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Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category

Well, we did it. We drove 8 hours (give or take a few pee/food breaks) down to New York on Wednesday and then 8 back on Monday.

The weirdest part of the trip was the weather. It reached the high 20s (Celsius) every day and didn’t get much cooler at night. It was so hard to convince ourselves that we were there in October. We feel blessed by the weather gods.

We stayed on the Upper West side in a friend’s apartment. He was kind enough to vacate it and stay with his girlfriend so we could take over. I have to admit, I could totally see living in New York if I had buckets of money. We walked to Central Park, which we all just loved. They have a carousel there that costs $1.50 per ride – the best deal in the whole city.

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Even the big kids liked it.

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We went back two days in a row.

The kids also lived climbing on the rocks (and giving me heart failure) and just watching the action. Here’s a picture of them at the top of the rock, silhouetted.

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We also stumbled across people practicing their rock-climbing skills on the more sheer parts of the rock. Our friend, S, ever up for a challenge, climbed it in his street shoes. As he got higher, they dragged the mattress they had to break falls over and placed it underneath him. Then, as he hoisted himself over the lip at the top, every hand went up to catch him as he fell, which he didn’t.

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They then swore they weren’t a club, just random people who show up, conveniently with a mattress and gear, but we think there were just jealous and didn’t want S to join and show them up.

We also got Boo’s face painted.

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Here’s the final product. She has a dopey expression on her face, but it was the best I could get. She’s in the ‘lame smile’ stage right now.

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Another good deal was the little zoo in Central Park. It is very lovely and well-kept, and just beautiful.

We’ve been going to New York since J first took me 15 years ago, and I have to say, the place has changed. We took the kids to gawk at 42nd street without a moment’s concern, and had lots of fun checking out a 3-floor M&M store, amazed that a place with 3 stories of M&M stuff could stay in business.

When I first saw 42nd Street, I stood and gawked like the hick tourist I was and J nudged me and said, “Stop looking like such a tourist! You are going to get us mugged!” He based this on his experience of being mugged on 42nd Street a few years earlier. There were strip clubs and peep shows everywhere and a large black guy with a wild look in his eyes was up on a stool preaching about how the ‘so-called white man’ had ruined the world.

No more crazy people and peep shows there now. Never at any point in New York, even when it was just Maya and me walking in the dark, did we feel a moment’s concern. In fact, several times, when we were having trouble figuring out exactly how to get where we wanted to go, people just came up to us and asked if they could help us out. It was a really nice experience. It seems New Yorkers have mellowed.

Another fun thing was the shopping, thanks to our equal dollars. A lot of stuff, like clothes and books, are cheaper in the States, plus there is no tax on clothes, so we went a little nuts. I bought $50 worth of underwear. (Woo hoo!)

We, of course, had to take the kids to FAO Schwartz.

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We fed them at the little cafe there, which actually had healthy food for kids (plus ice cream – there are limits) . Here’s a happy Maya after a day of shopping.

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The place we really lost our minds was the bookstore. The book situation is ridiculous. One book I got was $14 if you bought it in the States and $21 in Canada. As a result, it just felt to us like everything was on sale and we all got several books. Then, on the way home, we stopped in a Borders for a pee break and walked out with 5 more books and 2 magazines.

We also did various museums, of course. A huge hit was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as The Lightening Thief begins there, plus, it has a section full of Greek statues of the various gods. Here are Maya and Asher ‘posing’ with a young Hercules.

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I know I’ve already raved about this book, but really, it was so remarkable to follow my boy around as he said things like, “Look, he’s holding the skin of the Nemean lion he killed,” and “This sarcophagus has carvings of Theseus fighting the Minotaur on it!”

We then sat on the steps outside the Met, relaxing for a bit. This is Boo’s idea of relaxing:

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We then got to witness something else typically New York: a performance art piece. These women, dressed to the nines, kept crossing the street, pausing in the middle to wave and pretend to flag down taxis. Frequently people who were crossing with them would get into the act, blowing kisses to the crowd and such. Very funny.

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And now we are home. The weather has turned cold, it is raining and the routine has returned. Sigh.

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We made it to NY! The drive, including dinner and only one pee stop, took 8.5. The kids were very good, in part due to a portable DVD player someone lent us and a couple Mr. Bean videos. 

The kids, of course, had no idea what to expect, and every hick town we encountered, they asked, “Is this New York?” When we finally did reach New Jersey, only Maya was awake. We actually got lost at one point trying to find the exit for the Lincoln Tunnel and ended up driving through a slightly skuzzy part of New Jersey, and Maya asked, clearly trying to be cool about it, “Is New York all like this too?” Needless to say, she was much more impressed once we arrived.

I am very excited about showing them New York. It is unlike anything they have ever experienced. A cool bonus is that the kids’ (Maya and Asher, anyway) favourite book series is the Lightening Thief, by Rick Riordan. There are three in the series now, and we eagerly await two more. I read these out loud to the kids and love them as much as they do.

In the first one book, we meet Percy, who is 12 years old. He bounces from school to school because he keeps getting in trouble, is dyslexic and has ADD. He soon finds out that he is a demi-god – a product of a human and Greek god. Olympus exists, on the mythical 600th floor of the Empire State Building. The ADD is because he’s wired to be a hero and the dyslexia is because he’s meant to read Greek.

