Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Donovan's Christmas list

Over the last few months, Donovan has asked me to cuddle with him before he goes to sleep. This isn't so much cuddling, as it is me lying next to him, listening to him talk and occasionally answering questions. Here, I have heard about who he likes at school, what he enjoys learning about, and things that make him sad or worried. Here, I have also given him advice, reassured him, and explained things, like what is a menstrual cycle. Whenever he asks if I will cuddle with him, despite how tired I am or how many other things I think I need to finish before I go to sleep, I try to remember that there will come a time in the not-too-distant future that this won't even be an option. And if I pass it by tonight, will he ask tomorrow. But sometimes he's already getting to bed late. And sometimes he has been a pill, and I don't feel like cuddling a pill.

Yesterday, Dono wasn't his usual easy-going self as he plowed through his math homework. I use the word "plowed" deliberately, as that really is the only way to describe how his pencil flies around the paper, nearly illegible until I make him fix it, barreling through problems, often skipping the instructions to "estimate" and just figuring it out. "Who cares about estimating when I can know the exact answer?" he asks, derisively. As I warned him that his attitude and tone wasn't setting himself up for cuddling before bed, he shot back as he marched up to the solitude of his bedroom, "I don't care - it's not like you're going to cuddle with me anyway. It's been like three weeks. You're NEVER going to cuddle me." *slamming door*

Now, it doesn't take a degree in psychology (good, because I don't have one) to understand that this kid was asking for my attention. It hadn't been even a full week, but if this kid wanted to spend a few minutes with me, then what else was I doing with my time. I flashed back to dropping him off in kindergarten and observing another mom dropping off her 6th grader, demanding he hug her goodbye. After he sullenly did so and then walked off, I asked her at what age they stop letting their moms kiss them goodbye. "Last year," she said, sadly. Then I flashed back to being a teenager at my aunt and uncle's home for family dinners. They had four boys and I watched how they treated their mom, with teasing and affection, and I had thought, "I want that someday." So I knew I needed to make these evening sessions ritual once more.

Last night, I laid down and said, "You've got five minutes - go." That's his cue to start talking. (I'd told him in the past he needed to come up with conversation or I was leaving.) So of course Christmas was the main topic and pretty soon I was saying that it was better to ask for a bunch of things because you're more likely to get a couple that you want, then if you were to ask for one impossible thing.

"Oh yes," he said. "I made a list."

Now, other people might think this a bit presumptive or selfish, but I actually encourage my kids to make lists. Of course we talk about what they can give others, but I love what they write down since it is often fueled by imagination. It's like a peek into their brains. A mini journal entry. (Except that now I'm making it an actual journal entry.)

He pulled out his list and handed it to me. First, I love that he titled it. Excellent.

"Should I turn on my desk light?" he asked.
"No, the Christmas lights are fine," I reassured him. (I always put up a string in their room during the Christmas season.)
"Ok. I don't want all of these things," he said. "Just like maybe three. But I was just writing stuff down."
"I love a good brainstorm," I said. "Let's see: remote control ferrari. Hoverboard...hmm."
"Yeah I just think they're cool," he said, laughing.
"A bike," I said. "Well maybe in the spring since there's snow out." (I had to throw him off the scent.)
I read on: a new rock or gem, yeah that sounds about right. And then this:
"A drone?" I asked. "What are you going to do with a drone?"
"Well, you know, take video from above," he said, smiling. "Like when we're sliding down the stairs or whatever."
"Hmm...ok that's probably not going to happen," I said. Except that I had actually already looked at some.
"Yeah, I know," he agreed. "I just thought of it, so I wrote it down."
I read on. Electric toothbrush? What kid asks for an electric toothbrush? Mental note: buy those this year. I was beginning to giggle at these.
"Instagram?" I asked, a little incredulously. "Nope."
"It would work on my iPad!" He reassured me, as if that was the issue.
"Not going to happen."
"Rats," he whispered, then added, "And I don't actually want a 3DS. I should erase that."
I am 100% sure if he got a 3DS, he'd love it. BUT, he recently saw how much they cost and since he also takes into consideration how much soccer costs, he decided he didn't want it. I'm ok with that.

