Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ode to a Couch

Our couch after it was first delivered to Park Drive, tags still on:

This past weekend, we took a big plunge and finally replaced our couch. We've been wanting to do it for quite some time, as sitting on it was difficult for me and my back issues since it wasn't very firm. With the matching armchair (really a "chair and a half") and ottoman, their presence in our living room dwarfed everything else. We were ready for sleeker and smaller, and found the new sofa of our dreams.

And yet.

We loved our big purple couch. Hannah actually cried to see it gone, and I got a little verklempt myself. In a way, this furniture told the story of a significant portion of our life as a young family.

When Marc and I met, he lived in a studio apartment and had a really nice futon (seriously!) that served as his bed and couch. The futon joined us in our first apartment together on Park Drive in the Fenway section of Boston, and served us well. But change was underway and the futon moved on to other family members. Buying the couch together was our first major purchase as a couple. We stood in the giant Jordan's Furniture showroom, analyzing the color ("do we really want a purple couch?"), and taking fabric swatches outside to see them in natural light. What we didn't realize at the time was just how LARGE the couch was - it seemed right at home in the vastness of Jordan's. When it was delivered to the apartment, it strongly contrasted with the building's bright green carpet, but we didn't care. The carpet was temporary - the couch would be moving on with us.

And move on it did, to our condo in Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Well, it tried to move on, but we couldn't actually get it in the place. So we had to have the sofa disassembled, brought in the condo in pieces, and then reassembled in its new home. The day after this reassembly, we sat on the couch and called our parents to tell them we were pregnant with their first grandchild, and both sets of grandparents were almost more interested in whether or not the couch was okay! Hannah cruised along the edges of the furniture, teaching herself to walk. After three years in the condo, we disassembled the couch once again, this time for our move to Newton.

Thankfully, we had a nice, wide and straight entry in our new house, and it was the last time we'd be calling the upholstery company. (Thank you, Melo & Sons!) For the next five years, the couch would move around the living room quite a bit, whether to serve as a baby gate for a constantly curious Max or pushed out of the way for a birthday party. It supported us through many sick days and too many Disney Channel shows, and was swept clean of snack crumbs more times than I care to remember. It was as close to a family member as any inanimate object could be.

Last night we Freecycled all three pieces, to a guy furnishing a new apartment for a family member. He's actually an acquaintance that we'll see now and again, and I'll have to fight the urge to ask how the furniture is doing, but I'm happy to know it's going to a new home. Marc and I told Hannah stories of couches past, Marc of a couch with his bite marks as a teething toddler, me of couches passed on to my grandfather that made visiting him feel like a visit to my childhood.

So that's the story of our big purple couch. It's time to start taking pictures on the new brown leather loveseat with an attached chaise lounge, which accommodates all four of us in a much smaller footprint. I know in time we'll love it as much as our old one, but I can't deny the lump in my throat as I say goodbye to a piece of our past.

In our condo (clearly before children - remember having bookcases like that?!?):

Hannah before her naming ceremony, March 2004:

Toddler modeling, September 2005:

Trying on her ballet gear, December 2007:

First sibling photo session on the couch, January 2008:

Cruising along, September 2008:

How dare you pen me in here!, January 2009:

Goofing around, November 2010:

Making new memories, March 2011:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Life Post-Jet Lag

It's been a busy few weeks around here since getting back from our trip. The first week back was really difficult. We were all just so tired. I had all these grand ambitions for uploading my photos to facebook and getting started on an album, but the best I could do was to post on here. I was also waiting for the post-airplane colds and sickness, which helpfully haven't happened until just this week. Max was sick all day Sunday and Marc was affected yesterday, and Hannah and I both have colds too. So we've been in a bit of a fog, but spring temperatures have arrived, and I'm hoping we'll all snap out of it soon.

The weekend after we got home I rushed out the door again to our synagogue's first ever Sisterhood Retreat. I was a bit intimidated since I only knew a few of the women going, but my lovely roommate Stephanie paved the way with all of her cookbook connections. It was a nice weekend on the Cape, relaxing, praying and enjoying uninterrupted adult conversations. I met a lot of wonderful people, and look forward to getting to know everyone better!

Work has continued its breakneck pace - it feels like there hasn't been a dull moment since the start of 2011. On March 3, I was promoted to Bank Loan Product Analyst, a change that had been in the works for quite some time, but is now finally official. It's great to have the earned the recognition, and I'm very happy with how my job has been going lately (if a tiny bit overwhelming at times).

Last weekend I was feeling daring and decided to take both kids swimming together for the first time at the JCC. I've been talking about it for a while now, since Max had become very acclimated to the baby pool last summer, but didn't grasp the concept of being in a pool where he couldn't stand on his own when we went to a hotel. Hannah's become an accomplished enough swimmer that she doesn't really need my help anymore, and I end up standing around just in case I'm needed, so I figured, why not throw the occasionally defiant 3yo in the mix. I talked to him about the pool in great detail before we left, but he still got scared and let out a couple screams within the first few minutes we were there. But then big sister started being an excellent example and showed him how to jump in the pool, and from that moment on, he was completely enthralled. He jumped in, blew bubbles, and leaned against me to kick his legs exuberantly. He even sang himself a little song while staring upward, "I love the water! I love the ceiling! I love my blanket!" Well, blanket didn't come to the pool with us, but if he loves swimming as much as he loves blanket, this is going to be quite an affair. I can't wait to go with them again.

