Friday, March 27, 2009

NYC Pics cont. 7

Cade and Gabby in front of the Rubens painting they studied in class
Gabby and Cade in front of the Durer they studied in school

Armor and two kung fu fighting kids

I could paint that!

Degas' dancer

NYC Pics cont. 6

The Empire State Building

Inside the Garden - with Superman in the house

Outside the Most Famous Arena in the World - I think they have that trademarked since it is everywhere - the tickets, the marquee, the programs, everywhere. And I'm standing goofy so there won't be such a noticeable height difference with Cade.

NYC Pics cont. 5

Serendipitous dessert for Crystal - peanut butter pie with ice cream and bananas and chocolate sauce - Crystal is salivating looking the picture

Kellen and Gabby sharing a frozen hot chocolate

Cade eating a strawberry ice cream sundae with raspberry topping

NYC Pics cont. 4

Times Square

The Toys R Us Ferris Wheel

Crystal's hands are not as big as Shaq's. Neither are mine.

Gabby's specially designed Barbie

Cade and Kellen dancing on the "Big" piano

NYC Pics cont. 3

Eating On the Upper East Side - it was Subway, but it sounds cooler to say that we were eating lunch on the Upper East side

NYC Pics cont. 2

More Gabby on the Carousel

More Kellen on the Carousel

Cade climbing the rocks

Cade and Kellen defending their fortress

Kellen sliding down the rocks

NYC Pics cont.

All of us - minus Crystal - at the Natural History Museum

The kids with one of the dinosaur specimens

Gabby and Kellen doing their best impressions of ferocious dinosaurs

NYC Pics 3

Crystal and Kellen enjoying a moment off their feet at Serendipity 3 (pictures to follow later with photos of the mammoth desserts we enjoyed)
John helping Harper enjoy some french fries

Snack time in the park

NYC Pics 2

Gabby goofing in the park with Sunny and Harper. Harper and Gabby were fast friends during their visit in NYC with each attached to the other and each delighted to be with each other.
Harper climbing into Kellen's stroller

The kids checking the subway tunnels for grafiti. You would think Portland has no grafiti based on their fascination with it in New York, but we do in fact have grafiti.

Cade and Gabby relaxing on the subway - by the end of the trip they were expert, veteran riders who knew how to get through the turnstiles and onto the subway like any other New York kid.

Also popular was riding on the bendy section of an extra-long bus. The kids thought this was cool and fun even though we only took the bus in a straightline so it didn't bend except to pull in and out of the busstops.

NYC Pics 1

Harper and Marc enjoying the Central Park Carousel

Gabby enjoying the same carousel (as did Cade and Kellen)

Cade, Gabby, Harper and Marc taking the faster way home from the park.

Climbing up Umpire Rock - Kellen climbed to the top by himself a couple of times and slid down on his backside. Crystal thought it would be better if I helped him down.

Gabby and Harper and Marc swinging with mid-town Manhattan in the background

Thursday, March 26, 2009

NYC Trip part 2

We started out Saturday morning with some Showstopper pancakes courtesy of Marc & Sunny - who fed us great breakfast every morning we were there - and then we headed off to Teddy Roosevelt's favorite place in the City - the Natural History Museum. The kids really really enjoyed that museum from the mammal exhibits to the creatures of the sea to seeing what we weighed on Saturn or the Sun or the moon and to the dinosaur exhibits. Kellen ran from dinosaur to dinosaur yelling, "look at this one, LOOK AT THIS ONE!" We also learned that eating at the museum is just as or more expensive than eating at Disneyland.

After the museum we met Harper, Marc, and Sunny for a trip over to Central Park to play at Heckscher Playground. The kids enjoyed climbing up and around Umpire rock - Kellen ventured up the rocky incline by himself much to the terror of his Mom. Gabby swung beside Harper with Manhattan's skyscrapers in the background and all of the kids climbing on, over, under and through the fortress-like play structure.

