Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

This was the first year that the kids went Trick or Treating.  I have to say, if we didn't live in an apartment complex, I'm not sure we would have gone.  Management took out the guess work by giving out door hangers to put on your door if you were interested in giving out candy.  I was only planning to take them to five or six doors, but we joined the family next door and ended up going to several more.  Elisabeth got to choose between being a fairy princess or a dinosaur. (She chose the princess a few days ago for the apartment Halloween party.)  Jonah had Kung Fu guy and a Storm Trooper to choose from and the Storm Trooper won out yet again.  We have gotten a lot of mileage out of that costume.  He wore it last year at Halloween and we used it as decoration for his "Star Wars" themed birthday parties.

Jonah telling Elisabeth what we're doing
My little dinosaur
Elisabeth with the Neighbor girl Lila
The mask didn't stay on long - made it hard to walk
So cute!
I just like this picture!
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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hollyfest 2010

Elisabeth & Jonah enjoying the free kiddie rides at the Holly Springs
fall festival

Friday, October 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home

The kids are happy to be home; went right to playing when they walked
in the door. Here Jonah has turned a dining room chair and the table
into a space shuttle with Pooh as Captain and Elisabeth as second
mate. Not sure what role Jonah was fulfilling - he was going around
finding more cargo for his voyage.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Things I've Learned from the Big Apple

Empire State Bldg.
  • New Yorkers are much nicer than people give them credit for
  • In the future, when someone says they are from NYC, I'll understand that that does not necessarily mean Manhattan.
  • Clothes are so much more important in the city: not the style but the functionality. People are more subject to the elements and there is a lot more walking.  So good quality shoes are essential and having the right clothes and accessories for the weather are much more important  (i.e. Rain coats & boots)
  • The subway isn't as strange and mysterious as it seems at first - in fact it's much less stressful and kind of relaxing once you know what to expect.
    • If you are going to Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn with kids - it's easier to take a smaller stroller and not worry about accessible stations ('cause there aren't many)

Bye, Bye Fort Green Park

One last visit to the park before heading out of town

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One Last Bite Out of the Big Apple

Wednesday was our last full day in the city. I was determined to try once again to get to Chinatown. I took the lessons I learned from Monday and decided to utilize the subway as much as possible and again take only the umbrella stroller as I did the day before.  I managed to get us up and out of the apartment earlier and once again set off toward the closest subway terminal which has an elevator. I took the Q-train over the Manhattan Bridge into Manhattan as we have done several times before (the same train we kept hearing from the park the day before) and again stopped at the Canal Street station as I did on Monday. Except this time, I only had to deal with the umbrella stroller. Jonah is quite capable on the stairs. Elisabeth held the rail and walked herself up with me holding her other hand and the stroller in my other arm, still unfolded - no big deal.  And as soon as I popped my head up to street level there were all the lovely street vendors that I had been looking for. "I 'heart' NY" shirts and various other "New York" paraphernalia everywhere - tourist central - woot! I even managed to find a Brooklyn, NY shirt that is now Kelly's.
The fountain in Washington Park
We stopped in a few shops and I found myself out of cash pretty quickly. When I used my Iphone to find the closest ATM it directed me to a nearby McDonald's. Since it was lunch time and Jonah was getting annoying asking for everything he saw, I decided to go ahead and take a break and have some lunch.

Afterwards, we left there and walked north a bit on Broadway. Looking at the map and trying to gauge the kids endurance, as well as my own, I decided to head toward Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park - another check off of my list of things to see.  We made a couple of other stops along the way including a Starbucks for coffee and a bathroom. NYU is right there and I gathered that the feel of Greenwich Village is greatly influenced by the nearby university. Washington Park was undergoing renovation, but we stopped to admire the fountain and watch a street performer before heading to the nearest subway station. The area in general had a similar feel to as the neighborhood around our Brooklyn apartment, but newer.

