Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New York City 2018: Day 4

Saturday was our last full day in NYC. Time was flying and we couldn't believe it was already almost time to go. Not gonna lie--I was kind of excited because I was SO ready to see my babies. But I was also excited for the day we had planned!

 We hopped on the subway and headed to China Town and Little Italy. My mom really wanted to see the court house and the police station right by it because they're both on her favorite show ever--Blue Bloods. She's a hardcore fan and was SO excited to be there. She's the tiny brown dot at the end of the stair railing!

  Just a few blocks later, we were in China Town. This MIGHT have been my favorite part of our trip! It was so fun and there were so many little shops. Granted, they were all selling the same touristy stuff, but the atmosphere was bustling and fun! We got stopped every few feet by women whispering in our ears, "You buy purse? Michael Kors, Coach, I have. You come look." We had to just keep on moving or we wouldn't have made it anywhere! I picked up a cute stocking cap for myself and more junk souvenirs for the kids.
 After looking around a bit, we stopped for lunch at Big Wong's. Because....where else would you eat in China Town? It was delicious!
 After lunch, we shopped some more and then made our way to Grand Central Station. My mom and sister wanted me to see it. To be honest, I wasn't really sold on the idea and thought it would be boring. But I'm so glad we went! It was beautiful and there were so many little shops and SO many people.
 We had to get a snack at Melissa's Bakery (of course). I chose the coconut cake that was just as good as it looks and Brooke had cheesecake. We sat and ate and people watched for quite awhile.
 On our way out, we stopped in the whispering room. It's amazing! It's a huge room in the middle of Grand Central Station that has a domed ceiling. If two people stand in opposite corners and whisper directly into the wall, you can hear what the other person is saying! It's very cool in person--kind of hard to explain on here. Grand Central Station was LOUD. I could barely hear what my mom and sister were saying when they were standing next to me. But you can whisper and as long as you're facing the corner, the other person can hear everything you say!

We went to our room for a bit after that to rest. Then we decided to go to another movie. We picked Downsizing (WORST. MOVIE. EVER.).  My mom slept during most of it and we seriously considered leaving in the middle of it but decided to stick it out since we paid $17 to see it. 

After the movie we decided to grab a few slices of pizza from 2 Bros. My mom went ahead of us to the hotel and when we got there, she was just sitting in the lobby. We asked her what she was doing and she delivered THE most annoying news. 

The elevator was broken.

Now....in hotels I've been in in the past, that wouldn't have been THAT big of a deal. But in New York.....every building is skinny and tall. REAL tall. 

We were staying on the 29th floor (insert worlds biggest sigh here). 

We stayed in the lobby for a few minutes before we realized the elevator wasn't going to be fixed any time soon. The lobby was tiny and everyone was waiting, so it was crammed full. We finally decided to climb ALL 29 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS. 

I have nothing nice to say about that, so I'll just summarize and let you know it took us about 20 minutes and we were sweating by the time we got to our room. SO annoying. And we carried our pizza with us the whole time! Because we're THAT dedicated to pizza.

Once we had finally gotten settled in our room and we weren't panting from climbing all those stairs any more, we started packing up. It was sad, but I was glad to know I was a few hours closer to seeing my kiddos! We had a bit of an issue checking in for our flights the next day, but Brooke finally got everything figured out and we had a car service lined up to take us to the airport the next day. I prayed and prayed that night that God would go before us so our flights would go smoothly and safely.

 Here's our last picture in New York...
 Our car came on time and we got to the airport WAY earlier than planned. Thank God, because when we walked in, the line for security was inSANE. Like.....500 people in line.
 We started to get a little worried that we would still miss our flight. But after we'd been standing in line for about 10 minutes, Brooke looked at our tickets again and noticed that we were TSA prechecked! Say whaaaaa?!? That meant that we could basically skip the long security line and go through the MUCH shorter (maybe 10 people in front of us) TSA precheck line!! We were so thankful! Our flight showed up on time and we got boarded to head HOME.
 Those two fell asleep while I tried reading to pass the time. Luckily, all of our flights were super short--2 hours or less.
Mom woke up in time for our "complimentary snack." It was our favorite one we'd been given, so I had to snap a picture. Those little things were DELISH. Brooke was still sleeping, so we voted to eat hers for her. Oops.

 We had a layover in Chicago for a few hours, so we grabbed a bite to eat there. We all called home to touch base with our families. Nick ended up having to go into work unexpectedly, so he was SUPER irritated, but promised that he'd be there when I got to the airport! Michael picked up the kiddos and brought them with him to get Brooke.

