Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hannah's room

This is a big room in NYC. Did you see the size of the closet? WOW! That would fetch $1000/month in Manhattan.

I am kidding of course. This isn't really her room. Although it does take up half of our bedroom. Heather Jo sent up a box of stuff that didn't make the airplane trip and Hannah set up shop in there once the box was empty. Kids love boxes.

We are still in DC. Having a great time and seeing all kinds of monuments and historic places. Taking lots of pics. We lost all the pictures from the first day because I was letting Hannah hold the camera. Sounds like a commercial for Bad Idea Jeans doesn't it? Hannah likes to look at all the pics of her Dallas friends and family and I thought it would be ok. It was for one day. On day two she changed the language to some language I've never heard of - starts with an M and looks like a combination of German and Spanish - and erased all but 2 pics. We are taking lots of make up pictures and I will show them to you next week.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We're in DC.

Paul has a conference in DC this week and we have joined him here. We rode the Amtrak down. Very cool. Hannah and I went exploring our nation's capitol yesterday. We saw the Presidential motorcade go by and Hannah went nuts. She called her grandparents and her cousins and screamed into the phone "I saw President Obama!!" She has been asking to see him again ever since. She says she will tell all her friends in the neighborhood in NYC that she saw the President. We are staying in a hotel much to her chagrin. She begged to stay at the White House with the President. I told her that there are so many people who want to stay there that by the time it would be our turn, some one else will be President.

We are also going to the Smithsonian museums and the other great monuments. No pictures today. But I'll post some when we get back to NY.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Statue of Liberty

Okay, that's a terrible picture. But you can still tell that it's her. I pass that view a couple of times a day and I always turn to look. My brother-in-law Al says that his grandfather saw the Statue of Liberty when he came over on a boat from Germany. I like to think of what she represents and what the first glimpse of her has meant to immigrants over the ages. It' so cool to me to get to pass her daily.

That picture is much better. We took this picture from the Staten Island Ferry yesterday. We took the ferry just to get a better look at the Statue of Liberty. Before we boarded Hannah and I had this conversation.

Hannah: What are we doing next?
Me: We are riding the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty.
Me: (Thinking it was going to be interesting, but not exactly "EXCITING!!!") What do you think a ferry is?
Hannah: AN ANGEL!!
I can see why that would be exciting.

Subway Legs

Sea legs:
the ability to maintain one's balance on board ship . . .

Here's a new entry I'd like to submit:
Subway legs: the ability to maintain one's balance while in a moving subway car.

The subway starts with a jolt and stops abruptly. It's bumpy in between. It turns corners (sort of) and you have to lean at an angle to compensate. Paul and I watch in amazement as people walk around like it's no big deal. We are still getting thrown around like we're on a roller coaster and these natives don't even hang on to anything anymore. That's because they have subway legs.

Our family subway rules:
1. Hold Hannah's hand FIRMLY or have her wearing her bear. She will just jump into an open subway door with no regard for where that train is headed.

2. DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING. This is impossible thus . . .

3. As soon as you exit the subway, take a wet ones bath.

The subway's not that bad. I've never felt unsafe. Hannah visits with anyone who will talk back to her. She asks about her subway friends often. One guy told her a new knock-knock joke that she repeats whenever she thinks about it.

Did you know that subway doors aren't like elevator doors? If a subway door is closing and you put your foot in between the doors, they just close on your foot? We saw this yesterday. Paul said I should have taken a picture of this lady with her foot in the subway car and the rest of her NOT in the subway car. But I didn't have time. Don't worry. We didn't have to take a trip with a severed foot. The driver saw the lady and opened the door for her.

Also, there aren't elevators at every stop. I don't know what you do if you are in a wheelchair in NYC. It must take forever to get anywhere. There are elevators every few stops, but some of them have apparently doubled as bathrooms. The one for the 6 train at Canal St. smells particularly like a urinal. Ick. I think I'll just schlep the stroller up the stairs next time.