But then this:
"A robotic squirrel? What's that?"
"I don't know - I was just thinking a robotic squirrel could be cool." Cue both of us giggling.
When I read dart board, he started to explain to me what a dart board actually was.
"Yeah, dude. I know what a dart board is."
"Oh. Ok." 
I had told him we could read by the Christmas lights, but when I read #16, I thought it said Rob.

"Rob? What's Rob?" I asked.
He burst out laughing. Then, gasping for breath, he said, "Rob! Not Rob! Rolo!" Cue more laughter as I told him I wasn't sure if I was supposed to get him a kid named Rob or one Rolo, and I wasn't sure which was a worse gift. One Rolo? If you don't pluralize that, you're getting just one. And I'll make it a mini.

And then the list got even better. When I read "Fixed Skateboard," my first thought was that it meant fixed-wheel or it was a type of skateboard. He clarified that he just wanted his existing skateboard fixed (which means new wheels/bearings since he washed his over the summer, not realizing that ruins the wheels). All right, that sounds reasonable.

Then, cardboard for pillowboarding, a sport they've invented which involves putting giant pieces of cardboard on the stairs and then sliding down on their pillows. They were doing it on our short stairs until yours truly pulled out an enormous piece and challenged them to go down the big section of stair and land in a folded-up memory foam mattress topper. I'm a bit of a genius that way. Over time, the cardboard wears down, so he wants more. More cardboard.

And then, the piece de resistance, number 20: 

"New pillow," I read, a little confused at first. My eyes jumped ahead of my voice and I remembered that his current pillow, the one our heads were resting on, had a rip along one of the edges. And then the ridiculousness of the request hit me. And I couldn't even talk as the hysterical laughter washed over me. I sounded like I was crying as I gasped out, "Not...ripped!" And then fell back into the uncontrollable giggles.

Donovan was giggling right with me and after about a minute of this he said, "I'll admit, I don't even know what you're laughing about, but I'm laughing at you because you're laughing so hard."

That made me laugh harder - he was being serious about the pillow. Tears were streaming from my eyes into my ears. I haven't laugh-cried like that in a long time. It felt more cleansing than a good sneeze.

"First of all," I explained, "That you're asking for something as practical as a pillow. Like, your parents won't just give you a pillow - you have to ask for it to be gifted to you. That's funny to me. Second, that you've specified 'not ripped.' As if someone was going to give you a pillow and then they took a second look at your list and then thought, 'Oh wait, he said NOT ripped.' Shoot. Now what?! Guess I'll give him a Rolo instead."

And then I couldn't stop giggling. This wonderful, thoughtful, hilarious, creative, loving boy of mine wants a pillow for Christmas. Part of me wanted to go get him a pillow from the linen closet right then because WE HAVE LIKE FIVE IN THERE, and part of me thought I should wait until Christmas to give him a glorious un-ripped pillow. Through the tears I tried to read the next one but my vision was blurry so I only read "pooper scooper (for me)" and the laughter washed back over me. Dono quickly pointed out he had written, "Jk - for Albus." 

As I left his room and walked down the hall, I could still hear him giggling in his room - that giggle of pride knowing you've scored a major comedic win by making your parent laugh so hard they cried, or their voice went super high, or they were gasping for breath. I still view that as the holy grail of conversations with my parents. 

The kid has asked for some legit things, knowing full-well he may only get one. But he has also asked for things like a new rock, an electric toothbrush, a fixed skateboard and a new pillow. Nothing will make me happier than to grant him these things. 

