Sunday, September 28, 2008

Grand Times Among Grand Kids

While we had everyone in town for London's baptism, we did our best to show off our new City. Some, like my mom, couldn't be impressed no matter what because of the (what I lovingly refer to as) 'rough edges' that one encounters while traveling around:
* the odd smell (not, "gee, is that jasmine or rosemary?" but more like "uh, is that pee-pee or bus exhaust?")
* the necessary crazy man (walking around with a shopping cart and a million CDs taped to poles, as if hoping to pick up a frequency of some sort)
* The oddly disturbing gusts of warm air hitting your face as they come up from the subway vents on the sidewalk. That warmth just doesn't feel right. (It ain't no bonfire!)
* the near brushes with death whenever deciding to cross the street uninvited by the Lit-Up Walking Man - he rules my world, no joke
* The bags of trash on the sidewalk waiting for pick-up (blatantly staring at you in the face, they make you want to recycle everything and never be responsible for such filth and waste again)
* and the best (or worse depending on how you view the proverbial Glass), the "Holy Crap, what type of liquid did I just step in, and feel a drop of, on my ankle?!?!?" yeaaaahhhhh....

Among some of the activities, we went on the Subway a lot, (oooo-train!!!) played in the park, went shopping in Soho, partied it up in our apartment, and ATE. A lot!!! We had a wonderful weekend. Aside from the soon-to-be new parents Uncle Miguel and Aunt Cara, the only person missing was Papa, who is in Afghanistan. Daisy asked about him a lot.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

London's Special Day

This has been a great weekend. We had all the Woods in town, plus Grandma Fern and Cousin Coco from Arizona. Including the NY Whitings and Uncle Matt (who hails from the BK, aka, Brooklyn), we were 18 strong. They all stayed in a hotel except Grandma Fern and Coco. It was rainy and wet the whole weekend long. I really wanted to show off our neighborhood with all the great fall weather and fun parks, but it didn't work out that way. The reason for the occasion is that our sweet BabyLondon turned 8, and she was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! Her baptism was beautiful and we had lots of friends there, along with amazingly supportive ward members. We have such a great groups of people around us. What a blessing.
We also had a low-key birthday celebration for her. She didn't mind that Mommy couldn't bake the cake from scratch, she had a good time and we all got to show our love for our sweet BabyLondon. She is growing up so well, so strong, and has been able to put any adversity that NYC dishes out in the right perspective. She doesn't let it alter her. She isn't influenced by it. She knows what is right and therefore makes herself accountable for choosing what's right. What's the greatest thing of all, is that she sees the different ways of life around her and doesn't judge; instead she just lives as best as she can. I am so proud of her.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We live here, We learn here

We have been really impressed with both McAllister and London's teachers, and the school they attend in general, P.S. 234. I got to chaperone a field trip with London's class. Of the 8 chaperones, 5 were dads! One dad pointed out with a smirk that he was in Finance and happened to have some extra time on his hands. (The Wall Street woes have affected many of our friends and neighbors.)
They are doing an entire school unit on BRIDGES. 'Dana', London's teacher (who happens to look a lot like London in 20 years), took the kids on the Subway to Central Park to see real-life examples of bridges. So with the beautiful weather we walked all through the park and studied 3 examples of different types of bridges. The kids stopped and wrote and described what they saw at each bridge, along with a sketch. Then we ate our lunch underneath the trees. It was a blast to be with London. It's great to see their teachers using this great city to enhance their classroom curriculum. I feel like my kids are so lucky to be here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ranting and Raving, City-style

OK, for those dear friends and fam who think I'm living it up like Wayne Newton in The Greatest City on Earth, let me give you the down side so you can cherish your mini-vans, drive-thru dinners, lack of celebrity sightings, and over-abundance of honey-sweet manners with whomever you should meet.

Here in New York City:
1) When they say, 'Sure, you can bring your kids!' what they really mean is, 'Look at me, I value children, but in theory only! What I really mean is that they damn well better be locked up at home with their nanny!' (I've gotten burned three times by this.)
2) I'd been walking and subway-ing around the city since 9 am, when finally at 2pm, I realized the sky was perfectly blue and cloudless. A perfect day, but I'd been walking mostly in the shade.
3) McAllister hasn't learned to ride a bike without training wheels. We're getting him a skateboard instead.
4) I haven't been to Target in a month and I'm going through serious withdrawals.
5) Like many of you, I took my son to his soccer game on Saturday morning. Not like many of you, I stepped in dog poo-poo along the way. (Actually people are pretty good at curbing their dogs, except early mornings when no one is watching and moms are rushed for an 8am game.)
6) I haven't seen grass since last Wednesday. No, I'm serious. Do trees in planters count? Tons of those.
5) Daisy's preschool class is wonderful. Sweet teachers, great facility. Her room has no windows.

