Friday, July 29, 2011

Growing Pains

Meazi is having growing pains, literally. Her shins hurt. I have to buy new clothes and shoes for her all of the time. I am now an Ebay shopper, bidding late into the night on used Naartjie leggings. I wake up in the morning and do an Ebay walk of shame over to my laptop, half hoping my rash overbidding has been outbid by someone who likes Naartjie more than me. I am working on her back to school wardrobe. I keep an eye open for butterflies, and purple, and 100% cotton.

She just had her last day of a month long summer program. Originally I had her in the Spanish Immersion class. She was miserable, so I switched her to art. We now have tons of painted toilet paper rolls, and decorative switch plate covers filling our rooms. She liked art. I was happy that the program was so diverse. Today, her last day, she told me all sorts of stories about her racist classmates. There was a boy who told her she was disgusting the very first week. She had mentioned it when it happened, but what she didn't tell me was that he said, "You are disgusting. Black people are disgusting." A second student told her that "Chocolate people were stupid". In both instances, Meazi spoke to the child and then to her teacher. The kids were reprimanded. Steven said the problem with all of this diversity is that this diversity apparently involves skinheads too. All are welcome. Meazi, surprising me with her strong sense of self, and her brave sense of right and wrong, believes these kids are wrong, and sad, and bullies. She feels sorry for them that they don't see how beautiful chocolate is, and how a mixed family is special. She knows to gravitate toward the students that agree with her.

I am watching her grow up. Her length astonishes me. The family bed is getting more and more cramped. She is tall and strong.

On our way to class one morning she said, "Mom, we should really get back to the zoo. It looks like on July 9th there will be a new Los Angeles zookeeper." She was looking up at a billboard for this movie. It had a Coming on July 9th banner on it. I loved this so, so, much when she said it. I love that she doesn't understand movies, or billboards, or who Kevin James is.

This moment, as I am writing this, she is sitting next to me braiding her doll's hair and asking me if I like Lady Gaga. She is wearing her new underwear I bought her at Target today, and her butterfly backpack, and nothing else. In the backpack are her doll's clothes. She says that she and her baby Sarah are traveling to North Ecuador to visit Sarah's mom. She says that she adopted Sarah, but that it wasn't because of a sad reason like her adoption. She says, 'Sarah's moms are both living".

"I think Lady Gaga is a wizard. Do you think so mom?"

I'm not sure Meazi. I'm not sure.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Smaller Than I thought She Would Be

It seems ridiculous to continue writing about our New York trip when this is happening, but I feel like I should finish what I started.

 Dr. LaBootie- There is no way she could have lived up to the hype. The build up was huge, and while I wouldn't necessarily classify Meazi's reaction as disappointed, the good doctor was "Smaller than I thought she would be." The best moment was when Meazi first saw the statue from Battery Park. Her eyes got big, and she could hardly believe that she was actually seeing her. That was cool.

Here are my tips:

Buy your tickets in advance, online

Take the earliest ferry. The island will be empty when you arrive. In order to do this, you'll have to get up pretty early. I feel like we escaped the hottest part of the day by going so early.

Let your children race around the moat like mud path that encircles the fair doctor...

Again, bring Uncle Mark to chase after Melese. Do you see Melese?

Go to the museum...

When we made reservations Crown access was sold out, which is ok because you have to be 48 inches tall. We did climb the 100 plus stairs up the pedestal, and saw a pretty good view from the inside and outside...

 The only drawback to taking the earliest ferry is that your kids may be tired.

You may have to let them sleep in Battery Park right after you disembark.

I think Meazi was more impressed by Uncle Patrick's (Mark's lovely partner's) lemon cake. She complained about not being able to go in the crown. I said something terse like," You CANNOT be complaining about that after we brought you to NEW YORK CITY!" We were hot, tired, and a wee bit cranky. It was not as poetic and inspiring an experience that I thought it would be. However, since then, I see that she still loves Dr, LaBootie. She came home from a summer art class last week talking about how everyone except her made a pinch pot. She made a Dr. Labootie which will be "cooked" so she can keep it forever and ever.

Have a great trip.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Representing B-K to the Fullest...

We arrived at JFK again on the Fourth of July. After polling all of my smart mom friends, we had decided to leave our car seats at home. I had found this blog which listed some airport car services that had car seats available. We used Legends, the last one on his list, because it had a Brooklyn number and we were going to Brooklyn. They were late picking us up, but they had a fairly new, safely installed, car seat all ready to go for Melese. It cost over 60 bucks to get to Bedford Stuyvesant from JFK, but I would use them again. Meazi was in heaven in her no car seat seat, and her big girl seat belt. It wasn't the safest scenario, but since we were planning on using public transportation the whole rest of the trip it's what we did. Legends took us back to the airport at the end of our trip. They were early this time and the same car seat was all ready to go. In my anxiety filled research I did see other options for bringing your own car seats, wheeled bags that attach to the seat etc, but since Steven was returning home with the kids alone, I wanted to limit the amount of stuff we had to haul. On my way home I saw two small kids carrying their own booster seats, which they checked at the gate. Seemed a reasonable option too.

