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New York City

NYC!

New York at Christmas is fun. We enjoyed the lights and shops and people….but I think a highlight for all of us was the Central Park off-leash dog time in the morning.  We were waking so early that it was dark and before anything could open we walked to the park and played with all the dogs!  So fun.   Continue reading “NYC!”

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NYC – Last day, Lost again, and Bussing Home

Monday was our last day in New York City and we decided to take it easy. Avi was up early and then down for a nap right when Zoe woke, so she and I played for a long time while he slept.  She has had a lot of fun here at Tyler’s.  This morning we had a ‘party’ in his bathroom and then she played Dino Train games online at his big computer.  After lunch both kids fell asleep for another nap!  We’ve been staying out too late.

Bethany is now on summer break, so she flew into Newark today!  The kids and I took the train into Manhattan to meet her airport bus.  We then decided to just go back to Tylers and hang out for the evening until our megabus back to PA.  Well, I accidentally got us on the wrong train….correct platform, correct direction, bus wrong train.  The Q, N, and R trains all go from Manhattan to Queens from the same platform at Times Square.  We needed the Q or N, but the R showed up and we didn’t notice since it was so crowded and we were more concerned with getting the kids and Bethanys suitcases onto the train.  OOPS.  I figured it out after we should’ve surfaced and by then we were well into Queens.  So we hopped off and realized it would be long to go all the way back and switch trains.  Amazingly it wasn’t too long of a walk.  We stopped at Baskin Robbins on the way for some ice cream which made it bearable.  The city was super hot and humid today.  Back in Tylers apartment we cranked the AC and chilled out until Tyler got off work. 

For dinner we all went out for Mexican food.  It was fun to be hanging out with just us siblings for once…that never happens. All the Walk kids and grandkids walking around in New York out for dinner.  Truly was a moment.  Tyler pushed the stroller with Avi (who fell asleep again) and Zoe walked with Aunt Bethany.  When dinner was over we gathered our things and rode the train back to the city and walked three blocks to the megabus stop.  We were booked on the 1115pm bus to arrive at 4am in State College.  To our surprise there was quite a line for our bus, but everyone fit on fine.  Bethany held Avi which ensured no one would try to sit by her.  Zoe and I sat in the seat behind her and said goodbye to New York City.  Zoe promptly fell asleep, but Avi didn’t have an easy time of it.  He nursed and woke and nursed and wok so I didn’t get much sleep either.  After the rest stop, though, we moved a sleeping Zoe up to the seat beside Bethany so I was able to lay down a bit better with Avi.  We all slept pretty OK for the last couple hours.

Arriving in State College, the bus just pulled over and dumped out our stuff.  Mom and Dad had dropped the car in the parking lot earlier so we just loaded up and headed home.  Felt good to finally crash my head on a pillow, but Avi still was restless.  He finally slept and I lowered him into the crib as the morning birds began chirping. 

Needless to say we slept in (until 10am) Tuesday morning…. and then resisted taking a nap to get us off our “late nights in New York” schedule.  What a fun trip!  Thank you Tyler!!

NYC – Candy, Kids, and Korean

Another glorious sunny day in New York City.  We have had amazing weather during our visit!!!  This morning Avi woke early AGAIN, and then Zoe woke just as Avi went down for a nap AGAIN….seems to be the big apple routine.  So we played while he slept and got ready for the day.  On the agenda:  a BIG SURPRISE from Uncle Tyler.  He whispered to Zoe what it was (a huge candy store) and she didn’t want me to come along!!  She wanted to go just with him.  Obviously she likes Uncle Tyler and thinks I’d cramp her chances for mondo candy.  We agreed that Avi and I could wait outside, “whatever place you might be going to”.  Well, she was all excited to get on the subway and go and behaved super well enroute.  When we popped up onto the surface, there it was on the corner!!  Dylan’s Candy Bar!  She and Tyler went in.  I paparazzied a few pics and got myself something when they disappeared downstairs.  Tyler said she knew exactly what she wanted – a giant lollipop and jelly beans.  Well, she got just that!  Plus a few chocolate pretzels and a choco mouse.  And she picked out a sugar cube lolly for me – so sweet of her.  I met her and Tyler outside of the store where she was already digging in.

