Author: Luisa Perkins
•9:29 PM
City-wise, San Francisco was my first romance. Paris is magnificent and London is endlessly intriguing. Rome smote me with love at first sight, and I'm dying to go back. But New York? New York is home.

Patrick and I have been invited to Passover Dinner by our friends the Leibowitzes every year we've been married, and we've never missed it; last night was my 19th seder with them. (It was Patrick's 21st; he and David have been friends since college.) Passover is always a lovely event, marked by memorable conversation, beautiful and symbolic readings from the family's tattered haggadahs, and delicious food.

When I realized that Passover fell during the kids' spring break this year, I decided to make a day of it. I haven't taken the whole group for an outing in the City since last August, so we were definitely due. My plan was that we would first go to the American Museum of Natural History, have lunch at Shake Shack, then spend the afternoon at the playgrounds and small zoos in Central Park. Last, we'd buy flowers and meet Patrick at the home of our host and hostess.

The weather was brisk and partly cloudy; the kids were quickly glad I'd insisted on bringing their coats. They had forgotten how exposed you are when getting around in the City, but I had not.Our plan went off with only a couple of tiny hitches. When we pulled into parking at the museum, I realized that there were tons of school groups there and that the place would be packed. I polled everyone for their top three spots other than the special Climate Change exhibit we knew we wanted to see (because you could easily spend an entire day investigating all of the halls and exhibits); we came up with "space," "the bug room," and "the whale room."

The Climate Change exhibit is fantastic, but I'll take the big kids back and spend more time there when the museum is less crowded. Here are the kids ogling an ancient TRS-80 computer. I told them, "That's the computer we used in my first programming class when I was 14." I think they got a bit of a clue as to just how old I am. Since we know the museum's layout by heart, we got to our other favorite spots and had a satisfying visit.

Shake Shack did not disappoint. Anne had her first (and second through tenth at least) french fry.After lunch, we drove to the East Side and parked the car in the Leibowitzes' building. We then made our way to Central Park. The contrast between my City-raised kids and my country kids was entertaining. Tess still can't get over her amazement at elevators and subways, and Daniel took it as a personal affront that the dogs were so public about their "business."

Daniel has also decided he doesn't like "exercise" (walking), because it makes his legs "feel not good." Note, however, that whenever we stopped at a playground, he ran around like the happy, energetic young sprout that he is.Central Park Zoo was also a hit with everyone. Christian, James, and Hope waxed nostalgic, while Daniel and Tess discussed at great length the dramatic license taken by the makers of the film Madagascar. It's always great to be at the zoo when they feed the sea lions; Daniel announced that we need to get one of our own. "It will live in your bathtub," he declared.

We stopped at the Tisch Children's Zoo on the way back uptown:

On the way back to our friends' building, Daniel was definitely flagging. Pep talks and Skittles weren't as effective anymore, and I wondered whether we should pack it in and hail a cab. But no; Christian scooped up his little brother and carried him cheerfully on his shoulders for the last mile. My kids are amazing.

All in all, we walked just a few steps (284 to be exact, Jenna) shy of ten miles. The kids were pleasantly tired during the Seder, and we had a great time with our old friends. Oy, the chopped liver was to die for, and the brisket? Like buttah, dahling. The event would have been perfect if Tess hadn't suddenly come down with the stomach bug her sister had had the day before, but she handled herself with grace and a minimum of drama.

On the way home, I mentioned to Patrick that the day would have been perfect if he had been with us on our pre-dinner outings. He expressed the hope that our three-week trip to France in August will be a string of such days. I share that hope. Days like yesterday are the gems in the crown of life: precious, brilliant, and forever shining.
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15 comments:

On 9/4/09 , Heidi Ashworth said...

Gorgeous last line! And you're going to France? With your whole family?? For three weeks??? (Can I be adopted?)

 
On 9/4/09 , Mary said...

THE WHALE ROOM!!!!!
It's probably my most favorite room ever.
I had always loved blue whales and that room multiplied that interest times many billions.
That's a good museum. How come I don't remember anything about space there?
I must return.
What would be the best birthday party ever?
"Renting" that place out and being able to touch everything. With scooters.
When I'm rich...

 
On 9/4/09 , Annette Lyon said...

Taking the fam to the City? What a dream THAT would be!

My kids flipped when they realized I learned to type on a typewriter. Cause those are fossils or something.

 
On 10/4/09 , Julie Wright said...

I love New York. Love it. I loved the tour you let me take with you as your family enjoyed one of my favorite places in the world. Thanks

 
On 10/4/09 , Goofball said...

wow, sounds great....I must come and visit NY as well! Aaah so much to do and see still :)

So you are going to France this summer? You do know that Belgium is just next to France right ? Like 1 hr train from Paris.
Just giving you a hint ;)

 
On 10/4/09 , KP&GVS3 said...

Loved the virtual tour of The City, & always photos of the children. 19 Seders, my. I feel fortunate to have been to one, with flute students. Do I imagine that Hope & Tess resemble each other more & more, or is it the specks?

 
On 10/4/09 , Melanie J said...

I only got three days in NY when I was there two summers ago and I'm already addicted. I desperately want to go back. It was wonderful. I agree that out of Paris, London, and Rome it was my favorite. Although I sure wouldn't mind a trip back to London, either.

 
On 10/4/09 , Jen of A2eatwrite said...

You were AT my mom's corner!!! She lived on 77th between CPW and Columbus. I used to take Con for romps in the whale room during every rainy day there (Mom was an AMNH member, natch). We never did get around to the Shake Shack - I heard mixed things, but glad Anne liked it.

Con had the same reaction to Daniel about the walking, walking, walking when he was younger. I think part of it is the cement factor. If you're more used to walking on grass, etc., it feels like that much more.

What a wonderful-sounding day. Sigh.

 
On 10/4/09 , Elizabeth said...

I went to the Shake Shack for the first time yesterday! Delicious french fries. I will have to go back sometime and try a shake.

 
On 11/4/09 , Jenna Consolo said...

I wanna be in your family. (And I'm working on it, tee hee.)

This post was so much fun, to picture the city, to see your kids (!) all growing up. I miss you.

You're all going to France!?! Like I said, I wanna be in your family.

You are a terrific mom.

 
On 13/4/09 , anjmae said...

I would like to go to the City! Ever since last summer when Sis and I had our girls' day out with your and your girls, we have wanted to have a repeat!
I have finally caught up reading your blog! Well done (as usual!)

 
On 14/4/09 , charrette said...

I love New York too. And a fabulous, fun-filled day with the family is hard to beat. But I especially love that you celebrate Passover every year. We do too, to varying degrees depending on the year and our location. I have loved discovering how absolutely Christ-centered the seder is. So many rich symbols, evident mostly due to the restoration.

 
On 15/4/09 , Kimberly said...

A grand day out indeed!

I loved reading this post and feeling the warmth and the joy of it trickle through the ether.

 
On 21/4/09 , Brillig said...

First of all, WHAT GORGEOUS PICTURES!!!!

Okay, I read this when you first posted it, but only now have I managed to comment. Possibly because the day described here is so amazing, and I'm both jealous and happy for you at the same time. Part of me keeps thinking, "THAT'S the life I'M supposed to be living!" Well, since I can't live it, at least I can read about it.

I too love that you celebrate passover. You are so stinkin' cool.

 
On 23/4/09 , rjlight said...

What a great day!