Drawing ducks in Central Park
When we decided to bring new sketch books and markers with us, we couldn’t imagine the impact they would have on our trip. We carried the books and markers with us all over New York City. The biggest lesson for me was to not influence what they drew. This lesson came pretty early in the trip when the boys wanted to draw a nuclear power plant that we were driving by. It seemed to defeat the point to say no, so each of their sketch books begin with a drawing of the gray towers of the power plant. The next few pages are filled with a variety of cars, trucks, rocks and water towers. A five-hour car trip is definitely a good portion of the trip so it seems appropriate to document it.
Stopping to draw when inspiration struck helped us to slow down and truly enjoy our surroundings. When we visited Battery Park, the boys colored the Staten Island Ferry, water taxis, helicopters, flowers and of course the Statue of Liberty. They were having so much fun coloring, we bought bagels and coffee and just relaxed, enjoying the view. We stopped throughout Central Park and of course the Museum of Natural History. Before going to the museum, we anticipated the dinosaurs being the big draw; but they really enjoyed drawing the Aztec artifacts.
By leaving the days open to change, we truly wandered and enjoyed the sights. We were a little early to dinner with friends in the Village and the boys played chess in Washington Square. They couldn’t wait to draw this experience when we got back to the hotel. They also drew pictures of themselves with the Smurfs in Times Square. There is a great collection of what they saw in the city.
It is fun to look through these great keepsakes and see a new city from the perspective of a five and seven-year old. There are many differences and similarities in their books. One is much more animal and nature oriented while the other is more interested in the structures. They have shown their books to friends, family, teachers and classmates. It is so much fun to hear their animated stories as they explain each picture. Hopefully, they will continue to enjoy drawing and we can continue to build great memories in our heads as well as in sketch books!!
I began yoga as a dancer looking for fitness and over the years, I have begun to appreciate all that it does for me physically, mentally and spiritually. There was one aspect I still didn’t enjoy – chanting or even an om at the beginning or end of class. It somehow made me feel as if I were a yogi impostor. Simply, I didn’t get it. As I continued to practice and share my practice with others, I avoided the chanting. I would go along with it in class, but it never had any meaning for me.
The opportunity presented itself to attend a day-long intensive with Shiva Rea and I jumped at it! I traveled to New York City with my husband and children and set off on an adventure. I chose the one day intensive so that I could have a great yoga experience, but not miss out on enjoying the city with my family. This was one of my better ideas. I woke up early on Friday and made sure the kids and my husband were ready for the day and I walked uptown to the Yoga Journal Conference. I had no idea what to expect and began to feel a little nervous and anxious on my walk. I didn’t know a single person going and I had no idea what to expect. I knew they were adding vegan options to restaurant menus at the conference and I had enjoyed a large cheeseburger the night before. Was I going to be alone in my love of meat? Was I going to be the only person who didn’t know the meanings of all the chants?
Turns out it didn’t matter. No one knew that I had a cheeseburger the night before, it simply didn’t come up. Luckily for me, Shiva Rea went over all the meanings of our chants at the beginning of our time together and they are beautiful. After registration, I went and found coffee and met a few people who had traveled in for the day. They were extremely nice and some were also moms. We talked until it was time to find our teachers and prepare for the day ahead.
We began our time with Shiva Rea chanting “Om” as one. It was one of the most amazing experiences! To feel the large group come together collectively took away any fear or discomfort that I had been feeling. It was a moment of harmony that stayed with us through the whole day. Our day included some power point and wonderful explanation from Shiva and we moved collectively through Namaskars. For the second half of the day, we set up our mats in a mandala (life is wholeness, be and see 360 degrees). It was extremely powerful to share the practice in this way. As you were in yourself, you could see the movement and energy ripple across the group.
Moving forward, I hope to practice in this way as often as possible. Moving as a group with intention and sharing the overall experience is something I will never forget! It has come with me when I teach classes myself and I am looking forward to sharing a collective experience, beginning with an “Om”!
Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th Avenue and West 47th Street in Times Square in New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We live in Massachusetts and are on April vacation this week. Unlike February vacation, we went away with the kids this time. When the boys were very young we traveled all over the world with them and then didn’t travel for a while. Surprisingly, a lot of the planning is similar. When preparing for long distance travel it is essential to bring a bag of tricks. This bag includes new activities and special snacks. Now that the boys are older, we packed new sketch books and markers so that they can document their trip to New York City. I didn’t anticipate the desire to draw different cars and sights on the five-hour drive, but it entertained them. We also bought a new DVD to play in the portable player, but didn’t use it until our second night in the hotel. We have found that it gives the boys some downtime in the hotel. We also plan a small budget to pick up a small toy in the new place. This rewards the good behavior and mixes up the items that you brought. I also packed snacks that would both fill them and provide some nutritional value.