We went back underground for a fiasco of a subway ride out to Brooklyn.  This is subway construction weekend, I guess, and unfortunately the ones we wanted were rerouted.  Tyler figured out where to go and it took us a while but we made it.  Sometimes you just go with the flow.  Of course, the many subway trains and transfers lulled the kids to sleep. This time, though, Zoe was out of the stroller.  Tyler decided to be a good Uncle and carry her.  It looked like a scene from a movie; like he should be yelling, “get me a doctor”  while running down the streets of brooklyn.  She sleeps so soundly that the heat, the noise, the rough handling didn’t bug her.  Eventually, her weight bugged Tyler. So, we switched Avi to the Snugli and plopped Zuzz in the stroller for the remainder of the walk to the Brooklyn Childrens Museum!  It’s a giant yellow cube and both kids woke just in time to walk through the door.

This place is great!  We basically followed Zoe around where she wanted to explore.  First stop: the interactive play area.  She played with Tyler in the sand, made noise on the loud musical instruments, found another little girl friend, messed around in the dress-ups, and had a grand old time.  Avi absolutely LOVED the sand.  He loves to squish it and feel it and seemed enthralled with watching the other kids play, too.  When he started eating it I moved him over to the baby play area where he could crawl up and around all these padded blocks.  He laughed at himself in the mirror and found a ball to through for himself.  Our next stop was down the ramp to the nature area – we learned about streams, and beaches, and snakes, and other animals.  The kids played for a long time in the little play stream.  Zoe colored, Avi crawled around to look in the low fish tanks and stared for a long while at the tarantula.  The next station was out in the garden where Tyler took Zoe around with the watering can to water plants and explore.  Avi mostly wanted to launch himself into the pond.  After that we headed back in for an animal encounter!  Zoe stayed with Tyler in the theater for a chance to touch and learn about snakes.  I think she had a blast hanging out with Tyler.  Avi and I went to the mini-Brooklyn area where he played in the grocery store until Zoe and Tyler joined us.  This little grocery was a big hit with both of them..we also checked out a Chinese bookstore, an African textiles store, and a Brazilian travel agency before Zoe parked us at a table outside of the pizza shop.  She made us a few pizza’s and served al fresco.  This part of the museum was just genius:  small replica’s of real stores in Brooklyn where kids could pretend to be shopping and doing.  It was great, but it was also closing time.

Our last adventure for the day was an awesome Korean restaurant Tyler had been too!  The food and atmosphere were awesome.  They were so kid friendly, too, just like in the real Korea.  In fact, another lady came over and played with Avi for a long while so Tyler and Zoe and I could cook our food.  It was like in Korea where you cook your own meet on the griddle in the center of the table.  After a bit another little kid kept coming over to play with Zoe, feed Zoe her rice, and show her the lobster tank.  Well, Jaden was such a cute guy we let Zoe go play with him and his fam for a while.  His mom traded us Avi for Zoe and was so happy to have a friend for Jaden to hang out with.  She even got them both some ice cream!  This gave Tyler and I time to feed Avi, chat like grown-ups, and polish off a bottle of Soju.  Needless to say we had a great time and even exchanged numbers with this other fam.  It was a blast off, to use Zoe’s term, with hugs at goodbye time.  Made me miss Korea.

Tonight, as all the others, Zoe wanted big hugs and kisses from Uncle Tyler before bed and got to watch some Shaun the Sheep with him, too.  It’s been such fun to be here.

NYC – Yoga and Lady Liberty

This morning Zoe and Avi enjoyed a relaxing time at Tylers apartment.  Avi woke early even after our late night, but then fell asleep for a nap just as Zoe woke up.  So, she played happily with her animal toys for a while until we were ready to head out for the day.

