Monday, March 25, 2013

Back Up is on the Way!

The bad news:
It snowed today.  Again.  The first day of Spring Break.  Will it never end?
The kids and I spent the day dodging the snow first in Grand Central Station eating lunch and cupcakes and talking with a nice woman from Atlanta who thought it was strange that I was taking my kids to a train station for their first day of Spring Break.  I don't disagree.

 And then we went down the block to the Main New York Public Library and Ella checked out every Star Wars book they had in the early readers section (eleven in all).

The good news:
My mom is boarding a plane in a couple hours!  We're all super excited to see her and show her our new city.  At least she's used to the snow.  Safe travels, mom.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Weekend in Photos

Our weekend in photos:
Bike ride through Central Park
Stumbled upon a castle in the park

At the top of Belvedere Castle
 Had to stop at the waffle truck for a treat

Waffle with Nutella and bananas...yum!
Sunday morning met up with my friend Andi and her kids at the Children's Museum of Manhattan

Enjoying a shadow puppet play
Popped into a Roman Catholic church so Kevin could explain Palm Sunday (to all three of us)
Walked home along the Hudson River and came upon this Civil War momument - had to take a picture for Ro

Most playgrounds in Manhattan seemed to be themed - this is the Hippo Park
All in all, a great weekend - cold weather and all.

Other highlights that were not photographed: Friday night dinner with Maeve's family - picked up tamales and empanadas from the tamale guy who hangs out in front of the kids' school on Fridays - yum!  Saturday night the kids had a babysitter and Kevin and I went to a fabulous dinner party at our friends Katharine and Paul's house and met some new fun friends, got home at 2am.  And I finished The Secrets of Happy Families and the good news is, we're doing everything right!  What a relief.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Not-So-Spring Top

I started this top about 6 months ago with my friend SungSim.  I was trying to teach her to sew and chose a terrible first project.  It turned out to be not as beginner as I thought and we never finished it together.  I hope she's finished hers by now.  I'm going to ask her today.  Anyway, SungSim if you're reading - I'm sorry I chose a difficult project! 

I know what my mom's going to say - a BLACK spring top??  And I don't disagree, but this is New York.  Also, I chose this tissue paper thin fabric which made the sewing difficult and I'm convinced the first time I try to wash it it will dissolve in the machine.  But it feels good to have finished it.  I hate having half finished projects laying around (and there are still a few left). 
The best part is that in addition to keeping me out of the cold, taking sewing back up has also allowed me to get back into audio books.  I just about finished The Twelve Tribes of Hattie in the last day and a half which is from Oprah's Book Club 2.0 (which I thought was 3.0 because didn't she go through a classics phase?).  Anyway, good read (or listen).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Proof of Life

Lest any of you thought I did something terrible to the little monsters who ruined my weekend, here's proof that they're still breathing.

We just received a nice winter pick-me-up from my sister Laura in Colorado - a new scarf for each of us (handmade by her) and some goodies for the kids.  Thanks Aunt Laura!

Today was Author Celebration Day in Ella's second grade class.  The kids got to show off to the parents a few books they've written in class over the last few weeks...
...and recite some poems...
Holden's class had something similar earlier this week but believe it or not, I didn't take any pictures.  Considering I average about 30 pictures a day, I'm really not sure how that happened - must not have had my coffee.

Today is the first day of spring and you'd never know it.  Yesterday's snow has melted off, so that's something at least.  But the wind is still bitterly cold.  On the bright side, I've spent my time cooped up indoors doing a lot of sewing.  Shhh, don't tell the kids but I made these hungry bunnies for their Easter baskets -
I'm finishing up a spring top I started a few months ago.  I'll post a picture when (if) I finally finish it.
The kids have been crafty, too.  Since we weren't able to bring most of our craft supplies to NY with us, I signed the kids up for this great monthly craft box from Kiwi Crate.  Each month they get a new box with a theme and supplies and instructions to make things.  This month's theme is Secret Agent and the kids got to make disguises and gear for spying.  Here's Secret Agent #1 -
And this is my effort to create some order in this tiny household so that possibly we will have fewer moments where I want to tear my hair out and/or put them out front of the building with a FREE sign on them -
Day two of The List and so far, so good.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Paradise Lost

This is our state senator yelling at me.  That just about sums up my weekend.  It was bound to happen - our family has finally gone stir crazy with the cold weather and spent the entire weekend trying to kill each other. 