The subway has live bands sometimes. That's fun. Street performers set up shop along various lines. We've heard Caribbean music, violinists, jazz bands, and a great band with cool harmonies. Some have CDs for sale.

As far as Hannah's concerned, the subway is just another playground. Here's a pick of Hannah loving life on the subway.

Friday, July 24, 2009


This is good ice cream. We'd never had it before coming up here. Paul likes to have ice cream every night after dinner. So I went looking for ice cream as soon as we got here. Paul saw what I brought home and asked why I chose these tiny containers. It's because my choices were tiny containers and lots of flavor choices, or regular size (Texas regular anyway) containers of chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla. And why is that? I suppose it's because the stores are tiny and the places to put the ice cream selections are tiny. Consequently they have tiny ice cream containers. But WOW, this is great ice cream. Can you tell which flavor Paul likes best? We don't eat it straight from the carton. I put that spoon in there so you could get an idea of the size of the carton.

Stacie would say I'm lucky to have any ice cream selection at all. I should also mention that this stuff is healthy. Ok, it's still ice cream, so it can't be all that healthy. But it's better for you than most of the ice cream I used to get back home. It has real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup! Fernando has HFCS as a client so he would put some lawyer speak in here about how HFCS is a natural product and has never been proven to cause health problems in mice . . .

Flavors we've tried so far:
vanilla Swiss almond - Very good!
creme brulee - Also good. I must hunt for more.
white chocolate raspberry truffle - Paul's favorite. I have to remember which bodega carries that flavor and clean them out.
banana split - Pleasant. Creme Brulee is better.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I love gadgets!!!

Gadgets make life easier.

Bungee cords: I have 4 of these wrapped around my stroller in various places. They make it possible for me to tie awkward things to my stroller or trolley and lug them home from Home Depot etc.

Carabiners: They're not just for challenges on Survivor. They can also hold grocery bags to the outside of your trolley if you run out of room on the inside of your trolley.

Zip Ties: Have a plethora of uses, not the least of which is to hold the bamboo screen up so that I don't have to look at my neighbor's yard.

VELCRO® straps: Even more uses than Zip Ties. Can be used to keep an electrical cord rolled up, attach Hannah's scooter to the stroller, or entertain Hannah as she rides in the stroller. 3 are attached to the stroller right now.

Is that a table or a gadget? It's both! It is a dropleaf table. Such a cool space saving idea. Mr. Dropleaf must have been a space challenged New Yorker.

Bakers Rack: A gadget to hold more gadgets like a toaster oven with a slot on top so it's a toaster/toaster oven, a panini grill, a rice cooker, a cordless tea kettle (gracias Goodalls), a waffle maker that makes Cinderella shaped waffles (thanks Brenda, so cute), Michaela's traveling blender (she loaned it to me and I brought it up here), a paper shredder, and a hidden surge protector attached to a shelf with a zip tie. Also, you can hang things from the decorative swirlies - like aprons, oven mitts, and bags full of plastic bags. I got my first bakers rack in March and I wonder how I lived so long without one.

Magnetic kitchen utensil holders: Make life easier when your kitchen has only 2 drawers that are 9 inches wide.

Saving the best for last. TIVO!!!! No, not a DVR, a TiVo. Thank you
Tivo for making the world a better place.

I have other gadgets, like my cherry pitter, my elfa drawers, my coat racks, my ironing board that hangs from the back of the door, my led tap lights, my optical trackball mouse, and my washer/dryer combo that will get its own post later. But blogger would only let me post 4 pics at a time. you get the idea anyway. Gadgets are great.


Can I just say that I love my stroller. For some reason I am a stroller fanatic. I like the weird looking ones and the regular ones. I like 'em all. When I see a stroller brand I've never seen before, I go home and Google the brand to see what kind of awesome features it has. I have yet to see a better stroller than mine. It's pretty awesome. Chicco will begin selling this model in the US in October. If you need a new stroller, May I suggest you wait until then?

