5 Year Olds in NYC

Writing the annual post for the boys is so overwhelming now as I try to sum up all the ways they've changed and grown. So for now I'll just recap our weekend in NYC to celebrate our new 5-year olds! I've been wanting to take the boys to New York and even though we've been so busy, Dave and I talked about it and proposed the idea of taking just the boys on a trip in lieu of a big birthday party. They're in separate classes this year so it would've been a party too big for our backyard anyway and I wasn't super excited about doing it elsewhere. Anyway, we ran the idea by the boys and William was in right away. George of course said that we needed to do both the party and the trip... then we mentioned that he could go to the Lego store in NYC and pick something out. Then he was in.

I had been talking up the city and all the things we would do, and the fact that they were old enough to come with us and Colette would stay home, but that there would be lots of walking, they'd have to sit nicely in restaurants, etc. Both Dave and I were really excited for what we expected to be an easy and fun weekend with just the boys. The flights were a dream -- I was able to read and watch multiple movies. The boys are definitely independent on the plane... though they do basically yell anytime they talk to us since they don't get how it works with their headphones on. George also eats constantly on the plane (and W is the opposite and barely eats at all) but overall they need very little assistance.

We made it into Manhattan by train and then their first taxi ride. Dave dropped us at the Lego store before heading to leave our bags at the hotel. William was pretty mad I wouldn't approve him getting a $200 massive lego train set but thankfully he found something more appropriate. We then walked over to get pizza at John's Pizzeria, so good! Dave and I have eaten there plenty of times before and we knew the boys would love it. It was freezing outside but we were mostly prepared. We walked through Times Square and attempted to take the subway to get dessert but I go the trains mixed up so we headed back up to ground-level to take a taxi the rest of the way. Momfuku Milk Bar was a hit, Dave's chocolate truffle malt was the best, but George loved his sprinkle shake. We walked back the few blocks to the hotel in the cold. Thankfully the boys went to sleep quickly that night and was able to decorate their room for the morning.

As soon as I woke up, I headed out to pick up bagels at a top-rated place about 10 blocks away. It took me about 45 minutes in line but the breakfast sandwiches were massive and sooo good. I also picked up the trick that they do online orders, so on Sunday, I ordered ahead and was there and back with bagels in about 15 minutes. The boys enjoyed their sandwiches while watching their iPads and then we headed out to the Natural History Museum. Throughout the trip, it seemed like one or the other was a grump. George took his turn at the museum and didn't want anything to do with the dinosaurs but eventually got into it. He did complain about being tired and just wanted to go back and lay down, which isn't like him, but he did turn it around. We explored for several hours, but when they both became most interested in going up the escalators the wrong way, I decided it was time to head to a playground. We took a quick cab a few blocks down to Adventure Playground in Central Park. The boys had a great time running around with other kids. We went over to Shake Shack next for lunch, even though we were still pretty full from breakfast, I knew we needed to eat dinner before the 8pm Lion King show and the boys would be hungry soon enough. The place was a madhouse and they ended up losing our order so we waited forever, but somehow survived. Dave took the boys back to rest while I made one stop at Levain for their famous cookies. Wow, they were so good! By the time I got back to the room, William was drawing but it was clear G, despite all the complaining about being tired, was not going to rest so we changed and the three of us headed out to the MOMA to check out their kids art lab. Again, there was complaining over the walk and it being cold (though it was a bit warmer than the night before). William was frustrated he couldn't get his art project how he wanted, but G was happy with his little house. Dave came to met us and we took the subway over to dinner at Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken, a place Dave knew about and was perfect for a quick pre-show dinner. Then we walked the few blocks over to the theater. We weren't sure how George would do sitting still for so long but my friend gave me a tip to bring a lollipop as it helps them focus and sit still and it totally worked. It's a 2.5 hour show including the intermission and G made it through most of it pretty well. He got pretty squirmy and tired at the end, but we managed. 

