December 31, 2011

Activity Advent: Hot Chocolate Crawl

The weekend before Christmas we went on a hot chocolate crawl.  We were in SoHo and only hit up 4 places throughout our day of window shopping.  We contemplated going to more, City Bakery (a favorite) and/or Jacque Torres (another, more local, favorite), but really, four (!!!) hot chocolates in one day was plenty.  We were in a cocoa comma.

Also, We passed a Grom as well and turned that down since we had recently been there (and had taken half home, and sipped it for really is a melted bar of chocolate! Yummm!)

Hmmm...City Bakery...I think I know what we are doing today!

Better than Starbucks but not as good as the stuff we make at home.
Different flavor than I've had before.  It was good hot haut chocolate.  Thin and watery (unlike melted chocolate of other hot cocoa) but the flavor was full.
Mairebelle was our first experience with gourmet hot chocolate when we moved to the city.  We have had it several times and, unfortunately, it's not consistent.  Sometimes it is out of this world and I get a bit of a buzz from it (I'm serious).  But other times it's too thin and lacking in richness.
Van Leeuwen
We happened to pass the truck and noticed they had hot chocolate (I love their ice cream).  It was, surprisingly, very different.  It was very sweet and must have had amaretto syrup in it.  It had an undertone of a yummy waffle cone.  (Is that amaretto?)  Good, but different.
It was a very fun day!!!

And, I realized, as I wrote this, we have drunk a lot of hot chocolate in this city during our several years here.  I'll have to post more of our hot chocolate adventures.  

I really want to try the hot chocolate from La Maison du Chocolate.  Their truffles are heavenly!

December 26, 2011

December 20, 2011

Activity Advent: O Christmas Tree!

Last week we went in search of our Christmas tree.  As a kid I loved going into the mountains and cutting down a tree.  So I've been surprised how much I've loved our tree hunting tradition here, in the city.  We walk two blocks, look at a few trees, haggle with the tree dealer, then carry our tree our hands.  And decorate it before bedtime.  It's quick and easy.  Perfect!

The guy selling the trees was super sweet with the kids. It made the experience even better.

I love comparing this photo with the one last year, when I was about to pop Simon out.  What a difference a year makes!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE decorating the Christmas tree with my family.

Activity Advent: Days Inside

Two weeks ago it rained several days and then I got super sick.  Fever, chills, the works.  It was awful.  I completely lost track of what activities we were doing when and did a lot of Christmas movies and hot chocolate.

Once I felt a little better we made peanut blossoms; one of my favorite holiday cookies we made when I was a kid.

We hung stockings by the brick wall with care.

And Isabella wanted to decorate the house "like Christmas", so I let her do her thing and she spent a half hour wrapping this chair.  It was the most decorated chair ever.  ("Was"...because the ribbon has since been removed, by the kids, and used for other imaginative adventures.  Mostly wrapping each other.)

December 15, 2011

Celebrating One Year

Simon's birthday was nice and mellow, just as a first birthday ought to be.  After picking up Isabella from school we ran around Central Park for a bit.  It was lovely out so I took the opportunity to take some photos of my birthday boy.

We picked up a few cupcakes from Crumbs on our way home.  I made a special feast of fried flounder, quinoa, and salad.  (My kids' favorite meal...surprisingly.)  Then I brought out the cupcakes, which became a comedy of errors.  (Brian had to work late--he was home early both nights previously to make up for it).  So it was me, three kids (that's 30 fingers!), chocolate frosting, fire, and a camera!  I had to light that candle at least 5 times.  We sang a few times to Simon, once to Oliver and once to Isabella.  It was hilarious, fun, and a bit exhausting.

He only ate a bite or two. (I think it's the wheat?!)

Like I've said before, I feel like the first birthday is a bit of a celebration of "we did it!"  He'll never remember his first year of life, but we've worked long, hard hours taking care of these three wee ones.  It is a celebration of his first year, but it is also a celebration of our family.  We have all grown so much this last year.  We have become a better, stronger, happier family.  What a wonderful blessing it is having three beautiful children.

It's Christmas time in the city

city scenes found on my iphone

December 14, 2011

Simon: 1 year!!!

What a crazy, amazing day!  It's almost 6am and I am crying as I type this.  Where, oh where, has this year gone?!  How is it possible that my tiny baby boy is a whole year old today?!  This last year has been the best year of my life.

It is so much fun having Simon in our family.

