I've made salsa from scratch before, chopping onions and peppers, then cooking them with tomatoes. But this year, I decided to try a mix. Our generous neighbor had given us two 3-gallon buckets of tomatoes from her garden. The packet made the process easy peasy (as my four-year old nephew would say) and the salsa was delicious! The packet contained dried jalapeno peppers. Medium was just the right amount of heat for me. Here are photos of the process.
“It only takes five adults to care for two babies,” my mother said of her one-year-old twin great-grandsons, Tobiah and Jacob. Steve and I were visiting New York City with our daughter, Emily, and son-in-law, Nick. It was their idea. We never would have suggested a trip to NYC with babies. Nick is a big Chicago Cubs fan, so for his birthday, they wanted to attend a Cubs/New York Mets baseball game at Citi Field in Queens. They asked Steve and me (Grandma and Grandpa) to babysit while they attended the game.
But we had so many questions. How would we get around with babies? And where should we take them? I knew we wouldn’t be attending Broadway plays or the ballet or concerts as we had previously. What would we do? How would we feed them? We asked friends, did research, talked and planned, and as a result, had a wonderful experience. Here’s how.
ON THE AIRPLANE
We flew from the Des Moines airport on a nonstop 7:00 AM flight to La Guardia airport in Queens. Extra time was required for security to check and scan the babies’ bottles of milk. Toby and Jake would drink their bottles during takeoff and landing to help prevent discomfort from the cabin pressure, but they finished too early because the plane was still taxiing. We were able to board early and gate check the umbrella strollers and our carryon bags. The plane was designed with two seats on each side of the aisle. Steve and I sat one row ahead of Emily and Nick in rows 15 and 16. Something we didn’t know—there were only three oxygen masks for two seats, so although we were planning to take care of one of the twins throughout the flight, now there was no question. We would have to take one of the twins for the whole two-and-a-half hour flight.
Steve and I passed Jake back and forth, depending on his preference, but didn’t allow him to stand in the aisle. He enjoyed being able to touch the ceiling, feel the air from the vent blow on his face, and pull down the window shade. (Steve had to pull it up.) I tried turning the light on, but it shined in his eyes, so I turned it off. When the flight attendant offered us a drink and snack, she gave Jake two plastic cups and showed him how to tap them together, bottom to bottom. For breakfast, we placed Puffs ™ cereal in a cup, one by one, for Jake to pick up and eat. He also ate an organic food pouch with a built-in straw, which was easy to consume. See an example here.
We looked at an Indestructible, ™ wordless book called “Mama and Baby!” one that Jake could not tear or destroy. He teethed on Sophie the Giraffe ™ but wasn’t interested in the clip-together teethers I had brought. For a short time, Jake was enchanted by the fact that Sophie “disappeared” when I placed her inside a cloth bag. We held and cajoled and entertained Jake for two hours—and then he went to sleep. Actually, the plane trip went better than we had imagined.
Nick and Emily were in the row behind us with Toby, so we kept peeking back at them to see how Toby was doing. They did many of the same things we did: fed him, pointed at things out the window, let him look around (but he wasn’t as interested in the ceiling as Jake was). Nick changed Toby’s diaper using the fold-down changing table in the airplane bathroom, which I didn’t know they had. Toby fell asleep for a good amount of time. There were no tears on this flight.
TRAVELING IN THE CITY
Emily and Nick had reserved a Kid Car, to get from the airport to the hotel because they provided car seats, something taxis don’t. After helping them, Steve and I took a 30-minute taxi drive from the airport to my mother’s Manhattan apartment where we would stay. Nick had booked a suite in the Holiday Inn Express on West 45th Street. Having a separate living room/bedroom was important so the boys could take naps and go to bed early while the adults had a separate room to stay up later. Although two cribs were reserved over a month before the trip, the hotel made a mistake on the reservation so they only provided one crib. They didn’t get the second crib until the third day, so the boys slept together in the same crib. This went surprisingly well considering Toby wears a brace on his feet at night and the crib was not a standard size, but a mini-crib.
The umbrella strollers used for Toby and Jake folded up for easy storage on the bus, in a restaurant, and the hotel. Emily and Nick had considered buying a double umbrella stroller, but decided two separate strollers would be easier to maneuver and store. We all took turns pushing. We either walked or took buses. Thankfully, we only got caught in the rain once early in our trip. The weather was comfortable, around 80 degrees, and sunny the rest of the week.
For lunch the first day, we ate at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop where we fed the boys in their strollers because they didn’t have any highchairs. So before we went to dinner, we telephoned several of the restaurants. Some had only one highchair or none at all. So we Googled “Kid-Friendly NYC Restaurants in Midtown,” and found an Italian restaurant with good reviews. After arriving, we found out that every table was filled (on a Tuesday night) and we would have to wait for over an hour. So we left. Next time we would make a reservation. Fortunately, we had passed HB Burger on our way to the Italian restaurant. They were able to seat us and had the required number of highchairs (plus the food was good). Although the boys had mostly grown out of baby food and bottles, Emily and Nick brought both along to make meals simple and help ensure the boys had nutritious food to eat. They also ate from our plates. We ordered delivery and takeout either near the hotel or my mom’s apartment. We met our cousins at Marche Du Sud for an extra special lunch. Here’s a list of the restaurants we enjoyed.
Anywhere you can push a stroller, even if it’s perceived as being quiet (like a museum) is a good place to take a baby. Toby and Jake loved the Metropolitan Museum. So many things to see! We pushed them in their strollers. We walked through Central Park near the zoo, but felt the cost to visit the zoo was prohibitive ($18 for adults and $13 for children) when the boys were this young. We’ll reserve that for a future trip. Something unusual I had never done even though I lived in New York and visited many times was riding the Aerial Tramway to Roosevelt Island. On the way there, it wasn’t crowded so we could stand near the window for spectacular views of the city. Emily shot several photos on her phone. Due to the number of bags needed for the boys, she didn’t pack her Nikon camera. Once there, we took a walk on a tree-lined pathway along the water and then rode the bus (for free) around the island. The boys enjoyed the ride, and on the island they were allowed to stay in their strollers while riding the bus. Back in Manhattan, we took the boys out of the strollers and folded them up as soon as we saw our bus arrive at the bus stop. Having extra people to hold babies and strollers helped.
Here’s a list of place we went:
Traveling home didn’t go quite as smoothly. We were all tired. Arriving for our evening flight (which left La Guardia at 7 pm) 3 hours early allowed time for the busy NY airport and to eat supper. Jake cried just a little before drifting off to sleep in Grandpa’s arms about an hour after boarding the plane. Toby wasn’t very fussy but fought sleep until the last half hour of the flight. We all had wonderful memories to carry us back to the Midwest.