And the LUCKY WINNER of the bracelet is…

RUBY!  Chosen by the highly scientific picking-it-out-of-a-hat method.  Many thanks to the lovely John for his assistance, and to everyone else for entering and/or commenting and making me feel SUPER DEE DUPER.  I know I’ve said it before – but really, can it ever be said too much??  My friends are the BEST.

Happy weekend to you all!!

New York, New York

Saturday – in honor of John’s 37th birthday – we went to NEW YORK. Almost a year since our last visit. October 2007, boarding the Norwegian Spirit on our way to New England & Canada. As exciting as that trip had been (taking in the sights of the NYC passenger terminal and Penn Station), this time we wanted MORE.

Behold the American Museum of Natural History.  Isn’t she PRETTTY??  YES_SHE_IS!

We got to the museum early. We’d debated the merits of driving v. taking the train and finally decided just to drive. Mostly b/c it allowed an extra hour of sleep. There’s a parking garage located conveniently beneath the museum, so we were able to park all day for just $46 bucks. WOW. My lovely friend Pannonica had set aside Super Passes for us and let me tell you. NOTHING BEATS FREE. The “insider touching privileges” and executive washroom access were just icing on the (proverbial) bday cake. Make no mistake, Biologists are ROCK STARS.

The museum is massive, so we had to prioritize. Several sections are similar to the Academy of Natural Sciences here in Philly, as well as the Penn Museum and the Smithsonian. So we skipped those. NO NOT ALL OF THEM.  A few we walked through, doing the YES I AM PAYING ATTENTION dance. The place is just way too big to see in one day. So we did the best we could. We took in the scenic tour of the Food Court. I recommend getting there as soon as it opens, before the bagels are fondled too much. At lunchtime the place is an absolute zoo. I wanted to try the empanadas, but as the line was 5 deep, I gave up. The half of a bacon cheeseburger I pried away from my husband was o-kay. But not an empanata. We checked out one of the gift shoppes. The girls wanted cool moving-picture book marks, which were indeed neat, but at $6 a piece left me aching for an empanada.

2 meals in the food court and one gift shoppe visit later, we took in the actual museum. Which is very quiet and clean 1st thing in the morning. Disintegrating into a combination swap-meet/ Macy’s parade atmosphere as the day wears on.  We saw as much as humanly possible w/ 2 children in tow and swarming hordes of on-lookers. The highlights included the breathtaking Hall of Ocean Life. Also, the Dinosaurs Alive! IMAX film, which positively enchanted my older daughter, though not my husband. Always a critic. We all very much enjoyed the Lizards & Snakes: Alive! special exhibit, which, I confess, has left me longing for a Burmese Python. The whole museum – from the dioramas to the miles-long array of minerals, to the beauty of the building itself – is awesome. Fascinating. Overwhelming.  By the time we left, I felt like someone who’d tried digesting 5 billion years of history w/ one too few Tums.

BUT THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR DESSERT.  And what trip to New York is complete w/out a visit to the sweetest place on earth (at least for a child) – FAO SCHWARTZ.  We made our way through Central Park, ambling towards 5th Avenue. It was simply lovely. The undulating trunks of the American Elms, the couples in love, the roller dancers making fools of themselves. AHHHHH. What a day to be alive.  Even the teeming crowds outside the Plaza weren’t enough to throw off our bliss.

Until we arrived at FAO SCHWARTZ.  I must confess that my daughters were MORE THAN A LITTLE skeptical regarding this particular store.  They kept asking, over and over – What IS THIS??  WHERE ARE WE GOING??  IS THIS FUN>> IS IT FOR KIDSSSS>????  As though we’d lost our senses.  TRUE the name does sound more like a financial institution than a toy store.  But once we stood outside the glass walls, and the girls had spotted the doorman dressed as a toy soldier, they knew GAME ON.  Once inside, we managed to make our way through the two stories and come away unscathed.  The ladies agreed to one small Playmobil set each. I was awed by the life-size Lego recreations of Chewbacca, Hagrid and the Harry Potter gang. But enough is enough.

Next stop: American Girl Place. Anyone who knows me can JUST IMAGINE WHAT I WAS THINKING. And you would be right. But I kept it BUTTONED. Through 4 floors of crass commercialism, personal shopping, doll hair salon, and cafe. I simply smiled weakly and let Daddy treat his daughters. Afterward I needed a drink. BAAAAAAAAD. We walked up 5th Avenue, past stores I will never be able to afford, surging with the crowd. We ate dinner at a cozy Irish place, which YOU KNOW HAD ALCOHOL. We stood in Times Square, gazing open-mouthed at all the neon and craziness. And then we walked, slowly, back to the car, taking in the sights. Watching the blocks morph from tacky souvenirs into respectable stone. And silently wondering what life must be like for those fortunate enough to live in such splendor.


VErMoNT

We are BACK! Oh. You didn’t know I was away? CAN’T YOU SEE MY TAN??? Well maybe it’s b/c this past weekend we went to VERMONT. I must have neglected to post that tasty morsel last week, that we were going away for the weekend. Probably a good thing – since my husband already thinks I share a little too much information here. But you & I both know, EVERYONE LOVES FEET!!

ANYWAY. We just got back from our lil trip up north.. to VErMoNT. YES I like the way I spelled it there. It’s hilly, see, just like the state. Our friends have a cabin in Wardsboro and b/c they are the best people on the face of the planet, they let us use it FREE OF CHARGE. I don’t know about you, but THAT is pretty much the greatest thing anyone’s ever done for me – apart from helping me give birth.

