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When I was a kid, I cherished the start of the school year. Fresh crayons; the faintly chemical scent of new markers; stiff, chalk-white notebooks that suggested hard work and promise. That feeling lasted for a few short weeks, until the binders no longer held their intended single subject and my locker filled with stray paperclips. And so began the long, slow march until June.

My kids didn’t inherit the same love-of-back-to-school gene. They don’t light up at the first sounds of back-to-school jingles in late August. Those August days are lazy days. Days when the big decision is whether to swim in the lake or snoop around the backyard for bugs. Anything that puts a damper on that lifestyle isn’t welcome, no matter how good the markers smell.

School means a lot of things. Of course there are friendships to rekindle and shiny new teachers, but there are also schedules, after-school classes, and the mad rush for dinner. It’s busy season, no way around it. At least for nine more months.

Last week, as I watched as friends post Facebook pictures of eager faces with hand-painted signs (First day of K!), I had a looming sense of dread that my three little ones’ spirits might not be so bright. Although spending a Summer at the lake – which held little in terms of structured activity – took some patience, it was a bonding experience for all. 

So it was with equal parts sadness, excitement, and trepidation that I walked the kids to their new classes last week. Brand new outfits had been laid out the night before to dampen the nerves. If crayons couldn’t get them going, maybe new cotton could.

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With a big hug, I kissed Lauren and Sam goodbye…

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And snuck off with Emma to a local French bakery.

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It’ll be our little secret that Preschool doesn’t start until next week. The backpack? Let’s assume that it was more of a training backpack. Her choice, not mine. Next week she’ll be a full-blown Preschooler, backpack and all; until then, we hang…

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Can it be that our endless summer is actually coming to an end? Time to get my head back in a New York frame of mind. Although we’re leaving so much stillness and beauty in Greenwood Lake, there is culture and excitement, chaos and adventure that lies ahead. In some ways I can’t wait…

Before school ended, the kids had a half day at school and I wanted to share a few pictures from our day since the weather was perfect for a Red Bus tour. If you’re ever in NYC for the day, do not miss this activity– I could ride the bus a dozen more times and still be content.

I’ve mentioned it before on the blog, so it should come as no surprise that I love to be a tourist in New York City. There’s so much to see, and the best thing about a Red Bus tour is that you can see so much of it at once.

I’ve taken Lauren on the tour before, but this was Sam’s first time. Lauren fell asleep 10 minutes into the last tour, so I was hoping that Sam wouldn’t do the same since it ain’t cheap to ride the Gray Line, but fortunately they were well-rested and up for some fun.

Starting with lunch at Westville, or “West Village” as Lauren likes to call it, not realizing that there’s an actual West Village and that this isn’t it.

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(I felt the need to include a ketchup action shot since that’s how we roll there…they have my kids’ favorite fries in the city, lightly breaded to make them extra crispy.)

We started our tour on 8th Ave with some frustrating non-kid-sized headphones, but once we squashed and pinched the ear buds enough, we finally got them wedged into position.

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And we were off….cruising first through Times Square past the Neil Simon theater…

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…then on to Columbus Circle where Lauren stole my old lady hat.

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Finally, we rode up along Central Park West and through the Upper West Side to Harlem.

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We weren’t long into our trip when we passed 110th Street and our guide pointed out the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Although I’ve taken the bus tour a few times, I must have always tuned out at this point because I didn’t realize that it’s the biggest cathedral in North America.

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Painted in Waterlogue
The Meatpacking District

We have news!

I’m not pregnant. But our family is experiencing a seismic shift on par with a new baby at home. Almost….

We’ve moved to the lake for the summer! Goodbye city streets, hello water, paddleboards, and jumping crickets.

While I’m excited about a lazy summer at the lake, it’s sad to leave New York. I love the city, its grit and its beauty. As a farewell, I thought I’d put together a collection of some of my favorite city moments from the past year, all seen through the hazy lens of watercolor. From last Summer, to our long-awaited Spring, a glimpse of NYC through the seasons:

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Chelsea water tower

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Bubbles blow on Sixth Avenue

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The Richard Meier Buildings, West Village
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We’re lucky enough to call New York’s Chelsea neighborhood home. It’s diverse and energetic, always up for a good time. Particularly when June rolls around and Gay Pride celebrations kick into high gear. Lauren once said that we live in the most beautiful place on Earth because it’s full of rainbows. An astute observation from a then-4-year-old kid, who noticed that hundreds (if not thousands) of rainbow flags flutter above our neighborhood storefronts.

One of our neighbors co-hosts the J.P.Morgan-sponsored Pride event held in the Central Park Zoo every year.

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The kids look forward to the end of June every year, which marks both the end of school and the Pride event at the zoo.

Usually the Tropical Zone is open, but for some reason, this year, it was closed. But I do have a few pictures of the blazingly warm pavilion from last year. The Tropical Zone houses all kinds of exotic animals, from rare species of birds, to lemurs, and more creepy crawlies than I’d typically like to see in one sitting, including Pythons and Tarantulas.

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And the birds…there are the most beautiful species of birds in the Zoo. This was Sam right before the husband and wife pair in the background got into a huge marital spat and accidentally cuffed him in the head with their wings.

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Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that it was closed this year.

But we did have our regular Sea Lion show. “The seals, guys, the seals!” I called as the trainers got ready for the show. At which point a well-coiffed man in front of me exclaimed to his daughter “aren’t you excited for the SEA LIONS?” Apparently zoo animal classification is critical to some people. Not to me, ballpark is good enough.

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steps

Living in New York has its sacrifices, namely indoor space and a backyard. Yes, I know, the world’s tiniest violin is playing for me right now…the horror, such noble sacrifice. But we do get a whole lot in return – including two of my favorite pastimes, food and art.

The Museum of Natural History and The MOMA are the museums we visit the most, but the Met is also great for kids. It’s across town from us, which is why we don’t visit as often. But when we do, we try to spend at least a few hours exploring. Here are a few pictures from our visit last month:

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We always hit the Egyptian gallery first so that the kids have a chance to walk through ancient tombs. On the way out of the gallery, Sam thew me his best sourpuss face. There is nothing that strikes fear into the hearts of parents more than seeing sourpuss in the early stages of a museum visit. Thankfully he was making it because he wanted to hold the map, not because I was about to drag him through a collection of ancient artifacts. And at least the kids could both agree on one thing: our next stop would be the knights.

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