But not the Robotic Squirrel. Apparently the government funded one a couple years ago and it cost $325,000. I'm not really sure who had that idea, but I'm sure Donovan would like to take a meeting with that guy.
Thursday, November 12, 2015

some realizations

I've been mulling over some thoughts lately, most of which hardly merit recognition on their own. But perhaps together they'll mean something. Or spur me to consider words on a more regular basis than bi-annually. Or at least fill space.

1. I've decided I don't like any savory dishes involving squash. Not in the same way I feel about clam chowder (or any fish-broth-based soup) which is that I would rather starve than eat it. But, rather, in a largely unimpressed and disappointed way. I basically have two reactions to squash: 1)"Wow, I can barely taste it!" and 2) thinking, "How much longer do I have to eat this so I don't look like a toddler refusing food?" Bring on the pumpkin pie/cookies/cake/muffins/etc. But if you try to put it in pasta, top it with marshmallows, convince me it's just like spaghetti, or hide it in soup, I'll choke it down and say it tasted lovely, and I will be lying.

2. Donovan asked me if Santa was a real person or if it was Joel and me. It was just last summer that I told Ainsleigh about Santa, but part of that stemmed from my belief that Donovan would soon be asking and I wanted her to have one Christmas where just she knew. Also, I had to TELL Ainsleigh, where as Donovan asked. I sat quietly for a moment and then asked if he wanted to know the truth. He slowly nodded and said, "That's what I thought." I teared up, remembering my own disappointment and sadness over learning the truth, and thinking about how this baby boy of mine was now old enough to know Santa wasn't real. I teared up, thinking about this and because of my tears, he began to get teary. Then he said, "This makes my iPad all the more special, knowing that you and daddy bought it for me. And all the other stuff - you gave it to us and didn't get the credit." How does he do that - make me love him even more for his thoughtful consideration of the situation. Here I was, thinking he'd be sad and feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he immediately went to gratitude. I love this kid so much. I need to remember that because tonight I was super annoyed with him. While he can be wonderful, he can also be a major pill.
3. Gemma got some test results back at school and Joel, after seeing them, said, "Wow. Gemma's really smart." I mean, we kind of knew this, but also her flair for the, ahem, dramatics can sometimes overpower her cleverness. But she has a pretty sharp mind that is nicely tempered by a good sense of humor. Tonight the younger two were taking too long to eat their dinner. Ainsleigh was finishing a project that demanded all of her attention. So I told the younger two they were not allowed to speak in the kitchen/family room. Anytime they did resulted in a 5 minute penalty on the nights already-earlier-than-usual bedtime. They both incurred a couple penalties before they decided to acquiesce. A little while later as I was finishing up washing the dishes, I saw Gemma exit the room and go around the corner into the entry. Right as I started to ask, "Gemma, where are you going?" I heard a little voice say, "I'm full, can I be done?" She was following the rules: She was speaking from a DIFFERENT room so as not to receive another penalty. Of course I burst out laughing and Joel and I slow-clapped as she peered around the corner. Well played, ladybug, well played.
4. Also, we got family portraits. Since we will probably be using them in Christmas cards, I'm going to post one three. We'll use others for the card. I think. Maybe we'll do something else.

5. Lastly, while I rarely get on a soapbox, I'm going to about this whole Starbucks red cup thing. Here's my beef - I don't care what color the cups are. My problem, quite frankly, is the over-commercialization of Christmas. Every time something is "taken away" from Christmas, I applaud it. Let's make it less in-your-face and more in-your-heart and in-your-hands. Oh I'll still say Merry Christmas to people and I'll still celebrate Jesus, but I'm also going to delight in someone wishing me a Happy Hannukah or Diwali or whatever else. The end.

Monday, August 10, 2015

And just like that, a ton of time has passed.

Well summer break didn't take long. In the wise words of Phineas & Ferb, "There's 104 days of summer vacation, And school comes along just to end it, So the annual problem for our generation Is finding a good way to spend it..." Except that Joel and I agreed this morning on our walk to school that we did a pretty good job at filling the summer. I think this was the first time I thought, "Summer break is exhausting!" Over and over and I would look around the house at the basic cleaning that had gone neglected, and then I'd say, "Who wants to go to the pool/park/movies/anywhere else?!" I kept telling myself I'll clean when they're back in school. Now they're back in school and I'm just sitting at my computer. I'll clean tomorrow. Or go for a bike ride. But then I'll definitely clean after that.

