Monday, February 29, 2016

Mom's Metamorphoses

It was a long, slow week of trying to get back in our routines and rhythm.  My mom spent the week steadily recovering from her surgery and should be going home today after nine days in the hospital.  Hopefully she can finally get some sleep.


Team Skaggs wasted no time getting back to our frenetic, hectic schedule.  We hit no fewer than three museums this week, spent a day out of the city visiting friends, had dinner with a good friend who was in from San Francisco, and stayed up WAY past all of our bedtimes last night watching the Academy Awards at our friend's Oscars party.


Friday night the kids started back up their mythology classes at The Met.  Kevin and I decided to join Ella's class this week, Pause for Pegasus.  For this eight-week session, the group of 10- to 12-year-olds will be reading Ovid's Metamorphoses and seeing 3 to 4 artworks each class which the teacher links to the book first published in 8 AD.

No, really.


I couldn't figure out how in the world she was going to connect Jackson Pollock's painting above to the Metamorphoses.  But after having the kids work on their own chaotic works out of string, the teacher had the kids stand up and take turns reading aloud from the first book of the text, The Creation.  In it, Ovid refers to the beginning of the universe as a frenetic, ordered chaos.  And there it was.  We were looking at the beginning of time. 

The class reminded me of something that I have always believed, but certainly do now even more that we're homeschooling.  Kids live up to expectations put on them.  Never assume something is too difficult or too sophisticated for a child.  Invariably, they will surprise you.

On Saturday we headed out of the city, just north to Dobbs Ferry where Maeve's family moved to last year.  We had a great day hanging out with our friends, playing basketball in the street, sewing for the girls, sword fighting for the boys, and sitting around a fire pit in their backyard for the adults.  All the best the suburbs have to offer.  It was exactly what we needed.

We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning because the Whitney Museum was having special early hours for members.  It's so much more enjoyable to be in a museum without the crowds.


This gallery was kind of crazy.  They cleared out an entire 18,000 square foot floor of the museum.  When we got off the elevators there were only 3 or 4 other members wandering around.  But the room was incredibly noisy.  Lots of loud background noise as though it were a crowded restaurant.  Banging of what sounded like pots and pans, shouting.  After a while we found a sign that explained that the sound we were hearing was being piped in from Sing Sing Prison, about 30 miles north of New York City!  It was pretty mind blowing to realize that the banging was actually cells opening and closing and the voices we were hearing were real prisoners.

Open Studios at The Whitney

I parted ways with the rest of my family after lunch and headed south as they headed back north to home.  In the afternoon some friends and I took a vegetarian, Ayurvedic cooking class that was so much fun.  It really inspired me and I learned several new, fun Indian recipes that I think Kevin and the kids will love.  Plus, it was just really nice for me to spend an afternoon with my own friends, not being a mom, not being a teacher.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Before you get all mad at me for disappearing on you...I have a very good excuse.


I've been in San Francisco for the last week while my mom had heart surgery.  The five-hour surgery went very well and she's recovering slowly but surely.

I'm doing my own recovery (although on a much smaller scale) this week.  I returned to New York on Sunday physically and emotionally exhausted, as you can imagine.  But luckily I have the most amazing best and oldest friend in the entire world.

Alyssa took the day off work and drove two and a half hours in traffic just to sit with me all day in the hospital waiting room.  She said she didn't want me to be alone.  Now that's love.


I also got to spend a couple days and several meals with my mom - even if most of the time was bouncing between doctors' appointments - and a fun night-before-the-surgery with my niece (and mom's granddaughter) Robin.  She helped to take both of our minds off what was looming the next day.

And as I said, although it was a long ordeal, the doctors are all happy with the results of the surgery (she got a cow's valve) and her recovery.

While I was away, the kids had fun with Kevin and spent several days in a science camp.  Luckily, the timing was perfect because last week was mid-winter break for the public schools so there were plenty of day camps for us to choose from to put the kids in so that Kevin could have time in his office each day.  If the surgery had been any other week, coordinating childcare and Kevin's work would have been much more difficult.

Homeschool Valentine's Day party
Last day of their Westward Expansion class at the Historical Society
Museum of the American Indian
Kevin and the kids took a walk through Columbia University one night on the way to dinner and found an alumni wall on the School of Journalism building.  Someone's name was proudly featured...

