Casual Friday + NYC Recommendations?

Another week and, as usual, I’m glad it’s Friday. It was a productive (and largely enjoyable) week. But still, the relief and sense of expansive freedom provided by Friday evenings just can’t be replicated.

My (admittedly superficial) highlight of the week? We got Wordle in two tries. Our family celebration would rival any touchdown dance at the Superbowl.


Before I launch into my weekly recap, I want to, once again, offer a disclaimer. I don’t intend for people to feel obligated to read every word of these posts; skimming is expected/encouraged.

I regularly export the text from my blog, and these Friday summaries represent a family diary of sorts…which doesn’t necessarily translate into riveting reading for others.

Without further ado, the week that was:

FRIDAY |

My second Soup-and-Sandwich Oasis lunch for 2022 was wonderful. We had soup (carrot, squash, and lentil). We had a sandwich (tuna, tomato, cheese, garlic, and green onion on potato bread, grilled to perfection on a panini press). And then we each ate an Aero bar. And the tea, as always, was brewed to perfection.

Home in time to tackle work tasks and greet the kids.

We headed out to do some errands and promised the kids a playground. It started raining en route, but wonderfully the clouds parted and we got a favourite park – complete with ziplines – all to ourselves.

SATURDAY | This was, without a doubt, my ideal Saturday. If I had to repeat a Saturday, this would be the very type of Saturday I’d choose. It might sound boring, but I love “incidentally-productive puttering” and this day was full of that.

I woke up at 2:30 am (ugh) and fit in three hours of work in the office (amazing). I got back to sleep from 5:30-6:30 am and realized the best night to have disturbed sleep is Saturday morning because it is the only morning we don’t have a set/early schedule. I relaxed in bed until John took the kids on a walk.

While they were gone I did a quick grocery run and made a batch of muffins (these, always).

Levi hosted a friend for an impromptu playdate. Within seconds of this friend arriving they were playing chess on the couch. So cute! Meanwhile, John, Abby and I started planning stops on our summer trip to NYC/Boston!

We tackled more landscaping projects. Twice a year (spring/fall) our local sanitation department offers “big garbage” cleanup, so we took some items left from renovations to the curb.

After lunch we made a quick stop at my favourite thrift store. I know I’ve been going a lot recently, but…it’s fun. We spent $18 and got 5 items, all great finds that fill holes (literally, in the case of pants for Levi, and proverbially) in our wardrobes.

Home to clean the car (vacuum, scrub).

I spontaneously asked a friend if she could walk and she was available. We fit in a 6 km loop and I managed to get a great stack of books from the library while getting my new card activated. Notably, on this walk, my friend casually mentioned she was pretty sure she knew “The Knitter“. Alas, “The Knitter” does have a name and it is not, shockingly enough, “The Knitter“.

Home to do laundry.

Date-night* with John (he made a delicious supper), while the kids had a sleepover.

*The only lowlight of this Saturday was our movie selection; we watched The Batman and I hated it. I was expecting something akin to the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale movies, which I really enjoyed. This version was much grittier – dark and devoid of any redeeming qualities (to me). I kept waiting for it to get better (or be over; it was so much longer than I anticipated). I should have cut my losses and abandoned this movie within the first 10 minutes when I could sense it was not going to be my thing. Live and learn.

That one hiccup aside, this was my idea of a perfect Saturday. No pressure, no set plans, but with a nice balance of productive puttering.

SUNDAY | Church. No sign of “The Knitter,” but it was a wonderful service.

Weeks ago a friend mentioned an interest in having “fun friends – like the type that will go to concerts with you.” That same day I messaged her about a free concert series locally…and Sunday we went together.

While I still don’t love classical, the pianist was superb and I really enjoyed my time. I also walked to/from to fit in my daily km.

Book highlights with the kids. The Odd One Out was a very engaging hide-and-seek-style book and was our favourite of the week. Petal the Angry Cow had a bit of “rude sass” but the kids loved this so much I had to include it!

MONDAY |

It was my turn to host our small group discussing friendship. (I don’t actually belong to a book club; we’re just a group of women coming together to specifically discuss Jennie Allen’s book Find Your People.)

This week was all about vulnerability with close friends, and we ended up sharing some hard stuff in deeply personal ways.

