Back from an exciting “vacation” with the fambly. Quotation marks emphasize the word vacation since it was merely a phantom of the ideal vacation I would envision for myself. Highlights of the trip: some mild sightseeing, meeting and getting to know my new nephew, incessant self-gorging on yummy foods typically unavailable in Santa Cruz, and a whole week spent not at work. The R&R was nowhere to be found. I’ll get into that down the line.
A week ago, the family packed up and crammed into a plane to New York. West Village, to be precise, to celebrate and welcome the birth of our new nephew. The original plan was for Jackie to spend 2 weeks out there to help out with new baby acclamation. I was tugged along for one of the weeks to help out with Vivienne wrangling, particularly on the plane and through the airport.
Another valuable lesson: Always carry at LEAST a 24 hour supply of baby things in your diaper bag or carry-on. This should include diapers, formula, change of clothing, PJs, and other miscellaneous necessities. It also probably wouldn’t be such a bad idea to slip some extra grownup underwear in there, too. In typical fashion, we arrived at O’hare for supposed one hour layover. Mother Nature and United Airlines had other plans for us though. Our connecting flight was slowly, and incrementally delayed in 30-60 minute chunks. At 10 PM, with a very fussy baby in tow, we gave up and trudged to the Hilton connected to the airport. Shelled out $99 bucks for a room, and improvised. The downstairs restaurant provided us with some whole milk, which we subbed for formula, and we washed some of our clothes in the hotel sink. Fun!
Oh, is it any surprise someone wasn’t too keen on sleeping in a hotel pack’n’play?
We hopped a flight early the next morning and arrived in NJ without incident. Not to sound too whiny, but public transit with small children is no longer a viable travel option, and so we hired a $70 cab into the Manhattan (fare, toll, tip). Ouch.
Backing up a bit, I should mention that the original plan was for Jackie to be present for the birth of our nephew. Again, foiled. In this family, early entrance is all the rage. Although not quite as underdone as Vivienne, my nephew did manage to squeeze out of his cocoon just about two weeks early. By the time we arrived, my sister in law had more or less found her rhythm.
I soon found that even the best of intentions have no place in small spaces. Rather than offering up all kinds of baby assistance (that wasn’t particularly needed or requested, as it turns out), the bulk of our time in the apartment was spent corralling our child. Luckily S-I-L bought a crib in advance of our visit, so sleep was less of an issue, but everything else. Woah. So let’s break it down.
Dog Chasing. Aka “Izzy” chasing. That’s right. Not mama, dada, hi, or something monosyllabic. Vivienne’s official first word is in, and it’s IZZY. Just imagine a cute little baby running around a tiny New York apartment chasing after some poor dogs chanting Izzy, Izzy, Izzy! We spent the greater part of the week chasing the munchkin around the apartment, separating her from the dogs, especially Baci, the diva-puggle, whose curly tailed just proved too much to resist. Baci did warm up to her at certain points, but mostly just found her kind of like the annoying new dog. At one point Jackie got scolded by her sister about how the dogs were going to bite our child and she was going to have to put them down. As if we’d report her or something. That was awkward, and of course made the entire task of keeping Vivi clear of the dogs all the more important.
Oh the other thing. New York dogs. Or maybe it’s just these two. They do their business in the house. On a small ‘wee-wee’ pad on the kitchen floor. Easily accessible by small children. Keeping her away was a challenge in its own right.
Sleeping. Sharing a room with Vivienne wasn’t so bad. After all, she was safely secured in a baby jail. Sharing a twin bed with Jackie, while reminiscent of my college days, was miserable. I don’t think either of us slept very well. The only big issue with sleeping was her waking up, standing by the side of the crib and, upon seeing us peacefully slumbering, screaming at the top of her lungs for attention. This at 5:30am. So we took to giving her a bottle and then hiding under the covers while she suckled herself back to sleep for a couple of hours.
Exploring. Vivi was pretty much into everything, and quickly learned how to operate the sliding doors between rooms. I quickly realized the value of swinging doors with door knobs, a luxury not to be found in a small apartment without precious space to accommodate an ajar door. So the majority of the time in the apartment was spent like a lady in waiting, carrying a train. At any moment she could wander someplace not baby friendly. Fortunately, her favorite thing to play with, aside from the dogs and their weewee pads, was a (mostly) stationary object: her cousin’s 4 Moms Baby Pod. She was fascinated by this thing, and loved just riding in it, despite being too big. I think we need one of these for baby number 2.
So on to the stuff we did out of the apartment, since I think you get the gist by now.
Eataly. Mario Battali’s upscale Italian import marketplace and shops. I could blow my whole year’s salary here.
Went to Brooklyn, where the streets looked so familiar, even though I had never been there before. Then it dawned on me: Sesame Street!
Ate some more:
D’Amicos. Home of Brooklyn’s best teamster Italian sandwich.
Walked across the Brooklyn bridge.
The Bronx Zoo. Vivi slept through most of that, too. Figures. At least it was donation day!
Ate again. Roberto’s. Off of Arthur Ave, an old Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. They sat us in the “baby corner” by the basement stairs. Go figure.
We wound down our trip with a visit to see my Uncle and his family in Summit, NJ, which involved a subway/train ride.
I’m just glad I managed to do some “man of the house” type stuff while I was there, like going out to purchase and replace odd lightbulbs and switches and fixing the stroller so it actually turned properly. This way I don’t feel like we were a complete drain while we were there with our “wild child”.
To finish, if there’s one thing that a week spent in a non-child-proofed 850 square foot Lower Manhattan apartment with two pugs, four adults and two babies will teach you, it’s that toddlers need space, freedom, and attention. I guess they need it everywhere, but it was just so apparent here.