Saturday we woke up and got ready to head to brunch but at least the weather had warmed up a bit so hats and gloves weren't necessary. We walked (with much complaining) over to Norma's at the Parker for brunch. The boys struggled with waiting for the food and weren't great about their manners so that was disappointing. The menu all sounded great but I think we were slightly underwhelmed with the food. We then got a cab down to the High Line, an elevated 1-mile plus long path and green space. I had read about Pershing Square Beams so we started there and it was a hit with the boys. They played  for at least half and hour before we decided to walk the path a bit more. They weren't too into it and I felt like we got a taste so decided to catch another cab down to Rockefeller Playground which was walking distance to our next stop, the One World Observatory. We scored priority tickets so were up to the top quickly... 102 floors in 48 seconds! William was in a bad mood saying the elevator was so slow, etc., etc., but we got some good photos and obviously the views were amazing. It was a great day for it. We were planning to take a break on the Staten Island ferry next, as it offers a great view of the Statue of Liberty without actually going out there, but it was clear William was tired so we took a long cab ride but up to our hotel on the Upper East Side. Of course, once again, neither boy was tired by the time we got back and after a short attempt at resting, I decided to take them out again. We had an hour or so, so we walked to Central Park and the boys had a great time running around, climbing a huge rock, finding pennies and exploring. I dragged them back again on foot -- far enough for them to complain, but not far enough to justify a taxi ride, then we changed for dinner and took the subway down to Balthazar. 

We knew steak and fries would be a hit with them and Dave and I are familiar enough with the restaurant to know that it's loud enough for us not to disturb those around us. I would say this was our best meal of the trip as far as behavior went. It helped that the food came fast (we asked them to start with the fries plus they had plenty of bread and butter) and they were very accommodating to kids. They also knew we were celebrating their birthdays so treated us great. We had a wonderful meal -- William ordered, and ate without reaction, crab (he's not allergic, but has still had issues, probably due to cross-contamination), Dave and I shared escargots (which I said I'd give the boys each some green money -- $1 -- if they tasted, and swallowed -- and they each did!) and a salad and then we all had the cote du boeuf steak for two with delicious onion rings, potatoes and greens. It was a feast and we decided not to do dessert there as we wanted to get the Serendipity frozen hot chocolate but they still brought out ice cream for the boys with a candle in each. They loved it!

Dave left to meet up with a friend for drinks after getting us back on the subway to our hotel and then we checked out Dylan's Candy Bar 3-story candy store and each picked out a bag of stuff. Then we headed next door to Serendipity's for the famous frozen hot chocolate but it was still a half hour wait and I didn't think we would manage so I ordered one to-go. It was good, but I think Dave's chocolate malt and the cookies from Levain were the best treats of the trip. We finally made it back to the room and I got the boys showered and in bed but it was a rough night. They just wouldn't calm down and after multiple threats, I had to take away their iPads for the flight home... more punishment for us than them! We worked it in our in the end, but they didn't get them for the beginning of the flight.

Sunday we started with bagels again, then walked over to the Roosevelt Island Tram which was something I didn't know about but close to our hotel and a really cool way to see the city. After that, we took a cab all the way over to Brooklyn and went to the Pier 6 playground which was a bunch of different playgrounds grouped together. I wasn't overly impressed but the boys had a lot of fun. It was much warmer this day, George was even rolling up the sleeves on his shirt and rolling his pants into shorts! We headed up for pizza at Juliana's at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and Dave did the 30-minute wait while we walked around the corner for a ride on Jane's Carousel. What a view!

After lunch it was time to get in a cab and head back to our hotel to pick up our bags and go to the airport. We hit some awful traffic getting back as they had closed a bunch of streets for a parade or something so it was after 2pm when we were finally leaving our hotel for a 3:25pm flight. We made it to the airport around 2:40 and made it just fine maybe 5 minutes before boarding closed. We were even able to get all our bags into the overheads so definitely a success!

It was a fun weekend and a special way to celebrate with the boys. I hope they'll remember it and appreciate the experience. I think Dave and I were hoping they'd do a bit better though. Perhaps they just need more practice with these types of trips, or maybe it's the fact that there's two of them so they're always riling the other one up. I think it was a good age as far as not needing to bring much, no stroller, no naps needed, or so we thought, but the truth of it is they still complain about walking (we did walk a lot, although never too much at one time) and they still get tired, which we all do with a bit of jet lag. It's always hard when one is saying, 'I don't want to do that, it's not going to be fun' even when you know they're going to love it, and end of loving it. It does make you ask yourself why you're bothering, but I do believe exposing them to different places and taking them slightly outside the comfort of trips to see family or beach vacations will certainly open their eyes to what's out there. I'll be interested to see when it truly gets 'easier', when they're excited and can manage changes in routine and other differences from their daily life and activities more easily. For now, I think it was a great first attempt and I'm so glad we did it.

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