Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Intrepid

A wonderful day for the family with Peanut, Button, Daddy and I on an adventure to see USS Intrepid. The magnificent ship had recently been renovated and the boys were exceedingly excited to see it all. Driving in was easy, parking expensive and the line was not very long (about 10 minutes). We began with the exhibits inside...a wonderful collection of planes, helicopters and related stuff, including a rocking row boat and mock bunks which we all took turns in.

Turing around the inside hanger, Daddy detailed each exhibit to the enthralled boys..I was very impressed b his knowledge and their focus. They 'flew' a helicopter and also sat in a mock space shuttle pod (the real one was hanging on display outside).

The 4D roller coaster ride was amazing...everyone loved the 5 minutes of jolting, bumping and general feeling of loosing their stomachs.

We then toured the decks and saw the big guns -both boy sat in the gunners seat; the bridge..both boys sat in the Captains chair (complete with captain's mug next to it) and say the huge difference between the officers births and the bunks where the sailors slept. I have no idea how they loves on these ships for months at a time!!!

Walking along the upper deck was fun. We saw aircraft from different eras; some had tigers painted on them, we saw the stealth plane ...very creepy - all black - no personality! I enjoyed seeing the Harrier Jump Jet...it amazes me still.

Button was too young for the submarine but we did get to see my all-time favorite plane...Concord. Sitting beautifully near the water, shining and so new-looking, we got to walk beneath her and then go into her. I was ecstatic..Daddy was unimpressed (too small) and the boys were unsure how to feel, I thing as I had built it up so much in my delight at going to see her. Peanut and Button both sat in the jump seats...I wish I had. Highlight for me!!!

Having been used to trips into the NYC with Nana, spending all day and seeing a crazy amount of sights, I had to laugh when, after the gift shop (of course) and exiting, Button was horrified to discover we were just going home!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Every year Nana takes the boys and I to NYC. We get the train and immerse ourselves in the full-on tourist experience. This year, we really did it in a big way. We took the train which the boys love to do. We arrived hungry so headed out to find a place to eat. Opposite Grand Central was a place which had lovely outside seating along a pedestrianized road. We all enjoyed fine fare and set ourselves up for the day ahead.

Our first stop was Central Park. we asked the cab driver to take us to the fountain. He dropped us off just outside the park and told us to use a certain entrance and we would find it. We didn't..but that was because we were right outside the Central Park Zoo! Every year I have suggested the zoo but we had not found it.

Once inside, we saw the sea lions, one of which was swimming backwards, soaking up the sun and looked adorable. Working around the small zoo, we found that the first hot and humid day of the summer was forcing the animals into shaded retreat and we did not see much of them. A glimpse of the polar bear's head was exciting but the highlight was the snow leopard who walked around his enclosure until settling down to rest right by the glass. Button immediately settle himself next to the leopard and a charming picture of Button and snow leopard was formed.

The rainforest exhibit was interesting. We were greeted by a bird who was showing off his glory for the cameras, right next to the spectators! We then began walking around the exhibit..the wrong way as we do! We were just about to explore upstairs when we were all told to leave immediately! Accompanied by a manic screeching and yelling from some unidentifiable animal, the situation was a little unnerving...had something escaped?...Gulp! Everyone shuffled out quietly and we were told by someone at the door we were being evacuated due to the smell of smoke.

We headed for the Children's Zoo. On the way we saw the clock which featured in the movie Madagascar...the boys recognized it immediately. Perfectly timed, we heard it chime in 4 o'clock and it was a beautiful medley of bell chimes. The boys saw a lama and goat and bought exceedingly expensive animal feed pellets 5o cents for about 10 pellets!!! They were gobbled up in less than 3 seconds. Moving round, Button found a new friend in the form of a large bullock. He stood for a long time trying to get close enough to pet him. Finally a space opened up (what patience from my little man) and Button and the bullock began a bonding session involving licking and nuzzling as the bullock tried ply food from Button...some pellets were eventually given to Button who delighted in feeding his new friend.

We continued to walk in Central Park and found a balloon man giving out a variety of balloon shapes. Peanut went for a sword, Button got a Spiderman 'bonker'. They were very happy. We found a jazz band and sat listening to them play which was very pleasant. Button's balloon popped...another was created by said Balloon Man..this time, a sword. We sat to eat icecreams and enjoy the band. Icecreams finished, we headed along the path for a short way before the boys, whose swords had morphed into lightsabers, began charging around a lawn playing a fun game of Jedi battle .

