For our trip this year, I wanted to take a little more calm of a route and introduce my crew to the less tourist-y bits and definitely spend some time in my beloved Brooklyn. So I got to planning and organizing our trip on TripIt- which is a tool I love because sifting through my email is just not efficient enough for finding hotel addresses, confirmation codes, and remembering departure times. TripIt was an enormous help when planning our 2week Thailand trip, but also makes it vastly easy to share trip details for short weekend trips - like our NYC Grandma&Kid weekend. TripIt has no idea who I am- I'm just telling you because I love it and want to share something helpful :)
And then it was time for our 7hr train ride. With two grandmas. And two children under the age of 3.
It sure sounds awfully ambitious (or just plain awful?) but for the most part - it wasn't half bad. The grandmas were happy to do whatever it took to keep the kids occupied during the trip, we had packed our own lunches for the ride up (thanks Gigi!) and we had a secret weapon this year: the iPad. We spent the seven hours resting, talking, and giggling about our overly helpful train conductor. It seemed like the start to a smooth weekend.
When we finally arrived to Penn Station, I had the ungodly task of waking up two peacefully sleeping children. Do you know what happens when you wake up two peacefully sleeping children? Full on tantrums. And that's just what we got while trying to maneuver our luggage and a double stroller out of Penn Station and out to the taxis. We sort of all toppled into a taxi and took the very jerky ride to our hotel.
And when we finally got to our hotel room - that would house all five of us for the weekend, we all laughed uproariously.
It was becoming increasingly apparent that our NYC weekend was not going to be smooth, but rather very quickly heading toward the weird and unusual. We threw our things in the teeny room and while my mum hung with the kids - I escorted Gigi a few blocks to her DevaCurl hair appointment. My mum and I got us settled in to our "cozy" room and then ventured out to Little Italy with the kids. The San Gennaro street festival was going on, so it was a total madhouse - we grabbed some slices of pizza and headed over to wait for Gigi. As always, Gigi's hair turned out amazing - albeit after some very windy hair dresser - which lead to a 2 hour appointment. And then we made our way to finally get some proper dinner...at 9p.
After waiting about 45 minutes for our dinner (...great mom with one kid awake at this hour and the other sleeping in the stroller, sheesh). Our sleepy-eyed, weary crew headed back a few blocks to puzzle piece our way to sleep. I cannot express gratitude enough that I have a mum and mum-in-law that were willing to share a full size bed so that I could share a bed with my cranky kids. honestly - I'm the luckiest.
Grey was waking up periodically through the night and each time I felt his head, he was feeling more and more feverish. I probably slept a total of a half hour for fear that either I or Greyson was going to roll over Gemmi - or any of the three of us were going to roll off the bed. By the morning, Greyson was sporting a pretty serious fever (to the touch) and I was starting to get a little worried. We threw him in a luke warm bath and let him play for a long while and that was enough to do the trick and bring his body back down to normal temps. So, the weirdness continued.
After a short subway ride and a stop at my old neighborhood's favorite bagel shop, we were happily situated on a bench in Fort Greene park nomming on bagels and guzzling coffee with my dear friend - and current Brooklyn resident, Elena.
After the strange start to our trip, we wanted to attempt to slow things down and enjoy the day. So we took a stroll around Fort Greene park, Greyson spotted and announced every single squirrel he saw (he can't ignore those hunter genes even when I take him to the city), I got to catch up with Elena & Matt, and we played on the two Fort Greene playgrounds.
Then we took another quick subway ride over to the Brooklyn Children's Museum to spend part of the afternoon. We splashed, banged, explored, and discovered our way through the museum. They had so many toddler friendly exhibits. They even had a section just for babies under 18 months that Gemmi got her first chance to pretend to be a ballerina. Grey loved the backyard reptiles section which included some frogs and snake-bodies. They even had a giant albino anaconda that was kind of the coolest thing Grey had ever seen.
After lunch and another quick train ride, we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge. Grey threw stones in the East River, and we took a ride on the carousel (Lenny, Grey, and I).
Oh and I took this picture of my angel boy.
We did manage to get this picture of the three of us.
By the time we reached Manhattan we were all pretty tired and hungry...I'm going to go ahead and blame it on those two things that hazed our brains into thinking it was a good idea to head back into Little Italy during the San Gennaro street festival for dinner. I wheeled that double stroller through the crowd like a salmon and we were swept up into a restaurant that seemed overly nice to take on 4 tired women and 2 cranky kids. It was so nice to sit down and have a drink that we didn't even realize until almost an hour later that we were still waiting for our food. It did finally come at about the 70 minute mark; surprisingly though the kids weren't too misbehaved - could have been since they were sharing my lap and getting attention from Mum, Gigi, and Lenny across the table for a solid hour.
The walk back to our hotel was incredible...not the good kind...but like the I-can't-believe-that-even-happened kind. With our fussy Gem in the double stroller alone, Grey on my shoulders (because he flat out refused to get in the stroller), we fought the drunk human traffic from the festival back to our hotel street. I looked back at Lenny who was pushing the stroller at one point and she had a look of panic mixed with irritation and a hint of disbelief on her face. It really felt like the street festival that never ended.
We finally made it back, tossed the sleepy kids and bed, and Lenny and I ventured back out for a few grown up drinks and chatting. There is nothing to say about that except that I am so glad to have you as a friend, Lena. Thank you for spending an entire Saturday with our crew. xoxxo
The next morning, we headed back up to the train station a la taxi and waited for our turn to board. We didn't get pre-boarded but we did end up being able to annoy enough two single young men to giving us one of the 4 seats. It was a tight ride home, but the kids slept for a good part of it.
Honestly, at this point, so many weird things had happened that it was kind of just hilarious to us. None of us had slept for any significant amount of time that weekend since we had all shared cement-like full beds with each other. We had walked nearly 8 miles the day before, the train was stopped in the middle of a bridge for nearly 30 minutes because of messed up train schedules, and some random woman asked to use my phone on the train and she borrowed it for almost 10 minutes while she stood in this tiny closet type thing at the end of the train. It was all just very bizarre.
The last five minutes of the train ride is a terrifying and hilarious memory that the three of us still can't talk about without laughing. The kids and I were departing at Altoona (for Phia's birthday party), and we stood up and waited at the train door at the conductor's request a few minutes before the stop. I was first in line, holding the bags and the stroller, Gigi was behind me with Greyson, and my Mum behind them with Gemma. The kids were both crying for me to hold them and being so near them it was just unbearable for Gemmi to see me but not have me hold her. At one point, she had her 7 month old fist shoved into Abba's windpipe, a hold of Gigi's hair in the same hand that she was choking Greyson with the neck of his shirt. The girl was determined to fight and drag her way to me. By the time we got off the train, the grandmas placed the kids into Brandon's confused arms and walked away cracking up.
It was a bizarre and strange trip to New York this year. There were a lot of things that went wrong, or took too long, or were just plain wacky. But I foresee that we will attempt it again next year.
I am so lucky to be flanked by two women that can find humor in the types of things that others would let ruin the trip. It is important to me to make the trip so that the kids can experience a piece of their mumma's history. And because it is important to me; the grandmas make it important enough to themselves to laugh off the uncomfortable or annoying parts to enjoy spending time together in a new place.
thank you Abba and Gigi.
there are no better grandmas in the whole world for my kids.
i love you,