Mom Blogging, Continued from Part One of Our Christmas Vacation:
**DISCLAIMER: The pictures throughout this blog post are a mix of images from Jason’s camera and our point and shoot.
The first drive of our trip took longer than we thought it would so we made sure to plan lots of extra time for stops and city traffic as we left our family near DC and headed up to New York City. We actually arrived a few hours earlier than we thought we would! Luckily the hotel saw the restless young kids and all of our stuff and let us check in early. We chose a Marriott hotel within walking distance to Rockefeller Center and we were pleasantly surprised by a hotel room bigger than normal for midtown NYC! We took it as a good sign.
The kids loved that our hotel room was so high up! Often at least one of us would be sitting on the window ledge looking out into the city.
Our plan for our time in the city was to see all of the sights you think of when you imagine Christmas in New York City. We wanted to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, visit Santa at Macy’s, shop in the stores, enjoy the holiday decorations and window displays, and take the kids to FAO Schwartz and the Toys R Us in Times Square. We were even hoping that there might be some snow on the ground for a wintry and scenic walk through Central Park! But though it had snowed a couple days earlier there was no snow at all during our time there. And it should have been an early clue that NYC at Christmas might not be all that family friendly when we contacted more than five shows, including the famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular which is supposed to be great for kids, and all of them had age limits.
Jason absolutely loves shooting in the city and he was really excited for his sessions that evening, but because we had arrived much earlier than we planned we had time to head out for some sightseeing. We had left very early in the morning and the kids were tired and a little bit moody because of it. Soon enough our daughter was passed out on my shoulder. Carrying a sleeping one year old who is bundled up in layers and a heavy coat is not as easy as you would think!
Our first stop was Rockefeller Center to see the big tree. We have been to NYC a few times in the past and we knew that there would be big crowds at the hot spots, but we were not prepared at all for just how many crowds the week before Christmas really brings into the city! It was just insane. By the time we made it to the tree our oldest son was tired of walking, our daughter was sleeping, and we faced an ocean of people who moved like a wall closing in on you. We barely got next to the tree for a quick picture before we were pushed along by the ever moving crowd. We made our way to the Lego store nearby in the hopes of cheering up our oldest.
Somehow the crowd had taken the shoe off of our preschooler and trying to stop in that store to put it back on was impossible. I don’t know how anyone could possibly shop there! We were just blindly pushed along by the crowd and soon we were at the doors to go outside on the other side of the store. Now our kids were tired and upset that they thought they were getting a lego toy but didn’t, and we looked out into a giant mass of hurried and impatient people. The door we went out put us right in the middle of the crowd waiting or the skating rink at Rockefeller Center and I could not believe how many people were standing there! It was tightly packed for at least an entire block with people either waiting in line or trying to see the tree. We tried weaving through people but there wasn’t even any room to weave. Our preschooler had been trying to hold my hand and walk next to me but people didn’t see him so he was barely escaping being trampled. After he had been hit on the head by shopping bags and elbowed in the face a couple times I had to let my sister carry my daughter, growing ever heavier in her huge winter coat, and carry my son who was equally bundled up and heavy instead. Jason had been planning to separate from us that evening and go right to his sessions so he had his camera and other gear with him and couldn’t carry anything, or anyone, more than that. As soon as we could manage our way out of the crowd we went right back to the hotel. Jason picked us up some fast food for dinner so we didn’t have to venture out that night when he was gone at his sessions.
When he got back to the hotel that night he said the crowds were dying down and it was actually fun to walk the streets again! The kids had been treated to a night of tv shows in the hotel room and were ready for bed but this was my sister’s first time in New York City and she wanted to go explore! Jason took her out and together they visited the tree again (for a less crowded view), the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and then had a late dinner in Times Square. They enjoyed the entertainment of some interesting characters in the restaurant which gave their dinner an authentic NYC feel. After carrying his camera through the city all day Jason decided to bring the much more portable point and shoot that night instead. He hadn’t realized that our son had spent most of his day making a video chronicling his adventures in the hotel room so the battery was dead. They didn’t take any pictures but they said it was a great night. And Jason came home with a much needed stroller!
The next day Jason woke up early for a couple morning sessions just outside the city. The plan was for the rest of us to head out for breakfast after we woke up and got ready and then when Jason would meet up with us in the city later. But it was vacation after all so rather than rush the kids we took our time that morning and Jason was back at the hotel before we ever left. I had emailed with a friend who lives in NYC about the crowds the day before and she said it was the worst she had ever seen it! But she also said that it might have been because it was the Sunday before Christmas. That made sense. I won’t even venture to the mall near my house the Sunday before Christmas so we headed out on Monday afternoon with high hopes for walking through the streets on a weekday without our children being torn away from us or hit in the face.
Jason carried our daughter and our middle son sat in the stroller and things seemed better. The crowd got thicker as we got closer to FAO Schwartz and the other shops but it wasn’t too bad. We saw the front of the FAO Schwartz with the guy dressed up as a toy soldier and we were excited to head inside! We went to the doors only to find out that the line was actually coming from down another street. When we walked over there we saw the real line, and it was long. Really long. Down the block. We stood and waited and Jason and I wondered how smart we really were to spend time standing in line for shopping.
The store wasn’t as decorated for Christmas as I had thought it would be but looking around a giant toy store is always fun. Our daughter had fallen asleep again (she rarely takes naps at home!) so we tried to find a second cheap stroller but they didn’t have any. As we made our way through the store I saw a gigantic box of Nerds candy at the candy display! I pointed it out to Jason and continued to the escalator to head up to the top floor where they had the giant dance-on piano famous from the movie Big. In the time it took him to turn around to check out the huge Nerds box neither of us had noticed that we got separated. We spend the next hour trying to find each other in that three story toy store completely packed with people! We were both just glad it was us adults who were separated and not one of the kids.
Our plan was to grab an early dinner and then head over to Macy’s but the crowds were just too much for the two younger kids. The stroller would not fit inside of any stores so if we stopped any where they had to be carried and it was hard to carry two heavy bundles while maneuvering through crowds. I had been to Macy’s a couple times before so I decided to take the younger kids back to the hotel while Jason took my sister and our oldest son to see Santa at Macy’s and then explore more of the sights for our last night in the city.
The subway ride to Macy’s:
Inside the store:
They explored every level inside of Macy’s and did some shopping too! The line to see Santa would have taken up all of their time that night so they skipped actually visiting him and headed to see more of the city.
Moving window displays:
Playing on the security cameras:
Inside of the Times Square Toys R Us, which is more than 100,000 sq feet in size!:
6th avenue ornaments:
One last stop at the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center:
That night we enjoyed some Christmas movies on tv while eating Outback delivered by room service! The hotel had a mix-up and sent another family to our room so to make up for it they gave us vouchers for breakfast the next morning in their restaurant. There were omelettes, bacon, eggs, pancakes, waffles, cereal, fruit, and every other breakfast food you could think of. After a yummy big breakfast we left the hotel and NYC. We all agreed that despite the crowds making it hard for the younger kids we had a fun visit. We love New York City and can’t wait to go back, but probably not at Christmas time again. At least not until all the kids are grown and can fend for themselves in the crowds!
We headed north of the city for a session with a really wonderful family and then from there it was time for some snow!! Vermont is coming up next on the blog, and blog updates for all of the sessions Jason did in the city are coming this week as well!