Tuesday, March 30, 2010

4, four FOUR!!!!!!

I am having some problems with the layout of the posts- something to figure out another time.

Boo and Yum Yum did it. They turned into 4 year olds.
I still can't quite believe they are 4...and now it seems they are only moments away from 5. Especially since they now believe it is their birthday EVERY day. Boo is actually trying to convince me she is 10.

Mermaids are BIG in our house...the new Barbie movie has nothing to do with it...no no no, couldn't possibly. Several months ago I snapped up the Disney Ariel costumes on sale and they were the big hit I knew they would be.

Our mermaids might be camping out for the first time this summer so sleeping bags were in order. We'll be doing "camp outs" inside first, a practice run in the garden and then we'll see if they are ready. I don't want them in my sleeping bag!

Yum Yum is particularly happy to be a mermaid!
There have been a lot of mermaids in the bath every night.

She is such a Princess!

That evening we had birthday cupcakes. We had very pink cup cakes inspired by our recent discovery of the story of Pinkalicious. I used up some random candles and of course used a heavier hand with the red colouring than I would ordinarily. I did a a dollop of pink cake mix in each cupcake and of course in the cream cheese frosting.
Pinkalicious would make a fantastic party theme for little girls!

There was a lot of playing during the day , also an Easter Egg hunt and a movie! They slept very well.

Boo's first words the next morning were "Is it my party day?"

We did this party at our local YMCA- it was a gym party and the kids had fun.

This is one of the few parties we haven't had at home.
Bear's 7th was at a Japanese Restaurant which had a big private room for our use.

Thinking back, we really enjoyed doing the games and having the food taken care of at that party, much more so than the reverse which was the case at the YMCA. I must remember that for next time. Do the fun bit, let someone else do the cooking , serving and cleaning!

We managed to create a happy festive atmosphere in the YMCA room with bright party table decor and my favourite cloud balloons. We used some purchased theme partyware, mixed with plain brights and my favourite cloud balloons. I couldn't go past the talking Mr Men & Little Miss as party favours. I used plain treat bags and used my printer to add the theme with sticker images. The invitations were made the same way except I printed the Little Miss Twins on magnet paper so it could hold the invite on the fridge.

I didn't invest a lot of time decorating the cakes as Boo and Yum Yum were adamant that their Little Miss Sunshine and Chatterbox toys should be on top... I was happy to oblige! Boo had a yellow star cake that was vanilla with lemon frosting and yellow sugar crystals , and Yum Yum's was chocolate heart with pink sugar on vanilla frosting. There are no photos of the cakes....and that's probably a good thing !

I couldn't find the T shirts I wanted (Sunshine & Chatterbox) but when I think about it, the ones I did get were perfect too. Boo's multiple Little Miss/Mr Men design suits her split personality! A ray of sunshine one minute, a stormcloud the next. Yum Yum's Little Miss Whoops T shirt is so appropriate for her. Now that I am keeping track, I have come to realize that Yum Yum falls off a chair AND spills her drink at least once almost every day.

Mr Bump is looking terrified to be included in a goody bag! But it all worked out fine!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Go to sleep three year olds...

and tomorrow wake up and be four years old!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Some more pics from Wednesday

New Yorkers are dog lovers! The people and dogs come in all shapes and sizes! I'd like to take the kids to NYC with a dog breed book and see how many we could spot....Doggy BINGO!

And Popsicles.... mmmm happy...

And because I spend way too much time in the loo with Boo and Yum Yum...
Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, that's better.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday in NYC

Wednesday dawned bright and beautiful. The forecast for rain/cloud had been changed to sun.

The girls had eaten some Fruit Loops (it was a large box) and were ready for something "real" to eat. Only a few steps away from the hotel is an outlet of Dean & Delucas where coffee was calling my name. We had some healthy fruit and yohgurt. Again I resisted all the YUMMY looking cakes and pastries.