Our first stop:  Kiddo Yoga with Tyler’s friend Jodi.  We walked to her place and had a great time!  Zoe loved that the class had a lot of songs and a story.  In fact, later in the day she started singing “yoga clock”. Avi crawled around on me and helped me participate too.  After yoga Zoe got to meet jodi’s super chubby fluffy cat, which was a huge highlight for her.

When we left Jodi’s we walked to the nearest train stop and started our next adventure: get the National parks stamps in lower Manhattan!  Tyler navigated the subway today, thank goodness, because there was a lot of construction going on with certain routes closed.  It was also alot nicer to have him along for the kids – Zoe had a hand to hold and lap to sit on while I pushed Avi and entertained him in the stroller.  Both of them seem to get a bit groggy on the subway so by the time we arrived at Wall street they were napping.  We had switched Zoe to the stroller and I carried Avi in the Snugli.  Tyler helped lug the stroller up the steps of Federal Hall and we went in the check out the rotunda and stamp the passport.  This is where George Washington was inaugurated since NYC was the capital briefly after the revolution.  I chatted with the lady at the desk about getting to our other destination -you know, the BIG one in New York – and we left.  Luckily, it wasn’t a far walk south to the Battery Park so we popped in a deli along the way and grabbed a few sandwiches for lunch.  the kids were still!  asleep!  As we continued down to the waterfront area we passed the statue of the Bull and saw some kids doing a little show out front of the Castle Clinton monument.  Here was my next stamp!  yippee.. but ….  where is my book? … oh no……  can’t find it.

I almost panicked before realizing I MUST HAVE set it down on the counter at the Federal Hall visitor center when I chatted with the park ranger.  Well, now we were strapped for time, but I wasn’t about to board the Statue of Liberty boat without my passport book!!  I had a half hour – so I booked it back up to Federal Hall and made it in 7 minutes (Avi still in the snugli, but very awake now and squawking at everything!).  Tyler stayed with Zoe at Battery Park and watched the little kid acting troupe do their show.  I suppose it was entertaining enough.  When I walked into the visitor center the ranger must’ve seen the panic in my eyes as she said, “I knew you’d be back” and pulled that precious little blue book out from under the desk.  RELIEF.  I thanked her and then hustled out and down the stairs and back 5 blocks the Battery Park.  Tyler was also very relieved that I found my book.  That could have been devastating.  I rushed in to the Castle Clinton visitor center and got my stamp.  This was an old fort built during the war of 1812 to keep the Brits out of New York.  It really is a cool brick fort, but mostly it a housing place for the Statue of Liberty ticket line.

I booked our Statue ferry a few days ago to ensure we didn’t have to stand in line and that we got on.  Being a Saturday and sunny it was packed!!  Even with pre-bought tickets we waited in the security line for a good half hour.  Neither of the children enjoyed this.  Zoe was whiny and was still in the stroller for a while, and Avi started to really fuss.  He needed to nurse.  It was hot.  Tyler, though, stayed calm and chilled as we dealt with the kids.  He is great with them!  especially Zoe.  After we got through the security  line it was another gaggle of people in a line for the next boat.  We lucked out and were some of the first to get on, so we grabbed seats inside on the bottom deck.  Tyler agreed it was completely unnecessary to lug the stroller and kids up onto the hot sunny topdeck.  We could see just fine out our big window.  I nursed Avi while the rest of the crowd boarded – and raced past me to go up top.  Tyler took Zuzz up to see what all the fuss was about.  We made a good choice to stay low.  The boat sped along nicely with my kids hanging out the window.  Zoe loved seeing the sailboats out on the water and Avi kept reaching for …  something ….  and chatted at the breeze.  Tyler, of course,  documented all of this like a good videographer.  He said it was nice to get his new video cam out, and he sure used it alot. Every time I turned around he seemed to be videoing again.  It will be fun to see the footage of our trip with a nice quality cam – like our own little reality show!