So there you have it. Life is good. But just remember, the grass is always greener on the other side. Or in this case, the concrete.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I heart TriBeCa

The neighborhood name 'TriBeCa' comes from the shortening 100+ years ago of the description, "TRIangle BElow CAnal Street". Since Manhattan slopes into a triangle-y bottom being bordered by the Hudson and East Rivers on each side, the streets down that far follow those angles as well. They stop being grid-like down here. It's the oldest settled part of Manhattan, with a crazy tumultous, hot history (think 'Gangs of New York'). So, Tribeca borders Canal Street to the North, Broadway/City Hall to the East, and then turns into the Financial District at Murray Street which cuts across the whole southern tip of Manhattan. 2 1/2 blocks into the Financial District from TriBeCa was where the World Trade Center stood. Still a big hole. Construction is everywhere. Positively everywhere. Poor McAllister asked, "When are they going to be done?" Alas, NYC is always under construction, there is always a scaffold to walk under or a sidewalk diverted. Especially around our 'hood as the neighborhood continues to recover from 9/11, and gets gentrified while old warehouses get turned into Loft condos like ours was. Our building was built in 1860 and was originally a saloon! As I look at the brick in our Living Room I wonder what those stones have seen. Maybe I shouldn't think about it. :)
Yesterday was a fantastic Block Party celebrating the 20-year Anniversary of the kids' school, P.S.234. This is a shot inside the school yard. It is an amazing building with great parents and lots of involvement. Its reputation is the reason we moved here. Here's London in her new school T-shirt with Jason.
And here also is Jason and Daisy on his skateboard, a picture I took while we were walking slowly back this beautiful Sunday evening from parking our car at the garage. It's about 6 blocks away from our apartment and we just get the kids' scooters out and dilly-dallied around the streets, window-shopping and people watching. In the background is the Woolworth Building, the prettiest, laciest building in Manhattan. It is 1 1/2 blocks from our home, and the stone work is so intricate and ornate, in places no one will ever really see. It's amazing the integrity with which the building was built! We love the crazy mix of everything, and the history all around is humbling. These buildings have seen so much, all we are is a momentary blip on their radar.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Take Me Out To the Ballgame - or anywhere!

This week Jason and I went with some good friends to Yankee Stadium, the 5th to the last game to ever be played there. Yankee Stadium is in the Bronx, a place that London has conceived in her mind as very dirty and scary with lots of grafitti ("Mom, that man looks like he might be from, well, the Bronx"); we took the subway there and it was a beautiful clear night. "The House That Ruth Built" will be replaced by a newer, younger model, right next door actually. We had amaaaaazing seats, in the same section where Hillary Duff was sitting (10 rows up from her front row seats). Oh, OK, and we could see Derek Jeter and A-Rod at bat, too. It was great to witness this part of history but even better, to go on a date with my husband.

Lifetime Skills With Which To Pad the Resume (!)

Today was McAllister and London's first Ice Skating Lesson. We had to go straight after school, and take a cab to make it up to Chelsea Piers' Sky Rink. McAllister asked if he could hail the cab. He'd never done it before, so I was like, 'Sure, dude, I'll help you!' To which he replied, 'No Mom, I can do it, let me!' And quicker than quick, that kid stuck his arm out, strong as can be, like a true New Yorker. You would have thought he was 40. It impressed me so much I took a picture. Here, also, is a picture of the very successful ice skating lessons. I know, I know, but the kids had another blast!

Daisy Days

Daisy started ballet lessons at the Joffrey Ballet this Monday. She had a BLAST dancing around the room in her leotard and tights, and I had a blast just dancing around the apartment because she's got enough hair to put in little buns. (Now she's got TWO sets of cute buns!) Anyway, It was a quick subway up the 'A' train to the studio and is going to make for a good start to our Monday mornings.
And after a little trial and error on the preschool selection, she finally started preschool this week. She wore her special glitter shoes from Grandma and had a blast. This little girl is eating everything up. She loves NY, and NY loves her back!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Half-Crazy for Daisy

Daisy on the Subway:"Mommy, dat's deeskusteeng!" / "Oooo, it smells GWOSS" (uttered, whenever..., well, actually, everywhere...!)
"Is dis our stop?"...."Is DIS our stop?"
"(Are) we going UPtown, or DOWNtown?"
"A!" (for the 'A Train') "6!" (for the 6 Train) - this child is learning her numbers and letters by the subways she takes.
This weekend was Daisy's birthday. Sweet baby turned 3! So in spite of an e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g week, we went all out for our Dais. On Friday just Mommy and Daisy went out to lunch in our neighborhood, to Kitchenette. She had fun coloring. That chick can stay in the lines!!!
On Saturday, after McAllister's soccer game and a quick trip to Brooklyn for Costco, Jason and I took Daisy out on her Birthday Date. We went to the New Victory Theatre for a production for 1 to 5 year olds, called "The Green Sheep." We were running late and had to take a cab to the theater located in Times Square because sometimes Saturday subways take longer. She hopped right in and grabbed her handle, ready to go. Car seats, Schmar seats. "I prefer a yellow car with a slight odor, covered completely from ceiling to floor in black vinyl." Surreptitious applications of Purell and guaranteed nausea. (The subway is the only way to go. But I digress....)
I haven't been to Times Square since I moved here, and I was reminded of something really important today, Times Square Is Not New York City. It's its own separate (and unnervingly twisted) state. Like the Vatican is to Rome. Except with a great deal of Neon and an Applebee's Restaurant. People walk through that area and decree disdain for New York City. It's like going to Wimbledon and deciding you dislike Hockey.
So we closed our eyes through the flashing lights and chaos and made our way to the New Victory Theater. We all three had a blast with this interactive performance. It was so well done and just fun. Nothing like hanging with the under-5 crowd!
After that we scurried back to Tribeca (not turning around for fear we'd turn into salt pillars, you know) and had lunch and went home. Here's Daisy, running to our door on Warren Street. I love our block!
Tonight we had a few friends over to a Housewarming/Birthday Party. I posed like I do every birthday with Daisy and her My Little Pony cake. She had a BLAST opening up her presents that she got from Grandma Fern and Lita. We gave her her first piece of jewelry, a painted wooden necklace that she loved. It was adorable! She kept saying, "Cooooo-wul!" A long, surfer-like way of saying 'cool'. After a day like today, we'll say that again!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Six in The City