When we boarded our flight from Chicago to Wichita, I realized it was the worlds SMALLEST plane. I'd sat by my mom or sister on each previous flight, so I was super bummed to have to sit by a stranger on the way home. My claustrophobia and introvertedness made for a sucky last flight. We also sat in the plane on the tarmac for about an hour before finally taking off. But before I knew it, this view was out my window....
And my heart got all fluttery and excited! Because as fun as it is to see new places, there is NO place like home! As soon as we landed I got this picture on my phone....
Uncle Michael said they were excited to see me and I was SO excited to see them! It seemed like it took forever for us to get off the plane and grab our luggage. But once we finally did, it was SOOOOO good to see their little faces and hug my hubby! Tessa just kept saying, "Mommy! I'm SO glad you're home!"

I was only gone for 5 days, but it felt like an eternity. Once we pulled into our driveway and I stepped out into the fresh air, I couldn't help but think how quiet it was compared to NYC and how big and open it felt! Everything was so busy and cramped there and to be home in the middle of open pasture with green grass and trees felt weird, but amazing!

Overall, I'm so glad I went. The time spent with my mom and sister was the best part of it all and I'm glad I got to see NYC and all the fun and beauty that it holds.

What an adventure!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New York City 2018: Day 3

On Friday, January 5th, we woke up to SUNSHINE! It was nice to not have to worry about getting soaking wet from the snow......but it was still COLD!

After we got up and around, we hopped on the subway to head to the 9/11 museum. Funny side note: we had bought subway passes that were good for unlimited rides for one week. My mom had the hardest time keeping track of her pass. On this morning, Brooke and I went through the gate first and then were waiting for mom to find her pass. She searched and searched for that thing and could NOT find it. So she had to go to one of the machines to get a new subway card. Brooke and I were having to yell instructions to her of how to use it and load money on the card. Funniest thing ever! She finally got it figured out and made it through the gate.
 We tried to go to the St. Paul church where a lot of the firefighters and 9/11 family and friends went after 9/11. It was closed for some reason, so we decided to grab some breakfast at a deli nearby. Brooke was too cool for the camera....
 After we ate, we headed over to the 9/11 museum and to see the One World Center and the monuments. All of it was so beautiful! It was amazing to see how tall the One World Center was. And sobering to see all of the names on the monuments of the people who died.

 We started the 9/11 museum with a few movies that they were showing. They were really good and informative and helped to show the point of view of the government officials while 9/11 was happening.
 Everything in the museum was super informative and interesting. There was SO much to see. I feel like I could go there every day for a week and still not have seen it all.
The museum is actually underground and this wall was one of the original walls they put in to retain water from the Hudson river from seeping into the foundation of the World Trade Center.

This flag had the face of every 9/11 victim on it.

 I think the thing I liked the best at the museum was this room they had that was completely darkened and lined with benches. You could sit in there and watch while they announced a person's name and then showed a paragraph about their life. Sometimes, it included voice clips of their family members saying things about them. It was a beautiful tribute, but incredibly sad at the same time.

There was also a story that really stuck with me. A lady that worked at the World Trade Center had been an employee there when the bombing in 1993 happened. She managed to escape, but was really hesitant and scare to go back. But she loved her job and her employer, so as an incentive and reward for herself for going back, she bought a gold and sapphire ring for herself. She was there working on 9/11 and lost her life. I'm not sure why that one particular story sticks out so much to me. Maybe because of her bravery of going back after 1 tragedy. Maybe because she just seemed so normal and I could picture myself doing the same thing. But it's a story that I think will stick with me forever.

The only thing I didn't love about the museum was that it was so full that it was hard to read some of the plaques or to really take the time to appreciate all the exhibits. I almost wish they only had guided tours with groups allotting a specific amount of time at each exhibit so it didn't get too overwhelmed.

After the museum, we headed to the Oculus. It's a really cool train station right across from the museum. There's all kinds of shops and places to eat. We just walked through it to get to our next subway stop, but it was cool to see. Mom couldn't remember what it was called, so for the rest of the day, she called it the Octapula. Close, mom. Close.

We took the subway to the Staten Island Ferry. All I remember about the walk from the subway to the ferry was that it was SO cold and SO slick. The sidewalks had mostly been cleared, but there were some places that hadn't and I was still having a shoeware malfunction drama, so I was getting super frustrated. But once we actually got ON the ferry, it was great!

