Friday, May 31, 2013

Sailing and Shakespeare

Lots of fun stuff happened in this short week so I had better get a blog post out now so that I don't have a super long one on Monday that no one would read because it would be too long...

Remember how I said one of the very best parts of being a stay-at-home mom is getting to chaperone all of the kids' field trips?  Well, that was never more true than yesterday.

Ella's class took a boat ride around the entire island of Manhattan!  How cool is that?!?  And I'm not the only parent who thought so.  Out of a class of 21 students, we had 18 parent chaperones!  So I also got to know some more moms and dads, which is always cool.

 Lady Liberty

Her class was most excited to pass by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty since they just finished studying immigration for the last few weeks.  Both are still closed due to damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy last fall, so you can't actually stop there yet.

Grandma Terrie asked Ella to count how many bridges we passed under and I bet you'll never guess...

Twenty!  I had no idea there were so many bridges linking Manhattan to the rest of the world!

 Yankee Stadium (which we'll be visiting in September when the SF Giants are playing!)

C is for Columbia - one of Kevin's alma maters

We even passed by our apartment while sailing down the Hudson.  It's the one in back, just left of center with the three large black solar panels on the top.  Now I know what all the ferries I see passing by everyday see when they look up at us.

And of course we sailed around downtown Manhattan.  It may not seem like it, but to the left is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere: One World Trade Center (although I think they cheated by putting the spire on).

A perfect mother-daughter day.

This morning I rose early and headed over to Central Park with a beach towel, a book and a large coffee.  Summertime is Shakespeare in the Park time and the tickets are free but that means waiting in line.  A long time.

They hand out the tickets at noon but people start lining up by 5am.  I'm not that crazy but I did get there at about 7:15 and there were probably 50 people in front of me.  They're very strict about not holding spots in line for anyone.  The person getting the tickets has to be the one going and you can only get two tickets per person.  It would have been fun to take the kids but since it's in a huge outdoor amphitheater, it has to start after dark, which around here is 8:30pm.  Not that the kids would have lasted more than 15-20 minutes watching a Shakespeare play (even if Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family is staring in it).  So the babysitter arrives at 7 and Kevin and I will have a picnic dinner in the park and celebrate 9 years and 51 weeks of marriage.

Several people have asked lately what happened with the apartment saga.  We decided to extend our lease through the end of August (at the ridiculous rent for one month), to avoid ruining our summer by having to move in the middle of July (when the kids and I will be in California).  We'll be able to enjoy the pool and roof deck for a few more months and start looking for a new (cheaper) place in June/July.  Meanwhile, we're enjoying every minute of this view.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Boston Strong

First, a big apology to the parental units who I'm sure have been checking this blog hourly for updates on our Boston trip.  Our desktop computer is ill and in the Apple hospital so I am doing my best to write this blog from Kevin's laptop (and from a cafe down the street) which isn't as easy for me, especially figuring out how to get my photos.  But I did it and I will now fill you all in on our fantastic road trip.

We rented Holden's favorite car - a Mini Cooper - and surprised him on Friday after school.  After Kevin picked it up and took a look in the trunk (which is the size of a glove compartment in an SUV), he had me repack everything to consolidate our goods.  The four of us and our luggage squeezed in and we set off for what is supposed to be a 3.5 to 4 hour drive, in the best of conditions...

Memorial Day weekend is the worst of conditions.

On top of which, it was storming out, so our hopes of arriving for a late dinner were dashed when we pulled up at our Boston hotel at 12:30 in the morning.  Not a great way to start our trip.

We did however, get to stop on the way in Hartford, Connecticut, the home of Auntie Maxine's alma mater, Trinity College.
It was absolutely gorgeous and Holden thought it looked like an awesome summer camp.

The next day we set about seeing the city in our miniature car.
Going down tiny alleys we never could have navigated in a normal vehicle.

 We visited an old graveyard across the street from our hotel where Samuel Adams and Mother Goose are buried.

 Holden's choice for the day was the New England Aquarium, which was a good choice on what turned out to be a rainy day.

They even got to pet sting rays!

We then walked over to the Institute of Contemporary Art which as luck would have it, was having a Family Day complete with activities for the kids and free admission for families.