After the park, we went over to the Empire State Building. Last year we went inside and took pictures next to the display of King Kong. This was to be repeated again this year. A Skyride promoter met us at the door and convinced Nana that we should avoid the hours of lines by getting the full tour and go up to the top. I was amazed by the fact that within 2 minutes of getting out the taxi, Nana had paid for the four of us to go to the top with the Skyride included...weren't we just going to pop inside for a picture?

We excitedly went up to the second floor (though security where Button's Spiderman balloon was put on hold for being a dangerous item). A brief stop for junk in the gift shop and then into the line for the Skyride tickets. We waited about 15 minutes and then entered the ride. It was amazing. Button usually hates the rides on big 3D screens with seats that shake you about all over the place, but he squealed in delight at the end and announced that it was "the best ever!"

We were then off to the lines for the elevators up. We had apparently missed most of the waiting downstairs and, in fairness, the lines were about 20 minutes in total. The ridiculous cost was worth it.

Once up at the top, the view was...crowded! Yep, everyone was up there wanting to see the skyline of Manhattan at dusk. We did get to look and the boys were gener5ally allowed to squeeze in front of adults so they had a great view. We started the picture-taking, ooh-ing and ahh-ing an amazing time. There was a large gap in the skyline at the south end of Manhattan but, thankfully, the boys had no idea and were in total wonderment and awe.

We exited the Empire State building feeling so glad to have been "tourist-conned" into the experience. Next we had about 10 limo-drivers and bike-taxis try to get us to bite at offers we couldn't refuse. As was the trend of the day, we hired a bike-taxi to take us to Times Square. It was great fun riding through the streets at a break-neck speed, 4 cramped into a space for two and us all loving it! Best way to travel!

Once at Times Square, photos taken, we headed into Toys-R-Us for promised toys-for-the-boys. Unfortunately we arrived just at closing and Peanut was left sans toy! Major promises of great things tomorrow...he was placated and remarkably calm about it. Phew! Off to eat...an fun Irish bar with good foo, wine and LOADS of NOISE!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Beach

Summer in America has always meant sun, heat and humidity. This year the weather is much more reminiscent of a British summer. Despite this, we decided to head off to the beach for some sand fun...we knew the water would be too cold to swim in.

As we would be out at lunchtime, we went to the beach with the concession stand. The sun shone in the cloudless sky and the water looked pale blue with sparkles dancing over it. We set up camp near the amenities but close to the water. The boys got to work digging large holes immediately.

Button decided he wanted to be buried in the sand so that was my first job. He loved being covered up...tummy down! Peanut was busy with a hole and shell gathering. Nana went for a walk along the water to gather pretty shells, coming back with a mountain of them and a crab shell. Sun still out....water still too cold!

Several trips were made to the water's edge; filling buckets, washing shells, just having a look around...water still too cold! The views were lovely... Long Island in the distance. Small boats were out and the beach had enough people on it to add a fun atmosphere without being overcrowded.

We lunched at the beach...surprisingly good food (burgers and chicken fingers) and then noticed a considerable build-up of clouds. We had enjoyed the sand and sun, eaten a good meal, and decided it was time to leave and head to Carvel for some ice cream. Peanut had just discovered soft vanilla dipped in chocolate, Nana had mint chocolate chip, Button had chocolate and I had some too.

Water still too cold!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pool Time

The sun was shining...at least a little bit! So we headed down to Nana and Poppa's so we could all go to the town pool. Peanut and Button call this pool The House Pool because the toddler pool has a large house-shaped water feature in the center. Every year the boys spend hours in the toddler pool, enjoying the fountains and spilling buckets, and swimming under the dividing rope countless times, or diving for pennies. All of this done in a maximum of 2 feet of water!

This year we continued the tradition of setting up under the tree at the far end of the toddler pool. Once everyone was set up with chairs or towels, sunscreen applied, we wandered down to the 'deep' end (2ft) to play. Button was the first in and was delighted by the attention as he showed off his wonderful swimming skills. He had his goggles on and would swim a foot under water and then bob up with a squeal of delight and pride at his accomplishment. I was very impressed! The Nanas then provided the entertainment as they threw pennies in for the boys to dive for. Peanut was in the water by now,despite it being very cold. It was so cold due to the crazily wet and cold weather over the past two months. There had not been a chance for it to warm up! Hence the Nanas and I were not planning to get wet.