The spots on the picture below are because the window I took the picture from was SUPER dirty.
 We passed the Statue of Liberty so I got to see that up close. So pretty and neat!
 A selfie with Lady Liberty waaaaaaaaaay in the background.
 Once we got to Staten Island, we walked up Mount Everest (Brooke says it's just a tiny hill....but it felt like Mount Everest to me) to a restaurant called Enoteca Maria. It was the cutest little restaurant and the cooks are all grandma's! Most of them are from Italy and the food was SO delicious.

 They served bread with a zuchinni and squash relish and a beet relish, both of which I surprisingly liked.

 I had vegetable lasagna with bechamel sauce that was to DIE for. Highly recommend it if you're traveling to that area any time soon.
 We relaxed after dinner for a few minutes and then headed back to our hotel. The New York City skyline was so pretty at night. Obviously, the picture doesn't do it justice. We tried to go to the outside portion of the ferry to get a good picture, but it was SO incredibly windy and cold that we could only stand out there for a few seconds before I got nervous we'd be knocked overboard.
After we got back to the hotel, Mom decided to stay in the room and rest and Brooke and I went to see Jumanji 2. It was really funny, but the best part of the night happened after the movie. We'd gotten a large popcorn because it had free refills. Our mom LOVES popcorn, so we decided to refill it as we left the movie to take it back to our hotel room. So we walked 3-4 blocks through Times Square with a huge bucket of popcorn. But it was SO windy that night that it kept picking up the popcorn out of the bucket and tossing it down wind of us! We were crossing a road once and I looked behind us to see a huge trail of popcorn pelting the people behind us--it was the best!

And mom was so excited to get her popcorn :)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New York City 2018: Day 2

On Thursday, January 4th, we woke up to this....

Lots and lots of snow! We had seen on the weather station the previous day that it was supposed to be COLD and snowy and it was! However....that day was the day I realized just how dramatic the media makes EVERYTHING. They kept advertising this snow storm as a "bomb cyclone of snow." What does that even mean?? In Kansas, it would have just been called.....snow. So I'm not sure what about this being in New York made it be called a bomb cyclone, but it was honestly just windy and snowy! It was hard to walk in and made everything instantly wet, but it was SOOOO pretty. We haven't had snow yet in Kansas, so it was fun to get to be in it! We headed back to Ellen's Stardust Diner hoping that the line wouldn't be too long since it was so cold. And we were right! We only waited in line about 15 minutes (as opposed to the hour we would've waiting the day before). Everyone kept trying to cram into their little tiny lobby!
We got seated in their balcony, which was kind of a bummer because we couldn't see what was going on downstairs very well. But we could still hear it! It was so fun to listen to (and occasionally catch a glimpse of) the waiters and waitresses singing! I would definitely say that restaurant is more for entertainment than for the taste buds. I had a burger and fries and mom and Brooke had fish and fries. They loved their food and mine was good, but not FANTASTIC. But the atmosphere was so fun!

My mom was obsessed with the fact that the plates had her name on it. I asked our waitress if we could buy the plate. She said, "We don't sell the plates, but....I would never know if one was missing." So we took that as permission to take one and left her a big tip :) Mom was so happy!
We decided to go see The Greatest Showman after lunch. Best decision we've ever made.

We went to a theater with recliners and stadium seating. It was wonderful (and warm)!
We all three decided that was the best movie we'd ever seen. Brooke and I immediately got the soundtrack after we left the movie and I'm still listening to it 24/7 a week later. SO good. If you haven't seen it, GO NOW!! After the movie, we caught the subway to take us back to Central Park to take a carriage ride....
But there weren't any carriages there. We were so bummed! We'd envisioned a carriage ride in the snow....but they said it was too cold for the horses to be out. Sad day. So we walked around a bit just to see Central Park in the snow.

Then we went to Magnolia Bakery to get some cheesecake. So good.

After we had our cheesecake, we went back to Rockefeller Center to see it lit up at night. Brooke and mom had seen it the night before and knew I would love seeing it at night, so they took me back. And I'm so glad! It was beautiful and I got to face time the kids to show them.

We walked back to our hotel and stopped in Bryant Park (I think) on our way home to see this HUGE wreath.
I stopped at a Starbucks to get a iced chai tea latte. I'd never had one, but always wanted to try one. I'm just one of those people who'd rather get what they KNOW they like than waste $5 to figure out I don't like something. But I LOVED it! It tasted like pumpkin pie.
We went back to the hotel for awhile and Brooke and mom decided they wanted to go shopping some more. So they went out for awhile and I tried to get warm. They brought me back cheese fries from Shake Shack and a hot dog from Gray's Papaya. Both were so yummy!

We finally fell asleep around midnight and got a good night's rest before we headed out again the next day!