First, though, I should probably document that earlier this year I got LASIK. I have to say that my only regret is that I waited this long to pursue it. Holy cow, let me just say this is amazing. I had horrible vision before and was convinced that they wouldn't be able to fix me. The procedure itself only took about 6 minutes - crazy! And they did an incredible job of prepping me so I knew exactly what to expect. Once they stood me up afterward, my eyes were kind of fogged over (they told me this would happen) but I could tell immediately that I could already see better than before. And of course I cried.

They had given me a lovely sedative so I don't remember a lot about the way home except suddenly asking for a sandwich and then I came home to take a 3-hour nap. As soon as I opened my eyes after that, everything was clear. It was beautiful. And then I was supposed to take it easy for the rest of the day. Which I totally did by throwing Joel a surprise birthday party.

It was awesome. I had already talked to the people at the LASIK place to ask if they thought I'd be able to do both the surgery and the party the same day. I arranged to have 12 of Joel's friends (and some wives who wanted to watch) ring our doorbell at about 6:30pm. Joel had no idea. I had booked a space at a local indoor obstacle/gladiator place called Xtreme Challenge. There the boys took part in all sorts of adventures/combat. It was like watching a bunch of kids play around. I think a bunch of them were pretty sore the next day. One guy came dressed as a Nacho Libre fighter. He stayed in costume the entire time. What a friend!

The Warriors.

The ladies, behind the safety net.

Let's get ready to rumble!

Boys know what to do.

The whole gang. What a fun night!

After that, we went for milkshakes (Nacho Libre still in costume) and then a bunch of the men went to go see a movie. I had someone drive me home where I took my last sedative and fell happily asleep. I wanted to give Joel a memorable experience for his birthday and I succeeded. And I can see!

Monday, March 9, 2015

a day with donovan

Friday morning, Donovan woke up to find his long underwear and ski socks laid out on his bedroom floor. He emerged from his room, that bleary-eyed just-woke-up look on his face. With one eye closed, winking against the hall light, eyebrows knit together in confusion, he asked, "Are we going skiing today or something?"

I grinned at him, finished telling Ainsleigh I was heading downstairs to make her breakfast, and turned back to him, "Not all of us. How about just you, me and Dad go skiing today, as an early birthday present?"

Both of his eyes flew wide open, a grin lit up his whole face in sheer delight, "Really?!" Then he clutched both hands to his chest and began jumping up and down.

I went downstairs to start the morning routine of making breakfast and lunch for the kids and Donovan came down a little while later with some questions. What were the girls going to do? How would they get home? Were they mad? What would I tell the school?

Haha, little buddy didn't think I'd already arranged everything. We were lucky that the weather had taken a turn for the better so Ainsleigh could easily walk home, swinging by the elementary school to pick up Gemma. No, they weren't mad because they knew it was his birthday present. And I told the school the truth, because that's always the best option.

It was the perfect ski day. A beautiful cloudless sky, loads of snow, 38-degrees. Actually, I would have been fine with it being cooler. My hands were sweating in my gloves. I had told Joel that if he and Donovan wanted to hit some black diamonds, they could do that and I was happy to do a run or two by myself. So we hit a few blues and I was feeling great, even after I tried to help a guy who had dropped a pole and, not realizing how fast I was going, ended up totally wiping out. I think Joel got it on video, so I hope it looks as good as I think it does. Then they coaxed me into skiing through some trees and it popped us out onto an ungroomed/mogul black run.

I absolutely, positively LOATHE moguls. UGH. I was so annoyed. And slow. But my sweet Donovan stood at the bottom, clapping his poles together, grinning broadly, and cheering me on. "You're doing so great, Mom!"