 There was an exhibit of a graffiti artist from San Francisco, Barry McGee, which the kids loved!  "Spray painting on walls is art?!?"

The kids drawing the harbor.

One of the main reasons we chose to come to Boston this weekend was because Kevin's cousin Tim, who has lived in Boston for 15 years, is moving back to California next week.  So this was our last chance to see him and his family in Boston.  We lucked out and happened to hit it when it was also Tim's birthday, so we got to celebrate his 41 years together.

 Tim and baby Teagan

 Tim's wife, Tobi

Sunday we set out early to meet up with an old college friend of Kevin's (who he hasn't seen since college), Simon and his wife Suzanne and their kids Maddie and Miles.  We met them at the Museum of Science - a combination of the Natural History Museum in NY and the Exploratorium in SF.

The weather was slowly improving so we headed over to the Boston Public Garden where one of the kids' favorite books, Make Way For Ducklings, takes place.
We saw real ducklings...

...and the monument to the book.

We rode the Swan boat around the lake.

(Evidence that I was in fact on the trip.)

We saw many memorials to the recent Boston bombings.  It seemed like every shop had a Boston Strong sign in the window.

This was a large memorial filled with running shoes, signs and flowers at the site of the second bomb.  

On Monday we headed across the Charles River to Cambridge.  We zipped around the campuses of MIT and Harvard.  We happened to hit the Harvard graduation and told the kids we expected to be attending another Harvard graduation in about ten to twelve years...

Both Boston and Cambridge are beautiful cities which I'm sure are even more gorgeous in nice weather, so we are already planning our next trip.  Also, there are just so many sites we missed and didn't have time to see.  It's not a place you can do in three days.

The drive home luckily took about half the time as the drive up.  All four of us were wiped out.

As soon as we got home we went straight up to the roof deck for our now traditional end of weekend ritual.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Who's That Hottie?

First of all, Kevin got to start his long weekend off right...finally getting the recognition he deserves :)
He got to ring the opening bell for the NASDAQ this morning!  His company is hosting an Internet conference this week in NYC and they were asked to ring the opening bell.  Who knew he'd end up being 20 feet tall at Times Square?  I'm glad I told him to wear a tie.

While Kevin was gaining fame and fortune (well, fame at least), I was "chaperoning" Ella's field trip to the Farmers Market.  I put chaperoning in quotes because the market is literally in front of her school.  The antibiotics seem to have finally kicked in and while I'm not at 100% yet and I still have a "sexy" voice, I'm good enough.

At first I thought it was cute that they were going to a Farmers Market for a field trip, but I quickly realized how many of these urban kids had been nowhere near a farm.  When asked what comes from a dairy farm, one boy responded, "Oreo cookies!"  When everyone started to laugh his eyes filled with tears.  He said since there is cream in the middle he thought that's where they came from.  The Farmers Market rep kindly explained to him about the difference between real cream and the stuff that is man-made.  From there it quickly became obvious that these kids get very little exposure to fresh foods and are pretty ignorant about where their food comes from and what makes food healthy vs. unhealthy.  Very few knew the names of the vegetables that she held up.  Luckily, Ella raised her hand to answer most questions since she's the only one in her class who has ever had their own garden.

They even got to sample a salad made with fresh lettuce, garlic, strawberries and honey.  I was proud that they all gave it a try and as surprised as they were when almost every single one of them asked for seconds.

And before we head off to Boston this afternoon, I want to leave you with this.  I found it in my bedroom after I surprised Ella with a new bathing suit.  He never complained directly to me.  As a matter of fact, I had no idea he cared or wanted a bathing suit himself until I saw this.

I'm so impressed that he included the apostrophe that I plan to buy him a new suit as soon as we return from Boston.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Yep, it's Strep

Ooh, that last post got the parents and in-laws all riled up - emails and calls begging me to seek immediate medical attention.  Well, of course parental advice goes in one ear and out the other.  It took a casual playground conversation with a fellow mom to get me to the Urgent Care.  As I described my symptoms to her with all the authority that an hour online searching "sore throat headache feeling like crap" affords, she came back at me with some long, fancy words that I didn't understand.  I said, "Gee, you sound like you work in a hospital."  Turns out what I thought was a fellow stay-at-home mom sitting next to me on the bench was an Emergency Room doctor.  She said she's seeing a lot of Strep throat in the ER these days and that contrary to my Internet wisdom that told me that antibiotics only takes a day off the symptoms, in fact Strep can travel to other parts of the body and become quite dangerous.