Another crucial step comes before leaving the house, research. With two little boys, space to run is very important! We always look for parks on the map and make sure we leave open time for them to run around and play (this does not work in Paris – you aren’t allowed on the grass). It is important to pick age appropriate activities. Remember that you are on a family vacation and that it’s important to pick places that work for everyone. Don’t expect small children to behave in long lines – they don’t understand what they are waiting for and it can be stressful for you.
Before traveling to New York, we looked up the different museums and the Met http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/ offers a variety of itineraries for different age groups. It was on this site that I got the idea for the sketch books. Last year, we brought printer paper stapled together and the boys made a book of our overnight trip. So this seemed like a natural progression. They also give suggestions for families with different age children. We are planning to visit the Museum of Natural History tomorrow – what is better than dinosaurs when you are 5 and 7? As part of our research, we discovered they have a discovery zone in addition to the general exhibits. The plan is to complete the museum outing with running around in Central Park. One of their favorite parts of the trip so far has been walking to Times Square. You never know what will excite them, but you want to have a variety of options. We have changed our itinerary everyday to go with the kids moods and level of energy. We had considered taking them to a show, but they have been falling asleep at dinner (6 PM) so a show seems like it would be a disaster – something to save for another trip.
The key to positive family travel is planning, a few treats and flexibility. If you are prepared, you can go with the flow! Enjoy your travels!!!
Macro shot of a box of clementines, Citrus reticulata 'Clementine' . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all know that fresh fruit and vegetables are good for us, but they often get thrown into the refrigerator drawer and forgotten about. Often when we are hungry, we want a quick fix and cutting up fruit and veggies can be a pain. The key is to make fruit and vegetables the easy choice.
Buying fruit that can be washed and put into a bowl on the counter is a great place to start. Most kids love apples, bananas and clementines (you probably love them too when you think to eat one). By having them on the counter they can help themselves. The next time they say they are hungry or want a snack, direct them to the fruit bowl. Eventually, they will do it on their own.
Another way to make eating fresh produce easy is to prepare it when you get home from the store. In my house, I have to ration the melon. I cut up the cantaloupe or watermelon and put them into single serving containers. This makes it easy for the kids to grab but they don’t sit with the big container and eat it all in one sitting. I do the same thing for grapes.
Next, is veggies. Baby carrots are a staple in my home. The boys take them from the fridge and eat many a day. Cucumbers are another easy one to prepare ahead. You can cut them in circles or into sticks and put them into containers. I mix it up with the kids so it seems different. Celery is another one to prepare ahead. Basically, it is all about making the fruits and veggies easy to grab finger foods.
Preparing single servings ahead of time is not only easier around the house, but makes it easy to pack them in lunches or for a snack on an outing. Maybe take the family for a walk and enjoy some fresh produce in the middle of your adventure. It will help refresh you and keep you going.
Enjoy the warmer weather and all that it gives us!!
My oldest son turned seven yesterday and I have been a stay at home mom since right before he was born. My youngest is five and will be entering full-day kindergarten in the fall. It has been many years of playgroups, story-hours, preschool chatter, etc. Here comes the “now what?” moment. Knowing this time was coming and not being great at sitting around the house, I began thinking about what direction I wanted to go in a while back. It was a time to look at my different skill sets and passions. Ironically, I have wound up where I wanted to be after graduating from college. I am able to dance and teach pilates.
It was definitely a process to reach this point. First and foremost, I had to get back in shape after having two babies. I went back to taking yoga and pilates regularly. A few moms from preschool and playgroup were looking for toddler tap, so I reached out to a studio that didn’t offer tap and began teaching friends’ kids. Eventually, I began subbing for the director and I created a class for adults. None of these ventures were particularly successful; but they kept me moving in the right direction. I went on to earn my pilates certification and began teaching pilates immediately.
After getting my certification, I knew I needed to build a reputation and teach as often as possible. In just a few short months, I am finding that many opportunities are coming at times that are not convenient for the family. My initial reaction is always to say yes, and I am training myself to say no when the time is right. I went from having nothing other than the family to many projects going on at once. What is the correct balance?
Honestly, I am much more efficient when I have a tight schedule. The house tends to be cleaner and the fridge is stocked on days that I have a lot to do and on days when I am not heavily scheduled I can seriously spend the day surfing the internet, catching up on my DVR, etc. Now comes the challenge of balancing efficiency and not burning out. Like many people, I am still working to find this balance. Remembering to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family. Finding personal fulfillment so that I am a happier and more relaxed mom. It is definitely a work in progress, but I am thankful to have the opportunity to pursue a career that I love and spend quality time with my husband and boys.