Street Performer in Washington Park
We then set a course for home. It was only 3:30 or so when we reached our apartment, so the kids played for a good hour or so at the playground. Afterwards, I once again got some take out and we went back to the apartment to begin the task of packing up so we could leave the next day.
Our brownstone in Brooklyn across from Fort Green Park

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brooklyn Parks and Shopping

View of lower Manhattan & Brooklyn Brdg from Park
Manhattan Bridge from Playarea
After the subway fiasco the day before, I decided that today I would try something different.  Kelly was planning to spend the evening out with his coworkers so I decided to go to him for lunch.  I knew that there was not an accessible subway stop near his work, so if I took the double stroller I would have to walk the whole way, which is tiresome and time consuming.  I had already piddled the morning away and it was nearly 11 a.m.  So I pulled the umbrella stroller out of the car and told the kids they would have to take turns riding in it and headed for the closest subway station.  We got off at the nearest station to Kelly's work, walked a few short blocks to his office building where he met us on the street.  We walked a couple more blocks to his favorite deli and picked up some food and then went to the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park to eat.  Kelly kept telling Jonah about the playground in the shape of a big ship located there (which I didn't get a photo of), so he was excited about it.  The playground was in the shadow of Kelly's office building and right on the water which made it a bit chilly.  But it was nice to have a nice relaxing lunch while the kids played - they didn't really eat their lunch until after Kelly went back to work.  Then I played "shark" with the kids - imagine a modified tag where mommy tries to grab your legs while you run around on the play equipment.  This park had great views of Manhattan, but the Manhattan bridge being so close meant we heard the noise of the subway train going across almost constantly (we rode this same train a number of times on our visit).

After a quick restroom stop back in Kelly's building, we walked back up the hill and got on the subway just to get off at the next stop (in order to reduce the amount of complaining from Jonah for having to walk).  We got off on Fulton street and went in a few stores.  There was this kids only store called Cookies Department Store that I wanted to check out and a few other stores that were new to me.  I bought the kids a toy each among other things and we continued our walk to our apartment.  We took our stuff to the apartment and then I let the kids play at the playground, then picked up some "take out" from Rice.  We had a fairly relaxing evening in, while Kelly and his coworkers headed into Manhattan for some authentic Korean food that required him to remove his shoes.
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Monday, October 18, 2010

A Day on the Subway

Ghandi @ Union Sq.
Knowing we were going into our last days here, Monday I set off for Manhattan to do a little shopping. Well, I took the Q train to Canal Street and only after I got off the train did I realize that it was only the 6 train that had elevators not Q. So, I hopped back on the next train and got of at the next accessible stop which was Union Square. Once surface level, I used Google Latitude to get my bearings. I realized Canal Street was still a good distance away, and frankly could not figure out how to get there with the double stroller. We walked around Union Square and actually stumbled upon a decent public restroom and a nice big playground.  We hung out in Union Square for a while and then I started to head west to get on a train that would head south, but then realized a convoluted way to get to the Brooklyn Bridge area that required going back to Union Station.
Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge
So we ended up doing a loop on the subway taking three different trains in order to get to lower Manhattan to an accessible station.  By that time it was rush hour and that last train was packed.  My hopes for doing some shopping were fairly well dashed, but I did find a couple of vendors in the City Hall area.  We then stopped in a deli for dinner.  Kelly walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to join us and then we all walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge together.  Then we got on a train not worrying about accessibility now that Kelly was with me.  However, we got on the wrong one - the express train bypassed the stop we needed so we had to back track once again.  We finally made it home by about 9:30 or so and I was pooped.  Shew!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday in The Park

Sunday, we managed to leave the apartment by 9:15 a.m. motivated by the fact that we were scheduled to meet friends by 10 a.m. at the Central Park Zoo.  We took a subway train that we have taken before, but we needed to make a transfer.  That went well, but when we got to our final stop one of the elevators to the surface was not operating so Kelly and I had to carry the double stroller up on the escalator.
We got to the zoo about the same time as our friends despite the hiccup with the elevator.  Jonah and Elisabeth were both excited to see Tristan and Cara again.  We all enjoyed a fairly laid back morning exploring the Central Park Zoo.  There was also separate petting zoo that the kids particularly enjoyed.  It had a few play elements that made for some great photo opportunities.

We left there and headed to an authentic Chinese restaurant that Paul and Cathy knew of a few blocks south.  The food is served family style and we ordered a selection of chicken, beef, fried rice, green beans, jellyfish, and these dumplings that had soup and meat inside (a.k.a Shanghai Soup Dumplings).  It was all very yummy! The Jellyfish wasn't bad either.  I love this picture of Cara and Elisabeth taken at the restaurant.

Then we set off for Central Park to look for a playground.  When we got to the park and I started to take pictures, I realized the battery on our nice camera was dead!  So I had to use my phone afterwards.  Which was a real bummer.  The park is beautiful and everywhere you look there are great things to take pictures of.  Every time we've been there, we've seen brides in their dresses getting formal pictures taken.      There was so much going on there that I think I'll wait and do a separate post on Central Park.
We finally made it to a playground and let the kids play for quite awhile.  Then we called it a day and went our separate ways.  When we got back to the apartment it was fairly early (7ish) so I took the kids to the park to swing for a few minutes while Kelly went to get a pizza.  Then we enjoyed a relaxing evening in.