So after that, I decided a groomed black run couldn't be much worse. It was FUN! Even at the end when it kind of drops off and some snowboarder (not Joel) went in front of me, spraying up a ton of snow, and it cleared just in time for me to see I was about to hit a gate. So I tried to stop, only succeeding in kicking up a massive wave of snow onto myself and falling over. Another skier looked at me, lying in the snow and said, "Well that looked fun." I just replied, "That's how you're supposed to stop, right?"

Donovan skied up, howling with laughter, "MOM! THAT! WAS! AWESOME!" And he fell down next to me as we laughed and laughed and laughed. Because although it wasn't graceful and although it was a fall, it was one of those things that just feels funny. Unfortunately, Joel missed the whole thing. But Donovan considers it one of the best things that happened that day, so you're welcome, son. He was so cute and loving the whole day, skiing next to me, sometimes spraying me with his hockey stop, always smiling and telling me I was doing a good job.

We had lunch outside and just loved spending time together. Donovan kept proclaiming it the best ski day ever. I have to agree. I love my girls, but we can move so much faster without Gemma. Hopefully next year she'll be able to pick up the pace. Plus, on a Friday the crowds were less so we were able to easily do about 10 runs. We met a couple from Michigan on the gondola who said their biggest hills were like a 500-foot drop. They said here in Colorado, they were exhausted after one run (the altitude plays a factor there, too). Anyway, it made me feel ok about being completely wiped out as we drove home.

On the way home, Donovan thoughtfully said, "I would like to make this a tradition, if that's ok."

I smiled and nodded, "I think that can be arranged."

Friday, February 13, 2015

I have no title. But I redid my kitchen last year, so there's that.

Whoa - what happened?! Work, that's what. I've had the distinct honor of conducting a bunch of interviews (like, I'm up to 26 - each of those has been at least half an hour, and most of them more than that) for some articles I'm writing and have met some really cool people. For the first time in a long time, I actually almost started hyperventilating before a call. Once we get talking, though, I'm fine. And, as it turns out, people who have risen just about as far as they can within their industry can still be incredibly gracious, humble and fun to talk to, not to mention that they are inspiring. This whole experience even motivated me to create a LinkedIn profile - I'm so serious about my career now. Also, look forward to obnoxious name-dropping as the opportunity presents itself.

But actually what I wanted to document was the kitchen remodel we orchestrated last fall. Joel and I talked about doing granite in the kitchen when we bought the house. And then we blinked and it was seven years later! It's fun to have grand plans and pin all sorts of great ideas but, turns out, it actually takes money to make those plans a reality.

Over the summer, probably on one of our long bike rides, Joel and I talked about things we'd like to do around the house. When he said, "Well, I think doing the kitchen counters is going to be the best investment," my heart beat a little faster (not just because we were probably climbing) and I had to tell myself be cool, Sarah, be cooooool, before saying, "Oh yeah? You think we could?" like I wasn't also sort of holding my breath and mentally demolishing our island.

I decided to do NO research until the kids went back to school, but the day after that, off I went to the granite fabricators with my mom in tow (she just happened to be in town and has done her own kitchen remodel, so she's kind of an expert). People who know me well know that I love a good research project, comparing and contrasting companies, their offerings and customer reviews. Soon I had a lovely spreadsheet and all sorts of appointments booked. As anyone with a home improvement project knows, simply replacing the countertops quickly ballooned into leveling our island (requiring moving some electrical); replacing the ovens, dishwasher and cooktop; piping and venting for gas; painting the cabinets; replacing our light fixture; and, of course, replacing the countertops. (sidenote: I hired most of this work out - I know my limits as a diy-er and I also know that such a high-traffic area requires professional work)

It was a whirlwind of activity and I loved it. I also really really really love my new kitchen. We knew we wanted to do a lighter granite with darker cabinets and I'm so glad we did. As my friend said, "This granite is great - it hides all sorts of things. Just think of all the time you're saving by not wiping them down eight times a day." Wait, was that passive aggressive? I just got that...

