Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Decorations Florida-style

So I have this theory that folks in Florida make up for the lack of
cold Christmas weather by going all out on their Christmas light
displays. We drove by a home last night that had Santa and his sleigh
flying around the top of their house via this huge mechanical arm. It
was awesome!

Check back later and I'll post a link to a video.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Little Boy is Growing Up

I was slow getting up this morning. By the time I made it down stairs, Jonah had poured both he and his sister a bowl of cereal and they'd already eaten. He was very proud of himself too. I was rather impressed and glad I had purchased a 1/2 gallon of milk instead of a whole gallon recently.

It also reminded me of how a couple of weeks ago he volunteered out of the blue to vacuum the living room. I nearly fainted! He did a great job and even moved things around - I was so proud. I caught a little bit on video - he's in his pajamas. He vacuumed for me again this week as well. I could get used to this.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Birthday Party for Daddy

Jonah and Elisabeth helped decorate.

The Star Wars stuff was Jonah's contribution.

Elisabeth added the Barbie Ballarinas

Mommy made enchiladas and this chocolate peanut butter cake from scratch for daddy - my first from scratch cake ever!

Oh the anticipation!

Blowing out the candles....  with help from Jonah

Elisabeth anxiously awaiting her slice of cake.

Samuel saying, "Where's my cake?" 

Poor little fella has to share with these folks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (a.k.a The MET)

Some words of description: immense, grand, and overwhelming.  A place where art and history are so intertwined that they are inseparable.

We didn't see even a quarter of the exhibit space and due to being with two little kids who had no patience for all the oil and canvas.  I had the kids each pick out something they wanted to see from the photos on the map. Elisabeth wanted to see the princesses (paintings of women in the European Art section) and Jonah wanted to see the armor (it was rather spectacular!), while my main goal was to see The Art of Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia (boy is that a mouthful!). Without further ado, here are some of the pictures I took at The MET.

Wolf and Fox Hunt by P. P. Rubens ca.1615
Jerusalem from Environs by C. T. Frere ca. 1880
Anatolian, Turkman style, 15th-16th century
Moroccan Room
The Temple of Dendur
In the American Wing Atrium
German ca. 1545
Armor of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland ca. 1580
Syrian, Iranian, Turkish ca. 1545
I took this because it reminded me of Elisabeth
We have a print of this by Salvador Dali
As you can see, The MET houses a great diversity of artifacts and exhibits and we just saw the tip of the iceberg during the 3 hours we spent there - again so thankful for the free ticket.  I look forward to  going back with someone old enough to appreciate it!
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Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Beautiful Day in the City

Yesterday we did a bit of walking in the rain.  I took the kids to the Brooklyn Children's Museum, which we went to last year, knowing they would really enjoy it.

We made a Target stop on the way back and there was an organization providing safe child cards to parents. I told them we weren't local but they didn't care. Supposedly, if they were ever lost, this would make it easy to issue an amber alert. It also, puts them at a disadvantage if they choose a life of crime - since their fingerprints our now in the NYS Criminal Justice Service Database! Hopefully that won't be an issue....

We were all pretty soaked on the walk back to the hotel.

This morning we are resting, but shortly we will be taking the train into Manhattan. When planning for this trip I came across an article in National Geographic about the reopening of the newly renovation Art of Arab Lands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and really wanted to go. Knowing that the kids would probably hate it, I determined not to spend the money. I didn't feel like I would get my moneys worth if their lack of enthusiasm caused me to have to leave after only a couple of hours. God's face was shining on me because on Sunday while at the American Museum of Natural History with friends, I spotted a partial city pass booklet laying on the floor by the elevator and lo and behold one of the remaining tickets was for the MET! So, today is the day. So not only do I get to go to the MET today for FREE, but the sun is shining and it's a great day to walk through Central Park on the way!

Metropolitan Museum of Art entrance NYC
Image via Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

IKEA Brooklyn: There and Back Again - A Mom's Tale

We had a complimentary breakfast at the hotel and then the kids had time to play and watch TV until late morning when our day's journey began. We walked to the nearest subway station and took the C train to High Street - our first use of the subway on this trip.  From there we walked down to DUMBO (which means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) where Kelly's office is located to meet him for lunch.

My plan for the day was to go to IKEA Brooklyn after lunch and get a new Poang Chair cover - since ours was long ago damaged beyond repair by our pets. The fastest and simplest way to get there from DUMBO is via the Ferry over to Manhattan, and then the IKEA water taxi from there over to IKEA back on the Brooklyn side. As we pulled up to the dock on the Ferry boat, the IKEA boat was just pulling up the plank to depart.  The operators however, helped me out by signaling to them so they waited for us to board. (The ticket for the IKEA boat is refundable at IKEA if you show it to the cashier.)
IKEA water taxi

IKEA Brooklyn on the waterfront
The kids enjoyed the unique travel method and it was very convenient and pleasant. Once we arrived at IKEA I joined their family program so that I could get another 30 minutes of childcare in stead of the standard 45 minutes. Then I dropped the kids off in Smaland and went shopping for an hour and 15 minutes by myself! It made for an extremely pleasant experience for all three of us.

