Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not quite a bite, more like a nibble

On our drive home from Boston, we made a quick (really quick, 20 hours quick) side trip to the Big Apple.
You may or may not know this, but a few years out of college, I moved to NYC.  I lived in Manhattan, worked at NYU and Cooper Union and had some of the best years of my life there. 20 years ago I first got bit by the NY bug and its never left. Living in the City helped me grow up, take responsibility for myself, because it's true... if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. I still consider myself a New Yorker.  I know that is a stretch... but I just love NY.
So, naturally, one of my dreams has been the day I could be in the City with my whole family.  I feel like in order for my kids to know me, truly know me, they need to experience NYC- with me!  Obviously, 20 hours is like a bit of a joke.  But I'll tell you what, I soaked in every last minute of being there.  We saw a few friends, stayed in a great studio apartment on the Upper West Side, I took the kids to Time Square (and only experienced minor anxiety. Ha.)  Its one thing to be street savvy as an adult, it's another to take your mid-western kids to Time Square in the middle of 'summer holiday'.  *Side note* I'm pretty sure there are NO Europeans currently in Europe.  They are all strolling around Time Square.

Steve met a friend for coffee near Time Square, which meant the kids and I were on our own for a few hours.  I just had to take them to Toys R Us.  Olivia declared, "It's like heaven on Earth for kids!"  True.  And it's pretty much a third level of hell for parents.  But what can you do? 
Speaking of heaven on Earth, we also went to the Hershey's store.  Everyone gets a kiss as they enter.  Now that is my kind of welcome.  We were SUCH tourists.  I missed the photo op as my kids all tried on the foam Statue of Liberty hats that I've made fun of my whole adult life.  We ate street food and ate dinner at a diner in Time Square.  (Which is another thing my 24 year old self would have totally mocked and scorned.  "How can you bring your kids to the City and go out to eat in Time Square...are you crazy or just stupid?") 

Well... It actually was part of my plan!
When we finished our stupidly, over-priced plain buttered noodles at the diner, Steve met us at the Theatre. 

Because a second, equally dreamy dream of mine was to take my kids to see Les Mis on Broadway.  (I know it may seem like an odd and potentially inappropriate choice to take two 6 year olds and an 8 year old to. Feel free to judge me, I can take it.)

My kids have been interested in the music and story of Les Mis for the last 2 years.  They know all the words to most songs (except the ones that are not appropriate and we have to fast forward.)  They have seen the PBS 25th Anniversary special and we painstakingly explained the story line (fielding lots of questions.)  They have seen the movie (with again said parts fast forwarded.)  I can't explain it, but they love it.  And I love that they love it.  It's my favorite show of all time (closely followed by Wicked.)  That will be our next stop.

When we went to Disney World a year and a half ago, we gave them a chance to guess where we were taking them before we got on the plane and they were actually disappointed when their guess of "To see Les Mis on Broadway" was not the correct guess.  Weirdos.

 It's a long show.  3 hours.  And not to brag (ok, just a little) all three of my kids did AWESOME.  They were glued to the stage.  They sang along (a little bit to the annoyance of the Europeans in front of us.)  I let the tears roll as I soaked up the gift that it was to be living a dream.  It was magical and all I hoped it would be.  The revival is really really great.  This is probably the 6th time I've seen it on Broadway, but the first time since the revival.  I am SO glad they brought it back. 
As we left the show we ended up exiting through a particular door that led to the stage door where the cast leaves through.  I happened to overhear someone say, "Yeah, if you stick around most of the cast will sign your Playbill and even take photos."  Well...

How can you pass that up?

Olivia got into it.  She met nearly a dozen cast members.  They were SO great with her!  Because there were no other kids in line to meet them, they really went out of their way to sign the Playbill, get in pictures and even interact with the kids.  "What did you think of the show?"  "How old are you?"  "What did you think of little Cossette and little Garoche?"  I was so impressed by their talent and their kindness to make this a memorable experience for my kids (and in turn for me.)

What is particularly miraculous, Olivia had terrible strep throat the night before.  24 hours before this picture she had a 102 degree fever and sat on a sofa crying because she felt so bad.  I was crying too, because I knew how much money we had spent on these tickets and it was enough to make me cry if she was going to be sick for this! 

God bless antibiotics.  Within two doses, girl was rolling around Time Square and mingling with Marius.  Thank you, Lord, for answering so many prayers in a short 20 hours.

The whole thing was seriously a dream come true. 

I'm ready to go back. 

Instead of heading back to NYC, we are actually packing up the van and leaving for Camden, Maine early Monday morning.  I think we need our own show : Keeping up with the Koproskis. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

There and back again

Our three and a half weeks in Boston were really great.  We actually lived in Quincy, MA at Eastern Nazarene College for the summer in a dorm.  For our family, it was a perfect scenario.  We had our own dorm suite with two bedrooms, a small study area and our own bathroom.  We were right across the hall from another family with two kids and it felt just like old college days as the doors pretty much stayed open unless we were sleeping and the kids just flowed back and forth. 

There is much to tell and naturally lots of stories, but because I did a non-existent job of blogging while there, I'll spare you all of the details and just provide pictures to highlight our time.  Here is the danger of pictures on blogs, Facebook and Instagram... it is easy to make life look like it is all a bed of roses.

