Adventure, Baby, Family Travel, Motherhood, Travel

Doing New York City – The Baby Way

When I first moved to New York City I got lost at least a dozen times. . . in my first three days! I would walk off the subway, confidently walking in the direction I was sure was correct, only to end up calling my husband to come find me on his way home from work. Once I at least got my sense of direction I then had to navigate my timing of when I would leave for things, how much time it would take (always give yourself an extra 30 minutes at least), and of course, my husband’s favorite, pre-walking to the ideal spot on the subway for the quickest exit.

After a year I felt pretty confident in Manhattan. I even knew my way better than my husband who always knows where he is going ;). And then I had a baby and everything I had learned, had taught myself, was gone. Now almost another year has gone by and I feel like some of that confidence has come back. With that confidence I would like to share the best I have learned, as it can be just slightly overwhelming to figure out what you are doing, how to get there and what to take with you when you have miniature people traveling alongside you (yes, for those of you who are Manhattanites, you have your ways down I’m sure, but for those coming for a visit, it may help).

  1. Subway No-Go Hours: the subway is a wonderful, easy way to get around the city. However, traveling this way during peak rush hour is very ill advised. Traveling at this time is almost certain to induce nausea, anxiety and overall unhappiness. Not to mention that if you are traveling with a stroller (more on that decision in a moment) you will be looked down upon and few, if any, will offer you help. So between the hours of 9-10:30AM and 5:30-7PM be warned.
Subway baby

Roo has her subway riding skills down.

2. Stroller Travel: I have been pleasantly surprised with the ease of which this city can be navigated with a stroller as well as how accommodating almost everywhere is with them. Almost anywhere you go will have either a parking spot for them or will just let them be, no fuss. And while having a stroller with you is a great thing, there are definitely times when you do not want one if you have a carrier to use instead

  • The Subway: Really, it is so much easier to travel the subway with a carrier. Think about your trip – if you can get around with a carrier, use it!
  • Chelsea Market: Unless you are in the city at a more slow paced time of year, this place is a mad house and is much better off just walking though, navigating with just your body, baby attached and all. But I highly recommend this place, I love going there and then adventuring along the Highline for a bit!
Stroller Chill

We make this stroller travel look good!

Carrier baby

Mom, can we go for a walk now!?

  • Museums: Ok, so this one is a bit of a toss up but I have found, after doing some museums both ways, that the carrier is much easier. For example, the Museum of Natural History has A LOT of stairs. Sure, it has elevators, but those things take forever (really, I waited for 10minutes at one). It is also much easier to navigate around some of the displays with just yourself and not a stroller.

3.  Breastfeeding: This one is easy. Anywhere you need to. Nobody cares or bats an eye. Besides, there are plenty of other crazy things to look at besides a woman taking care of her child 🙂

4.  Other Food: There are markets everywhere, Whole Foods, Food Emporium, D’Agostino, etc. There is also a Duane Reade on every single corner, maybe even two of them! For those who are not from the East Coast these are Wallgreens/Rite Aide. They have those fantastic food packets for kiddos of all solid food ages. So if you realize you forgot to pack your mini’s food, pop into one of these and hangry crises is averted!

Soccer baby

Taking a little food break down in Battery Park

Some other things I have learned from other moms that I think are great are just general rules. Being such a large place, the thought of being separated is probably very real (my child is 10-months-old so I fortunately don’t have this fear yet). Moms tell me that establishing meeting places is key. For the subway, tell your child that in the off chance you get separated, they are to either stay at the station right where they are (if you get on and they don’t) or get off at the next stop (if they get on and you don’t) and wait right there. If a cop is nearby at the station, point them out and tell them to go hang out with them until you return. A police officer is always a good person to go to if separated. While walking around, introduce your kids to them for an official NYPD picture! Hold hands always walking across the streets, but let them hail a cab for you, or run loose (by like 10 feet haha) in Central Park.

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My husband and nephew being too cool for school.

This city really is great for children and moms and dads and families of all sizes. There is so much to see and explore, and it is all so accessible.

These are my little tidbits from what I have gained thus far. I have no doubt that I will learn 1,000,000x more things in this next year as my daughter goes from 10-months to 2-years as this city shows me more and more with every day. If you happen to be traveling this way and there are other questions you have, please don’t hesitate to comment and ask!

For a mountain town who keeps hoping for a mountain baby, she does well with the city (much better than her mountain mama) and makes this city even more of an adventure than it already has been!

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NYC, NYC Subway, Uncategorized

The Subway Symphony

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes.”A magic beyond all we do here.” Albus Dumbledore

 

Music has been in my life since I can remember. From my mother’s lullabies, to 7+ years of playing in band and a lot in between, music has been something my whole body yearns to have on a daily basis. It doesn’t just settle the buzzing noise between my ears, music calms me body and soul.

New York City has every type of music available for every type of person. There are symphonies and operas; jazz clubs and discos. New York City is the home to The Juilliard School (a place I used to dream about what it would be like to go there), Broadway, Central Park concerts, and The Carnegie Club featuring Frankie and the gang on Saturday nights (oh I could sit and listen and sing and dance forever here). Ellen’s Stardust Diner is known for its server’s singing performances, as they are all aspiring Broadway stars (and I would venture to bet this is the same with 75% of the rest of the servers/hosts in the city, that or aspiring actors). Yes, music has permeated every part of this city you can think of and more. But one of my favorite places I have found music in this city is in subways.