It wasn't all bad.  Friday night we went out for pizza with our new (and just about only) friends on the island.  But not before Ella and their daughter Maeve spent two hours arguing and crying.  Maeve's mom and I were pretty close to cancelling dinner but we both knew we needed a big glass of wine so we met the dads at the restaurant and turned over responsibility for the kids.  Once we got to the restaurant the girls made up and we all enjoyed our meal.
Saturday morning was actually really fun (for a couple hours).  Our building has started offering cooking classes and on Saturday morning they offered a mommy (or daddy) and me class where Ella and I made breakfast and brought it back upstairs to Holden and Kevin.

We made pop tarts, muffins and granola - all super delicious.  And it was good for Ella and I to have some one-on-one time.  She's always so much better behaved and more pleasant to be with when Holden's not around and she doesn't have to compete for anyone's attention.
Then, against my better judgement we decided to check out the world's biggest St. Patrick's Day parade...I'm not a fan of parades - lots of standing still, waiting and crowds.
At first it wasn't so bad.  The kids liked seeing the bag pipes and groups marching...

Then it started to snow...hard.  It dumped on us.  So time to go.  Only we were on the other side of the park and the only way to get home was to walk back across Central Park.  No taxis, no subway.  In the wind and cold and snow.  It was the longest hour of my life with both kids crying and whining and complaining.  The rest of the day only got worse.  Meltdowns.  Fights.  We are a family who generally spends most of our weekends outdoors.  This cold and snow is making us spend a lot more time indoors and with only 800 square feet, the kids are driving each other crazy.  They fight almost constantly.  They each asked me a dozen times this weekend, "When does spring start?"

Kevin did a good job of trying to salvage the day on Saturday night by taking us down to our building's comfy lounge on the 3rd floor (which we had all to ourselves) and putting Star Wars on the big screen with a big bowl of popcorn.  We all loved it and it was a nice way to end the day.
 Everyone's mood was pretty bad on Sunday and we basically didn't talk much to each other.  We popped down to the Museum of Natural History and amazingly on our third visit everything we saw was completely new - we still haven't covered the entire museum yet.  But we were still all tired of being indoors and decided to just call it a weekend and head home for an early dinner and baths and a couple hours of quiet reading time.  Here's what I started reading...
Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Quickie

My editor has informed me that I should write shorter and more frequent update posts.  Apparently reading one blog post takes longer than his subway ride home from work.  So even though not much has happened since my last update, I'll see what I can scrounge up.

Last night Kevin met an old friend (Chris Lippi for those in the know) for dinner.  It's funny, in the month since we moved here he's seen three of his closest friends who all live in the Bay Area and he hadn't seen in months and months when we were living in California.  I've seen my friend who lives in Singapore.  New York really is the crossroads of the world. 

Today was parent-teacher conference day at school and I don't want to brag but....OK, I'll brag a little.  Apparently aliens take over the kids' brains as soon as Kevin and I are no longer within earshot.  According to the reports, they become well-mannered, well-behaved, studious, smart kids.  They follow directions and raise their hands and are the apples of their teachers' eyes.  I assured their teachers that they have the wrong kids but as long as the "above grade-level" grades make it on their transcripts, I won't tell.

We will hopefully have two mini-family reunions soon.  We decided to go visit Kevin's cousin Tim and his wife Toby and their brand new baby girl in Boston over Memorial Day weekend (which as luck would have it, is also Tim's birthday weekend).  They will be moving to LA a couple weeks later so we're catching them just in time.  Plus, I've never been to Boston and am so excited to see it!  Then, a birdy tells me that our cousins Michael and Frances and their kids are trying to plan a June visit to see us.  [Bonnie - act surprised when he asks for the time off ;) ]  Our kids LOVE their kids and Michael and Frances are two of our favorite people AND the weather will be a lot better by then, so it should be a great visit and we're really looking forward to it!

