There's something about the area that always appealed to me and made me feel instantly at home. However, living in New York is sort of like being in an abusive relationship. No matter how much you love it it treats you bad. The bridge tolls, the rent, the property tax, everything conspires against you to keep the city just out of your reach.
Still, we had some amazing times there.
At home the boys were going crazy. The cage we built for them in the living room had to be dismantled so that they could roam free. This resulted in a reduction of whining but a huge increase in the amount of work it was to look after them on a daily basis.
This meant frequent trips to the park to swing.
I took them out last weekend to watch the big kids play and also to give Jen a little break as she had a late installment of the respiratory illness I suffered from a few weeks back. Unluckily this put her out of commission for the weekend. Luckily, she had the same doctor that I had which was a man pulled from central casting to play a stereotypical New York doctor.
Imagine a more high-pitched Woody Allen saying the following:
"You have a nice, chesty cough."
"You're going to take this pill twice a day. They used to be much smaller pills but people didn't like taking so many. Now there's just too. Me, I take one at night with my dinner, the other I have in the morning with my coffee and a buttered roll."
"You have kids? Okay. Just do me a favor. They're going to want to hug you and that's okay but only kiss them on the top of the head, not the face."
At the park the boys became very fond of acorns and horded them like little squirrels. They also fought over them like little death match squirrels.
We took a few last trips to our local farmer's market to enjoy the tasty waffles, great produce, and friendly market staff.
They were able to make friends with the lady who runs the market who gave them samples of watermelon. They loved the samples despite the fact that Martin looked like he'd been handed a stale, canine turd.
Elliott went house one some tomato samples and screamed until the lady gave him more. I wonder if this works for adults.
The following week the two of them worked together to steal and consume and entire heirloom tomato.
Martin swiped it from Elliott and started eating it like an apple. I had to pry it from his juice-soaked fingers to tear it in half so that Elliott could have some.
After giving some to his brother Martin, in an act of defiance, stuffed the entire remaining tomato into his mouth and did his best Vito Corleone impression.
He was somehow able to completely eat the rest of the tomato like this with very little effort.
Later that weekend we attended their friend Zooey's birthday party where perplexed by a large amount of plastic food.
Whilst watching Martin in the kitchen after work one day I turned to see Elliott standing up on the door to the dishwasher. I didn't see him do it but evidently he had figured out how to open the dishwasher, lower the door, climb onto it, and stand up.
He also used this opportunity to reach for a day-old bottle of milk on the counter and start drinking it. Luckily I caught this early enough that he was able to avoid any potential illness this may have caused.
Last Friday Grandad flew in to spend the night and drive one of our cars back to Chicago, loaded with essentials.
Both Martin and Elliott took the opportunity to welcome Grandad to New York by bashing about the head and face with some of Jen's old pumping equipment.
The next morning we loaded up the car with the essentials which mostly consisted of our embarrassingly vast beer, wine, and liquor collection. We then shoved a large quantity of jackets and other winter gear to fill in the gaps.
Martin and Elliott were hugely helpful by requiring us to push them around in their Cozy Coupes while we finished up the car and sent their Grandad off.
There weren't many culinary endeavors in the last weeks. It was mostly a race to use up whatever we could in the fridge. I made this beef stew with mashed potatoes using some Captain Lawrence St. Vincent's Dubbel to braise it.
I also repurposed some of the lobster and shrimp from a sort of paella dish I made and made these saffron lobster salad sandwiches with avocado. This was one of the tastier uses of leftovers I've done in a while and I'm definitely going to keep this in the back of my mind for the future.
We got a lot of tomatoes at the farmer's market and from the farm share and we enjoyed many tomato salads, this particular one along with some Painted Goat Cinderella goat cheese.
Martin developed a super-advanced technique for using his spoon.
They worked on differing techniques for requesting more peaches.
They learned to show their approval for dinner by doing the Happy Food Dance.
Martin came home from day care one day with this trick. I'm not really sure what it means.
