Thursday, October 27, 2016

October Hues


I love autumn in New York.  The air reminds me of the Bay Area - crisp and chilly.  But just about nothing else reminds me of California.  The trees are all a gorgeous display of golds and auburn and scarlet and an infinite number of shades of green.  I start my days by peeking out the window.  Are pedestrians wearing hats?  Parkas?  Or just heavy sweaters?  Any umbrellas?

I took the above photo yesterday morning.  Holden was in his volunteer class so I had a little over an hour to power walk throughout Central Park while catching up on my favorite podcasts.  Who needs a gym?  And who needs Vermont when you've got colors like this right here in one of the world's largest cities?


Holden and I had a double header last Friday: two world class museums in one day.  First, we met our friends over at the Brooklyn Museum.  They've got an incredible Egyptian collection so we'll definitely need to return shortly with Ella.  We saw several real mummies including x-rays taken of them to show their skeletons.  Holden recognized several pieces as being from the Roman Egyptian period since he's studying that with Kevin right now.  The museum also has parts of the Book of the Dead filled with magic spells to assist the dead in the after life.

From there we headed back into the city and practically bee-lined to The Met for our Friday night mythology class.


We took a quick trip up to Woodstock on Saturday after Ella's soccer game.  We only had one night but we hadn't checked on the house in a month and I was worried about leaving it unattended for so long.  The only problem we found was that ALL of the trees on our property (and I haven't counted them yet) had dropped their leaves.  It was a mess of dead foliage that Kevin happily spent hours cleaning up.  He says it's his meditation.  I'm glad because to me it just feels like cleaning house outside.  He was happy to let me stay warm inside, cook up a yummy dinner, supervise pumpkin carving, and sleep in in the morning.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Grateful Mama

How is it that even when our workload lightens, we still seem to fill all of our time up?  Or is it just me?  I'm only homeschooling one kid now but somehow I haven't had time to write a blog post in over a week!

I'll just give some highlights of our time since returning home from Niagara Falls last week.

Ella and I enjoyed a fantastic mother-daughter night out with Maeve and her mom Sharon last Tuesday.  We had a lovely dinner together and then went to the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center.  Sharon is a former ballerina who is now teaching ballet to adults.  She told us of when she was in high school and used to sit way up high in the nosebleed seats at Lincoln Center all by herself when tickets were only $9.  Unfortunately, we paid no where near $9 for our tickets.

Friday night was of course at The Met, however instead of joining the kids in their class, Kevin and I took advantage of one of the last evenings warm enough to enjoy the roof top bar.  We saw a stunning sunset over the city while sipping wine.  It's a good life.

Over the weekend I was down with a bad head cold.  Ella was invited to her first sleep over at a new school friend's house and joined them the next day to go apple picking upstate.  I wish I had photos to share.  That left Holden and Kevin to get in some good father-son time together.  They spent Sunday wandering the city, playing tourist, and visiting several LEGO stores.

Holden has started a new class this week.  He and several other homeschoolers his age will be working on different volunteer projects each week and will be learning about ways that people give back to their communities.  Yesterday the group visited a food pantry for the homeless and needy.  We learned about who is coming to receive groceries, why they need help, where the money comes from to pay for the food, and what other services the staff there offer.  We discussed gratitude at length as a group after the visit.  I only wish Ella had been able to be there as well.

And an update on Ella.  Yesterday morning as she was getting ready for school she said, "Mom, I really love my new school."  I can't tell you how happy that made me.  It's such a joy to see her so happy, making tons of new friends, feeling challenged in her classes, and continuing to love learning.  She has joined the cross-country running team and the debate teams.  Her first debate is in a couple weeks.  Her English teacher has already emailed me to tell me that she is "a joy to have in class."  She's now taking the subway home with friends and wanting to spend some of her time on the weekends with friends.  I won't lie - this pulling away and independence makes me more than a little sad.  Kevin and I said many times over the last few years that we knew this was the best time in our lives when our kids wanted to spend all of their time with us and our weekends were spent all together.  And now we see that time coming to an end.  But of course it's all the way it's supposed to be.  We're both so proud of her and happy to see her blossoming so much and finding her way.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Birthday in Niagara

My first born is now eleven...going on twenty-five.

We celebrated her birthday on Friday night at her favorite Ramen restaurant and then woke up at the crack of dawn to take the train upstate, all the way to the border, to Niagara Falls.


The train ride itself was absolutely gorgeous with the fall leaves in full autumn colors.  We spent hours reading, napping, watching the scenery, playing cards.

Once we got to the train station on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls, we hopped in a taxi to the border and walked across the Rainbow Bridge that connects the two countries.

We spent all day Sunday enjoying the falls from just about every angle.  We took a boat underneath the falls, hiked in the park above the falls, climbed some rickety stairs along the side of the falls and ended with a delicious dinner in a restaurant that overlooked the falls.  And lucky for us, it was Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend so we'll be able to enjoy two turkey dinners with all the fixings this year.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Outward Bound and Out with Bonnie

Technical difficulties have delayed this long overdue post.  And it's a shame, because last week was so fun and I have lots to catch you up on.


I think I told you that Ella's new school is the result of a partnership between the NYC Department of Education and Outward Bound, an international non-profit that has been leading outdoor education programs for over 70 years.  Their mission is to "change lives through challenge and discovery." To kick off the school year, the 6th grade class gets to go on one of these adventures for three days.

The camping trip includes a lot of difficult and exciting challenges such as ropes course. climbing and backpacking.  If you look closely at the photo above...keep looking up...up in the trees...that's our little Ella hanging there.  She said her team pulled her up with the ropes and then she had to unhook one of the ropes which then had her swinging through the air on the one rope that was left.  It not only pushed her to test her own limits but it allowed her to have complete trust in her classmates.  As you can see from the second photo, it was an emotional experience for her.

They also had tons of fun cooking together, hanging out by a campfire telling ghost stories, and getting to know each other.  She came home with a bunch of new friends and memories for a lifetime.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch in the city, Kevin, Holden, and I got an awesome visit from Cousin Bonnie all the way from California!

Bonnie treated us all to a Yankees game which was super fun and Holden and his buddy Simon were thrilled to be able to stay up WAY past their bedtimes on a school night.  Luckily, they're both homeschooled, so the morning bell is flexible...

Ella was excited to get home to be able to see Bonnie (aka: book lady, aka: bunny lady, aka: cuz Bonnie) and her friend Ken before they left.  The six of us took a day trip upstate so that we could show them Woodstock and get them out of the city for a short while during their 5 day trip.

As you can see, it is officially fall now.  It almost happens on a dime, right on the exact day of solstice.  One week we're still wearing shorts and sunscreen, the next we've pulled our hats and scarves out of storage.

We didn't let them do too much work cleaning up the leaves before dragging them on a walk to Cooper Lake and then through the downtown area where they got their fill of tie dye and drum circles - a true Woodstock experience.

I'm not sure it felt much different from their native Sebastopol. though.