Friday, May 30, 2008

The Grass is Greener

This is how the day started....
Finn: "Tan we do to da park?" (Can we go to the park?)

Me: "Hmmmm..."

Finn: "Maybe later?"

Me thinking: "I must say that way too often if my 2 year old is repeating it."

Me, guilt stricken: "Okay, we'll go after breakfast."
Me to Audrie: "We're going to go to the park after breakfast."

Audrie: "But you said we could have a picnic at the park."
Me thinking again: "Did I?? I must have, my daughter has an elephant's memory."
Me: "Okay, we'll have a picnic breakfast."

Audrie: "We have to take the volleyball, too, and the basketball, and something to feed the fish, and we can picnic by the windmill, and..." her voice trails off into the hallway.
Me looking in our pantry: "Get your shoes on, we're going to the convenience store to get some Pop Tarts."

We then jump into the car, stop by then convenience store for a breakfast lacking any nutritional value, and then head back to the park that sits in the fairly new community across the street from ours.

Although I would love to one day own my own little piece of land with a house, uniquely designed sitting proudly atop a hill in front of our pond, I do so enjoy the amenities that come with a master planned community. It's all of the fun that parks and pools bring without the work it takes to maintain them. And one of the perks that comes with living in a rapidly growing area is that with new master planned communities popping up all around us, we have a lot of parks to choose from! But with a recent walk to the park across the road, it was determined by my daughter that every park visit henceforth should be to this particular park. What makes this park so appealing that it is now deemed the sole proprietor of our outdoor fun? Is it the newness of the playground? I would say so, except that our own community installed a third playground around the same time this one was put into place. Is it the basketball court, or sand volleyball pit? Nope. We have those, too, although we never use them in our own community. Is it the open fields of grass beckoning the children to run through its endless sea of green? I would have to say no to this as well because we have as much if not more grassy area set aside for such purposes. So, what's the catch? Here's what I have concluded:

1. This community has a pond, and although we have a couple of ponds too, none contain, to my knowledge, an eddy full of catfish awaiting a delicious meal of cracker crumbs.

2. This community has a windmill which acts as a decorative feature that pumps water to create a fountain-like effect. Now, to any child who loves stirring water with sticks, if you add a windmill into the mix, it apparently makes it much more exciting. Our community has no decorative windmill feature.

3. This community promises the discovery of things that I'm sure our community has to offer, but it has not been proven with actual evidence. Things such as a very large turtle that was spotted whilst borrowing the much softer crushed gravel trails on my morning jog; sitings of owls being chased out of a tree by the small mockingbirds who inhabit it; fossilized shells which are sprinkled along the paths; crystals that sparkle at the bottom of the shallow pool where the windmill pumps its water.

I don't know how long this park will hold its title. It seems like the new shine begins to dull all too soon these days. But I will gladly travel to the "other side" as long as this park induces excitement in my children's eyes.

Nessa Dee

Thursday, May 22, 2008

IF: Wide

This little bird might have had a bit too much to eat!

I've been pretty busy lately working on some various projects, so I haven't had much time to devote to IF projects. I wanted to get something in for this topic, though, so I squeezed this little guy in between projects.

Have a great weekend!

Nessa Dee

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 5

It's the final day of my commitment to post about our trip 5 days in a row. This little experiment has reminded me of the reason why I usually post once every 3 weeks or so. It's a lot of work!! Granted, I did have to go through about 700 pictures every day and try to narrow it down to a select few from our trip, and I'm still trying to figure out this whole layout thing through trial and error. (What you see on the draft is not the same as when you post it!) I think I can find a happy medium though, maybe 1 to 2 posts a week, for example.

Here it is, day 5. Well....we didn't really do anything on the final day of our trip except pack up our stuff, and also, our camera battery died, so we don't have any pictures from that day either. Instead, I will leave you with a plethora of pictures from the other four days.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 4

**Just a little note if you checked the blog early yesterday--I was having computer troubles, so I didn't post the pictures until last night, so if you missed them, they're there now.

We actually got up a little earlier on this day in order to grab breakfast at a restaurant instead of our usual feast from those oh so familiar golden arches. The diner we ate at was housed under a bridge and flanked on either side by a street, so it was fun to watch the city activity as we ate our delicious food. Satisfied, we walked to our first stop of the day, one of my favorites, the New York City Public Library. As the daughter of a librarian, I was eager to visit this place and take a lot of pictures for my mom. It was amazing to see the collections of books housed amongst such beautiful craftsmanship. I was quite amused by the printed signs stating "drop books off here" taped to the gorgeous fluted wood columns at the receptionist desk. I guess it seemed odd that something with such beautiful history and architecture was actually a functioning library. Before we left, we took a quick glance at the Gutenberg Bible and the actual stuffed animals that inspired A.A. Milne to write Winnie the Pooh. The next stop was St. Patrick's Cathedral. We spent a good 45 minutes inside trying to get pictures from every angle, but our pictures don't do this place justice.

