Friday, July 31, 2009


Wednesday R (9.5), went to Dunkin Donuts with our neighbor E alone for the first time and today they went out to lunch by themselves. Tonight I put D (3.75) to sleep in the girl's room for the first time. It is 3:04AM (I'm up because of the nap I took today and the break fast cup of coffee. It was Tisha B'Av today) and she is still there, hopefully fast asleep. This is the first time in 10 years that my husband and I have had our bedroom to ourselves. It was also Z's (13) first 25 hour fast. I am amazed at his fortitude. When I was his age I would never have fasted for that long (of course I was not an observant Jew). A lot of what kids do ritually can seem like a habit but the fact that he made the choice to fast seems significant to me. There have been big changes going on in my family. It's one of those moments when I can see how much my kids have grown up recently.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

They're Back!

Well it's official 2 kids are easier than 4. My big kids are home from camp and the routine I had has been knocked for a loop. Things have been a little crazier than they would have been if my mom had not had her gallbladder removed 10 days ago. As much as I love my mom I would not have seen her 5 times in 14 days under normal circumstances. I will chalk up the past week to the unreliability of life.

I went to pick up R late Monday morning in New Jersey. She had that I've been in camp for the past month look. She needed a bath and a hairbrush! She did look adorable and I was very excited to see her as were her sisters. I wanted to visit my mom with the girls so we made a pit stop at home and then drove out to Long Island. We made my mom the tissue paper flower garland that I found on Origami Mommy. It is a great project for kids and even D was able to work on it. Everyone was glad to see everybody and the girls had a great time playing with my mom's housekeeper Jillian's very adorable one year old.

Tuesday was the day that Z came home from camp. Joy came at 10:30 so I did not have to shlep the girls out to NJ with me. Z's bus was already there when I got there so I found him and his bags and we went back to the city. The girls were very happy to see him and all of them gave him a big welcome home hug. Z, of course, had to run to get lunch at the bagel store.

We had stopped at Michael's on the way home from my mom's and had bought some new beads and stickers so the girls spent most of the afternoon drawing and making necklaces, bracelets and anklets. Z just hung around at home getting reaclimated to city life. Of course now that I was done with R's laundry we had to start on Z's. Thankfully, Joy was there to help!

Later in the afternoon Joy took D and T to gymnastics and I went to Barnes and Nobel with R to pick up some Archie comics (I was so excited that she was reading them. I used to love them when I was her age.) We also picked up some new Candy Apple books that a friend of hers had recomended to her (by the way, this is a great series). It was so nice to have some time with her alone.

Wednesday was a very rainy day in New York. Whenever we got motivated to go out it began to pour. We really didn't do anything. Z hung out with some of his friends. Our neighbor E came down stairs and the girls spent time drawing and playing. The girls ended up going upstairs to E's for a while in the afternoon. At some point late in the day D and I went to Starbucks just so we could get out of the apartment. That was pretty much it for the day for us.

Thursday was Tisha B'Av, a Jewish fast day. I went out with the girls in the morning to our neighborhood library when I knew I would still have some energy. Joy came at 1 and took D to Hippo Park. T,R,Z and our neighbor E hung around and watched too much TV. When I woke up from my nap I told T she could watch another TV show since I was so beat from fasting (no water is allowed!). T told me that this was the best day ever because I was letting them watch everything they wanted to watch (well almost everything!) on TV.

Friday I took all the kids to visit my mom. She is doing much better and the kids had a great time with the dogs (my mom has 4!). By the time we got back to the city it was time for us to get ready for Shabbat.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where did July Go?

This was my last week with just D and T. By the time I finally post this I'll have a full house again. July was such a great month. Maybe with twice the kids August will be twice as good. Here was my schedule for last week.

Monday: In the morning we took the bus to Fairway, shopped, dropped off our frozen food at home and then went to the Bloomingdale branch of the New York Public Library . The first thing I needed to do was to return 3 books from last summer and pay my $139 fine (Yes, that is what it costs when you do not return 3 books to the library for almost a full year). After I finished at the front desk, we went upstairs to the children's library and saw a great program about people with disabilities. It explained what it was like to have a disability in a fun and non scary way using books, songs and puppets. Both of the girls enjoyed the almost hour long program (and so did I).

After we were done we looked at and picked out a bunch of books to check out. D was so excited to have 8 new books to read. We will hopefully be going back to the library before next summer to return the books and get some new ones. On the way home we stopped off at the small park on the same block as the library and the kids played for about a half hour. Later that evening I took the girls to Mike's Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen for dinner where we had a delicious meal and the best chocolate mousse (made with good chocolate and cream) for dessert.