But seriously, I'm in love with my gas cooktop, I'm in love with my new ovens, my counters are so fun to use (and they're BIGGER now that I don't have that stupid raised non-functional bar part) and my dishwasher actually *GASP* cleans my dishes. It's a miracle.

Friends have asked me who my general contractor was and I have to laugh because, ahem, have you MET ME? Type A personality, I'll be my own GC thankyouverymuch. I arranged for everyone and most of the work took place within a week and a half. Also, I wired the pendant myself because I neglected to notice, when ordering it, that it plugged in. Who makes a pendant that PLUGS in? For future reference, check that out. Unless you like to narrow your eyes, purse your lips, and vow to go all Bob Vila on the thing. Which I did. Is there anything that makes you feel like more of a rebel than pulling out wire cutters and, literally, cutting the cord?! Probably. But still, this was about as mutinous as I get.

Let's get to my super high-quality phone pictures. From the side, you see the dumb raised bar area which isn't really usable. Also, whoever thought edging the counters in wood should get the architectural equivalent of a Razzie. Or at least lifelong mockery. I can see no purpose for it.

Ahhhh - this is so much better, right? It's so smooth and calming. I like to pet it. Also, the sink is so nice and deep. See that tiny little faucet next to the actual faucet? No, it's not a soap dispenser. It's an instant hot water dispenser! Hot chocolate, teas or, my new favorite, brewing chocolate at the touch of a button/lever. It's beautiful. Oh yeah, I also installed that. For anyone who claims they can't get help at Home Depot, I know the key: do your hair and makeup, then walk into the store holding two pieces of plumbing (washers, copper tubing, a wrench, take your pick!) with a giant look of confusion on your face (not difficult, given the location). I'm all for advancing the rights of women, and I'm all for using womanliness to get what I want.

From the family room, so much wood-colored wood:

Ahh. See my pedant? I love the soft light it emits.

From my computer corner, why does Albus look guilty?
I think he's embarrassed by how shaggy he's become.

Since we took out the built-in microwave to install a legitimate hood, we had to put the microwave somewhere. We chose the corner counter that collected junk. It's working out nicely. The flat island really opens up the kitchen into the family room. Please disregard how messy the fridge and bookshelves are - this is the house of a family. And we LIVE in it.
Also, rest assured that these pictures were taken after I had cleaned the kitchen. It is rarely this clean. In fact, I think the sinks are actually full of dishes waiting to be washed, and I probably went to bed deciding to do it in the morning.

So that was my fall project. I'd love to do something in my bathrooms but since that also takes, you know, money, that will have to wait. Plus, I've got more interviews to conduct and articles to write.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2014 Wrap-up (New York City edition)

Allison, Becca and I have birthdays within about a month of each other. Our husbands, looking to give us an "experience" rather than a "thing," banded together and decided to send us to NYC in November for Laura's birthday since she was celebrating the big 3-0. Also, because NYC is cool.

Austin came along to be the trip photographer and navigator, meaning the rest of us didn't really have to figure out the subway system. So here we were, on the airplane (Becca and Austin connected in Denver so we could sit together) and Austin tried to avoid the picture. 

We arrived in NYC and after a couple shenanigans, joined up with Allison. Then we were crammed into a taxi and decided to take selfies instead of tell Laura we were on our way. All the while, quoting Jerry Seinfeld from his whole taxi bit about anybody else driving like this would be considered a lunatic, but this man was a professional.
Sisters reunited and heading out on the subway.
That first night we made signs to take to the NYC Marathon the next morning. We were really looking for some positive reinforcement. Since the weather forecast did not look lovely and peaceful and warm-ish like the year Laura ran (and I flew out and carboloaded with her - I'm such a good sister).
Our efforts paid off as we got tagged on a Buzzfeed "best marthon signs" list. We'll take whatever fame we can get. I also brought my cowbell. I considered bringing my vuvuzela and blowing it on the airplane any time I was bored/annoyed, but then decided I didn't want to get kicked off the plane. So it stayed home.

