A few weeks ago, we spent some time in upstate NY.
My endlessly generous brother has a house up there and we try and spend time there every chance we get. We've been there enough times to have our favorites - favorite grocery store, favorite parking spot and favorite pick-you-own-farm.
We <heart> Kelder's Farm, and not just because we like saying Kerhonkson, the town where it's located. Kelder's Farm is just so much fun, with it's mini golf course, it's jumpy toys, it's petting zoo and it's very stocked and very reasonably priced farm store. But the absolute best part? You can drive your car down to the picking fields. We love that, especially when it's the middle of the summer and the sun is beating down on the fields with no shade. The driving of the car seriously cuts down on the complaining.
On this visit, we spent a lot of time playing mini golf and on the wooden train and tractor structures and I must say, I felt a little like the Pioneer Woman when I saw how my pictures came out. No filter, nothing. Just my trusty phone.
The blue sky! The green grass! I l feel like there is some bracha I should be making here.
Oh my. It's been a few weeks. That must mean Tani is feeling a lot better and we have not been sitting around the house as much, staring at computers and tablets and the TV. Thank goodness, because she was starting to quote commercials. Like the other day, the kids were (and I don't know why) discussing what cars they would like to buy when they get their licenses. Because that's how life works, you get your license and then go out a buy a car. Obviously. And Tani, she said she is buying a Toyota. Because she wants to go places.
In case you're wondering, Avi will be buying a convertible of some sort, Yomi will be purchasing a GMC pickup truck, although he does like Chevy pickup too, and Tobi can't decide between a red car and a purple car. She's my daughter.
Anywho, a couple of weeks ago we visited the Frelinghuysen Arboretum. I know I spelled that correctly because I just googled it to make sure.
We had never been to an arboretum before, and it was beautiful. Even the kids who hate nature and trees and pretty flowers had a good time.
I'll show you.
Do you see that picture? It was like we were skipping through a field of wildflowers, like somewhere exotic, maybe the Netherlands?
Seriously, there were flowers everywhere.
And lots of benches. We like benches.
And even though arboretums, in general, have no admission fees, we're big suckers. We spent ten bucks on the scavenger hunt of the month. This month's (and weirdly enough, not July's) was red, white and blue. The object of the game was to find 13 out of 16 things on the list and the first was red, white and blue flowers. We didn't make it past the first because my kids insisted on debating whether or not every single flower that I thought was blue, was in fact purple and not blue. Arrgh. Sometimes they are so literal. So we put the scavenger hunt aside, had a snack on one of the thousand benches we came across and harmony was restored.
Here we have Josh and the kiddies pouring over the maps, mostly because Josh loves maps. I do not. I like to just follow the clearly marked path. That's kind of how I drive too. I don't want to hear about going north or taking State Route Whatever. I want to know that we turn right at the mailbox and go straight until the gas station. Follow the path, it'll always lead you where you need to go. I'm very deep like that.
And this is Josh praying to the Goddess of Directions that his children will not take after their mother and will, in fact, learn to read a map. He learned very early on, possibly on our third or fourth date, that I had no sense of direction. We were driving in upstate NY, going to help my aunt and uncle bring stuff back to the city from their bungalow. I was positive I knew the way, except that I totally didn't know the way. This road with all these trees is for sure the way we're supposed to be going. It looks familiar, said stupid me.
Out came the map from the side pocket of Josh's red jeep and he even invited me to come look at it with him on the hood of the car. I laughed, thinking he was joking. He wasn't. So I looked, nodding my head as he pointed things out, like blue lines and red lines and seriously buddy, these things are not roads, they are lines and they have no meaning. But I didn't say any of that. Instead I offered him a linzer cookie. I did not know much about him at that point, but I did know he liked linzer cookies so I went with what I had.
And today, I still have no idea what I am looking at when faced with a map. Except for Waze. Waze is now my good friend. Waze reads the map for me.
Now this, this photo that I took on my phone of a pretty yellow butterfly is my attempt at an artistic framing of a butterfly, in front of a purple bush. I like yellow and purple together, and if you ignore the chain link fence, I think it's quite lovely. That butterfly was seriously just sitting there for the longest time, I wasn't even sure it was real. Turns out it was, and I know that because my youngest tried to grab it.
We made it halfway through the trails before people had to go to the bathroom, so we turned around but according to Josh and his map, there's lots more to see. We may just have to go back, but honestly, I have no idea if he's making that up or not. I'll have to ask one of the kids to look at the map for me.
