We recently visited my sister Christina and her husband Tee Jay in New Jersey. It was a whirlwind visit - very fun, but also very tiring! (And I know everyone we saw in NJ and NYC can attest to that!!)
Chris and Tee live about an hour outside NYC, so we thought it would be fun to take the kids into the big city for a day. Shawn has always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty (and I have never seen it either), so we discussed that possibility. Then Jamie mentioned one day before our trip that he wanted to see the Statue of Liberty someday (apparently he saw it on the Wonder Pets). That cinched the deal for us! Between Christina and I, we came up with a convoluted schedule involving a train ride from NJ into Penn Station, subway ride to Battery Park, and ferry ride over to Liberty Island. I think Jamie was the only person out of the seven of us going who fully enjoyed every bit of the travel! Thankfully, Christina's best friend lives in NYC and was able to be our tour guide when navigating the city (props to Heather and Ben - you're the best for devoting an entire Saturday to our crazy family!).
Seeing the Statue of Liberty up close was astounding. I never realized how big she is! Jamie was in awe of the statue and begged us to take a photo of him with her (he posed the photo himself - Coke bottle and all!). After Liberty Island, we came back by ferry and walked to Ground Zero, which is only a few blocks away. Unfortunately, you could not see anything because it is all closed off since the plans are in work to finally build the memorial. It was still a somber moment to realize how much destruction was wrought on September 11. Just like the Statue of Liberty, I never realized how much space Ground Zero encompassed.
From there, we headed back to the subway to make our way to Times Square. (And for those of you have never had the pleasure of traveling around the NYC subway system, it is most definitely NOT stroller-friendly! Never mind two strollers-three small children-two pregnant women-friendly!) Times Square was its typical hustle-bustle crowds everywhere. The kids were in awe - I don't think they have ever seen that many people at one time before! By this time, it was getting late, so we only had time to do one more thing. And with three children that turned out to be Toys 'R Us! It was pretty cool, I must say. The store has a ferris wheel inside! With each car being a different theme - M&M's, Barbie, Sponge Bob. Jamie and Clare loved every inch of the store. Even Simon was fascinated with everything we saw (and loved playing with the big Thomas train table). I would say the only downfall to the biggest Toys 'R Us we've ever seen is that we walked out of there with Tickle Me Elmo (Clare would not be dissuaded from her choice of toys!).
After a late night and exhausting train ride back to NJ, we had a lazy Sunday morning, went to church with my sister, then met her husband at the Staten Island Zoo, where he is the coordinator for special events and volunteers. Other than during our trip to Florida, we have not made it to the zoo this summer, so Jamie and Clare were excited to go to the zoo. The Staten Island Zoo is a small zoo (perfect for a relaxing afternoon), but with Tee Jay working there, we were able to do some neat stuff. We received a hands-on experience with some of the animals, such as a ball python, Madagascar hissing cockroach (yeah, you can just put that one back in its box), and a monitor (aka BIG lizard!). We were also able to watch the zookeepers feed some of the animals, including mice to some really big snakes and a 5'6" moray eel. And then there was the excitement of Jamie playing with Tee Jay's zoo radio and stating, "The bobcat has escaped" to the zoo! Two seconds later, a voice comes over the radio asking, "Repeat that transmission, please?" Oh, Jamie! Thankfully Tee Jay was able to clear everything up very quickly and no damage done. After the zoo, we headed back to their apartment for a delicious home-cooked dinner.
We had a great time with Christina and Tee Jay. It was awesome to see my pregnant sister (whose belly is as big as mine!) and talk baby talk. This was our last summer fling, and school starts soon.