Saturday, November 21, 2009

Clementine in the Big Apple

Clementine was an amazing little trooper in New York. When we first found out about the award and knew we'd be traveling, I was anxious, because going to New York with a three-month-old is a bit different than going to New York without one. Especially when there are bookstore and library readings and ceremonies and a black tie dinner involved! Luckily, my mom was game to come with us and help out. Whew! Thank you, mom!
We went several days ahead to be tourists and give the little one some time to settle into a routine, and it's a good thing we did. The first two nights she was on West Coast time, which did not bode well for mama and papa sleep time. Oy. Once she got adjusted, though, I think she liked coming straight to bed with us, with no bassinet interlude, and she slept just fine. Here she is, quite the little queen in the hotel bed:
(Speaking of hotels, we stayed at the Thirty Thirty, which is a few blocks from the Empire State Building and is a great value for New York, if you're going and are looking for an affordable place to stay.)

Among the touristy things we did: the City Sights double-decker bus tour!
Each time Jim and I have been to NY we've been on very limited time, but the buses always look fun, and now we know they are. Great way to get an overview of the city, and we had unseasonably warm weather and very little rain. We got off to traipse around Greenwich Village and Soho and do some shopping. Because I'd been madly finishing Laini's Ladies before leaving, I didn't have the time to research stuff to do, so we mostly just winged it. What would you say are the best shopping streets in New York for fun, unusual shops -- not chain stores and not super-expensive clothing boutiques, that is. Soho has some good stores and street vendors, but mostly seems to be really pricey designer boutiques for $1000 jackets, etc, and that's not my thing. Bleeker St. in Greenwich Village was probably the best shopping we came across.

An apothecary's cat:
And an apothecary's doll (I'd have liked to buy her):
This was a great vintage toy store where we got rocket ship pajamas from the 1950s that will fit Clementine in, like, 4 years (we couldn't resist them!), and also some great nursery wall art cut-outs of a choo-choo train that I can't show you until the box arrives (we had to mail ourselves all our shopping, being already way over the limit with packing). That's just an assortment of Village shopping. We also got some great stuff from sidewalk jewelry vendors in Soho. Oh, and the holiday vendors in Bryant Park were fun too. Suggestions for next time?

Check out 30 Rock, lost in the fog:

We had dim sum in Chinatown with my best friend from when I was five years old and her beautiful family . . .

(See how the kids are eating hot dogs? That's a testament to how much they loved the dim sum :-)

We walked partway across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Jim saw an old friend too, and here he is, signing his book on the bridge!
The beautiful Woolworth Building, downtown:

We meant to go up the Empire State Building at some point, but didn't find the time, but we did jump off the City Sights bus in the East Village for some Indian food in the weirdly lit and tiny Panna II, with the Bollywood music a'blaring.

Clementine helped us sign at the amazing Books of Wonder . . .
and she crashed a sales meeting at Scholastic . . .
There she is with Sheila Marie, publicist extraordinaire.

Overall, it was easy seeing the city with a baby. We had to take the subway (though it's legal to take young children in cabs without a car seat, we of course didn't feel safe doing so), but the subway is super, if loud.
We just popped her in the bjorn and carried a minimum of gear: a pared down diaper-changing kit that consisted only of a few extra diapers and a travel-size pack of wipes slipped into Jim's [manly] shoulder bag, plus an extra outfit just in case. In case of what, you ask? Well.

Changing tables being few and far between, we perfected the art of the "lap diaper change," which is fine except that it is really a two-parent operation, especially when, um, there is poop involved. And you are in a tiny bathroom in a nice restaurant. And the poop has, um, traveled . . . far from its place of origin . . . all the way up to the shoulder blades . . . and you run out of wipes . . . and discover you forgot the extra outfit . . . ha ha ha ha ha! Yes indeed, if that had been a solo diaper change, it would have been tragic, but with both of us maneuvering, it was just funny, like we kind of wish we had it on video :-) Lap diaper changes were also effected in the ice skate rental shop at Rockefeller Center and in the dingy Times Square dining room of a KFC (no, we didn't eat there!), among other spots. When I did actually come across a changing table, at the New York City Public Library, I was so shocked I left my purse behind, complete with wallet, new iphone, and even a touristy envelope o'cash. It made it to the lost 'n' found just how I left, thank you New York.

At the library, Clementine got to be a wild thing.
Which was perfect, considering the feral sounds she's taken to making lately.

