iPhone photos from a really great day in Central Park.

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Bring on Spring and Summer! With 60 degree weather today, we had to get out of the house and decided to go to Central Park since we won’t get too many more opportunities to just go whenever we want. The boys love Heckscher playground and have dubbed it “the best playground” they’ve ever been to “besides Firestone Park!” ha! Firestone Park is the little park in our hometown, which obviously pales in comparison to Central Park but does go down in history as one of the best back home.

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One of the best things about Heckscher is the giant boulder that the playground is built into. The kids are encouraged to climb the rock and the views up top are gorgeous.

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After playing for a good long while, we stopped at an ice cream truck and then walked down the mall and into Bethesda Terrace where a woman was singing opera. This is what I love and will miss about New York. It was beautiful.

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Walking through Central Park on one of the first nice days of the year is electric. Everyone is out and everyone is happy. We saw wedding parties, performers, musicians and no less than 1,000 dogs. Ruby seemed to enjoy the city more today than she ever has and even ended up walking completely by herself (since she refused to be carried) nearly 40 blocks throughout the day. We went into Manhattan today with the idea that it may be our last visit before we move. We were not disappointed.

 

 

Randoms

Family

The boys are on “mid winter break” for this entire week. I love waking up in the morning and not feeling like I have to get the ball rolling right away but it’s also stressful to keep them entertained. Theo wanted to spend our second day of winter break having a Harry Potter marathon so here we are on The Prisoner of Azkaban and I’m bored to death. I love me some H.P. but laying around watching movies all day just gets a little old after a while.

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Josh and I have a secret project in the works right now and I’m beginning to feel a little impatient with it. And that’s all I can say about it for now.

Tomorrow begins Ruby’s last month of being one and I feel it. There are hardly any signs of babyhood left (notwithstanding noonas and diapers. those seem likely to be around for a while still). She understands punishment (timeout), can follow instructions, plays on her own and is extremely independent. She also says things like, “Na – cho mama!” and “Hey big guy!” (when talking to Josh. Ha!) and chooses her own clothes almost everyday.

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Entertainment

If you haven’t yet seen the movie About Time, watch it now. We rented it a few weeks ago and I spent the last hour sobbing while Josh fell asleep. It’s a chick flick but not what you’re expecting it to be if you saw the previews for it. Loved loved loved it!

As for tv, True Detective on HBO is insanely good. Seriously one of the best television shows I have ever watched. And has anyone else noticed that Matthew McConaughey has apparently found his acting chops? President Obama even requested an advanced copy of the rest of the season’s episodes.

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I’m reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin and just can’t get into it. It’s very reminiscent of Eat, Pray, Love which I loathed. Self indulgent, made up issues, a “project” taken on with the pre conceived plan to write a book about it. I’m forcing myself through in hopes of keeping my book a month goal for this year.

Wants & Needs 

Have you heard of the air fryer? A little over a month ago I saw it advertised in my Williams Sonoma catalog and nearly choked I was so excited. Apparently, it uses little to no oil so the food is healthier, made without a mess and with no chance of dangerous spills. The price tag is a little hefty but I’m a kitchen gadget junkie and I can’t stop thinking about how much I’d love owning this.

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I’m over winter but not really excited about summer either. Summer in the city is a little dreadful with all of the tourists and awful smells. Think heat meets trash meets street meat vendors meets lots and lots of people. I guess this fits under the “wants & needs” category because I want & need a vacation somewhere south.

I’d settle for just a night out alone with Josh. You know that whole saying, “It takes a village…”, well that has never applied to us and I just recently realized that most people don’t spend 24/7/52/8 (24 hours 7 days a week 52 weeks a year for 8 years) with their children. I’d pick this. It’s right up our alley.

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Snow Day.

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We kicked off our mid winter break by taking the kids sled riding for the first time today. The boys have gone a couple of times on the small hill in our back yard but today we took them to a big hill down the street and it was a blast. I thought we’d make it twenty minutes top before Ruby was cold and crying but even she loved it. I took her down the hill once on Parker’s sled and even though we were flying, she cackled the entire way down. Theo is a pro sledder and loved every minute, even telling me that he was “training for the Olympics.” Parker asked if we could go back tomorrow.

