Word of warning…there are a lot of pictures in this post.  
But we’re used to lots of pictures here on 71toes, right?
A few years ago I had the opportunity to take my three middle girls to NYC (part 1 HERE, and part 2 HERE). 
When we got back, raving about all we had seen and done, Lucy decided right then and there she was going to get herself to that grand place one day.
And where there’s a will, there’s a way with that girl, I tell you!
At first she was mostly enamored by the Levain cookies we came home raving about.  But somehow she latched onto the Broadway show Wicked right along with those cookies.  
For the last three years she has listened to that soundtrack countless times.  She got to know the plot line back and forth, inside and out and upside-down.  She has looked up all the lyrics, has asked countless questions as to who does what and when and why, and feels like she’s on a first-name basis with her personal green hero “Elphie.”
Her mother is kind of a sucker…for travel and for together-time…but especially because every time Lucy has mentioned New York it’s been eating away at that said mother’s heart that some day that girl of hers won’t be able to actually see it.  
What if she waited long enough to take her that she couldn’t enjoy it after all that hype?  Or even worse, what if that dwindling vision made her lose her aspirations and give up hope of seeing it at all?
It’s a tricky thing to have a daughter who’s world is going dark.  
So, one night last winter when Lucy had spent the whole evening watching every scene from Wicked she could find googled through the kitchen computer, and had asked approximately 271 new questions about who did what (down to tricky ones about who was Elphaba’s dad for real after all), Dave and I decided the time had come for me to sneak off with that girl of ours and let her soak in that city she was sure she was in love with.  Dave declined to come along, feeling like it would be a good thing for us to have a pretty special mother/daughter date.  
But Lucy had other ideas.  She claimed that we must invite Max along as well since they were the two who didn’t get to come last time.
She was right, and Max and I were both pretty excited to have him join in the party.
So we got to work planning everything out, and walking our “miles to NYC” (we had a walking chart to get in at least ten miles before we left (just like we did before we went to Iceland and Ecuador) in the beginning of July, and the three of us found ourselves right here:
Right smack-dab in the middle of one of my favorite cities ever.

Me with my two “bookend” children.

The only sad thing about this trip was that my brother and his family (who just had their third baby and who live on the Upper West side) were at a family reunion when we went.
This meant we got to stay in their place, which was awesome, but I’m telling you, there’s nothing like NYC with Eli and Julie.  They are the best.  They don’t mind cramming into their tiny apartment with as many people as you care to bring, they know that city like nobody’s business, and their excitement for that place and all that it has to offer catches everyone like wildfire.  I wished so much that the timing could have worked out to be there together, but it didn’t, so we did the best we could without them…
…with a whole itinerary Eli helped me with a fine-tooth comb to get perfect for our little group.  So we limped by without them.
When we arrived the first thing we did was get Thai food from our favorite place there…and visit the newest Levain Bakery location. 

(Pure deliciousness right there I tell you.  Didn’t disappoint any of us one bit.)

Walked the streets near their house:

…and hauled ourselves up all the steps to Eli & Julie’s roof to soak in our first New York City sunset.

 …which was outrageously beautiful.

Lucy went up with us once, but the second time we tried to get her to come up, this was where she ended up.

That’s how she felt about walking up all those flights of stairs. 
Yes, you heard me right, they live on the 4th floor of that building with three babies and no elevator.  
They are nutty and awesome all mixed together.
But that night Lucy, huffing and puffing up those stairs, was sure the nuttiness had won out and that they must be mad to live there.  (Thank heavens for the miles we walked in preparation and that she got used to those stairs pretty speedy after that first day.)
The first morning we rented bikes and biked through CENTRAL PARK, Lu and I on a tandem bike.

 Loved watching a bubble guy at BETHESDA FOUNTAIN.

…and reminiscing that this was one of my favorite spots where we took wedding pictures when my brother got married in NYC (back HERE).

 And making little stops at places like Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn.

Then it was time to take the subway on over to Times Square to see the long-awaited for WICKED.

 We had one pretty over-the-moon excited girl in those seats.

I had worked hard in preparation looking up every review I could to figure out the best seats for vision impaired and worried whether Lucy would really be able to see things ok.

I was so happy that she claimed they were the best seats and she could see everything…

 …although it broke my heart a couple times when she was trying to figure out who was on the stage even when it was quite obvious that there was only one person and often that person had green skin…she whispered lots of questions, and I was so glad to be snuggled in close, her enthusiasm glowing out to me and Max.

It was a GOOD show, and we were all so happy about it.
That night Max and I tucked a tuckered out girl in and headed out to see DEAR EVAN HANSEN, just the two of us.  My parents and Eli and Julie had seen it and strongly recommended it, and we found some pretty great tickets I couldn’t turn down last minute, so we ran like the wind to get there and arrived breathless, finding our seats right as the lights were turned down.

That is a pretty amazing show I tell you.  So different from Wicked with some pretty heavy modern world themes including technology and anxiety and all kinds of issues teenagers face.

Out of all the people in the world to be sitting in that theater with, it just so happened that during intermission I heard my name being called and found that our friends from just down the street here in the desert happened to be sitting a few rows behind us.

Talk about a small-world.

My friend and I were both pretty teary-eyed as we hung out on that street corner and talked about all the things that show made us feel as mothers.  So much to think about.  Loved having Max to talk it through as well.

