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Month: May 2013

we’re serious about a bike

we’re serious about a bike

We are getting a bike. I say “we” because the bike we are getting is a family bike. Something we all can ride. We tested a box bike and a tandem a couple of weeks ago and today we tested a longtail, which is what we’re really interested in getting. It seems like a good fit for our family, like it will fit in our apartment and adapt to our needs as our kids grow up. Plus it can cart our groceries around for us as well.

The test drive today went well. Everyone seemed to like the bike, which rode super smooth. The other bikes we tested were nice, but the boys liked the box bike better, I felt more comfortable on the tandem, and neither really seemed like it would actually fit in our apartment or in our lives.

As we walked away from the bike shop, I asked Simon what he thought of it. And he liked it. But he was a little concerned.

“If you guys want to buy that bike, you’ll have to save your money. And then you won’t have money to spend on other things,” he said.

“Like what?”

“Well, like food.”

I assured him that Dad and I would not touch the food money to buy the bike. Or the rent money. Or the clothes money. In fact, we had a special fund just for the bike. No need to worry about that. But good to know that he’s listening to us as we try to teach him how to manage his money.

And hopefully this investment in a bike will not discount all the money management lessons we’ve been teaching him. I’m pretty sure it won’t. I’m pretty sure we’re going to like having a bike.

his and hers sleepers

his and hers sleepers

“Not only is going to sleep really really really really really really really really really really really hard, it’s also NOT FUN.”

Yes, Simon is my child. I’m seeing that more and more now. Even down to the way he tosses and turns and can’t get to sleep at night.

Meanwhile, his little brother demonstrates his amazing ability to fall asleep in a matter of minutes. Just like his dad. Simon and I can only stare at our sleeping counterparts enviously, resentfully.

Sometimes I’ll climb into Simon’s bed with him and chat for a while. Sometimes we’ll let him come out and play games with Micah on the iPad – serious market research, of course. And a couple of times we’ve said he can stay up, as long as he does the dishes or puts the toys away. (He lasted a surprisinglylong time before deciding even lying sleeplessly in bed was better than that.)

From personal experience, I’m pretty sure this is something he’ll struggle with his whole life. The trick, then, is to figure out how to make it more manageable and less of a chore. We’re thinking of getting him a reading lamp to clip to his bunk . . . and hoping that he doesn’t exacerbate the problem by staying up too late, sleeping in too late, and perpetuating the cycle. Not that anybody in my family would ever do anything like that. Eh, Blackhursts? Eh?

current obsession: space origami

current obsession: space origami

As far as obsessions go it’s not my fave. Mostly for these reasons:

1. Simon’s attention span and ability do not match up with his interest level.

2. This means that when he tells me or Micah that he wants to do some origami what he’s really saying is that we get to do some origami.

3. My attention span and ability to do not match up with his interest level either.

4. This means that we have a lot of half completed projects lying around.

5. Elsa’s favorite food group is paper.

6. There are loud exclamations whenever it has been discovered that she has made a meal of one of the unfinished projects.

But Micah is good at it, and when he finishes a project, it looks pretty awesome.

So there’s that.

winnie the pooh and tigger too

winnie the pooh and tigger too

Simon and his relationship with people in oversized costumes = hilarious. It’s like they are long lost friends. He runs and jumps into their arms, then bounces along with them or dances around beside them.

Meanwhile, Oliver . . . not so much. He hangs back, looks like he would prefer to go the other direction, but eventually decides that it couldn’t hurt to be cordial. He’s made a lot of progress from the days when he actually would scream and run the other way, or try to climb on top of the head of his nearest parent.

Oh, and it doesn’t matter if the costume is the familiar and lovable Tigger or a random ginseng. It’s big and soft and I guess that’s all that matters.

(The photos with Tigger an Pooh are from a Disney Baby event we were invited to through Babble.)

child model for sure

child model for sure

Remember last summer when the boys were photographed for a boy’s clothing line? Well, the pics are up! Simon looks fabulous. Oliver looked fabulous as well, but it looks like they didn’t use any of his . . . yet.

Just a little bit about Culdesac, the clothing line. The designer, Hayley Barker, noticed a disturbing lack of nice boys’ formalish clothes. (We noticed this lack as well last summer when we were looking for clothes the boys could wear to my brother’s wedding. They ended up with black jeans . . . .) Her solutions to the problem are perfect. Nice, but not too grown up. And the photography for the current line used the cutest models.