Outside there were some grumbles about being cold. I hoped that once out of the built up wind tunnels that all would be well. Only two blocks north and there stood a line of pretty horses with decorated carriages. BINGO. A sure fire way to put an end to the whinges! Taking the girls on a carriage ride of Central Park was on the wishlist and the opportunity presented itself perfectly. So we loaded up into a carriage pulled by Charlie Horse and were snuggled cosily under a big thick blanket. No one had to walk or pee, everyone was warm and we the sun was shining. It really doesn't get more perfect than that.

Central Park is a wonderful place. A delicious mix of people playing and nature. I would love to spend a whole week just exploring it and taking photos.

When we disembarked we were near Fifth Ave and headed to the zoo. I lost my bearings so our path was not the most direct. But that was OK because otherwise I would never have seen this stunning cardinal and his mate sitting in a yellow cloud of flowers. If only I had my big zoom.... but I did manage to get some reasonable photos.

Our walk also took us past the the busy Wollman ice skating rink, had to sneakily take care of a Yum Yum- I need to PEE without a loo, and the Dairy Gift shop. Although my instincts were saying no to shopping with the twins I am still looking for a birthday gift for my mother. I didn't find anything for her but I was happy with the selection of inexpensive novelties for the kids. We chose Bear a Strawberry Fields T shirt and all the girls each got a kazoo. Now I must point out that I LOATHE whistles. But a kazoo I can tolerate..in fact I find them a little giggly funny. And in the big open space of Central Park the girls could kazoo their hearts out and forget to whine. It worked, we got to the zoo.

Central Park Zoo is quite small, very manageable for little kids. There are turtles, sea lions, polar bears, penguins, a snow leopard, a red panda, a tropical house and a petting zoo.

We had lunch in the zoo cafe, had a pee stop and after the girls had more enthusiasm for looking at the animals. Boo was particularly happy with the Penguins swimming past her head (and pooping). After the zoo we slowly walked towards the Playground with a couple of very frozen popsicles. There are many little dogs to greet along the way and flowers to spy. Unfortunately the Carousel is closed until next week. Hecksher Playground is our family's favourite place to go for a play. For a long time it was closed for refurbishment and is now all brand newish. There were plenty of other children of all ages enjoying themselves, many along with their nannies.

The fort like structure of turrets, bridges and tunnels is great fun although hard for a mum of two to keep tabs on her kids. Mind you the Playground is enclosed so wandering off isn't the concern. The "fort" seems to have been a 70's design, very urban, concrete. So apart from having some weirdo take your kid, falls must involve blood. The surface around it is rubber but there are still a zillion opportunites for cracking a little gourd. Boo did take a heavy drop on her bottom when she missed the last step on the ladder but she shrugged it off with "I'm Okay!" and continued after her sister. Yum Yum also skinned her knee but also shrugged it off rather than stop playing. The opportunity to play Princesses and Castles and Monstas is THAT good! The "fort' also joins a giant rock mountain which my girls do not have permission to climb on without daddy. There are plenty of seats and bathrooms at hand.

From the playground I cajoled the girls toward the Time Warner Center so I could buy some dinner from Wholefoods to take back to our room. It was afternoon tea time so they each selected a pretty easter cookie to nibble on the way home. Yum Yum fell asleep mid cookie.
Boo happily ate her dinner whilst her sister had a nap from which I could not wake her. Yum Yum has the disturbing ability to open her eyes whilst still asleep. Friends have been known to talk to her not realising she is in the Land of Nod, but I know that glazed unfocused look too well and she doesn't fool me! Later Yum Yum woke to eat whilst Boo played in the shower making potions trying to entice her sister to join her. Yum Yum did NOT want a shower and that may have been because of the skinned knee.

The end result of this really great day of fresh air sunshine and excercise.... an overtired, squeaky clean, Boo tantrum of gargantuan proportions and a wide awake chatty grubby Yum Yum at midnight. UGH.

