Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dispatches from Amsterdam Week 6: Returning to routine

Continuing on from last week...

Friday we wandered a bit into Fort Greene, looking for a park for Fletcher to run around. The parks were still closed, unfortunately.

On Friday night, which turned out to be our last night in Brooklyn, We had dinner at Juniors, around the corner from the hotel.

Juniors is well known for it's cheesecake. Purported to be the best in New York. It lived up to it's reputation! Yummy!

We Stayed in Brooklyn until Saturday, lunch time, when we found out that our power was back on. Apparently power in lower Manhattan was restored at 5am on Saturday morning after being out fo 4 days. We checked out of the hotel, grabbed our bags (we had a lot of stuff!) and headed home. I did some grocery shopping in Brooklyn that morning because I wasn't sure if there would be any food nearby, since the grocery stores had been without power all week.

It was a relief to be home after our hotel sabbatical. Trying to stick to a normal routine when out of your  environment can be tricky, so can eating well- since all meals are eaten out. The playgrounds were all closed in Manhattan until Saturday, so when we came home, Maarten took Fletcher to the playground across the street while I got everything in order (laundry, groceries, picking up toys, etc). We spent the afternoon settling back in.

On Sunday Maarten had to work. He was unable to get much done last week since most of lower Manhattan was shut down last week, so he went into the office on Sunday and I went took Fletcher to the playground across the street to play with Scout and chat with my friend Kate. They also had their power restored on Saturday so were happy to be back home.
Fletcher and Scout at Vesuvio Playground

Monday was a slow day for me. The events of the past week were catching up and I was exhausted. I made an emergency call to Maarten on Monday afternoon to come home because I needed help...well, sleep. He came home, took care of Fletcher and I was finally able to take an hour off.  Since the whole preparation for Sandy begun, I've been on high alert. Thinking about what we need, how we will cope in certain situations (no power...), making back up plans. Once we got to the hotels, the thinking continued: What will Fletcher eat for Breakfast, what kind of snacks do I need for him? How will I keep him occupied? Is that a sale at the Gap outlet? Do they have those shoes in my size :). Being home was a big relief from all of the thinking, organizing and distracting Fletcher because we had a settled routine here.

On Monday evening, we heard firetruck sirens. A few minutes later I heard walkie talkie sounds in the hallway. I peaked through the peephole and saw the firemen were in our building. I got Fletcher's fireman jacket on him and grabbed his hat and we sat in the hall and waved to the firemen as they came back down stairs (False alarm, thank goodness). The firemen all waved and he kept saying 'Bye Fireman' to them as they left.

Tuesday (election day) was a beautiful day and I decided to walk with Fletcher to the keypark. On the way there, we saw a parked firetruck, Hook and Ladder 5. A fireman was sitting in the front passenger seat so we went up to him to say hello. He asked Fletcher if he wanted to sit in the truck, so he hopped down and put Fletcher in the passenger seat.
Always wear safety googles when in the firetruck!

We were chatting for a few minutes when Fletcher said 'Close the door!" and the fireman closed the door! Turns out he's from the company that was in our building last night, and their station is where we go sometimes to look at the trucks, on 6th and Houston. The other men came back and climbed in the truck, some of them even recognized Fletcher from last night! When the driver got in, he turned on the lights for Fletcher. He loved it! That was our excitement for the day!

We continued on to the Key park, which was still closed, so I picked up some sandwiches and we walked back to Vesuvio, the playground across the street from our house. I saw a mom I had met before the storm and we chatted about the power outage and the election. Every voting location I walked by in New York had really long lines (hundreds of people). I'm registered to vote in California by permanent absentee ballot, which means my ballot is emailed to me a month in advance and I have to mail or fax it so it's received by the registrar of voters in California on or before election day. She has two young children, so she walked up to the front of the line and said 'I can't wait. I have to vote now or I will be unable to vote and I will complain about it'. No problem, she voted. True New Yorker.

On Wednesday we went back to the Children's Museum of the Arts in Soho for the 'Wee Arts' drop in session. We missed last weeks since there was no power, but this week was fun to watch the changes in Fletcher.  The last few weeks he's hit some developmental leaps, I think. He is suddenly saying things in sentences (Mama, can I have water please? Mama, can you move over? I want that one!) and enunciating more clearly. He also seems to understand more.  At the end of the Wee arts session, there is singing, banging on drums and story telling. The first week we were there, Fletcher could barely sit still through all of it. The second week he sat through the end, but didn't react to anything. The third week he sat in my lap and sort of clapped while I sang along. But this week! He clapped, he sang, he put his arms up, he drummed and generally enjoyed himself!