The kids in the ball pit of Smaland
IKEA is so big that I used up every bit of my childcare time and was watching the clock when I got to the checkout. Given that, I forgot to get my water taxi refund, but no big deal. I had to buy an IKEA bag in order to rig up a way to attach my giant chair cushion to the stroller and then picked up the kids. Having done my research, I knew IKEA provided a free shuttle back up to our area of town. So, after a brief rest and a snack, we scuttled out to catch the next bus that would take us to Borough Hall. From there we walked the additional 6 blocks back to our hotel and made it home by 5 p.m. My husband called to check on us just as I sat down to rest; he was surprised we had made it back already.

It made for a good day - got something off my "to do" list, had a nice little adventure, got to do some child free shopping and the kids had a blast on the ferry boats and in the playarea.

Now to think about tomorrow......

Seeing is Believing

After getting checked into the hotel and a short rest, the kids and I walked a few block over to Borough Hall for a tree lighting ceremony. I have never been to one before that I can recall. Several of the Brooklyn Borough politicos where in attendance as well as a local R&B group, The Deep.

While all the speeches and singing was going on, Elisabeth kept asking when they were going to light up the tree. Finally, they did and then Santa appeared at the top of the Borough Hall steps.  In dismay, Jonah says "Santa is real!"

We have not liked the idea of lying to our kids so we have never emphasized the Santa Clause phenomenon. But you can't really get away from him - Santa is everywhere this time of year. So Elisabeth has somehow become a believer of sorts while Jonah remains the pessimist. She and Jonah argue whether he's real or not. Mid-argument Jonah will stop and ask, "Mom, is Santa real?" I usually respond something like this. "Is Barney real? or Curious George?"  Jonah will say no and Elisabeth will say yes. Then I will say, "Well, Santa is as real as Barney and Curious George."  Then that usually ends it - until the next time they decide to argue about it.

I think every kids deals with the Santa in their own way and there is to some degree a desire to believe in Santa. I remember at 5 or 6 that I didn't believe there was a Santa per se. I thought there used to be a  generous guy (St. Nicholas) who gave presents to kids, but that now every community had a designated Santa who played the roll and went around giving presents to kids in their neighborhood. So we all make our own stories surrounding old Saint Nick.

After the tree lighting last night, the crowd was invited into the historic building (the original city hall of Brooklyn) for refreshments. And there, of course, was Santa (they also had a snowman and a gingerbread boy). When we left, descending the steps of the classic greek structure - me carrying the stroller while the kids made their own way down - Elisabeth started sobbing uncontrollably. When I asked why she was crying, Jonah spoke and said sympathetically, "She just wants to see Santa." So back up the stairs we went - me carrying the stroller back up the enormous set of steps for the second time. By that time the line to see Santa was pretty short so I figured it was better than a long wait at Macy's or something. Of course, when we got to Santa, Elisabeth was hesitant, but she then got close enough for a picture. Jonah acted like he wanted in the picture too, but, when I told him to get closer, he shook his head and backed away.

So HO, HO, HO from Brooklyn!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hanging with her bud

Back to the Big Apple

We are going to New York City again.

My husband's company is having it's Christmas party on Thursday and wanted him to come up for the week. We decided to tag along. I've always wanted to experience New York City during the holidays: here's my chance  - and at someone else's expense - woohoo!

English: Uploaded from : http://upload.wikimed...
Image via Wikipedia

We managed to not pay for an upgrade in the room. I ordered these cots for the kids to sleep on (thanks Gina for the heads up on that one!). They fold up compactly like camp chairs so they are much easier to store during the day than an air mattress. I love them! We have already used them on an overnight trip during Thanksgiving weekend and they will get used over Christmas as well.

As I prepared for this trip, I once again had some anxiety about the kids getting lost especially during subway train transfers. Last time, I brought our double stroller and used it every time I went out with them by myself except once. It gave me great peace of mind having them confined in the stroller getting on and of the subway, even though it was big and hard to maneuver. Now they are older (and more to the point bigger) so that is no longer an option. Nevertheless, losing them in the crows as we get on or off a subway train is still there. So, here's what I came up with to assuage my fears. I made buttons at zazzle.com with their pictures and our phone numbers. My plan is to pin them inside their coats when we are out - obviously, I don't want strangers seeing them on the outside of their clothes. I've already talked to Jonah and Elisabeth about them and I've given them instructions to show them to an adult (preferably in uniform) in the event they don't know whereabouts of  mommy or daddy. So deep breath (sigh).  It makes me feel much better having done this.
R46 F train, led by car 6028, at Herald Square...
Image via Wikipedia

At the moment, we are in Somerset, NJ staying with friends through tomorrow. So not only is this another grand adventure but a grand opportunity to catch up with friends as well. Their kids are 8 and 4 - Tristan is the oldest and Kara is the youngest so, as you can imagine, they totally speak the same language as Jonah and Elisabeth (ie. LEGO and baby dolls).

So stay tuned for more Adventures from the Big Apple......
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Giving Thanks for Friends

We had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday and weekend with friends.  

On Thanksgiving day, the kids played well with their friend Serra, whom they have known for quite a awhile, but don't get to see nearly as often as they'd like. 

I don't know that they'll do if we ever get new furniture!

Then on Saturday we drove to the coast to visit the Burns' in their new home. 

Best Buddies (copyright Sheila Burns)

In both instances, the kids behaved exceptionally well - no one got hurt and everybody stayed happy. Now that's something to be thankful for :-)