We met the famous lions . . .
Not to mention the famous bear . . .
Yes, the original Winnie the Pooh animals reside at the library, along with the original Betsy Bird, librarian, blogger, writer, goddess o' books:
And there are awesome murals in the children's room. Obzoive:

I think it would be wonderful to have an annual tradition of going to New York in early December for the lights and window displays and holiday shopping. Maybe this will be a first annual trip, who knows? Only next year will tell. Of course, I don't expect to have quite such a reason for going to New York again in late November as I had this time. No, I have not forgotten about the National Book Awards! All those events will be in the next post. This one is long enough as it is. Whew!

Oh wait, one last thing. We revisited the Mark Teague dinosaur at the wonderful Scholastic store in Soho, with Clementine on the outside this time! Now:
Six months ago:


Lexi said...

Ahhh looks like so much fun! Clementine is honestly the cutest thing I have EVER SEEN! So smiley!

She is getting to be very well traveled, isn't she? :D

Valerie Geary said...

Beautiful family! Looks like you had so much fun! Thank you for sharing with us. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I feel like I just had the best trip ever to NY. Thanks for the colorful, fun ride (a lot like your books)!

Q said...

I am in love with your pink hat in the fifth picture.

Katie said...

So so fun! I feel like I was there :-) I'm heading that way in January, so I'm gonna definitely check out Bleeker Street now!

Shelf Elf said...

So much fun!

I love NYC - Clementine is one lucky little pixie to have her first trip there before she's even 6 months old!

Thanks for sharing your trip with us Laini!

lkmadigan said...


Awesome post.

Looks like Clementine is a natural traveler, just like her parents. :-)


Catherine Denton said...

Clementine is scrumptious! The photo of her in the middle of the bed is too precious. She reminds me of my second-born daughter who had an auburn curl on the top of her head just like that. So sweet.

Cuppa Jolie said...

So fun, you three (or four...thank goodness for grandmas!). Thanks for sharing with all of us.

Myrna Foster said...

I love her expression in the wild thing picture.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Looks like you had a blast! At this age, babies are so portable. I wish I had gone sooner; I've got family in NY and we still haven't taken our little spawn, who is nearly 18 mos.

I do hope, however, that the NBA photos include you and Jim (and Arthur) in full regalia.

Heather said...

Aw, Memaw came along, that's so awesome! Sounds like you had a fantastic time. When I Googled the Thirty Thirty, I noticed that it is also located near the Museum of Sex, LOL! What a thing to put on the map, ha haa!

Another great place to travel with babies: EUROPE, especially FRANCE. Just sayin'.

They'll let you ride without a car seat in cabs?!? WHOA!

Thanks for the update and photos - MAHVELOUS!

eda said...





persnickety_jen said...

I don't normally plan much in advance when I go on vacation somewhere, because it's so much more fun to stumble upon a great store or a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Looks like you guys went to some great places!

My only recommendations for next time you're in NYC are two restaurants: City Bakery, which has the best hot chocolate EVER, and Alice's Tea Cup, which is great for breakfast or brunch or any old time! I always make sure to stop at both places when I visit NY.

Diane said...

What a lovely trip!!! Traveling with babies isn't too bad, is it? It's a bit like juggling while on a unicycle at times, but it's fun. Right? ;-) Glad you got to be tourists this time. I hope to go to NYC soon!

Amber said...

Thanks Laini. This really made me smile this morning. :)

ox :)

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

I love the picture of Clemetine as a Wild Thing-too cute! I'm glad your trip was fun and it seems like you had a blast. Whenever I hear from parents who talk about how doing things with the baby aren't as terrible as they thought (like travel to NYC!) it makes me freak out a little less about having kids of my own :)

Heather Zundel said...

Such a sweet thing! And you have some seriously awesome pictures on your hands.

Suzanne Young said...

You just made me so excited to go to NYC in Feb!!! Hey, can I borrow Clementine?? :-)

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

What a little cutie you have there, treasure it, they grow up too fast!

Read The O article about you and your're both so talented. A friend gave me a Lani Lady years ago as a present, great to meet the artist!

I'm an artist/writer, too...and really love to see your success...congrats on the nomination and the trip to NYC! Too bad you couldn't stay for the Macy's T-Day parade!

Maybe next year, right?

Moonsanity said...

Wow, this is so awesome! Thank you for showing us where you went and what you did. I have never been to New York, but after learning about your trip I'd love for us to go. My daughter is 9, and we would both be in heaven at the NY Public Library!!!

Lisa Schroeder said...

Wow, looks like a GREAT trip!! Thank you for the hotel recommendation, I'm going in May for the FIRST TIME and trying to choose a place to stay is so overwhelming. I'll definitely check that one out!

Elena said...

Wow, Laini!!! What a great trip.

Tinker said...

So fun seeing little Clementine in the Big Apple!
Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving -though they usually seem to involve learning something new (a la the 'lap change' - kudos to you guys for keeping your sense of humor) - all those first visits and first holidays are so fun to do.

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