I’ve had mixed feelings about this book (mostly because of how dissimilar I am from the very extroverted author), but this week was my favourite. It made me think of one of my favourite quotes:

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. Timothy Keller

I feel known and loved by this little group of women (and hope they feel the same). It was just a very powerful experience.

I’m reading a book right now (This One Wild and Precious Life – Sarah Wilson) that classifies most relationships in our modern era as being “connection-lite” which the author terms as “the cheap, diet version of showing up to others and to life.” There is a place for casual friendships, of course, but “like the diet version of anything, it leaves us hungry for the real thing. You know, full-fat life.” Food for thought and I’m glad to be forming relationships with others that are deliciously “full-fat”.

Down to the office for hours of work, a walk, and then over an hour at a playground where the kids reveled in the sunshine, playing soccer and doing flips off the equipment.

Home for supper. There were lots of complaints – so. many. complaints – over an objectively delicious Ham, Lentil, and Vegetable soup and, for the record, one of Abby’s friends spontaneously came for supper and ate TWO BOWLS of said soup.

Reading with Levi. I love these moments. Watching him learn to read is like getting the front row seat to a magic show. His world is opening up more and more each day.

TUESDAY |

Back to that “big garbage” cleanup I mentioned (think old couches, desk chairs, books, empty paint cans). This happens each spring and fall and is…an event. For a week trucks and cars with trailers patrol neighbourhoods, looking for hidden gems. Tuesday morning on the way to school, I collected (spotted by John!) a like-new Herschel backpack from a neighbour’s pile. I can imagine some might find this odd/unsettling, but where I live it is 100% normal. To me, the only thing better than something thrifted is something free. I also wanted a backpack with a laptop sleeve. I’ve been using a bag (thrifted) for the last two years that I don’t love. It works, but I was thrilled to pass it on to another home and start using this more aesthetically pleasing (and functional) backpack!

In between work tasks, I did a 5 km run with John on the waterfront. We had a tough headwind on the way back, but it felt great. I tend to give myself layers of goals: run this far in this amount of time at this pace. This time my goal was to get to 5 km; given the wind, my time of 32:18 felt like a success.

Highlight of the day: coming home and tackling a fun work project with John. So satisfying.

Lunch and then I worked in our home office until supper. John took the kids to a local park and sent these pictures. They have a good life.

In other news: I sent “The Knitter” an e-mail introducing myself. This makes me seem more extroverted than I am. At worst I figured she would think I was crazy; at best, I’d make a new connection/friend. Life is short.

Supper was another gong show. I thought I would make the leftover soup experience more pleasant by offering a surprisingly-rare grilled cheese sandwich to accompany it. Somehow one child heard there was something “special” for supper, walked in the door, took a whiff, and thought they smelled equally rare, but more celebrated, souffle pancakes. This child then proceeded to wail and gnash teeth upon learning it was “only grilled cheese” which we have “all the time” (we do not have grilled cheese all the time, by the way; #realitydistortion). And all this fuss was before they learned the soup they disliked was also on the menu.

It ended up being fine and the soup was tolerated. Onward and upward.

WEDNESDAY |

Rain, so no walk to school.

With this extra time, Levi learned how to tie shoelaces. In like 10 minutes. How do these things happen so fast? He’ll now have this skill mastered for the rest of his life. The days are long, but the years (and skill development) can fly by.

(For the record, I love that Velcro can now be found on shoes for all ages. But still. This feels like another milestone ticked off, in a bittersweet way.)

It was a sluggish start to the day and I felt tired and unmotivated. I have some big – but decidedly “unfun” – work tasks to tackle that don’t have a set deadline so they just feel unwieldy. Such is life.

Work.

Work calls.

Work.

I met “The Knitter” for coffee. Seriously.

Library run, and two texts: my best friend wondering if she could pop over with her kids for a spontaneous visit (she brought hot chocolate in a Thermos and I sent her home with two little baggies of seeds – flax and sunflower – because in addition to sharing hard stuff, this is another wonderful aspect of our “full-fat” friendship; on Thursday I gave her a skirt, two winter hats, and my old laptop bag. She gave me 6 potatoes. I’m not making any of this up).

The second text was for Abby to join a friend at a bring-a-friend dance class.

I wrote down two quotes from The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker.

