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Archive for the ‘Empire State Building’ Category

We made it to NY! The drive, including dinner and only one pee stop, took 8.5. The kids were very good, in part due to a portable DVD player someone lent us and a couple Mr. Bean videos. 

The kids, of course, had no idea what to expect, and every hick town we encountered, they asked, “Is this New York?” When we finally did reach New Jersey, only Maya was awake. We actually got lost at one point trying to find the exit for the Lincoln Tunnel and ended up driving through a slightly skuzzy part of New Jersey, and Maya asked, clearly trying to be cool about it, “Is New York all like this too?” Needless to say, she was much more impressed once we arrived.

I am very excited about showing them New York. It is unlike anything they have ever experienced. A cool bonus is that the kids’ (Maya and Asher, anyway) favourite book series is the Lightening Thief, by Rick Riordan. There are three in the series now, and we eagerly await two more. I read these out loud to the kids and love them as much as they do.

In the first one book, we meet Percy, who is 12 years old. He bounces from school to school because he keeps getting in trouble, is dyslexic and has ADD. He soon finds out that he is a demi-god – a product of a human and Greek god. Olympus exists, on the mythical 600th floor of the Empire State Building. The ADD is because he’s wired to be a hero and the dyslexia is because he’s meant to read Greek.

Okay, it sounds kind of weird, but it really well done. Riordan weaves in all kinds of Greek myths and updates them seamlessly as well. And he has a great sense of humour too. It is a bonus that the hero has ADD like Asher does and yet is smart and funny, and also has difficulty in school – more, in fact, because of the monsters.

Anyway, New York City is Percy’s home town, so the kids have read all about it. The gargoyles can come to life in the book and if you look, there are gargoyles on buildings all over the city. There are constellations painted on the roof of Grand Central Station, so we’ll have to show them that.

And, of course, there’s the Statue of Liberty, the American Girl doll store (sigh), the Science Museum, Central Park, Times Square…

 

And the Daily Show. Let’s not forget that. I cannot wait.

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I am back from three days in New York. This was the first time J and I went and actually stayed in a hotel (his parents gave us a hotel room for J’s 40th birthday gift). Until now, it has always been a friend’s futon. I feel so grown-up.

Speaking of grown-ups, I noticed on the subway that they had a sign that read: “Children should always hold a grown-up’s hand on the escalator.” I found it completely weird that they wrote ‘grown-up’s hand’ instead of ‘adult’s hand.’ Isn’t ‘grown-up’ kind of a little kid word?

We had fun – ate good food, saw good friends, bought some cheap books. J wouldn’t even let me in the yarn stores I saw, though. Such lack of faith that man has.

The biggest annoyance was that I developed hives the first night that plagued me the entire trip, but faded last night, once we returned home. I can only assume that I am, in fact, allergic to New York. The biggest one was about 2 cm in circumference on the top of my right foot, where it couldn’t help but be constantly irritated. I still have a huge red mark there, although the itching has subsided. Other bad ones were a line of them along the base of my skull. Scratching those looked like I had lice. And then there were the huge ones on my butt. Oh, it just was not pretty.

We went to the top of the Empire State Building. I took many pictures to show the kids, because that is where Mount Olympus is now located, according to Rick Riordon. (His Lightening Thief series is the best thing the kids and I have ever read and I plan to post more on that at another point.)

I realized once again, as we went through the Empire State Building, that I view the world through my kids’ eyes. I discovered this when I went to Israel a year ago. I found myself say or thinking constantly, “Maya would love this,” or “I wish Asher could see this.” Most of my photos are just because I want to show the kids stuff. Like the way they grow entire trees on the rooftops of buildings,

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or the pigeon 86 stories up.

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We also caught parts of the Gay Pride Parade as it went past only two blocks from our hotel. That was cool – iconic. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to return the batteries to my camera after charging them and couldn’t take any pictures of it. I missed photographing men in leather jock straps with their hair pimply bums getting all sunburned, and a guy in leather with huge black feather wings, and cute men cheerleading, and huge men with heels so high they looked 7 feet tall, and many bemused cops clearly having a lot of fun. My favourite sight was a portly man walking down the street in full make-up – which did nothing to hide his 3 o’clock shadow – his hair wrapped up in a towel, wearing a bathrobe and slippers. He flip-flopped down the street complaining into his cellphone that “that bitch” doesn’t know where she left his dress.

From the gay pride parade, we popped into the American Girl doll store. Oh. My. God. The guy in the make-up and towel had nothing on the American Girl store for sheer weirdness. I had entered another dimension.

I admit it, my girls have American Girl dolls. Maya begged and begged. It was all she wanted and she was saving her money successfully to get one. When we went to Vancouver, my brother and sister-in-law, who have no children, bought them the dolls. They don’t see the kids often, and have a successful system of making sure the kids remember and adore them – they buy impressive gifts every time we visit. Since all Maya wanted was the damn doll, she got it, and so did Boo.

But, of course, the dolls have accessories and Maya has a catalogue a friend kindly gave her, and so all she wanted for her birthday was AG clothing, etc.

I was torn. I am horrified by the prices of this stuff. The doll stroller costs as much as my real one did. But there could be a lot worse things my 11-year-old girl could be demanding. So I went along, and told her that when were were in NY, we would get her her birthday gift. And other stuff she would give us money for. And Boo’s birthday gift, and the your-parents-abandoned-you-for-a-weekend gifts. At least, I reasoned, the stuff is very well made. And we limited choices to clothing.

The store is 3 stories filled with dolls, clothes, hair accessories, toy ponies, etc. It also has a doll hospital, hair salon and restaurant where your doll gets its own little seat. We watched little girls line up to have their doll’s hair done. The dolls sat in wee salon chairs while real women spritzed and braided.

But that wasn’t the scary stuff. Well, it was scary, but it got scarier. The scary stuff was watching 7-year-old girls telling their doting mothers, “I want one of those, and one of those and one of those,” and if mom squeaked an objection, the kid would wail, “But you promised! You promised I could have the horse too!” I did not see a single girl there in jeans. They all wore fancy, expensive dresses, with their hair done expertly. I swear, not one pair of jeans. I saw 3-year-olds with professionally-done ringlets having their photos taken with their dolls (oh yeah, I forgot to mention the photo studio).

They all seemed so sheltered and out of touch and over-privileged. I felt awful standing in line with these people, thinking that I’m just one of them. I’m buying my spoiled kids these over-priced toys while the world goes to hell in a handbasket. I had the same feeling in that store as I had in Vegas, watching the gamblers. It felt dirty, somehow.

I consoled myself with the thought that I left with one bag, not seven, and Maya paid for most of her own stuff, and I’m set for Boo’s birthday for a while now. But I still felt kind of queasy and I’ve decided that when we bring our kids to New York (which I can’t wait to do, because they’ll just love it – for the food alone), the American Girl doll store will be unfortunately closed for renovations, because I cannot bear to throw my kids into the atmosphere of greed I felt in that store.

But other than that, it was great.

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