Anyway, we left Friday and just got back last night. I was feeling a little depressed on the car ride home. I always do. You see, I don’t just enjoy these little trips to Vermont. No. I secretly – but not-so-secretly LONG to live there. Forever. But just in the summer. The problem is, I love Vermont. But i love it when it is warm. When we can go skinny-dipping and run around outside w/out clothes on, and bask in the sun in our birthday suits, and – OH. I am sorry, I’d forgotten you were here – Vermont in the summer is BLISS. heaven on earth. But Vermont in the winter is. COLD. Damn cold. Snowy. Lots of snow on the ground. and in the air. and everywhere. And did I mention it’s freaking cold there. And winter lasts 9 months long. Unless you count mud season. Which sort of cuts into the 3 mos of “summer”. SIGH…..

Yes I have been drinking. Today is my mom’s birthday – LOVE YOU MOO!

And now I will outline for you the details of our trip.

The first day (Saturday) was gorgeous. In Philly I think it was 90 degrees with 300% humidity, but in southern Vermont it was BEAUTIFUL. Until of course it started HAILING. Hail the size of macaroons. IN AUGUST. Whoa. Way to keep me on my toes, you crazy State, you. People were pulled over on the sides of the road it was so damn bad. BUT WE DIDN’T LET THAT STOP US, NO SIRREE. We drove into Brattleboro. If you have never been to the Brat, then you really must go. Seriously. It is the only town where tie-dye is an official uniform. We ran into a woman in Sam’s (their super duper army-navy store) and she was either certifiably insane or whacked out of her mind on acid. I believe it was the latter. That is the Brat.

We went to the Retreat Farm. Although we have traveled extensively throughout Vermont, and have petted many an animal in many a Vermont Farm, we like the Retreat the BEST. It has undergone a significant change in the 2 yrs since we were there last. I will not go into the sordid details. but the cows are G-O-N-E. The Grafton Cheese Co. has now set up shoppe where the large Dairy Barn used to be. I miss the cows. But the cheese is delicious and the petting can’t be beat. The ladies BEEEEEGGGGGGEEDDD us to go there first – out of anywhere else in Vermont – b/c there, only there, can you pet and cuddle and love up as many baby chicks as your heart desires. YES IT IS THAT GREAT. If you are an animal lover and have never held a sweet baby chicky in your life, then you must get into your car and drive there IMMEDIATELY. Open Tues – Sat, 10- 4.

The next day, (Sunday). we went to Jamaica. Jamaica State PARK, in Jamaica, VT. YES THAT IS A FUNNY COINCIDENCE. Maddie said Oh this isn’t where people always come when they say they’re going to Jamaica? YES IT IS NICE BEING 8.

So we spent the entire day hiking. with our children. I cannot believe it either. That they finally have gotten to the age where I no longer have to tote them around like luggage. And it was AWESOME. We walked to Hamilton Falls, the highest waterfall in the state, and even though our legs nearly fell off on the way (I am kidding – we are used to walking the hell out of our legs), it was breathtaking. Dramatic. Over 10 people have died there swimming, and maybe more – we saw a couple show-offs but didn’t stick around to watch. Then we walked alllllll the waaaaaayyyy back down to the trail and allll the waaaaaayyyyy up to the tippeee top of Ball Mt Dam. Quite a hike. Even w/ the legs I am used to abusing, I was tired. The trail is easy to follow but it’s steep w/ crazy gravelly switchbacks. We saw 2 families mountain-biking their way out and were like WHAT THE HELL. I would NOT recommend MT biking there UNLESS YOU ARE INSANE OR WHACKED OUT ON ACID. I spied some sort of creature – we could not determine what – either a squat deer or some sort of under-colored bear – which leaped from the side of the path and fled up the mountain. It was the fastest thing I’ve ever espied. If it were bigger I’d swear it was BIG FOOT, but that’s just a story. RIGHT>?

The next day was MONDAY. We spent the whole heaping helping day o fun at BROMLEY. I told John, baby, if I could ski when it’s warm, you KNOW I WOULD LOVE IT. B/c being at a ski resort is a BLAST. Esp/ when it is sunny beautiful and you are sitting under a umbrella eating an ice cream cone w/ jimmies. Or flying down a mountain at warp speed on an alpine slide. Or both. Or going through a dark water slide tunnel getting splashed and hearing your kid scream in terror-stricken delight. Either way, I liked it and I wanna go back a 3rd time. Afterwards, we ate dinner at Candeleros in Manchester. A+ PS: Curly, I am VERY SORRY to say Mother Myrick’s is no longer in its old digs. It may be somewhere else but we could not find it anywhere in Manchester.

Finally Tuesday came round and we had to leave. I was sad. Not only had the weekend flown by, but the weekend had flown by, and we had to come back. To Philly. Don’t get me wrong. I love my hometown. But there’s something to be said for a cool mountain morning, being woken at 7 am by your neighbor chainsawing lumber for winter firewood, that makes you say, Ahhhhh. CLICK HERE for photos from the Green Mt state.

PS: CONNIE, JUST GOT THE SCARF AND it is FABBBBUUULLOUSSSSSSS!!!!!!!! I am in MUPPET LOVE. Not only does it smell like heaven but it makes me feel as snuggly as Miss Piggy wrapped in Kermit’s loving arms w/ Fonzie Bear, Gonzo & a cherry on top. YOU ARE TOO WONDERFUL. Thank you Thank you THANK YOU, you dear awesome wonderful friend. xoxoxoxoxo