Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Deal or No Deal

There is way more to the trip than what that Lucy did. I have to humbly share some of the good deals we came across so that you know how cool I am.

1. Hotel - we stayed at the Navy Lodge (a standard hotel like operation run by the Navy - similar to AF visiting officer quarters) on Staten Island under the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. It is part of the Fort Wadsworth complex. Cory loved the Fort and cannons. The 'deal' was that we stayed for under $100 a night and stayed in a semi-secure area away from the craziness of the Big Apple. The room had a full size fridge, sink, stove top, and microwave. There was a small playground outside the hotel and a quiet beach on the Fort as well. We were just a few miles away from the Staten Island Ferry. We paid a small fee to park at the dock and then enjoyed a FREE ride to downtown Manhattan every day. One last thing I have to add, the kids loved playing hide and seek in the hotel room. Nothing to do with where we stayed or anything other than they loved hiding in different "parts" of the one-room hotel setup.

2. Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) office on Fort W. They had discount tickets to the Statue of Liberty (that included access to the monument - that was otherwise unavailable unless booked well in advance from National Park Service and also saves us hours and hours in line because we had special 'load anytime access' tickets instead of a timed ticket from the normal website). They had daily pass tickets available for purchase for unlimited rides on NYC subway. They also had good advice on things to do in the city. We got the hint to go up to the Top of Rock at Rockefeller Center instead of the Empire State Building.

3. Top of the Rock. I read a little on-line and was considering this vs Empire State Building. Quick survey of the on-line forums leads you to believe ESB has long lines and not so friendly setup, while the Top of the Rock was less popular with crowds/group tours but offered same view with no hassle. Thanks to Navy MWR I knew they also had a huge military discount (not advertised) reducing price to $10 per person. And just as billed there was no wait, a very friendly staff, and awesome views of the city.

4. Times Square - Toys R Us Ferris Wheel: The store was four stories and had a huge opening in the center. We paid just $4 per person to ride around the Ferris wheel 5-6 times. The ride was 5-10 minutes long. When we compare that to a $10 elephant ride that lasted for less than 60 seconds at the Circus a few days earlier...we thought it was a deal. The kids had smiles on the entire time. They were excited about what car they would get to ride in (they were all decorated with different characters/themes - Cory, Riley, Dad were in the Little People Bus - Mary, Lucy, and Mom were in the M&M car) and excited to see the floors of toys as they went around. Inside the store they had cool decorations.


Lego (Statue of Liberty, ESB & King Kong, and a NY Hot Dog Cart--just to name a few!).

We were only IN the city for 2 full days but we had tons of fun!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What's That Lucy Doing?

Our 3 year old niece, Clara, likes to ask us "What's that Lucy doing?" Today, we have some pretty good answers:

Eating pizza at Chuck's Pizza in Staten Island, New York.

Checking out the cool cannon with Cory at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island.
Riding the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan (with a cool Coast Guard escort--should we have been worried?).

Standing in a forever long line to take the ferry to Liberty Island.

Checking out out Lady Liberty.
Watching Cory and Spiderman web the bad guys.

Taking in the lights at Times Square.

Sleeping at M&M World, and therefore missing the fun photo-op.

Riding the Ferris Wheel in Toys R Us.

Visiting the animals at Central Park Zoo.

Enjoying ice cream the first of two times on a day of near record breaking heat in NYC.

Petting Balto in Central Park.

Looking cool in her shades at American Girl New York.

Enjoying the sweeping views of New York City from Top of the Rock.

Helping her siblings attack Daddy at the Top of the Rock.

Sleeping on the subway.

Feeling the sand in her toes in New York Harbor.

Having a great spring break in New York City!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Disperse Ye Rebels!

To Arms! To Arms!

