Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good Bye, New York!

It is with a great deal of sadness that we bid adieu to New York. It has been our home for the last nine years and Jen's home for the last eleven. It's not just home to the one of the world's greatest (and smelliest) cities but it's a place we've always been very happy and comfortable. I would say it is our spiritual home if I believed in that sort of thing.

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.

Bubs Hugs

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.

Swinging at the Park

This meant frequent trips to the park to swing.

Watching the Big Kids Play

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."

Martin Playing with Acorn He Found at the Park

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.

Bubses at the Farmer's Market

We took a few last trips to our local farmer's market to enjoy the tasty waffles, great produce, and friendly market staff.

Differing Reactions to their Farmer's Market Watermelon

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 Eating Tomato Sample at the Farmer's Market

Elliott went house one some tomato samples and screamed until the lady gave him more. I wonder if this works for adults.

Elliott Stealing Tomato at Farmer's Market

The following week the two of them worked together to steal and consume and entire heirloom tomato.

Martin Attacking Farmer's Market 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.

Martin's Godfather Impression

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.

Playing with their Food

Later that weekend we attended their friend Zooey's birthday party where perplexed by a large amount of plastic food.

Elliott's New Dishwasher Jungle Gym

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.

Elliott Saying Hello to Grandad

Last Friday Grandad flew in to spend the night and drive one of our cars back to Chicago, loaded with essentials.

Martin Saying Hello to Grandad

Elliott with Grandad and High Tension Wire

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.

Beer, Wine, and Spirits Loaded for Cross-Country Trip

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.

Demolition Derby

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.

Dubbel Beef Stew with Mashed Potatoes and Truffle Oil

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.

Saffron Lobster Salad on Griddled Buns with Avocado

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.

Farm Tomato Salad with Painted Goat Cinderella

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.

Last Days at Nana's Kids

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.

We Will Miss You Poster From Nana's Kids

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.

Kevin and Elliott

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 with Martin Making "The Face"

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.

Elliott and Martin with Suella and Tunisia

Suella Imitating Martin

Sueella was able to imitate Martin's face, a move he did not appreciate.

TT and Elliott

TT got some nice time with Elliott on one of the last days.

Tunisia and Elliott

Martin and Tunisia

And Tunisia, their regular babysitter, also got to say a tear-filled goodbye to them on their last day.

Grandpa and Martin at Rye Grill and Bar

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.

Last Trip to Longford's

After dinner we took one last trip to Longford's.

Martin Eating Longford's Ice Cream Cone

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's Animal Handling Skills

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.

Martin Giving Gina a Shitty Look

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.

Jule & Elliott, Mel & Martin

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.

Baby Jane

We also got to meet Baby Jane, one of the more anticipated babies of 2013, daughter of Paul and Caolan.

Nate, Paul, Jen, Caolan, and Baby Jane

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.

Martin and Uncle Paul

Paul was able to entertain Martin with his favorite Specialist Wizard bear (a gift from Paul).

Elliott Going Double Fisted

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.

Heather and Adam Say Goodbye to Martin and Elliott

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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Last Days in New York

There was a bridge, near our place, that was destroyed in a recent flood. No, it wasn't the flood that complicated our lives back in 2011 during Hurricane Irene, but rather a different, earlier flood.

Ever since we moved in people have been unable to find our place with a GPS because, for some reason, it tells people to go over this bridge that hasn't existed even though that would actually make you drive past our place and have to circle back.

Central Ave. Bridge Reopening!

Now, for the last two weeks we live in our current place, the bridge is back! That means if you're trying to find us by GPS in our last weeks here you are in luck!


Outside Play on Rosh Hashanah

I had Thursday off of work which means I took the guys around town on many walks. Martin and I played for a while in the grass where he took a particular interest in the car of the guy across the street. The only man more interested in that car is its owner, a man who spends 50% of every snow storm out there brushing his car off as the snow falls.

Today he caught me outside and told me that he was impressed with Jen's demeanor and that she is always so pleasant as she leaves for work in the morning. He also warned me of the rot on the tree in our front yard, all while bearing a striking resemblance to Jen's grandfather.

He is one of the nicest men I've ever had the pleasure of talking to but probably still only about 40% as nice as Jen's grandfather who may be the nicest man alive today.

Martin on Swing

Elliott on Swing

Before Jen got home from dinner we enjoyed one of our last swings at the park before our move.

I spent most of the week recovering from a respiratory infection and, after seeing the most comical New York doctor you can imagine, I was recovering and on antibiotics. The doctor was very impressed with my "nice, chesty cough" and informed me that I should take the antibiotics in the morning with a coffee and a buttered roll.