Tuesday back to NYC

Since we have the NYC accommodation for a week I came back with just Boo and Yum Yum after Pre -school on Tuesday. It was raining and I had to do some internal debates about the possible merit of bringing raincoats and wellies for the girls. I decided against. We managed to get on the NJ transit midtown direct train at noon. Boo and Yum Yum don't recall a train ride (although I'm sure we have taken them by train once before). This time it was just me - solo parent with the girls of the broken legs, broken bladders and broken tempers. I put "pull ups" on both of them before we got on the train, packed a lunch and hoped for the best.

So at the next station Yum Yum asks "Are we here yet?". SIGH only 65 minutes and about 12 train stations to go. They were pretty good really, eating their PB sandwiches, pretzels and berries. The carriages were fortunately quite empty. There did come a squabble about whose feet should go where (they were sitting facing each other). I brought out their Sweetpea3s to listen to for a bit and looked out the window telling me they could already see the city (any building taller than 4 stories was "The City").

Eventually we get to Penn Station and we managed, juggling an umbrella, a handbag, a tote bag, myself and the twins, to get all of us into a taxi with the small rolling case. I left the stroller in the hotel room on Sunday for our use later in the week. Adding the stroller to the mix on the return journey on Thursday will be loads of fun for sure.

When we get to the hotel ( Yum Yum has christened our room the Stinky Room because of the off odour in the hallway outside- sounds posh doesn't it!) the girls want their Barbies. SIGH. No I didn't bring toys..I could barely fit our clothes in the small case. I did have crayons, colouring and a DVD. But I had a plan...

So first stop- The Children's Museum of Manhattan on 83rd St. Again by taxi. I don't do the subway by myself without the Breadwinner (he is in charge of the Subway travel) although it would be cheaper/quicker sometimes. I certainly don't do it with Boo and Yum Yum. (With Bear I might give it a go). We arrive at the CMOM at about 2.30pm, just in time for the afternoon crowds to get off the school bus.

Unfortunately Boo and Yum Yum were not really enthusiastic about this place. They figured out what was on each floor and had me take them to check everything out. Being late in the day the exhibits were a bit messy and dis-organised. Their attention spans were not held by Dora and Diego for very long. A visit to the Block Party Room downstairs was actually the best part. It was a lovely quiet and big, mostly empty, space with a vast supply of wooden blocks. I could have happily sat there building for a very long time.

We were out of CMOM much faster than I had planned...3.30pm. So I guess CMOM is better for the 2-3 year old set. At a week shy of 4, my girls seemed too old/bored or maybe overtired/hyper or just bloody spoilt!

We did have luck finding the restaurant I had picked for what was supposed to be an early dinner. Cafe Lalo was virtually across the street and not around the corner as I had thought.

If there are issues with this restaurant they would be - the stairs in front, cash only, not cheap. In other words they are "passively" rejecting the mothers from across the street! Tempting them with delicious coffees and divine pastries but making it hard work to actually have. I was glad I wasn't put off by the stairs. The staff took my stroller "downstairs" for me. They must still regularly encounter mothers with children popping in every day.

I didn't choose very well for the girls, the grilled cheese was a little too "rustic" in style for them, Yum Yum ate some roast potatoes and Boo concentrated on her chocolate milk . I was much hungrier than they were as I had not had lunch. I ordered an interesting surprise dish -a large slice of baked eggs covered in a delicious spicy tomato/olive sauce with a pita bread. I've never eaten anything like this before, MMMMM it was very tasty. I refrained from having dessert despite a very very large and tempting selection, but I did get a chocolat croissant for Boo because she did not seem to have eaten much.

Boo posed for me at the front steps, giving me her new best pose- urban kooky. BTW this is the Tom Hanks - Meg Ryan "You've Got Mail " cafe.

After that we headed back to the hotel to rest as I had a headache coming on. It was drizzling lightly all day and I was being careful to avoid peak hour.