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Sledding is terrifying. You never realize it when you’re a fearless kid but I went down the hill twice today and thought I was going to die both times.

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Our view is pretty amazing. Not everyone gets to sled beneath the Verrazano Bridge. One of the most beautiful bridges in New York, in my opinion. 

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A lot of times when the kids ask me to play outside with them I balk at the idea and try to come up with excuses as to why I can’t. I want to stop doing that.

 

 

 

 

A morning with Parker’s class.

I forgot how much I love spending time in little classrooms. Up until we moved to New York last April, I spent a lot of time in Parker’s schools. In Cape May I volunteered once a week working in the teacher’s lounge, helped run the class parties, chaperoned field trips, and attended all of the school concerts, awards assemblies, and after school family nights. In Texas I was the room mom, I planned and organized all of the holiday parties, went to the school fundraiser dinners as well as the special assemblies and events. I loved it and it always made me wish I’d finished my education degree.

But in New York City public schools, there isn’t much opportunity for parental interaction. There aren’t really any awards assemblies, concerts, holiday parties or family events. You’re not even allowed to have lunch at the school, which is something Parker used to love for me to do. Now excuse me while I step up onto my soap box for a minute.  Being a presence in your child’s school is so important. Not only does it show your kid that you care about their education and what goes on in their daily life away from home, but it opens up a dialog with your child’s teacher that normally parents don’t get. I don’t understand people who have the ability to be involved but choose not to be. Okay, I’m done now. 

Today was my first real day in Parker’s class in almost a year. The third graders finally finished up their informational writing unit and parents were invited in for a reading of the essays. Let me just say, these essays were a pain in the ass. Parker wrote his on sharks and while he just might be a little expert on the subject, writing this paper involved several hours of research, arguments and discussions about plagiarism, and an eventual turning of the back to mom and heading to dad for help. The cover page alone took an hour to design and print.

I headed into the school with Ruby in tow because Josh wasn’t able to take the morning off to come along (or stay home with Rubes). I was a little nervous about bringing her because she has been pretty demanding lately and shows no signs of Parker’s shyness or Theo’s desire to meld with the big kids. She couldn’t care any less about what the teacher thinks (Parker’s huge on not disappointing authority) or acting like a big kid (Theo used to sit at a desk and not move if that’s what the rest of Parker’s class was doing).

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.50.05 AMDon’t let that picture fool you. 

We spent 45 minutes listening to the kids’ essays and during that time Ruby took her shoes off and refused to put them back on, licked Parker’s face and piercingly screamed three times – and not because anything was wrong, she just wanted the attention of the class I guess. Parker let her share his seat with him and gave her one of his pencils and post it notes so she could draw. He never seemed annoyed or embarrassed and when I mentioned that I may have to just take her and go, he insisted that she wasn’t a distraction and that they were almost done. Luckily the teacher had donut holes for everyone because Ruby was not planning on leaving without taking Parker with her. The donut was just enough of a distraction to get her out of the school before she started wailing.

I had to laugh because while I used to get complimented on Theo’s behavior anytime I took him into the school with me, today I got complimented on how well Parker handles his sister. Basically it was, “Your daughter’s out of control but your son is a really sweet big brother.” Ha!

Even though Rubes was a little nuts, I still had a good time. It was nice to see Parker interact with his friends (he’s the leader of the table and it was adorable seeing him instruct the 5 kids he’s responsible for) and to put a face to some of the names I’ve heard so often. It was also a relief to hear that Parker wasn’t the only one who had issues with plagiarizing. Let’s just say there were a lot of words that were unable to be pronounced during those 45 minutes.

