Thanksgiving 2010

(with Richard's birthday and Judy's visit too)

The past two weeks were filled with family—both in Boston and in New York.

First, on Thursday November 18th, we drove up to Lynn after work to celebrate Robert’s father’s birthday with Helena. We went out to an all-you-can-eat Chinese/Japanese buffet near her house that had just changed hands and held their grand opening—lots of really lovely sushi, a grill with scallops and shrimp, and all sorts of other delicious things. Marcus particularly liked the rice, the dumplings, the edamame, and the pork ribs.

Then, the very next day, Robert’s mother Judy flew out to visit with us for the weekend. We had a great time—we went to a Cuban place for lunch on Saturday, we spent a long time wandering through the Burlington H-Mart and eating samples, we went to the fabulous Henrietta’s Table brunch on Sunday and wandered around Harvard Square, and we celebrated an early Christmas and exchanged presents.

Next was Thanksgiving: Marcus and I flew down to New York Tuesday morning, since I didn’t have any classes on Wednesday, and Robert drove down with Sarah and Sean after work on Tuesday so he could get an extra day of work in. We stayed through Sunday night, when all three of us took the plane back to Boston together, and had a really nice time with Grandma Connie, Pop-pop, and Aunt Mary. Robert was thrilled because he got to eat a McRib with Sarah and Sean on the drive down, and then we tried the spicy chicken sandwich and seasoned fries from Checkers when we picked him up in the Bronx off 95, as Sarah and Sean continued into Jersey.

Marcus is officially a chatterbox. When we were first getting into my father’s car at the airport, he narrated everything: “Pop-pop red car! Nice red car!” He then started saying something about a box, but no one was really sure what he meant. By this time we were in the car and navigating our way out of the parking lot. “Box!” He was very emphatic. “Black box! Where black box?” We wondered aloud what he was talking about. Which box, we asked, which box did he mean? “Black box up top Pop-pop red car! Where box?” he said, and all of a sudden we realized he was talking about the storage box that my father had mounted on the car for the trip to Boston for Sarah’s wedding last month, but taken down for everyday use. Marcus clearly thought we were all just very dim.

Videos: opening a present with Judy; playing with baby cousin


Tuesday was “baby day” in our New York trip: Rie, Steve, Maria, and baby Davey (almost ten months old) came over for lunch, and Marcus loved the baby. At every possible opportunity, Marcus would throw his arms around Davey’s neck and say “Kiss? Hug? Pet? Hug baby!” and put him in what looked very much like a headlock. Davey always had an amiable expression on his face, and did not seem to mind. We had told Marcus that Davey crawled, so someone put Davey down on the floor and Marcus waited for him to crawl. “Crawl, baby! Crawl!” he’d yell, enthusiastically, ready to cheer him on. Davey army-crawls, rather than regular-crawls, and didn’t seem to particularly want to crawl right then anyway. Marcus thought he might need a little encouragement, so he gave him a little nudge—first with his hand, on his back, and then with his foot, and then, standing behind him, with his belly. Aunt Mary was in her element with her two great-nephews on her lap, one hugging the other. We had a really nice afternoon, even though Davey had to leave far too soon for Marcus’s taste.

