New York City, Baby!

I’ve been a bit negligent in my blogging this past week–but for good reason: We were in New York!

I feel like there’s a million things to recap from our trip, but I’ll try not to blabber on too much. :) Ryan had a shoot in Manhattan that just happened to fall right around his grandmother, who lives upstate’s, 80th birthday. We decided to make a trip of it, spending a few days in the city and then venturing north to celebrate with Nana.

Since Ryan was already in the city working, this was my first solo flight with Emma Vance. I was a wreck, needless to say–stressed about packing and flying with a baby (and a half!) weighing me down. (Plus the reoccurring stomach bug leading up to the trip didn’t help my fears!) As far as prepping for the plane, I opted to ditch pretty much everything I’d normally take for myself and pack lightly. One of our carry-ons was a toddler-sized backpack so E.V. could carry her own toys–complete with harness and leash (gulp). Judge not, lest ye be judged! Pre-kid-Talie would’ve rolled her eyes at the sight of a child on a leash, but wrangling a stroller, a purse, a diaper bag, a belly and a toddler through Hartsfield-Jackson airport without Ryan caused my pride to go straight out of the window. Despite all my fears of being judged, it really wasn’t that terrible of an experience; E.V. didn’t try to stray too much, and I got lots of empathetic comments from other parents in the airport. (I think my being pregnant and alone gave me a pass, right?) It was an early morning flight, and I had timed it so that Emma Vance would nap while in the air–and she was perfectly Baby Wise and passed out, bottle in hand, at the allotted time. Too bad we sat on the runway for an hour (bah), meaning she was up and at ’em at the first clinking of drink service. Of course! Thankfully a mother of three sat next to us and was very kind. We walked up and down the aisle twice, visited the restroom three times, read a book, ate Biscoff cookies, watched a little bit of Elmo and Dr. Seuss, and suddenly our two-hour flight was over without incident! Everyone smiled and commented how sweet and well-behaved she had been. Whew. I did it!

 Ryan was dropping off his crew at the airport as I arrived, so he met us at baggage claim and rode back into the city with us. We stayed at an affordable hotel in midtown that was so tiny I asked where the lobby was, only to discover that the hallway we were standing in was the lobby. The hotel was converted from old apartments, so we had a living room and kitchenette, which was wonderful. Once we were settled, we ventured out to explore and get a slice of pizza–E.V.’s first real slice of NY pizza! Once her belly was full, she passed out for a nap until the babysitter arrived. Yes, we had a sitter in the city! Through a course of wonderfully orchestrated events, a friend of a friend (who turned out to be a cousin of another friend) just moved to Manhattan from Atlanta and was kind enough to sit for us for two nights in a row. Hallelujah! We were free! That first night, Ryan and I explored Eataly and had dinner at Birreria, where we sat between a man who sang along obnoxiously to the background music during his entire meal and a young girl with an older gentleman to whom we couldn’t tell her relationship. (I optimistically voted “uncle.”) We were both a bit exhausted at this point, but since we wanted to take advantage of our freedom, we hopped over to Serendipity 3 and ordered two frozen hot chocolates (whatever, we’re tourists…). They were bigger than imagined, meaning we each only finished a small bit of our dessert, but it was worth the hefty pricetag. :) The kicker of the experience? The singing man from Birreria showed up! No joke. And take a wild guess where they sat him. Yep, you got it! Encore! Unbelievable.

The next morning we headed out to Ess-a-bagel, which we had been told was the consummate “best bagel in Manhattan.” We had also been warned that it was home of The Bagel Nazi, and that we’d better be mentally and physically prepared, which we were…until the line got long. It started out so pleasantly with a man taking my order happily and chatting about my belly. Then, as people lined up behind me while I waited for my order to come up, the yelling began. The verbal battery consisted of refusing to toast my fresh bagel (true story), chastising me as I reached for my tray without permission, and berating me to move along faster. :/ Surprisingly, the bagels were totally worth it, and the next morning I found myself craving another visit (although we opted for the time-saving continental breakfast instead, complete with powdered eggs–which did NOT impress Emma Vance).

