The post-Lars part of our time in NY is nearly over but we have made the most of it. My family and friends in NY have been great and I’ve enjoyed seeing who we can see. The kids have not been to bed near bedtime in days and there has been tons of visiting and driving. We haven’t done anything ‘grand’ and vacation like other than the trip to the cloisters, however, I love our playground time with friends and backyard bbq and just being around people.
Last weekend we did adventure out to NJ to a family birthday for my great aunt’s 90’th birthday and informal family reunion. I’m reminded I actually do have relatives in MN and also MI and it is on me that I have not seen more of them. Well, can only go forward and do better when we get back. The funny part of the party was seeing how tall I am compared to my ethnically Maltese family, as island people they just top out at 5ft tall, so I tower above them.
Sunday, fathers day, we face timed with Lars and went sailing with dad and in between hung out and brunched with high school friends who have all become great parents in their own rights. Monday we had to wait for kids to actually wake up and then we went to my sister Josie’s house where we generally hung out and started to build the most annoying shed ever. I told Lars about it that night and he reminded me of when a friend got so frustrated at a shed he was building that he destroyed it in a fit of rage Hulk style and now I understand why. It was still fun to just have a day with my sister doing normal stuff. Our Monday evening plans were 20 min away at Miss Math’s house where we ate dinner and kids played and we talked and her husband hid to avoid the girl talk. Another late night but worth it!
Yesterday I tried to find hardware for the house but the place we went was more disorganized showroom than a place to find a deal but Miss Math joined me so it was worth the trip. Then to make sure there was fun in the day, we went to find the ice cream truck. Note I say “go find” because in NY they roam the streets and if you EVER come out of your house you get a permanent star on his route map and that truck will come back 5x a day all summer. Unless you want a daily discussion about ice cream and its relation to dinner/lunch/cash/diet never let the truck know where you live. The park was lovely and there was shade and a breeze and #3 godfather made an appearance and the kids got icecream sticky and we were just walking home when we met up with Aunt Josie (I had her kids) and home we went to meet more friends for games and eat dinner.
Today was a grand day where things just fell into place. Our original plans fell through so we were gifted use of a state park pass and a 75 degree and sunny day to use it. Niamh was the late sleeper today so we were just about ready to go when my dad had a break in his day so we kidnapped him to go walk a couple miles on the beach. We did the boardwalk and then up the lighthouse and back along the beach splashing in the Atlantic. It was just the perfect size outing for the beach and we got home just in time to get Chase from school and for Miss Math to pop in for a quick visit. We went over to my aunts for a general garden tour and play time and ended up doing dinner and seeing my cousin who usually works far later. Josie met up with us (I had her kids again) and back to grandma’s for our first quiet evening in ages. I plan on going out to see another friend tonight and starting the packing process because after tomorrow we hit the road again for vacation part 3; the road trip home.
Tomorrow should be a good one, our plans include seeing friends one more time, dinner on the big boat, and a cousin sleepover so get every last moment together. Somewhere in that time I need to find all our stuff and get it back in a car shaped package and point my brain back at the things that need doing to get us home again.
Yesterday we went off to the noted museum in new york; The Cloisters. I have never been there because it is in a very hard part of the city to get to, and, it is a very niche collection so when given a choice of how to spend time we always choose to be more downtown and get to see more in the day. This time we decided we were going and set out on the 1.5h drive (that took 2.5) and lucked out with a great parking spot and also a very pretty day.
The cloisters is basically a 14th and 15th-century European collection so I had told the kids that “everything you see in this museum we can do in the SCA” (the history group we do). Convincing kids museums are fun isn’t ever easy unless there is a dinosaur involved but they are getting better at appreciating. Anyway, the big surprise when we walked in was that they are doing a modern art exhibit for closing inspired by the collection.
Yup… that was a weird mix of awesome and fail at the same time.
The dresses were outstanding, showing that high-end designers, when asked to make wearable art, can absolutely do it 110%. They were also displayed perfectly in the spaces, truly showing that someone in charge was both artistic and skilled.
I didn’t go crazy with pictures because I know I can get better detail from the online catalogs but seeing them in person is something special. The unicorn tapestries were all they are ever hyped to be and recently reading a book they featured in made them more real to the kids. Overall, having the kids do math about the items impressed them that they were inches away from things created 900 years ago. To my European readers, I know, your post office is probably 900 years old but for us that is pretty impressive.
