Monday, July 27, 2015

New York Trip - November 2014

And here’s the link to our August 2014 trip to New York.

Day 1 in New York
We arrive at our Airbnb apartment on the Lower East Side. Because the A/C is propping up the window, leaving a big gap, our room is FREEZING. Thankfully the owner comes over the next day to fix the situation, but we spend the first night huddled under the covers to watch TV and no one wants to get out - kind of like when you have a fever.

While waiting for our flight, James and Julia work on an activity book together… under the seats. (As Sebastian in The Little Mermaid would say, “Each little clam here, know how to jam here. Under the seats.”)
Mark, bundled up in our room.

Kids’ favorite part: “Meat sandwiches” (Can you tell we went to Katz’s?)

Julia enjoys two pickles at Katz’s Delicatessen.
James slurps some matzoh ball soup.

Day 2 in New York
Guest entry by Julia:
Today when we woke up it was REALLY scary. We screamed for Mommy and made her get out of bed because what we saw was so horrifying we couldn’t describe it. There was a blanket on our bed that was not there when we went to sleep!!! And it had tassels! It was terrifying!

The kids see fish in ice being sold at a market. Julia asks if they’re selling fish AND ice. Mark tells her the ice is just for the fish. “So it stays dead?” asks James.

We also spend the entire afternoon taking the subway to Brooklyn just to get pizza.

James pretends to sleep on the hour-long subway ride into the bowels of Brooklyn. There's PROBABLY no Ebola on that seat...
Mark eats his favorite pizza in the world at L & B Spumoni Gardens.

James’s favorite part: Pizza and raspberry lemonade
Julia’s: “Seeing hot dog place” (she could see Nathan’s at Coney Island from the subway platform)

Days 3 and 4 in New York
We walk the entirety of The High Line. Dinner is at Robataya, a traditional Japanese restaurant where the chefs cook in front of you. They also perform death-defying (or maybe burn-defying) leaps over the hot grills in front of them - while wearing socks - to the counter to get ingredients and then back. Hearing the servers yell orders in rapid-fire Japanese to the chefs who respond “hai!” Julia asks, “Is that how people talk in New York?”

Urban gophers on The High Line
For our second straight New York trip, Julia has a tantrum at Chelsea Market.
Julia plays with her chopsticks at Robataya.
Food is delivered to a neighboring diner on a long paddle. The chefs do this even with bottles of beer.

The next day we take the Staten Island Ferry because Julia - who was the Statue of Liberty for Halloween - really wants to see her inspiration up close. We visit Mark’s college friends Irene and Donna. Julia wants to know which part of the skyscraper is the scraper.

Julia watches for the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry.
James on the Staten Island Ferry. After we got to Staten Island we simply got back on the return ferry. I mean, who goes to Staten Island?
The Statue of Liberty at sunset from the Staten Island Ferry
Kathy eats pizza at Lombardi’s, the only restaurant Mark and Kathy have visited on all six trips to New York.
Julia’s favorite part: Playing a kazoo
James’s: Finishing The High Line; Least favorite: “Dropping my lollipop”

Days 5 and 6 in New York
We get about ⅙ of the way into Central Park when James needs to use the potty. We leave the park and by the time he finishes it’s too dark to go back. It gets dark way too early here, especially when we stay on West Coast time. (Incidentally, the same exact thing happens two days later - clearly when you’re exactly ⅙ into Central Park it’s time to drop a deuce - but this time James decides he can wait. )

Mark in Central Park
This is as far as we got into Central Park, after entering the park at W. 72nd St.

We discover the Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Station and talk facing the wall in one corner of the room - Blair Witch style - so our voices can be carried to the opposite corner of the room.

Mark holds up Julia in the Whispering Gallery so she can whisper a message into the wall to James across the room.

While Bubby watches the kids, Mark and I see the play This Is Our Youth, and the kids have the time of their lives playing with a newly purchased set of Lego in the lobby of Bubby’s hotel.

