Unexpected happy things that happened on moving day:
1) A surprise neighborhood breakfast. Our street has a first-day-of-school-tradition of breakfast on the lawn while we wait for the school bus. As a super sweet farewell, our neighbors held a send-off breakfast for our family in the same tradition. We were touched and delighted. Everybody enjoyed donuts and juice and then we took pictures of the kids in front of the giant yellow and green Mayflower truck.
2) Figuring out the man who was directing the stuff onto the moving truck was also the driver and truck owner and would be the same man meeting us in Denver to unload. I can’t believe how much this put me at ease. It was so nice to see the truck driving off knowing it was headed straight to our new house — and not to a holding station somewhere to be reloaded onto another truck.
3) Feeling at ease. The actual move day was pretty darn peaceful. My oldest 3 went to school. My younger two played at Laura’s house. My friend Megan dropped by while the truck was being loaded to say a last goodbye, and everything was so calm that we got to have a great, hour-long discussion about schools and college placement. How’s that for an elegant move?
4) As we drove away from our empty house and headed out to pick up our kids, our friend Linda brought by a half dozen giant cupcakes from Lulu’s. So decadent!
5) When we picked up our kids, the elementary school gave us a sweet send-off. Ralph, Maude and Olive’s teachers organized a combined recess for their 3 classes during the last hour of the day. They all cheered us as we climbed in the car and headed to the airport hotel.
Recorded here so I don’t forget.
It is here.
It is really here!
The Mayflower packing crew came yesterday morning. They came armed with a truckload of moving supplies and whipped the house into shape in less than 3 hours. When things were winding down, we sat around the kitchen table drinking soda and swapping the best moving stories we’d heard/experienced. No surprise: the crew’s stories were better than mine. Long Island is a fascinating place, my friends.
There was something so energizing about having the packing crew arrive. Like it was finally game time. And decisions had to be made now or never. I loved it.
When the packers were driving away, Mayflower’s quality control rep dropped by to make sure everything was in order for today. And Diane called twice to see how I was doing and how things were progressing. I felt very taken care of.
Although I’ve been working like crazy to get ready, there were a couple of rooms I wasn’t quite prepared to get fully packed up yet. So I asked them to leave some moving boxes and I finished up last night while Ben Blair cycled through the rest of the laundry. (Have I told you lately how wonderful Ben Blair is? And sexy.)
Today is the loading. There are about 1 billion boxes. But today’s moving crew guesstimated we’d be over and done before the kids get home from school at 3:15.
They’ll come home to an empty house.
We’ll say our goodbyes.
Blow kisses to our bedrooms.
Wave at Quanta (the grassy area at the end of the street that my kids named after they watched Bridge to Terabithia).
Then we’ll pile into the car and drive to JFK.
We’ll stay at a hotel nearby and fly out early tomorrow morning.
My last day in New York. Au revoir, mon ami.
The family pictures in Central Park turned out beautifully. Candice Stringham, the photographer, was incredible. Lots of patience. Great style. Flexible. A delight to work with. If you’re in New York — or anywhere near New York — book her right away. For reals.
I know preparing for a family portrait can be stressful. What will everyone wear? Will the kids behave? Will I look hot? : ) Leading up to our photo shoot, there were several times I was tempted to cancel — we’re just so busy right now. But I am beyond happy that I have these photos now. What a treasure for our family! Worth every bit of time and effort.
And I can’t even put into words how wonderful it was to spend an afternoon-with-perfect-weather in our beloved park before the big move. I’m going to get all weepy just thinking about it.
By the way, you should totally check out this photo series by Candice — so charming!
Edit: Thanks for all the great feedback! Per your requests, there is a post about how the shoot and the wardrobe came together here.
Well. We’re heading into our last weekend as New Yorkers.
I hesitate to tell you that I’m pretty much in tears every other hour or so these days. The hesitation is because I don’t want to sound like I’m down about Colorado. I’m actually very excited for this change and love looking forward to our new life in Denver. At the same time, I’m still having a hard time saying goodbye. Yesterday, as I left a hair appointment with Donna at the Lemon Tree, I was a crying mess. At least my hair was hot. : )
But our weekend plans look good. Really good. Today, the whole family is part of a photo shoot in Central Park. More on that later. But I will say that Maude is wearing the honeycomb studio jacket pictured above. It’s from Ismodern, and it is such a cool jacket. I hope its coolness is an indicator of how awesome the photos will be.
Then tonight, our dear friends the Wrights (you may remember their house tour here), are throwing us a grown-ups only farewell party. And I love them for it. A little birdie told me Ben Blair may be breaking out the guitar to perform some Neil Diamond. Crossing my fingers…
Saturday, we’ll spend the day at Benton Brook Farm in Massachusetts. And then on Sunday after church, we’ll picnic at Pepsico Gardens.
I hope your weekend is just as lovely. And I hope your weather looks as good as mine does right this minute. If you have any fun plans, please share — I love hearing about happy weekends.