As the boat neared the Statue of Liberty we got a lot of pictures and got ready to get off.  However, we noticed two things: 1. the line to get back ON the boat was humongous and all exposed in the sun. AND 2. the last boat to leave the statue and continue on to Ellis Island was at 5pm – in 40 minutes.  There was no way to do both.  Well there isn’t much actually AT the statue of liberty.  The visitor center for the park and all the immigration info and museum are at Ellis, so we stayed on the boat.  I know.  No pictures from the bottom of lady liberty, but truly it would have been miserable and not worth the hassle. We got some great shots from the boat and from Ellis.  Ellis island is a nice tree lined place.  After gaggling off the boat with the hoard we made our way into the building and got our stamp!  Yippee!  Three in one day, and 5 for the weekend.  That was the last one in NYC, too, except one park that is currently closed.

At Ellis we filled our water bottles.  Tyler is really good at reminding us all to drink water and seek out a fountain for a refill.  We wandered around the exhibits – incredible that people immigrated with all there possessions in duffel bags or maybe on a small wheel barrow.  Zoe liked all the pictures of people and pretending We were just off the boat and moving to America.  She wanted her picture with these people and wanted to be called ‘kid’ and given her ticket….but she soon bored of the museum.  Avi was also getting restless in the stroller so we went outside for some ice cream and time under the trees.  The vendor was about to close, but luckily, allowed us to make the final ice cream purchase of the day!  Zoe promptly dropped hers on the grass.  She seemed satisfied with the cone.  Tyler and I sat down in the grass ready for a rest.  No luck.  Avi now wanted to walk about and Zoe ran amuk.  We spent a while on the grass before getting in line for the next boat back to the city.  We hopped on a train and zipped up to Central Park for the evening.

In the park Zoe had a blast running around on a big boulder.  There were also musicians, dancers, and giant bubbles to play with. We found a great big fountain that Zoe put her feet in and Avi splashed for a bit.  The park was buzzing with people, but still so relaxing and nice.  It is truly a great place. Zoe raced me and played “shark” with Uncle Tyler.  Of course that involved her being chased as usual, and Tyler was over it well before she was as usual.  That’s OK, there was more park to see on the way back.  She liked seeing the horses and carriages and spotted a raccoon!

As the sun set we walked back to the subway and rode to Astoria.  Tylers neighborhood is very eclectic with lots of restaurants and ethnic variety.  many Greek, middle eastern and asian places all together.  It’s great.  We decided on middle eastern for dinner and walked up to that area, found a place, and sat down for dinner.  It was a bit awkward…I guess this place wasn’t used to kids.  They didnt have a high chair, warned us they’d be smoking hookah, didn’t take credit cards, and then didn’t have what Tyler wanted.  Even after that, though, the falafal was good and the berry juice was delicious.  It was late by the time we walked home, so Zoe rode on my back and Avi took in all the lights from the stroller. He seems to really like light and noise and will make his own noise to match!  We all crashed hard after a busy day.

NYC – Dinos and Getting Lost

Slept in this morning a bit. Zoe and I are sleeping together on Tyler’s bed – Avi is on the couch, but I push it up to the bed.  After some breakfast we just played in Tylers apartment for a while until about noon.  I got a shower, the kids each took a bath, and I looked up directions to our adventure for the day – The American Natural History Museum and Grant’s Tomb (if possible).  At noon, we headed out the door.  The subways here in New York are just not stroller friendly so it’s good we have a small one.  I have to carry the stroller with Avi in it up and down stairs while Zoe walks behind.  Once up on the elevated rail I bought a $10 pass and we were on our way!  In Astoria the subway line is actually above ground and elevated at about 2 stories up, so there is a cool view of the city before it ducks under the water into Manhattan.  We switched trains once to ride up to the museum, where there is a museum entrance in the subway station!

Odd, though, that the museum has ‘suggested’ prices – they require you to stand in line to get a ticket, tell you how much the ticket should cost, and then ask how much of that you want to pay.  I chose to only pay for my rate, not Zoe too.  Seemed overpriced.  Anyway, we booked it up stairs to the dinos where Zoe was in heaven.  It was pretty crowded, but fun.  We spent an hour and a half in dinoland before going downstairs to see the ‘people’ displays.  Zoe was getting sleepy and Avi was getting bored of the stroller, though, so we left.  Walked across the street to Central park and found a lovely group of boulders to sit on and eat our packed lunch.  I brought along some cheese and crackers, carrots, chickpeas, and pretzels.  Yum.  Avi was less interested in food than he was in was in pushing the stroller around and climbing all over the rocks.  It was good to be outside burning off some energy.  At this point I could tell Zoe was getting sleepy too, so I plopped her in the stroller and put Avi in the carrier back to subway – where there are more stations with elevators – and onto the train.