On Wednesday night Robert and I and Marcus took the subway into the city to see the Thanksgiving Day parade floats up close. We got up from the subway at 81st and Central Park West just a few minutes before 5:00, and it was crowded, but we were able to get right up to the edge of the police barricades, just 15-20 feet away from the floats. We saw a Japanese pink character no one seemed to know, a “yellow cat” (Pikachu), a “fire engine man” (Spiderman), a “Blue Elmo!” (smurf), an elephant (Horton), and lots of others. We met up with my friend M from and her three boys—an almost one-year-old, an almost three-year-old, and a four-year-old, the baby all wrapped up—and her mother and husband C. Together we walked down the entire block and looked at all the floats. Marcus could seriously have looked at these “big balloons” all day. Robert, without a warming baby tied to his chest, was chilly. By the end of the block, though, we decided we could skip the long detour around to 77th Street to see the other half of the floats—we were good with just these. Marcus was getting frantically hungry, and everyone else could eat as well, so we tried the Uno’s on the corner, after unwisely telling the boys that we’d be having pizza. “Two hours,” the overworked and underenthused hostess told us. “Really, two hours?” C asked. “Make it three and you have a deal!” “Sorry, sir?” she said. C repeated himself. She looked confused. “Do you want to put your name in or not?” We opted not to, strangely. The cell networks were overloaded with the sheer number of people making calls there, so Robert was having a tough time finding out about other pizza places nearby, but we figured that if we just walked uptown on Columbus we would almost certainly find some place. There were three little boys (including Marcus) asking for pizza now, one of them (the four-year-old) actually in tears, so we intensified our search and ended up at Pete’s Pizza on Columbus near 85th Street. It was a tiny place inside, so we camped outside, using a window ledge as a drink platform, a building ledge as a seat for the boys, a nearby bus stop as overflow seating, and an unused delivery bike as a table. Then it was on to 86th Street and the subway downtown—M and her family changed for the M and we changed for the 7, and Marcus was home in bed at 9:00. In a completely un-planned move, M wore her baby in the new release peacock wrap and I wore Marcus in the older release peacock wrap. Very exciting stuff, indeed. “Oh yeah, but hers is, what’s-it-called, crispy? No, no, crunchy!” C had said, nodding at M’s wrap. “Wow,” said Robert, impressed. “You listen better than I do.” In any case, we had a lot of fun—I’d never been to the float preview before, but had always wanted to, and then on Thanksgiving when watching the parade on TV it was fun to be able to tell Marcus that we had seen that same balloon the night before.

The night also reminded me and Robert about how long (too long!) it had been since we really were New Yorkers—between the many changes to the subway lines in our absence, and C’s expert New York pizza-ordering (“He just strode in there and said, ‘Hey, gimmie a pie, plain,’” said Robert, admiringly), we missed the city. In our brief experience on Tuesday, too, New York is positively a hotbed of babywearing—no other wraps or slings were visible, but Ergos and Becos galore! In fact, on the B going over to the float viewing, we were on a subway car where “three fourths of the babies were being worn,” according to Robert: Marcus in a wrap, one baby in a stroller, and two two-year-olds on their mothers’ backs. “Baby!” Marcus said, pointing to one of the worn babies, “Baby mommy back!” I explained that he thinks everyone other than him is a baby, and the one woman said her daughter did the same thing. “Oh no, not her,” the other woman said, indicating her daughter. “I told her that big girls don’t nurse, and she said, ‘Then I’m a baby!’ because she still likes to nurse, so she won’t argue about being a baby.” Marcus, listening to this conversation, decided it sounded like a good idea. “Wa wa?” he asked, as in, “Hm, really, we’re talking about nursing? Okay, might as well,” and positioned himself in my lap and latched on. (Below, a picture wa-wa-wa-ing on Pop-pop and Grandma's couch, and two sleeping shots.)

This week, baby made big linguistic advances. When my parents' home phone rings, he runs to it yelling "I get it! I get it! I got it!" and then picks it up and says, "Hello?" very sweetly. He usually doesn't have much to say to whoever called beyond that, though, and wrestling the phone away from him for someone else to contribute to the conversation is tough, but still, it's very cute. Marcus also used to say “Hep-ee,” which then turned into “Hep-me” and then “Help me” and is now “Need help!” He used to call Aunt Mary “Mare,” but now she’s something that sounds like “Meh-nee.” His “Thank you” used to be “Dee-dee,” with perfect intonation, but now it’s “Dee-doo” or even “Doo-djoo,” again with intonation. If you say, “What’s the magic word?” he smiles shyly and says “Please?” By now he actually can answer the “How old are you?” question accuractely: as of this week, he holds up two fingers and yells “TWO!”

Robert also got a few interesting answers to some questions this week. Here’s their conversation:

Robert: Hey, what’s your name?
Marcus: You!
Robert: What’s your other name?
Marcus: Me!
Robert: Okay, what’s my name?
Marcus: You!
Robert: What’s my other name?
Marcus: Me?
Robert: Well, what do you call me?
Marcus: Daddy!