Believe it or not, I haven't taken any pictures since my last post so I'll leave you with this one taken a week or so ago.  Someone's been working out...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shoving Culture Down Our Throats

It's like you can't even sneeze in New York City without it being a cultural event. 

On Thursday I took a little Gretchen-adventure to check out Eataly in the Flatiron District.  Eataly is a huge Italian Gourmet mecca.  It was started by Mario Batali (or at least his name is attached to it) and it sells amazing Italian import foods, cookbooks, kitchenware, produce, baked goods, coffee, desserts - anything and everything you can think of.  It also has several mini-restaurants inside where you can sit at the counter or at a small table and eat charcuterie at one counter, try Italian wines at another or as I did, eat a bowl of Tuscan bean soup and portobello and caramelized onion on a baguette.  This place definitely kicks the Chelsea Market's ass in foodie destinations.

I tried wandering around the Flatiron for a while after my solo lunch but the weather was just too cold to stay above ground long.  I can tell it is a great place on a nice day and I'll return.

Then on Thursday night Casey came to watch the kids and Kevin and I got out for our first Broadway play together.  We saw Scarlett Johansson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  We were a little prepared to be disappointed because Kevin read a bad review but we actually loved it.  I bought nosebleed seats off a site I found that emails me discount codes for theater tickets but when we arrived there were so many empty seats that the usher brought us down to the orchestra section and let us sit in some amazing seats up close!  I'm sure that added to our enjoyment of the show.  When you're sitting that close you forget you're in a theater and just get absorbed into the play.

I got to chaperone a fieldtrip for Ella's class on Friday although when we woke up in the morning this is what we saw out our window:
This storm was even worse than Nemo, I think.  It felt like a lot more snow.  And this was the day that I had volunteered to chaperone a field trip for Ella's class.  We walked 5 blocks in this weather to a local theater called Symphony Space where they were performing Latin American dance and music for school kids.  Here we are walking to the show:
As much as I didn't enjoy walking in the snowstorm with wind and snow blowing in my face and trying to keep the kids from getting hit in the crosswalks as they threw snowballs at each other, the show was worth it.  They had a Cuban band, Capoeira dancers from Brazil, Argentinian tango dancers, Mexican Ballet Folklorico - it was really amazing.  The kids had a great time.
Friday night was our new school's auction/fundraiser so Casey came for a second night and Kevin and I had a fun night out.  The theme was Mardi Gras complete with a live cajun band.  We met some really nice parents from our school and had a great time. 
We woke up Saturday to the best weather we've had in the entire 6 weeks we've been here.
As I said on Facebook, I'm learning that New York is like a fickle girlfriend: one day she's bitterly cold and the next she's sunny and happy to see you.  It was like the population of NYC doubled over night.  The sidewalks were packed with people and everyone was in a great mood.  I got a small taste of what spring is going to be like.  A New Yorker told me that spring is even better here than California because everyone appreciates it so much more.  I can see that.
 We returned to Symphony Space this time to see an Oscar nominated documentary (we got free tix from school) called Chasing Ice.  I highly recommend it.  It's about the melting glaciers but really it becomes a personal story about the man who is making the documentary.  Holden loved seeing the shots of glaciers because he still hasn't stopped talking about Alaska since our trip last summer.  He says it's his favorite place in the world :)
We had our first dinner party in our tiny apartment on Saturday night!  We hosted Maeve's family of 5 which made a total of 9 people.  We ate in two shifts since we can't all fit at our table at the same time.  I'm learning to get creative in a small space.  Her family is so great and the kids all got along and made an enormous mess while the adults talked travel and drank wine.  A good time was had by all and since the apartment is so small, it only took a fraction of the time to clean up after than it would have in San Mateo.
Sunday morning we dashed off to the Museum of Modern Art in the morning for a kids program.  They gave a tour to the kids and talked about how art tells stories and had them create some art of their own to tell their own stories.  I almost got whiplash seeing all of these famous pieces and I'm no art connoisseur.  The kids had a short attention span so I'll need to return on my own soon.  Luckily, Kevin got a membership for his birthday from his parents.
The budding artist brought her own art bag.
 Bad photo - I should have gotten the entire Picasso in so you could see it.
 Soup's on!
I'm sure she wasn't the first person to pose like that in front of The Scream.

