Monday, March 30, 2015

Highlights Reel

Oops, I did it again.  I forgot to post at the end of last week.  And because this is New York City and you know that we packed a lot into the last seven days, I will try to avoid an annoyingly long post and just give you the highlights reel.

Highlight #1: Holden getting his first pair of lace-up shoes and learning to tie his shoes (yes, I know he's almost eight years old but I've been purposely avoiding having to add ten more minutes onto our leave-the-house time).


Highlight #2: Going on a field trip with some homeschoolers to see Flamenco dancing (and guitar and singing).  It was another educational experience put on by Community Works.  They were not just performing but teaching the kids about the history of the dance and the Spanish culture.


Highlight #3: Our Friday night at The Met.  The kids and I arrived a couple hours early and found an artwork that Holden's homeschool curriculum had him study this week as part of his art history.  As I've mentioned before, we generally skip art history since we spend so much time in museums but this week's artwork is right over at The Met so we decided to see the real thing - The Great Wave Off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai.  And then Kevin and I decided to join the kids this week during their mythology class.  We had a great time in the Oceanic Art galleries.

Highlight #4: Traveling all the way to the top of The Bronx to see our good friend Maeve perform in the play Annie and then enjoying a lovely dinner with her family.

Highlight #5: Spending the entire day on Sunday in Central Park.  We spent the morning volunteering for the Central Park Conservancy, helping to spread mulch.  It was such a beautiful day that we decided to spend the rest of our day inside the park, eating lunch at Sheep Meadow, visiting Betty and Veronica, the new Grizzly bears at the Central Park Zoo, and discovering new playgrounds and areas of the park we had yet to see.

While enjoying our ramen dinner that night, I pulled out my phone and discovered that we had walked a whopping EIGHT AND A HALF MILES that day!  Believe me when I tell you that we all slept like babies last night.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mad (Computer) Scientists, Mad Men

I've been on the mailing list of this really cool non-profit for a while now.  And finally the stars aligned so that we could make it to one of their events.

CoderDojo is a volunteer run organization that holds events to teach children web, game, and app development - all for free.  To translate that for my mom, that means that they teach the kids computer programming so that they can create their own games, web pages, and applications for an iPad or smart phone. 

For three hours the kids could move around between tables that were teaching Scratch, HTML and web page design, or circuitry.  Each table had 2-3 mentor volunteers to help them.  The kids have already been learning the computer language Scratch in a weekly class they take on Mondays, so they focused their time on the other tables.  Holden spent most of his time at the circuitry table using Little Bits to create electronic circuits.  He loved them and learned a lot about electronics and has been begging for a set but they're not cheap so I think we're going to have to add those to a wishlist for the grandparents.


Ella spent most of her time at the HTML table learning the basics of programming a website.  I think that will be their next computer class after they finish up with Scratch.  This was a nice exposure to it though, and a great way to figure out for free if they're interested in learning more.


But the kids weren't the only ones who enjoyed themselves this weekend.  Saturday night we left the kids with the babysitter and met some friends on a rooftop bar before saying our farewells to the cast of Mad Men.  If you're a fan, then you know that Mad Men comes to an end this year.  And since New York City is basically a character in the TV show, it is fitting that they are starting off their farewell tour right here in the Big Apple.  The Museum of the Moving Image is even exhibiting the iconic sets from the show.  I'm sure we'll make it to that soon.


In the meantime, we had some pretty sweet seats at the Film Society in Lincoln Center to hear the creator Matthew Weiner, and actors (Jon Hamm, January Jones, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery) talk about their favorite parts of the show, give us some backstage gossip, and see clips that each of them chose to discuss.

And since we had a sitter, we took the long way home, stopping for cocktails in true Mad Men style.

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring?

When we moved to New York two years ago I hadn't anticipated how much our lives would now revolve around the weather.  My weather app is the first thing I check each morning.  I know down to the hour when to expect precipitation of any kind.  I now have conversations with other moms about different ways to pack up our families' clothes and rotate our closets for the next season.  Our day's plans, our wardrobe, our mindset all center on the status of the skies.  Every single day.