Just walking around looking so natural. We ended the evening watching Idina Menzel perform and it was just so incredible. Her voice makes me want to laugh and cry and punch something and swear all at the same time because she's just so GOOD. I hope to see her again soon.
 Then we got on the Subway and saw this super warm and welcoming person. Classic:
Next morning, the obligatory Waffels & Dinges stop. Becca was obviously inspired because her wardrobe seemed to coordinate perfectly.
This was Allison's first trip to the Waffel truck. No, she didn't eat both waffels. Yes, her face depicts the bliss one feels upon finishing their breakfast.
Walking burns like a billion calories, right? That's why we had Shake Shack for lunch THAT SAME DAY. What I didn't take a picture of was our stop at Levain Bakery where I loaded up on cookies. I was too distracted by the people protesting the Dalai Lama. Really? The Dalai Lama? You've got to be kidding me. And yet, they had a very catchy chant which we proceeded to "sing" for the next couple days. Becca loved it.

And have I mentioned lately that Laura works at The Tonight Show? So yeah, we got VIP tickets to the hottest show in New York. No biggie. I was pretty sure we'd be best friends with Jimmy but Anne Hathaway got in the way. After that we had pizza with Patsy Grimaldi. Well, we had pizza at his restaurant called Juliana's (which is right next to Grimaldi's, which he sold to someone else in 1998, but then decided retirement was lame or something). It was, by far, the best pizza I've ever tasted and he was charming and chatted everyone up and tossed dough and kissed me as we left. All in a day's work.

That night we returned to our hotel room and I began looking at pictures, only to see that this one looks like we took Allison's head for a walk, leaving her body to rest at the hotel room. So creepy. And at 11pm it's hysterical.
The next morning we hit the top of 30 Rock to behold the views of Manhattan. There was also a family there speaking french and they had a little girl with red hair who I may have followed around for a little while, pretending she was my (bilingual) child. Apologies to the family if they thought I was going to kidnap her. (I might have considered it.)
Then we headed down to Ground Zero. I've seen pictures of it before and thought it looked nice, but let me tell you it was very ... hmm... I can't quite think of the word. Sacred? Awe-inspiring? Moving? All those, and then some. The monument with the waterfalls is genius. The area is just so serene. Such a difference from that day over 13 years ago (and then for months afterward).
We decided to pay our respects to Lady Liberty, so we boarded the ferry and away we went. Allison and I were having a great time taking pictures of ourselves.
Then I decided to try to take one of those pictures where people "hold" what's in the background, except I wanted to be totally off. This wasn't hard. "Did I get her? Did I get her?" I'd ask like an eager puppy dog (if puppy dogs could talk, of course) and Allison would respond in an impatient/irritated tone, "Um, NO. You're TERRIBLE at this!" And then we'd both giggle. I love looking ridiculous when it's part of a plan.
On to Ellis Island to pay our respects to the place through which our great great great Grandma Martine walked many years ago. 
Then to a showing of Matilda. I originally thought, "Yeah, ok, we'll see Matilda," but I tell everyone, "SEE MATILDA!" The music was wonderful. The set was spectacular. The children were DELICIOUS. Also, they were in danger of being kidnapped. I might have texted Joel, "Might stick some children in my carryon if I can manage it."
The next day we convened to wish our birthday girl farewell. I gave Austin my phone to take some pictures and he managed to take some candids that I think are lovely.
If you can believe it, there are a gajillion more pictures that I am not including (you're welcome) including a variety of food pictures and other nonsense. In short, however, we all left happy but exhausted. We walked all over the place and my calves were sore for days. But I don't regret any of it. In fact, we immediately began talking about plans for our next trip. Maybe our Moomsie-Daisy will come, too. We promise we won't make you pay for our stuff!