Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our First Guests!

OK, so I've got almost two weeks to catch up on here.  Sorry about that.  Life, you know.

It's officially summer here, if you go by air temperature for such things.  The kids and I have been spending as much time outdoors as possible, before it becomes too humid to do so.

picnic lunch in the park all week
The kids joined a track club that meets twice a week in the north end of Central Park, which is of course very convenient for us.  Holden hates running.  I mean hates it.  That's why he dropped soccer and stuck with baseball because baseball doesn't require a lot of physical exertion.  But both kids were really in need of some more exercise than just their weekly soccer/baseball game or the miles of walking they do each week by virtue of being city kids.

So when I described the class to him, I left out the word running.  I said it was like a P.E. class in the park.  He had so much fun at the initial trial class that he begged to come back again.

Shot put is his thing
So far he loves the shot put the most, but he is still required to do some laps around the track before he's allowed to do it.  Apparently Ella is a natural runner who already has "perfect form".  And it's a nice time for me to kick back on the lawn and read my book for an hour and a half twice a week.

We had a fabulous long weekend up in Woodstock.  Kevin brought some work with him so that we could drive up on Thursday night and avoid the holiday traffic.  We spent Friday trying to do some last minute prep work on the house for our first guests, Maeve's family, who arrived on Friday night.

It was so much fun to host friends for the first time at our new house and show off the local hikes and sights and water holes.  The garden looked spectacular and we were even entertained all weekend to an episode of Animal Planet right in our yard.

baby fawn asleep under tree
On Thursday night after we put the kids to bed, Kevin and I were sitting on the back deck having a glass of wine when we heard what sounded like an animal being killed.  It was an awful screech.  Saturday morning the ten of us were treated to doe nursing her newborn fawn on our front lawn!  They stuck around all weekend and didn't seem to mind us being around and watching them.

We took them to our favorite swimming hole, Millstream, and another called the Big Deep.  We enjoyed a couple hikes including one up to Kaaterskill Falls which we had hiked last year when there was just a trickle of water.  This year was much different.

The Big Deep

Our friends left on Sunday afternoon which left us to enjoy a quiet evening just the four of us.  We took what has become our nightly cocktail hour stroll along Cooper Lake across the street where we saw lots of geese and even a swimming beaver.

With all of this heat and humidity, I pulled the trigger and cut off several inches of my hair.  It feels so nice!

Friday, May 20, 2016

April Showers Bring May Flowers

"But what do May flowers bring?", asks Ella.
Think about it...

It's been a quiet week for a change.  As the weather warms, the kids and I are feeling the end-of-the-school-year drag.  Productivity is decreasing as the temperature outside is increasing.

We got out on Wednesday night for a Members Only program at the Natural History Museum.  Some astronomers were giving a talk for kids on the "Path of the Planets" under the dome of the planetarium.  Normally, all of the night programs we go to at the museum are targeted at adults, so the kids really enjoyed this first program just for them.

The kids and I took a whirlwind trip up to Woodstock and back on Thursday.  We hired a man with a van (actually two men, one van) to help us swap the couches and a bed between Harlem and Woodstock.  It was a long day of driving for us (two and a half hours of driving each way and school work up and back for the kids) and we spent a mere 20 minutes actually in Woodstock since I was paying the men by the hour.  But what we saw after only being away for just under two weeks really surprised us.


So many flowers and bushes and trees have come into bloom in these last couple weeks!  The garden just keeps getting more and more amazing.  Even the movers let out a, "Wow!" when they walked into the back yard.

Luckily, we're going right back up there tonight with Kevin who hasn't seen it since late April.

And since it was such a quiet week with not much to report, I'll throw in a couple random photos from the week.

Sunset from our living room window

Artists in residence

Guess who lost his hat?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Art and Adventure

You know I'm not going to complain about my Mother's Day.  I had a lovely day with my two lovebugs all to myself.  But it wasn't exactly one of those 'pampering' kinds of Mother's Days, shuffling the kids from game to game, being responsible for all the meals, driving, etc.  So on Tuesday while the kids were in classes all day, I treated myself to a Mother's Day, Take 2.