This morning when I looked up directions I wrote down to get off the C train at 168th street….no idea why….Grants Tomb is nowhere near there.  Wait, wait, I’m ahead of myself.  The fiasco started when we got to the subway platform and there where no C trains coming – construction or something.  So, I hopped on the B train for a bit figuring I could switch at one of the stations before 145th.  I did just that, and it worked out OK.  By that time Zoe was asleep in the stroller and Avi was crying.  Once I got on the train I got him out of the snugli and nursed….then he fell asleep.  So, thank goodness the train wasn’t too crowded, as I laid him on my lap, put on the snugli while sitting and plopped him into it with moments to spare before our stop.  He amazingly stayed asleep.  we got off at 168th street at 4pm – the Grants tomb visitor center closes at 5pm.  I took the elevator up to the street and got out my iphone to navigate where to walk…it showed us 50 blocks away!!! what!?  I looked up the place on the website and I was nowhere near it.  Why the hell I wrote down 168th street I still just don’t know – I guess I was busy this morning as we got ready.  Anyway I lucked out that the 1 train is at the same station so I went back down, got on the 1 south and figured that if it stopped at 116th BEFORE 4:30 I’d get off and try for the tomb, otherwise we were headed home.  Well, it stopped right at 4:30 so I got off and CARRIED ZOE in the stroller up steps.  gag.  A lady helped me up a second set thank god!  It started to drizzle on us as we walked to the site, and actually felt kind of good since it had been so hot.

Let me stop here, quickly, and say that I have a moderate obsession with getting my little National Parks passport book stamped at all the parks in the country.  It’s kind of a life goal, and Grants tomb is one of them.  Hence, the need to go through all this hassle to get there.  I don’t actually care that much about Ulysses S. Grant.

Up on land I booked it 8 blocked to the tomb and it was open!  By this time Zoe woke, so I made her walk up the steps.  We peered over the edge.  There it is.  Now, where is the passport stamp?  The ranger said the visitor center is another block toward the water, so we ran as it was now 5 to 5….and made it!!! yippee!!  Bonus that there were 2 stamps; one for grant and one for another park that is currently closed.  success.

By now it was full-up (to use a Bryan term) raining.  We walked back toward broadway and I used my iphone to find out where the 60 bus picked up.  I recalled seeing online in the morning that that bus went a more direct route back to Astoria than the train.  Amazingly I found it and we saw the bus go by as we waited at the orange hand telling us not to cross the street.  The next should be in 8 minutes, but 30 minutes later it pulled up – FULL – and we got on. Luckily there had been an overhang to protect us from the rain while we waited or I would’ve given up and taken the subway to avoid being drenched. On board, I collapsed the stroller with help from some other passengers and a guy let me have his seat.  So, we were off.  The bus is more interesting as you can see the city as you go, but it’s kind of slow going in traffic.  Zoe sat on my lap for a bit til a seat opened up and then Avi nursed.  The ride was great – straight through Harlem, passed the Apollo, and then over the bridge to Astoria.  It was a 10 minute walk (in the rain) back to Tylers.  We got back in around 7pm and ate some leftover Indian food for dinner.  When Tyler got in after work we went back out on the town!

At what would normally be my kids’ bedtime we walked out into the Astoria night.  This is a great neighborhood!  nice for familys, singles, whoever.  There are lots of parks, restaurants, nice apartments, and even homes with yards.  very cool.  We were on our way to Tyler’s friends yoga studio.  She had just finished a class and we were going to hang out and play some games.  Zoe loved all the lights from the city, and especially from the restaurant across from the yoga studio.  Avi slept in the stroller.  We had fun hanging out with his friends and played a super fun drawing game. Zoe enjoyed running around in the space and rolling up into the yoga mats.  It was fun!  We walked back – and Zoe was a zombi.  Back at the apartment she rolled onto the bed and fell right asleep.  Avi woke and nursed and went back to sleep….I checked the clock….1am!  what!?  wow.  The city that never sleeps in right.

