Monday, March 31, 2014

Mo' Math

Since we live in a city with infinite choices for activities and entertainment, Kevin suggested we try out a method we saw used this week at a school we visited for planning out our weekend.  Kevin actually uses this method at work.  At the school, they use this each morning with the kids to plan out their days.  It's called a Kanban board. 

Kanban is Chinese for signboard or billboard.  Many tech companies now use this method.  Basically, you take sticky notes to plan out your projects - in our case, our weekend - and move them around the board as you complete projects.  We all started by putting up what we wanted to accomplish this weekend.  Some of our To Dos didn't overlap and so didn't get done.  For example, I didn't get to go out for breakfast and Kevin never finished his book.  But as expected, we accomplished a lot more in two days than some families do all week.

Lincoln Center anxiously awaiting spring.

Kevin and Holden beat out the rain with an early morning jog around the reservoir on Saturday morning.  Holden saw that Kevin had "jogging" on his board and Holden quickly added "Go jogging with Kevin" to his board.  Very sweet.  Kevin says he made it all the way around with no complaints.

Once the rain started coming down, all four of us went to the parent-child yoga class - Kevin's first time at our yoga studio.

Kevin getting moral support from Holden

Once showered and dressed, we headed back out in the rain to the other side of the East River: Brooklyn.

I had read about this free concert that happens every Saturday at 3pm on an old coffee barge.  The barge is parked under the Brooklyn Bridge.  It's called Bargemusic.

As you can see, the interior walls are lined with beautiful wood and the acoustics are amazing.  They play classical/chamber music up to five times a week.  The Saturday afternoon concerts are free but the rest of the concerts in the evenings are $30 and up.  There are gorgeous views of lower Manhattan (which I'm sure are even more spectacular when it isn't pouring rain out).

This is how Holden kept entertained while the classical music played.

We wandered around Brooklyn a bit more in the rain and tried the world famous Grimaldi's pizza.


We got a lazier start to our Sunday morning than our Saturday morning.  Kevin and the kids played chess in preparation for a chess tournament that the kids are competing in this Friday.  And the kids played some online games and continued learning coding.


We moved a couple of our sticky notes to the Done column by trying out a new Ramen noodle house in Gramercy Park.  Ramen is a favorite of our family's and we're always trying to discover new and better places to try.  Terakawa Ramen was listed as one of the top 10 Ramen houses in NYC by the New York Times and didn't disappoint.


With full bellies we walked a couple blocks over to the Museum of Mathematics (or more affectionately referred to as MoMath), a place I've been wanting to take the kids for the last year.  If you've been to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, it's similar in that it has hands-on exhibits that the kids can touch and manipulate and play with, which makes it a lot more fun for them.  When trying to convert math into something you can touch, often you end up with geometry.  Holden thought the museum should have been called the Museum of Shapes.

While the kids had a lot of fun playing with all the exhibits, as soon as one of us or a staff member would start to explain the math behind the exhibit the kids' eyes would glaze over and they'd head to the next exhibit.  It may be a few years before they're really able to understand what they're playing with and why they're playing with it.

Riding bikes with square wheels on a bumpy surface makes for a smooth ride.  There's math behind that.

Friday, March 28, 2014

In Conversation

Another relatively quiet week.


Winter is officially over.  Be careful what you wish for.  We have a forecast of 4 days of rain ahead of us...

On Tuesday night I got to have some girl fun.  My friend Alina came up with the idea to form a small group of ladies and we each take turns choosing a fun activity each month.  Something either cultural or adventurous or educational.  Like a book club but without the books.

I was assigned our first month of March and chose to see Arianna Huffington and Barbara Walters in conversation.  They were supposed to be chatting about Arianna's new book but instead it was like eavesdropping on two old friends catching up over coffee.  It got very personal at times.  I didn't realize that Barbara was a bridesmaid at Arianna's wedding and Godmother to her eldest daughter.  We had a great time.

 I know, terrible photo.  But proof that I was there.