I made my way to the Museum of Modern Art an hour before they open to the general public, so that I could enjoy some quiet time in the museum before it got slammed with tourists (members get in early).  I enjoyed a couple peaceful hours wandering through the new Edgar Degas exhibit with my free audioguide (via the museum's app on my phone), learning so much about monotypes.  I know I've said this before, but even if a museum charges for its audioguide - get it!  It always turns out to be an amazing lesson on the artist and/or exhibit.  As usual, had I just wandered through this show on my own with no guide, I probably would have enjoyed the work much less and sped through the exhibit much faster.  However, hearing the curator discuss the behind-the-scenes stories, learning about how Degas was known for experimenting with many different mediums of art.  I already knew some of this about Degas because Ella's favorite room in the Met is the Degas room where you can find both his sculptures of ballet dancers as well as his paintings.  But his time spent playing with ink and monotypes, manipulating them after printing them with pastels and paint, were new for me.  It was also fun to hear that he was influenced by Rembrandt's work with printing, since we have a framed print that the kids got to do when we visited Rembrandt's house this summer in Amsterdam.

After the museum I treated myself to a nice lunch and was refreshed when I picked up the kids a few hours later.

Ella had a great adventure this week as well.  She joined a homeschool field trip to do a ropes course out in Queens.


She loved participating in team building activities, climbing over tall walls, joining in trust falls, flying down zip-lines, and balancing on moving platforms 40 feet in the air.

She is so much braver than her mama.

"The brave do not live forever but the cautious do not live at all."

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mothers X Machina

Last week the kids and I got to see a Members Only Preview of the brand new fashion exhibit at The Met, Manus X Machina.


The Met has an annual Met Gala to open this fashion exhibit.  It's one of their largest fundraisers and is attended by all the biggest celebrities.  They had just hosted the event the night before we got to see these insanely gorgeous dresses.  This year's theme was 'fashion in the age of technology' and we saw inventive dresses made from 3D printers, man-made fabrics, metals, feathers - even real coral.

And as usual, Ella sketched her way through each and every gallery.  I saw more than one person stop and take a photo of Ella sketching.

We are in full spring mode here on the East Coast, which means rain, rain, and more rain.  Holden especially loved playing his Wayfinders Experience game in Central Park in the pouring rain.

Kevin and I decided last minute that it would be fun for him to surprise his family in California for Mother's Day and our brother-in-law Sean's birthday.  It sounds like he had a fantastic weekend with his parents, sister, nieces, Sean, and Sean's parents.  And I'm sure they were all thrilled to see him.

Meanwhile, the kids and I headed up to Woodstock on Friday.  In just a few days the garden had changed to much!  There were many more blooms on trees, bushes, the ground.  Many of the tulips and daffodils that we saw last week were already gone.  It's a well-planned garden that seems to have a constant motion of blooms and fades.  All perfectly timed.

It rained all day Saturday while we were there.  I got about another 15 boxes unpacked which continues to take an emotional toll.  I spent time looking through photo albums and putting away things that I know we no longer need and will rarely look at, but can't throw away.  I'm finding it pretty weighing to keep holding onto these things - items such as old college sweatshirts, yearbooks, journals, letters - and to keep moving them from home to home, only to stash them away in a garage until the next time we move.  I saw my sister's handwriting. She died fifteen years ago. I found one box that I opened full of art and framed photos that I hadn't seen in years.  I was a little confused until I looked at the date on the newspapers that they were wrapped in and realized that the box had been packed exactly ten years ago next month when we moved from San Francisco to San Mateo.  We never even opened it when we lived in San Mateo.  It sat taped shut and unmissed in our garage for 7 years, then in storage for another 3 years, only to be opened in Woodstock a decade later.  And honestly, most of the things I found in there I wouldn't hang in Woodstock either.

The kids had fun all day with Kevin's paint set and his old sketch books.  They worked in their Nature Journals and did some watercolors.  We all read a lot and found a nearby grocery store and stocked up the kitchen a bit.  The grocery clerk told us about an area with lots of waterfalls and great hiking that we're looking forward to exploring.

On Sunday morning we had to leave early to get back to the city for soccer and baseball games.  I heard Ella working in the kitchen and assumed (correctly) that she was making me toast for Mother's Day.  All of a sudden she screamed, "DEER!!"  Holden and I shot straight up in bed and looked out the window to the backyard.  Right there were two deer just a few feet away from us.

I imagined him saying, "You don't mind if I have your garden for breakfast, do you?"

The morning rain stopped in time for their soccer and baseball games to not be called off.  The kids and I had a really nice Mother's Day outside in the sunshine, watching sports, and ended with a dinner at our favorite local restaurant - a beer garden where the waiter knows us well, wished me a happy Mother's Day, and asked where Kevin was.  It was a nice way to end a weekend with the kids all to myself.

Holden's baseball diamond overlooks the Hudson River