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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

E's 1st Trip to the City!

Elliot's 1st Trip to the City - Central Park

Last month I was talking to my friend about our birthdays and wishing we could visit each other. She mentioned that she had a Sunday free in October, and I jotted it down. I let H know that it would be nice to visit her in the city with Little E, and it even fell on a 3 day weekend for us (Columbus Day). Although challenging, it would be so much fun to bring E to the big city. I mentioned it a few times, and E was thrilled. He has read so much about the city in his books and even watching a few episodes of Curious George (topics like living in the city and riding the subway train). It was much easier to talk about it than actually planning the day out.

Once the weekend arrived, I was on the fence about going. I didn't want to spend the days leading up to Sunday stressed and planning out every detail. I wanted to go with the flow, but it's kind of difficult with a toddler who has so many food allergies. Typically I will pack his meals, but I wanted to keep packing to a minimum and only bring essentials with us. 

I was also worried about the possibility of going into labor early. Being 36 weeks along, I was only a week away from being considered full term. Even if I made it the whole day with Negi still baking inside, could I possibly keep up in my pregnant state? Going into the city involves a lot of walking, and I was already starting to slow down from my usual pace. 

With all of those factors I decided that we were going to stay home on Sunday... just in case. Then around 10:30 PM, H said that we had to go since he promised E right before bed. Okay, let's go! I can't disappoint my kid, especially with all of our talks about the city. That wouldn't be fair, and I just had to let go and go with the flow. We quickly packed what we needed and decided we would wing it with the food (with ideas of where to go that could accommodate his allergies). 

The next morning we woke up early, made coffee and breakfast, and Little E woke up shortly after. We were out the door by 6:30 but had to make a stop at the gas station and ATM machine before hitting the road. E had a good nap in the car while we took the turnpike to New Jersey. 

Early Morning Start
{up bright and early}

With an early start, we arrived at the train station in good time. Surprisingly E woke up from his nap happy (very rare for this little toddler), and he was ready to go on his first real train ride. We waited at the station for the next train, and E enjoyed watching the trains go by on the other side. It was a little chilly, but we didn't mind. 

Waiting at the Train Station Waiting at the Train Station
{waiting at the train station}

Once we were on the train, the trip felt more real than just being on the road driving. There was no turning back, and we were all pretty excited. E saw his first blimp in the sky (he learned about blimps in his sticker book), and he enjoyed his window view. I was tired and enjoyed a short nap before arriving at Penn Station.

Untitled
{first trip on the train}

With a potty trained toddler, I was a tad worried about how difficult it would be to find and use the restroom in the city. Heck, I was worried about that when pregnant with E and didn't even try to make the trip in my pregnant state before. Here I was 36 weeks pregnant having to accommodate a toddler and a baby pushing on my bladder. Interesting. Well I shouldn't have worried because it wasn't an issue. We made sure to use the restroom at every stop along our way, and only once did E request to use the restroom. We happened to be just across the street from our previous destination, and we went back to use the restroom. Easy peasy. 

Penn Station
{Penn Station}

New York City

In my friend's usual fashion, she had just woken up by the time we arrived. We decided to take a lunch break since we had such an early morning start. First stop -- Woorijip! It's one of our favorites in K-Town, and it's conveniently right down the street from Penn Station. 

Waiting for Lunch
{waiting for lunch at Woorijip}

E was excited to try new foods and enjoyed his Korean spread of yummy goodness. Even though the layout has changed over the years, the food was delicious as usual. With our tummies fed, we were ready to brave the subway system. Back in our younger years, H and I would go into the city for fun every couple of months. With Friend B's help, we were fairly comfortable using the subway. This time around I decided to install an app to help us, and it came in handy, especially not knowing the weekend train schedules. 

Waiting for the Subway Train
{waiting for the subway train}

Our travel items included our Uppababy G-Luxe, my purse, and a bookbag full of snacks, a change of clothes, and portable potty seat. We kept it simple, which made it easy for us to break down our stroller each time we went down underground. I wanted to be considerate to other passengers, and it was simple enough. 

Once we were seated and waiting for the subway train to come, E was beyond thrilled to see the action first hand. He was in awe of the trains passing by us and kept asking if we could get on. Luckily our train was coming soon, and he didn't have to wait too long before experiencing his first ride on the subway. 

Riding on the Subway Train

Success! Next stop -- 5th Avenue and Central Park with FAO Schwartz being our main destination. E pointed out the horses on the wall while we were about to exit. H wanted to take a picture. :)

Subway Station

We came out and saw the park immediately. E asked if we could go and play, and that's exactly what we did. We made our way into the park and stopped by to check out the ducks and fish in the water. E may have fed them Joe's O's, and he was more than happy to share from his snack stash.

View From Central Park Central Park Sitting on a Rock in Central Park Central Park Central Park
{fun in Central Park}

While our visit to Central Park was short, we needed to make way to FAO Schwartz to continue on our schedule. E enjoyed running around as we departed. He also happily sat in his stroller once we made it to the street. He understood that the fastest way to get to our destination was by stroller, and he could save his energy.

