The Summer of 2017 Emma and I decided it would be good to have our nieces come stay with us for a while. Emma was out of school and I had some days of leaved saved up. Our nieces, Jayda, Jasmine, and Avah are 11, 10, and 1, respectively. This made things very interesting. Avah was only scheduled to stay for two weeks and then we would do big kid things with the older two. Once Avah went back to Georgia, we decided to take the girls to New York City. This was one of Jayda’s biggest dreams.
Tricking The kids
Emma and I decided to make it a surprise trip. The night before we left I told the girls that they might need to ride with Emma to drop me off at work because I have an important meeting and needed to be able to take the HOV lanes. Since they had been with me for three weeks at this point they understood the importance of the HOV lanes in Northern Virginia. Emma and I woke up at 4:00 AM and packed the girls’ bags and put them in the car. I went back inside and frantically told them I needed them to ride with us because if not I would be late. They bought this and we were off. About an hour into the trip they woke up and asked where we were. I had turned the clock back in the car about half an hour and told them we were almost there to go back to sleep. They bought it! About three hours into the drive they woke up again. They were now starting to feel like I lied to them and they were curious. I told them my meeting got moved and it’s now a few hours away. I got them out of asking more questions by telling them that we would do some fun stuff and visit Baltimore on the way back. They got excited and didn’t ask any more questions.
Once we could see the New York City Skyline from New Jersey, I turned on my camera and played the song Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z. The video is below.
We arrived at our hotel around lunch. We decided to stay at The Watson Hotel in Manhattan so that we could be closer to the fun, touristy stuff. We couldn’t check into the hotel right away so we put our bags in the hotel’s storage and hit the streets of New York. We stopped by the Roosevelt Gourmet Deli to grab a bite to eat. It was decent food and didn’t cost a ton. The girls thought it was the coolest thing in the world! After we got our food we walked to Times Square. They went nuts! We went to the Hershey’s Chocolate World, M&M’S World, the Disney Store, and much more. They bought themselves a few souvenirs and we left to check into the hotel.
The hotel was clean and comfortable. The girls of course thought it was incredible. We were on the 9th floor and the room had a decent view. While we were there I decided I should show them a short video on 9/11. I showed them the video and told them what happened and why it was so important.
We left the hotel and went to Central Park. Here we played on the playground and climbed a few rocks. We all had fun running around and playing. We left towards the 9/11 Memorial. This was the first time the girls had ever been on the Subway. They were a little concerned about the smell, but that didn’t matter much to them. We arrived at the 9/11 Memorial and I walked them around for awhile and told them what it all meant. They didn’t seem to understand. I think that’s okay; they are young.
We left there and went into The Oculus Center. Emma and I visited it last year when we were there, but a bunch of new stored had opened since then. I’ve never been a Ford fan, but the FordHub Store inside The Oculus Center was awesome. The girls played with stuff for close to an hour.
We went back to Time’s Square that evening to show the girls how much different it is at night. They enjoyed it was a totally new place! We went to Dallas BBQ for dinner and it was great. The girls had been practicing ordering for themselves and this is what the practice was for. They ordered their own food and felt like they were on top of the world! We ate and left to visit the Macy’s Store. The kids thought it was incredible that it took up a whole block of NYC. We went through the entire store and made it out right as they were closing. We made the long trek back to the hotel and decided to call it a night.
We woke up at some ridiculous time so that we could make it to the Today Show. We made it to the Today Show in time to get a spot along the fence and watched for a couple of hours. The girls’ mom said she saw us on TV and Jayda and Jasmine felt like they were celebrities. The entire time we were standing there I had a ring burning a hole in my pocket. I was going to propose to Emma that day on top of the Rockefeller Center and I was super nervous.
We made it to Top of the Rock – Rockefeller Center – and I let the girls look around for a few minutes. I took some pictures of them and then I pulled Jayda over to the side and told her I was going to propose and wanted her to video the whole thing. I told Emma I was having Jayda take a picture of us and we stood in front of the Empire State Building. I walked over and I took Emma’s promise ring off and told her she wouldn’t be needing that anymore. I said a few mushy words and got down on one knee. I don’t remember what mushy words I said because I forgot everything I planned to say as soon as I started talking. She was in shock and it took her FOREVER to say yes. Realistically it was probably two seconds, but It felt like forever! She said yes and I was engaged to my best friend and soulmate!
We left from there and went to check out of the hotel. The girls had been asking for street vendor food so we decided to get hotdogs for lunch. We made our way to Central Park and had some delicious hotdogs. We left from there towards Battery Park to get a look at the Statue of Liberty. This was one of those things that the kids had seen on TV and they noticed immediately. It was more special to them because of that. After leaving Battery Park, we walked through Chinatown and Little Italy. The fact that these two places existed inside New York blew the kids’ minds. They couldn’t believe that everything was in a different language and all the people were different races. This was one of my favorite parts because we got to spread some culture to them. Even it if was only a tiny bit walking through, it’ll help them understand that people aren’t all the same. They don’t all drink sweet tea all day and ride a bus 45 minutes to school.
We had one big surprise left for the kids. They had been talking about American Girl Dolls for the entire summer and they kept asking for them. We took them to the store and it was just too much for them to handle. They couldn’t believe how big it was! They walked around for a couple of minutes and then we told them we would buy them each a doll. Their screams inside the store weren’t very nice to all the other people, but they were so happy! It took them an hour to pick out the perfect doll.
After we left the American Girl Doll Store, we went back to the car. The girls passed out immediately and we started driving. I guess I should say we started sitting in the road. Traffic was a nightmare! The kids woke up two hours into the “drive” and we had only moved 6 blocks! They were not pleased with this.