  • Decide what, among the things you notice, you might declare to be public works of art. Perhaps a disheveled pylon marking a street flaw…Grant yourself the superpower of making “art” wherever you go, and see how that changes what you perceive. Art is everywhere if you say so.
  • We may never be able to recapture exactly the feeling of looking at the world before we’d spent so much time looking at the world. But next time you are confronted with some scene or situation that feels numbingly familiar, stop and ask: What would a child see here?

Incidentally, I didn’t finish this book – it was overwhelming in the number of exercises it suggests (131) which felt like too much of a “good thing.”

I did a lot of reading after the kids went to bed (some All Creatures, some of Matt Haig’s The Comfort Book, some of C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, more of the Sarah Wilson book).

THURSDAY |

Another sluggish start to the day. I didn’t feel like I needed more sleep, just more of that familiar “moving through molasses” sensation. Oh well. Things felt better the longer I was up and moving.

Walked the kids to school.

Work calls.

Another short walk.

Work.

I put in some solid effort on those no-set-deadline-“unfun” tasks. I appreciate the flexibility I have working from home, for the most part at my own pace and schedule. I sent a slow of work e-mails last week at 5 am, but can also head to the park with my kids at 3:30 pm and no one cares. That said, it can be tough to stay focused. And I thrive on structure, gold stars, crossing things off. I remembered for the 47,569th time – making a list helps me put everything in focus. I took the time to write down every single item I could think of that needs doing (and gave myself some specific deadlines in the process). They all still need doing, but I have a plan and that disproportionately boosted my mood.

It was rainy, so we invited friends over for a movie afternoon once school was over. The kids watched Luca, and the adults chatted.

Supper.

Bible Club for the kids; while they were occupied, John and I made another visit to the library and a quick stop by Walmart.

NYC Recommendations?

Now let’s make a giant tangent over to our New York City planning. Any hidden gems you think we should check out? This will be the kid’s first time visiting NYC!!

We’re currently planning the following (these aren’t arranged by any sort of itinerary; we’ll organize our days to minimize walking for the kids):

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, taking the Staten Island Ferry, and going to Broadway (Aladdin is our first choice, because the kids love the movies, but other options include The Lion King or Wicked).

The kids are obsessed with the Night at the Museum movies, so we’re aiming to get to the American Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building (we plan to go to the top), Rockefeller Centre, and the 9/11 Memorial.

We’ll hit a few major sights in Central Park, swing by the Plaza for some pictures (Home Alone is a full-blown obsession), go to a few of the chocolate stores in Times Square…those stops should be self-explanatory.

We’re planning on a chunk of a day at Coney Island (John and I have never been and we’ll plan to get hotdogs). We’ll walk through FAO Schwartz, Macy’s and the LEGO store, and head to Wall Street to see the Bull.

We might do the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday (free). Thanks to Kae we’re also planning to go to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Roosevelt Island Lighthouse.

I have a few playgrounds pinned (namely the Ancient Playground and the Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park).

We might try for the MET (think this would be a stretch for the kids, though I’d love to spend a day here and I’ve still never been to The Cloisters), and we’ll swing by the NYC Public library.

We will skip The High Line (we’ve done this twice and the last thing the kids need will be more walking), and John and I have already done “Top of the Rock”, hence doing the Empire State Building this time.


How was your week – does anyone else adore Fridays? Any NYC recommendations (feel free to leave suggestions in the comments or e-mail them to elisabethfrostblog {at } gmail.com). What do you think about the distinction Sarah Wilson makes between “connection-lite” friendships, and the “full-fat” variety?

Header photo by Christian Ladewig on Unsplash

32 thoughts on “Casual Friday + NYC Recommendations?”

  1. Oooh I LOVE NYC but I’ve never been with the kids! I’m going again next weekend with 2 of my friends, and can’t wait. I also really want to go to the Cloisters but it’s just such a long haul from where we’ve stayed that it never has felt worth it to make the trek.

    A few things I suggest, especially with kids:
    Little Island – this will be a new thing for me, but seems pretty fun and kid-centric: https://littleisland.org/
    Instead of Staten Island Ferry, try one of the other NYC ferry routes – they’re smaller boats and much nicer – same price as the subway: https://www.ferry.nyc/ (I think SI Ferry is free but this is a way better experience in my opinion)

    1. Little Island looks incredible – I may have squealed when I Googled this. How cool! We’re not even going to tell the kids about this park, it will be a fun surprise. I’ve officially added it to our must-see map.
      And a great hint about the NYC ferry route. I’ve done the Staten Island Ferry once (it is free), but it is big and busy and quite a distance from the Statue of Liberty.