View Next to Banksy Art (hehe)

Side Story: Banksy set up a stall in Central Park to sell his art, and we walked by it twice. I was totally oblivious to it, but H noticed and figured they were fake Banksy pieces. You just have to assume everything is fake. Well apparently it was real and very much authentic at $60 a pop, which is a bargain considering the value of his art. While we don't have a picture of the stall, H stood right next to the stall and took the picture above. If you watch the video in the link, you'll notice the same carriages and flags on the street lamps as seen in our picture. It's evidence that we were so close yet so far from the real thing. Hehe.

FAO Schwartz is the ultimate toy store for a toddler. E absolutely loved everything about this place, which just happened to have all of his favorite toys under one roof. He kept pointing out familiar toys from home and new ones that were even more fascinating.

FAO Schwartz

Even rocks inside a toy store are ten times better. E kept picking out rocks and handing them to me. If the rocks were more affordable, he would have walked out with a nice collection.

FAO Schwartz

Blocks, blocks, and more blocks! E loves Legos, and at the age of 2.5 he has a pretty big collection. I purchased a huge container full of Legos at a garage sale last year for $40, and I'm hoping they will come in handy when he is older. In the meantime he enjoys his sets of Duplo and loves to create and build tall towers. He has his eye on a special train set, which we will add to his wish list for Santa. 

E also spent a lot of time checking out the Thomas the Train section of the store. He pretty much had the section to himself, and he loved inspecting the toys and special trains. We made a mental reminder to buy him more puzzles too. He has a 24 piece Thomas puzzle, which he recently mastered. Now we must expand his collection to keep up with his pace.

Looking Down Below

E found stairs, and he wanted to check out what was above. Once he reached the top, he looked around the store and eventually saw us down below. He seemed happy to see us. :)

Running Around FAO Schwartz

On our way around the store (that never seemed to end), we found a ramp to go down to the candy section. I let go of E's hand and told him he could walk. Needless to say, walking wasn't necessary. Running is much more fun. :)



Waiting to Cross the Street

Afterwards E was in need of a stroller nap, and he quickly fell asleep on our walk to Columbus Circle. Destination? Whole Foods! This was a planned stop to feed E, and comparing Whole Foods never gets old. The food wasn't as desirable as my local Whole Foods (and by local, I mean a good 35 minute drive away). It was obviously crowded, and finding a place to sit down and eat required walking around for 10 minutes. Once settled down, E woke up from his nap. I rewarded him with a vegan chocolate chip cookie, and we avoided the possibility of a post nap meltdown. Win!

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I'm trying to keep up with having family pictures of us. This requires remembering to ask someone to take a photo. Easier said than done. The only picture of the three of us (not taken with our phones) was inside Whole Foods. Not exactly picturesque as you would imagine since we were in the city. Doesn't matter. We all made it in one photo together, and two of us are looking at the camera.

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{playing with a new toy}

After roaming around the mall, we needed to fulfill our Pinkberry quota. Every time H and I go into the city we have to have Pinkberry and/or Red Mango multiple times throughout the day. 5 years ago we spent a week in the city for H's training, and we would walk to K-Town every night to get our Pinkberry fix. It's addicting! Unfortunately E is allergic, but he was satisfied with eating raisins and playing with his new firetruck. Adriana Lima was apparently inside Pinkberry with us and dashed to her getaway car. I stared out the window. She looked kind of average. Hehe.

The rest of the evening was kind of a blur. We traveled the subway system some more and made our way to Times Square. No photos because we were so busy. I made a pit stop to Muji and stocked up on notebooks that should last me until the next time I come back. We also witnessed a very typical New Yorker interaction between two drivers who appeared ready to fight each other for a parking spot. Very entertaining. 

With time running out, we raced to Toys R Us for E to experience the magical toy store. Honestly it was crazy inside, and I wanted to go back to FAO Schwartz (even if they are own by TRU). E spent a majority of his time focused on the big Thomas the Train section, and I was trying to keep us on schedule. 

Funny Faces
{Typical interaction with Friend B. We have been friends for the past 14 years.}

It was getting late, and we needed to make one more stop for food before departing. Back to Woorijip! Yes, we went into the city and barely experienced any of the good food. It was enough work bringing a toddler into the city, and I preferred easy access to food that could accommodate his allergies. Once the kids are older we will make a food adventure out of our travels. 

Elliot's 1st Trip to the City - Train
{train ride back home}

Before we knew it, we had to make our way back to Penn Station to take the next train to Metropark. We luckily caught the express and cut our travel time by at least 40 minutes (shorter train ride plus making the earlier train). It was 10 PM, and I assumed E would be tired enough to fall asleep. I was wrong. The train ride was still entertaining enough to keep him wide awake. Once we were back at the station and driving on the turnpike, E finally fell asleep. 

It was a long day, and somehow we survived. E was seriously on his best behavior, and he didn't have a single tantrum. We made it through the whole day with potty breaks and no accidents (even though we packed 3 extra pairs of underwear). E cooperated and sat in his stroller every time we asked him, and he loved walking (sometimes running) around the city. I was 36 weeks pregnant and kept up with everyone. I didn't even go into labor like I was afraid of. Best of all, I was able to visit a good friend and spend some time with her like the old days (plus toddler). While we didn't get a whole lot done, it was a very successful trip. I'm glad we were able to fit this trip in before baby arrives. E still talks about his day in the city, and I'm going to assume he will remember it for a long time. Can't wait until we bring two kids into the city next time!

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