Cade and Gabby happily followed Marc, Sunny, Harper home while Crystal and I walked all over Central Park trying to get to the east side and the subway home. We made it home in time to see that our kids did not have the same taste in pizza as ol' blue eyes Frank Sinatra. Apparently the pizza is too tomatoey and not thick or cheesy enough. Sunny and Marc arranged a baby sitter for us so the four of us could have a night on the town. We went down to the lower east side for an African-French meal at Les Enfants Terribles and had a fantastic dinner - I think I was the big winner with the lamb stew in beans and of course I had the cheese plate as an appetizer which always endears me to a restaurant and had fantastic desserts. Prior to dinner we walked through Chinatown where Marc and Sunny got yelled at for actually trying to see if the T-shirts they were looking at might fit - "you no buy, you no unfold, happy, happy, this no mexico pay big dollah to fold, happy, happy." I was also literally chased out of another store by a saleswoman shouting lower and lower prices for a dress for Gabby. The saleswoman eventually yelled the right number and so we made a deal, but I had to promise not to tell anyone what price I paid since I got it for well less than half the original ask.

Sunday we lolled lazily around the apartment until it was time for Church at noon which we we still managed to be late for. After Church (okay, after Sacrament meeting) we took off for the Whitney museum which turned out to be the second biggest disappointment of the trip (it would have been very very hard to beat the standby flights for the worst part of the trip. We didn't find any of the Calder pieces that we had hoped to find since they were out on special exhibit and the new special exhibit was not age-appropriate. To top it off, to get to the museum we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and walk across the park to get back over the east side, but in order to avoid walking too far north or two far south, I had the brilliant idea that we should just follow the crosstown path alongside the road. Uggh, it was ugly, dirty, and crowded with cars zipping by us at 40mph and the sun disappeared behind the clouds. All in all a not lovely walk and a wasted afternoon.

Monday was our shopping day and so we spent the morning at FAO Schwarz where we took out a second mortgage to buy souvenirs for the kids (and ourselves). Cade and Kellen got matching knights and Gabby got to design her own Barbie and have it walk the runway in the store with the store announcing that this was a one-time opportunity to see the Gabby design on the runway - Gabby was even more excited when realized that she could actually keep the Barbie. After that long expedition we headed over to Serendipity 3 where we had a fantastic lunch followed by even better desserts - actually Sunny only had dessert. After lunch we headed over to 5th Ave and NBA Store for my fix. As it turns out, I have very large hands - of the 12 or so hands they displayed, only Shaq, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett had larger hands than me. And lego Yao Ming is really tall. After that it was Rockefeller Center to Nintendo World where Cade was transfixed by DS stations, Wii Stations and the Pokemon stuff. After that we rushed over to Times Square for a quick view of the lights and billboards and a trip on the Toys R Us Ferris Wheel.

Marc and I then met Marc outside the worlds most famous arena, Madison Square Garden for a showdown between the Knicks and the Magic. It was a closely contested game that the Knicks managed to choke away in the fourth quarter, but still an entertaining game to watch and Dwight Howard was unstoppable - except for his teammates inability/unwillingness to pass him the ball. On our way uptown we stopped by Empire State Building and Cade was suitably impressed by its size and grandeur.

For our final day in the city, all 8 of us headed down to the Met for a tour of Cade and Gabby's art classes with a special focus on the Degas sculptures and paintings and also a tour of the ancient Roman and Greek statues and sculptures which Cade was oddly fascinated by. After the museum we headed up to Harlem for lunch at the soul food capital of the city - Amy Ruths. Nothing beats a good waffle and chicken.

After all of that we finished our packing and made it to the airport in plenty of time for the flight home so we were able to avoid the drama associated with our trip home. I should note that before leaving Marc and Sunny's place on Tuesday we managed to plug their toilet - necessitating a plunger purchase and broke their table so we'll have to send them some wood glue too so besides occupying all of their space and eating them out of house and home we had to go and break their stuff on our way out.

Pictures to follow soon . . .