When I first moved here I was going through the subway station at Times Square when I saw a children’s Mennonite choir singing hymns. I’ve seen the saw violin, the one-man band, an astounding opera singer, and a blues group that could almost take you straight to the Delta if you let your eyes stay closed long enough. While some of these are people simply looking for a way to get by, many (like more than 350) are a part of the MUNY or Music Under New York presented by the MTA Arts for Transit. This amazing program, started in 1985 shows so many talented, amazing people. But it’s sad, while these professionals sit and play for hours, hardly anyone takes the time to stop and notice them. Remember when this happened in D.C.?

This concert violinist was almost completely ignored, simply because we are too busy with our day to stop and listen to the music. I admit I get like this far more often than I care to admit, but the other day I really stopped and listened and discovered someone amazing. Erik Heger was 5-years-old when he happened upon 10 harps hiding in his grandfather’s attic. Being a badass soldier in WWII (as Heger put it), he looked up to his grandfather as his hero. When he discovered this other talent of his grandfathers outside of shooting down the bad guys, he decided it must be really really cool and the rest is history. Heger can play anything you can think of. From Katy Perry to Jazz and Blues, classical beauties and compositions of his own. And if you saw him on the street, you would not pin him as a harpist (at least I wouldn’t, coming from Utah, most harpists are pretty little blonde girls). I sat and listened and chatted with him for over 45minutes, and I could have stayed longer if I didn’t have to get home to make my husband dinner – Heger was simply amazing. Here he is playing Mad World from Donnie Darko:

Stop and listen to the music every once in awhile, even if it’s just for five minutes. That five minutes may be just the thing your mind, body and soul needed.

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NYC, NYC Subway

NYC Subways: The Ultimate People Watching

Constant. Always in a hurry to get somewhere- which is often to push past you to get to the platform and just stand there when you knew the train wasn’t coming – never in the mood to talk or even look up.

They say one of human’s number one fears is public speaking, but sitting in a subway in the morning makes me think tight public spaces are right up there. Of course, this awkwardness and seeming inability to even meep (although cursing with your face down seems easy enough) makes for fascinating people watching.
In my two weeks of living in New York, I have discovered there are two VERY DISTINCT groups of subway riders – morning riders and after 1pm riders (because I am amazed how many people seem to Start their day around noon!). The morning riders look like this:
crammed subway
Notice that this picture is by the subway door. Because like your massive college lectures, the thought of actually moving to the middle and being near another person you don’t know – nuh uh, forget it! Most are silent, for many that silence is broken very faintly by the constant texting they seem to be doing (or perhaps it’s email, but even so, how in the world do they have service!?). If you are crammed right next to these types, they look at you like, ‘um, excuse me, why are you touching me?’. Getting a smile out of people is almost impossible.
One of my favorite things to do in the morning is see who I can get to smile back at me. Ridiculous I know, but it’s quite amusing when you look around, taking in people’s mannerisms. Judging whether they actually got to shower this morning, or if it was a, ‘shoot I shouldn’t have had those five drinks after work’ kind of mornings. I would say 2.5 out of 10 actually smile back (the half being that half smile while quickly looking away’. Most people, however, avert their eyes so quickly as though they were a two-year-old told not to peek but they just couldn’t help it. By the time I get to work, the crowds have significantly thinned and only the texters and students remain with me – so still no conversations to be had.
The afternoon/evening crowd is quite different. Maybe that’s because their fifth coffee of the day has finally kicked in, or maybe they just realize they are actually going to survive this day. I am definitely 9 for 10 on return smiles, and even ‘hello’s and ‘how are you’s are shared often. But the best are when conversations start. Here is what I have learned so far from personal conversations or evesdropping:
“There is nothing for me to be unhappy or unsmiling about because I am here and that makes today great” (elderly man who sat right next to me – 40years in NYC from the ‘DR” (Dominican Republic) three kids and two grandkids later – life is grand)
Not everyone can read a map that’s right behind them (as I’m trying to explain where to get off for Times Square while pointing it out on the map behind the woman’s head. The next stop she got a little scared – we were still 6 stops away – thinking they had missed their stop, obviously paying attention to me)
There seems to ALWAYS be some trivial thing to complain about (thins usually has to do with work and gets old to me really fast so I tune out rather quickly).
Adults just have no idea how things actually work and some video game teaches you so much more than you’ll ever learn in school (honestly had to try so hard to not crack up at these high schoolers on their way home from school).
I’ve heard people ask for money because of hard times in their lives and had a man come serenade our car with beautiful spanish singing and guitar. And while this wasn’t on the subway, a Mennonite choir sung beautiful Psalms that echoed throughout every corridor (it was so beautiful I missed the nest two trains to stop and listen.
As I continue to ride the NYC subway I hope to strike up more conversations with as many people as possible and to improve my 25% morning smile return. Until then, I’ll continue in partaking in personal bubble breaking in the mornings and making new temporary friends in the evenings (or at least getting good, juicy gossip 😉 ).

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