Tani felt like getting out again today, so we pushed it a little and went on not one, but three adventures. Also, because we really have to stick close to home until Tani feels a lot better, we've started calling every outing an adventure.
Going to the mailbox? Who wants to go on an adventure?
Shoprite? I feel another adventure coming on!
Today we went to the library, to Barnes and Noble and to TD bank. Stick with me, there's a theme here.
We started at the library, where we happily handed in our library logs so we could have the opportunity to fill out bunches of raffle tickets to maybe (!) win an iPad mini in the summer reading contest. I'm not totally sure my kids understand that they are not the only ones entering the contest.
Also, because it's an awesome library, we played a few board games and took a bunch of free bookmarks to add to our collection of bookmarks that we don't use.
From there, we headed to Barnes and Noble, and not only because we know that Barnes and Noble stores consistently have clean bathrooms. We also wanted to redeem our Barnes and Noble reading logs and get our free books. Each kid was allowed to choose a free book from a predetermined list, based on their grade.
I don't remember what books the boys chose (who cares, I'm not gonna read it anyway, said a certain 9-year-old), but Tobi quickly and happily chose a Curious George 'en Espanol, so Uncle Josh, we're looking at you.
Tani, on the other hand, found this whole book-choosing from a limited selection to be so very stressful. Looking at her options, I gently steered her (she called it being forced but you know, tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to) towards Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great. An awesome book.
All Judy Blume books are so good, but I have such good memories of that one in particular, so much so that when she balked at getting it - the only thing I like about it is that the cover is pink and I don't even like pink! - that I offered to read it to her. That only helped a little, but it was that or nothing. She actually chose nothing, but I really wanted to read it again, so Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, it was. The only thing better than a Judy Blume book would have been if the Babysitter's Club books were on the list. Oh, how I miss you, Kristy and Maryanne and Claudia, Stacy and Dawn. Where are you today, my old friends?
Totally off-topic, but did you know that the Babysitter's Club books have been re-released as graphic novels? It's like the apocalypse came early. Are children so without attention spans now that they need to have what might be the most relatable series ever written for young girls turned into an illustrated set of books for them because they can't focus long enough to immerse themselves in the best story ever told? Or at least the best story ever told until Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield waltzed into our lives?
I just can't. I asked the lady in Barnes and Noble about the new and strange Babysitter's Club series and she confirmed my suspicions - I am not the only 30-something mom to ask the same question.
It seems my peers have been flocking to bookstores, dragging their 8-year-old daughters behind them, demanding answers to these pressing questions. But alas, there are no real answers. It seems the Babysitter's Club books have been out of print for the last bunch of years and the only copies left are extra-worn ones on ebay, if you're lucky. Honestly, someone might want to rethink that. Whoever prints that series again could make a fortune.
Don't think for a second that I didn't consider doing a quick ebay search right there in Barnes and Noble. I did, but I held myself together. First, a trip to my parents' attic is in order. Perhaps there really is something up there worth chancing a meeting with a squirrel. One can only pray. And if not, then I'll check ebay.
It wasn't easy, but I recovered from the Babysitter's Club fiasco by standing in line with my children, waiting to pay (or not pay) for our free books. And while we were on line, wouldn't you know it, we were treated to a front row view of all the inappropriate magazines stores just love to display at the counter. At a seven-year-old's eye level, no less. Don't worry, the taller ones had no trouble looking down.
I'm not sure I even processed which magazine it was, but my kids took great joy in pointing out a very naked, sideways facing woman, holding a beach ball in front of her chest. You'd think my kids wouldn't find this as hilarious as they did considering they are forever running around the house clothes-less but no, you'd be wrong.
Books in hand, they laughed all the way to the car, saying bottom over and over, as if they were a bunch of minions. Once at the car, they felt parched because it had been an hour since we last had a drink. We looked for the cooler, only to find that it was missing. So weird, because we really never leave the house without our trusty Whole Foods cooler.
The mystery of the cooler unsolved, we headed down the road (don't you love it so much when all your errands are in the same area) to the TD bank, to turn in our reading logs there and have ten dollars deposited by the good people of TD bank into our accounts. That brought the total of each kid's account to a whopping $20, because we read books last summer too and also because these are non-interest bearing accounts. And also, because we never put any money in for them.