Yesterday, the older 3 kids went to school with a stack of keep-in-touch calling cards to hand out. The cards list twitter handles, blog urls, email, skype names — everything but a phone number. My favorite were the titles they picked out: Kids Film Expert, Ballerina, and Girl Extraordinaire.
Knowing how homesick I already am for New York, Katie sent me a link to this great map of Manhattan designed by Jim Datz. Available at Three Potato Four.
We continue to say our goodbyes and pack in as much of the city as we can. Here’s a quick report on the weekend’s adventures.
Thursday night I attended a Yann Tiersen concert with Katherine Kaneko at The Fillmore. I’m guessing about 75% of the audience spoke French — so the eavesdropping was extra lovely. Before the concert we ate dinner at Bar Blanc and stopped in at Bigelow Apothecary. Also. Yann Tierson was fun, but we liked the opening band even more.
On Friday, as soon as the kids hopped off the school bus, we went straight to the NY Botanical Gardens and spent the afternoon. Playing in the children’s garden. Watering new plants at the family garden. Riding the tram. Walking the forest path. And playing in the fountain. The Botanical Garden has been one of our favorite spots and it was looking especially lovely all done up in Spring blossoms. It was hard for me to walk away.
That night, Ben and I joined friends at Freeman’s for dinner. To get to Freeman’s you walk down a funky little alley and through ginormous wooden doors. It’s a really cool space that attracts some really hip company. The food was delicious. The weather was perfect. It was just one of those magical nights.
On Saturday morning, Ralph spoke at his friend’s baptism. He did a great job — was a very confident and eloquent speaker. That night, Ben Blair and I saw comedian Demetri Martin in Tarrytown, followed by dinner at a local Greek diner. Demetri’s show was terrific, but I got the feeling that most of the crowd hadn’t finished high school yet. So I’m not sure what I think about that. When dinner was over, we realized it was only 10:00 and we weren’t ready to go home yet so we drove to Pinkberry on the Upper West Side and indulged our sweet tooth.
Sunday was the usual loveliness of church and family. It was pretty much the best weekend ever.
We are trying our best to stay true to our calendar. Last week we walked the Brooklyn Bridge and ate at Grimaldis. We stopped in the middle to make a wish.
There was no line at the restaurant. A fact which I like to think of as a little goodbye gift from New York to the Blair Family.
We also said our farewell to one of our favorite walking parks, Rockwood Hall, situated on the banks of the Hudson River. The outings are invariably delightful. But I usually end up in tears for at least part of the visit. : )
Question: what would you wish for while standing in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge?
The towers of boxes in my living room are by turn exhilarating (new adventure!) and overwhelming (so much work to do!). Diane at Mayflower told me to call her whenever I’m getting stressed out about the move — she promised to talk me down from the ledge — and now I’ve got her on speed dial. : )
Mayflower will be bringing boxes when they arrive to do the packing on the 28th. But it turns out I want to do as much of the packing myself as I am able to. I didn’t know I would feel this way. I assumed I would want them to do all the packing. Every last Lego and barrette. But I’ve found that doing the boxing up myself is the ideal way to carefully go through drawers and closets and purge our belongings. And I have to say here, that purging feels good. Really good. If you come by my house and tell me you want something, I’m very likely to hand it to you. (Piano? Take it. Oscar? He’s yours.) It feels that good.
At one point, I did go to Staples and pick up some bankers boxes to put our paperwork and files in. But I’m trying to gather used/recycled boxes for the rest of our belongings. Freecycle has been my best source — by providing either actual boxes or advice on where I can pick up used ones for free. In fact this morning, based on some freecycle advice, Ben Blair and I gathered a ton of boxes at Sound Shore Hospital (and apparently they have dozens on any given morning — who knew?).
Diane also recommended checking out places like U-Haul or self-storage shops if we end up needing to buy any specialized boxes because they usually have the best prices.
What about you? What are your best box sources?
The other day, Lou from Mayflower came by to give us a moving estimate. He gave the house a thorough once over and the entire time I asked him question after question about the process. What do you do with the beds? Will the truck fit on our street? How would you recommend packing this artwork? How about this lamp? Bubble wrap or packing paper? How long does the packing process take? etc. We’ve been getting quotes from moving companies for weeks now.
The whole process can be pretty overwhelming. Some base the price on weight. Others base the price on volume. Some include packing. Others don’t. Prices can vary widely — most of our bids came in within the same range, but one was over twice as much! Which makes me crazy.
Of all the bids we got, of all the companies we talked to, Lou was the only representative that offered some solid ways to save money on this move. Things like: if you ask your neighbors to move their cars when the big truck comes in, that will save you a big fee — because we won’t have to use smaller trucks to transport your stuff to the big truck. Lou was clearly an expert. Had clearly been doing this a long time and knew all the secrets.
I think what I really liked about Lou (in addition to his patience with my questions), was that although he was representing Mayflower, a company with a nationwide trusted name, he was also part of what is essentially a local business, Molloy Brother’s Moving. That’s how Mayflower works — it’s a network of local moving companies across the country that have access to Mayflower’s national resources. I love that combo of small and big.
