I will be the first to admit that I would have never have guessed this girl would love softball so much. Nor would I have imagined that she would be good. I thought she was meant for dance and entertainment. But she picked up pitching overnight and I am impressed at her potential. And, over and over, "I love softball" comes out of her mouth. Daddy is so happy.
Nobody in the world has ever loved birthdays as much as this girl. Turning 8 was no different. We counted down the days. She loved being surrounded by family and friends. And of course, she loves presents. This year, we got her softball gear - a batbag, bat and helmet. She wanted all things Justice and had the best birthday party making tye dye shirts with her best friends.
We walked. And walked. And walked. That's what I remember. I won't say nobody complained. But really, they didn't complain as much as they could have. We walked the city with a 7 year old. It was hot. And crowded. And overwhelming. But we navigated. And packed ourselves like sardines into subway trains. And learned we didn't have to wait for the crosswalk signals. And we taught the kids how to jaywalk.
Driving into NYC, we passed through the Lincoln Tunnel. There had been an accident just before and traffic was terrible (much more so than normal, I imagine). I was driving and it took us about 10 minutes to drive a mile. By the end of that mile, I was cutting off taxis and honking at pedestrians. I already felt at home. The boys were so intrigued.
We stayed in Manhattan. It was a great hotel and a perfect location. All I wanted to see was the 911 Memorial. Kaleb wanted to see Times Square and eat street food. Bella wanted to visit the American Girl Doll Store and have ice cream.
So, we checked into the hotel. And off we went. Walking.
I was hangry. So we made lunch a priority. And we had the famous NYC Chipotle. It does not taste any different, in case you were wondering.
Cameron loved the revolving doors. Kaleb, "Cam, you know they have those in Virginia?"
First on the map. Rockefeller Center. We spent too much time in FAO Schwarz and (thankfully) didn't buy a thing. Bella was in toy heaven.
Then the American Girl store. And again, thankfully, miraculously, got out of there without spending a dime.
Whenever I see these reflective windows, I have to take a group selfie.
St. Patrick's Cathedral was majestic and stunning. I felt like we were on a Game of Thrones set, though.
For the most part, everyone got along. Bella was her annoying dramatic self at times. But in her defense, it was hot and tiresome. She was such a trooper.
Next up, Times Square. It wasn't too crowded. I remember telling Josh I couldn't imagine what it must be like there during New Years and how I would hate it. I can't be that close to people. And New York is such a horde of people. And smells. The kids saw a lot. Tons of homeless people with interesting signs (ie, "I need money for women and drugs"). A man (likely drunk or drugged) sprawled out unconscious in the middle of the sidewalk - we literally had to step over him. And a half-dressed woman walking around Times Square wearing only a thong with her naked breasts painted blue and red.
Day 2. Yep, more walking. We had a lot more to do and see and further to travel so off we went.
It was Independence Day and Bella was wearing a new dress she was super proud of. So, of course she wanted her picture taken at every turn.
Breakfast was at Stardust Diner. Food was great. Entertainment even better. But definitely more pricey than we were used to seeing in Virginia.
And then the Subway. What a cluster fuck. First of all, it is NOT air conditioned down there. And it smells like straight urine. And we couldn't figure how to purchase tickets. Then, we couldn't figure out which train to take. Luckily, after several grueling minutes, we met a friendly local who told us where we needed to be.
Of course when you visit New York City, you have to see the major attractions. Rockefeller, Times Square, the Empire State Building (which was not what I expected and it instantly made me think of the movie Elf; although, we didn't venture up, we only stopped to admire it in passing)....
But honestly, Times Square was, well, a little disappointing (to me). Meh. But what really hit me hard were the pools at World Trade Center. My first impression - they were so deep. I had no idea they were so massive. It was breathtaking and instantaneously sobering. There was once a building here. A very large, tall building that fell to the ground. Two of them. Sickening. We had given the kids a quick history lesson on our way there. But you could tell they were even mesmerized.
And somehow they knew, without being told, they didn't need to smile for this one.
We entered the museum and watched the movie first. Bella became tearful and wrapped her arms through mine. The boys didn't speak a word and their eyes were glued to the screen. To see it all really opened their eyes. And of course, I cried. Again. Afterwards, nobody said a word as we all exited the theater. It was good for them. At first, I was nervous it might be too heavy. But it's our history, and they learned so much that day.
We ate hot dogs from a street vendor. Jackson said, "I don't want to get sick". And Kaleb reassured him, "Just don't eat anything with eggs".
They had spikes on the flower beds so people wouldn't sit on the ledges. But at this point, we didn't even care. We were exhausted and hungry.
Josh and I were able to squeeze in some alone time. We had drinks at night at the hotel bar. The bartender was from Queens and had a son who had gone through Cooperstown several years prior. We stopped in an Irish Pub (Connolly's) and made friends with the (very) Irish bartender who taught us how to navigate the subway system and spent the time chatting with a realtor from England. The last night, we shared late night snacks and drinks at Faces and Names recommended by our hotel bartender. Each place was unique.
That evening, I was pooped and would easily have passed on the fireworks. But Josh was insistent. We were in NYC. It was Independence Day.
It was crazy there. Cops everywhere. Roads were barricaded. We walked more. Several times we were shoulder to shoulder with strangers. I was surprisingly in take charge mode. Dragging along 4 kids, one under 10. With throngs of possible child abductors surrounding us. Bella and I were holding (death gripping) hands and her arm was wrapped through my purse strap. The boys were instructed to hold each other's shoulders as we walked in a single file line through crowds as I constantly called out their names to make sure they were still behind me. It was so hot but oddly we all kept up our spirits. At one point, Josh apologized for his decision to see the fireworks and Kaleb said "This is actually fun". They never complained. We laughed, a lot. At times, we were even a little delirious. And then, the fireworks began, and it wasn't the spot we had envisioned. But we had made it.
The walk back was brutal. We were beyond tired. Our feet hurt. Bella was intermittently crying from sheer exhaustion. But nothing was like the subway ride home.
And then I realized this might be what it's like on New Years Eve.
Standing shoulder to shoulder and way too close for comfort with complete strangers.
I learned a lot about myself during this day and a half. I don't like crowds. Or the city. I am a beach girl for sure. And the mountains. I like land and farms and horizons and sunsets. And peace and quiet. And waves.
Would I do it again? Most definitely. We had so much fun. And the kids saw things they had never seen before. And I know they will remember all of it.
Peace out, New York City. Off to Cooperstown we go.
My name is Kaci. I am a working mom of 3. Wife to Josh. Mom to Jackson, Cameron & Isabella. My life is dinner, homework, baseball, basketball, grocery lists, laundry, middle school, wine, video games, and schedules. I started this blog because I love taking pictures, and I needed a place to document our life. I wanted a place to write it all down, to remember little details so easily forgotten in the mad rush that is the life of a family of 5. Through my photos and words, I endeavor to capture our story.