I will tell you the story of how I came to own this glorious stroller. We went to Europe after Paul took the Bar Exam. We took Hannah and Paul's little sister, Brianna, who was 17 at the time. I had this gadget that I attached to our car seat and made it into a stroller like thing, but with the cobble stone streets all over Europe, it banged over every bump and made everyone look over at us. Once they looked over, they stared and stared and tried to figure out how a tall white dude, a short blonde lady, a black teenager, and a Chinese 4 year old fit together. Then they'd poke their friends and they'd all stare. It was quite unnerving. After a few days of being everyone's Gordian Knot, we went to a store, bought our stroller, and life improved immediately.

In Dallas, you see people with $12 umbrella strollers all over the place. If you want to see an expensive stroller, you can go to North Park and watch folks parade around with their fancy strollers. In NYC, EVERYONE has NICE strollers that cost what I used to think was WAY too much. And what's the point of the really weird looking ones anyway? I have figured it out. Those giant tires help you lug that thing up and down 2 flights of stairs to get to the subway, or home, or to what passes as a Tex-Mex restaurant in NYC.

In a pedestrian society, strollers are sort of a substitute for a car. I need my stroller to get stuff home from the store and to haul Hannah and anything else I want to carry from here to wherever. Hannah is 6.5 and as a NYC kid, she isn't even close to being done riding in that stroller. In Dallas, Paul used to fret about Hannah being such a "big kid" and still being in a stroller. But here, I see kids way older than her in strollers, with their feet dragging the ground! (Not really, their legs are all folded up so they can fit in the stroller). So these strollers have to last for years! I see why people are willing to pay so much for them. And really, it's cheap compared to the car it's standing in for.

If I haven't said it lately,

Thanks Paul for indulging me and getting me the world's greatest stroller. Sure, on our trip we saw the Sistine Chapel, Ponte Vecchio, and The Leaning Tower of Piza. But the stroller has been the best souvenir to date. I love my stroller.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I found the down side to walking everywhere. . .

It's bad weather. It was raining this morning. We didn't' walk with Paul all the way to the subway station. We only went to the coffee shop before we kissed him good-bye. Hannah had her umbrella, but she noticed several people wearing trash bag raincoats. "Mama why is she wearing a bag?" I told her about how Granddad John used to make trash bag rain coats for Auntie Heather Jo and me. Wow, did that sound like the coolest thing in the world! We jumped in a hardware store on the way home to look for something. I asked if they had a large bag. I cut a hole in it and Hannah was delighted! She didn't want to take it off when we got home. She has a raincoat, but she prefers to wear this bag.

Ear muffs

A couple of days ago we were walking down the street and we heard this woman screaming at her neighbors from her front porch, "You low down bleep bleeping bleep bleep scum bag. I hope you get hit by a truck - IN THE FACE!"

It seems that profanity is just run of the mill here. People swear in casual conversation as they walk down the street, as they eat dinner, or talk on the phone. I wonder if profanity is more prevalent here, or if we notice it more because everyone walks everywhere and you can overhear things so easily. People were probably swearing all over the place in Dallas, but we didn't hear it because we were in our van - praying and saying kind words, certainly not saying "driving words" or yelling at other drivers.

When we were up here hunting for an apartment there were a couple of other over-the-top incidents. We were in our hotel room, on the 5th floor and we heard this guy screaming at a pedestrian "Don't you know what "bleeping don't walk means?" You bleepety bleep bleep." He hollered for a good while until a traffic cop started heading that way. Then he got back in his delivery truck and drove away. That was in Chinatown.