      1. It’s a bummer the Coney Island route isn’t going yet for the ferry, BUT you could take the South Brooklyn ferry route from Wall St. to Bay Ridge and I’m guessing you’d see the Statue of Liberty, and if my map abilities are correct, you could fairly easily get to a subway stop that would directly take you to Coney Island.

  2. I understand Sarah Wilson’s concept of “connection-lite” relationships. Not that I like them, but that does seem to be the way it is now with almost all people who I [sort of] know. I place the blame on FB and the devaluation of the word ‘friend.’

    You met The Knitter? I’m charmed by this and that you got 6 potatoes. Truly charmed.

    I glanced through a copy of The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker and decided I liked his idea because it jives with my belief that we all need to pay more attention to the details in our lives BUT no way was I going to do 131 exercises. Impressed that you tried.

    1. I met The Knitter!! Turns out we know a lot of the same people (not that shocking in a town our size). We’re now planning to have dinner together soon with our families.
      Outside of the idea of declaring something to be art, I didn’t attempt any of the rest of the exercises in The Art of Noticing. Just too overwhelming. Maybe 10 would have been about the right number to suggest?

  3. Ooooh, NYC! Fun! I haven’t been there since 2003 so I a) have forgotten everything, and b) probably any recommendations I might have will be out of date. I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

    That’s interesting, the “connection-lite.” I have a lot of friendships like that for sure, probably because of social media, but I often think if it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t have connections with those people at all. And sometimes, those connections, for me, can get stronger.

    I haven’t read The Art of Noticing, but I like the concept. I try to notice little things all the time, it’s what makes life fun, I think.

    1. Such a great point. I think “lite” connections are an important part of our relational network, for sure. I think her argument (and maybe mine too), is for some people that might be the only form of connections they have now? Or they forgo the cost of “full-fat” friendships (time and vulnerability, for example) in exchange for the “easier” form of connection.
      That said, we ALL have to start at “lite” in our friendships, as you mention, and these can morph over time to become much richer.
      Noticing stuff is fun. Like toilet paper patterns – apparently the brand we have now has both flowers AND hearts stamped into it (is that TMI?). We’ve been using this brand regularly for years, but I…never noticed.

  4. Fridays are the absolute best day of the week. They’re generally slow for me at work and I can take off most of the afternoon and then I have the anticipation of the weekend!

  5. Ooh, a trip to NYC! So fun! I haven’t been since 2013, aside from some trips to work and I do not do anything fun on those trips so they don’t count! But I visited twice in 2013 as I had a friend that lived on the UWS. So I would stay with her in her teeny tiny charming apartment and take in the city. It was wonderful! I highly recommend checking out The Tenement Museum (https://www.tenement.org/) It’s a living museum about immigration/families living in the tenements of the lower east side. I went with my friend but thought it would be excellent for families because you aren’t just walking through a museum. There are different tours to go on, I think we did the shop keepers. You would move through a series of rooms and find out how the families lived back then. So it was instructive, but in an interesting way that is very kid-friendly and would be great for your kids’ ages!

    I feel like I have fewer casual friendships since having kids. I don’t have as much time to dedicate to friendships, so they need to be of the full-fat variety in general. I have some casual friendships still, of course, but I really try to focus in on the more valuable friendships where I can be real and vulnerable!

  6. Oh, that book title- This One Wild and Precious Life- makes me want to read the book, not even knowing anything about it! And, The Art of Noticing is a book? I read his newsletter but didn’t realize he had also written a book. Based on your comments, the newsletter is probably perfect for me. He definitely has some good stuff.
    Sounds like you had an amazing and full week!
    Your trip to NYC sounds incredible. You have such a full agenda already, I can’t imagine adding anything. I lived there for years and never did some of the things you’re planning on (still kicking myself for never getting to The Cloisters.)
    Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Honestly, This One Wild and Precious Life was a tough slog. The first 30 pages were great, and the next 200 were painful (to me). Circular writing, confusing tone…and, to me, at a lot of hypocritical activity (she talks at length about her distain for anyone that uses a single-use cup and how she would approach people at cafe’s and nicely berate them…but then she flies all over the world to go on nature hikes). I skimmed the whole book waiting for it to get better but, alas, it didn’t (for me).
      It will be a busy few days, but we like to pack in adventures and, in a city, things are so close together. Weather will impact things too, of course. A few days of rain could put a (literal and proverbial) damper on things!