We also brought and gate checked Tunsi's umbrella stroller. The stroller was great at the wedding, and the rehearsal dinner as Melese could rest when he got tired. It was fairly easy to lug around, it had an arm strap, and weighed under twenty pounds. I recommend a lightweight stroller for a trip like this.

Bed-Stuy, do or die. Bedford Stuyvesant is probably not the first neighborhood people type into Google when they are planning a family vacation. Full of beautiful brownstones, Bed-Stuy seems a lot safer than it did when I lived in NY one hundred years ago. My brother-in-law bought a beautiful brownstone there. He is the only white person on his block, save for his tenants who occupy the second and third floors, and so far he has received a very warm welcome from the community.

 We did get quite a few startled looks from the firemen at Mark's local station. We seemed to be an odd group making our way to the J train.

The kids loved, loved, loved the subway.

Kids ride free...

The fare for a subway or local bus ride is $2.25*. The fare for an express bus ride is $5.50. If you qualify for reduced fare, you can travel for half fare. Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult. Infants (under two years of age) ride express buses free if the child sits on the lap of the accompanying adult- MTA.

Our adult to kid ratio really worked in our favor. We spent a lot of time riding the subways and transferring to other subways. Had Mark not been there to carry Meazi when she got tired, I'm sure it would have been a much more difficult experience- lots of stairs, lots of 'watch the closing doors', lots of walking.

They awake...more later on the good doctor.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Traveler's Aid. NY-Part I.

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. — Jack Kerouac

 When Steven told me he'd like to attend his cousin's wedding in upstate New York I was excited. I immediately began planning our trip to the city, and to Meazi's idol, Dr. LaBootie. Thinking about it further, I became filled with anxiety about traveling with two kids under six. I was sure they would become lost or stolen or worse. Visions of Amber alerts and subway track falls filled my brain as I tried to figure out one of life's big questions...How do you travel with car seats? The closer we got to the trip, the more I relaxed. That high level of anxiety inevitably ends in a resigned calm at some point. It has to.

In an attempt to provide more than, "Here are pictures of us doing fabulous things and having a wonderful time on our summer vacation," I thought I'd write a bit about what worked for us, travel wise, with the hope that it may help someone planning a trip to the Big Apple.

Take Jet Blue. It helped that the only seats available, together, were the more expensive, "Even More Room" seats. They provided, well, even more room! Our non-tv watching kids were thoroughly entertained by the rare Sponge Bob sighting and an unfortunate Family Guy viewing (Mom, what's a gynecologist?). Kind flight crew, yummy snacks, mini water bottles and wing stickers for the kids, helped to make us big fans of Jet Blue.

Don't Take the Red Eye. Big mistake. They slept, we didn't, so we had the worst of both worlds- kids were ready to go, we were ready to sleep. Luckily the Jet Blue terminal at JFK has a children's play area. We spent about three hours there. There was a giant screen tv. It is not completely enclosed so you do have to have one eye open in case your two-year old begins throwing his Croq's at travelers walking by.

Always Bring Uncle Mark. Uncle Mark met us at the terminal for our next flight, a short 45 minute trek to Syracuse. Again, lovely Jet Blue employees, healthy snacks and the ever so helpful, 'First bag flies free" (What kind of world is it where you have to spend 25 bucks to bring a suitcase?).

We checked into our mediocre hotel in a city which reminded me a lot of Milwaukee and experienced the "World's worst view from a hotel room". Our window looked directly into the parking garage. Only one family member enjoyed that. "Mommy, we see those cars again?" Melese had a rough night that first night. He cried to go home. It was so sad to hear. Always bring whatever thing it is to help your kiddo feel secure away from home. For us it was his nightly milk. We were out of milk.

We attended a beautiful wedding. When in doubt, say yes to that wedding invitation.

Next up- Bed-Stuy, Do or Die, and do not show her the Beyonce Fourth of July, Statue of Liberty performance before the big day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Comfort Food

We are back from our east coast adventures. Time for some comfort food.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Out of the 140 pictures, this one is the best. This is when she saw the statue for the first time.
Her favorite part of the trip is still the water feature at the Central park.

And her Uncle Mark...

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, July 1, 2011

Start Spreading the News.

We are off! We are off to a big, fat, Jewish, wedding. We are off to worship false idols...

And we are off to give NY state a big, ole wet kiss, to celebrate that it is one of the few wise states that recognizes that everyone should have the right to marry.

If you were thinking of ransacking our 950 square feet in our absence, be advised that a tiny,old, Irish, granny nanny and a half-deaf, geriatric pup 6'2 armed, former member of the IRA and a giant rabid Rottweiler will be guarding our abode.

Steven's cousin is having a black tie wedding. I wasn't going to get Meazi a new dress, since she had this pretty yellow one from the fundraiser, and I knew she was getting a custom made dress in August for my sister's wedding.

We went into a local shop that sells a lot of Quinceanera dresses, to find Melese a black tie. Meazi noticed some long dresses and asked just to try a couple on. She put this one on and I was a goner. The way her eyes sparkled when she saw herself in the mirror made me hand over the credit card instantly. Well worth the 34 bucks.

 Have a wonderful Fourth of July. See some of you in NYC.