NYC: Too much of everything

New York prides itself on being the biggest and the best at everything. This is certainly true when it comes to retail – there are probably more “world’s biggest” stores in NYC than anywhere else.

Foolishly, we visited two of them in one day.

The kids had read about a candy store called Dylan’s Candy Bar, which was conveniently right around the corner (in the NYC sense) from the Wonder Lab and MoMA. The store contains three floors’ worth of high fructose corn syrup:

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Needless to say, the place was a hit with our crowd:

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After stumbling around Midtown searching in vain for an open restaurant for dinner, we fueled up and made our last stop of the evening, at the infamous Toys R Us in Times Square. A couple of our folks had never been there, and, well, you just can’t visit Noo Yawk without riding the Ferris wheel in the store:

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After a quick round of group pictures outside, it was time to head for home:

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Long day, late night, and great fun all around.

NYC: Museum of Modern Art

After our Sony Wonder Lab adventure, we thought we would test the kids’ patience with a visit to the Museum of Modern Art, just a few blocks away in Midtown. Fortunately they have free audio guide programs for teenagers and kids, so our crowd had both toys to play with and some interesting info to gather:

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The kids were especially excited to see some works of art that related to the Spring Program they did at school this year. Maria sought out the two Alexander Calder sculptures hanging in the museum:

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We also found another of the works that the kids had acted out on stage in the program:

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I was in art heaven at the museum – gorgeous Picassos, van Goghs, and Matisses to be seen, not to mention the striking collections of architectural and design artifacts. Fortunately for the kids, we bumped up against the closing time of the museum before too long, and I think the timing matched pretty well with the end of their attention spans.

Walking through Midtown later in the evening, we came across one more work of art that had a particular meaning for our group:

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That is a giant Hello Kitty statue that looms over the courtyard of an office building. What’s the significance, you ask? It’s not just that we are huge Sanrio fans. (Keroppi represent!) Our friend Ginger, who was with us on this adventure, went to high school with the artist.

Tomorrow: The biggest sugar rush you’ve ever seen.

NYC: Sony Wonder Lab

We shambled over to the Sony Wonder Lab after lunch, and enjoyed ourselves greatly. The Lab is laid out over four stories; you start at the top and wind your way downward, with games and interactive exhibits along the way. One of our favorites was a high-definition TV studio in which you could produce your own short news program.

Here are our on-camera personalities:

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Nick and Anna manned the cameras:

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We had a full production staff behind the scenes, too:

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Later, we came across an electronic music exhibit. Since ours is a house full of budding musicians, everybody jumped right onto an instrument:

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The Lab staff snapped a group picture of us at the end… I seem to be especially excited about the whole experience:

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Tomorrow: From highly interactive to don’t touch anything.

NYC: My way or the subway

We got together a big group of family and friends to take a day trip to New York City a couple weekends ago. We all met up at a train station in New Jersey, and then took the train into Penn Station in Manhattan. From there, our first planned destination was the Sony Wonder Technology Lab, which is somewhat like a science and technology museum, with the added benefit of free admission. (They do, of course, want you buying Sony products someday in exchange for their kindness.)

Here is our happy band on the subway, looking especially chipper considering that the first subway option we sought out wasn’t running because of construction, so we had to improvise another way:

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We picked up tickets at the Wonder Lab, and since we had some time before we could enter the Lab, we went to Rockefeller Center for lunch:

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Tomorrow: Into the Lab.

The Out-of-Towners

One of the best treats we’ve had this summer was a visit the other week from our friends the Chapmans, who came to see us from hot and sunny Florida. We cranked up the hot and sunny weather here for their arrival, and we had a whirlwind visit while they were in town.

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Tomorrow: New York.

Nick starts diving

And not on the soccer field, either!

This year was Nick’s first on the diving team at our swim club. He has made a strong start, learning about five different dives that he can perform in meets. Here he is on the board, about to launch into a back dive:

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I learned at a meet the other day that it’s tough to snap photos of divers – everything happens so fast. Most of my pictures look like this:

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Que sera, sera.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Boys’ weekend in the woods

Earlier this summer, my dad, his dad, my son, and my uncle and his son headed out to the woods for a boys’ weekend. We weren’t exactly roughing it during our commune with nature, since this place was a newly-built chalet with flat screen TVs and a pool table. Given those conditions, we did the best we could to have a good time anyway.

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There was a nice enclosed porch on the side of the house, with a peaceful view into the woods. This was Gramps’ favorite spot in the place:

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The boys, meanwhile, spent a good bit of time at the pool table, and Nick discovered that the game of billiards appeals to his mathematical nature:

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It was a great weekend – very different from our visits to Gettysburg in years past, and an excellent way to unwind together. We played some 500, watched some World Cup soccer on the big screen, and generally enjoyed each other’s company.

Summer swim meets

Our month of July is jam packed with swim meets. Here are a few quick looks at our swimming adventures.

Young Nick has progressed nicely with his swimming performance over this year and last. Here he is on the blocks, waiting to get underway:

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He has been racing in several strokes this year, so he spends a lot of time in the water:

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Anna is now in her second year with the team, and has been getting faster and faster with her freestyle stroke. She has also figured out how to get her swim cap on her head without adult assistance:

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She also likes to get herself ready with some cheeky war paint:

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Last round of meets will take place next week, and then we’re into our August interlude of relative quiet.

More from the Sunset Run

As I mentioned, we had a nice summer evening to spend waiting for our runners to come back in from their race. Wells Fargo, which has been expanding into this area, brought a real stagecoach to show off at the race venue. The girls and some friends got to climb inside and everything:

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It was a big night for climbing around vehicles, because a few minutes later, we got to go into the town firehouse and try out a fire truck. Anna has been wanting to check out a fire truck for a long time now:

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Folks at the race were great all around – we got free food and drinks, a couple of chances to climb around on big vehicles, and lots of cheering for our runners!

Run Nicholas Run

A couple weeks back, some of my people ran a 5K on a very warm and humid June evening. Chelsea and Nick were wearing numbers, and the rest of us were snacking in the shade while we waited for them to come back.

This was actually Nick’s first pure road race – he has done a couple of kid triathlons, but never an adult road race. The little monster went out with no training and ran a hilly 5K in 24:00 flat, for a pace of just under 8:00/mile. Chelsea, who came in several minutes later, was mildly annoyed.

Here are the runners in happier times, before Nick went out and laid waste to the competition:

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He was only sweating slightly more than this afterward:

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I have a ton of more pictures from that night, because the rest of us had a very entertaining evening while the runners did their thing. More on Monday.

Stay cool out there! It’s pretty warm and humid in Philly right now. My German colleagues tell me they’re getting some record-setting heat there, too.