  7. I was also going to recommend Little Island. Bonus – it has clean public restrooms. 🙂
    Coney Island is fun.
    I recently did the Circle Line Landmarks Cruise with a visitor, which took us very close to the statue of liberty, and then up under the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. It was a nice boat tour if you don’t want to get off at the statue but want to get close enough to take photos.
    This is probably too far out, but the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum in Flushing is awesome and a hidden gem. In Flushing Meadows Park, you can also see the Unisphere and the NYS Pavilion (also seen in the Men in Black movie). It’s at the second to last stop on the 7 train.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I’m making note of everything!
      Finding clean bathrooms is such a win on a trip, and Little Island looks so cool.
      I looked up the Circle Line Landmark Cruise and it looks great. (Though with lots of expensive things, the freeness of the Staten Island Ferry is appealing)…

  8. I have not been to New York. It is on my list of places to visit so I’m soaking in the ideas. I’m trying to fly to Hamilton in June for a “long” weekend but airlines… arrgh.
    I love the overview. It’s like day in a life; overview and key moments style!

    I so am with you on the complaining. My son is much better as he seems to be growing constantly and always hungry. But my daughter? A totally different kid that has her few things she likes and does not budge. at. all. nope. not. an. inch. or cm. For now, I keep it simple and mostly to things she will eat and if we have something I know she won’t, there is always a component that she can survive on for that meal.

    Happy Friday!

    1. It can be hard to balance everyone’s likes and dislikes. I will say the kids are great eaters. They don’t have to “love” everything but most of the time they’ll eat things without complaint (just much smaller servings!).
      The hardest thing is when they flip-flop. For years homemade chicken noodle soup was their absolute favourite soup and now they don’t like it? I still make it, occasionally and they eat it (amidst sighing), but nothing changed!
      Hope you’re able to go see Hamilton!!

  9. Such a soothing recap of your days…this sounds like it was really a wonderful week. You seem to have such amazing “balance” of so many great things! I am also really impressed with your social calendar- people stopping by, coffee dates, concerts! Wow! I feel like I have done absolutely nothing social with anyone outside my family in ages. It doesn’t generally bother me, but I don’t know, maybe I should be making more of an effort in that area. I’m not super great at that.

    And yay to NYC! I hope my itinerary was useful. We had SUCH a blast on that trip. My parents were along then too and my Dad frequently comments even today how the NYC trip was one of his favorites of all times. It’s so spectacular. Just so fun! Our boys had a blast at Coney Island. We most definitely had hot dogs on the boardwalk too. Where are you staying in NYC?

    I’ve never been to Boston, but that’s on my list too. We had considered trying to loop it into our New England trip last summer, but ultimately decided to table it for another time. Boston would be a good stand-alone destination for us- it’s not a far flight, and we could do a long weekend even maybe sometime. So I think it was a good choice. But I’m looking forward to it- I’ve heard great things!

    Have a wonderful weekend, Elisabeth! Hope this one is as nice as last weekend. 🙂 We have a busy day tomorrow with volleyball games and a swim meet, but Sunday is wide open. Well, I actually just bought tickets to go see our local high school’s performance of Mama Mia. I love that music/ movie/ show- I’m so excited!! We’ll all go, the 4 of us. I think the boys will enjoy it too. They’ve been to many shows and always like them. We saw School of Rock in NYC and that was perfect for them, at their ages. It was amazing. The music/ band stuff was right up their alley, and all the kid actors….so great!!! I’d highly recommend it if it’s still an option. Someone told me before we went that Wicked isn’t the greatest for kids, really… not their top choice. I’ve never seen it though. We’ve seen Lion King and that is wonderful too of course.

    1. I feel like I’m just coming out of all the COVID separation from people. But I’m realizing how much it’s good (for me, but also for others) to form community. I do have to say that working from home part-time allows me a level of flexibility most people don’t have so it’s important to acknowledge how hard it can be to fit in time with others in a typical 9-5 work week!
      Your itinerary was great! We all so excited. We’re staying in New Jersey (we’ve always stayed in Jersey and take a shuttle to the Port Authority).
      I have a feeling Wicked wouldn’t be the best for kids. John and I have seen Newsies and Mary Poppins on Broadway before and they LOVE both of those. I think Aladdin or Lion King will be solid hits?! We might even try to fit in both? School of Rock sounds like a lot of fun; I didn’t see it listed when I looked at what was currently playing but I’ll check again!