Tuesday: We had our 3rd lesson at the Ice House in Hackensack and the new skates that I bought T made a big difference. She was really doing a nice job skating with out holding on. I got a call from my brother in the afternoon that my mom had gone to the emergency room with severe pain in her upper abdomen. Thank G-d it turned out to be only a bad gallbladder. She ended up having it taken out on Thursday. I was definitely thrown for a loop. My mom has been pretty healthy so I just don't expect that she would be sick enough to go to the hospital.

Joy came at 4PM and took the girls to gymnastics while I went to yoga and then met J at the movies. We saw The Hangover. I think we were the only 2 people in the theater who didn't think it was funny.

Wednesday: We went to Swedish Cottage in Central Park to see Peter Pan which the girls really enjoyed. After the puppet show we has a picnic at the Great Lawn. The girls had a great time running all over the lawn in bare feet (a luxury for us city folks). On our walk out of the park we stop off at the Mariners Playground at 85Th Street where the girls played for about an hour before we went home.

Thursday: Joy came at noon and took the girls to open gym time at New York Kids Club and I went to visit my mom at the hospital in Manhasset. If you know me, you know what a terrible sense of direction I have. When I have to go somewhere I've never been I get very stressed. The chances of me getting lost or making at least one wrong turn is about 95%. Thankfully, we recently got a GPS so I was able to find my way there with out any problems (and with out uttering any words that one might find inappropriate). I was even able to find Michael's in Manhasset after I left the hospital and then I managed to made my way home.

When I got home our neighbor E was at our house. She had just gotten back from camp and the girls were so excited to see her. I had picked up some new beads and paint at Michael's that the girls decided they had to use right away. They spent most of the evening playing and creating together which meant that I was able to get some Shabbat cooking done. I made turkey burgers for us for dinner and thankfully Josh came home in time to remind me that it was the nine days before we ate them.

Friday: We did some cooking for Shabbat in the morning and the girls made a bunch of beaded name necklaces for the friends that we were meeting that afternoon at Hippo Park The girls played for a couple of hours before we came home to get ready for Shabbat.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is It Me Or My Camera?

I have not been happy with the pictures that I have been posting on my blog. I chalked it up to my own ineptitude. I think though that it might not be entirely my fault. It appears that the pictures I took today with T's new camera (a not very expensive coolpix) on the Great Lawn in Central Park are a lot better than what I have been taking with my Kodak. Now if I can only figure out how to make them bigger on my blog.....Wait, I just noticed that the first one is bigger than the second one and I have no idea why.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Home Camping: Getting Into A Groove

I can't believe that this is the 3rd week that R and Z have been away. I feel like the summer is just flying by. The past few weeks that I've had T and D home have been great. After our initial flurry of activities things have definitely mellowed out. I'm surprised at how happy they are to just be at home. This week we ended up doing a lot more art than we did last week.

It's been interesting to watch the girls interacting with each other. They have been spending the vast majority of their time together. They seem so close, like a small, tight unit. It's hard to believe that T will be going away to camp in a few summers. I feel like the days that they have together are so precious.

So here is last week's schedule:

Monday: We had our second ice skating lesson at the Ice House in Hackensack. Everyone did much better than last week. T was skating more on her own and D took a few steps with out holding on to Gina (our ice skating teacher). When T got off she told me that her feet hurt so I took her in to the pro shop to see if her skates still fit. Guess what? They didn't so I had to buy her a new pair. It will be interesting to see if the new skates make any difference in her skating this week.

After we got back to the city we got some lunch and headed over to our friend's house. The kids had a great time playing together and I got to have some adult conversation.

Tuesday: A few summers ago I had taken the kids to the Heckscher Playground in Central Park and we had a great time. I've been meaning to get the kids back there since then and I finally did. Yikes! It was so crowded. It seemed as if half of New York (and half of Europe) was at that playground Tuesday morning. The playground had a great sprinkler and winding river that went up to and connected to one of those giant boulders in the park. The girls ran off and started running "up" the river.

I was having a particularly tough time keeping my eyes on them because I had scratched my eye and only had in one contact lens (note to self: do not go to a crowded playground with only one contact lense in). All of a sudded the play ground was invaded by 3 different large camp group. I told the girls it was time to leave and we got out of there as fast as we could.

I felt like our morning was not going well when the girls suggested that we go to the Central Park Carousel. As crowded as the Hecksher Playground was the carousel was empty. We got to go on 3 times in a row. I actually got to ride on one of the horses for he first time in 9 years (I always had a baby with me and had to ride on the couch). I forgot how much fun it is. The girls would have gone on again but we needed to get home because Joy was coming and I had some errands to so.

Joy took the girls to gymnastics and I met my husband at the movies. We saw Bruno and we thought it was hysterical, although somewhat horrifying.

Wednesday: We had tickets to The Little House of Cookies a cute musical at Tada . After the show we took the bus to Magnolia Bakery (yes, kosher people, I eat there and I'm fairly certain that I will not be served trief hot dogs like some people recently were at a glatt kosher restaraunt Brooklyn).

