October 1, 2015

Pennsylvania Getaway.

We ventured to Pennsylvania last weekend to spend a shake of time with my parents. They like nothing more than their grandchildren, so Colette and Romy were especially glad. Colette entertained us all with her hilarious quips and Romy, in her usual way, was irresistibly sweet. Highlights included a trip to a Mennonite-run 1950’s diner – a complete delight for Xavier (true to the era in every way possible), a picturesque duck-pond/park with giant trees for climbing, the horse-drawn Amish buggies of Lancaster and mostly my mom and dad.

"I'm comfortable", said she:

September 20, 2015

Little Red Lighthouse.

We've been revisiting this little lighthouse over and over since the first time we went in 2010. The lighthouse is perched along the Hudson, dominated by the George Washington Bridge - and yet has so much presence. A great spot in the city, especially with babes. After we had already spent a while ambling on the rocks, Colette announced, "I don't want to leave this place."

September 18, 2015

Colette à l'école.

Colette began school this past week at a parochial Catholic school in our neighborhood. We often walk past and I had always wondered what kind of school it was - kids flitting in and out, decked in uniforms. I heard one rave review for the pre-K program from a parent down the street and decided to look into it, just a couple of weeks before the school year began. It turned out they had a spot in their pre-K 3 program.

I called Xavier to talk about it and that very day, he retrieved Colette from the sprinklers through which she was leaping to throw a clean dress on her and walk up the hill to the school to sit for an "interview." The director asked her seriously, "Now, Colette, why do you want to come to our school?" Colette looked at her just as seriously and replied sincerely and with conviction - cocking her head slightly, "I don't know," drawing the words out as she pronounced them. Fair enough, Colette.

She left the interview convinced and bounded back into the park to exclaim, "I'm going to school!!!!" to all of her regular friends. Right in their faces. Loud.

The first day came and she watched with a falling expression the other kids in the room who lost it. Melting and protesting and crying all around. She sat in her chair and the expression on her face was pure panic as we left the classroom. We picked her up at noon that day and the red welts under her eyes offered what she wouldn't - an explanation of her first day. We felt awful. After she went to sleep, I cried.

It's a week later now and we had back to school night last night. We met with her warm teacher and saw her classroom's stations, books, her spot and their drawings on the walls. She has art, music, gym, computer and Italian - special subjects during the week. She is learning to pray in a particular way - and we feel like if she can be open to different ways of knowing it is great for her.

She was still sad and got big tears in her eyes when we dropped her off in the morning at the start of the week, but this morning Xavier dropped her off and she shook his hand as he left and joked with him. "See ya later, à tout à l'heure, papa."

Romy started to talk 2 days after Colette started school. "Excuse me" "I want that" Sorry" "Papa shoe" etc. Without jumping to conclusions, we think the two happenings might be related.

September 5, 2015

End of summer Cape Cod.

We headed to Provincetown/Cape Cod for the "last" weekend of summer. Spending time with John and Stephen and friends there is such a feast - for all of our senses. We arrived late and the girls woke up early the next morning. I crept out of the house in low tones and Colette, Romy and I were across the street on the beach by 7am or so. Bare feet nuzzling the sand - arms stretched out like feathered creatures - I thought I might lose them to delight. Sweet to see how much nature communicates to kids - how we forget it. Their discoveries kindled those memories for me.

There is one particular walk we often take that is breathtaking - it is along the breakwater. The water is bisected by a long rock passage (which ends at quintessential Cape Cod lighthouse - Long Point Lighthouse) - and is often glassy smooth on one side and choppy on the other, more exposed side of the bay. The grasses in the bight are wavelike - oscillating with the wind. We stopped along the path and dove into the water. Tonic. Left us breathless, but in the right way. Romy jumped bravely from stone to stone, holding Uncle Stephen's hand. Couldn't get enough of the challenge.

Xavier brought kites - brilliantly. Colette was thrilled at the idea of holding onto an almost invisible string, guiding a swooping thing in flight above her.

Mostly confident, but sometimes it got scary.

She had good tutelage.

Some of the prettiest light streaming through those windows, framing pretty little faces.

Pure time with family and close friends.

Love these two beauties.

August 26, 2015

Hudson Valley.

We headed out of the city to beautiful country – just north of the city, along the Hudson River. We found a farm to stay at and the girls snorted like pigs and ran around in grass that outstretched their legs. At night the lullaby was crickets and owls – a new chorus for city girls. Roasted marshmallows and s’mores – a first for little Parisian Marguerite. Hiking/cresting to see blue mountains in the distance and a spinach woodland below. We read about trees – and tried to match the pictures of leaves to the animate versions all around. We reflected on being separated from all of this – living in such a built-up space, where a small patch of green can pose as nature – about how shocking it can be for senses filled with the city to suddenly absorb stillness and the denseness of green.

At some point, the farmer went into the barn and resurfaced with 3 kittens in his arms. Romy reached out and circled her little hand around one of the kitten’s necks and almost choked it with excitement.

And then we stopped at Storm King Art Center - an open air museum - a revelation. It had always been on my list, but I'd never taken the time to do it. Now we are obsessed. The girls roamed without restraint - art far and wide. Fields and hills and woodlands and 500-acres with a hundred or more sculptures. I want to go back with a proper camera and fall leaves...

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