Alina and I decided to walk home through Central Park.  It was a beautiful night with the last dusting of snow for the season (I hope!).

Young Audiences of New York continues to provide dance classes to Ella's 3rd grade class once a week.  The first part of the year was Mexican dance, as you know.  Now they've moved on to Chinese dance and had their first performances this week.  I actually enjoyed these dances better than the Mexican dances.

Sorry, another terrible photo.  I was in the back row.  Ella's somewhere on the right.

You know something's wrong when you have to call an emergency family meeting on Monday night and end up with this on the refrigerator.

It was Ella's idea that we all sign it.

Let's just say that in between all the fun that I posted about last weekend were lots of meltdowns and fights.  Kevin and I lost it on Monday morning as everyone was getting ready for school and work.  Thus the emergency family meeting that evening.  I have to say, so far the week's been better.  And it's nice to be able to point to the fridge and cite a rule number when someone's going astray.

And finally, do yourselves a favor and make this this weekend.

It's a misnomer to call this bread.  It's definitely cake.  But if it makes you feel better to call it bread...

Monday, March 24, 2014


I've got lots of pictures so I'll keep the words to a minimum.

The kids and I continue our yoga obsession.  I'm at the studio three to four times a week.  Ella and Holden still take their Thursday kids' class and Holden does his best to wrangle me to the Saturday morning parent/child class.

I'm starting to figure out why Ella likes the kids' class so much.  They end with foot massages.  Holden of course lets no one anywhere near his feet.

Saturday morning the kids had an appointment to get their teeth cleaned so we decided to walk from our place down to their dentist on West 61st Street.  We took a new path along the river which turned out to be a very nice surprise.  There is a really beautiful walking path dotted with sculptures and gardens (or what appear to be gardens once the temperatures rise). 

One of the things I love most about New York City are the secret gardens and walking paths and sculpture gardens hidden under overpasses or along the river, right in the middle of a bustling city.

Another thing that we often find hidden among highrises are very old churches.

If we have time we often pop in to take a look.  This enormous Gothic church (The Church of St. Paul the Apostle) is 150 years old and once dominated the block.  Now it's dwarfed among highrises and only visible if you're standing right on the same block.


After their teeth were sparkly clean, we found our way back down to Greenwich Village.

We saw a movie at the International Children's Film Festival called Ernest & Celestine.  I highly recommend it to my friends with young children.  It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film this year at the Oscars.

Then we made our way to a chess store we walked past a few months back.  Holden has really gotten into chess this year.  He's in Chess Club at school.  Ella also has chess taught in her class once a week.  We had originally planned just to look at all of the amazing chess sets they have for sale but it turns out they have a room off the back where people pay to play chess.  We watched for a couple minutes and the owner quickly got Ella and Holden to sit down at their own table and play a game. 

They played for about 45 minutes, concentrating hard and oblivious to the stares they got from a few of the patrons.

Holden got it into his head that he and Kevin were going to leave the apartment early on Sunday morning without the girls and go play baseball.  He was so excited that he came into our bedroom at 5am fully dressed.  Poor Kevin tried hard to get Holden to go back to sleep, but the two of them eventually left before 7 o'clock.  Which was fine with me because then Ella and I got to do what Kevin never lets us do: sleep in for me and watch cartoons for Ella.  After a leisurely shower and taking my time getting ready (something I never get to do with the boys around), Ella and I headed over to Starbucks for a late coffee and breakfast.  Then we hopped a subway down to Macys at Herald Square to see their big annual flower show.

I think Holden's grand plans of spending the day with his dad was really a ploy to get Dad to buy him a new baseball bat.

How do you say no to that?

Our family reunited that afternoon at a theater called Urban Stages.  We surprised the kids with an afternoon play about a girl named Ella Lucy who loves science and just wants to conduct experiments all day but feels weird because all of her friends are wearing pink and playing with American Girl dolls. 

Hmmm....sounds like another little girl I know.