At Frankie & Johnnie's

On Saturday we hired a babysitter and went out to dinner with our good friends, Mel and Jule. We'd been discussing going to Frankie & Johnnie's steak house for about five years and our departure from the Empire State was the final shove we all needed to finally get it done. The last time Jen and I went to a steak house together I think it was 2004 or 2005 so it was nice to notch off another decade with a steakhouse visit. It was delicious but not half as delicious as the company of some dear friends who will be greatly missed.

Like with everyone we have extended the offer to them to come and stay with us in Chicago in the posh guest room of the house we have yet to purchase.

Martin Passed Out on Floor

After returning home the guys slept for a tiny bit but woke up around midnight and would not sleep for the rest of the night. They were both quite irritable and had fevers. This proceeded for two nights and left Jen and I in a zombie-like state. It also meant that we fell asleep in weird spots of the apartment and that Martin and Elliott sometimes fell asleep lying on the floor or whatever else it took to finally get them to shut their eyes.

Martin's New Face

Martin has been making a new face, a face that I didn't quite capture in this photo. He makes a face that seems to be a mixture of horror and annoyance. The best part is that he doesn't really make it at appropriate times. Sometimes he makes the face because you have told him not to do something. Other times he makes it simply when you say his name.

The ladies at daycare were the first to really identify this face and I'm afraid he will move past this phase before we get a really good picture. Until then enjoy this partial photo of him looking disgusted, possibly because I told him I was going to get him his sippy cup.

Babies at Breakfast

On Sunday we started off the day with a nice breakfast before heading out to the farmer's market.

Talking Shop About Babies at the Farmer's Market


Martin took a particular interest in the samples of waffles being offered by Pika's Farm Table so I purchased a waffle for him. Then I discovered that what Martin had discovered was the world's most delicious waffle.

This is good because we've gotten to eat them two weeks in a row. It is bad because we know that we only have two weeks left in the near future with access to these tasty waffles. I actually thought about sneaking behind their booth and trying to see if I could find the recipe so I could steal it.

I didn't think about this like some sort of fantasy, I actually, truly thought about doing it.

Martin's New Toothbrush

It is convenient, with all these sugary waffles, that I have successfully tricked Martin into brushing his teeth nightly by purchasing these new toothbrushes. The old ones would just make him squirm and fuss. He loves the new brushes so much that he will actually brush his own teeth at night.

Elliott, unfortunately, has not been fooled by my tricks.

Farm Share Broccoli Quiche

On Sunday Jen made a quiche out of the broccoli and other assorted items from the farm share. She and the Wombats enjoyed it for dinner and I got to have some leftovers the following day.

2013 Stone Ledge Farm Share (Week 13)

2013 Stone Ledge Farm Share (Week 14)

Jen, unfortunately, has had the unenviable task of picking up the babies from day care and picking up the farm share for the past two weeks due to my work and travel schedule. She has done an admirable job and has even made the time to take pictures of the recent hauls.

Dishwasher Fun

The latest game to keep the babies occupied has been to just set them loose on the dishwasher. They love it. While they are very good in emptying the dishwasher they are not necessarily as good at putting the items where they belong. I'm thinking of just keeping all our clean plates and utensils on the floor moving forward as that would save us a tremendous amount of time and these guys would do a great job of taking care of this chore for the future.

Quick note: I recommend taking all the knives and forks out of the dishwasher before allowing babies to play in it. I'm not going to tell you how I learned this safety tip, I'm just going to tell you that you should consider it if you have babies you'd like to have play in your dishwasher.

Pumpkin Tortelloni with Fried Sage

Last night I made this pumpkin tortelloni with rendered bacon, onion, butternut squash, cream, salt, pepper, and grated Parrano cheese, and fried sage leaves. It worked out well but it also just happened to be what I had lying around in the fridge and freezer. The Wombats even had some though they only had a few saving room for their favorite food of all time: peaches!

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company Brown Bird Ale

I'm saying goodbye to New York in many ways. One way is in trying to tick off as many beers and breweries off my list as I can that are not available in the Chicagoland area. Last night was Captain Lawrence's Brown Bird Ale, a beer brewed not even twenty minutes from our house that we have shamefully still not been to visit.

One last local beer haul for all those brews I won't find out in Chicago.

I picked up several different local beers that I won't be seeing in the midwest and will be making my way through them over the coming weeks. While it's nowhere near as sad as not being able to see our good friends and family as much, it's a way of saying goodbye and opening myself up to a great number of beers in Chicago that we don't get out here.

I hope our friends and family come and visit often. Our room rates are quite competitive and I'll offer one extra night for anyone who brings me beer I can't get in Illinois.