Another time in Brooklyn I saw a woman get out of a car and yell at another woman in a car with Alabama plates. Then Brooklyn screaming woman's husband got out and joined the yelling. They were saying words I had to look up later. These words would have made Tony Soprano blush. Alabama plates person was trying to take a picture of the Brooklyn screamers. Brooklyn screamers tried to take pictures of Alabama plates. At one point I heard the screamers say "You tink cawwuhs your from Maruhland, you can cut me awwuhf?" All of this was while their windows were down and their kids were in the back seat watching. And they stopped traffic for a couple of light cycles before they finally drove away.

Well with this woman screaming at her neighbor, we could hear her way down the street and we told Hannah to cover her ears. "Ear muffs" as Paul likes to say. The lady saw us coming and paused until we passed and started up with the swear words again. There's never a cone of silence around when you need one.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Spray park

Hannah's thinking about dancing in the sprinkler. It started raining a little later. Of course she needed an umbrella to stay out of the rain!

Coney Island

This was Hannah's first ferris wheel ride. It's a little bit ferris wheel, a little bit roller coaster. The car we chose moves along a track. What fun!

Again with the wide-eyed wonder.

Hannah and Paul are silly.

There was a great breeze keeping us cool, but it was terrible for picture taking.

Paul took this pic so you could see all the rides in the background.

More neighbors

These ladies live in the building across the street from us. They like to sit and chat in front of the church down the street from us. From L to R, Felia, Luce, and Lydia. Hannah seems to think everyone in NY has been waiting for her arrival. She waves to everyone, asks their names, makes faces. She is happy to entertain her fans.

Hannah goes to Little Italy

For dinner Friday night, we met Paul in Little Italy. Hannah was delighted to get a princess wand with a teddy bear from this street artisan (Paul's word). She's at such a fun age - so many things are still amazing and she watches in wide eyed wonder.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Hannah and I each got a slice of pizza here. When you come see us, I will take you on a pizza slice tour. This place has a couple of pictures of Adam Sandler on the wall. Luigi's was in his movie Big Daddy. The cash register is ancient. It has about one hundred buttons and numbers that pop up. It reminds me of an old toy cash register we had when I was little. I see these cash registers all over the place. I guess their motto is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Laurentino's is near Luigi's. Yummy pastries. I think we'll have to work our way through the pastry menu. We started with a chocolate dipped macaroon. It was so good, I hate to move to the next item. But there's a chocolate mousse waiting to be reviewed . . .

Has Beans

At some point when we were packing the "on the plane" luggage, we started looking at bins and saying "can I replace that for less than the $100 it will cost to take it on the plane?" Or "Can I live without that until Heather Jo can ship it to me for less than the $100 it will cost to take that on the plane?" The coffee maker stayed and will be shipped. In the mean time, I MUST have coffee. As I previously posted, the nearest Starbucks is a 2 mile walk from home. But I found Has Beans around the corner from us. Hannah and I walk with Paul to the subway station and then we book it for Has Beans. Jacky is the morning barista. She is everything a barista ought to be. She knows everyone's names, what they did yesterday, what they are doing today, and their plans for the weekend. And of course, what they will want to eat and drink. Hannah loves her. Every time we pass the coffee shop, she asks for "Miss Jacky." Hannah is at the age where she thinks people live at the last place she saw them. So Jacky lives at the coffee shop according to Hannah. I like the coffee shop. I have gotten to know many of my neighbors by spending time there and I will take you there when you come visit me here.

Central Park

Last week we rode the subway into Manhattan with Paul one morning. Here's a picture of Hannah's first subway ride. See how she wears her purse across her chest like a true New Yorker!

While Paul went to work, Hannah and I explored Central Park. I didn't have internet access at home yet. So I hadn't planned our first Central Park adventure as much as I should have. Hannah really wanted to play at the same playground where the Duggars played during their visit to NYC. We went to almost half a dozen playgrounds, but the famous "Duggar" playground eluded us. I will do my homework next time.