As you can see, he’s kind of got “you” and “me” down, but kind of not.

Some of his favorite games this week include the “My Eyes are Closed,” “Can I Kiss You Here?”, and “You’re My Dumpling (No I’m Not).” The first game I made up as a way to get a few extra kisses from him. Somehow, if I say that my eyes are closed and only a kiss will allow them to open, he buys right into it, saying, “Open eyes!” and giving me a delicate kiss on the lips or cheek. Then I spring my eyes open and say “Oh boy, now my eyes are open!” and then repeat. The second game I made up as a way to turn a cranky boy a little sunnier; if he’s in a sleepy, cranky mood, and someone tries to kiss him, he says “No kiss!” and wipes off his face. Then I say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know. Can I kiss your. . . elbow?” and I do. He looks untrusting but a little more amused: “No kiss elbow!” “Oh, I’m sorry, I was confused, I thought I could. Okay, can I kiss your. . . hair?” and I do. “No kiss hair!” By three or so body parts, he’s actually smiling. The final game is one Aunt Mary made up. She says, “Oh, you’re so delicious! You’re my dumpling!” and he says, indignantly, “No dumpling!” “Oh!” she says, surprised, “then you’re my sweet potato pie!” “No sweet potato pie!” he says. “Oh! Then you’re my turkey!” “No turkey!” and so on, grinning all the while.

Marcus still loves taking out the trash with Pop-pop, but also putting a long train of cars onto a string and bringing it down to the lobby or laundry room. There’s a lost orange ping-pong ball that we couldn’t find—he thinks it might be “neath” a chair or something else, but for awhile we had no idea where it went. He’s been loving building super-tall towers with animals on the top of them with Pop-pop, and playing paper-tube trumpets very loudly. More long sentences ensued: “Daddy, throw it my orange ball [to] Marcus!”

We ate some lovely meals in New York: great Italian sandwiches and arrancini from Durso’s (at Carlos’s recommendation), nice Korean take-out from a place near the H-Mart, and fancy Korean chicken wings from a funny trendy place (Debasaki on Farrington Street, in between Pathmark and Northern). Yes, those chicken wings were just Robert’s and mine alone—we went out for a date, while Marcus played with my parents and Aunt Mary, and saw “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and then had wings. I had read about these wings—they have the wing tip left on there as a handle, and then the rest of them are stuffed, with corn and cheese, or shrimp, or veggies and tofu, or a jalapeno, or kimchi, and then breaded and deep-fried Korean-style and rolled in the Korean sauce. They were excellent wings on their own—crisp, tasty, greaseless—and then the stuffing just made them more interesting. We also ordered a plate of what Robert called “Korean nachos, where chicken and rice cakes stand in for chips,” with a huge blanket of melted mozzarella—odd, but satisfying and delicious just the same—and a pitcher of a frozen strawberry soju cocktail, sort of like a frozen margarita. That was huge, first of all—we ended up leaving at least a third of it there—but wonderful, particularly with both the spicy spicy wings and the rich greasy cheese. We had a great evening, and when we returned got the scoop on baby—apparently he had asked about us a little, and my parents said that we had gone out. “Why?” “To see a movie” was the answer, which seemed to satisfy him. Apparently when my parents brought him down to the laundry room to chat with a neighbor, he solemnly informed her that “Mommy Daddy out—bye-bye, outside, coming later.” He had a little supper for them and after more playing and a few books, went to sleep with Pop-pop lying down on the bed next to him holding his hand.

Videos: playing basketball at Steve's church on Sunday; riding on the carousel; playing at the Aviation Museum; playing with Pop-pop


Below, you see Aunt Mary making the apple pie on Thanksgiving Day (Marcus also rolled out a little bit of dough in a plastic bag, using a Snapple bottle as a rolling pin), Robert and Marcus video chatting with Jennifer, Emily, and John before Thanksgiving Dinner, and a family shot cuddled up with a giant bear that one of the members of Steve's church gave Marcus.