Check out the site at Culdesackid.com

we were in Boston

we were in Boston

It is still weird to me that in a small way our lives intersected with a serious piece of history, that from now on we’ll tell people that we were in Boston, that I ran that race, when it all happened.

In some ways it feels like a close call. What if I’d had a bad race and was still on the course? What if Micah and Abby and the kids had been closer to the finish line? But it also feels like we were a million miles away. The race was in our rearview mirror when the bombs went off. We didn’t see or hear anything of consequence. From our perspective, the tragedy unfolded very slowly: with shops in the mall closing in the middle of the afternoon, with the fire alarm lights flashing, with people being herded out of the mall, and then, finally when we were outside, with everyone on their cell phones and the word “explosion” being used too often to have been coincidental. We went back to our hotel room to find out that the race had been suspended and not everyone would get to finish. That’s when we knew this was pretty serious business. But still, the local news was – rightfully – hesitant to use the word bomb. There were two explosions. It could have been a gas line. It could have been something else. The unfolding and the impact were softened even more.

There was little we could do. Most of downtown Boston closed. We had no idea if there would be more explosions, but we knew that there was no point in going out. We took the kids to the hotel swimming pool and spent the next couple of hours responding to texts and calls and letting everyone know that we were okay. We definitely appreciated all those who reached out and checked in and were concerned for our well-being. And we felt bad that while you were all worried, we were splashing around in the pool and making no plans to shorten our stay.

By the next day, things had changed. We felt that there had been time for things to settle down, for sweeps to find any more bombs, for security to have made things safer. In fact, we spent the next out and about in Boston. There were SWAT vans outside our hotel, yes, and we had to show our hotel key and ID to some officers in order to go down one of the streets, but for the most part, everything was normal. It was a peaceful, beautiful day. We saw the “Make Way for Duckling” sculptures. We walked to Bunker Hill and had a picnic with some friends. We got cannoli at Mike’s Pastry shop.

There were, however, two times that day when we felt like maybe we were a little crazy, that maybe we should go back to the hotel. The first was soon after we left the hotel. A lady who was working on some construction project (I think) was on her phone. She was crying and saying that they were closing the road, half to us and half to the person on the other end of the line. We wondered if they had found something else suspicious, but decided just to change our route and go a different way. And then, at the duckling statues, a man was tying balloons for kids. He’d kind of staked out his spot and had been there a while. Then he noticed a black backpack on the bench next to him. He asked who it belonged to, then asked again. By the third time, those who heard him were starting to get nervous, me included. And then someone spoke up. It was his. We all breathed a little more freely.

Micah and I felt we handled the situation as well as we could and tried not to make a big deal out of it. After all, it was practically a non-event as far as our little family was concerned. But on Friday morning, when we were back home in Brooklyn, we read the news about the manhunt, the chases, the killings, etc. and that’s when we started to feel a little unhinged. Perhaps that is because we were no longer in Boston and could not see that, for most people, it was just another snow day, another day of waiting inside. And being on the other side of the equation, where we could only imagine what it was like in Boston, our minds went a little wild. We were so relieved when the hunt was over and, once again, we could breathe a little more freely.

In the weeks since the marathon, I have been a little blown away by how much support there has been for Boston and the running community. I feel privileged to be a part of that community and to see the small ways that people have shown their solidarity and compassion. It is, of course, surprising and tragic that the bombers would choose an event in which there is so much love and perseverance and humanity-at-its-best to cause destruction. But it also provides an opportunity for us to see that more clearly, and to see that the bad choices that people make and the destruction they leave is so small compared with the good choices, and the encouragement and love that people offer, even to strangers.

grand central centennial celebrations

grand central centennial celebrations

Grand Central Station is 100 years old this year and we’ve been lucky enough to participate in the celebration a bit here and there. At the Transit Museum we watched a performance to find out all the ways Grand Central has changed over the years and how it became a symbol of New York. We also discovered the secret of why there are so many acorns and oak leaves in the decor. (Hint: Mr. Vanderbilt, the benefactor, was once a little acorn himself.)

But we couldn’t leave our celebration at that a history lesson, as well done and fun and informative as it was. Not when there were “horses” dancing in Vanderbilt Hall! By some miracle, I managed to get me and the kids up to Grand Central a few minutes before the show started. And then I squeezed us through the velvet ropes just as the man was closing the Hall because it was full. And then I found a place where there was still a small amount of room for two little boys to squeeze in at the front. And then I stood back and took a million pictures and some video so we could relive it all later. (I’d post the video, but it’s really not that great. If you want to get a taste of the show as well as some context for it, watch this.)

