NYC In 2 Days With 2 Kids

My problem is that I am a big city girl living in a small town. I grew up in the hustle and bustle of London, and get antsy if I go for too long without being in a proper crowd, getting yelled at by a bum, or using public transport. I’m happy where I am, but when things start looking too clean and homogeneous, and I’m confronted with too much shiny hair and teeth, I start craving for the city again.

This August, I was feeling particularly disgruntled with small town living, so I dragged my small tribe off to my second favorite city in the world: New York, New York (so good they named it twice).

Aaaaah New York. Back in the 90s, my brother used to have an apartment in New Jersey, overlooking Manhattan. Of course, I took full advantage of that. As we drove into the city, memories flooded back of my twenty-something self wandering aimlessly around the village, no time limits, no money, cheeks sucked in, trying as hard as possible to look cool, and making new and amazing discoveries around every corner.

Of course, this trip would be different. For a start, we were on a serious time crunch, just two days in NYC??? With two little kids, that equates to around eight hours, factoring in bathroom stops, tantrums, and tiredness, but it would still be awesome. We picked our activities carefully, I wanted to visit the High Line, and Central Park, and cross the Brooklyn Bridge my husband wanted to spend as much time outdoors as possible and take a nap, the nine year old wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, and the five year old wanted pizza, ice cream and cookies.?? Clearly, art galleries, museums, and fine dining would have to wait for another trip.

Here are our favorites from this trip: 

  • The High Line
    A great way to take a walk in NYC without having to deal with traffic. The High Line is a narrow park built on a disused elevated railroad. It is beautiful, and green and full of cool things to do for kids and adults, and a very good idea on trash day.
  • Shakespeare’s Garden
    I love Shakespeare’s garden, it is my favorite part of Central park. There are the beautiful flowers, the winding walk, the little castle at the top, where the nine year old can pretend to be Rapunzel, and the views across the park. What’s not to like?
  • Union Square Pigeon Lady
    Union Square has a great farmer’s market, and a really cool playground (more on that later), but the coolest thing by far on Union Square is the lady with the pigeon installation. She makes the pigeons and the pizza slices they are eating out of felt, it’s beautiful and a little surreal, and makes me smile.
  • The Sky Line
    However you approach New York city, it’s skyline makes you stop and gasp. In fact, it is impossible for me to enter the city without playing a musical backdrop. This time it was Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind, but if I were entering via the Verrazano bridge, it would have to be the Soprano’s theme. The city is just so damn iconic.
  • Being a tourist
    I normally do things a little off the beaten track, and avoid big touristy attractions. However, my daughter reeeaaally wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, so we took a ferry there, and visited Ellis Island afterwards, and got a bit emotional about it all. She was majestic, it was a lot of fun; sometimes it’s good to be a tourist.
  • The Playgrounds
    Oh…my…god. The playgrounds in NYC are amazing, so much better than DC playgrounds. I consider myself a bit of a playground expert, a connoisseur if you will. If there was such a job as ‘Playground Expert’ I would apply for the post. My kids and I tested out a great many playgrounds in NYC (which is why we never got to see the Brooklyn Bridge in the end). NYC playgrounds don’t just consist of the usual swing set, formulaic play set with slide and bridge, and sand box (I’m looking at you, DC playgrounds). Each playground was totally different from the last, and they didn’t ‘suggest’ what kids should do. There were big domes, spirals, nets, wobbling sticks, and ropes that could be played with in multiple ways, presenting so many more creative possibilities to children. Even the public school playgrounds we saw were more open and non-linear than what my kids were used to, they were in heaven.

I can’t wait for my next trip. See you soon, Brooklyn Bridge!

Moving Forward Without Falling Over

The days are getting shorter, and as my mornings darken so do my moods. I’m entering the part of the year where I suddenly wonder what the hell it is I’m doing with my life?

I have no time to feel this way at any other point in the year (thank goodness).

