Concrete Jungle 2016
Our annual Family Holiday Trip to NYC has been checked off the list for 2016. What a trip! The Madu Crew took over the city for 8 days, and man was it CRAZY!!!! I needed a vacation after my vacation because 2 babies in NYC is no joke! I will say, NYC is not a place to rest, period. If you want to relax, and find stillness, don’t go to NYC. Go to Cali or Colorado, take a beach or mountain trip. If you want excitement, living on the edge, with a const ant rush, go to NYC. Then on top of all that, add babies in the mix, sweet Jesus. In a nutshell, I like to call it my “sweet chaos”. All about perspective.
We played chase, and we laughed as joy overfilled our hearts, and we yelled due to patience growing slim… we shopped, we cozied up in the warm restaurants, and watched as the windows fogged up due to the chill outside. There were a few snow flurries here and there. I took many walks to the Ralph Lauren store off 5th Avenue, to grab a coffee from Ralph’s Coffee Shop.
There is something about the busyness of the city that awakens dreams hidden down inside, creating a deeper and bigger drive like never before… yet on the other hand, it somehow brings me back to an appreciation for the simple things in life, as I pass the homeless that await at every block, watching as they hide their faces in shame, and hold out their cups and their cardboard signs, in hopes that within the thousands that shuffle by, maybe, just possibly a few, would notice them,sharing a dollar or two. Each individual was born unto a mother… into a family… each person has a name… has feelings…has dreams. I can’t help but think why them, and not me?
Therefore, that sense of gratitude that I mentioned earlier, tends to overtake me… and I am simply humbled, that God has allowed me to experience the life that I live.
NYC remains the greatest city on earth. There is truly no place like it, and I say this with confidence.
Would I want to live there, no. If I was single, and searching for direction, and career, I could totally live in the city.
However, visiting, is my expertise.
I love this city, simply because it is magical. Practically every movie you watch is filmed there. The opportunity is limitless. Every thing you want to experience is at your fingertips, you just have to reach for it and watch it unfold. The drive that comes to life as soon as you hit the street, the seasons and their beauty in each stage, the quaintness and the uniqueness… the diversity, the memories I have made, the list goes on. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
I opened up my social networks to allow you all to ask questions.
I have taken time to read through them all. Below you will hopefully find what you are looking for!
Understand that my “go-to” places, restaurants, things I do for fun are all very touristy spots. When I visit, I am 100% a tourist. I have been 10 + times, however, the city is so massive, I will never see the end of it no matter how many times I go. I find myself doing the same things, going to the same places… I am a creature of habit. Creating memories is everything to me. With that being said, a person from NYC will most likely laugh at the places I tell you I enjoy going, but if you’ve never been, there are just things to do and places to go, that make the NYC experience, a TRUE NYC experience.
MUST SEE PLACES| THINGS TO DO
Central Park Ice Skating Rink
Rockefeller Center |Ice skating Rink | The famous Tree
5th Avenue | Shopping, great area, close to central park
Madison Avenue | Shopping, great area, more pricey depending on where you are
Ralph Lauren off 5th Avenue | Visit the coffee shop on 2nd floor– it has my heart! (This is where we take our Family photo)
SOHO | This area is young and very hipster.. the shopping is incredible and diverse… from cheap to pricey– you just pick and choose what works best for your budget | Great random food spots as well
Empire State Building “Top of the Rock” | Great view of the whole city
Ground Zero Memorial | Very sentimental and surreal– everyone should visit
Timesquare | a land of its own– extremely busy, full of people, definitely a place you need to see
Broadway Show | I love broadway shows– here are a few Ive seen several times I highly recommend– Mary Poppins, Wicked, The Lion King
Brooklyn Bridge | a cool area, and beautiful view to walk and see the city
China Town | So fun and funny going here to shop– get your UCCI, and SHANEL (insert crying laughing emoticon here) Funny story, every bag I have ever gotten from there, the handles eventually broke (cough** embarrassing) and one time I got the cutest, timeless Burberry handbag, I later got home and noticed on the front it said “stablished” without the “e”… should’ve been “established”… lololol! Also, one day I thought I was hustlin them china town boys.. I loaded up on 5 perfumes for $25 each– I had talked them down from $50. I got home, they were all water (Insert another crying laughing emoticon here) When I tell you, YOU HAVE to go here– you have to! Its too funny!
Little Italy | great little food spots and fun to experience at least once.. similar to China town
Bubby’s (Breakfast, lunch dinner)
Jacobs Pickles (my Gawddd its good breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Boathouse (Beautiful ambiance in Central Park)
Levain Bakery (Amazing hot yummy cookies)
Magnolia Bakery (banana pudding is to die for)
Pazza Notte (Absolutely amazing italian and pizza– my kind of food and the ambiance is cozy and quaint) (We actually ate here on Thanksgiving Day- they have a special turkey and dressing menu thats amazing!)
Beauty and Essex (Great for date night and dress up, great ambiance)
Fred’s Barneys NY (a good variety)
Juniors (Great burgers and breakfast, and food all around! NYC classic)
Carmines (Great Italian food-family style)
Serendipity (I love this place because of the ambiance. The food is good, famous for dessert. But a must see because of the movie “Serendipity”)
Rue57 (Great food all around- Breakfast lunch and dinner, and such a cozy ambiance)
ABC Kitchen (So yummy, a little pricey but worth it, and beautiful ambiance)
How to handle a city like NYC with kids?