  10. I’m not sure I’d recommend the Bronx Zoo for a busy trip. It’s kind of a hike from other attractions, and the free admission doesn’t include the cool kid-pleasing stuff. Only the actual animals, which can be disappointing. There is a smaller but more animal-dense zoo in Central Park but I don’t think it’s ever free.

    Depending on your kids’ ages and interests they might enjoy the Museum of Mathematics near Madison Square Park. If you’re looking for lunch in the area, Eataly is a fun Italian market / restaurant/ tourist attraction.

    The traditional post-AMNH lunch is Shake Shack. Download the app and order ahead to minimize wait, and be aware that seating in the restaurant is very limited. If you still want dessert after that, Levain is a few blocks away and has the best cookies in pretty much the known universe. (I’m going to stop listing UWS food destinations now, but there are many more.)

    1. Great tips. The Bronx Zoo was a bit of a stretch (and we were planning to go see a Yankees matinee on Wednesday, but have scrapped that idea)!
      I’ve heard so much about the Shake Shack but never been.

  11. I only do full-fat, in relationships and real life.
    Well, I guess that not quite true. I’ve enjoyed the occasional low-fat version of dairy and I do have a few friendships that one would consider connection-lite, but I usually always thrive to reach full fat level. It’s just not possible in many situations.

    I am excited you’re going to NYC and Boston. Esp. Boston. It’s my all-time favorite city!

  12. All week I’ve been listening to and singing a song by Tauren Wells which seems like it must have been based off of that Tim Keller quote:

    “I’m fully known and loved by You
    You won’t let go no matter what I do
    It’s not one or the other
    It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
    To he known – fully known and loved by You.”

    1. Listening to this song right now; never heard it before.
      Hard truth, ridiculous grace…and great joy.

  13. Wow, your week is impressively busy although I am sure if I wrote down all that I did each day it would be equally so. For an introvert you are socialising a lot, I am guessing you live in biggish town as we rarely get people dropping by but that also be that our friends do not live in our village and most live a considerable drive away. So lovely to hear that you have connected with the Knitter, I hope it is a good friendship.

    I do agree with the connection lite and full fat friendship analogy, I like to have both in my life. Connection lite are acquaintances for me, people whom I like having in my life but I will never be ‘friends’ with, such as the folks who work in all the independent shops in my local town with whom I chat to every time I go in, I know lots about their lives but we will never do anything together beyond that. I also have a handful of friends in my life who are all very much full fat friendships, I cannot manage lots of these, they are so important to me that I spend time on them so I keep them to a few. I do have a few kinda in-between people in my lives who I would not call friends but they are more than an acquaintance not sure what I would call them though?

    I visited New York and Boston but it was so long ago, New York in 1992 (just realised that is 30 years ago -wow!!!) and Boston in 2001. In both cities I was there for a short period waiting for flights home to the UK. We did a bus tour in New York which was fun but I have absolutely no idea where we went it is too long ago to remember now, in Boston we went on a walking tour which I also enjoyed, I remember going to the ship that was involved in the tea party, I have no idea if that was guided or if we just walked from a book/map/leaflet, no smartphones then! I had to smile when I read the previous comments suggesting that 2013 was a long time ago! I am now remembering that I had just finished university when I went to New York, I was travelling with the older brother of someone I was at uni with. His children had moved to New York with their mother and he had custody of them for parts of each school holidays, he asked me to come with him to help him look after them, we took them to Florida, to Disneyland and to the Keys. He paid for everything which meant I nearly wasn’t allowed in the country. We had to fly via New York to pick the children up and the flights home were such that we had 24 hours in New York. Those children will now be 34 and 36, I cannot believe that was thirty years ago! Thank you for taking me on an inadvertent trip down memory lane.

