Friday, September 28, 2012

Cape Cod- September 2012

So I caught a cold that James had a week or two ago. I guess my body was fighting it with all my might while I was taking care of James and concert-going and whatnot, but the second I got into the car to go to the Cape, my immune system fell apart. Almost like on some level my white blood cells knew I'd have less that I absolutely had to do on the Cape. Even given that I spent almost all of Sunday on my ma-in-law's couch, we still got to do a lot of fun things. Forgive my puffy sinus-infection-face.

We visited Grandma Ruth all three days we were there. I even herded everyone outside for a nice group picture.

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
Great grandma Ruth, James, Kevin, and Grandma Kathy

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
Inside playing with a 50-year-old horsey.

We spent a little quality time playing on Mayflower Beach on Saturday.

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
Tossing the football with grandma on Mayflower Beach

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
Loves the beach!

On Monday, Grandma suggested we check out Taylor-Brays Farm, since she knew how much I enjoyed the Queens County Farm. We had a nice time seeing all the animals and enjoying the view of the big Cape Cod salt marsh behind the farm.

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
The Clous at the Taylor-Brays Farm

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
In front of the salt marsh

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
My favorite photo ever of James riding around on Kevin's head.

We went to the playground in the center of town and had a great time.

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
Playgrounds are not just for little kids!

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
Okay, here's James having a good time too.

We had fun closer to home too. James got to go to the pond in front of grandma's house and spend a little quality time with Nomar.  James had such a great time-- he can't wait to go back!

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
James enjoying Follins Pond

Cape Cod- Sept 2012
Notice the screen door between them!

Friday, September 21, 2012

James at 17 Months 2012

James at 16 Months 2012
James standing in his shopping cart last week

 I love this age! James possesses some great toddler characteristics, but he's also still a little snuggly baby that lets me hold him a lot. He loves going outside, and he brings us his shoes and his hat so that we'll take him to the park.

Loving the park

His favorite things in the world are Mama, Dada, both his grandmothers, sticks, rocks, Blues Clues, climbing, running from diaper changes, playing with things that aren't toys, music and dancing, attempts at playing patty cake, and trying to make friends with other kids (sometimes unsuccessfully). He's super affectionate; I get several unsolicited hugs and kisses a day.

New York City 2012
Surprise hug!

He's trying to say new words, he understands a lot of simple instructions. In addition to some words he said last month... :
  1. "ight" = light /"loosh" = luz (Spanish for light) 
  2. Diego  
  3. Boos Coos = Blues Clues 
  4. "ow" = used to convey painless injuries, injustices, things that make him sad (he actually cries when he's hurt) 
  5. Mama 
  6. Dada 
  7. agua/aba = Spanish for water 
  8. tete = Spanish for pacifier
  9. "leche" Spanish for milk (rare)
  10. Click = the camera on Dora and Diego 
.... he now also says:
  1. hi / hello (he runs around waving like a Disney princess)
  2. ball
  3. jugo = Spanish for juice
  4. ojo = Spanish for eye, but he means juice when he says it
  5. car (pronounced with a Boston accent: cahh) 
  6. ayu = ayuda= help when he needs me to help him climb down from something
  7. up (rare)
He stopped saying:
  1. "ba pa" = back pack (from Diego) 
  2. arbol = Spanish for tree

I'm excited about what crazy and funny things he'll have to tell us once he can string together some thoughts.

James at 16 Months 2012
Learning to play basketball

Queens County Farm 2012
Loves riding on Dada's shoulders

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bon Iver Show 2012

Kevin, Briggs, Michele, and I went to see Bon Iver at Radio City Hall. Jon and James W. were there too, but they had much better seats that night so I didn't get to see them. I heard they did get to hang out with Kevin and Briggs though.

Michele and I went to the city early and got dinner at Iroha, my new favorite place to eat in Midtown Manhattan (they said there weren't any decent places to eat in Midtown-- I found one!). 

