Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Weddings to Woodstock: New Beginnings

So I lied to you people.   I promised to start posting twice-weekly again and instead more than a week's gone by.  The kids, Kevin and I have been living it up and I've been keeping you in the dark.

We pulled off the ultimate Divide and Conquer weekend.  Ella and I took a whirlwind trip to California this weekend while Kevin and Holden made their way north a couple of hours to celebrate Easter in Woodstock, New York.

Ella and I had so much fun at my niece Robin's wedding in Twain Harte, California.  They had a beautiful Celtic-themed ceremony, complete with men in kilts.  Who doesn't love men in kilts?

It was so nice to spend a mother-daughter weekend with Ella and to share it with my mother, my niece and her gorgeous three daughters, my great-nieces.  Truly a girls weekend.

Meanwhile...on the other side of the country...Kevin and Holden were hunting Easter eggs in Woodstock.

They found a local egg hunt
As you know, if you've been a loyal reader over the last year or so, we've really fallen in love with Woodstock.  It's a short two-hour drive, door-to-door, from our apartment.  It's a fun little town with a ton of history and surrounded by incredibly stunning nature, year-round.  Swimming holes and hiking in the warmer months, and skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.  We've fallen in love with it so much...and have been actively trying to keep a balance to our frenetic, crazy lives in the bustling city...that we decided to get a weekend getaway place there!


Kevin and Holden went up on Friday to sign all the paperwork and get the keys!  When we sold our house in California last year, we knew that if we were going to live in the heart of New York City, we were going to have to find some release valve for our family - some way to balance out the noise and chaos that we love so much about the city.  No one can do that 24/7.  We were able to get away a lot over the last couple years with our camper van and occasionally renting an Airbnb out of town.  But we knew it would be crucial to set aside some of the money from our sale to hopefully get a small cabin in the woods.  Somewhere to escape to when the noise gets to be too much.


Over New Year's we spent several days in the area and looked at several cabins for sale.  It only took a couple days to fall in love with our little 'Garden House'.  The extensive gardens (not appreciated in the above photo taken at the end of winter) has been on the Woodstock Garden Tour for several years.  When we first saw the house we spent almost a half an hour walking around the outside of the house, admiring the landscape, before the realtor asked us if we wanted to see the inside.

Taken in the height of spring, last year

It's an old fishing cabin built in the 1930s, remodeled and expanded about ten years ago.  We have a lot of work to do in the near future, both inside and out, but we're pretty excited about our first, second home.

Studio for the kids

Sunday, March 20, 2016

From Prehistory to Infinity and Beyond

You may have noticed that I've been trying to get away with only posting once each week, as opposed to my normal Monday/Friday.  This has been an unusually busy few months and our weekdays, although busy, have been pretty repetitive and didn't seem to warrant a separate post.

But now it's caught up with me and I may have to do one of my "Best of" reels, because we had an exciting week.

The highlight of the week was right off the bat on Monday.  The kids and I joined a homeschool field trip to the New York City Center for Space Science.  It's not open to the public but is run by the Department of Education and available only to New York City students.  I was really blown away at the experience.  The kids got to first enter a space shuttle, buckle up, and take off (via a big screen monitor in front of us).


Then after going through the air lock room we entered a model of the International Space Station where they had various stations for the kids to practice assorted tasks that astronauts perform on board: moving a mechanical arm, assembling parts, conducting biological experiments.


And finally we traveled back to Mission Control in Houston where they were able to design their own space patch.


The leprechauns didn't disappoint this year on St. Patrick's Day.  Although the kids engineered a complicated trap to catch them, the little green guys were their usual naughty selves and were successful in making a big mess of the kids' bedrooms and even left them some goodies.

Don't do it, leprechauns!  It's a trap!!

We arrived to the New York Historical Society early on Friday for Ella and Holden's immigration class so that we could check out the new exhibit on Mo Willems, popular children's author of such books as Knuffle Bunny and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.