McAllister celebrated his 6th birthday yesterday and today. I went to his 1st grade class to tell of the day he was born, which was great. He passed out cupcakes and pencils. We had birthday cake that night, a Star Wars kind like he wanted. He had a fantastic soccer game this morning, scoring 2 goals! No small feat since there's 8 kids on the field, all legitimate-like with a paid referee. At the end of the game, one kid asked the coach, "Who won?" The coach answered, "what matters is we had fun, (but we did!)" Love that guy. It's going to be great season.
Today we went out with just McAllister to the Natural History Museum. We saw a show at the Hayden Planetarium. He felt so special traipsing around the city with his parents and no sisters! We totally bonded with him. He is a sweet kid, he has transitioned really well to school, and he's a great little athlete! I'm thinking College Scholarship, baby!
It started to rain like crazy this afternoon. The first rain storm I've seen in NYC since we moved here. I've concluded that the Hunter wellies I bought were worth it, and that I need to consider some serious rain gear. The rain goes sideways, and it builds up on different tiers of the tall buildings, only to be unleashed when a gust of wind comes along. It's like the kids' show from the 70's, "The Electric Company", where the unsuspecting victim suddenly gets a bucket of water in the face. Que the Laugh Track. Yep, the famous New York Weather is stirring up. Oh well, more chances to accessorize?!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Soccerballs and Skyscrapers

McAllister's first soccer practice, at Battery Park City's fields. His coach is so great. The commitment level from all the adults in my kids' lives has been fantastic so far!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

And then there was one...

First day of school. That lovely, butterflies-in-the-stomach/panic/anxiety/nervousness feeling. Me, not the kids. We were late dropping McAllister off because we couldn't find his class for 15 agonizing minutes as the schoolyard emptied. When we finally found his room the look of sheer terror for my sweet child who takes 10 minutes to transition anywhere just about made me cry. All of his classmates were on the classroom rug quietly listening to the teacher when he walked in. "Tass! See the Deep End over there? We're throwing you in! Buh-bye!" McAllister is in Karmit's (/car-meet/) class, London in Dana's class. They don't use any titles at all for the grown-ups here. No 'Mrs.' Jones, No 'Miss' Jennifer, all just first names. Of all the things to get used to, that is the biggest. I hate it. Kids should refer to adults with some sort of title before their name. That's the Southern/Army Brat/Conservative side of me coming out. Overall It was a great morning, fabulously dressed moms all over the place. There's a Supermodel mom here too. No, really. We'd all recognize her. I noticed her hanging out with her other Tall Friends.
Daisy got the best deal of all. Free bagels and cream cheese after drop off, and a mommy all to herself from now on.

Monday, September 1, 2008

One last Hurrah

Today was amazing. For the record books. First of all, Jason let me sleep in until NOON! How is that possible? I've been running on fumes for weeks, so it was a gift. But wait! like an infomercial, 'That's not all!' Jason then took the kids to a restaurant called "The Odeon" here in Tribeca while I went on a long (albeit hot) run up the West Side Highway to Chelsea Piers. It's basically one long strip of parks and boardwalks, grassy areas covered with sunbathers, water parks with little kids and parents playing in crazy sprinkler-type things. (The closest we'll get to a Rolling Hills Swim Club, sniff-sniff).
After that alone time we all hopped on the subway to Central Park. We did the radio-controlled boats and then played frisbee and pe'tanque (hearkening back to my mission days in Paris) on the Great Lawn. It was heaven. Not a cloud in the sky, a cool shade stretching from under the tall trees as the sun started to set. It seemed like all of New York was out and we got to bond with thousands of people! (It's interesting, I feel like I've spent more time outside truly playing with my kids here than I ever did before. It's like all the buildings and close quarters really force you to seek any recreation you can enjoy outside.) Anyway, Uncle Matt joined us, we went to dinner at PINCH (Pizza by the Inch) on West 83rd and then quick hopped in a cab to make it home so the kids could be bathed and in bed by 8:30. Why? because SCHOOL STARTS TOMORROW. I'm in denial and trutfully we just didn't want this day to end. I think the pictures explain why.