Peanut, Button and I left the grandparents to soak p the sun and we headed int the food court to eat lunch. Hot dogs and french fries. Yummy!

Once we had eaten, we then went to the big pool as Peanut wanted to go on the diving board. He had mastered a good jump (not ready for full dives at 6) last summer, and he had been excited to get back to do more. Nana and Poppa sate down on the grass and Button decided he wanted to swim in the big pool. One end was only 3 feet so he was able to touch the bottom..phew, I didn't have to get in! So I walked up and down the edge of the pool (catching the sun beautifully) as Button literally began swimming, in his own unique style, along the side. Fearless!

Meanwhile, Peanut continued to sit with Nana and Poppa...I discovered this was due to the diving board being closed for the dive team practice. Peanut was VERY upset. At first he was in too much of a huff to do anything but sulk, but eventually, he began to watch some good dives by young team members.

Nana and I switched off watching all the belongings which were still by the toddler pool. Nana reported that Peanut had eventually come out of his huff and had swam with Button in the pool.

We all left content...the boys had enjoyed a good swim and were relatively okay with the cold water, and the adults were extremely relieved to have avoided having to go in at all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Driving Around

After a fun day with the boys, Nana and I dropped them off with Hubby and we set off to find some mansions to drool over. We headed for Darien, a wealthy area and did see some nice houses, a hunt club and pretty scenery, but there were also a lot of houses for sale; a sign that the recession had hit the little town.

Still feeling that we hadn't seen anything that really made us drool, we headed for the waterside houses in Greenwich. There we saw a beautiful neighborhood with a plethora of rather spectacular houses with breathtaking views of the harbor and sound. We felt like we were sneaking around as we avoided the gaze of the security guards posted at some of the roads (we didn't try to go in down those) and I almost expected someone to challenge our presence there as our car was not a model that fit naturally into the scene at all.

We ended the night with a trip to Stamford for a bite to eat at SBC. Nana had her usual steak with garlic butter dressing and yummy mashed potatoes. I enjoyed the pasta with artichokes. Nana made friends with Mark..the waiter and he was wonderful at helping us match sauces and steak for Nana.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Settling into Summer

Nana needed some time to recover from the journey and time change so the first day was spent sitting in the garden as the boys played with friends. It was very pleasant as the sun shone and we relaxed and caught up with each other. Ordered in pizza and pasta.

Tuesday was a strange day as I had a meeting for school after Peanut finished his baseball camp at midday. I ended up driving the Merritt Parkway in torrential rain to meet to talk about curriculum, the boys and Nana spent the afternoon playing Wii games! We ordered in Chinese.

Today we ventured forth after baseball - mismatch day -Peanut wore soccer shorts, Giant football t.shirt, baseball hat (KC) and one black, one white sock!

We then went to an old favorite of ours, The "Mary Poppins Bridge Park" which is a short drive away. Peanut and Button had a great time going over the bridges and looking for turtles. They found the 'houses' they had discovered last year in the base of trees and bushes, and even created imaginary hotels out of sets of bushes and trees. The park could take a good ten minutes to walk around at a steady pace. We too 2 hours! The way the boys are so happy there when Nana is there brings a smile to my face..when it is just me with them they moan and want to go home! The magic of Nana!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nana Arrives

Nana arrived from England yesterday. We see her once a year, at the beginning of July for 3 weeks. They boys were SO excited to see her and delighted in the gifts of Lego construction vehicles that they were given within minutes of her arrival! As always, the first couple of days need to be quite, my mom has Lupus which prevents crazy action the moment she lands. Today was spent in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and watching the boys play with their various neighborhood friends.

Nana was very pleased to see how much fun the kids still have on their plasma cars which she gave them about 3 years ago. I am sure that Peanut and Button are too big for them now, but they love racing around, putting holes in their shoes as they go! We then went to TaeKwonDo and Nana got to see how far the boys had come since last year when they started as 'no belts'. Now Peanut is a purple belt and Button is on his green belt. We are now back home and will be sparking up the grill for some lamb chops..yummy!