On the 18th day of Christmas we went to FAO Swartchz for toy shopping. This iconic New York City toy shop is one of a kind in the world. From their real life toy soldiers dressed up like soldiers from the old Royal guards to varieties of kids toys and activities, this place is every child’s dream land. You can tell it is special with the amount of people that troops in from all over the world. The long line is almost worth it, or if you are local you could just come back another day. The line was over a block on this particular day. But on getting inside, you would forget all about it.
The giant build a bear rocket makes true sounds and lightning like it is about to take off.
Friendly guards who are always happy to make kids wishes come true by taking photos with them.
On the 11th day of Christmas we went to Macy’s Santaland in Manhattan.
You have to book it and you could get a spot as early as 15mins. But we booked a week ahead. Seeing that it is a very popular experience during the holiday season for tourists and locals, we chose a Tuesday after school slot thinking that the queue (line) won’t be too long.
It was long. The total experience despite being on a Tuesday was about 2.5 hours.
There is a restaurant just in front of Santaland to sit down, get a coffee or snack and wait for your time slot.
The food was very tasty and good value for money considering how everything else is expensive in New York City. After grabbing something to eat we proceeded to the Santa express. It was very long and tiring for the parents but the kids didn’t really complain so they must have loved it more.
The elves were cheeky, funny and brilliant!
There were lots of fun things to see and do along the way. So waiting wasn’t so boring.
Finally it was time to meet the big man himself.
You can request to see a brown Santa from the gate but I don’t really mind. We told the kids the original Santa was brown but we just love whoever puts on the suit.
The elf taking photos was very kind and if you ask him to take your pictures he will. Despite capturing this on my phone I still got the professional prints. It was our first time and I wanted it done properly. Maybe next year, something like these would be enough. Can I also point out that the final prints were very lovely. Even for rich ebony skin, it was beautiful. I never used to order prints from non brown photographers because of how they capture our skin tones especially those done on the spot but this one was perfect. So don’t worry, you can try one and I’m pretty sure you would love it. The whole photo package was very affordable.
Overall it was a very busy, tiring but extremely exciting day and we got to create some new memories.
**I wanted to take a quick nap before writing up the days experience after the baby slept, knowing she usually wakes up every few hours at night for feed and comfort. But tonight was different. She slept for 6 hours straight and I slept off too. Just woke up to feed her and maybe for the next blogmas I would share what I noticed made the difference tonight. It wasn’t because we were all tired, I always try to wear her out but it never worked. But this trick which was totally unplanned, did it. So come back for the 12th day of Christmas and hope you are getting into the Christmas feeling!
Me and my daughters all ready to go see and smell some fresh Christmas trees while my son takes the photo
On the 10th day of Christmas we went shopping for Christmas tree. If you follow us on social media and watch our stories you would know that we already have a tree and seeing that we live in a small New York City apartment, we don’t have the luxury of having several Christmas trees.
Our Christmas tree
So why go shopping for trees when you don’t need one you may wonder. It is simple really. It is all for the experience. Although I love the idea of taking the kids to the farm to cut a tree (sorry my eco warriors) but I don’t like the actual real trees. It’s weird and confusing I know. I like the idea but not the reality of actually owning one. For one I don’t like the short lifespan. They are high maintenance. I can only grow and nurture children right now and that’s about it. We really want a puppy but I can’t handle extra responsibilities right now and watering a tree every morning in addition to solo parenting isn’t really appealing to me right now.
Also, they shed on the floor and attract bugs. You get this beautiful tree, decorate it. Hang your baby’s first Christmas ornaments. Take baby’s first picture with a tree. That tree has now become part of your family. It is part of your stories and memories. I don’t want to chuck it away after we are done. I want to keep it. I know I may or may not have attachment issues but I love sentimental things especially when it comes to the family. I got our last tree in London when I was single living in Manchester. It followed me all over the UK. I had my first Christmas as a married woman with my husband with the tree. My first born saw it and so was the second child. I know I don’t have a psychological attachment with the tree because when we had to relocate, I left it behind and moved on. Now we got another artificial one and we are creating new memories with it. Come to think of it, I think we should give her a name. Anyway moving on, so I wanted to give the kids the experience of a real tree. Just to see it and smell it. Feel it and we can go back to enjoy our faux tree.
Being that we live in the city with no farm and I don’t like to cause myself undue stress by traveling out of the city just to cut a tree, we made do of the ones that are sold on the curbside street markets. They promise to be freshly cut and I take their words for it. In fact we should thank them for doing all the hard work for us already.
After the experience we went for a walk saw and waved to a police officer riding on a horse. My kids love horses and police officers so it really made their day.
We then came back home to continue our tradition of watching a Christmas movie after homework and dinner. To add to that tradition, I have set up the google home mini to wake us up to Christmas songs every morning. And this morning was the first time and I must say it was beautiful. If you haven’t done this, try it. It sets the tone for the day and you find yourself walking around humming to jolly songs, smiling and looking happy. I particularly love the Beyoncé Christmas songs it played today. I’d forgotten that she did one. Was always used to the Mariah Carey’s one. I can’t wait for the 11th day of Christmas. I already know what this one will bring because it was a pre booked one but I’m hoping it brings many more adventure with it.
Are you visiting New York City this summer? if so you are in for a good time – you just have to learn to cope with the hot weather first especially if you are coming from a much more cooler region. Temperatures can go as far as 83 F and even more. Having originally come from a warm climate but later acclimatised to colder weather when we moved to Europe, I find the New York weather very hot, too hot in fact. perspiration is high and I am constantly looking for shades or indoors with cooling system. Hear are few tips on how we have being coping with the heat.
Keep your cool. Quite literally you should try and stay cool. Fan, air condition, cold shower, pool. Open windows for fresh air to come in, go to public places with cooling systems. The shopping mall, go see a movie in the cinema (theatre) or read a book at the library. Drink lots of water. In extreme case put wet flannel/towels on forehead to cool temperature down.
playing in water fountains and sprinkles to stay cool
Wear lighter clothing. This may look like a no brainer but some of us who love to stay modest and cover up (even in summer) may find it hard to wear lighter clothes. Bear in mind that there is difference between wearing lighter clothes and wearing revealing outfits. Sometimes the heat will supersede modesty! Linen material tends to be summer friendly. even if you want to cover up, try using net like material of soft silk like kimonos for example. For work suits, try blazers with little or no under lining.
Use sun protections, including suncream – when you are going out. Top it up after few hours, sunglasses to protect your eyes and an umbrella for shade. Finally add a little style with a sun hat!