The next day was Sunday and we got to attend church at my brother’s ward right there in the same building as the New York City LDS Temple:

I loved being in that congregation….there were beautiful messages shared, but the thing I loved the most was the music.  There was the most incredible organist who just pretty much jammed out the most gorgeous music that you couldn’t help but feel your heart swell up for.  The congregation sang SO LOUD!  Not sure if that’s just a New York thing or if when you hear organ music that beautiful you can’t help but just belt it out, but I’m telling you, every single song had me in tears it was so breathtakingly exquisitely beautiful.

That sounded dramatic, right?  But honestly, it was something I hope I’ll always remember.

Love that the chapel in that building is just on a different floor from the temple.  Of course, we had to “touch the temple” as per tradition:

Lucy was NOT in the mood for pictures so to bad she missed out πŸ™‚

Loved that our friends we had seen at Dear Evan Hansen the night before were there in the congregation with us.

 (We forgot to get a picture the night before, so there we go:)

 Then it was off to the BROOKLYN BRIDGE.

Man I love that place, and I met it with a new appreciation this time around since I had read The Great Bridge this year for book club (HERE) and learned so much about it’s history and construction.

We walked from the Brooklyn side over to the city…

 …and each step was just so gorgeous.

Lucy, by this time, was not in accord with it’s gorgeous-ness or it’s history or it’s cool-ness, she was just done walking and done being hot.  
Luckily she got distracted by having the opportunity to put her camera skills to work which made her pretty happy.

 Here’s some of her work:

Good stuff, right?  (Max was trying to help her find the shutter button in that last one…she couldn’t see all that well through the view finder.)

We have some friends who live in London: the great family who took Elle in as one of their own in London when she went to do her internship there right after her junior year of high school (back HERE).  They didn’t even know her and were just moving to London, new to it themselves, but they took that girl of ours under their wings and nurtured her like nobody’s business in that new city.

They have since moved to New York City, and invited us over for dinner.  We offered to bring desert, because, you know, we needed to eat as many of these as possible while we were there πŸ™‚

We talk, talk, talked about everything we could until we had to go.  I just love them so much.

Fun to have Max get to know them too…

…and to have Lucy decide (again) that she is a photographer and she wanted to be behind the camera rather than in front of it.

It was at the end of that great dinner gathering as we were getting ready to head out to the TOP OF THE ROCK that Lucy had decided she had enough walking.  She pretty much decided she’d rather become part of that great family we had dinner with (don’t blame her because they’re awesome), than come with us (don’t blame her on that either, she had walked a lot already).  But we did finally make it just in time to see the sunset….

 …along with thousands of other tourists who had the same idea.

We sure had to cram in to get a picture like this:
Because it was daunting to get in between all these people to get a spot where you could see anything!

At first I was pretty annoyed about the whole crowd thing, being crammed in there hardly able to move an inch edgewise, but gradually as I took in all that beauty, I got overwhelmed with gratitude for Max and his calmness and Lucy transforming…really able to catch and love that view even with her diminished vision.  And as that happened all my frustration melted into just so much appreciation for that beautiful spot and that we got to be there with all those other people in fascination of what we beheld from those observation decks.

 En route back to the subway we say ROCKEFELLER PLAZA.

 …which was so beautiful all lit up at night.

Ok, I cannot fit this all in one post!  Too much more to say!


…to be continued…

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  1. Thank you so much for letting me experience all the beautiful places you go from my home in Utah! My husband and 2 of my kids went to NYC in April and I loved seeing again what they saw and some new sites. So glad Lucy got to visit and see her show! Sherri

  2. I love your description of the music at Church! It's so perfect. We lived in the Manhattan 1st ward 15 years ago and that was my favorite thing about church there. That amazing organ + the talents of members of the congregation who sang for a living (we had at least 2 opera singers in our ward at that time) made it for an unmatched musical experience.

  3. Great trip so far! I love love Levain cookies and can never decide between the choc chip walnut and the choc pb chip :). Wicked is also amazing and DEH is on my list to see. Can you tell me the name of your favorite Thai place? I'm always on the lookout for new places to eat in NYC since my sister and both my girls live on the Upper West Side and I can visit often.

  4. I love the way you make the most of everywhere you go. You manage to squeeze in all the sights and sounds of each destination – and that is not easy to do – especially with children in tow!

    On a random note – will you please do a post on how you manage all of the pictures you take? Do you store them on a computer, the cloud or some other online source? Do you make photo albums/books? I have no idea how to organize/manage my pictures without it seeming like a huge undertaking. I'm looking to find a simple process that will be easy to follow through with. I'm hoping you will share yours πŸ™‚

    1. Yes I'll do a post about that some day, because I know photo storage is tricky. I'm lucky to have my brother help me with that. I organize in Lightroom and have a NAS storage device, but I have some work to do on back-ups. Fall goals πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post! I was baptized in the YSA ward there and loved all the Type A's and Julliard kids all outdoing one another every hymn. πŸ™‚ I really enjoy your blog now as a 6'2" mom of (almost) 5. Your perspective and insight are always a refreshing break when I'm able to hop on! Thanks for all that you share and please let me know if you ever want some insider tips on a visit to Philadelphia!

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