Monday, October 7, 2013

A Big Apple Birthday

We celebrated Matthew's 12th birthday on Saturday.  Each child is allowed to pick a destination to spend a family day over the weekend of or closest to their birthdays.  Matthew chose to go to New York City.  Two years ago, we took him and Luke for their birthdays for a weekend, and the little ones stayed home with Mimie (Neal's mother).  This time we all went for the day.  I'm impressed - we arrived and left Manhattan with the same five kids.    

Good morning, 12-year-old!

happy birthday matthew
 Pre-breakfast cupcake. 
 We sang happy birthday to him, and we were off.

Cracker Barrel checkers
First stop: Cracker Barrel for breakfast.
 Celia creamed Luke at checkers.  Here he slid right into a double jump.


 First view on Manhattan proper.  Damien said we needed a ladder to climb up that building.

mariott marquis

We parked in Times Square at the Mariott Marquis.  
We rode up to the lobby level to use the restrooms, 
and Jude got to stand by the glass wall of the elevator.

 Then, we started walking.   Our destination was Madison Square Park - Matthew wanted to go to Shake Shack for lunch.  We opted for the "original" location since it was outdoors - if there wasn't enough table space, we could sit on the grass and have a picnic.

We started at 46th and Broadway, and walked down through the Garment District.  We got a little off our planned route, and turned onto 31st street to head back.  I am pretty good with a map - when I can turn it around and don't have to do imaginary re-orienting.  My phone was not cooperating, and mental orienteering did not go so well.  We turned right when we should have turned left, and passed the church of St. Francis of Assisi.  I thought it seemed familiar, but I couldn't place it, but as we passed it, we realized we were going the wrong direction - we had been on Seventh Avenue, ahead of us was Eighth, and we needed to go to Fifth.   We turned around, headed back over toward Broadway, and as we waited for the light to turn, I looked up at the street sign.  It was dually named -- 31st Street and  Fr. Mykal F. Judge Way.  AHA!  That church was the "Fransciscan" church.  Yes, an on the fly history lesson for the big boys followed!

Walking so much mean Jude got to do some good backwards counting practice.  We told him how many streets we had to cross, and he'd count them down.  23 streets down, zero to go, we arrived at the park.  And lunch.

 His feet were ready for a rest, but he walked the whole way. 

shake shack madison square park
 Waiting for our food to be ready.

 Jude wasn't so certain about the fries.  These weren't SMOOTH, they were BUMPY
At first he was convinced they were just not going to work, 
but finally we convinced him that crinkle cut means 
"French fries with miniature bowls to hold more ketchup."


 You're right!!

Notice the glare from Celia. 
Sorry, chica, but four boys and one of you means food first, American Girl later.

Damien was content to wander a bit around the park.  
We may have walked 23 blocks, but he had to sit in the stroller.  The horror!

Make a wish!

What goes downtown must go back uptown!  
We decided to start walking, this time with 48th street as our destination. 
 We walked back up Fifth Avenue...

...passing the Empire State Building.

New York may be the "City that Never Sleeps," but this "Young Blue Eyes" needed a nap.

We finally arrived at our main destination. 
Matthew's goal was to spend some of his birthday money at Nintendo World at Rockefeller Plaza.

A block back to Fifth Avenue and another block up put us at American Girl Place.  Celia and I had planned to do another Girl's Day Out this past summer, but she was too sick.  She had birthday money burning a hole in her pocket, so she wanted to make a stop.

The boys, however, couldn't wait to move on.  They parked themselves outside and despaired of us ever coming back out.  

She came out with Molly and Emily, the American Girls from the WWII era. 
They are retiring soon, and Molly is her favorite historical doll.

Since we had now only walked 27 blocks uptown, we pushed on and went a couple blocks more, visiting...

 ...the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral...

...FAO Schwartz...

...and a very, very busy Apple Store.

Neal gave up - it was too crowded.

By now, we were across the street from Central Park, so we wandered over to Hecksher Playground.  One side of the playground are little walking paths and parapets.  The other side is a rock mountain.

After playing for a while, we headed back to Times Square.  We figured it would be easiest to get two taxis from there.  We went back to the cab stand at the Mariott Marquis and headed off to Little Italy.

Luke, Damien, and I got the first cab.  This was Damien's first taxi ride.

 Neal, Matthew, Celia and Jude followed in a second car.  Jude never rode in a taxi before, either!

Like any allergy family, our dining options are dictated by the menu.  We opted for The Original Benito One  because they had both gluten free pasta and pork chops.  Neal got veal and safe pasta, and they were able to make plain, naked pork chops for Celia and Damien.  Everybody eats when they come to Chef Benito's house!

When we got to the restaurant, we had about half an hour's wait for a table. The owner told us he'd reserve the table, and we could go walk about the neighborhood.  Two doors down was a little streetfront market, and Neal found a new hat.

 The others wanted to try it on.

We went back, and ate a delicious dinner.  An accordionist, wandering from one restaurant to another, even came into the restaurant, and played "Happy Birthday!" to Matthew.  We're not exactly sure how he knew -- we never told anyone it was his birthday.  Either it was a good guess, or an eagle-eared waiter heard us say "Are you enjoying your birthday?" and passed the message along.

 A huge pork chop and a busy day, and this little boy was tired again.

There was no way we could waddle back, so we caught a couple of cabs to Times Square.

Matthew had a few dollars left to spend, so we went into the giant Toys R Us.

As we waited for our car to come out of the garage, Matthew flopped down and proclaimed the day....

"Best. Birthday. Ever."

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

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  1. sounds like a wonderful day out. :)

    annette @ a net in time

  2. Jude rocks that hat! (Sorry Neal.) Happy Birthday Matthew!

  3. Wow. That's a busy bday! :) Just much is a taxi ride in NY? And, your Matthew really does look as if he had an amazing bday. :) I found you through the Naptime Review. :)

    Honey of

  4. Meg @ Adventures with JudeOctober 8, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Not as terrible as I thought it would be! Two cabs from Times Square to Little Italy (including tips) was only about 40 bucks each way. The hotel had offered to get us a larger van service that would get us all there together, but it was $70 flat. We figured we'd take our chances with the taxis, and were glad we did!

  5. Wow! What an awesome birthday celebration! I have to get my kids to NYC one of these days! Thanks for sharing with Field Trip Friday. :-)


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