To keep it real as possible, NYC with kids is CRAZY, unless you have help. Robert and I flew in with the babies, and were there the first day by ourselves with them before family arrived, and all I can say is WOW. It is doable, but makes everything extremely challenging. However, I will say, I cant imagine taking this trip without them, and I would NOT take this family trip without them. My best advice is to bring help. Someone that you trust, to go back to the hotel while the babies napped… or someone who can watch them in the evenings, when you and hubby want to have a date night. This little breaks help! Also, finding things to do that are also enjoyable for the babies. My in-loves helped a ton! Having those extra hands does wonders! Bubba’s age is easy breezy. It is Evie girl, being 2, that kicked us in the butt! She turned up every opportunity she could get.
My best advice is if you’ve never been to NYC, the first time, you need to go without children.
If you end up going more, and want to bring your babies, do everything you can to hire help, because it is a make or break!
As far as transportation with children, we usually take uber with the family. When its just us, no babies, we will cab it also.
The cheapest way to travel is most definitely the subway or train! You can purchase a 7 day pass for $25 and the subways take you anywhere and everywhere you need to go throughout the city. I still get confused, but Ive heard once you get the hang of it, its the best way to travel!
My best advice is to find a hotel that has a lot going on around it, such as restaurants, shopping, grocery stores, that way you can just take a simple stroll to where you need to go, without the chaos of loading and unloading babies a million times.
(Be aware that majority of hotel rooms in NYC are small)
Hilton Midtown Avenue of the Americas (Great pricing, clean, phenomenal location, surrounded by everything you need, kid friendly, highly recommend)
Park Lane Hotel (Not necessarily my fav, but a good option if you’re looking for great location, reasonably priced, and kid friendly)
NOMO Soho (Amazing hotel, incredible ambiance, perfect for singles, or couples, romantic– not kid friendly, more pricey)
Gansevoort (A great hotel, clean, good ambiance, good location, romantic, more pricey)
Trump Soho (Great hotel, clean, good ambiance, romantic and kid friendly, more pricey)
Marriott Marquis Timesquare (Amazing, clean, kid friendly, great location, good pricing)
What are the best shoes to wear in the city?
My favorite shoes to wear are either booties with a thick heel, or a sneaker of some sort, preferable nike or new balance.
If you have on a cute outfit that needs a heel, throw on a bootie that gives you height but also gives you support, and doesn’t KILL you while traveling around the city. I never do a pointy toe, peep toe heel,or any heel that is thinner, unless its date night and we are grabbing an uber.
Here are a few cute booties in different styles with a thick supportive heel. I also found sneakers that would be cute to dress up or down!
What to pack?
I always try to pack the basics. Of course, every season differs, but I think if you pack the basics, then you can purchase any other item you may need while you’re there.
For Winter, comfy shoes, a few staple jackets, a few pairs of pants that will go with everything, and tops that will last you for your stay.
Same goes for every season.
Here is a cute outfit idea for you… Remember if you want to pack light, the key is bringing staple pieces such as :
One neutral jacket that can be styled with anything
One pair of pants that go with everything
A few oversized sweaters or shirts
A beanie or hat for a rainy day
And a pair of booties and sneakers
| The camera I use for photos is the Sony Alpha7 with the fe 24-70mm lens |
I edit all photos with vsco using the filter A6 | I also edit with snapseed
Are you kidding me Central Park? Its truly breathtaking.
Loving life together
His Velvet Bomber | Scotch&Soda
Evies Dress | Ralph Lauren (unavailable)
Shoes | Minnetonka
Bubbas Shirt : Ralph Lauren Baby
I am forever grateful for Honey Gram and Poppa! They are true gifts to me and my babies!
These STROLLERS are perfect for travel and every day. I have had the fancy, and Ive had the simple ones. These are great!!!
Bubba’s denim | I distressed myself | I have these in all denim washes! Cheap and great fit!
Cat&Jack | Target
We played chase as if we ran this city!
Evies Star Sweater Dress | Gap Kids
My Coat (One of my all time favorites) | Club Monaco
We are best buddies. My little baby girl has stolen my heart from Day 1. Her and Bubba have simply changed my life forever!
Evies Jacket was purchased last year and is no longer available!
Baha! She is such a mini me! Look at her smile!!! Oh my little crazy girl!
Love my sisters, and Evie loves her aunties “ashy-manda”… she puts their names together… lol! She already understands, that where one is, the other follows. They’re inseparable!
Here are a few Winter accessories I have for Evie and Nnaj | They keep them warm and are absolutely adorable!!
We love our new friend Jess. We met years ago through social media!
This face… I mean…
Allow me to preface these next photos with “OMG, I’m shocked we even captured this good of pictures!” LOL!
Its like Evie knew we wanted perfect pictures so badly, so she thought to herself, how can I make this as much of a disaster as possible and give Mommy and Daddy what they don’t want? LOL!
In a nutshell, she never once cooperated, and bribing didn’t even work this time.
The whole shoot consisted of, “Evie if you come sit down Ill give you gum! Do you want some m&m’s?! Okay if you come sit with Mommy and Daddy we will give you some coffee!! Oh theres a bug over there (She’s scared of bugs already, we would say that in hopes that she would run to us..) lol! ”
Coffee was spilt on me… My camera messed up, and would adjust to the lighting… I could go on and on.. but in the midst of it all… I thought– well, this is real life. So we most definitely captured the moment… the blur, the chaos, everything!
We love Aunt Shay Shay!!!
These 2 cant get enough of each other!
Can’t get over how magical it was to actually see the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person.
Every one needs to experience it at least once!
This is my Dutch family right here. They have been close friends of mine going on 10 years now. This group helped walk me through some of the darkest times in my life and they will always be so close to my heart!
We love each other so much! 10 years of friendship, forever a sister! Love you Jess!
Meet John Henry– he is Jess’ little brother, which makes him my little brother, but he’s not so little any more. lol! Cant believe he’s actually so grown up! He is a great fashion blogger out of Holland! Check out his IG handle @johnhnry
I love you NYC! I am already missing you and cant wait for next years trip!!
Until then, see you in 2017!