Bon Iver 2012

Thanks to Sarah T., who babysat James for the evening I was able to sit next to Kevin at a midweek concert for a whole hour or so. Kevin got there late, and I had to had back early to minimize the time that Sarah T. was held hostage on Long Island. Sadly, I had to leave about an hour before the concert ended to run to the train.

Anyway, the part of the concert I saw was awesome. Though if I were Bon Iver, I would focus more on the awesome music and less on the douchey talk. Or maybe he should hire someone to coach him to sound less douchey.

Bon Iver 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Queens County Farm- September 2012

Queens County Farm is one of my new favorite places. This is the beginning of the third fall we've lived here and we've been meaning to go every year, but haven't gotten to it. Now that we finally have, I'm excited to go back soon.  It was worth the wait though because I'm not sure it would have been as much fun without James. Seeing him interact with the other kids there and the animals was definitely the best part.

Queens County Farm 2012
Queens County Farm

Queens County Farm 2012
This way to goats!

At first, James was more interested in picking up rocks and sticks than he was in looking at the animals, but once he realized that's what the other kids were doing, he decided he was interested. He was very taken with the goats, but I was attacked by goats at a petting zoo as a kid, so I was a little nervous with them. We took a few pictures and then moved on.

Queens County Farm 2012
Hi, goat!

Queens County Farm 2012
Over here, goat!

Queens County Farm 2012
Trying to feed some nice docile sheep

I wasn't terribly trusting of the alpacas either. They might be cute and woolly, but they're big and tough. We went to spend some quality time with the sheep. My favorite part was that James made friends with a little boy and an older girl that had a large feed bucket, and they quickly volunteered to share the feed with him. I half expected James to stick the grass in his own mouth when the little kid gave it to him, but he walked right over and started feeding the sheep like the older kids.

  Queens County Farm 2012
Feeding the sheep with his new buddy

We went to see the other animals, but James pretty much topped out at the sheep. After that he went back to his rock and stick quest while I took photos.

Queens County Farm 2012
Pigs acting out a Cialis commercial

Queens County Farm 2012
The juxtaposition of the farm and the city of Queens

Queens County Farm 2012
Family photos are my favorite!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Overheard - September 2012

Overheard in our living room:

E: Oh-oh, I think I had too much coffee, too fast.
K: You feel jittery?
E: I feel... powerful!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Prospect Heights and Sibling Code 2012

Another weekend, another Brooklyn bar crawl! Lately I've been going out in Brooklyn as much as I did when I lived there two years ago. After meeting Michele's brother Arthur last weekend, I was excited to meet her brother Matthew this weekend. (I'm pretty sure this mean Alejandro needs to come visit and meet me next weekend?) Matthew stopped to see Michele on his way back to college in Vermont.

Michele, Matthew, and I started with dinner at Chuko. It was my first time going out for dinner for real ramen (as opposed to having cheap gross ramen for dinner in my apartment when I was 22). It was delicious, as was my sake cocktail. We also had the most enthusiastic waitress in all of New York.

Chuko collage
Ramen at Chuko

From there we walked over to Weather Up, which is a beautiful place that makes wonderful drinks. It reminds me of a smaller Clover Club. (Smaller in size and in drink selection.) In typical Brooklyn-style, we ran into at least two people wearing suspenders. Ironically? Non-ironically? I don't even know anymore.

Weather Up collage
Fancy drinks at Weather Up

Finally, we ran through the rain, as though in a sexy romantic comedy and went to Beast. I guess it's a bar, but I ordered two different drinks off their menu that they couldn't make because they were missing ingredients. So I gave up and ordered T & T, but they didn't have Tanqueray, so they gave me some other random gin. Not good. But we were having such a good time by then! By the end of the night I even thought I could understand Michele and Matthew's crazy sibling code. The code is informal, but they really only need to say every third word in a sentence to understand each other, or mumble entire phrases, or simply blink twice to indicate that this chardonnay from Chablis has very distinct notes of chalk. Or at least that is what I understood them to be saying as I sipped on my Random-Gin-and-Tonic.