And this last one was taken for their Grandma Diane who apparently loves this Picasso sculpture.
We then hopped the subway downtown to meet up for brunch with our friends Katharine and Paul which in New York is apparently an afternoon event.  As Ella said, it should be called linner.  Katharine and Paul live down by Wall Street so after "brunch" they showed us around Battery Park.  We got another view of the Statue of Liberty and had a really nice walk to a great kids' playground that is under the backdrop of the new World Trade Center.  In New York fashion we ended the day on their roof deck with a bottle of wine while the kids played on our iPhones.  It doesn't get much better.

Maybe next week I'll post what a terrible, boring week we had so that these posts don't get too annoying.  Happy Monday, y'all.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Eating Our Way Through Manhattan

We have been eating WELL since we got to New York!  And for the most part the kids have been pretty adventurous with us, trying new things.  Every once in a while we have to throw them a bone (or a donut, in this case) to keep them happy.  On our way to see Cinderella we stopped for a delicious brunch first at Spitzer's, in the Lower East Side.  The kids had lemon ricotta pancakes, which were as good as they sound.  Then we still had an hour to kill before the play started so Kevin steered us toward The Doughnut Plant, which was Oh My good.  You can see the different donuts above - I had a chocolate one filled with a peanut butter cream.  And honestly, I don't remember what the others had because I was so focused on my piece of heaven.

We made it to the play and it was incredible!  A very small theater with top notch acting and producing.  Even the small kids theaters here are amazing.  The play was in both Spanish and English, bouncing around between the two, and surprisingly very easy for Kevin and I to follow.  Of course, the kids had no problem.  This was much more exciting for them than Zorro since we were so much closer to the action.  We'll definitely return frequently to this theater.

The kids being silly in the Lower East Side:
That evening we had dinner at our new friends' apartment which was a lot of fun.  The kids played so well together and the adults chatted the night away.  We bonded quickly and have already planned a camping trip to upstate New York in late July together and we'll stay with them at a place they rent out for the last couple weeks of August in Connecticut (we'll just go for a weekend).  Good, good people.

Then on Sunday morning we continued our search for a real New York bagel.  Surprisingly, our first two attempts were not hits.  But I knew we hit the jackpot when I turned the corner and saw a line out the door.  Always a good sign.  And Absolute Bagels didn't disappoint.  I think we've found our regular Sunday morning place.

The bagel shop was a few blocks from us, up towards Columbia, so we decided to walk off the bagels by wandering up to Columbia and seeing where Kevin lived when he was in grad school there.  Then we continued wandering until we stumbled upon the Cathedral of Saint John the Devine which according to Wikipedia is the largest cathedral and Anglican church and fourth largest Christian church in the world.  It was immense.  And beautiful.  And a little scary.  They were having Sunday mass and Ella was scared to even go inside.  Once we were in, she stood near the door the entire time, completely overwhelmed.

 (see, she's kissing her baby's head to comfort herself)

It turned into a perfectly perfect unplanned day.  The rest of the afternoon we made it to an awesome playground which is only a block from our apartment that we had no idea was there (our friends from last night told us about it), just inside Central Park.  Very similar to Dolores Park, for my Bay Area mom friends.  Kevin and I each brought a book and the kids played for a couple hours and made a couple new friends.  Then the four of us meandered through the paths of Central Park for about another hour, wandering aimlessly with no schedule at all, still feeling so lucky to live here.

PS - I changed the settings so anyone can comment, not just those who've registered with Blogger.