It's Patriot's Day today. A state holiday. Many, if not all, Massachusetts' public school spring breaks correlate with the holiday. For those of you unaware, Patriot's Day is the day in 1775 (April 19) when Paul Revere and William Dawes rode into Lexington warning the colonials that the Regulars were coming to seize the weaponry stored in Lexington and many nearby communities--specifically a large amount suspected to be hidden in Barrett's barn in Concord. Paul Revere was captured between Lexington and Concord, but Samuel Prescott, who had joined Revere and Dawes after a late evening courting a lady, evaded capture and continued to Concord. At dawn the first real battle of the Revolution played out on Lexington Green. Two forces faced off...700 British regulars against 77 militia minutemen. As the militia were retreating, having made their point of showing patriot resolve, a shot was fired and so began the America Revolution. Later that day the 'shot heard round the world' was fired on the old North Bridge as the British were retreating back to Boston. We're lucky to live just a few miles from the 'battle trail' as they call it, where tri-cornered hats and muskets are commonplace.

Last night we attended a re-enactment of the call to arms and muster of the Lincoln Minutmen. We enjoyed the interpreter who retold the story of that night. He was in traditional garb, but mic'd up so all could hear him, and he did a fabulous job of taking us back in time.

We stood wide-eyed with the kids and a hundred or so other locals while the rider came into town to alert the minutemen of the moving British troops.

The church bell was rung and men were called from sleep to muster at the First Parish Church.

They formed up and did a roll call, afterwards firing their muskets (the highlight for Cory). The fifes and drums also demonstrated their talents.
They then marched down the road to the Pierce house playing Yankee Doodle Dandy, and the crowd followed. Once there they gave us a little more information about the Minutemen, and we were able to talk with them and ask questions. Cory was especially interested to see their muskets and meet the "captain."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Children, Children What Do You See?

We see Eric Carle's Museum of Picture Book Art! Today we took a day trip to Amherst, Mass, to visit a cute little museum showcasing the art in children's books. Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar turns 40 this year, and schools from around the world, including ours, have sent butterflies to the museum to help celebrate. We searched the butterflies looking for Riley's and Mary Beth's. And although we quickly found Mary Beth's, we were not able to locate Riley's.

The museum is small with 3 galleries displaying original artwork from well known authors and stories. We were able to see Eric Carle's original idea (Willie the Worm) for his now famous Caterpillar--you know the very hungry one. One of his editors didn't think the worm idea would fly, so they brainstormed alternatives. We also got to see some of the original drafts from his book 10 Little Rubber Ducks, which was the book Mary Beth won from the library for her Pippi Longstocking duck. One of my favorite authors of children's stories, Virginia Lee Burton, had artwork from her books The Little House, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Katy and the Big Snow, and The Emperor's New Clothes displayed, along with some of the dummy boards she used in her early drafts.

After spending a little time in the galleries, we went to the art room where the kids were able to use some materials to draw and create. They were especially impressed with the "spinners" which were markers with a circular disc around them.
And how cute is this? They have a little VW bug painted like the Caterpillar. I wouldn't mind driving around in that. Additionally, the gift shop sold fabric. I resisted buying an entire bolt, and satisfied myself with some of the smaller scraps.

Probably the most surprising part of the excursion (second only to the time we were driving through a town named Belchertown) was a geocache opportunity right outside of the museum! The title was so appropriate--Where the Wild Things Are. It was hidden among some apple trees, and was easy to find since our trees are still without LEAVES!! (but I digress) It was above eye level, but our sleuthy kids were quick to spot the likely hiding place.

A good day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Not Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothes

I went shopping with a dear friend a week ago and came home with this frivolous purchase--encouraged by said 'friend.' But, really, who can resist a rain slicker and rain boots that make Lucy look like a little strawberry (she calls them ba-berries)? In order to make the expenditure at least seem not quite so over the top, I bought it a size larger than Little Lu so she'll have plenty of time to wear it (heck, at her growth rate, that could be a really L-O-N-G time!)

Lucy seemed to know it was for her, and she was eager to put it on and go outside wearing it. Here's the thing though, she didn't have a stitch of clothing on underneath. Apparently she didn't care--there were puddles to splash in and she had the right clothes for that.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Amazing Lucy

We read to Cory and Lucy before bed in their room. Lucy is usually first and then Cory. A few day ago something new happened. I had finished Lu and was now reading some Patriot battle book (Patriot's Day is coming soon, but I am sure you will get more on that in a few days) and then Lucy heads up the ladder. This was not new. She climbs Cory's bunk ladder sometimes and throws things into her crib. But on this day she threw in more...herself. For a couple of months she has been teasing us with almost climbing into the crib, but this was a whole new level of daring on her part.

