|That's pretty much it for Indiana|
We stayed with my aunt and uncle in Marysville for Easter which we really enjoyed. Everyone was generous and welcoming as always. It's a lucky thing in life if you get to feel at home in more than one place.
Not being religious people my kids associate Easter purely with hunting for eggs. I have no problem with this as long as they are aware of the holiday's actual significance to other people, but truthfully they have been sketchy on the details. This year was interesting because my cousin asked me to accompany him at the service in his church on Easter morning, which meant my kids ended up coming along too. They did not like being required to dress up, and they kept asking me why we were doing it. I reminded them that dressing up is a sign of respect (like for recitals and funerals) and that church was important to many people, including some we love. I told them attending a church service was something they should do once just to know what it was.
|Kids all dressed up to please their mom|
|Proof I wore a dress, too.|
The performance went okay. Tony wanted to do Amazing Grace in honor of our grandfather, so we put something together the night before in a key he could sing comfortably (which turned out to be F, and not very intuitive for me on viola, but it worked out)
(Here's a link to a recording made on someone's phone if you want to hear us.) I think people were most interested in the fact that I made the viola I was playing.
The best part of the whole church experience for my kids, however, was the chance to ring the bell in the steeple. They loved that! Then we went home and got out of those clothes.
My aunt left me and my children in charge of setting and decorating the table for the big Easter meal that afternoon. I put the napkins into a bunny-ear fold, Quinn made Easter egg place cards, Mona constructed a bird, and Aden made origami bunnies (and taught her little cousin Kate how to make them, too). It was fun to be part of a big traditional family meal for the holiday.
|Mary and Pepper|
Plus I now had an adult to share the drive with, which was excellent! She drove, and I read The Golden Compass out loud to everyone. The one weird part of the drive to New York was that before we even got out of Ohio I looked at Quinn and was alarmed to see his right eye was all red and gooey. It looked like pinkeye. So we stopped at a Walmart and I picked up some saline and an eye patch, and my hope was to just keep him from touching his eye and spreading conjunctivitis to the rest of us and we would find an Urgent Care in New York. But then an hour later he removed the eye patch and his eye was clear and perfect! Turns out Mary had a bunch of her things packed in a pillowcase that her cats sleep on, and Quinn had been leaning the right side of his face against it. We now know he's allergic to cats.
Anyway, the arrival in New York was not what we planned. We had an image in our minds of having Mary hide in the car, and we would greet everyone at the door, then send Ellora back to get her special present. But we arrived after dark and nobody was home and the kids and I all really had to use the bathroom. And on top of it all I couldn't find my phone. So, we had to figure out how to have Mary call my brother and his wife without letting them know she was in town. She essentially called them and said, "Kory lost her phone and called me and asked me to call you," which makes no sense whatsoever. Add to that the fact that they didn't pick up when Mary called the first time, so she called her dad and had him call them, because they always pick up when their uncle calls and she knew they would do whatever he asked. So John called Arno and said, "I think you should call Mary." Arno thought that was the weirdest request of the day, but he did it, and assured Mary they were on their way back to the apartment and would let me and my kids in soon.
In the meantime a very nice couple in a neighboring building invited us to come in and use their bathroom (which made everything feel less desperate), and Mary tracked down a spare key to my brother's apartment through a friend who also freed up a parking space for us to use so we could unload the van. It all worked out, odd as it was, and Ellora discovered Mary waiting in the apartment and was thrilled.
The time in New York was great. The one thing I was hoping to do that we could not do (again) was get into the Statue of Liberty. Back in February I tried to get tickets and discovered they were sold out through June already! So if we ever want to get in we have to plan very far ahead. But it's not like there aren't plenty of things to do. Besides, the kids mostly just like to hang around the apartment with Pepper the dog. They did iPad things and read and invented a spy game and stayed up very late laughing. For my kids, that's New York.
|Ellora, Mona, and Pepper cuddled up and having fun|
|Ready for the egg hunt|
|Quinn and his butter egg|
The way we do egg hunts is to color code the eggs. Everyone hunts for their own color, and that way they each get the same number of eggs, and we can customize what goes in them (no nuts for Aden, for instance) and where we hide them (higher up for Aden, easier to reach for Quinn). Everyone also gets a certain number of "wild card" eggs that are filled by Arno with unlikely things. Among the wild card eggs this year were an egg filled with butter, a poorly crammed in clementine, and Mona got one full of organic peanut butter and coffee beans. We also hid eggs that we dyed in Ohio, so it was the biggest hunt yet: Almost 100 eggs total.