Okay, it sounds kind of weird, but it really well done. Riordan weaves in all kinds of Greek myths and updates them seamlessly as well. And he has a great sense of humour too. It is a bonus that the hero has ADD like Asher does and yet is smart and funny, and also has difficulty in school – more, in fact, because of the monsters.

Anyway, New York City is Percy’s home town, so the kids have read all about it. The gargoyles can come to life in the book and if you look, there are gargoyles on buildings all over the city. There are constellations painted on the roof of Grand Central Station, so we’ll have to show them that.

And, of course, there’s the Statue of Liberty, the American Girl doll store (sigh), the Science Museum, Central Park, Times Square…

 

And the Daily Show. Let’s not forget that. I cannot wait.

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Slacking again

I have a nice post almost finished about a day trip we made, complete with lovely pictures. Except it isn’t complete with those pictures yet, and we are off to New York in mere moments, so it ain’t happening yet.

We are taking the kids to NY for the first time (for them). I’m very much looking forward to showing them the sights. Everyone is excited. J and I are especially excited because the friend we are staying with managed to get tickets to see a taping of the Daily Show. Woo hoo!

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Vacation update

I have not been online since my last post. In fact, I’m writing this offline to then copy and paste, so annoying is dial-up service.

 

I haven’t read a blog for over a week. And you know what? I’m coping okay, except I’ve run out of stuff to read up here. No computer time means much more reading time, and I didn’t bring enough books. I am catching up in my journal, though.

 

I do feel very out of touch, although I’m not sure that is a bad thing.

 

This week, we are at the cottage with our three kids and two of our nephews (I’ll call them B and C), who are 9 and 11 years old. The four of them – Maya, Asher, B and C – have remarkably similar interests and have gotten along without a major tiff for two weeks now. They spend every waking moment together, doing things as a pack. They are happy to include Boo when she wants to be (there are younger kids here for her to play with) and also include an 8-year-old girl from across the road when she is around.

 

Five kids is actually easier than three, as there are more play options, and since B and C find their younger cousin utterly charming, Asher and Maya are more patient with her too. The only thing that we find difficult – as I mentioned before – is feeding them, since there isn’t a picky eater among them. MominIsrael is right, kids who eat everything is preferable to kids who won’t eat, but it still pains the pocketbook. The five are voracious. We are constantly throwing enormous amounts of food at them. When feeding them dinner, I am reminded of the nature clip I saw years and years ago, where you see a hand holding a huge joint of meat from some animal like a goat or sheep. The hand lowers the joint into a large fish tank and the water boils with frenzied piranhas for a few moments, and then the hand lifts the joint, now cleaned of all meat.

 

I’m just thankful that mine have huge appetites too, or the shock of feeding them all would have been much worse. A couple of days ago, the mom of the kid across the street offered to make lunch for them all (beside the 8-year-old, she has 5-year-old twins). Pasta, she said, that would be easy.

 

My eyes bugged out when I saw the amount of pasta she’d cooked for them. It was enough to split in half and feed the two oldest. I braced myself, hoping the kids wouldn’t be rude about not having enough food. They were good, though. They all ate their share, then came home and ate more. Turns out that, like my kids, my nephews are used to eating meals at friends houses, leaving hungry and filling up at home.

 

I have no idea how large families feed everybody without being rich. I should point out that the whole lot of them, save one normal-sized nephew, are so skinny you can play the xylophone on their ribs.

 

I did not intend to write so much about food. I guess it is just that I’ve been forced to be preoccupied by it. What I intended to write about was that I love it up here. The loss of my beloved internet has been worth it. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but up here the kids get thrown back to my childhood, where they roam around all day playing, and their parents don’t always know exactly where they are. No schedule, no playdates, no parents.

They swim at the beach for hours. They hunt frogs. They invent elaborate games in the forested land behind our cottage. They collect rocks and wild berries. Sleeping all in bunk beds in one room, they whisper to each other long after bedtime, ignoring our half-hearted demands to be quiet and go to sleep.

 

We feed them, bandage scrapes, build bonfires and try to prevent them from emptying their rock collections on the couch, but other than that we hang out and read. It’s lovely.

 

 

It’s not all sunshine and roses – for me, at least. As I write, I am emerging from the pit of a 28-hour migraine. Today was spent lying in bed with earplugs and an eye pillow, throwing back useless drugs. I have no idea what set it off. I haven’t had one this bad in ages.

 

My own personal cottage-holiday ritual is to become ill or injured, so I should consider myself lucky this only wrecked a day. On different years, I have: recovered from carpal tunnel surgery; had an abscessed tooth (two different times and only on holiday here); had severe strep throat that took multiple courses of antibiotics to cure; had an ear and sinus infection so bad I spent the two nicest days of the vacation feverish in bed; had the Norwalk virus (‘stomach flu’); had the real flu; been pukey and exhausted from the first trimester of pregnancy (Asher); been crabby and exhausted from being in the last few weeks of pregnancy (Boo); and had mastitis.

 

Still, I’m not complaining, because at least when I get sick here, I have J to look after the kids. In fact, I actually planned the carpal tunnel surgery that way. Only once I got here did I realize that it was a little bit stupid because I couldn’t swim or play in the sand with the kids. It was still better, though.

 I hardly miss my garden.  

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