After some delicious cake, cupcakes and cookies we headed home. I had seen a cute snail project at No Time for Flash Cards and decided that we should give it a try. The girls had a good time doing the project. It was perfect for T but D needed a little help finishing it up. When we cut them out the next day and added the googly eyes we were really pleased with how they turned out. They are now hanging on our front door. After they were done with the snails they wanted to paint so I set them up at the dining room table.

Thursday: The girls and I started our challah in the morning. We also baked some butterscotch chocolate chip blondies (I do intend to post this recipe at some point) and made peanut noodles for Shabbat lunch since we were having guests this week. The girls did some more painting when we were done cooking while I spent a 2 hours trying (unsuccessfully) to download softwear for our computer that we need to get the printer to work. Joy came for a few hours and took the girls to Open Gym time at gymnastics, while I blew off my yoga class to get some alone time at home.

Friday: We baked a blueberry crisp for Shabbat lunch in the morning and then we all went and had manicures. My parents came in for the afternoon so we just hung out at the apartment with them. Giga (my mom) bought T a new camera and Papa N(my stepfather) very patiently taught T how to use it until it was time to get ready for Shabbat (he also spent some time doing math problems with her!).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Visiting Day

We had developed a fool proof plan for visiting day when it was just Z who was away at camp. It went like this: We went to his camp and met Z at the entrance. We picked him up and parked the car. After dropping his things off at his bunk we made a BBQ and grilled veggies and skirt steak. After lunch we went to the movies. After the movies we went to WalMart and Mr. Z's (the local supermarket). We then would drop him and his stuff of at his bunk and say good bye. I knew that this year would be different because we were going to have to coordinate 2 kids and 2 camps on visiting day.

After a dicey beginning (we realized that we had forgotten the BBQ and non toxic fire starter at home) A little bit of adjustment to the schedule was needed. We picked up R first at her camp (her visiting day started earlier). We knew that we needed to get to Z so we only spent about 15 minutes in her bunk. We picked Z up and went straight to Walmart to get a BBQ so we could cook our food. We got all the "provisions" the kids needed at Walmart since we didn't have time to go to Mr Z's. After a quick pit stop at Dunkin Donuts for some drinks we went back to camp to get our BBQ going.

The skirt steak was delicious as usual. After lunch the kids asked if we were still going to the movies. Unfortunately it was too late. We needed to get R back to her camp so we took Z and his stuff back to his bunk, hung out for a bit and said goodbye.

We got R back pretty late but there were still a few parents around. It was obvious to us all day that she was really enjoying camp. She spent the whole time with us smiling, giggling and singing camp songs. We took R to her bunk and had an opportunity to meet some of her friends. They seemed like really nice girls and they all seemed really fond of each other. I have to admit that they were adorable in their 3/4 length shirts and their skirts past their knees. The Bas Yisrael (Daughter of Israel) look seems to agree with them all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Keeping Up

I had this fantasy of diligently blogging about my summer "home camping" my kids. One of the problems with this is that I am pretty busy with the kids and usually pretty tired at the end of the day. I wanted to record how our days went this summer so here is a quick sumery of our schedule from last week:

Monday: Ice Skating and Hippo Playground/Crab Apple Grove. I already wrote about this in my previous post

Tuesday: We needed to chill out after our initial rush into summer. We took a leisurely stroll down to Fairway doing some errands along the way. We stopped in Barnes and Nobel because T needed the next books in the Ivy and Bean series. When we came home they were just not interested in going back out. At 5:00 Joy took the girls to gymnastics while I went to my favorite yoga class and then saw Whatever Works with J

Wednesday: After a low key Tuesday we were ready for some more adventure on Wednesday. We decided to go to the New York Botanical Gardens with some friends. Wow! I have not been there since Z was small and I forgot what an amazing place it is. It is absolutely beautiful and it is hard to believe that you are in the Bronx. We got to the Garden at about 1:30 and decided that we would check out the farmers market, the Children's Adventure Garden and the Family Garden. We did a quick stop at the farmers market, bought a few snacks and decided that we would come back later to get some fruits and veggies for our families.

The Adventure Garden had a great program called Flower Power which I had read about in Time Out NY Kids. They gave the kids a map that led them through the garden and showed them where they could find different activities and interesting places to explore. The kids all enjoyed the activities and they had a great time playing in the garden. The garden has a bunch of interactive areas including an area all about bird's nests and one about ponds. The kids had such a great time that before we new it it was 5:30 and the farmers market had closed and it was to late to check out the family garden. T, D and I ended up leaving the Garden at 6:00 and both the girls told me that they wanted to go back soon.

