First Friday: Growing Up Artsy…

((*apologies in advance for the rough photography taken via Em’s p-n-s with one hand, while the other hand juggled bags and babes))

Taking five children under age 10 on a historic trolley tour and a gallery walk on a busy Friday night means that you’re either brave or crazy…or just homeschoolers who love to try something different on a regular basis.

Tonight’s adventure with the folks over at Mind Games involved taking advantage of our city’s First Friday activities, many of which were themed for the holidays this month.

Our first activity was a guided history and architecture tour of the city aboard a lovely old-fashioned trolley.
Trolley Pic

The tour guide, a member of the local Preservation Society, was gracious and full of information. Some of us learned how many bridges are in our city (8 major ones), what the almost-triangular architecture on the doors and windows of a church was called (gothic), and the names of the different kinds of Greek columns used in building design (the ones we enjoyed most were Ionic or, if you’re Nate…IRONIC).

Others of us were…less involved.
Sleepy Jos

After the trolley tour, we decided to grab dinner at a local cafe that was featuring a live jazz band. Dining out with gluten-free Anna requires some care and planning, but the Lost Dog Cafe has a great gluten-free menu, not to mention some excellent cafe atmosphere.

We had a bit of a wait for our table, so we grabbed seats next to the band to enjoy their set.

After our buzzer did it’s thing, we moved off to our table to enjoy dinner. Waiting for a restaurant meal with 5 kids involves a bit of creative thinking if you don’t want a hungry riot on your hands. In our case, there were thumb wars, a game of trivia for Smarties candies (one handed out to each child, in turn, for answering a question correctly), and some passing around of the camera at the table for creative photo taking.

Handing the camera to the kids gives you some of this:

And a little of this:

And maybe a little of this:
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Then the food came, and there was a little bit of this:

When we had finished eating, we decided to explore a couple of galleries. First stop was at Orazio Salati Gallery, where Anna signed the guestbook (half a page high, in all caps) to “let the artists know I came to see their work”.

Then KarateKids made his Mama sniffle by using all of his saved up money to buy her a fancy pottery piece from Fern Lynn. He was so very grown-up throughout the transaction. Finding the right person to approach about the piece, conversing with the adults along the way as we slipped off (he wasn’t carrying his money around tonight, so I “helped” a bit on the financial end so his Mama wouldn’t have to be involved in the buying) to make the purchase, and then presenting the gift to his mom with such innocent grace that we all wanted to squeeze him senseless.

We made a quick, end of the night stop at Cooperative Gallery and Anna decided to make her first independent gallery purchase.

Em bought a small pottery vase for herself, but she’s made art purchases before so she requested that I not photograph her transaction. She’s hitting the “no photographs please” stage of development.

We trekked back to our car, stopping briefly here and there along the way to talk about various buildings or store windows or interesting things we passed. One of the most fun windows of the night was filled with trains.

The business was closing, the sign had just been turned off, but the proprietor saw me taking a picture and pulled me inside because she thought I should take a picture of the kids looking INTO the store.

She stopped me as I was leaving the building to tell me how absolutely precious our children were…how beautiful they were standing there together in the night.

As we walked away, I got a giggle from hearing an older artsy man comment that “they look like a little, walking Benetton ad”. That’s us…a wee little United Nations.

We hopped into our car, came home to our menfolk, and then divided up to head to our respective resting places. My kids crashed immediately after teeth were brushed and now I’ve blogged. Mission Complete. It was a beautiful, beautiful night!

Breaking in the Dining Room Table

I had such high hopes of being able to blog almost daily now that we’re in the big town, but I was thwarted by a week full of sick kids, a sick husband, and some pretty nasty headaches and fevers of my own.

Thankfully, the worst seems to be over and we ended our first week in White Plains with a visit from some hometown friends.  J. and R. (Emily suggested that I blog-name them Rock Star and Cat Woman-henceforth, it shall be so) were in the area visiting family and friends and tying up some post-wedding details.  We convinced them to drive in to see our new “deluxe apartment in the skkkkyyyyyyy”.

The kids attacked them before they could even get into the building.  By the time we’d made it upstairs, the gender split had been made and CatWoman was wrapped up in cat fur and little girls. 

CatWoman and Wee Girlies

Dave and Mr. Rock Star immediately sank into fantasy-gaming land, and we lost them for quite a while. Since they were well occupied, CatWoman (I crack up and think of black latex every time I type this, by the way) and I walked the kids down to B&N and were pleasantly surprised when an employee told us there was something special to see in the back of the store and lead us directly to ….this guy….

Hatted Cat

The kids rounded up armloads of new reading material (Teacher Appreciation Week- 25% off nearly everthing) and we ventured back up to the 32nd floor. After depositing the kids with the guys (who were still chatting D&D) and making plans to break out Colosseum, we adult ladies made a snack run to Target and left the boys to set up the boardgame.

A very tense and boat-less game of Colosseum later, Dave was declared winner, with the other three of us very closely positioned quite a few steps behind him on the score track.

Colosseum

After the game, R. and J. had to head back to dinner with R.’s family, and I ran out to pick up dinner for the 5 starving Chens. There were baths, late night stories, and a very early bedtime for the kids. Overall, it was a wonderful Sunday.

Our Big City Lives (Part 1)

Our neighbors from the ground up

Today was our first full day as city dwellers.  I woke up very early (before 6) because Nate was running a very high fever, so I ran out to Walmart in the wee dark hours to grab some more Tylenol and Motrin so I could alternate them throughout the day. It was peaceful, quiet, and calm outside our building and I enjoyed the few fleeting moments of stillness before the city woke up and started moving.

Emily took some photos of the view from her room today.  It’s tall, busy, and we’re still amazed by the crazy things on TOP of some of these buildings.  You know, swimming pools, helicopter landing pads, tennis courts, and fully astroturfed yards with swingsets and kids bicycles.  We’re among the tallest buildings in the city, so we look down on many interesting places.
View from Emily's bedroom

By 9am, I was realizing how very out of our depth we are in our new surroundings.  There was something surreal about watching our neighbors load into their limousines with their fancy drivers (I have driver envy, it’s something I NEED) to head off for whatever their day held in store.  I actually held a very nice conversation in the elevator with a lady who was taking her 13 year old dog downstairs to meet his “nanny” before she hopped in her chauffered car to Manhattan.  The nanny would then be responsible for walking the dog, letting it potty, then entertaining (her word, not mine) the sweet puppy for the rest of the day. 

So, yeah, a different world here.  Before lunch, the whole family went down for some time in the pool and hot tub.  The two smaller kids did all of their swimming in the hot tub because it was more shallow and the floatation belts I ordered have not yet arrived at the building. 

I made 9 trips out today to Target, Walmart and B&N.  We ate leftover pasta and meatballs for lunch. 

Then, the city decided that our arrival was so wonderful that they would through us a parade to celebrate.  And, what the heck, since they were celebrating our move they might as well do a little recognition of Columbus, the Italian-American culture and Moose(Meese?) Lodges.

Chris and friends

Moose

After the parade, there were long naps and more shopping. Some television watching and recovering from illness were also on the agenda. Tonight everyone went to bed early to recover from the busy month past, and to anticipate the exciting week ahead.

I’m fairly certain this is going to be a roller-coaster ride of crazy for the next 6 months.