I got to enjoy my last night in California with my two adorable nieces and their equally adorable new puppy, Rosie.  I had such a great time with them, realizing that I never see them without my kids in tow.  And if my kids are around, the four cousins are inseparable.  So it was a treat to be able to get some one-on-one time with them and actually hear about their school, their friends, how they're spending their time.

I never get homesick for California when I'm in New York.  But when I'm in California (especially when it's 72 degrees and sunny in February!) I definitely get a lump in my throat.  So much of the week was spent driving past former houses of friends, former workplaces of mine, the street where I first learned to drive, restaurants that are still there from my childhood.  It really is home.

I've never been in love with two men at the same time.  But leaving San Francisco to return to New York, I think I know acutely how that must feel.

Monday, February 8, 2016

To Snow or Not to Snow

I'm still not used to the weather here.  On Friday we were covered in snow and by Sunday there wasn't a flake left on the ground and it was nice enough out for Kevin and Holden to play baseball in the park.

Ella taking a nap waiting on the train

Holden started his engineering class on Tuesday, which I'm sure was the highlight of the week for him.  He said they watched a YouTube video that explained how bowling alleys work - where the ball goes after it knocks over the pins and how it gets back up to you - and then they had to make their own out of recycled materials.  I was very impressed with their creativity and Holden is so excited to be able to come to this class every week for the next four months.  Believe it or not, it's his first class that he's taking all on his own, without Ella.


And as usual, we spent a lot of time in our favorite museums this week - mostly to escape the cold, but also because no matter how often we're at the Natural History Museum, we always seem to find new rooms, galleries, exhibits we have yet to see - it's like the never-ending museum.  We also got to sit in on the monthly Meet the Scientist talk where each month a scientist from the museum talks to a small group (usually only about 20 adults and kids - you have to grab tickets as soon as the museum opens) about their current projects.


This month the archaeologist Dr. Tseng told us about his work in Nepal searching for fossils of ancestors of hyenas.

And even though we're in the New York Historical Society twice a week for classes, Kevin hadn't been in a while.  And since he's their history teacher, he wanted to go by this weekend and hopefully find some artifacts relating to Andrew Jackson, whom they're studying at the moment.

We didn't find anything about Andrew Jackson but we did enjoy checking out the exhibit called Silicon City, a look at the role New York played in the development of computers.  Spoiler alert - not much.  But there was a nice focus on the big role women had as early programmers, which was very cool to read about.

Ella was asked to interview this weekend at a middle school that she applied to.  Even though we're all really happy with how homeschooling is going, Kevin and I thought it was important for Ella to visit schools and even apply to any she might be interested in for next year, just to have options.  We've told her that she can continue to homeschool if that's what she wants, but we want her (and us) to have options to choose from, homeschooling being just one of them.  Also, even though we're all leaning towards continuing to homeschool next year, Kevin and I knew that interviewing would be a great experience for her.  And it was.  We had lots of talks about making eye contact, not just giving yes or no answers, speaking up.  Things that don't come naturally for introverts.  She was so nervous all week but when I met up with her and and Kevin after the interview she was all smiles and said it wasn't so bad after all.

And as I'm typing this on Monday morning, the snow has started to fall again and coat the dirty streets with a clean white blanket.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Friends & Food

We had a very social weekend that revolved around friends and food - two of my favorite things.


Friday night Maeve's family came over for dinner.  Now that they live up in Westchester we don't see them nearly as much as we used to nor nearly as much as we'd like.  So it was really great to be able to spend some quality time with them catching up.


Saturday night Kevin and I got out for a grown-ups evening to celebrate our friend Tom's birthday at a German beer hall in Midtown.


Sunday night our friend Brian was in town for business.  He and his wife Melissa were our friends out in the Bay Area but they have since moved down to Southern California so we don't get to see them even when we're back home.  So it was great to be able to at least see Brian and hear how things are going for them in their new home.  And he appreciated a home-cooked dinner in the middle of a long work trip.


In between our socializing we made it out of the apartment with the kids to enjoy what's left of the snow from last weekend's blizzard.  The kids scootered through Central Park on Saturday and on Sunday we again walked through the park, this time on our way to the new Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum on the Upper East Side.

It was a two-for-one in that the museum is housed in the old Carnegie mansion, so we got to see the inside of a gorgeous, old mansion as we were enjoying the exhibits on display.  The exhibits were focused on all kinds of design - textile, furniture, building.  Right now there's a very interactive Pixar exhibit that the kids loved.