And so when the forecasters told us that this week would be sunny and hit highs in the 50s, texts started flying among all of us moms crying, "Let's meet outside!"  We've had multiple play dates this week in parks and playgrounds.  Schoolwork has gone by the wayside so much so that I think this week inadvertently became our Spring Break.

And just in time.  My phone tells me to expect snow in an hour and a half.

One of our favorite playgrounds, in the shadow of The Met

I walked past a sign this week that read:

Dear Spring,

We're ready when you are.


Monday, March 16, 2015

I Can Smell Spring

Our weekend started off very peacefully and remained so all 48 hours. 

Friday night while the kids were in their mythology class at The Met, Kevin and I enjoyed an adult storytime in the Moroccan Court of the museum.  Naqqali is an Iranian form of storytelling, usually performed in tea houses, accompanied by music and singing.


The kids and I arrived at the museum a couple hours early and discovered they have a library which we had never seen before.  And it turns out they're open during homeschool classroom!


We also got partway through the new exhibit on Native Americans, but will need to continue that next week as we got stuck spending way too long admiring the decorated buffalo hides.

And because the weather has finally turned a corner into spring territory, we spent some time outdoors this weekend.  Rather than a climbing wall in a gym, the kids did the real thing out in Central Park.

Pressing flowers

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jazzy Hat

Well, I don't think that's ever happened.  I literally just forgot to post on Monday.  The thought has not even occurred to me until this very second.  In my defense, I have a LOT on my mind.  Nothing I can go into right now, but trust me, you'll hear all about it soon enough.

But boy, what a difference a week makes.  We almost hit 60 degrees today, people!!  I'm telling you, locals are acting like it's mid-summer: walking around in flip-flops, eating ice cream cones with their faces tilted up to the sky.  The restaurants all have their sidewalk tables out.

All is right with the world again.

It's hard to believe that three days ago this was happening:

Two days ago was pretty cool, too.  The kids tried out their first book club.  The New York Historical Society has a monthly book club for children, selecting either historical fiction or non-fiction, moderated by two awesome teachers.  Often the author is there but sometimes it may be a curator from the museum.  The book this month was One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia.

We all read it and just loved it.  The book is set in the 60s during the civil rights movement.  It follows three young sisters from Brooklyn as they travel to Oakland alone to find the mother that abandoned them.  It turns out she's joined the Black Panthers, so the reading really turned into a great lesson on the movement, about the difference between the Panthers' approach to fighting for equality and Martin Luther King's approach of non-violence.  It really helped pull together our studies this month of Dr. King, the Selma march, and Black History Month.  The moderators even combined the book club meeting with a tour of the Selma march photos upstairs.  Kevin and I were both so impressed with the kids who were there, so engaged and really thoughtful with their questions and responses.  The author practically had tears in her eyes listening to them.  She seemed pretty blown away to see how her award-winning book reached such young readers.  Ms. Garcia is now a favorite author of Ella's and we've already picked up the second book in the series.

Inscription: "For Ella - I love your jazzy hat!"

Friday, March 6, 2015

Felines and Philharmonics

Yesterday morning I was thinking that I wouldn't even post this week since it had been such a dull week with nothing to report.  And then Thursday happened.

Emails starting swirling in the homeschool community in the morning saying that the Department of Education had cancelled all field trips today due to the snow and that there would be hundreds of empty seats at the Lincoln Center for the New York Philharmonic's Children's concert at noon.  Anyone who showed up would be let in for free, no reservations required.  So of course, we put on some layers and headed to the subway.

The theme of the show was Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  It was geared to kids and the host explained the difference between the fairy music (minor keys) and human music (major keys), which the kids loved since they're learning about major and minor keys right now with Kevin.  There was a children's chorus on stage, opera singers, actors playing parts of the Shakespeare play, and the best part was the Very Young Composers Program.  Three children in the program (ages 10, 11, and 12) had their original pieces played by the New York Philharmonic.  How proud are those parents??

We did head home after to finish up schoolwork, but then ended our day way down in the Lower East Side of town.  Snowstorms don't slow us down.


We were there to check out the new cat cafe, Meow Parlour.  Yes, cat cafe.  With a dad who is allergic, we need to pay money to sit in a cafe to get our feline fix. 

Clearly, it was a hit.