anything in the lower section of the bus so we hopped off and walked back to the car. It had been a long day of searching for a place to eat!

We decided to hang out in Jersey and let the kids have a day of play instead of dragging them all over the big city. We went out for breakfast and then toured our village. We made a search for the local cheesecake bakery with 2 screaming, crying little girls in tow. In the afternoon, we aired up the play pool Melanie purchased for Chloe for her birthday and let the kids splash in the pool. Their fun was cut short by a thunderstorm. After dinner, we took the kids for ice cream and to the park to play. It was nice to take it easy and let the kids run and stretch their legs instead of carting them in strollers into the city.

Matt joined us to tour the Statue of Liberty. We took the ferry from Liberty State Park in Jersey as it is only a 10 minute boat ride as opposed to the 35 minute boat-ride from Battery Park in NYC (because it is technically on the Jersey side). Anyway, we were all set to tour when suddenly came a downpour. We opted to view the Statue from the boat as all the tours were booked for the day. After it cleared up, we were going to eat at Serendipity 3 but were told it was an hour and a half wait. Knowing that the kids couldn't cope with standing on a NY sidewalk for 1 1/2 hours, we attempted to eat at Alice's Tea Cup near Central Park. It could not accomodate us all, so we ate next door at Arte and then walked to CP. We first stopped at Strawberry Fields, the memorial to John Lennon. Grant wanted a strawberry from the memorial. We decided we had better head out before he snatched one. We then went to the Sheep's Meadow and the kids ran wild. We made another stop at a playground. We were headed to the carousel when we spotted a new playground and let the kids strip down and run through the water. They had a blast and got soaked. We headed back to Jersey for dinner and to get out of the impending rain.

We took the kids to the Bronx Zoo. We spent all day at the zoo and the kids had fun at the Children's Zoo, the Butterfly Garden, the Congo exhibit with the gorillas and the Asia monorail. We enjoyed Indian food in the evening and the kids loved the Pilau rice.

Our last full day was a great success. The day worked out according to plan! We headed into the city to eat at Serendipity 3. We had attempted to make reservations but were told that they were booked. They only take a limited number of reservations, which based on our attempts to make them appear that they only take 1 reseration a day. We arrived 15 minutes before they opened and only had to wait a short while to be seated. We all enjoyed their frozen hot chocolate. After Serendipity 3, we headed down the street to Dylan's Candy Bar and then to Long Island. Lisa has a great aunt & uncle who live in LI, so we dropped her off at their home and Christi, Melanie and I took the 3 kids to Fire Island to walk/run/chase them on the beach. The kids had a blast and loved chasing the water and fall down and get absolutely drenched and sandy. We had the forethought to bring a change of clothes, though we didn't think to bring a towel. With a little ingenuity and a lot of toilet paper, we were able to shower and dry off the kids and make them presentable again. In the evening, Melanie made spaghetti and we all hit the hay early.

We woke early to take Christi and Madeline to the airport for their 6:45 a.m. flight to San Francisco. Melanie, Grant & Lisa would fly out in the evening, so we used the rest of the morning to download digital photos, pack and rest up. We then went into our town to have lunch.

It was an awesome week and I was so happy to see my two college pals and their children. We got to reminisice and discover that
  • (a) we are older than we "think" we are (who are these 30-somethings with kids?)
  • (b) hindsight IS 20/20- looking back at our video of Spring Break in South Padre Island, TX in 1992 made us realize that we weren't as cool as we think we are and that we really should have rethought the striped pants and glittered shirts (a special thanks to Christi for having it made into a DVD)
  • (c) that deep-down we haven't changed--that was a shocker
  • (d) after the 3 of us have not all been together since 1998, we can easily fall into the silly and loud banter that we shared for our 4 joyous years of college and sisterhood
  • (e) that ones closest college friends do not have to invite themselves to visit.
  • AOT to my dearest friends! It was such a pleasure to be able to finally do what we said we would do in 2003.

    **To make it easier to include photos from the week in NYC, I have uploaded them individually with captions after this post.**


    Grant's Mom said...

    Shannon, you have outdone yourself on the blog. I cannot possibly compete, so I figured out how to link your site to mine and have referred people to Chloe's to read about our trip!! Thank you so much for showing us such generous hospitality!! Love and AOT, Melanie (aka MC Melly Mel and Grant's Mom)

    Grant's Mom said...

    Shannon, you have outdone yourself. Your blog is great and I cannot possibly compete with the details and pictures you have posted!! So, I have linked Chloe's blog to Grant's and referred people to check out the trip details. Thanks so much for the generous hospitality you have shown us!!! We love you and AOT!! Melanie (aka MC Melly Mel or Grant's Mom)