And, finally, Elliott learned a way to freak out his mother by working on an incredibly convincing imitation of eating food out of a yogurt container. We swept his mouth several times but there was nothing there. Hear that? That's Oscar buzz.
Sadly the time for goodbyes came upon us. One of the first stops was their day care. We agonized over whether to take them to day care or get a nanny when Jen was going back to work. I was completely against the idea of day care. In retrospect I am so glad they had the opportunity to go to day care. The people that worked there loved them so much and they had such a blast with all the other kids and the staff.
They made them a very nice poster before they left, something we will be looking to put in their room once we find a place to live.
Here is Kevin with Elliott. Kevin is the most recent favorite of theirs. I imagine it's because they think he's a cool guy and aspire to be like him one day.
Daisy, perhaps the original muse for Martin's ridiculous facial expressions, was able to get the first real picture of him doing his famous look.
Sueella was able to imitate Martin's face, a move he did not appreciate.
TT got some nice time with Elliott on one of the last days.
And Tunisia, their regular babysitter, also got to say a tear-filled goodbye to them on their last day.
Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Debbie, and Uncle Dave all came up Sunday for one last hurrah. We went out for dinner in the evening and I spent most of the time outside with Elliott who just wanted to walk around and climb up and down the dangerous stairs that lead to the restaurant.
Sadly I don't have many pictures from that visit as my computer was packed up and I couldn't get them off my camera.
After dinner we took one last trip to Longford's.
Elliott fell asleep in the stroller which lead to Martin's bestest day ever. He got to share an ice cream cone with me and this was easily the best thing to ever happen to him.
Elliott and Martin both got some new stuffed animals from their Uncle Joe and Ryan. Elliott claimed them as his own and spent much of one of the nights just walking around our apartment holding them in what would probably not be a welcome grip if the hen or the owl were real.
Gina came over to say goodbye and got one of the worst scowls Martin has ever delivered. He's lucky that Gina is so excited about going to Cookie Dough Creations otherwise she may not be looking forward to visiting us.
Mel & Jule also made one last stop to send the boys off.
Joe and Ryan were there as well as Matt and Jocelyn but the pictures are stuck on my camera which is back in New York. I am in a plane somewhere over Ohio so just imagine a really sweet picture of Joe and Ryan holding the boys.
We also got to meet Baby Jane, one of the more anticipated babies of 2013, daughter of Paul and Caolan.
It was really hard saying goodbye to them. Paul and I both moved to New York in the same week over nine years ago to be with Caolan and Jen respectively. At the time they were roommates and none of us were married. We depart for Chicago with three kids and ten years of marriage amongst us.
Paul was able to entertain Martin with his favorite Specialist Wizard bear (a gift from Paul).
Elliott was able to entertain himself by goinig around the apartment and picking up all the halfies and clutching a sippy cup in each hand.
Finally, during Jen's illness, Heather and Adam also came to say goodbye. Despite the fact that their wedding was almost ruined by these two little monsters they've been very good to these boys in the past 14 months.
The decision to leave New York was a really difficult one. Actually leaving wasn't any easier. Now, as movers pack up all our worldly possessions into boxes in preparation to move it half way across the country the reality of this move is beginning to sink in.
Jen and the boys are safely in Chicagoland and I will be joining them at some point tomorrow to begin our new life. There will be many improvements in this new life but nothing will quite mask the sadness of saying goodbye to so many friends back in New York.
We will see some of my family with some level of frequency once we find our own place and we intend to visit Rhode Island on an annual basis for a family vacation. We will even see some of our friends. They are all welcome to enjoy our future guest room.
There are those that we won't see, however, and that is very, very sad. We will miss everyone and will bribe them to visit with free room and board.
At the very least they can follow our exploits on this inappropriately named blog where the mundane details of daily life are sure to be featured in great detail. How else will you know what I made for dinner last Thursday and what beer we're drinking?
It's what we do.