The other excellent thing about this museum is that the building IS part of the exhibit. Every door and window and most of the stones are from 14th and 15th-century monasteries. I wish I had more time to look at everything but the impressive part that I’ll carry forward in my life is the walled garden. I always thought the walls would make too much shade but this shows that plants in the center do very well and there is nice shade around the edges for sitting and looking at the garden. Given I will be in a place with lots of land I may be experimenting with the concept since it will be a good way to keep out the wildlife and also create an interesting structure on our flat rectangle of land.
We left the pocket universe of the Cloisters and headed back and as if we needed more reasons not to live in the crazy land of long island we took nearly 4 hours to get back. To give perspective, we can drive to the close part of Canada from our house in the same amount of time. It did give me an opportunity to get a nice landscape picture while stopped on the bridge so that’s good at least.
The day was not lost at all. One of the very very best things about visiting family is that there are more adults in the system so things get handled. My sister turned up at parents house and created dinner that was 10 min from done when we walked int. Way better than facing dinner decisions after 4 road fried hours. We topped off the night with a visit to the big boat with friends and floated at dock while the kids played and generally had fun.
Today Lars when home and now we enter into phase 2 of vacation – the solo mom adventure.
Last week Friday we packed up the minivan and hit the road after work. The kids are getting pretty well trained and I have to say this was one of the best trips for travel behaviors yet. The combo of learning to read, and, lifelong training meant that while it was still a loooong trip, nobody wanted to abandon anyone on the side of the road at any time.
We spent Friday night in a Chicago hotel, and Saturday in an eastern PA one. We made good enough time that the kids got some pool time in PA and the next morning we visited with family in the area and then back on the road to my parents’ house. Traffic was not perfect, it never is, but, only added on a little over an hour so all in all it was a 20 driving hour trip.
Once we got here my only plan was to be here. We have been making plans as we go but given that we are on vacation and nobody else is, we have plenty of chill time. There is a big 90th birthday reunion style party this weekend that since we are here we will go to. I’ve learned from being away that where there is a chance to see everyone, take it. You never know when the next one will come and for some of the people who are in their late 80’s I way prefer to visit them now then regret the loss when it is too late. I’m lucky that I enjoy 90% of my family and even the crazy 10% are not offensive, just not my preferred brand of crazy.
On the vacation bucket list we have gotten out on the big boat, had a cousin sleep over party, gone out for ice cream, and played in the parks. Its a bit cold for the beach but maybe next week. Just like most times you visit family, it isn’t truly a ‘vacation’ it is just living life in a different place with fewer responsibilities. I am glad we are here now, it is a great break from house packing at the very least 🙂
Hey, we made it! One short day and one long day and a healthy dose of luck and we were pulling into my parents house almost exactly when the GPS said when we set out. Not bad for all the potty stops, rain and a billion miles. And now we are here!
We arrived to a much more quiet house then we were expecting because my sister and her kids were attending an emergency funeral on her husbands side of the family. Not that any funerals are exactly planned but this one was for a person who didn’t get all that long on earth so… well, at least we can say that every other part of the trip will be better than that. It was almost funny that they had been waiting for a week for us to arrive and then we waited for them for 2 days and finally everyone was together just in time to celebrate Lars’s birthday!
Ice cream cake with crunchies AND NY pizza would normally make his birthday a total success but for the first time in ages we were able to go out with a recommendation from my foodie sister to a restaurant with an executive chef (not just a cook) and we were both impressed in general with the experience. Topped off the night with a board game and that make for a happy man. (and the kids were all sleeping, that was like a cherry on top)
Otherwise our NY vacation – what I’m calling summer part II – is largely unplanned. I want to see NY friends and family, go sailing, go to the beach, and enjoy ‘living’ here for a few weeks. Living is really the right word because I’m joining a gym for a month and Niamh is enrolled in a month of karate and Niamh loved her first class tonight. When you are toting kids to classes it is living somewhere not vacationing 🙂 Regardless, it is very nice to be able to be here and experiencing this brand of summer.
There is a bit of inborn chaos from all the kids but once you embrace the fact that we are a field trip group it gets easier to just roll with it.
Oh! I’m also trying something fun with my walks. Lars and I have been trying to get 2mi walks in daily and given the crazy of the house putting Fiona down for a nap seems unreasonably optimistic I’m combining them. I’m also seeing if I can make my walking map look like alphabet letters – so far I’ve done A and B
And I’m hopeful that the next few week will be just as good and since I even found a spot to set up my computer I also hope to keep up here too. (we will see)
By way of explanation of the naked baby…. it is very hot here and my parents don’t have AC. I grew up here so I’m mostly used to it but I also remember spending many afternoons parked in front of a fan to prevent myself from melting. Fi does like it hot but she does not like it humid.