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Central Park Zoo

With Tristan and Cara

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Markets and Museum

Richard Birkett's Fantasy Clocks
Saturday morning, I went down to the street market outside of our apartment and purchased a few muffins, apples, and a loaf of zucchini nut bread. Who knew there were so many varieties of apples! We consumed some of my finds and got ready to depart. We've been getting out the door later and later; it was nearly lunch time when we finally left this day. We set off for Central Park but had to stop for lunch before we even got on the subway. We took the train to Central Park West aiming for the American Museum of Natural History.  
Between the subway station and the museum, we ran across yet another street market with stands of clothes, purses, jewelry, art and Fantasy Clocks by Richard Birkett. He had some really creative home made clocks. We got his card, as he doesn't have a website, and continued on.  
The American Museum of Natural History was the setting for the movie Night at the Museum. The place is huge and meandering. Even with a map, it is easy to get disoriented and make a wrong turn. The exhibits are extensive and struck me as being particularly artistic. The lighting was remarkable in some of the exhibits. It makes for some great pictures, but feels more fake than other types of displays. It's a taxidermists dreamscape. They did have the most dinosaur skeletons than we have seen anywhere else including the Smithsonian (but it has been nearly 10 years since we were there.) There is so much to see it is overwhelming. We enjoyed it, however and made an effort to see as much as we could before closing time.  
Afterwards we walked down Central Park West and stopped at a restaurant called Sido where we enjoyed really good middle eastern food. 
African Animals Gallary

Friday, October 15, 2010

Good Planning < Good Parenting

So today is Friday a.k.a "move the car day."  Knowing the car needed to be moved, I planned to drive to the Brooklyn Children's Museum which was relatively close and there is easy parking, hoping we could spend a few hours and have a nice lunch.  Well, things just didn't turn out as planned....

The kids were all excited about going back to the museum, and as a result, were very rowdy.  I didn't have the GPS in the car and was using the mapping program on my phone to find the way.  Well, with all the distraction, I ended up putting the wrong destination in my phone which meant we went about 8 or 9 blocks further than we needed to - to the Brooklyn Children's Center instead of the Brooklyn Children's Museum.  I thought the cross streets didn't seem to be the same, but didn't put two and two together until it was too late - my synapses misfire when bombarded with shrieks and fighting in the back seat.  And, of course, Jonah starts saying, "I have to go pee....."  Which really gets my ire up, because I usually ask him to go potty before we leave the apartment.  To which he says he doesn't need to or doesn't want to.  And this morning, I just didn't ask, partly because I forgot to remind him and probably, subconsciously not wanting to argue about it.  Anyway, I keep telling him to hold it because we're almost there.  I finally backtrack and find the place and park and we all get out and sure enough he is soaked from the waist down.  Well, I am beyond exasperated because I have had to fight with him all week about wearing his shoes versus his sandals, putting on a jacket, going potty when a bathroom is available instead of when it's absolutely necessary, etc. This battle has been part of the reason I just haven't had the energy to do many big excursions this week, which frankly makes me even more frustrated.  Luckily Kelly bought a book called "Parenting with Love and Logic"and had the wherewithal to bring it on the trip.  I have only gotten through the first two or three chapters, but it helped me get through today feeling much more positive than I otherwise would have.  In so far, it suggests not making your child's problems your problems, letting them struggle and make mistakes, yet loving them and having compassion on them when they do mess up, because it is in the lessons they learn during those moments that they learn the most about life and how to be responsible.  Well this whole potty thing has definitely seemed like it has been completely "my" problem this whole trip and not his at all.  So here I am on the sidewalk looking at him, and I'm furiously trying to get past my exasperation, trying to keep my mouth shut, praying and thinking - trying to remember what I have read and apply it in this moment and make this a learning, positive experience.  So I tell Jonah that he can't go in the museum and play with peepee pants and I ask him what he thinks we should do.  He says, "Let's get some clothes out of the back of the car."  He knows mommy is often prepared for these kinds of issues - but not today.  I told him that we didn't have any clothes with us.  Then I said that we were just going to have to leave and go back to the apartment for clothes.  When he asked if we were going to come back, I said no.  Both kids started crying at that, but atleast his potty issues were becoming his problem.  I asked him what he thought he should do to prevent this from happening again, and smart guy that he is he said, "go peepee before we leave the house."  I responded by saying, "That's a great idea!" (Some things you just have to figure out yourself I guess.)