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NYC Trip part 1

Despite an inauspicious start to our trip, the fam had a great time in the Big Apple. Just a few of the highlights from the trip:

Playing with Harper

Okay, there were a lot more highlights than that, but if you ask the kids thats probably the first thing they will mention. As for that inauspicious start, we left our house at 0 dark thirty Wednesday morning and pulled into the terminal on the parking shuttle at 6:27am for a 7:25am flight. After waiting in the checkin line for 15 minutes I swiped my card to start the process and was greeted with a message that check-in for our flight had closed. Check-in closed 45 minutes before take-off. We missed it by 2 minutes. Thanks for the warning United. So, we stood in another line for 20+minutes to be told that if we wanted to get confirmed tickets we could book a flight out on a Monday night red-eye. That would be less than 24hours before our return ticket thank you very not. Crystal was more than a little worried that I might have an unpleasant encounter with airport security. I still think I would have been justified. Our other option was to fly standby. So we did that. Crystal and I agreed that we would be able to split up so that we could increase our chances to get out of Portland. After three hours of waiting Crystal and Gabby made it out and basically were home free on their trip. Cade, Kellen and me? Well, not so much. We waited for one flight after another, we explored flying through Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles - even explored flying myself on another airline to those points, but were told that we still wouldn't get a ticket to New York. Bunch of damned liars. Towards evening time Kellen starting crying when he saw airplanes taking off without us and Cade was himself on the verge of tears. Finally at 11pm, after the final flight out of Portland for the night, I was on the verge of tears myself when one of the two helpful agents we had encountered all day took pity on us and finally finally finally booked us through on confirmed tickets the next morning. We had to fly through San Francisco and Chicago, but still we were on our way.

While Cade, Kellen and I were winging our way across the country, Crystal and Gabby had a lovely girls outing in the city going shopping, eating a place called Alice's Teacup and then wrapping up the day with The Lion King on Broadway. I'd provide more color to the day, but I was on an airplane at the time.

Friday morning or more accurately Friday early afternoon we all headed downtown to take a tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and wrap up with a tour of the New York Fire Museum. Cade did not think it was a funny joke when I told him while waiting in line for the ferry to Liberty Island that we had standby tickets. Despite that we had a good tour of both Liberty and Ellis Island. I personally learned that Liberty Island used to be known as Bedloe's Island (and a few other names too) and that Lady Liberty's copper skin is approximately as thick as two coins together. She is an impressive and moving symbol of the real American Dream - hope for a better future and freedom to pursue it however one pleases. The Emma Lazarus poem - written to help raise funds for the pedestal to put the statue on - is also somehow more powerful at her feet.

Ellis Island was also a good tour - the kids really liked the statistics room where they could see how many people immigrated to the United States by decade and whether they were men or women, where they originated from - what words we have incorporated into our language that are of foreign origin - my personal favorite was "gung ho" which is Chinese in origin.

After returning to Manhattan we ate some really stale and nasty pretzels and took the subway up to TriBeCa to see the New York Fire museum - there were some really interesting old fire engines and a lot of fancy fire hats and from over the years, but by far the best part for me was the room dedicated to the heroes of the 9/11 tragedy. The museum had photos from the days surrounding the event, artifacts from the Twin Towers - including - morbidly - a piece of the plane wreckage; dust coated fire helmets and breathing apparatus; and more. It was also emotional to sit there and look at the very tangible effects of the attack and the impact it had on the firefighters who rushed in and their families too.

We wrapped up our day by meeting Sunny, Marc, and Harper for dinner at Bubby's Pie Company where we had some good food and better dessert.

In Part 2 tomorrow we'll explore the American Natural History Museum, Central Park, the Whitney, Les Enfants Terribles, Patsy's Pizza, FAO Schwarz, Nintendo World, Toys R Us, the NBA Store, Times Square, Madison Square Garden and the Knicks, Serendipty 3, Amy Ruth's, the Met and getting to the airport ON TIME (aka really early)!! and why Marc and Sunny are really happy that we left when we did.