Monday, July 30, 2012

Big Apple Birthday!

Heading to the Big City!
Big Girl wanted to go to New York for her birthday. It's not an unusual request, since we are only about 2 hours away. We can drive or take the train -- the latter is easier, with a 90-minute ride without traffic, and that is what Big Girl wanted to do, so off we headed to the train station on Thursday morning. My mom offered to watch the little ones, which was easier than dragging them to the city.

Big Girl has a summer birthday, and since she was one year old, it has been a tradition to go on some sort of day trip on her actual birthday. We have been to zoos, aquariums, American Girl stores and more for her big day. This year she wanted to go to New York, particuarly to the American Girl store and LEGO shop. We took her to American Girl in NYC for her 5th birthday, and that year we had her birthday lunch in the cafe. This year, we were not going to have lunch there, but she wanted to shop and see all the treasures from the catalog in person.

Posing with "Girl of the Year" McKenna outside American Girl NY
Armed with birthday money from her grandparents and a promise from Mom and Dad for a trinket or two, we arrived at Grand Central with no expectations. No grand plans. That always makes the best day, doesn't it? We had the threat of awful storms, but the rain stayed away. The weather was sunny, hot and humid.

American Girl is just a few blocks from Grand Central, so we headed there first. It was not crowded, which was a blessing. We walked around the several floors of displays and enjoyed looking at all the adorable doll merchandise.

Molly doll display
Julie's new car

Molly's kitchen display -- can I live here? Totally my style.
Big Girl may be 10 years old now, but she loves her American Girl stuff. With her birthday money, she picked out a pair of pajamas and a dog for her McKenna doll, a book on Internet safety, and we offered to get her the cute flute set for her doll, since she is taking flute lessons when school begins.

The new treat counter at American Girl New York -- no reservations necessary.
I have been to the New York AG store many times, but they have made a few changes since the last time I was there. I was happy to see that they now have a little bakery counter where you can buy a treat to enjoy. The cafe requires reservations and can be expensive for lunch, so this little counter is a great way for patrons to please little girls without having to shell out big bucks for a meal in the cafe. (We have had lunch at both the New York and Boston AG stores for previous birthdays. I consider it more of a once-in-a-lifetime sort of experience, I think. I'm sure we'll be back to dine at AG when Bunny Twin is old enough.)

Giant LEGO dragon over Giant LEGO NYC complete with LEGO Rockefeller Center -- impressive model!
After our American Girl stop, we headed to the LEGO store, which is at Rockefeller Center -- just about two blocks or so from American Girl. I have to say that the LEGO store was kind of a disappointment. The selection is OK, but the layout is very poor, it was incredibly crowded and the Choose-A-Brick wall was a giant disappointment. They tout it as a the biggest Choose-A-Brick wall ever, but you can only pick from certain buckets and the rest is just fake displays. Ugh. Big Girl was hoping to get a good selection of extra bricks, and was not happy to see how few choices she had.

(FYI, LEGO fans/moms: The Choose-A-Brick wall in the Natick, Mass. LEGO store is actually much better despite it's small size. And the Natick mall with LEGO is actually where the Boston American Girl is located. And it's right off the highway, with free parking...)

Disappointing Choose-A-Brick wall, with fake displays :(
After taking a quick walk around Rockefeller Center, staring into the Today Show studio (and lamenting how my Matt Lauer is in London right now -- :( sniff!) we made our way toward Broadway and Times Square to this:

Big Girl on Broadway
Ellen's Stardust Diner! Have you ever been here? They have singing waiters. Big Girl was intrigued since recently, on her fave Disney show "Austin & Ally," they had a diner with singing waiters. This was a little different, as they didn't sing menus and food options like on her show, but show tunes and pop tunes to the whole assembled dining crowd. It's definitely a fun place!

Singing waiters, all the time -- it's like dining in a "Glee" episode.
The food was decent and we didn't have to wait. The singing wait staff are very campy and showy and funny, which is amusing. I knew I was in for a good show when we walked in and two waiters were belting out Guns'N'Roses "Sweet Child of Mine!"

After lunch, we walked through Times Square to visit the Disney Store, of course. Any possible Disney fix is a necessity! The store was great, so big and a perfect place to shop for little ones. If it was closer to the holidays I think I would have stocked up on some special things, but I didn't have the extra cash to get anything right now.

NY Mickey
We escaped the Disney store without a purchase, and headed over to the Times Square Toys'R'Us, where Big Girl wanted to take a turn on the giant Ferris Wheel in Toys'R'Us.

The Ferris Wheel at Toys'R'Us in Times Square -- huge, huge, huge!
It is so high and huge and kind of scared me, to be honest! (I am not an amusement ride sort-of-person.) She loved it, despite her scared-of-heights parents clutching on for dear life...

Hanging on for dear life, five stories up...
After that, we headed back to Grand Central to try and catch the last off-peak train home. We made it, and still had time to pick up two little souvenirs for the twins, as well as much-needed cold drinks on this hot and humid day.

Toy taxis for the twins!
At home, it was time for cake and singing with siblings, who had practiced their "Happy Birthday" songs all day with their grandmother...
Time for ice cream cake, candles and singing!
Big Girl blew out her candles, and said she didn't make a wish because she didn't need to. I love her.

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