Monday, August 10, 2009

Our NYC mini-vacation

We took a mini-vacation to NYC last Wednesday to Friday and it was such a blast! Even though we were unsure how it would go with all 5 of us sleeping in the same space, how to 'do' subways with 3 little ones in tow, how to find parking in the city, etc - it worked out well. :) Thanks to Auntie Celine for allowing us to stay in her gorgeous apartment in Gramercy Park! Anyhow, here's what we did:

We decided to drive into the city instead of doing a bus or train because of all the stuff we had to take with us to make the trip possible (pack-n-play, clothes, double stroller, snacks, toys [in case we got stuck in traffic], etc). Our first stop was the American Museum of Natural History for our Aidan, our dino-lover. Finding street parking was impossible and some of the street signs were so ambiguous that we ended up doing garage parking. Kev had found some coupons online for Central Parking, which made it more affordable. So definitely check for parking garage coupons if you're going to drive in. We also had a great map of the city and a new GPS, which didn't get us lost like the old one did and spoke the walking directions in a fun British accent! :) The kids lasted almost 3 hours before they were clamoring for food - I was really impressed! The museum's gem section is always fun and the hall of Ocean Life was really stunning! Cara got tired of being in the Ergo after her nap, so I let her roam a bit. There's something about her that makes random people come up and want to play with her - haha! I think in the span of 15 minutes, 5 groups stopped to say hi - she was like another exhibit! :D Anyhow, a great place to nurse is the section between all the dinosaurs exhibits where they show a short film. It's dark and you get to watch a short film while nursing. :) Anyhow, after the museum, we hit the famous Shake Shack, which was super close to the museum. By 3:30, there was no line, so we were able to enjoy burgers, hotdogs, fries and shakes pretty quickly after we ordered. It's true - it was all pretty tasty. I would say it's on par with In and Out and the like. After our tummies were happy, we decided to get settled into the apartment in Gramercy Park. It took a while just to get our car, which was ok except the kiddies were getting tired. Then, we had to fight a bit of traffic and all the pedestrians to get to the apt. When we finally got there, we tried to find some street parking so we can unload without getting towed but couldn't find a space. Finally, we ended up parking in half a spot and put on our hazards so Kev could go back and forth with our stuff while I watched the kids and the car. Then, while I settled into the apt with the kiddies, Kev drove to the nearest parking garage that we had coupons for. Phew! The kids had fun exploring the apt and playing with some old toys I dug up from their collection. Then our friends, Sarah and Darren came over for a dinner of delicious Bravo Pizza. Truly, NYC pizza can't be beat! And their fresh mozzarella pie was really well done! :) We also had a great time chatting it up. :) And because the kids were really tired out from little to no naps, they went to bed without too much trouble. We also brought along our new Sleepmate for Cara since she goes to bed earlier than the rest of us and it really helped her to sleep through all the noise. Praise Jesus!
Dinos galore!

Getting to touch some real fossils

Yay, no line at Shake Shack!

We started off the day slow because that's the only way to start any day when you're on vacation. :) We first went to Central Park and played at the Heckscher Playground. That playground is really well planned out. There was lots of do and we all had fun. :) The kiddies also made some friends, which made it more fun. Aidan even met a little boy named Jake who loved Transformers as much as he did and Aidan is still talking about inviting Jake over! Because he was with his nanny, we didn't get a chance to say thanks to his parents for teaching Jake how to share so well - so if you're reading this, thanks for doing such a great job! :) Anyhow, it was also very interesting to see the nanny culture in NYC. I saw more nannies with kids than I saw parents with their kids - I wondering if it's the culture or if it's how you can afford to live in NYC. No judgements, though. We even made friends with a few nannies that we got to talk to. :) We then met up with Naoko and Gregory (and their little Sakura) - our friends from PA that just moved to NYC. We walked to Joe's Shanghai for lunch and man, gotta love their xiao long bao! :) Then, we walked to the big ToysRus in Times Square. Jana got to ride on that big ferris wheel and Aidan got to peruse the Transformers. :) After that, we were on the hunt for some bubble tea. On the way to K-town for some, we had some Red Mango ( I had their regular with mochi, blueberries and mango and Kev had their Wildberry Hibiscus tea which was really good), some Jamba Juice, and finally some Korean bubble tea with yummy pastry. Deeeelish! Then we parted ways and we went back home to have a relaxing evening....

Atop a rock at the park

We are Chinese, you know...;)

Cara sat here to catch all the action

Ready, steady, go!

ToyRus - debating the ferris wheel
Finally got some bubble tea

But, wait, there's more! :) While Kev hung out with the kiddies back at the apt, I grabbed some takeout for us from Pure Food & Wine - this raw food restaurant that is supposed to be the best in NYC. Instead of getting food from the restaurant, I headed around the corner to their takeout section. [I also got to meet this guy who told me he was a raw food guru who gave me recommendations on what to order.] We got the Spicy Thai Lettuce Wraps, Falafel with Tabhouli, their Zucchini and Tomato Lasagna and a pint of the Almond Buttercup raw ice cream. Wow! We didn't really know what to expect because we just got into raw food but almost all the entrees were surprisingly good. It was especially interesting to taste the 'cheese' sauces that were made of nut purees and the cream base of the ice cream that was a mixture of coconut meat and nut puree. [Sorry no pic of the ice cream - we ate it too fast! Ha!] Even though we were full from this meal, it was this light kind of full but not the 'lead in your stomach' kind of full. All in all, a great experience!

Lettuce Wraps

Falafel w/ Tabhouli

Zucchini Tomato Lasagna

We slept in a bit and woke up around 9am and called my cousin Jeff to see where he wanted to meet up. We had to exchange something at the ToyRus, so we ended up meeting there. [Side note: schlepping a double up and down the stairs for the subway is NOT fun but doable, esp if you have a hubby in tow. Now, if your child falls asleep in the stroller and you need to take the subway, I hope you meet some nice people to help you get the thing up and down the subway stairs!] Then we walked around and ended up at Pigalle for lunch. The food was great - we had juicy burgers and crab salad w/avocadoes - the service was very good and I loved the open air seating (their entire wall had doors that opened up so you were inside but could still enjoy the beautiful weather that day!). After that, Jeff went to run errands and we got ready to head back to NJ. We stopped by the Union Square Farmers market and had a little look around. We picked up some purple heirloom peppers and white heirloom peppers and some super yummy juice from Red Jacket Orchards as presents. [The Black currant apple is a favorite!] We had one more stop before we went home: Edgewater, NJ - to meet up with our old friends: Yulin & Win and Erica (and their new baby, Madeline). We went to Mitsuwa for some yummy udon, rolls and mochi. They also lived along the Hudson, so we got to take a really relaxing stroll along the river to and from the store (this was before that sad accident).

Jana sleeping in

Aidan sleeping in...haha Lunch with Jeff

Union Square Famer's Market

A stroll along the Hudson
Japanese yummies

Anyhow, I'm sure we could have done more but what we really wanted was a relaxing vacation where the kids could have fun and explore and the adults could catch up with old friends - so we were really happy. :) We wouldn't mind going back again sometime...anyone wanna join us?


Stephanie said...

You look so good, Jackie! I can't believe you've had 3 kids. :)

P.S. Is that the ERGO you're wearing in those photos? Do you love it?

P.P.S. NYC is a fun city. I wouldn't mind visiting there with my family someday.

kevnjacks said...

Thanks a bunch, Stephanie! I still have a ways to go (weight-wise) but feeling really good lately! And, yes, that's an Ergo I'm sporting and it's my most versatile carrier after the infant stage - I L.O.V.E. it. :) Thanks for your comments!