In Times Square in the rain
While in Times Square we ask a person dressed as Hello Kitty to take a picture with the kids. Meanwhile, Cookie Monster and Spiderman photobomb the picture, and then expect money. Um, no…
Playing in the lobby of Bubby’s hotel

James and Julia’s favorite part: New Legos and their favorite place in the world, the Toys R Us in Times Square

Days 7 and 8 in New York
We walk through Central Park which is simply beautiful in autumn. Julia has tantrums because she isn’t first going down the subway stairs and also because she has to put on her own hat.

At the Adventure Playground in Central Park

Mark’s panorama of the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, looking towards Midtown.

Julia and James at the Balto statue

Mark and I leave the kids with Bubby while we have a 3-course dessert at Chickalicious. Meanwhile, the kids walk up to friends and family (also staying in the hotel for the wedding) with a bag of Chex Mix, asking if they want a snack.

Playing in the awesome circular sofa at Bubby’s hotel. James: “Can I sit on this sofa upside down?”

We go to the rehearsal dinner for Michelle and Mike’s wedding. Julia wants to sit by Michelle. (At the wedding she says she wants to dance with Michelle and also marry her.)

On the bus to Patsy’s Pizza for lunch before the rehearsal dinner
James and Mark at the rehearsal dinner

James and Julia’s favorite part: Playgrounds at Central Park, TV in the taxi

Day 9 in New York
See post. There was a wedding. And my kids were in it.

Day 10 in New York
Fly home.

Breakfast on our last morning in our Airbnb apartment
I know I've seen some Dr. Seuss characters posing in a line like this.

The End

(Fancy panorama pictures by Mark.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Flower Girl and Ring Bearer

When Mark’s cousin Michelle asked Julia and James to be in her wedding it was a dream come true. No, not for them! For me! What mom doesn’t want her kids to be a flower girl and a ring bearer?! Plus, Julia and James were four years old. The ultimate age for cuteness yet still able to fill their matrimonial duties.

But then I remembered: Julia was going through a lot of anxiety and separation issues. While normally this would be her cup of tea for the same reason she loved sharing time at school (“All eyes are on me? Sweet!”), I wasn’t sure how being a flower girl would play in Julia world. So I did what any mother would do. I checked out EIGHT books from the library on being a flower girl and a ring bearer.

And I showed them pictures from their Uncle Ira’s wedding to their Aunt Jan where Mark and his siblings were in the wedding. 

Mark at age five (on the far right) with his brother Daniel and sister Rachel at his Uncle Ira’s wedding
Thankfully James and Julia were still young enough not to spot my plan from a mile away. When they were sufficiently psyched about the awesomeness of being in a wedding, I told them they would be in their favorite cousin, Michelle’s. They were excited. Phew!

Mark’s first cousin, Michelle, met the kids once three months earlier during our first trip to New York. She took a shine to them and the feeling was mutual.

The twins meet Michelle and Mike (also present: Mark’s parents and brother) at Second Avenue Deli during our August trip to New York for a different wedding.
Michelle revealed that when her mom’s brother got married in 1989 that being a flower girl was a highlight of their wedding for her: “I was about the same age as the twins (maybe a few months older) and think it would be so special to get to share that experience with the next generation.”

Michelle (walking here with her parents) says, “Here's a photo of me leaving the ceremony. Despite the puss, I was having a blast!”
After looking at approximately 1,000 flower girl dresses online I got the first one I saw - a $39 dress at David’s Bridal (technically it was $70 after shipping). I already happened to have a floral crown for Julia’s hair. James was easy. I had a matching suit vest and pants on hand for my boy and a choice of bow ties. Doesn’t everybody?

James was sad that Julia would get to throw petals as she walked down the aisle. I pointed out that Julia’s job was over after she walked down the aisle, but he had a really important job. During the ceremony he would present the rings.

The rehearsal dinner was at Pescatore, a restaurant Mark and I randomly went to ten years before when the restaurant next door was closed. Julia and James were the only kids at the dinner (at the wedding, too). Thankfully, they were happy to color their velvet posters and the back of their placemats for three hours. (As for our previous trip to New York, we kept the kids on West Coast time so they could stay up late for the wedding.) Julia kept asking if she could sit with Michelle, her girl crush.