Back in the room I tried to restore ease to my throbbing head by having a cup of tea and sitting down whilst the girls played in the bed room. It was soon obvious to me that I needed to sleep it off - a reboot. Going out again for some headache tablets was not an option, the exertion would have meant I would have quickly passed the point of no return into migraine territory. So into the bedroom I go to find that Boo and Yum Yum have stripped the bed completely. DEEP BREATH. I had to remake the king sized bed before I could lay down. I tried to make sure they had snacks and something to keep them occupied but I was so desperate to sink into oblivion I had to tell myself that whatever happened it would all be a lot easier without the headache. And so I slept.

I think I was out for an hour. Whilst I slept they investigated the contents of my toiletry bag. The combination of familiar smells kept me guessing and eventually I tracked down the globs of creams, pastes and lotions...some in Boo's hair and other's in random places. Thankfully nothing really horrendous involved- mostly travel sized and no nail polish. But it was probably a near miss, it could have been really bad. I had to buy more toothpaste later.

After cleaning them up I decided to head to the already tested Sushiya. The girls really like the miso soup there. They walked there and back, they ate really well, and behaved themselves (much to the relief of the couple next to us). Oh- on the way there I had a near miss on the footpath with a man hurrying along engrossed in his conversation with his friend. Do you suppose Kelsey Grammar is blogging about that tired looking woman he almost trod on? Nah, I don't. BTW- he looked GOOD.

The forecast for the next day, Wednesday was no longer for rain so I decided to go with the Central Park plan. Back in the Stinky Room we called it a day after a shower and a few PBS online stories.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saturday afternoon in NYC

The Breadwinner arrived home from Utah on a flight close to midnight on Friday....so the turn around time Saturday morning was a little slow, and we didn't make it into the city (by car) until close to lunchtime. However we had awesome weather and we weren't going to waste it completely. I took a DVD for the girls to watch during the drive- choosing "Sleeping Beauty" so that the story would be fresh in their minds for the play we had booked on Sunday. Boo was very excited to be in the city .

Although traffic going in was heavy, the drive was pleasant enough (no whining) until mid-way through the Lincoln Tunnel when Yum Yum announced that she had to PEE!!!!!

Ordinarily we put a nappy (diaper) on Yum Yum when we are in the car for any long trips because her bladder control is not as good as Boo's. But Yum Yum had refused. I grabbed a pull up "just in case" and put it in the car. So in the Lincoln Tunnel I performed a physically awkward and illegal manouver in a moving car to put a pull up on Yum Yum whilst she remained in her seat. It was a little difficult to ensure a leak proof fit and fortunately the traffic wasn't moving fast. She was still hanging on and refusing to pee when we pulled up ...and she could hold on no longer. SIGH. There was a leak...luckily only minor. So upstairs to change the knickers and blow dry her leggings.

It was just a little after 1pm. Here are some shots of our accomodation... a one bedroom "executive" suite with a sofa bed. The sofa bed from "planet unsleep", the Breadwinner and Bear drew the short straw which is really bad considering the long straw is sleeping with Boo and Yum Yum! Boo and Yum Yum have reached new levels of curiousity about hotel rooms. Thankfully the interest in the room safe was short lived.

This is an executive suite in a Timeshare property. Two bathrooms, a kitchenette, dining and two flat screen TVs. For NYC this is extremely comfortable for a small family. Of course when you use the remote control in one room, it changes the channel on the TV in the other room. And as I said, the sofa bed was in horrendous shape and I did tell the front desk about it later.

We had planned a walk after lunch along the High Line. Bear's first request of the weekend was that she get to eat char siew bao (steamed BBQ pork buns). When looking for somewhere in the Meatpacking District (where the High Line is located) I came across a place called The Dumpling Man. It seemed that this could fit the bill for Saturdays lunch even though char siew bao weren't on the menu, it was close and it sounded promising. This was the first of some not so perfect choices! Our hotel is at 56th so a taxi was in order given that there was no time to waste before hunger induced meltdowns might occur.