I’m not going to lie, the dancing horses were great. But so was the feeling of having made it just in time to see it, and of having done it all by myself when usually I am the one who makes us late. Pardon me while I take a bow or two. I was really proud of myself for that. :)

no more “waiting for monday”

no more “waiting for monday”

The Sunday School lesson two Sundays ago was about keeping the Sabbath day holy. A common enough topic and one that I generally tend to say, “Yes, we do that,” and then move on. But as I listened and thought about our Sundays, I thought, “Sunday does not feel restful. Sunday does not feel ‘different.’ Sunday feels a lot like ‘waiting for Monday.'”

Micah and I spent some time that night discussing how we could make Sunday a day of rest instead of a day of naps, how we could involve the boys, and what we thought would be Sabbath appropriate activities. We also came up with a schedule for Saturday that would allow us to do our normal Saturday thing, but also include our brand-spanking-new “getting ready for Sunday” routine as well.

This week was our first attempt, and while I wouldn’t say it was a smashing success, it went well. Even though our Saturday was busier than normal since we had a birthday party and church cleaning duty on top of everything else. We also had guests (my brother and sister) for dinner.

But even with all that, we managed to do our Saturday chores. We got our Sunday clothes out and stocked our Sunday bag. I wrote my Monday post for Babble (the goal is to have Monday and Tuesday finished before Sunday), and prepped our Sunday meal as much as I could on Saturday night.

And we woke up a little earlier on Sunday morning. I made pancakes. We were not as rushed as normal, and although we left the apartment a little later than we’d hoped, we caught the trains well and arrived at church a few minutes earlier.

We came home to a clean apartment and were not (too) rushed getting things ready for our picnic in the park. We sent Chris on his way to the airport and walked to the park to meet our friends. And then we came home at a reasonable time and got the boys and ourselves to bed much earlier than normal.

It wasn’t a perfect execution of our plan, but we did well. Sunday felt restful, happy, clean, and much less like waiting for Monday.

school next year

school next year

One thing about Oliver’s graduation that was not short and sweet: the reminder that Simon is not in school. We thought we had been clear that this was Oliver’s graduation, but as each of the kids were given their paper cap, it became obvious that Simon was confused. Where was his cap? Didn’t he get one? We tried to smooth things over, to let him wear Oliver’s cap, to whip together an award for him, but . . . it was too little too late. He was upset and we all felt bad.

Micah said that he really understood for the first time what I meant when I said that Simon needs kids his age to play with. And the whole thing broke my heart just a little bit. I can’t help but hope that we’re all able to forget this year and the boredom and frustration and disappointment. I suppose there may be some time when I’m able to look back and say, “It’s a good thing that things worked out that way . . . .” But I have yet to be able to find a silver lining.

This is especially timely because we are in the midst of applying for schools for Simon. The Board of Education changed some procedures this year and we are allowed to apply for whatever schools we would actually consider sending our child to, whether they are in our district or not. However, if we apply for out-of-district schools, he is still way down the list of kids who might get a seat. If there is still room after all the district kids have been placed, he may get a seat.

Since this is their first time doing things this way, we have no way of knowing if this improves our chances of a good spot or not. We do know that last year there were seats available in a school that we would have sent him to, but next year things may be totally different.

Tomorrow we are touring a few more schools and we need to submit our application to those schools by Friday. And then we wait. Again. We have decided that we will not be homeschooling him in first grade. He needs friends and I am not equipped to handle his education. However, if none of the schools we would consider have room for him, well, I don’t know. I guess we keep our fingers crossed that there is an affordable apartment in a better neighborhood. Again.

the first (of many) graduations

the first (of many) graduations

Oliver has been going to pre-pre-school this year. But with one of the 5 families involved moving and another going on vacation this week, we decided that since we managed to keep it up long enough to get through the alphabet, we’d call that good. The fellowship of Mensa Prep was breaking up, so we gave the kids a formal ending and some closure.

Yesterday we gathered in the park and shared of feast of Cinco de Mayo themed dishes and let the kids wear some paper caps and get a little “diploma.” It was all very short and sweet and in good fun. Superlatives were awarded. (Oliver received the “Happy to Help” award as well as runner-up for “Total Recall.”) Pomp and Circumstance was played from someone’s phone. 

And then we packed up and went home. It was also quite cold, and the shade was chasing us out of the park.