Today reminded me how much I love the atmosphere of elementary schools. Don’t tell Josh but it even got my wheels spinning towards the possibility of going back to college. In the meantime, I’m going to continue doing as much as I can here and waiting patiently to get back to a school district where volunteering is encouraged. And next week I get to make pizzas with Kindergarteners as a chaperone for Theo’s first ever field trip. That should make for a good time 😉

Parker’s Pictures.

We had an eventful Saturday and Sunday last weekend but I wasn’t going to blog about it because it was just a repeat of things we’ve done before. Saturday we went to the Brooklyn Flea Market in Williamsburg and Sunday Parker and I spent the day in Manhattan having lunch, browsing the Museum of Natural History, walking the shops on 5th Ave and stopping for a cupcake (or dozen) at Magnolia Bakery. I didn’t even bother snapping any pictures but Parker took along his camera and I was pretty impressed as I looked through his photos.

This is what he found beautiful enough to photograph at the flea market before he was told that he wasn’t allowed to take pictures.  

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Our table at a Mexican restaurant in lower Manhattan. 

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The gift shop at the Museum of Natural History.

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The Godiva Store on 5th Ave. 

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The cupcake shop. 

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Of course the lighting isn’t great and a couple are a little blurry but he’s got an eye for a cool photo and his angles are pretty awesome. I just think it’s adorable that he likes to take pictures. Love my big kid!

 

 

Weekend Recap.

Before I write about our weekend I want to back up a little to News Year’s Day when my sister and I spent the day together in Manhattan. She’s moving to Alaska next month and since we probably won’t see each other again until August, she decided to come back to New York with us for a few days after our Christmas in Ohio. We made plans to have lunch and to go to the Met but since it was a holiday all of the museums were closed. If you know my sister then you know that her back up plan is always to go shopping so we made our way to SoHo, had lunch at a great little restaurant and spent the next five hours walking the neighborhood and stopping in stores. Because I’m old, and it was freezing, and I actually kind of hate shopping, I got to a point where I was just ready to go home but it was a really fun day and I’m so glad we got to spend it together just the two of us.

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The next day she left and headed back to Florida just before “Hercules” hit the east coast. Thursday afternoon the storm started dumping snow onto New York and left us Friday with about eight inches total. The kids were called off of school and Josh was called off of work but with the wind chill making it 10 degrees below zero there was no way we were going to leave the house. We hung out inside, still playing with all of our new Christmas stuff and then busted out the sleds on Saturday when it was a little warmer.

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The snow actually kind of sucked for playing because it was so light and the boys didn’t make it too long before they were ready for hot showers and hot tea but they had fun while it lasted. Miss Ruby skipped out on the snow and opted for a nap instead. She likes to look at the snow but being cold, or “freezing” as she says, just isn’t her thing.

Sunday afternoon was the real main event of our weekend. We got tickets for the Professional Bull Riding event at Madison Square Garden and couldn’t wait to go. We left the house early and got to MSG in time for the boys to meet one of the riders and get his autograph. We ate and enjoyed over two hours of cowboys, rodeo clowns (Theo’s favorite), loud music and excitement. I still can’t believe that we can last this long with a 21 month old but Ruby is a complete champ and loved seeing the “cows”. I think this is definitely a difference between boys and girls. We have always done a lot with our kids but the boys would have never sat and stayed entertained the way Ruby does.

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Strollers aren’t allowed in Madison Square Garden so today was our first trip into the city, or anywhere for that matter, without one. Rubes asserted her independence early on and let us know that she got this. She sat in her own seat on the subway and walked without holding our hand as much as possible. It was the most adorable thing seeing her hang with the boys and it made me realize that we’re right on the cusp of a sweet spot. These trips are just going to get easier and easier and more and more fun.