Beast collage
Out of liquor at Beast- no wonder the lion is sad

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001

Even though last year was the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, the main thing on my mind last year was how the anniversary would affect security in New York. In Penn Station, all week the cops were out in full force with their bomb-sniffing dogs. There was reason to worry. The previous year there were two bomb scares in New York that I was aware of: one false alarm in January, and one real incident in May. I was glad to get out of town for the 10-year anniversary weekend to drive to my friend's wedding in Maine, and though her guests were less thrilled to fly back on 9/11/11, the weekend was pleasant and uneventful.

Part of the reason I keep this blog is so that Kevin, James, and I can look back one day and see what was going on when he was little. One of the things that Kevin and I have discussed before is that James was born nearly 10 years after September 11th, so it will seem purely historical to him. To put this in perspective, ten years before I was born, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins left the Earth in Apollo 11 for the first landing on the Moon.

So here's what I remember. I was in DC at my first job after graduating college that year. My boss wasn't at work yet, and I was logged into AOL Instant Messenger while I checked my work email when I received IMs from my friend in Indiana and my friend in Japan to tell me that  a plane had crashed into the World Trade Towers. This had happened at 8:46 a.m., but I was hearing about it closer to 9 a.m., because shortly thereafter both of my friends wrote to tell me that a second plane had hit the towers.  I went on to the internet to look for news, but the New York Times had one paragraph with no additional information. I refreshed the browser periodically, but there was still no information.

At just after 9:37 a.m. my mother, who was working in New York and watching the news with her coworkers, called my work phone to tell me that the Pentagon "had been hit," and that I should leave DC. I called my boss to tell her I was closing the office and that she should go pick up her daughter from school, and to check the news. I then tried to call my roommate Janice who was working near the Pentagon. She didn't answer the phone because she had already been evacuated from her building. I didn't want to go home, because to get to my apartment in Virginia, I had to take the metro towards the Pentagon, and it seemed important to head away from it. I tried to call a friend in Maryland, but the phone lines were already dead because everyone was trying to call someone. So I locked the office and headed to Maryland without a cell phone or a plan.

As I headed towards the metro, I saw people going in the opposite direction towards work, and I wanted to tell them,"No, turn around!" but I was muted by the insanity of the situation. Nothing like this had happened before, so they were going to ignore me and go to work anyway. I didn't even really know what was going on. I sat on the metro for a long ride and I wondered whether my parents, who were both in New York, would be safe since getting off Manhattan in an emergency can be really difficult. The metro was silent, but as we stopped at each stop the people getting on the metro were more and more alarmed. Someone got on and announced to everyone that one of the towers had collapsed. Someone else dismissed it as "impossible," and said it must just have been a rumor.  People started talking to each other and the stunned chatter ebbed and flowed until someone else wondered whether it was a terrorist attack or an act of war by China and we all got quiet.

I know that I remember events from that day incompletely or incorrectly, because somehow my friend was there to pick me up in Maryland, if not right when I arrived, then shortly thereafter. We sat on the floor around the television with other people for the better part of the day staring at the news blankly. I think, but I again I might be wrong, that the more graphic images we see of the victims jumping out weren't shown on television that day. If they were, I blocked them out. I waited for the phones to work again, and for my parents to get home, so that I could hear that they were okay.

When I went home the next day, you could still see black clouds rising from the Pentagon. No one in DC went to work that Wednesday. The military took control of the entire city for at least a week.

2001 09 13 Post-Sept 11 in DC 296
A photo I took of Downtown DC sometime on 9/13/01 or after

2001 09 13 Post-Sept 11 in DC 297
A photo I took of Downtown DC sometime on 9/13/01 or after

I didn't go to New York until I went home for Christmas. I went to see "Ground Zero" where the towers had been. There was still black dust in the air and I took photos on my film camera.