It is true that we had a great visit to a cool city.  We got to do stuff that many people might not get to do in a lifetime.  The weather was unusually perfect.  However, there were major bumps in the road as well.  I got homesick for routine, non-cafeteria food, my friends, my couch and watching Big Brother on a real tv.  I faced some major insecurities- I felt old, fat and out of shape.  I struggled relationally with people at times.  Some days I wished I could just be a "normal person" who stays at their own home in the summer. The struggle was real.

With that being said, here are all of my pictures that do NOT show any of that.  Ha! Quite honestly, who whips out a camera when they are doing the snot cry on their husband's shoulder at 42 years old because they miss their friends?  Not this girl. 

So, on that note...

We went sailing in Glouchester.

My kids were naturals.

We went downtown for 4th of July fireworks.  It was one of my dreams come true to hear the Boston Pops play live as the fireworks went off.  They were magical. Until...
 the Massachusetts State Police evacuated the city without explanation.  The explanation came when the heavens opened and a thunderstorm like none I've ever experienced, happened.  My kids were hysterically crying and Turner yelled over and over, "This is the worst day of my life."  Yep, magical.
Photo credit: me (I'm a little proud of that one.)

We rode the T.  A lot.
We spent our time with 11 amazing college athletes from around the country. 

We went to Harvard.
(We didn't actually GO to Harvard- we visited Harvard :)  It's pretty awesome.
We swam in the ocean.
(We didn't actually SWIM in the ocean.  It was a little cold.  More like waded in the ocean.)
We hung out in Dorchester, MA.
This was our entire *family* for the summer.  Seriously, some of the best college students I've ever been around. 

We saw about 25,000 Dunkin' Donuts.  (Seriously, it's like a Northeast obsession.)
Oh, and we caught a game at Fenway Park.

We saw some amazing sunsets.
(We lived 4 blocks from the beach. Hmm.. WHY was I homesick?  I could get used to that!)

We ate at Wahlburgers.  (The BEST hamburger I've ever eaten in my life btw.)
As in Donnie, Mark and Paul Wahlburg.  As in the show Wahlburgers.  SO FUN.

We saw battleships.

We watched a little Netflix.

We made new friends.  (This is O's new friend, Charlotte. Cuties, right?)
The kids did 2 weeks of YMCA summer day camp that met right on the campus where we lived and they had a great experience.  They are so adaptable and continue to amaze me.

We celebrated 7/11 days with free Slurpees.

And we shared our family with others. 
And we grew.
And we loved Jesus.
And Boston shaped our family forever.
So did the 13 hour van ride there and back, but that's for a different post.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Licensed to drive

Nearly a month ago, we packed up the van and headed (on my Birthday, no less) on our journey East.  First stop, Gramma and Papa's house.  Now that is an excellent way to start off a road trip!  Only 5  on the road and we were greeted by two people who not only celebrate my kids but had several birthday treats waiting for me.  (I may be 42 years old, but whose inner child doesn't long to be sung to and loved on with balloons and cake??)

Another birthday surprise awaited me.  It was a surprise filled with a little lesson.  Birthday lessons are not always fun.

Consider this my PSA for the day... check your driver's license. 

On our way to Boston for 31/2 weeks (which is out of state by the way) I realized that it, in fact, was my birthday.  Lo and behold I had a sinking feeling that it was the year to renew.  I fished it out and sure enough, at the stroke of midnight, I would no longer be a legal driver.  Which was really bad news for a summer in Boston (did I mention that is out of state?).  It was 12:00 noon and we were in the middle of Columbus, OH.   Our state capital, for Pete's sake.  Seems like a great place to locate a BMV.  It is... if you are traveling through on a weekday or on a Saturday BEFORE noon.  Naturally, it was Saturday at 12:10 when I realized what was going on. 

Thank the good Lord for smart phones.  Steve and I began to frantically search for a BMV along our route that might have extended hours.  I even tried calling the BMV service *hotline* to see if I could give them my sob story and figure out a solution.  We were to be in Boston by Monday at 3:00 which meant we couldn't just hang around the state for one to open.  Pretty much the *hotline* wished me luck with no driving for the next month. 

As I was waiting on hold with the hotline, Steve had some luck finding extended hours in a small Amish town in central Ohio.  It was basically a race against the clock.  The way we figured it, we could make it there with 10 minutes to spare.  IF we didn't get stuck behind farm equipment, Amish buggies or a train.  Pedal to the metal, son!

We made it... with the full 10 minutes left.  I got my license and a mini-heart attack.  I definitely aged about 10 years in 10 minutes - makes for an awesome picture, that's for sure.

Here is what I have to say about all of this... why WHY why can't the BMV send a friendly reminder letter that your four years is coming to an end and would you kindly get your behind into your local BMV soon before you are in a world of hurt?  If I was in charge, that's what I would do.  Perhaps they could use the lady on the not so helpful hotline and pay her to send out those letters.  Because seriously, I NEVER look at my license and how in the WORLD will I remember when this one expires.  I can barely remember what is on my plan for tomorrow let alone 4 years from now.

Anyhow, consider this YOUR friendly reminder from the *hotline* lady... GO CHECK YOUR EXPIRATION date. NOW. You can thank me later.