Hannah did ride the famous carousel. Her favorite color is black (like her black hair). So she ran straight to the black horse. She smiled the whole time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I almost forgot to tell you all that Evan is thoroughly and completely IT. Paul and Evan have a never-ending game of tag going on . Paul tagged Ev on the Fourth of July. Now Evan lives in the torment only IT can know. Here's the proof.

Faces in Brooklyn

Park slope is busy and there are always people everywhere. But I see some faces several times a day. Here's a pic of (L to R) Hank, Mattie, and Mattie's friend whose name I have forgotten. Hank works for our apt managers, Mattie and friend sit outside the coffee shop and the Polish grocer. Our apartment is in the middle of a Polish/Mexican neighborhood. Heather Wilson says that it makes sense because both cultures like Polka. Mattie and friend thought about putting their teeth in for the pic, but they would have taken them right back out. Too much trouble for a picture. I think they gave up playing checkers 20 years ago and now they just sit and watch people go by.

The parking lot

We went to church Sunday morning. We call it "the dodge ball church" because the pastor's bio page says he likes to play dodge ball. The folks were friendly and no one seemed weird. I thought I'd include a pic of the church parking lot. No one drives a car, but we do need a place to park strollers and bikes.

We have no van. So how do we get stuff home?

I had already made a list of stuff we needed to get at Target upon our arrival. So after dropping off our luggage, we went straight there, loaded up and then tried to figure out how to get all our stuff home. Andrew suggested we get a "trolley" (that's British for "shopping cart"). Everyone seems to have a trolley. So we asked the next person we saw where to get one. The answer is of course "hardware store." Hardware stores are easy enough to find. And the trolley will be well used I am sure.

I mostly use the stroller though if it's just Hannah and me running around. I have Velcro straps and bungee cords that I use to tie things to the stroller.

I already had a friend here.

My friend Amber has been very helpful. I've "known" Amber for about 5 years now. She and I met on my favorite message board . You may call her Amber, but she will always be "Blinkie" (short for Blink Toe) to me. Blinkie met us in Little Italy when Paul and I came up here to look for an apartment. Paul always says that my internet friends are probably weirdo 50 year old men, not nice Christian ladies who like to visit with and encourage each other. Now he's met Blinkie and he concedes that she isn't 50 or a man. She's not even weird.

Here's a pic of the 2 Ambers.

I will attempt pictures

The first picture is the front of our building.

The next picture is of the "fence" that runs along the yard in the back of the building.

The last picture shows the bamboo fence we put up. Much better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We are in Brooklyn!

How did we get here? Paul got a job in NYC and Hannah and I go where Paul goes! The cat too. The cat had her first airplane ride. Hannah's been around the world - three times. So she's a pro at this airplane business.

Many of you have tried to look up our new place on Google maps. If you are looking at the street view, our apartment is the new construction behind all the plywood and permits is our place. I guess the "street view" is a couple of years old. I have lots of pictures to show you all and as soon as I can, I will get them on here.

First I will tell you about the lack of Starbucks. I thought I couldn't live without SB, but I suppose I can. There is a Starbucks at Atlantic Center . That's about a 2 mile walk from our place. I took the bus once, but it takes longer on the bus because the bus has to stop for red lights. I will say that NY miles are much longer than Dallas miles. Google maps says that Sprouts is eight tenths of a mile from our house in Dallas. That is no big deal. But what the map calls half a mile in Brooklyn seems much longer. It could be the traffic and the hills that make it seem like a longer walk. Okay, so Starbucks is strangely absent from Park Slope, Brooklyn. But in it's place are hardware stores. There are hardware stores everywhere. I went in one to look for something and they were out. So they told me to go DIRECTLY across the street to another hardware store. And once you get in a hardware store, don't expect wide aisles. I can get my stroller in most of the stores, but I can't turn around. I have to back out. And every thing has price tags. PRICE TAGS! Remember those? It's like 1975 with hardware stores and price tags. I have been to a couple of places that scan your purchase, but it's extremely rare.