So now I'm all antibiotic-ed up and waiting for relief to come.  As a matter of fact, it seems to be getting worse.  But again, I'm in complete denial because we leave TOMORROW for our road trip to Boston!

But before meeting my angel on the playground, I faked it for a day and chaperoned Holden's field trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (smooth move, riding a humid school bus with 24 five year olds, all the while unknowingly infecting them with Strep...).

 A tree house made of fallen trees from Hurricane Sandy

 Sniffing a cinnamon stick.

 Manhandling tropical worms.

In a field of lilacs.

This is a different Botanical Garden than the one in the Bronx which I wrote about before.  Just as gorgeous but not as big.  Holden and I will definitely be bringing the rest of our family back there.

The same day, coming off my triumphant chaperoning experience, I decided I was also well enough to reschedule the cancelled dinner from the previous night with my good friend Stephanie from D.C. who was just in town for the two nights.  We met at a beautiful roof top restaurant on a gorgeous night and although my voice was just about gone, we had a great time catching up and seeing each other.  

I have paid for it ever since.  I haven't had a voice at all for the last 2 days (that's why I haven't called yet, mom).  But I'm on my second day of antibiotics and prescription-strength Motrin and heeding the doctor's advice to "take it easy".  So wish me luck.  I am going to Boston tomorrow, come hell or Strep throat.

Monday, May 20, 2013

In Denial

I am home today on this rainy Monday with a self-diagnosed case of Strep Throat, feeling like total crap.

Our weekend and the weather started off awesome and went downhill from there.  Friday night we had Maeve's family over to our roof deck at the end of what was a beautiful sunny day.  We ordered up some Caribbean food and enjoyed some margaritas at sunset while the kids played on the grass.

Saturday morning was the school's big Spring Fair.  I had been helping all week with the rummage sale part of the fair, sorting and organizing the donations and then on Friday helping to sell items at the preview sale.  The day of the fair started off grey, but it was not supposed to rain and it was still supposed to be over 70 degrees out.  So off I set in a little sundress... 

Each class was supposed to come up with a booth game or activity.  I worked Ella's class booth: nail painting (very popular):

 While Kevin ran Holden's class booth - miniature golf.

The kids had a great time - eating junk food, riding rides, jumping in jumpy houses...
...even decorating cupcakes.

And then the rain started to come down.  In my little sundress I still managed to stay about an hour in the rain, but finally gave up.  I think that was the start of my sore throat.  We headed home and had a quiet family movie night, curled up and warm in our apartment. 

By the next morning my throat was on fire and my head pounding.  The rain was pouring outside.  But somehow I convinced myself that all I needed was some fresh air and good food.  So we all packed up and headed down to the Children's Museum of the Arts in SoHo, stopping on the way at a French cafe for a delicious brunch (which is why you'll notice Ella is wearing a beret - she loves to dress appropriately). 

The museum was fantastic - a real hand's on place for kids to get messy and be creative.
 They did watercolors,

and silk screening.

 There was a clay bar (at a real bar).

 Ella drew a self-portrait in front of a mirror.

And they even learned stop-motion animation.

Needless to say, Ella and Holden loved every minute of it.  Meanwhile, I was starting to realize that this wasn't just allergies.  Every chair I found at the museum had my name written all over it.  I even fell asleep on the subway home.  Why I didn't insist on taking a taxi home, I don't know, especially given that the rain was really coming down.  I was so in denial of being sick that I even agreed to Kevin's suggestion that we stop at the Soho Grand Hotel for a quick drink on our way home.
Why yes, that IS an albino peacock in the cage behind Ella.
So now it's almost time to pick up the kids at school and I haven't gotten dressed all day.  Actually, between sleeping and reading, the day has flown by.  I even had to cancel dinner plans with a good friend who is in town.  
No more denying it.  I'm sick.