 

 

2013 in Review

2013 was seriously the fastest year of my life. It wasn’t the best year but it was certainly better than last which is really all you can hope for. I know I’m a few days late but I thought it would be fun to go through my ten gazillion photos from this year and write a recap of all of the exciting things we experienced throughout 2013. We had lots of ups and downs, laughs and cries and some once in a lifetime adventures that I hope we never forget. Like,

Brazos Bend National Park with aunt Lisa and Cindy and lots of wild alligators… 

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We took the ferry to Galveston Island…

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Parker had his first experience in batting cages which led him to fall in love with baseball…

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We surprised the boys with a basketball hoop and then played basketball everyday for the whole month of February…

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I hosted a Valentine’s Day party as the room mom of Parker’s 2nd grade class…

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Theo celebrated Rodeo Day (the first day of the Houston Rodeo) at Preschool and rocked his pants Texas style (always)…

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and then we went to the Houston Rodeo which is definitely one of my favorite times from 2013 (writing this makes me miss Texas!)…

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We went strawberry picking in March…

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The boys and I went to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences…

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I registered for the San Antonio half marathon but found out we’d be moving to NY before the race so I ran the 13.1 miles on my own anyway…

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Ruby turned one…

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and then a few days later we packed up and moved to New York…

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and while we were on the road we stopped at my aunt’s house in South Carolina and celebrated Theo’s 5th Birthday…

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and then celebrated Easter with more family in Ohio…

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The boys played their first season of little league…

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Josh surprised me with a Mother’s Day weekend trip to Cape May…

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We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with my sister…

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And Josh and I snuck away for a date at Citi Field…

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Josh had a little too much fun at a Coast Guard celebration in Cape May…

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We spent lots of days at the Jersey Shore…

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We went to Coney Island and watched Joey Chestnut win the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on the 4th of July…

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One of my blog posts was read by thousands of people and cross posted on The Huffington Post…

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We took the boys back to Westhampton Beach to see our first home away from Ohio…

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We all went to the All Star Fan Fest in Manhattan…

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And met up with some friends at Liberty Science Center…

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We painted. and painted. and painted…

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Josh was selected to help carry the flag at the MLB All Star Game…

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Where he got to meet and chat with Bryce Harper, Erin Andrews and Jason Grilli…

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We took a weekend trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains and visited Charlottesville and Monticello…

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Josh turned 30 and we celebrated with friends in NYC…

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We took the kids to our first Yankees game and boo’d ARod (silently)…

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We went to Cape May to celebrate a sweet friend’s 5th birthday…

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My blog was featured in Exit Zero magazine in Cape May…

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Josh made a cameo on the Today Show…

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Parker completed his first food challenge when he ate an entire quarter pound burger and fries…

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We spent Labor Day weekend in Ohio and took the kids to the Canfield Fair…

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We spent a day at Sesame Place…

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Theo started Kindergarten and Parker started 3rd grade…

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Josh and Parker saw the lights to Heaven on September 11th…

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We ended baseball season with one last Mets game…

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We took a day trip to Mystic, CT and Westerly, RI…

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Parker turned 8 and we celebrated very low key with pizza and ice cream cake…

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Theo lost his first tooth…

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And his second…

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We went apple picking in Princeton with some friends…

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The Pirates made it to the playoffs…

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We went trick or treating with old friends on the Washington Street Mall in Cape May…

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We celebrated Halloween at home with fun treats, crafts, movies, school parades and trick or treating around the neighborhood…

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I put up my Christmas tree WAY too early…

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The boys took a dare and streaked in the snow at uncle Craig’s house…

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Ruby’s hair grew long enough for a pony tail…

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We went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then made Thanksgiving dinner together for just the 5 of us…

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We kicked off December with a day in the city with some friends…

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Parker had his first school newspaper contribution published…

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and learned how to schmooze…

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We skipped school and went to Macy’s to visit Santa…

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We spent Christmas in Ohio where Parker and I landed ourselves in the ER on Christmas morning…

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We celebrated my 28th birthday with my little sister…

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I walked passed Ruby’s room and finally really realized that we’re living with a little lady now…

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And we rang in the new year with some sushi, ice cream, games and movies.

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This way too long post with a gajillion photos still only shows parts of our year. We had lots of visits with family, made new friends and got caught up with old, went through phases and tantrums and moody days, hit milestones and entered new stages but the year is over and it’s time to begin a new! Bring on 2014 – Happy New Year!