Fletcher clapping  along at the Wee Arts drop in session

It was lovely to see.  The story was a book about animals sleeping and Fletcher was calling out all the animals (Look Mama-Giraffe! Fishees, Biiiig Elephant!). We had a good time.

We went home after the session as it had started to rain. within an hour of being home I looked outside and it was snowing! Snow flurries were covering the city, which is still recovering from Sandy, with Snow of all things! Needless to say, we stayed in for the rest of the afternoon!

On Thursday I decided that Fletcher needed warmer shoes than sneakers, so we went out to get him so boots. Fortunately we remembered to bring his heavy winter coat, which was perfect for the cold weather we had. He loved his boots, so we put them on immediately and set out to wander around the block looking for snow to stomp on.

Stomp Stomp Stomp!

Due to the storm from the previous day, all of the parks were still closed, but while wandering around the neighborhood stomping in snow, we came across Land of Nod, a really cool toy shop that was schedule to open on Friday. I saw some people go in so we asked if they were open and they welcomed us! It was fantastic! They were happy to see a child, as they were still setting up for the grand opening the next day.

Fletcher had a blast trying out the toys, playing with one thing and the next. In Manhattan, things are always busy, since there are so many people who live here (69,464 residents per square mile), so it was a treat to have the place almost to ourselves. The people who worked there were also incredibly friendly, watching Fletcher play. Lovely afternoon!  When we left we were given a gift bag filled with really nice toys from the store- a big Fox puzzle, pipe cleaners to shape into animals, an owl candy making kit, a cooking with children cookbook and some play tattoos. Great! I called Kate and told her to go to the shop today with Scout so she could get one too! We spent the afternoon with Kate and Scout, and then went home to clean up a bit, since my parents were arriving from Southern California late that evening. The sky was beautiful that evening at Dusk. Pinks and blues swirling with the clouds, lovely. 

My parents arrived at the apartment around 11am that evening, and after settling them in I went to sleep. Fortunately I was able to get Fletcher to sleep long before they arrived, or he never would have settled down from the excitement. Friday morning he crawled into bed with us and went back to sleep. When he woke up, my mom was in bed with us. He opened his eyes and said 'Oma is here' with a big smile then closed them again. Sweet.

This was the first time both of my parents had been to New York City, so we had a lot to see. We started out easy- by going to the playground at Washington Square Park. We let Fletcher run around a little while we enjoyed the sunny weather and played with him, then continued up 5th avenue towards the Shake Shack.

My parents, Steve and Mary, at the Washington Square Arch.

Opa Steve on the Slide

Playing with Oma Mary

We were walking towards the Flatiron District (and the Shake Shack!) when Fletcher fell asleep conveniently on the way there. It made for a peaceful wait in line for lunch. Yummy!

We sat in the sun in the park and ate our lunch. It was a beautiful clear day and I thought we should check out the line at the Empire State Building, since it was only a few blocks up 5th avenue. First, a few more photos!

The parental units

My parents, with the Flatiron Building in the background

We got the Empire State Building and were very lucky! There was hardly any line at all, so we bought our tickets and headed up to the 87th floor. It was a bright clear day, though I was unable to take many photos, since Fletcher was now awake and running around. Here are some of the shots I was able to take..

After the Empire State Building, we headed back to SoHo to relax before dinner.

We decided to hit Joe's Shanghai for some authentic Chinese in Chinatown. It was a good choice! The dumplings were excellent; pork soup dumplings served in bamboo steamer dishes. There is a special way to eat dumplings, as we learned from this cartoon while were outside waiting for space at a table. Fletcher ate 3 dumplings, along with some friend rice, sesame beef and stir friend green beans. We all enjoyed it.

It was a lovely end to a beautiful busy first day in New York. We walked home from the restaurant, looking for firetrucks along the way. We settled in at the apartment and Fletcher crawled into bed with my parents to chill before bed. Very cosy!

On Saturday my mom and I snuck off for a bit of shopping and were met by Maarten and Fletcher (who had further firetruck adventures that included sitting in the cab of Truck 14 and putting on a real fire hat!). We were all wandering towards Union Square (playground), when we saw a children's book store called Books of Wonder. We went in and saw that the author of the Babar series of children's books, Laurent de Brunhoff, was in store to sign books!

We purchased Babar goes to American and had it signed. Only in New York do you 'happen' to find these things. What a fantastic souvenir to take back with us!

It's been great to hang out with my parents, and I am really enjoying the time they are spending with Fletcher. He only see's them in person once a years (though weekly on Facetime), so it's a joyful thing to see that they have a strong connection with each other, even though we are all far away.

Saturday evening we went to my friend Kate's house and enjoyed the view and a lovely italian meal while Scout and Fletcher played.

This is pretty long, so I will leave it off there and continue on next week. Hope you are enjoying the adventure with us!

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