After breakfast, we walked to FAO Schwarz, which turned out to be the highlight of our trip (in my opinion). We let E.V. run wild, and she was like a kid in a candy store…literally! She kept pulling down toys and making little “To Buy” piles everywhere. She talked to other children, got attached to a cup of gum balls, hugged stuffed animals, met The Muppets, rocked a baby in the FAO Nursery…all the while jibber-jabbering and full of excitement. We were there an hour or two, and by the end we were all wiped. In fact, we were so tired we took a taxi (and now E.V. can say “tac-ti” to hail her own!) back to our hotel where we all passed out!

Post-nap we headed to Rockefeller Center to ooh and aah at the ice skaters and giant Christmas tree (which is currently being decorated). We raided the NBC Experience Store (a mini-version of our FAO Schawarz experience), where Emma Vance broke the button to The Voice chair (oops) and where we were able to do more people watching from the second floor windows. That night our wonderful sitter came back for a second dose of E.V., and Ryan and I had pizza and fried dough at Don Antonio before seeing Wicked. I LOVE musicals, and although Ryan had already seen Wicked, it was my first time. I had read the book previously, and I can honestly say that although the musical doesn’t line up with the book all that well, I actually preferred the musical version to the original! (A must-see for anyone who enjoys theater!)

The next morning we packed up our things and prepared for our trip to see Ryan’s family. We had planned on taking the train up to Hudson, but at the last minute we realized that we couldn’t check any baggage (!), which caused us to go with Plan B, renting a car and driving up. It turned out to be a wiser decision (although a bit stressful in the meantime!), and it was a peaceful, pretty ride. We stayed with Ryan’s Aunt Shawn and Uncle Joe at their property, which is surrounded by beautiful, wide-open spaces and nature. Emma Vance was obsessed with Shawn and Joe, enjoying strolls down the lane, running around their giant yard, playing with sticks, watching the birds feed, taking long, lazy naps and riding around on a tractor. It was like a little rustic adventure for her, and she was in heaven. She learned to ask to go outside to see the birds (“Bur ‘side?”) and to moo (which she’s been doing non-stop ever since); she collected little treasures from around their house (mostly little bird statues); she stood at the kitchen table like a big girl and happily ate eggs and strawberries and yogurt and raisin english muffins…and after all of her fun, she didn’t want to go home!

We visited with Ryan’s Nana and Pop, along with his other aunts and uncle, for dinner at Nana’s one night, where we (successfully) spent most of our time trying to keep E.V. from breaking anything. (“But Mom! There are such lovely little things for me to play with here!”) Nana dug out a mouse house from when her kids were little for E.V. to play with, which she loved, and chowed down on oyster crackers. Nana and Pop ventured up to Shawn and Joe’s for lunch the next day, which turned out to be an unseasonably beautiful November day. Then, to celebrate Nana’s 80th birthday, that night the whole family went out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant, where we chased after the baby, stuffed our bellies, sang Happy Birthday and ate cake to our hearts’ content. It was great to be with Nana on such a special occasion, and I know it was wonderful for her to have E.V. at her side.

On the plane ride home (WITH Ryan this time!), Emma Vance passed out in Ryan’s lap and slept for almost the entire flight. We were all exhausted! Sigh.

Overall, it was a fun, FUN week in New York. It made me realize that family vacations are only going to get better and better as Emma Vance gets older (and as we add a little sister into the mix!), and I’m so thankful for all of the memories we made this time around.

Here’s our trip in a nutshell. And by “nutshell,” I mean a few bajillion pictures:

“But it’s too EARLY to get on a plane, Mom!”
(Ryan’s child)
Judge not!
Too bad it didn’t last!
We made it!

Venturing out into the city for the first time…

Seriously, that’s a LOT of frozen hot chocolate!

Whoa! Big buildings!
Ess-a-bagel =  worth it
E.V.’s happy place
“Can I have it? Puh-lease???”
This picture pretty much captures her happiness during the whole visit.

We were a little too early to see the completed tree. :(
Keeping our eyes open for Tina Fey… ;)

Enjoying the play with Ryan…and that lady apparently. Ha!
She did NOT care for the powdered eggs. :)

Love them.

Aunt Shawn and Uncle Joe’s house!

watching the birds

What a ski bunny!
Nana’s 80th Birthday Dinner

Saying goodbye to “her” birds. :(

Thank goodness for the iPad and for Elmo!

Yep, that’s about how beat we all were after our time in New York!

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