And on that positive JCC note - I'm taking another plunge. I've decided it's finally time to get some exercise happening in my life. I have never, ever attempted to exercise in an organized way - no sports leagues, no aerobics classes, no nothing. The JCC was offering a program that caught my eye, but due to my back issues, they suggested I go the personal training route instead. So, I'm trying to get that set up. It'll be slow to start, but I am going to really give it a try, and I hope you'll all help hold me accountable here. That factor is huge - I can always come up with an excuse not to do it (hey, I've got 33 years of practice doing that), but I think it's time for me to get moving. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Time is flying by so quickly. This winter was just so dreary, but judging by my calendar for the next few months, it'll be July before we know it (HELLO, RYAN AND ALLISON!). Looking forward to so many good things ahead!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Paris Post

The four of us had the amazing good fortune to take a trip to Paris last month. This trip has been in they makings for quite a long time, and I actually can't believe that's it's already over.

My in-laws, Fillis and John, met while living in Paris on their junior year abroad, and celebrated their 40th anniversary in January. That's the official reason for taking the trip when we did, but the truth is that Marc has been talking about talking a trip there with his parents for as long as I can remember. They are true Paris veterans who really know the city well and can speak fluently, so we knew they would be excellent tour guides. Fillis and John were very generous and provided our flights and hotel room, and we're very thankful for that. But they were also wonderful travel companions, and we had a great time exploring the city together.

I'm sure I could go on at great length about many of the things we saw and did, but I thought instead that I'll give you some highlights broken down by topic. Feel free to ask me more about any and all of it!

Flights: We flew to Paris on Air France, and it was surprisingly smooth. The food service was actually really good, and the kids received toys with their meals. On the flight back we had personal televisions, and I watched THREE movies. Totally unheard of for me, but very enjoyable. Max did pretty well with the flights and slept some on both legs of the journey, but Hannah seems to have inherited my inability to sleep on planes.

Hotel: We stayed in a perfect room in the Hotel Saint Petersbourg. It was very centrally located, close to transportation and near the Paris Opera House (which made my 8th grade self giddy to think about the Phantom of the Opera). The main room was large enough for all of our beds and suitcases, and the bathroom was huge. Max loved the extra large bathtub, and both kids enjoyed yelling "Bon jour!" at people walking by the building from the balcony of our room. The staff of the hotel was also super-friendly with the kids, and Max felt like he owned the place, singing his favorite songs from "Yo Gabba Gabba" in the lobby of the building. The room key was kept by the hotel staff, so it was extra large and weighted, which was pretty unique in the age of key cards.

Transportation: We used Super Shuttle to get back and forth from the airport (you're truly on vacation when it's another person's responsibility to adjust the car seat straps for you!), and rode in a van to Versailles, but otherwise, it was public transportation all the way. And I LOVED it. It was easy and efficient and such a welcome change from this horrendous winter with the MBTA. We used the bus, the subway, the RER and took a train ride out of the city to Rouen, and I was shocked by how seamless it all was. There were signs saying how long until the next vehicle arrived, and two ways to validate your ticket when taking a bus. Boston is totally pathetic in comparison.

Food: Ah yes, the food, perhaps everyone's favorite subject when it comes to Paris. And it was in fact very good, but I most liked the experience of not having to clean up after us for a week! My absolute favorite thing was the green apple macaroons from LaDurre on the Champs Elysses, which Hannah and I waited in line for half an hour to acquire, and trust me they were worth the wait. Marc liked the French bread and Hannah liked the croissants at a cafe across the street from our hotel. Max, with his most sophisticated palate, loved the chocolate rice krispies cereal at the hotel buffet best. We had two dinners at Pizza Pino, a great Italian place we found, where I had my first egg-topped pizza, and then proceeded to also have eggs on a burger and pasta, plus a few omelettes before the trip was done. Being that we had the kids with us, we didn't do a lot of very fancy dinners, but we definitely enjoyed the food everywhere we went.

Sites: We really packed as much into this trip as we could. I had brought what I thought were a very comfortable pair of boots for the trip, but my feet didn't make it through the first day without pain. But I persevered as best as I could and we managed to make it to all of the following: the Jardin de Tuileries, the Louvre, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides (including Napoleon's tomb), Le Marais (the Jewish area of Paris), Musee D'Orsay, the Rodin Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Champs Elysses, the town of Rouen and its famous Monet-inspiring cathedral, Musée de l'Orangerie, Rue Mouffetard, the Pantheon and the Jardin du Luxembourg. Hannah and Max also took a ride on the Bateaux Mouche down the Seine, and Marc took a trip on his own to see the Catacombs.

Entertainment: Marc and I are fans of the movie "Moulin Rouge" and used one of its songs as our first wedding dance, so of course we spent an evening seeing this show. It started off slowly and I was a bit worried the movie was better than the real thing, but it did not end up disappointing. The show was fabulous, with jugglers, ventriloquists, even a woman swimming with live snakes, but the best part was the traditional French can-can. Using a suggestion from my parents, the following night we took Hannah for dinner and to see the show at Lido. Hannah was at first reluctant since there aren't too many kids in the audience, but when the show began, she absolutely loved it. During a day when Max stayed with Fillis and John to skip some of the museums, Max got to enjoy a French circus.

Shopping: Other than the food, everyone wants to know about the shopping. To be honest, we didn't shop too much. We gazed in millions of windows as we walked past, but only made a few purchases. I bought a new ring and necklace featuring my favorite apple green color, and Hannah got a couple of cute outfits. Both kids ended up with a few Eiffel Tower souvenirs. But really, we didn't buy much. I guess it's just another reason for us to visit again.

And I do think we will visit again. Now that I've finally had the opportunity to go to Europe, I definitely want to go back and see more. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I'm particularly grateful to have been on such a big adventure with Hannah, who was old enough to really enjoy it all. Thanks again to Fillis and John!