The Family

The Family

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Night Sky

For his birthday Jack got a telescope.

Our first observation didn't go so well. We set up in the front of the house as the sun was going down. Even when it got dark, there was too much light to see well.

Matt also happened to point out a bat flying above the driveway, which sent Mattie shrieking. She was so freaked out by the time it got dark that I had to come inside and sit with her.

Our second observation we at least located some stars.

The third, we saw an awesome glimpse of the quarter moon.

I wish I could say we've used it more than the three times we have, but it seems like every time there is something to see, like the recent lunar eclipse super moon, the sky is cloudy.

A few days ago when I let a new puppy out at an incredibly early hour, I decided that was likely the best time to look through the telescope. I'm fairly certain I observed the star, Sirius, shining in the east. I say this because my husband had recently read an article about Sirius being observable in the early morning hours - more like the witching hours - in October. What was most amazing is that when I went back out 45 minutes later, what had previously been a large and bright spot in the sky had faded so much it was barely visible.

I was only half teasing when I told everyone I was going to wake them up one morning at 5 am for our next telescope observation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New York Was Calling

And I answered the call.

It's a place that has drawn me in since I was 13, and everytime I'm there I feel at home. I try to make it a priority to go once a year, but there was a point where it didn't look like it was going to happen this year. Then I found an early morning departure flight and late-night return flight through Southwest on the cheap and booked it.

There's so much to love about New York - the air, the smell, the energy, the feeling.

It's a city my son now calls his favorite place, and this New York loving momma couldn't be happier.

We made most of our usual stops - The American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which are inexpensive because you can pay whatever you want to enter. We usually pay $10 at each stop.

We stayed at our favorite west side hotel - The Lucerne. All the bellmen and hotel staff are the same people each year. I love seeing how many are still there, even though they don't remember us.

We ate at some of favorite places:

Nice Matin, which is connected to the hotel and offers a 15 percent discount at breakfast for being hotel guests.

 Sarabeth's, another great breakfast joint.

Eataly, which was much less intimidating the second time around.

Sweet & Plumm, where we ordered ice cream even though it was 40 degrees outside and ate it in our hotel lobby because the place was so crowded we couldn't find a seat.

This time around we ventured to other places like:

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), which we visited on Friday night because it is free then.

I should add that a blogpost on Cupcakes and Commentary linking to an article about Picasso's sculptures was my primary motivation for the MOMA stop.

The Statue of Liberty, need I say more.

The Empire State Building, which was great, but may not ever happen again because it is pricey.

Madison Square Park, just to see the artwork Fata Morgana profiled on CBS Sunday morning a few months back. You walk along in the park and look up at the mirrored sculpture hanging above.

And we discovered some new eateries that will be on our list next time:

Jacob's Pickles, a total hipster joint about 5 blocks from our hotel that serves food with a southern flair. We all shared the pancakes and fried chicken. We also ordered shrimp and grits and black-eyed peas with collard greens. I ordered a house-made Bloody Mary, complete with bacon and a pickled egg. The entire meal was a delight for this southerner's palette.

Voila, a chocolatier on the same block as our hotel, offers truffles and a chance to make your own chocolate. We went for the small pack of nine truffles, which included a hand-picked assortment of creme brulee, pralines, pumpkin spice and raspberry.

We also ventured into one of the small pizza shops directly across the street from our hotel. Matt and I figure we should eat there a bit more on our next trip because it was by far the least expensive option. Maybe we'll opt out of the $45-$60 museum cafe lunches to go for the $18 bill at the pizza joint.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Good Neighbors

There's something absolutely delightful in having good neighbors.

On Saturday we walked across the street to visit with ours.

Ms. Betty and Mr Charles, a couple in their late 70s, moved to our neighborhood two years ago. In the time since, they have become some of my children's favorite people. Case in point: Jack once told me, when he was mad at me one afternoon, that he was going to pack his suitcase and go spend the night with Ms. Betty and Mr. Charles - HA!

When we arrived on their doorstop on Saturday Ms. Betty was ready with brownies and ice cream. The week before she'd called me over to offer a pink trunk that Mattie now uses as a toy box and an old portable DVD player for Jack.

I can't even begin to recount how many boxes of vanilla wafers, bottles of ketchup and jars of peanut butter she brings us on a regular basis.

When the builder first began constructing their home a few years ago I was holding my breath. We had been used to a vacant lot that Jack used for playing, and, well, you just never know what kind of neighbors you're going to get.

We hit the jackpot with them!

They have a cozy back patio outfitted with wrought iron seating and rocking chairs. The creek running behind their property is the kids new place for trying to spot tadpoles. And Ms. Betty is already talking about us all coming over to roast marshmallows when the night air turns crisp.

Ah, good neighbors are a delightful thing indeed.