By the time we were done at the bank, the kids were totally done too, done with the whole outing. I could tell they were done because of the way they were sitting on the bank's chairs but also, because they started stealing handfulls of deposit slips and business cards (and maybe some pens) so they could play bank later.
Also, I learned that we might be watching a little too much HGTV because as soon as we walked into the bank, my oldest child started commenting on what a nice "open-concept" design they have going on there. Hmm.
We headed home and pulled into the driveway, to find our beloved cooler sitting on the front steps, waiting for us. We must have left it there when one of us went back to get more pillows for Tani to lean on in the car.
The upside here is that it's nice to know our neighborhood is a safe enough place to be able to leave stuff outside the front door.
Yup. Always looking on the bright side. That's me :)
We took our first real family outing yesterday since Tani's surgery.
It could have gone better. Nothing to do with Tani, it was more bad reconnaissance on my part. In this case, when I decided we should visit the Morristown Game Vault, I only took into account the three things I knew Tani needed - someplace indoors with air conditioning, a place to sit if she needed and close proximity to a bathroom (although if we're being honest, bathrooms are at the top of my list too).
What I did not take into account is that the Morristown Game Vault is AWESOME, if you are in your thirties or forties, not if your band of merry travelers are all under 12.
If you were born between 1970 and 1985, this is your place. And if we were all still in college, this could even be our safe place. Pac-man, Miss Pac-man, Frogger, Tetris, a zillion pinball machines, everything Atari and for those on the later end of those years, everything Nintendo 64.
You will be pleased to know that once you sit yourself down in front of the Super Mario Brothers game and pick up the control with the oh-so-familiar black plus shaped button on the left and the A and B buttons on the right, it'll be 1988 all over again. You won't automatically have a banana clip in your hair or double slouchy socks in alternating colors with a coordinating off the shoulder hand painted t-shirt, but that's okay. It's all good, because your hands, they will remember. Your fingers will automatically know how to play the game, where the coins are hiding, which pipes to jump down and how to find the mushroom to grow bigger and the fire mushroom to get your power. No thinking involved, you just know.
And I know all this because they were my hands that remembered. I was not able to effectively explain how to play the game to my children, but I could play. And play well.
It's a day later and I still can't decide if I should be overjoyed by the whole Mario experience or slightly unnerved - I mean, I generally have a hard time knowing what parsha is coming up the next shabbos, but me and Luigi, we still have something.
The kids, while wide-eyed and in theory, excited to be there, had no idea what was going on around them.
I took solace in the fact that there were lots of kids there, and from a quick look around, I can tell you that none of them knew what to do or how to play. Joysticks felt foreign in their hands and the super simple act of pulling the lever on the pinball machine and letting it whack the ball was almost too much.
Also, the fact that they could not swipe anything on the screens or have the screen answer their questions (how did we live before Siri?) was totally throwing the under 20 crowd.
But not to worry, because each kid was accompanied by an adult who was either elbowing his kid out of the way or, like Josh, calculating in his head when his next day off would be, but a day where the kids would have school. In case you're wondering, that would be chol hamoed Succos and my love has already offered to drive carpool that day. He's more than happy to take anyone else along to play as well, as long as there's no chitchat while he plays Donkey Kong.
The kids all played a few games halfheartedly but we didn't stay long because the whole place was wasted on my kids, and on most kids there. In all seriousness, all the Game Vault is really missing is a bar. And perhaps a karaoke machine filled with Cindy Lauper and Billy Joel songs, some Air Supply and maybe some Chicago thrown in for fun.
(Also, we're old.)
So we left, with the highest intentions of returning, sans kids. We even mentioned that to the guy at the door on the way out and he laughed and said, yeah, everyone says that.
Not to worry though, because after we left, we stopped at the nicest Walmart we've ever seen (let's hear it for Essex County!) to pick up a few school supplies and of course, a few snacks.
It's been a while since I've been in a Walmart, but I'm always surprised by the healthy/crunchy Whole Foods type stuff they've started carrying, like the coconut non- dairy ice cream sandwiches I purchased, for a very non-Whole Foods price.
Lucky for us, the kids forgave us for the trip back to the 80's and were happy with their very non-1988 ice cream.
I, on the other hand, would have preferred an old fashioned Dixie cup with a little wooden spoon, to eat on the front steps while wearing a side pony and jellies, but we were neither near anyone's front steps nor in the 80's any longer.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)