Thursday: This is my errand day. Joy came at about 11:30 and I told her the girls had been out all afternoon on Wednesday and that they probably would not want to go out until later if at all. When I got home at 3:30 Joy had finally convinced the girls to get ready to go out. They ended up going to the small park on 90th St., running into some friends and having a great time. Meanwhile, I got to go to my favorite yoga class again.

Friday: We baked butterscotch and chocolate chip blondies and chocolate brownies in the morning for Shabbat. Luckily we had been invited out for both meals so I had nothing else to cook. I managed to find 20 minutes to play the coin game with the girls. T seems to understand how to multiply 5's and 10's with nickles and dimes. D can now recognize a quarter,dime, nickle, penny and she enjoys giving me different amounts of different coins. At 2:00 we met some friends at Hippo. The girls played for about 2 hours and we came home and finished getting ready for Shabbat.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's Finally Summer

Last Friday was the real start of my summer with the girls. The big kids are in camp and it's just the 3 of us (plus Josh on the weekends) until the end of the month. We went to the 97th Street Farmers Market in the morning. We got some zucchini and fresh garlic for dinner and we picked up some English peas, peaches and raspberries to just munch on. It's amazing how much produce kids will eat at a farmers market.

In the afternoon we went to Victorian Gardens, a mini amusement park, in Central Park. Even though it was July 3rd and essentially a national holiday it was not that crowded. We did not have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride. The girls had a great time and D seems to have moved up a notch in bravery. She went on almost all the rides!

Sunday, D, T and I saw Pinkalicious, The Musical. The girls loved it. J drove down with us and watched Wimbledon at a bar (I know that sounds funny!) while we were at the show. After the show we went to lunch and then to Battery Park. I had read about what sounded like a great play ground in Time Out NY Kids. We walked through the park and found a playground but quite frankly it was nothing special. The kids played for about 45 minutes and then we went to find the bathroom before we left. There was a quiet path near the bathroom and we found Teardrop park (the park that Time Out NY Kids suggested).

Wow! I can only describe it like an oasis. It had a beautiful, shady lawn, very cool sprinklers and a very tall and long slide. We ended up spending another hour at the park and T and D had a great time. We only left because it was getting late. We will definitely go back.

Today was our first ice skating lesson at the Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey. It is just as easy to get to as Chelsea Piers and the lessons are cheaper and just as good. D went first and lasted for about 2 minutes. T lasted the whole half hour and really made some good progress. She was able to do a little skating with out holding on. Ddecided that she wanted to try again and did another 5 minutes with her teacher. She seemed to like it better the second time she went on the ice.

This afternoon we went to Hippo Playground to meet D's friend and luckily ended up meeting a bunch of other friends also. There was a nice group of kids for the girls to play with. We spent some time at Crab Apple Grove where the kids ran around in the grass, climbed the trees and picked, ate and then spit out some very sour crab apples. We ended up staying at the park for 3 hours. I am exhausted. T and D are watching a movie while I am writing.

Tomorrow we are going to lay low. The only thing we have to do is go to Fairway since I have no food in my house. Joy (my babysitter) is coming tomorrow at 4pm. I will hopefully get to Yoga and then J and I have a date at the movies!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Off To Camp

I can't believe it but R has been away at camp for two days now. It's so quiet with her and Z gone. I'm used to life in this house with out Z since this is his fifth summer away (hard to believe). It's always so interesting to see the shift in sibling dynamics when some of the siblings are not here. T seems to be enjoying being the oldest. Josh and I got to spend a little time with her alone after Denni went to sleep.

After we dropped of Z at the bus stop (He told me to leave and wouldn't give me a hug!) I took T and D to the New York Hall of Science. They had a great time playing together there. They also played together all evening. It was so interesting because they played with out any conflicts. Usually when the 3 girls are playing together D always begins to egg T on. I have noticed when R is not here she just doesn't do it. It should be interesting to see how their relationship develops with R and Z gone.

Crafts for Kids: Sewing

When my crafts order arrived the girls were really excited. I decided that the first thing we would try would be sewing with burlap, embroidery floss and a tapesty (blunt) needle. I got this idea from Amanda Soule's book The Creative Family. I set each of the girls up with a embroidery hoop with burlap and off they went. D just sewed sort of randomly with different color flosses, T actually went straight to sewing the letter T, a little square and a heart on her hoop and R practiced some stitches on hers. What they chose to sew really matched their personalities.

I was surprised but the girls spent an hour sewing that first morning and then sewed for another hour that evening. We have definetly been sewing on and off for the past few days. I am going to get some persian wool tomorrow on the East side so that we can start the first project in Kids Embroidery: Projects for All Ages. The project is some very easy needle point coasters. I will try the striped pattern with D and T (R is at sleep away camp). I'm not sure if D will be able to do the project but I guess I will find out!


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