After getting in and then dancing around all happy with herself...she started to climb out. She made it all the way to the floor grabbed bee-pa-goggy (blanket, pacifier, and doggie) launched them back into the crib and then climbed back up the ladder. She repeated this process about 3 times, and then I called Kristi in to watch. Soon K was back with the camera so all can enjoy my little circus girl. She's pretty coordinated and seems to handle the transition from crib to ladder well, but I know this will eventually end in a large fall.

We were curious if she would climb out on her own in the morning. To date she has not, but I'm sure that day is not far away. After we finish stories and turn out the lights she seems content to stay in bed...for now.

I'll most likely take down the crib rail this weekend before we have to speed off to the ER.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We Keep Hoping

First Day of Spring was March 20 -- 25 days ago. Perhaps it seems to you, our fair readers, that we complain about the weather a lot. Okay so maybe we do. But here's why...I read my sister-in-law's blog and see pictures of blooming flowers and children hunting for eggs in short sleeves. I see pictures from my Facebook friend who lives in Alabama, and people are in shorts and flip flops, and my friend in Virginia posts pictures of the cherry blossoms. I read Johnny Tremain to my oldest daughter, a historical fiction story set in Boston at the beginning of the American Revolution, and the text says that April that year was warmer than normal and the pear trees were already in bloom (I kid you not, that's what we read tonight). Let me tell you, there is no blooming here. Okay, I guess I must admit that the daffodils and crocuses have been popping out, and we did notice the start of something on a tree at our church this week, but it seems slow in coming.

But if today is any indication, we might be getting even closer--Cory, Lucy and I rode our bikes to story time at the base library (imagine angels from the heavens singing right now). I've been hoping for this day for a while now, wondering when it would come. This base is quite small--we have a library, a gym, parks, a swimming pool, a donut shop, grocery store, and movie theater all within biking distance. It's really a step back in time for me when I used to ride my bike all over our little city in Kansas--to the golf course with a picnic lunch, to the donut shop, to the library, to the post office, to the park... Those days were great, and for most of us they're days of the past, but for a little while, for the time the higher powers keep us here, we get to have them now, and my kids get a little taste of that, too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Is Risen!

Over the past week we have been busy doing what many of you have probably been doing--splurging on unnecessary pastel colored candies!

Our family has enjoyed celebrating the Easter season in a whole other host of ways as well. Last weekend we kicked off the fun with a Flashlight Easter Egg hunt. What a great night--even if it was 40 degrees outside! (Remember when I mentioned that I cleaned the gloves, hats and scarves to put away--well, praise God I kept a few out, because we're still using them!) This egg hunt was a circle wide event, so we had over 30 kids looking for eggs in the dark with their flashlights. Not only that, but we had the Easter bunny, too, or at least a couple of look-a-likes.

This past Thursday we attended our church's Seder dinner. We have done these with our Sunday School class in Virginia, and we love them. The tone is slightly different in such a large setting, but the Passover Pizza that they served afterwards was a fun twist.

Then, there is the coloring of the eggs. When I really stop to think about this one, I wonder why we even can't display the gorgeous eggs without the danger of causing them to spoil, so they just sit in the refrigerator. They do, however, make a great deviled egg to enjoy for Easter dinner (the irony of this is almost too much for me) which we did.

Of course, we had the Easter baskets, too. Grandma and Grandpa sent some toys and candy for the kids, and the Easter Bunny brought some toys as well--tennis rackets, a large frisbee, and lacrosse sticks.

And, as if the one Easter egg hunt is not enough, our kids all think they need to hunt for eggs on Sunday after church, so we had a family egg hunt this morning (still very cold, I might add).

The celebrations ended this evening with a yummy dinner at our neighbor's house--we decided that the only thing missing from a great holiday celebration was a game of football.