Enrollment for the summer camps starts in February, and from then on I’m aboard a runaway train of form filling, curriculum planning, researching, space renting, organizing, cleaning and buying.
May brings a slew of family birthdays that keep us all very busy, and the Spring markets, which I do a big printing and marketing session for.
In July and August, the exhilarating business of full time teaching begins, it is an all-encompassing business that doesn’t leave me much time to eat, rest, or look in a mirror, let alone begin any serious forays into self introspection.
Then comes the beginning of the school year in September, otherwise known as The Great Print to my family. While my rosy cheeked cherubs skip off to school daily, I go about the business of screen printing and sewing 1.5 million t-shirts on my dining room table, oh okay I exaggerate a little, but it does seem like that much at the time! This is when my family find me at my most annoying, the t-shirts take over the house, the dining room is inaccessible, there is an ironing board just where you don’t want it to be every morning, and bits of fabric and thread stick to the bottoms of everyone’s socks as they hobble around American Apparel boxes – I clearly need my own studio.

Then, all of a sudden the Fall festivals are done
The t-shirts are packed away, I have visited my bank, and…..hmm I’m not sure what I’m doing for a couple of weeks, I have stuff to do but it’s all unstructured. A couple of weeks of relative calm should be a good thing, after all it’s just a couple of weeks! But no, given a bit of free time and gloomy weather, my brain can be a dangerous tool.

“Oh god, what am I doing, why is it taking so long for my business to grow? Where do I go from here? It’s tough doing fairs with young children. Ugh, my website is terrible, I need to change that. I need to find shops to stock my products, how do I do that, and how will I manage to make enough shirts? Hand printing is so labor intensive, and I don’t have enough space, should I find a company to print them for me? I want a studio, Vienna is so expensive! I miss teaching right now, should I go back to teaching at a school? But what would happen to Noctiluna then? What do I do next? Hmm, where is this blog going? …And so on, and so forth.

See what I mean? I’m so used to having a deadline, that I crumble and lose perspective without one. So I’m not going to make a list or strategy for this one, I’m going to just BE. Those questions are there for a reason, so I’m going to stop asking them over and over, and spend the next few weeks answering them.

Oh, by the way, the Fairfax Fall Festival was wonderful, and the shirts did very well, so really brain, stop worrying!

Learning to Deal With Change

I have been holed away for weeks now working towards a deadline, printing tractors, squirrels, rockets and galaxies onto clothes. I have been sewing little patterned patches of steam above tractors, sewing sequins onto squirrels eyes for extra sparkle, sewing polka dot moons for rockets to fly toward, sewing labels onto everything, and ironing… ironing, ironing, ironing! The ironing was followed by much folding, packing, and labeling, ordering of business cards, and sorting of market paraphernalia. Not much tea was drunk, not much fantasy fiction read, not much in the way of Facebook loitering. In short, I have been a very busy person, BUT FOR WHAT??

Once hurricane Joaquin started making eyes at the DC metro area, the fabulous market that I had been laboring so hard towards was postponed.  Shock, horror, I ran the gamut of emotions, and have now somewhat recovered from them. Here is a quick rundown of my reactions following the cancellation:

No one wants to sell outdoors on a cold, rainy day. Now I don’t have to spend a day in wet, grey misery trying to smile at wet, miserable people, who just want to be at home with a cup of tea, not shopping.

Anger and Melodrama
I can’t believe I went to all that trouble for nothing!! Where am I going to put all these shirts now? Will anyone come to the postponed date? I could have stressed a bit less last week, and drank those cups of tea, all those missed cups of tea! I can’t even take good photos right now, the light has gone from the world!!! Grrr!!!!!

Ooh, I have a free weekend now! Let’s buy all the Indian snacks we can, and watch all the movies, and wear track pants and try not to go outside (other than for the kids’ sake).

Eugh, I need to detox after that weekend. Why couldn’t I just have done lots of yoga and put a face mask on?

What do I do now? This is supposed to be unpacking and inventory day, I’m off schedule. The universe is upside down!! Help!! I know what, I’ll write a blog post to clear my head.

Excellent. Well I guess I have an extra week to print out those extra pictures to sell at the next market, and I can clean out my work room, and finally start drawing again. Maybe I can find some shops for my shirts. Let’s write a new schedule, shall we? I’ll put the kettle on.

So glad I could share that messiness with you, now to get on with being a grown up again!