“Let’s toast to driving Mommy and Daddy crazy.”
"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."
James and Julia pose with the bride-to-be.
The next day we took an early shuttle to Water’s Edge in Long Island City, Queens, for the official wedding portraits. Julia, a girl who only wanted to wear jeans every day until eight months earlier, loved twirling in her fancy dress. 

Julia spends about an hour on and off, twirling.

Before the ceremony Julia enjoys hiding behind Kathy and then hopping out.
When pictures start getting too boring, throwing out a “give your brother/sister a kiss” always livens things up.
A few days before when I told the kids they would walk down the aisle together, James asked me if they could hold hands. I explained that it wouldn’t work because he had a pillow to carry. He responded that he only needed one hand because, “I can do tricks.” Apparently James had some pillow balancing and pillow flipping tricks in mind that unfortunately for all he did not get to bust out for the ceremony.

Michelle hands out ring bearer and flower girl accessories. (Thanks to Mira for the photo.)
James demonstrates his pillow tricks.
It’s good that the pillow didn’t come with jewelry.
We had the kids practice walking down the aisle before the guests arrived.

The trial run
Julia practices tossing flower petals. Then she puts them back in her basket.
The kids pose under the chuppah.
Then, both ran around the room distracting the rabbi who was preparing to officiate until it was time to go next door for the ceremony.

Julia chases James. James is not so thrilled.
I waited in my chair in the front row while Mark ushered Julia and James through the door to begin their walk down the aisle. (With me the kids tend to become helpless or scared to do something; hence Mark was with them.) When the door opened and those little heads popped out I was the only one standing because, like Bruce Willis - or was it Ben Affleck? - in Armageddon, I don’t want to miss a thing. Unfortunately I also suddenly came down with mom cry face with everyone still looking towards the front of the room where I stood.

Right here, when James and Julia are halfway down the aisle, Bubby whispers to Julia, “Don’t forget to throw the petals!” (You can see Mark’s dad on the right.)

The kids get to the front of the room and then get a little lost. Bridegroom Mike is amused by their confusion.
“Pssst! Kids! Over here!”
Right after Julia sat down she revealed, “I think I farted.” Next she started fondling me (which I didn’t notice at first because of the beading on my dress) and asked, “Is this your boob?”
I’m so glad we were in the front row. I hope that scene is in the background of some of Mike and Michelle’s official wedding pictures.

Meanwhile, a wedding was taking place:

Michelle circles Mike seven times. Julia was really amused by this part. This was the first time Julia actually witnessed a wedding ceremony. At the first wedding they attended in August, after the bride walked down the aisle Julia became super grumpy so I took her outside where she kept declaring as she stomped, “Not even fun! Hmph!”
About ten minutes later when Michelle’s brother, Alex, handed Mike the rings, James turned to me, upset that he didn’t get to present the rings himself. With big eyes on the verge of tears, James told me, “I didn’t get to do my job.”

Thankfully, James got over it and had a great time at the reception. They both still love telling everyone how they were a ring bearer and flower girl so his not "being able to do his job" doesn't seem to have bothered him that much.

James endures the conversation between Mark and Cousin Mel.
“Make it stop!”

Gracefully eating on the floor in their wedding attire
James was entranced by the speech made by Uncle Allan (Michelle’s dad), and afterwards repeated certain lines at the end of Allan’s stories that got a laugh. (James does this even now, six months later). Clearly James believed those lines by themselves - without the context of the actual stories - were the magic that made the audience laugh.

Julia and James loved dancing, especially when I held their hands and twirled both of them around at the same time. Before our trip, I tried to find a hip hop dance video with instructions for kids because I thought it would be hilarious for them to bust out some moves at the wedding, but the youngest age any of the videos were made for was 8 or 9.

Dancing with Bubby
Dancing with Mommy

Dancing together
Getting too hyper while dancing and flopping on the ground. (Hopefully no one noticed.)
Mark tells Michelle that Julia’s dying to dance with her.

Earlier Julia said she wanted to marry both Michelle and Mike.

Photobooth pictures:

The End… Okay, one more picture...

And thanks to Michelle and Mike’s photographer who took such awesome pictures.