    1. We live in a fairly small town (~3-4,000 people; well, that’s small to me) but things are pretty close together?
      It was a busy week, but it felt like a time to say “yes” as much as possible and it was fun.
      Time and memory is so interesting; things really do seem so recent at times. I always feel this way when I hear about someone I babysat of knew when they were “little” is grown/married/having children. It’s like – “What?” I got a graduation card from my niece the other day and it really does feel like it could have been a few weeks ago I was visiting her as an infant. Time flies…

  14. I’ve had The Art of Noticing on my shelf for quite some time now and haven’t gotten through much of it. Not because I don’t like it – quite the contrary I find the parts I do read really meaningful. Rather, I think it’s that I don’t think it’s a book that I’ll ever read in the traditional sense of cover to cover – I pick it up now and again when I’m feeling blah and need an exercise to get me out of my head and be more mindful of the things around me, or when I need inspiration for ways to engage the kids when we are out for a walk.
    New York is exciting! I used to go a lot when I was in college – our music department regularly had opera tickets that students could enter a lottery for, and I also had several friends who lived there. It seemed so glamorous and essential and I thought it would be so cool to live there myself one day. But after I graduated, I lived there for two weeks while between jobs and realized that while I loved visiting, I didn’t want to live somewhere where the choices were infinite and the pace unrelenting. I’m sure it’s not like that for everyone, but it certainly was overwhelming for me.
    We actually just went up to NYC for the day – took the 6am train up and the 6:45pm train home, and it was kind of a perfect day getaway. We went on one of the Tenement Museum tours and walked the Brooklyn Bridge and walked through neighborhoods and just sat and watched people and life go by. How fascinating the people watching is! People in New York dress with so much more originality and freedom than people here in DC. Seeing all the different fashion choices was probably a highlight of my trip.
    I love that you met up with “The Knitter”. I love that you reached out in the first place.

    1. Yes – this is definitely a book that needs to be picked up for inspiration over time. I got this book from the library and don’t think I love it enough to buy a copy (I’m a reluctant “buyer”).
      People-watching in a city is so, so fun. And day trips are the perfect scenario. We’ll be trying to cram a lot into a few days, but I think the kids will also help us slow down more than usual, too. Their natural limitations and view of the world will colour this trip to NYC in different ways, I’m sure. I’m excited and also slightly wary of how overwhelming it will be (DON’T LOSE THE CHILDREN!!!), as they have never really been to a big city yet (or not since they’ve been old enough to be out of a stroller). But it will be a fun adventure!

  15. Oh, my – I am envious of your trip to NYC and Boston. Both cities that I have not visited in far too long. I’m glad to hear that you know the “trick” of staying in NJ and taking the bus into the city. Having stayed in Manhattan, I can attest to the miniscule hotel rooms (for non-miniscule prices…). I hope you have a wonderful time – any recommendations I would give would be sadly out of date. But, I will share a fun, hm, “thing?” (I know, how specific…) my parents used to do with us in art museums. My father collects antique eyeglasses (not your run of the mill flea market/antique shop finds, but rather those that are truly rare), and any time my brother or I found eyeglasses in a painting, we’d get a quarter. 🙂 It helped us learn to look at art and really see it – to look for the details, and to get excited about what we saw. Both of us grew up to be museum lovers (something I have missed, so much, during COVID) and I suspect this might have played a part. I don’t know if something like this would help your kids if you did want to go to some of the more “serious” museums, but thought I’d suggest it.

    And, finally (Sorry, long comment, when I said I did not have much to say!), re: full-fat vs. connection-lite… I have done some work in social network analysis, and there is a classic paper highlighting the importance of what the author (Granovetter) calls “weak ties”. These are actually very important connections in our social networks, and provide resources and connections that we may not get from our “full fat” friends. (I love that description!) This is a good read on it, if you’re interested: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200701-why-your-weak-tie-friendships-may-mean-more-than-you-think

    1. To your second point – ABSOLUTELY. I think it really does take all kinds of connections and we get/provide different supports. I think it can actually be much easier to connect with some weak-tie friends on some deep issues in a way. Just like it’s easier to be vulnerable with your hairdresser or a stranger on the plane. But I think we’ve had a tendancy to avoid the necessary work of converting some weak ties into “full-fat” relationships and we are all craving that level of connection, too?

      What a GREAT suggestion on the museum. I think I’ve heard of parents printing off Bingo cards (of sorts). The kids would likely really enjoy this and respond to it well (it also sounds like something that would be a suggestion in the Art of Noticing book!).

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