Simon is hilarious, sweet, and expressive.  He "talks" very loudly (especially when others are chatting) and will often use his hands to make his point.  He loves his family.  He is so happy when everyone is home and he can crawl to and from each of us.

When that first beat of dancing music comes out of the speakers he dashes to Daddy and stretches his arms up as high as he can (and grunts "uh, uh, uh") until Brian picks him up and swings him around the room.

He loves to eat cheese, grapes, cheerios, quinoa and vegetable soups.  He will tolerate oatmeal if it has enough applesauce mixed in.  He won't eat anything with wheat in it.  (I'm assuming his horrible eczema was a reaction to wheat I was eating.  I was never successful eliminating it 100% from my diet.  But, fortunately he seems to have grown out of the skin reaction.)

He makes car sounds when he plays with cars.  And he loves to give kisses.  Tight lipped, with a long, "mmmmm".  Followed by a big smile.

He still take 3 hour naps every morning, which is lovely.

We recently started standing him on his own.  And the first few times he would lock his knees, get really excited, balance for 3 seconds and then fall over like a tree.  He has since learned to squat.

When he is tired he gets really, really goofy.  He will laugh at anything.

He insists on being held while I cook dinner.  He loves pulling things off counter tops.  Not a good combination in a tiny kitchen.

He gets really excited when he walks around holding onto our hands or while pushing a chair.

expert climber, not mama approved

Merry Christmas Baby Boy!  You are the most precious gift I have ever received!

December 6, 2011

Activity Advent: Catch up

We've been having so much fun with our Christmas advent activities that I haven't had a second to sit down and record it.  Since I'm covering 5 days in one post, this is a long one.

Day 1
I bought Isabella and Oliver each one of the chocolate advent calendars at Trader Joe's for two reasons: 1) they are only $1 and 2) I always wanted one as a kid, but never, ever got one.  After eating the first piece Isabella declared the chocolate as "bad".  But continues opening each window, each night with delight.  (It is pretty nasty chocolate.)

 We also watched a Christmas video from

Day 2
I finally finished the actual advent calendar (with Isabella's help, of course) and hung it up on our door.  I used sticky notes on the inside so I can change and move things around as needed.
Our activity for the day was to go see the store windows on 5th Avenue.  We timed it right so Brian could meet us after work.
 Bergdorf Goodman's windows were so always.

 We were near our favorite chicken and rice cart and needed dinner, so we waited.  
A long line = delicious food.
 On our walk home we passed Grom and had to stop for some sipping chocolate.  Grom's hot chocolate is delicious, but a bit too rich and thick to be my favorite.
Brian gave Simon his first taste of chocolate.  I think he was in heaven.
 As was Oliver.

Day 3
Our actual activity for the day was the church Christmas concert, but we had a day full of fun before the evening event.
We  headed out to find the "secret subway station".  An old beautiful station that isn't used anymore, but the downtown 6 train passes it as it turns around to head uptown after the City Hall stop.
The steps at City Hall
My camera couldn't capture the station outside the train, but here's Isabella peering out.  Here are some online photos, if you are curious.
We found ourselves at Grand Central and showed Isabella the "whispering wall".  You stand in opposite corners and talk into the corner and you can hear each other.  It's pretty fun.

Somehow we walked home via Rockefeller Center.  Whoever thought that was a good idea was nuts!  I was stuck in human gridlock on 48th & 5th Ave.  Everyone trying to go in different directions, completely stopped, body pressed up against body, just looking at each other.  I really don't how the tourbus got through.  It was the worst crowd I've ever been in (and I've been in some crazy crowds :)).

On the way to the concert we saw the firetrucks with their ladders and hoses at the ready.  It's the first time I've ever seen them actually fighting a fire (but I never saw the fire).

  We finally made it to the concert!  It was the first time we got there early enough to sit in the chapel, where it sounded fantastic!  I still feel uplifted, and that was 3 days ago!
The kids were super busy and a huge handful (since the concert started at their bedtime), but they did well considering.  It was also awesome to see so many friends we haven't seen in so long!
This is us at the end of the concert.  (Thank you, Jill!)
Day 4
We took a break from all the busy outings of the previous days and made snowflakes.

Day 5
After school we worked on making some gifts for loved ones.  It seemed to be very therapeutic for Isabella. I've tried after school art projects before, to help her decompress from school, but they haven't worked, until this one.

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