2001 12 26 NYC WTC Area 394
Ground Zero in New York City, December 2001

2001 12 26 NYC WTC Area 395
Ground Zero in New York City, December 2001

2001 12 26 NYC WTC Area 396
Ground Zero in New York City, December 2001

One thing struck me today as I listened to the names of the victims read at the Memorial today. In 2001, though I recognized the horror of the attacks, I didn't view the individual pain of the families of the victims the way I do now. I had never lost someone I loved as deeply as these families loved their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses, sons, and daughters. I still can never understand their pain because all great loss is unique to the individual and I could never understand how the horrific circumstances of this event impacted their pain. It's only in the last couple of years that I realize how much I didn't and don't understand.

For posterity, where were you on 9/11? What do you remember?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Labor Day in Manhattan 2012

Even though Michele's birthday picnic was an afternoon activity, it took all of Sunday for my sleep-deprived family to recover.  When we all do something together, we all rest less. On Labor Day Monday, we got ambitious again. Even though James has been to lots of different cities because of our Southern roadtrip this spring, and our Northern roadtrip over the summer, and even though James had been to Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx (for the zoo) -- it seemed wrong that he had never been to Manhattan before. So off we went!

New York City 2012
Family photo in Times Square

I wanted a photo in Times Square, because, to me, it's the most "New York" spot even though it's filled with tourists. Let's face it though, the tourists are the nicest people in the city. And I needed them to take our family photo. The one of James yanking my hair out while I hold my smile (the photo reigns supreme!) is my favorite. I also thought James might like Times Square because he's obsessed with lights. There was also a life-size Dora, Diego, and Elmo walking around that he was less excited about. Who knows?

New York City 2012
James enjoying the lights of Times Square.

New York City 2012
Hugging Da-T

Then we took James to Central Park's big Castle Playground because in general he prefers parks and playgrounds to sightseeing. He loved it, but wow, New York is for real. There were little hipster toddlers on scooters going up and down the hills in the park like they were Shaun White. They had helmets; James did not. It was intense. Eventually, James found his way out of the playground and decided to jam out to some musicians playing jazz and Lady Gaga tunes. He swayed and stomped to the beat. It was ten million times cuter than it sounds.

New York City 2012
Castle Playground

New York City 2012
Off to storm the castle

New York City 2012
James jamming out in Central Park

Monday was also James's first time on a train! We took the LIRR into Manhattan, and James was super psyched to watch the trains go by, look out the window, grab at our tickets, and point out all the street lights in Queens. As such, he was very good on the way into the city, but he was tired and not so good on the way home. We might give him a little break before we try that again.

New York City 2012
First train ride!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Michele's Birthday Picnic in Prospect Park 2012

I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend! This was one of my best in a long time. We kicked off the weekend by celebrating Michele's birthday! She decided to have a brunch picnic in Prospect Park, and it was a wonderful idea. The park is beautiful, the weather was lovely and summery, and best of all, Michele and her friends made super yummy brunch food. Seriously, brunch has never been so delicious. It was like a high end restaurant turned potluck. We digested and luxuriated in the sun and the shade until after 5 p.m. Happy birthday, Michele! Thank you for your brunch-picnic gift to us!

<Michele's 33rd Birthday 2012
Michele's picnic (around brunch-time)

Michele's 33rd Birthday 2012
Before I made everyone pose, some napping happening here too.

We made it a family outing. Often, only Kevin or I will go out while the other person stays home with James, but all three of us love Michele, and a picnic is as family-friendly as it gets, so off to Brooklyn we went! James was a little confused by the picnic concept though. There were other picnics taking place nearby, and there were other kids at those other picnics... and well next thing we knew, James had a new girlfriend. She seemed cool, I guess.

Michele's 33rd Birthday 2012
Michele, surrounded in Clou-love

Michele's 33rd Birthday 2012
"Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me, maybe?"

As if that wasn't enough, James got to continue his nation-wide tour of playgrounds. He checked out Prospect Park's Playground Three and definitely wants to go back since I wouldn't let him run through the awesome sprnklers this time because I didn't want to change his outfit after he got drenched. Mama is so unfair.

Prospect Park- September 2012
Prospect Park "Playground Three"

Prospect Park- September 2012
Dada helping James down the steps

Prospect Park- September 2012

Prospect Park- September 2012
The "sprinkler" baby-car-wash he wasn't allowed to enter.
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