Wednesday, March 30, 2016

springing forward

I was looking back at posts from past years, and although I know I don't really post to real time I am pretty sure that the cherry blossoms and other flowers are out a full month or so earlier than normal.

We decided to face the loads of tourists and meander down to the Tidal Basin in Washington DC to see the cherry blossoms in peak bloom. There are flowering trees and cherry blossoms all over the place in our area, but seeing them with the Jefferson Memorial and the water and the Washington Monument is something special.

I had a strategy. I thought if we got up early-ish on Easter Sunday morning and went down, it would be empty because everyone would be at church. It would just be us and a handful Jews and that's it. Brilliant right? Wrong. I forgot to take into account the thousands and thousands of Hindus in the metropolitan area who apparently all had the same idea. There was even a stage with Bollywood dancers, it was pretty awesome even though it was quite crowded.

The kids wanted to hunt for Easter eggs, so we brought some with and Doug stayed a few paces ahead along the way hiding little plastic candy filled eggs as we walked. This kept the kids enthusiastic and happily sugared up walking a long way through the throngs of people.

Lately Zach and  Naia and I have been obsessed with listening to Hamilton the Musical. If you're not familiar with it, it's a truly brilliant blend of Broadway, hip hop, and US history that is mind bogglingly addicting. We've studied the Revolutionary War a lot this year. We visited Yorktown. We've climbed aboard Lafayette's replica ship when it came to Annapolis. It's been a part of our conversation for months, so hearing it all so perfectly blended into music and verse has been a treat. And it's now put a new view in the monuments we know so well. It sparked so many new questions and conversations with the kids about Jefferson and Washington and the like. It's rather funny and sort of fabulous hearing Naia get wrapped up in it as well, breaking the stories down into 5 year old chunks of good guys and and bad kings and winning and losing. We really live in an extraordinary place, full of stories both written and those yet to be told.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Two On The Town

Being an only child for a long time and then getting a sibling can be tough. 6/12 years in Zach's case. I think he may still be in shock from Miss Naia's entrance stage left. I promised myself once she was old enough, I would take him away on a mom-and-Zach-only vacation for some much needed one on one time. He's always been a fabulous travel buddy, even when he was small, so I was looking forward to the ease of roaming about with just one kid. One place he's always wanted to go and I just didn't have the energy to do with Little Force Of Nature is New York City. It's just an easy bus trip away for us, and we have lots of friends in "the city" we could visit and crash with. So away we went.

I was blown away by how easy it is to travel with just one kid. How easy it was to do anything and everything with just one kid. Of course, parents of many would never send the other kids back into the womb, we love them all madly in their own ways. But whoa. So. Much. Easier. Of course part of that is that Naia is still so little. Being on the town with just the big kid meant lovely uninterrupted conversations, no arguments, the amazing freedom of being spontaneous, and we covered so much ground so very quickly.

The NYC subway was a little intimidating at first, especially just glancing at it and comparing it visually to the Candy Land map that is the Washington DC metro. But once I got the 30 second lesson on how it works, it was a snap. Fares are half that of DC Metro, it's super fast, and very safe and easy to use. We were zipping all over Manhattan.

NYC has a reputation for being super expensive, which of course it totally can be. Crashing with friends took care of lodging. Eating simple street food with a lot of pizzas and hot dogs not only made the little boy child happy but kept food pretty cheap. Taking the subway everywhere keeps getting around affordable, and lots of walking of course. And we only did one outing that required pricey tickets. Everything else was just walking and looking and taking it all in.

Zach was impressed by the tall buildings. I grew up in Chicago, so tall buildings are old news for me. But for a kid who's grown up in wee little Annapolis, with Washington DC being the closest big town which also happens to have height restrictions on the buildings... it was quite awe inspiring. He wanted more than anything to go to the top of the Empire State Building, so up we went. 102 floors up, 1250 feet up in the air.

He loved that you could just walk a few blocks in any direction and buy pretty much anything you could ever think of. He loved seeing the swarms of yellow taxis buzzing the endless city blocks. We both loved the people watching and the little street scenes playing out all over the place.

I loved seeing my old friends. There's nothing like old friend to warm your soul. No matter how long it's been between visits, we fall back into that old pattern, comfortable and laughing. These people who know you sometimes better than you know yourself, who you can say anything to, who you can effortlessly travel and eat and wrangle kids with.

My old friend Steve and I worked together many moons ago, he and I traveled the country when I was his producer on HGTV. He has a heart of gold and the best sense of humor ever.  Zach had met him a couple of time when he was younger, but this time they got to hang out and chat more. Steve was infinitely patient with Zach's endless questions and tween-ager sass. Hanging out with Steve and his friends was such a treat, they spoiled us rotten.

Jeremy is one of my oldest friends. We were friends in high school, stayed close through college at different universities, remained friends after college when he moved out east, and I was even a groomsman in his wedding back when I was very pregnant with Naia. He had a solo weekend with his kids, and was kind enough to let us invade his beautiful apartment just off Washington Square Park. It was so heart warming seeing my old pal fall into his role as super dad. And I loved how comfortable we were wrangling our kids tag team, laughing about parenthood and adulthood and how funny this would all seem to our 16 year old selves.

The things that struck me the most about NYC were the energy and spirit of the city. I have always been biased towards Chicago because that's my hometown, but I think I get it now with New York. I get why people are drawn here. Watching guys in a park play a pick up game of basketball, watching kids interact with street performers, seeing the ebb and flow of the subway crowds, people always offering seats to older folks and those who looked like they needed it more. Talking to the folks in a corner store or cafe, hearing their passion so clearly for whatever it is they're doing. Listening to buskers perform an insane variety of music so beautifully it would bring you to tears. Glancing at iconic pieces of pop culture in real life all around you. I get it. There is such an amazing soul to this place. And while I may be too much of a nature girl to ever call NYC home, I think I feel a part of me wanting to go back again and again.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


It's been 2 months, give or take, and I wondered whether I should bother to come back to this space at all and try to catch up. Then I realized that I need to do this for the very reason I started this and kept it up this long as it is. This is for my children. This is their story, their images, their memories for someday. So I will do my best to catch up for them.

Winter has been kind. I guess we were due a mild one after many harsh long winters. The beginning of January was mild and lovely.

Then there was the end of the month when a big blizzard came knocking. Three long days cooped up on the boat with record snowfalls and strong winds. I was worried about losing power, but thankfully it stayed on and we all did fine. The kids played and watched movies and we baked. And in the middle of the storm I carefully made my way off the boat and walked in thigh deep snow to a room left unlocked by the marina for liveaboards to gather. It ended up being a warm and wonderful gathering with surprisingly good food and music and laughter. I even met some new people I didn't realize were living here.  Just the thing for a blizzard night, making grateful once again for this little community we have.

The kids bundled up and enjoyed the snow to the fullest. A perfect, fluffy, deep snow.

It was good to get one gratuitous snowfall. That's really all winter needs to be, right?
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