Friday, January 3, 2014

New York trip (September 2013)

Henry's parents are on a year and a half mission for our church in Manhattan, New York. They get to teach high school and college age members through the Church Education System, but they also get enough free time to be able to entertain visitors! We went to visit them in September and had a great time! They live in a great part of town right by the LDS temple and the Lincoln Center, so we always felt safe, even at night. It was nice to have a free place to stay as well :)

Geneva is a great little traveler. She spent most of the time in our Ergo carrier since she wasn't the most steady walker yet and we didn't want those little hands touching the streets of New York. She slept through some noisy subway rides. During this trip, her favorite word was "hi." She used it on everyone, and almost everyone loved it. She would keep saying it until someone acknowledged her, and it was fun to see people break out into a grin when they heard her little voice. On one subway ride, she chose to say "hi" to a passenger who had earbuds in. He couldn't hear her, and thus didn't respond, so she kept repeating it over and over, until all of the other passengers were laughing to themselves.

We did a lot over the 5 days we were there, and I didn't get pictures of everything, but I will tell what I can through these.

Henry with his parents on the Highline. It's an old railway line that has been converted into a park and pedestrian path. This was one of our favorite things to do. It was so cool to see such a great use of space and to be able to see New York from a slightly elevated perspective. The Highline has really transformed the neighborhood around it so it has some nice buildings to look at.

Another picture from the Highline, with a sleeping Geneva on my front.

Henry playing the banjo at the Chelsea Market. They had pictures of famous people all around playing the banjo. This just reminds me of when Henry was cool and in a band in college... sigh...

We went to eat in Chinatown, then walked a block over and stumbled into a parade in Little Italy. It's amazing how ethnically separated each neighborhood can be. You literally cross a line into Chinatown and there are tons of Chinese people, then you go into little Italy and there are tons of Italians. Geneva was such a cute little walker that we got lots of comments. One guy said to us (in a thick New York Italian accent), referring to his inebriated friend, "Hey! She's walkin' better 'an him!"

And a picture with a giant cannoli. Unfortunately, this is the only cannoli we had, since we were already full from our Chinese pork buns. Geneva was a little confused...

Back a grandma and grandpa's apartment, Geneva's favorite thing to do was sit on this stool. We had to move it out of the minuscule kitchen so she could sit without getting in the way.

Henry by Henry street in Brooklyn

At the Brooklyn Bridge Park just before sunset, looking at the Manhattan skyline. 

Geneva running around

Geneva and me napping at the Museum of Natural History. It was that boring. No, not really, but Geneva did keep us up one night adjusting to the time. I didn't realize I'd fallen asleep, or how deeply I'd been asleep, until Henry showed me these pictures.

Another favorite toy in the apartment - the shower curtain.

Dinner with our friends the Boushley's at a fancy ramen place. They didn't have high chairs so we made it work on our laps. Geneva liked the bowl.

She also did like the broth. She was the only kid in the place, and luckily she was totally well-behaved so people still liked us.
Not the most exciting video, but it at least captures Geneva's cute walking and personality during this trip.

Here are some of the other things we did but didn't get pictures of: saw Newsies on Broadway, walked around Central Park, went to Mood (fabric store from Project Runway), played on the big piano at FAO Shwartz, went to a Trader Joe's (cheapest groceries in town!), went for nice walks by the Hudson, went to the World Trade Center memorial (very emotional for me for some reason), ate delicious empanadas in Hell's Kitchen, ate delicious soul food in Harlem (chicken and waffles), and fell in love with grandpa and escalators (Geneva did, that is). We had a wonderful time and we could easily go back and fill another trip with all the things we didn't have time to do! Unfortunately, a five hour plane ride with a toddler is not exactly something I'm willing to replicate any time soon...

As we were waiting for our car to be returned from the airport parking lot, Geneva found a perfect little seat in the form of a rain gutter. Luckily, it had been dry the last few days. It was so cute that it was just the right size for her little bum.

Roots of Empathy

I've been meaning to post this for a long time! But here it is finally. So last school year (2012-2013) we were able to participate in the Roots of Empathy program at a local elementary school. My next door neighbor is a counselor at a school where they had the program in the 3rd grade classrooms last year. We had a wonderful time participating, but unfortunately because of funding and/or politics, the program is not being offered next year. Here is the website of the program (

Basically, the children in the classroom get to watch the baby (called the teacher - see shirt below) grow and learn throughout the year. They interact with the baby and are encouraged to think about and label the baby's feelings and emotions. They also learn about a variety of topics surrounding babies including crying, safety, neuroscience (learning and development), milestones, sleep, eating, preparation, nursery rhymes, coping with stress, etc. The children learn about how to foster healthy relationships with their peers by watching the relationship between the mother and baby. I think it is a beautiful concept that the most basic human relationship, between a  mother and child, can be a model of empathy and can influence all of our other relationships throughout life. Bringing a baby into the classroom is a novel way to get the attention of the children, and teach them about caring for each other. One of the goals of the program is to reduce instances of bullying, and it has been shown to do that in studies in Canada.

At our first classroom visit in September

Geneva wore a T-shirt that said "teacher" on it at each class visit. The children all gathered around a green blanket each week and sang us a welcome song ("Hello Baby Geneva, how are you?", and "Hello Mama Tori, how are you?") as I walked around and let them each greet her individually. Then we'd learn about what Geneva had learned since our last visit, and the kids could ask questions to see what she could do. I would respond with "yes" or "not yet". I think they asked every time if she could walk or crawl yet, even at 3 months old. The children then got to interact with Geneva with some toys as we talked about her emotions and whatever the topic was. At the end they would sing a goodbye song and I'd walk around again. It was fun to see each of the kids' faces light up as the baby came up to them. There was one little boy who was particularly shy, but he would make eye contact with Geneva and get really excited when she would notice him.

It was fun to see how attentive they were to every little thing she would do. If she made any noise, the kids would all immediately get quiet and then get really excited afterwards. Since Geneva was a little slow on her motor skills, there were a few months were every little move she made would elicit laughter and applause.

We had a very talkative class who loved to share by asking questions and giving comments. Someone would raise their hand and say, "Well actually, I don't have a question, I just have a comment" and then proceed to tell us about something funny they did (or a sibling did) when they were a baby. It was pretty funny how often it happened. In one classroom visit, we set up a high chair and gave Geneva a new food - a slice of mango. At the end of the year, almost all of the kids said that was their favorite class visit. Another little boy also said his favorite visit was when Geneva was just starting to scoot around in circles. He said, "I just have to be honest with you, it was just really really cute."

At the end of year ROE gathering with Mrs. Christensen