So I made it back to the neighborhood after witnessing some crazy driving along the way and seeing those darn shirts I want - inconveniently located.  The street sweepers were still at work on our street, so I parked a block away.
at the Brooklyn Public House

We went up to the apartment and Jonah changed clothes, and after yet another confrontation over shoes and jacket, we set off to find some lunch.  It was very blustery and cool out, but he didn't choose to wear or take his jacket (which I suggested) so he was cold on the walk to find lunch.  He kept wanting to go in just anywhere because he was cold, but denied this was the reason.  After perusing the menu on the door, I finally chose the Booklyn Public House and ordered a quesadilla and chips and salsa.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it helped my mood considerably to get some good food in my tummy.  Afterwards, we walked to our car and drove it around to park right in front of our building.  So the car can now stay put until we check out next Thursday (or not).

We went back up to the apartment and I decided to go to the laundromat again.  Let's just say, not having a washer/dryer to your immediate disposal is particularly challenging with a night wetter.  Also, this weekend will be cool and breezy and I wanted my sweater and all my jeans clean and available.  During the drying cycle,  I strolled the kids down the street a bit and we stopped in a couple of places to pass the time.  It actually was a bit nicer experience than the other night at the laundry mat.  We made it home for a couple of hours of down time before Kelly got home.  I fed the kids during that time and then we went out for some Thai food.

Now we're getting ready for our last weekend in the city......
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Brooklyn is Becoming a Blur

Our stay in Brooklyn is more than halfway over, and I'm finding if I don't blog about things every day, I forget what went on.   So even though Wednesday and Thursday weren't particularly eventful, I will describe it if only to help my memory.  I have found this week that my stamina for being a full-time parent and seeing the sights has diminished significantly.  Just being a mom to a 4 year old has been about all I can handle and, frankly, I don't feel like I've handled things all that well.  (I think four year olds are way harder than two year olds by the way.  I'll probably be blogging more about this later.)

So, Wednesday I made eggs for breakfast and we set off walking in the general direction of Kelly's office, but through a big retail area.  I was hoping to find some postcards and an "I love Brooklyn" shirt to no avail.  My overall goal was to get close enough to Kelly's work so he could meet us for lunch since dinner time was turning out to not be such a great time for a family meal.  It was well into the lunch hour when I found myself in the middle of a very busy area and Jonah telling me he had to go potty - he waits until he REALLY has to go!  So I ended up ducking in a KFC/Nathans/deli and, of course, restrooms provided to customers only, so I ordered the kids some corn dogs at Nathans.  The lady behind the register took pity on me and let me in the employees bathroom which was right there verses walking into the recesses of the premises.  Empty bladders and corn dogs in hand, I strapped the kids back into the stroller and left.  I called Kelly somewhat in despair thinking I was still quite a distance away from his work.  Turns out I was only a 15 minute walk for him so we decided to meet at a Chipotle near my location.  Thus we managed to all sit down together and eat lunch.

Afterwards, I stopped in an ornate Episcopal Church (Saint Ann and the Holy Trinity Church) with a sign that indicated a weekly organ concert was playing.  Turns out it was canceled for electrical problems, so I snapped a couple of pictures with my phone of the interior and then set off for the Brooklyn Heights Promenade where we had previously noticed a playground.  This was the first view of Manhattan from this spot in the daylight.  The waterway is so busy with barges and ferries and sailboats and more.  I found the playground and let the kids play for a while.  Then we headed back through the retail area making a zigzagging route and eventually made it back to the apartment.  The kids had snacked quite a bit so I decided to take them to the playground.  We ended up staying there till after dark until Kelly walked up.  We ended up having dinner at a Bar-B-Que place called Smoke Joint a couple blocks away.

