Friday, August 28, 2015

School is in Session

Our kids are officially New Yorkers now.  After two weeks of visiting a dozen or more European museums, where was the first place the kids begged me to take them once we were home?  The Met.

It really has become our home away from home.  We each have our favorite rooms.  We have our secret entrance on the side while the tourists all wait in a snaking line to enter through the main hall.  We even have a favorite cafe.

Initially we went to visit the Greek room because Ella is reading Rick Riordan's second series based on Greek Mythology.  But when we arrived she said she was in the mood to see fashion.  Surprisingly, Holden didn't protest, so we went downstairs to check out the China Through the Looking Glass exhibit.  It was incredible.  Ancient Chinese costumes and clothing, as well as ceramics, music, and paintings, are set alongside current high fashion.  The gowns were breathtaking.  Even Holden was impressed.


As we were walking through the museum past the ancient mummies and Roman pottery to get to the fashion exhibit Ella said, "Mama, I want to work here someday."  I have no doubt that she will.

We also started school this week.  I knew that having an official start date would probably not go over well.  None of us are ready for summer to end.  So I kind of gradually eased the kids into it without their knowledge.  On Tuesday I had them start their new science curriculum, knowing that science is their favorite subject.  The new curriculum I chose for this year is fantastic.  Every lesson is completely hands on, no more boring text to read and workbooks to fill out.  They built a racer car in just two lessons and will use that car for the next several lessons to learn about force and motion.  The best part is that they are completely independent with it - I was doing my ironing while they worked.


On Wednesday I just had them look through all of their new textbooks and lesson plans.  Holden is thrilled that his 3rd grade curriculum has Mythology as a twice a week subject.  And Ella can't believe that she gets to officially study Art History in 5th grade, even though she's already quite the expert.


By Thursday and Friday they were into school full swing without too much push back.  Without any of their extra classes outside of home having started yet, they were able to fly through a day's lesson before lunchtime each day which left us plenty of time to play with friends.


We even went in search of Monk parrots in Riverside Park.   They must have all been out to lunch because we only spotted a lone parrot, but we discovered an awesome playground complete with zip line under the shadow of the Washington Bridge, so all was not lost.

We also enjoyed a week in our new home with our big (for us) kitchen.  We haven't eaten out all week and I've been cooking up a storm.  We even had a guacamole making contest.  Our trusty judge Holden did a blind tasting of Kevin's, Ella's, and my homemade guac.  Not surprising, I won.  Not because mine was necessarily the best, but because it's what Holden is used to. 


But maybe it was the best...

And we're enjoying our new view and beautiful sunsets.  Happy to be home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Breezing Through the Baltic

We're finally over our jet lag and getting ready to start our school year.  But I won't get into our New York life until I've caught you people up on our whirlwind tour of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea.

We had a wonderful time with Kevin's family.  My only complaint is that we didn't have enough time in each port.  It was like getting the sampler platter before deciding which dish you want to order.  So many places to return to.

First stop, Stockholm, Sweden.

Entering through the gorgeous archipelago

The Vasa, a completely preserved ship from 1628 that sank on her maiden voyage


Next, Tallin, Estonia.

A beautiful medieval town

St. Petersburg, Russia was a highlight.  All 12 of us took a private tour.


The Russian subway

The Hermitage Museum

Team Skaggs at the Hermitage

Ella sketched her way through the entire trip, filling two whole sketchbooks.

Last stop, Helsinki, Finland.

The Rock Church, a modern church carved into the side of a rock hill
Some much needed time in nature

And of course a couple days at sea to rest and relax.


After two weeks packed with fun, walking, museums, eating, drinking, sight-seeing, and basically too little sleep, we were all a little happy to get home to our new apartment.  We hopped in a taxi at JFK airport to head into the city and wouldn't you know it?  The song Empire State of Mind was playing on the taxi's radio, welcoming us back to our adopted home.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


We met up with Kevin's sister Maxine and her family in Copenhagen on Wednesday. The rest of the family (Kevin's parents and Sean's parents) arrived on Thursday. We've spent three great days wandering around the city - which is much quieter and less crowded than Amsterdam - and even a day trip out of the city to see Fredericksburg castle. We'll board the ship this afternoon!