As with the library, the detail and craftsmanship put into this structure is remarkable. On to the next thing on our agenda, a trip to FAO Schwartz. Finn was sleeping as we arrived in one of the most magical toy stores in the world, but he woke up just in time to try out the big piano made famous in the movie Big. Still sleepy, I sat him down on the keys, and he proceeded to walk off the piano, lay on the floor, hide his face and cry. Audrie, however, impressed us with her skills, playing Chopsticks as far as her legs could reach. After watching the big piano show, the kids scanned the store to find a special small gift courtesy of their MiMi. Now, when you tell a kid that they can pick out a small souvenir in a toy store like FAO Schwartz, some stress is involved. Finn picked out a collection of small tractors, while Audrie eventually settled on a magic kit. We grabbed lunch at a pizza place determined to be the best pizza in the world by Oprah's best friend, Gayle. It was a little hole in the wall, but full of character and local flavor. Our last stop of the day was Sheep Meadow in Central Park. We let the kids run and play to their heart's desire. I imagine that this was Finn's favorite part of the trip after spending most of the time riding in a stroller. We finally had to drag the kids away and head back to the hotel. And I just remembered, this is the day we took our detour to Queens, not on Day 3. Oops! Oh well, we eventually made it back to our hotel. Then, at 11:00 PM, Jonathan decided that we couldn't leave New York City without seeing the Empire State Building up close, so we grabbed our jackets and headed out, leaving Finn behind with MiMi and Aunt Susie. It was quite chilly atop, but so worth it to see the lights illuminating the land as far as the eye could see. Popsie put a few quarters into the coin operated binoculars, peered through and informed us that The Gap was having a sale on jeans, AND that he read the price tag on one pair and they were a bargain at $19.99! He always knows how to crack us up. We rode down the elevator, snapped a few more pictures, and called it a night.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 3

After lazily awaking (again) and checking our list, we decided to go take a ride to Ellis Island, as well as visit Wall Street, and Ground Zero. A good tip if you're planning to go to NYC in the future: arrive early. After a brief stint in a line for the ferry to Ellis Island, we discovered that we were about an hour away from the sign that read "two hour wait from this point." So we nixed that idea and decided to take the cheap ferry (free to be exact) to Staten Island and catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty as we sped by. We then took the ferry back and caught a great view of the city. Next, we took a pit stop to grab some lunch and then headed toward Ground Zero. After zigging and zagging and heading east, and then retracing our steps back to the west, we finally asked someone for directions (we were almost there). Seeing pictures of the two towers along the way, and then actually standing there, I couldn't even fathom just how enormous those buildings must have been. We then moved on to our next challenge....finding Wall Street. I have to give a big thank you to Susan again because she was the only one who thought to bring a map.
Even with the help of a map, we still had a hard time finding places, so I can imagine that without it, I'd be writing these posts from my new home somewhere in the Bronx, unable to find my way out. After stopping by the resting place of Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton, we finally made it to Wall Street, took some pictures, then hopped on the subway, and went to Queens. No, we weren't staying in Queens, we happened to miss our stop on the way back to Grand Central Terminal, and took a little detour.
With help from a nice cop, we avoided having to pay more subway fees, or worse spend the night in the subway.
That evening we took a trip back to Times Square for some dinner, and a visit to Toys R Us. We faced the giant animatronic T-Rex, gaped at Lego models of buildings New York City, and rode the indoor Ferris wheel before having to drag the kids and Jonathan and Chris out of the store. With a quick stop into Roxy's Delicatessen for a few slices of cheesecake to go, we were ready to get back to the hotel, get into some pj's and enjoy our midnight snack.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 2

After getting up a little late, we checked our list of things to do in New York City, a list that, thankfully, our super organized, NYC visitor veteran Aunt Susie put together for us. (Otherwise, we probably would've spent all of our time trying to figure out what we could do instead of actually doing it.) So, we started day 2 with a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We decided that in order to keep the visit manageable with two kids, we would only visit two galleries, the European paintings, and American paintings. Now, I knew the place was going to be big, but I just didn't realize how massive it actually is until after we spent 3 hours roaming through ancient armor and Egyptian artifacts trying to find the European paintings section. By the time we found it, we had to rush through the collection before the growl of our hungry stomachs grew so loud that it would ignite panicked patrons to reenact a scene from Cloverfield. We decided that we would have to catch the American gallery on the next trip. Our next stop was Central Park for lunch. With spring in full bloom, the cherry blossoms were gorgeous. We grabbed some lunch, and proceeded to picnic in the park to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Finn decided to skip the main course, and go straight for dessert. Smart boy!
After lunch, we strolled through the park to take in a bit more sunshine and a few more sites. In general Popsie fashion, my father-in-law separated from the group for a brief moment only to reappear with a chocolate ice cream bar. I have to say, if we were ever lost in a remote, uninhabited jungle, Popsie could wander off, only to return a short time later with a hot dog, or Frito pie. He has a knack for disappearing and reappearing, holding some sort of delicious treat. It's a specialized skill really. We let the kids "have tea" with Alice and the Mad Hatter for a while before returning to the hotel via subway. After a short rest and refuel, we got all decked out to go see Mary Poppins on Broadway. The show was absolutely fantastic, and watching Audrie's face, even more so. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera along that night, but a few pictures were taken by some of the others in the group, so I'll have to post those later. After the walk home, we were pretty exhausted, so we hit the hay, and recouped for day 3.