On first appearances The Dumpling Man is a tiny hole in the wall. It is cute and the kids were happy enough but only about 10 people can sit down to eat. We could have easily been out of luck if it were in fact considered luck to get a seat. At the counter bench the kids had a good view of the dumplings being prepared and the staff were amiable. The not so good thing was that the dumplings were difficult for the kids to eat out of the very small flimsy plastic "bowls". Drinks were spilled (Yum "May I Spill That For You" Yum is a chronic drink spiller) and dumplings dropped but that was to be expected. Bear, Boo and Yum Yum are enthusiastic dumpling eaters but everything here was just a tad awkward.

And for the adults, the meal was just so so- those dumplings stayed with us for the rest of the afternoon if you know what I mean! So no need to rush back and I wouldn't send anyone there! And a reminder to treat online reviews with a tad more sceptism. We really should have gone to Chinatown.

Also this restaurant was a LONG way from where we wanted to end up... ie the High Line. (Note to self - always check a map and don't rely on a search for "kid friendly restaurants Meatpacking District" to give you the best answer!) It's big positive...it is located in a very colorful neighbourhood..The Bowery. Lots of interesting people out in the spring sunshine. We started the stroll west, Yum Yum and Boo dancing very happily along the sidewalk.

Before long there was a call put out for a stop for ice cream at a Coldstone Creamery. Yum Yum discovered that a mouthful of gummy bears can really slow down the ice cream eating experience. And whilst you are busy chewing and chewing and chewing...your daddy eats your icecream!

After consulting the map again it was decided a taxi was needed. We were dropped at the southern entry to the High Line in Gansevoort St. And it being a truly beautiful Spring Day every other man, woman and child was there too (no dogs allowed). The girls had fun following the old tracks where they are set into the pathways but after about 20 minutes we made a departure and left it to the crowds. I hope to go back sans children and enjoy this walk properly with the Breadwinner.

We exited at Chelsea markets and here it was that I made an even BIGGER mistake. I remembered that I had forgotten the bedtime story book so tried to dash into a book store to pick something up. Sure enough they all insisted on coming with me and then were insisting on choosing the book, and then were insisting that they get two books each and then insisting that it be THIS book. But then Boo said "I need to PEE!!! so off I went at a jog in the direction the French cheese man indicated to join a line that was 50 people long NEXT TO A WATERFALL.

After about 10 minutes commiserating with the others in this slow moving line and rehearsing a desperate plea to get to the front of the queue in my head, a janitor kindly informed us that there were more restrooms at the other end of the markets. Restrooms NEXT to the BOOKSTORE with nobody lined up. Of course. So a bunch of us jogged up that way and it was the truth. NUTS. We went back to the bookstore where Yum Yum had chosen a book and was insisting on another..she then told me that she needed to PEE! Now that I knew where to go that was easily sorted. When I returned the Breadwinner was sitting on the floor in the children's section reading to a happy Boo. Time to go....

And then came the Boo MELTDOWN. Oh lordy lordy lordy . I'll leave it to you to imagine the embarrassment that our inept parenting of this child can cause. Yes- I caved, Fancy Nancy came home with a smug looking Boo. And exit quickly stage right

Chelsea Markets BTW way has a lot of yummy places to eat (including an oyster bar), awesome cupcakes and some cool looking clothing stores. The ice cream is popular and most exciting of all....they are opening an Anthropologie there!

We popped into the Subway... the girls were quite interested in the whole experience. This whimsical sculpture was intriguing. It is a work by Tom Otterness, seeking out the remainder of his installation will be on my to do list next time we hit that Subway Station. Public art in NYC is something that could occupy me for months!

Dinner was at Sushiya. I didn't take my camera, being somewhat all photo'd out! It was a good, tasty and healthy meal and walking distance from our hotel. Once back we settled in after a shower, to read the new books. Boo and Yum Yum fell asleep quite quickly. In the other room there was a war with the sofabed.