So friends. It’s official. We’re going with Mayflower. The truck is coming on April 29th. And we’re flying out on April 30th. Having made this decision, my mind is already 30% more at ease.
Megan, the friend I attended the Martha Stewart taping with, has been putting the glitter she received to good use. Knowing my time is crunched this month, she made my family an Easter Tree — so that I wouldn’t need to pull out the glitter myself in the middle of all the towers of boxes we’re living with. I can’t imagine a more thoughtful gift.
There are 7 eggs. Each one blown out, dyed, then glittered with a family member’s initial. The tree was waiting on the table when the kids got home from school last week and they pretty much went crazy over it. The personalized eggs. Oh. And the Snickers. Thank you, Megan!
What have you done for Easter decorations this year? How are you dying your eggs?
Last Friday I spent half the day hitting tag sales and antique shops with my knows-how-to-spot-a-find, dear friend, Kathryn Carmona. From the first month we moved here, 8 years ago, Kathryn has been my go to source for the best tag sales, estate sales and garage sales in the area. She has an eye for great pieces, and keeps a running inventory in her head of any particular items her friends are looking for. If she spots something she knows you’ll love, she’ll pick it up on your behalf. I’m not sure how I furnished my house before knowing Kathryn and I wanted to make sure I got one more day of exploring with her before the big move.
As luck would have it, we started in Bronxville at an estate sale, and friends, this was the mother of all estate sales. A total score. We couldn’t believe all the great stuff. I wasn’t actually shopping (there’s nothing like packing up your belongings to make you want to own absolutely nothing), but I did pick up the beautiful blue bottle pictured. How could I pass it up? It was big and tall. It had a B (for Blair) and it was only $4.
I took a lots of photos of our adventure — you can see them all on my flickr page. Thank your for a great day, Kathryn! I will miss our outings tremendously.
Do you frequent tag sales? What’s your favorite consignment shop/second hand store/antique shop?
I hope you will indulge me as I report on more of our last-month-of-adventures-in-New York. On Saturday, we made a trip to the very southern most tip of the island. It was time to say our goodbyes to the Statue of Liberty. I’m not sure if it could have been any windier. But it didn’t matter. The views from the Staten Island Ferry — of the Statue and the downtown skyline — are incredible. I think it’s my favorite free activity in the city.
After our ferry ride, we picked up lunch at Shake Shack. It was supposed to be our farewell to Shake Shack as well, but the food is just too darn good. We decided we needed at least one more visit before we move.
I just finished my 3rd piece of pie. I had one after dinner last night. One as a late night snack. And another for lunch today. The pie is so good. Cherry. Not weirdly-artificial-from-a-can-cherry, but real, sour cherry. With a buttery crust. Cherry pie is my favorite.
Yesterday after school, my friend Sherry came by with her kids. And she brought us this whole gorgeous pie. I couldn’t have been happier. I love afternoons spent with Sherry. We send the kids to the trampoline and then we talk about everything and anything that comes to mind. Kids and marriage and school and moving and photography.
I would ask Sherry for the recipe, but I know she’s one of those bakers that adds a little of this and a little that and doesn’t really keep track. So I took some photos of the gorgeous pie instead. So that I will remember her kindness when I’m far away.
I can’t thank you enough for the encouraging comments about our move. Really, truly. With every comment I read, I get more and more excited for this new adventure for my family!
To finish up our New York era with a bang, we’ve packed our calendar with as many fun outings as we can manage. For example, after church on Sunday, we took a drive to the Long Beach so we could wave goodbye to the Atlantic Ocean — who knows when we will see those waters again? It was foggy and beautiful and we had the beach entirely to ourselves. It was a perfect afternoon.
To get a peek at what we’ll be up to the rest of this month, you can take a look at our calendar (click on it to enlarge):
We are moving. Across the country. The wide, vast country. And I can barely wrap my head around that fact.
When. Where. Why:
We’re moving on April 30th. Give or take a couple of days. We’re moving to Colorado. To the Denver/Boulder metro area. We’re moving because… Well frankly, it’s because New York is an expensive place to live and we need to buckle down and save some money.
I’m certain I’ll be excited at some point — Colorado is amazing and I know my family will thrive there. But right now, I’m still in the mourning/grieving stage. Despairing to leave our New York home of 8 years. We’ve had 3 babies here. Made dear friends. Grown a few businesses. Earned a PhD. Attempted to take advantage of every good thing the city has to offer…
Moving is hard. Physically. Emotionally. Even when it’s the right move, the right thing to do, it’s still hard. If you have a minute, I could use a little encouragement. A little bravery in my corner. A reminder that I’ll make new friends. That at some point, I’ll be unpacked in a pretty house. That there will be wonderful not-New-York adventures for our little family still to come.
If you have a favorite thing about Colorado, please share — because as soon as I can get past these moving blues, I’m going to want to be totally psyched to make our new home.