On Friday, while Mom and Aunt Mary went to the hairdresser, Marcus, Robert, my father and I went to the Cradle of Aviation museum in Garden City. They were having a special Christmas festival there, so it was $10 admission for the museum, a carousel ticket, and the tree festival. He loved their playroom, with all sorts of airplane-themed toys, and there was a Christmas cookie-decorating station he worked at for a little while until he decided that he might as well eat the cookie as decorate it. So, in Robert’s arms, and nibbling on the cookie, we walked through the rest of the galleries. “Whoa!” Marcus said, walking into the room with rockets and space shuttles. Some of the planes had cockpits kids could sit in, and Marcus was very happy to stand in between the two pilots’ seats and watch while older boys pulled levers and pretended to be flying. At one point, a two- or three-year-old girl didn’t want to leave one of the planes, and started crying. Her mother did the classic “I’m just going to leave you there if you don’t stop crying!” thing, and moved about ten feet away while the girl sat on the floor and wailed. Marcus was very concerned. “Girl crying!” he said, and left the plane to go stand right next to her. “Girl mommy,” he said, pointing at the aggravated mother. “Girl crying!” Eventually the mother came back and scooped up the girl, and we then followed her through the galleries so Marcus could make sure she was all right. After the museum, the carousel next door—a vintage one with rings to grab and horses that go up and down—was as huge a hit as the airplanes: first Pop-pop, Marcus, and Robert rode, and then Marcus, Robert, and I did. After that much fun, exhausted, Marcus fell immediately asleep in the car on the way to pick Aunt Mary and my mother back up.

Saturday morning was breakfast at the Ganesh Hindu Temple on Bowne and Holly in Flushing. We got there around a quarter to nine, just fifteen minutes after they opened, and we were order number 50. By the time we left they were up to order 80 and the place was pretty crowded. There was an elevator down to the basement restaurant, which was handy for Aunt Mary, and my parents are always game for trying a new place, so we all went because I had a hankering for idli and uttapam after our trip to India in May. The temple cafeteria was everything I had hoped—we got samosas, a Saturday special set tiffin, an idli jumbo (with vada), three masala chais, two mango lassis ($1 each), an onion dosa, and a tomato uttapam, plus several sweets, for $36 for all of us. Marcus ate all the peas out of the samosas and sambars, as well as some of the rest of the samosa filling dipped in “ketchup” (tamarind chutney). Aunt Mary thought some things were a little spicy, but everyone liked everything. The people were very, very friendly—everyone smiled and waved at Marcus, and we had a great meal and experience.

On Saturday night we brought food in from Golden Palace on Cherry in Flushing. It was okay—not as good, in our opinion, as M&T around the corner. The cabbage and pork “cakes” (a kind of stuffed bing) were delicious, and the cabbage and pork dumplings too. The lamb dumplings were a little too lamb-y for our taste, and we have never been accused of not liking lamb. Their “three fresh” eggplant dish was very good, and the “spring roll combination” (sort of a moo-shu pork) was fabulous, but overall we were not wowed.

Sunday brought more delicious food, though, in the form of Pastrami King lunch (Marcus had a pickle and a hot dog and fries, I had a pastrami knish, and Robert had matzoh ball soup) and Max and Mina’s on Main Street near Queens College for ice cream (Dad had fresh date, Robert had waffles and syrup, and I had linzer tart and red velvet cake; we did try the lox, but though it was lox-y, it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for in ice cream).

On the plane back to Boston Sunday night, Marcus sat in his seat with his seatbelt on, like a real big person, for the entire flight. He came home talking about saying goodbye to Pop-pop, Grandma, and “Meh-nee” (as well as Pop-pop’s red car), being shocked that pillows are WHITE underneath their colors/cases, and independently playing hide-and-seek with his new fire-fighter figure: “Where fire engine man? He hided! Oh, I find you! Mommy, look, I finded him!”

Now we're back in Boston, back to work and school/daycare (albeit missing "Emmy's grandma" [Judy], Pop-pop, Grandma [Connie], and Aunt Mary--oh, and Pop-pop's red car, too), so I'll leave you with some obligatory babywearing shots from the days just before and just after Thanksgiving weekend.

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Created: 11/30/10. Last Modified: 11/30/10.