The funniest part of this year's egg hunt in the rose garden was that a curious squirrel snatched up a stray jelly bean when one of the plastic eggs popped open, and buried it. Once he realized the plastic eggs we were placing everywhere were filled with more such delights, the squirrel started collecting eggs too. When I fetched the kids to finally come out and hunt eggs I told them to hurry because 1) it was starting to rain, and 2) they were in competition with the squirrels, two of which were working together to roll an egg from its hiding place beneath a garbage can when we got out there. We never did find two eggs, so maybe they got away with some and there will be jelly bean trees growing next year in the garden.
The main thing my kids associate with New York outside of the apartment is the subway.
|Our favorite train stop|
We had cake the night before my niece's birthday (the candles indicate that she's "almost" 11) since the evening of we went out to a restaurant called Jekyll and Hyde. The spooky themed restaurant was fun, but the one we all met at in Times Square turned out to be closed and we had to find its sister restaurant in the Village. (An added note about generational differences and Jekyll and Hyde: The restaurant had regular old clunky TV sets playing old video tapes of scary black and white movies on a loop. Since the TVs were only playing tapes and not picking up digital signals they worked fine, but it's easy to forget how unusual they are anymore. A couple of the kids at Ellora's party were discussing how the TV sets were part of the "old fashioned decor" which really cracked me up! You know, those old fashioned TVs from the Dracula days.)
The craziest part of that evening for us was that we ran into some neighbors from down the street in Milwaukee in the subway station under Times Square. If we'd tried to find them there it never would have happened. But how "small world" is that?
|Milwaukee neighbor in New York! (photo by her mom)|
|Fernanda and me at the New York Public Library|
(She also brought her copy of my book to sign--which is always fun--but she has some weird misprint version that has a random dozen pages or so in the middle all about Fidel Castro! I signed it by his photo. She's convinced it will be the rarest and most collectible copy out there.)
My kids all enjoyed the MoMA, even though they were tired and hungry by the time we got there. Mona loved everything. All the kids were discomfited by the number of naked people in the paintings, and I tried to explain about the beauty of the human form, but then finally admitted that people throughout history have liked looking at naked people. That's just true and will always be true as long as sexual reproduction is in our DNA, and it's not a coincidence that most of the naked figures were women and most of the painters were men. (Aden in particular found this disturbing.)
Aden and Quinn both asked as we wandered among the Van Goghs and the Cezannes how they qualified as "modern," which is an excellent question. After a hundred years something may still be relevant and influential, but modern? The truly modern works on display in the contemporary areas challenged a lot of their expectations and had them asking if they were really art, and those discussions are always fun.
|Three musicians with three musicians|
|Pong. Somehow still fun.|
On another day I got to walk with my kids across part of Central Park. We stopped for churros (because churros are the best), fed some pigeons (because pigeons are the best), and eventually made our way to the Guggenheim (which they recognized from Men in Black).
|Fountain at the MET|
|That dot near the center of the photo is Quinn|
We are so lucky to get to visit a place like New York City and have it be as homey as it is exciting. The kids are already looking forward to next year.
The drive back to Ohio was fun. We stopped for gas in New Jersey (seriously, you still can't pump your own gas there? What kind of crazy powerful gas attendant lobby must they have?). We read more of The Golden Compass. Then when we stopped for lunch we were concerned about Aden who said the whole drive she was all stuffed up and feeling sick. Turns out in an effort to spare Quinn a reaction to Mary's cat pillow we'd packed it in the way back--by Aden's head. I moved it up by me and Aden was cured. We now know she is allergic to cats.
We arrived in Ohio to discover my Uncle John had left a bottle of chocolate syrup and a box of Frosted Flakes on the counter literally with Quinn's name on them. Those are things we don't buy at home that he knows Quinn likes, so I think now my son has been won over that Ohio is the best place on Earth. (Ah, the subtle mastermind that is my Uncle John!)
We made good time going back to Milwaukee (which means no excessive traffic jams in Chicago) and beat Ian home from his trip to Indiana. He had had a successful and eventful Army week and it was fun to catch up. The next morning when the kids were at school the two of us picked up the dog from the kennel. Chipper levitated with happiness when he saw us. You know that tail wag that is so fierce it wags a dog's whole body? Chipper was just a living wag for about a day, and he couldn't get enough of licking Aden's face when she came home.
The trip was amazing, but it's always a relief to come home. There's nothing quite like that little corner of the world that is familiar and populated with the people you love most and the things that make you comfortable and you can simply be who you are. Home feels ordinary until you step away from it long enough to realize it's unique.
So that was our Spring Break! And at least I got a post up about it before Summer Break! My poor neglected blog. But that's the paradox, that the more you have to write about the less time there is for writing. (If you could only see the number of drafts started in my folder...) Anyway, hope any of you who had a Spring Break enjoyed it as well. More soon.