Thursday, I got up early and walked around a few blocks by myself stopping in a couple of stores for some milk and OJ and grapes etc.  I also stopped and got myself a latte and a pastry (an almond croissant - yummy!) and then headed back to the apartment.  By that time, Kelly was ready to leave for work.  I took the kids to the park for a good long while and then we went to the Target and a nearby grocery store.  The forecast was calling for rain so I bought some things to prepare at the apartment and planned for an evening in.  We returned to our street about 3:30 and I was surprised that it hadn't started raining already.  I let the kids play at the playground for another few minutes, then we unloaded the stroller and put it in the car.  With some exertion, the kids, myself, and our groceries made it up the three flights of stairs and we had a nice quiet evening at home with our first home cooked meal.  Kelly was pretty wet when he got home and was glad to come home to food - hamburger patties (Kafta-like, but not quite - didn't have all my spices available), baked sweet potatoes, peas and salad.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ups and downs

Yesterday was pretty much spent recovering from the weekend. We did go walk to Park Slope stopping at a couple of playgrounds along the way. After the Chocolate Room we went across the street to a kids consignment store called Lulu's Then and Now. Jonah had a meltdown in the store, so we left empty handed.  His fit continued for about 7 blocks. On the walk back to the apartment I was feeling pretty beat down to be honest - somewhat realizing that we were all very tired - mommy included and so I wasn't at the top of my game - so to speak. I ended the day letting the kids play at the playground near our apartment for a couple of hours until after dark.  They had a blast and I got to rest - a perfect ending to a not so great day.
We managed to get the kids asleep much earlier than previous nights and I think it helped make today a better day. I decided to take the kids to the New York Aquarium, which is near Coney Island - a place I had previously only ever heard of in the movies. It looked a bit dreary on this overcast day, but no doubt it seems more impressive lit up in the evening.
The aquarium was very nice if not as sparkling clean as some of the other aquariums I've been to. The rough tailed ray pictured here was remarkable - that is an adult sea turtle in the background to help give it scale. Aquariums are always a hit with the kids so it made for a very good day.
Now I'm at the laundry mat. We've been here over a week so it was time. Certainly makes you appreciate having them in your home - the double stroller is serving dual purposes today.
Oh, and my dad had to give me the 411 on operating a non-self-starting gas oven today, so I could reheat some leftovers. Thanks Dad!
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Weekend to Remember

Buzz Lightyear made of LEGO
I started the day off by going down the stairs and out the front door to a great little Farmer's market. Next to the typical fruit and vegetable stands, were stands of baked goods and fresh fish, flowers, wine, children's clothes made from recycled adult clothes, and handmade sock puppets. There was even a band on the corner complete with a giant tuba. It was lovely! I made a purchase and then headed back up stairs to prepare for our family outing into Manhattan.
Central Park
Our first view of Manhattan when we got off the subway and went up the elevator the heart of Times Square. Navigating a double stroller through the throng of people was challenging, but we managed. We hadn't gotten far before we ventured into the huge Toys R' Us complete with Ferris Wheel, Super Heros hanging from the ceiling and a LEGO Statue of Liberty.  

We eventually moved on toward Central Park taking in the scenery along the way. Central Park is beautiful! People were hanging out on the lawn like they were at the beach - reading, picnicking, playing, sunbathing. We stopped at one of several playgrounds to let the kids play a while. Afterwards we made our way across the southern portion of the park past the various musicians and the outdoor roller skating rink and on to 5th Avenue.
From the Top of Rockefeller Center
Then we headed south toward Rockefeller Center to the LEGO store. We ended the day with a trip to the Top of the Rock. A lady sold us her ticket for half the price, which was nice - the kids were free. We took a few snapshops of the Empire State Building in the background. After a busy day, we were too tired and it was too late for dinner so we ended up eating crackers and cheese and fruit upon our return to the apartment.


Kelly was considering going to the NY Comic Con convention, but then he decided to just go to the Intrepid Museum - a converted aircraft carrier from World War II. Our membership to our local museum, the Durham Museum of Life and Sciences, saved us $61 and a long wait in line. On our way back to the subway station, we came across the biggest street fair I have ever seen. We made it back to the subway station in Times Square where we found the elevator out of service. Fortunately, Kelly was with me so we carried the stroller down the stairs. (Elisabeth was sleeping the whole time - the princess in her litter.)  We actually made it home early enough to have some down time.

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Intrepid Museum

Friday, October 08, 2010

Not Our Typical Friday

Me at Grimaldi's Pizzaria
Jonah on the Carousel
So we ended up not getting to the park this morning, and I didn't get to the consignment store. We had a great time at the Prospect Park Zoo and even made some friends.  We rode the carousel after the zoo and then hopped the train back to our neighborhood.  We then walked to Kelly's office which is a little over a mile away.  After getting introduced to a few of his new co-workers, we walked a little ways to Grimaldi's - where we heard one could consume the best pizza in NYC.  I have to say it was pretty darn good!  Then we walked through Brooklyn Heights were we saw a lone couple being serenaded by a 3-part orchestra overlooking Manhattan.  We walked home via that route stopping in the grandest Trader Joe's I have ever seen.
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