NYC – Megabus and the Fair

The kids and I have started another adventure!  This time it’s the Big Apple to visit my  brother Tyler.  I woke early to pack and then an excited Zoe got up and got breakfast and got moving.  She had been looking forward to taking the bus for a while now.  Mom and Dad took us to the Walmart parking lot where the Megabus comes and waited – our 10am bus didn’t get there until 11!  And, it was packed.  It’s a double decker, so we searched up and downstairs in vain for two seats together.  I finally just had to ask a guy to move so Zoe and I could sit together.  I didn’t buy Avi a ticket so he was on my lap.  The bus was nice, though.  Had wifi, a bathroom, nice comfy seats.  Really cool.  It stops once on the way to New York City for a little rest stop at a gas station.  The driver cut it short to try to save everyone some time.

The kids did great on the bus!  Zoe cried when Nan and Grandpa Joe walked away, but was soon happy to  be looking out the window for the city.  Eventually she fell asleep.  Avi bounced on my lap for a while and looked out the window until he fell asleep, too.  So, just past Bellefonte we all took a nice nap until the rest break.  I woke and hoped they would both stay asleep, but no luck.  So we got out briefly and ran around in the grass. We also discovered that Zoe’s gatoraide had leaked all over the floor.  She put the cap on wonky (like I always do) and it got the floor under her seat all wet.  Her little bag of toys was soaked, doggy was a bit moist, and the girl behind us’s bag was moist on the bottom.  She was ok with it and it all dried out pretty well during the rest stop.  The next 2 hours Zoe played quietly with her animals on the seat beside me.  Avi ate snacks and then nursed and then…slowly…fell asleep again.  For a bit he stood up on the floor between my legs and played with stuff on my seat.  I rested my eyes as well when he fell asleep and was awoken by Zoe laying on me with her legs up the window beside me saying, “wah wah, dada, wah wah, da da” in baby-talk.  It was funny and perfect since we were just starting to see the city skyline.  I got stuff packed up as we went through the Lincoln tunnel and Zoe just ooo and awwed at the buildings and people.

The bus dumped us out at a corner with scaffolding.  I grabbed our backpack from under the seat in front of us and then waded through the crowd to grab our stroller from the under bus storage.  We packed really light so I could just have a small backpack to fit in the stroller basket.  Avi rides the stroller, Zoe and I walk.  Zoe also brought a tiny backpack of toys that she carries. Tyler’s girlfriend Rosalie was to meet us, and she texted that she was enroute so I thought I had time to find some snack.  I used my handy new iphone to find some donuts – which turned out to be kind of tough since there was so much construction in that area.  Then we returned to the bus stop to find Rosalie waiting!  She walked us over to Tyler’s office for his current project.  It’s just near the Flatiron building.  It was fun to see the tiny hovel he works in – it’s inside a super nice office with lots of other people we got to meet.  Very cool.  Very fancy.

After that Rosalie led us to the subway and we rode back to Tyler’s apartment.  Its a great little place above a driving school in Astoria.  Nice big kitchen, and a big bedroom / living room with his giant TV and lots of cords.  We spent a bit putting the cords behind stuff and covering his electronics with a towel.  Avi seems to be more interested in the ball we brought and deshelving books.  Fine. We walked out to Astoria park for some rides at the fair!  Zoe’s favorite was the tornado!  It was a cool big ride similar to a merry mixer, but you spin the seats yourself.  She went twice – once with Rosalie and once with me.  We all rode the carousel, too, though Avi was not into it.  He kept leaning off his horse onto my shoulder.  Tyler was home when we got back and we spent the evening with some Indian food delivery and Shaun the Sheep on netflix.

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