Did you know that you pronounce the K in Knuffle Bunny?? Kuh-nuffle.

Friday Nights at The Met continue to be a great way to end our week.  This week Ella's class read about Icarus and Daedalus from Ovid's Metamorphoses and created their own art from feathers and beeswax.

And our week and weekend were also filled with visits with old friends, some on purpose, some by chance.

Vicente and Sylvia

Walking down Central Park West on Friday I happened to run into an old friend and co-worker from my travel agency days whom I hadn't seen in probably 12-13 years.  And then on Saturday while in the Natural History Museum, Kevin and I ran into some old friends from when Kevin worked at VeriSign in Mountain View - again at least a decade ago.  We now have five new children between us who didn't exist when we saw each other last.


The planned encounter was with our friends Ken and Marie and their two children.  Again they're former work colleagues and friends of Kevin from his days at  We've visited them at their home outside of Philadelphia since moving here.  They were having a fun weekend in the city with their two kids and we had a great day showing them the Natural History Museum.  Although we know the place inside-out and have seen every room and exhibit, it always feels new and different when you're experiencing it with people on their first visit.

There's even plenty of fun that was had this week that I'm leaving out, but this post is already getting too long.  I promise to try to return to my biweekly updates, dear people!

Monday, March 14, 2016


This last Wednesday is what I love most about living somewhere with four distinct seasons.  The temps shot up to the mid-70s and everyone was euphoric.  Neighbors chatted in the elevators about the weather, pedestrians smiled at each other on the street.  People on the East Coast really appreciate the sun and spring weather.  After months of cold and snow and grey skies, when the weather turns it's like we're all reborn.

We spent several hours on both Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in the park with friends.   Holden said that Wednesday was the best day of the year so far.

We enjoyed another great Friday night at The Met.  Kevin and I are hooked on Ella's mythology class and have been joining every week (parents can choose to either drop off or hang out with the class).  This week we found ourselves dancing the box step in a 200-year-old British dining room and reading Ovid's Metamorphosis in the Precolumbian gold depository.

We had a family of six over for dinner on Saturday night - the most dinner guests we've had since moving to New York.  Although we had to eat in shifts and sometimes sit on the floor, we had such a fun night.


And as you know, Sunday mornings are spent in church - which for us means a museum.  This week we walked through Central Park over to The Met's newest addition, The Met Breuer.  This week the new extension of the museum was open only to members, so we got a sneak peek at the space that used to house the Whitney Museum.

I was excited to see the new museum, but was feeling a little apathetic about the actual exhibit - Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible - an exhibit focused on unfinished art works.  But as usual, I was wrong.

Van Gogh's last painting
Holden absolutely loved the Van Gogh painting that the artist had started before his death.  After visiting the Van Gogh Museum this summer in Amsterdam, Holden says he's his favorite artist.  For all of the unfinished pieces (some unintentional, some intentional) it was really fascinating to see the process of painting, the layers, the sketches underneath.

Ella was impressing all the other visitors within earshot with her knowledge of so many of the artists.  She's been studying art history (specifically painting) this school year and was excited to recognize so many of the paintings and artists.

Yes, a real Da Vinci!
And we even came across these two paintings depicting stories from Ovid's Metamorphoses!

We rounded out the perfect weekend with an amazing theater experience.  We've been subscribers to the New Victory Theater for the last year.  The kids have also joined several homeschool field trips to see shows there.  And not one single show has ever disappointed.  This was no exception.


Fly is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African-American pilots who flew in World War II and the prejudices they faced abroad and at home, even though they fought for our country.  It was incredibly moving as well as entertaining.  And it didn't hurt that we had front row seats.  After the show they had a Q & A with the actors and in the audience was a woman who had two brothers who were part of the Tuskegee Airmen.  One brother was shot down during the war and one is alive and well in upstate New York.  The entire experience brought tears to all of our eyes.