Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Three down, three to go.

As of 10 minutes ago, I am done with Fall 2010 semester, which means I'm halfway done with law school. Oh my.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I'm swamped with work and studying for finals... Just left Cadence in the living room with Kate and Hazel after dinner to do more work... Kate came in and told me that Cadence, who has spent the evening playing with toy puppies, just killed off the Baba puppy. He left, and won't be coming back, but the Mama puppy said that it would be okay because the rest of the puppies are still alive.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving (weekend!)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

We had the great fortune to stretch our thanksgiving celebrations out over the course of several days this year, and I wanted to take the time this morning to thank all of you, our wonderful family and friends, for all the love, support, and companionship you have blessed us all with over the past several years. When I look around right now, I am almost overwhelmed by how lucky we are, to have what we have, and to be in the place we are in...and I am so thankful for all of it.

I am thankful for our family. I am proud beyond words of my two beautiful, sweet, intelligent daughters and my amazing, compassionate, hardworking, handsome husband, who teach me about the best in life. And I'm so grateful for our Fabulous Felines, and all the love and antics they bring to our home, and for our one poor hearty houseplant, The Little Aloe that Could (despite the fact that the cats like to sit ON it).

I am extremely thankful for my mom, and her endless patience and generosity, and for my dad and his steadfast dedication to learning and living, for my sister and her unique take on everything we share, and to all of them for boundless love, support, and genuinely enjoyable company.

I am also thankful for my Grandma Carol, who I think I am more like than either of us realized, and who handles more stress than she deserves with the utmost grace and humility. And to all the members of my vast extended family, who have each touched my life in their own unique ways, and who I have enjoyed getting to know as the nuanced individuals that they are as I've grown older. For my godmother Pat, and her husband Scott, who have brought plenty of good-humored advice to us over the years.

I am so grateful to have the support, love, and new friendships that have come to me through James as well. For his parents, who we know we can fall back on no questions asked. For his siblings who each bring unique knowledge and energy into our lives...we are so lucky to have so much love all around us.

And I'll just throw in here that we have some pretty kick-ass friends floatin' around in here, too, and we wouldn't be where we are without the help of some truly wonderful people who have gone out of their way(s) to help us out, and I am so deeply thankful to all of them, as well.

I am thankful for our amazing Home, which really truly does feel like our Home on a visceral level, which is something we haven't really had here in the city before now. For the fact that James and Cadence are both attending amazing schools, populated with really cool, bright people. For the fact that I am able to continue to do small things here and there to keep my career burning in the background while I'm focusing on being a mom - for the fact that I CAN focus on being a mom - and for our good health! And for all the ultimately unnecessary 'things' we have like cameras and computers that let us document and share all of the overwhelming privileges we find ourselves with with all of you - our wonderful community, family, network of friends...and so I say:

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful for my life. I absolutely love it, and everyone that is a part of it. I give thanks for everything in my life.

So, with that, here's a little snippet from our thanksgiving weekend - with pictures, which is what you've all been waiting for anyway!

Thursday, the actual holiday, started off with parade watching (which, for baba, translated into a 3 hour nap on the couch. Yay for rest!) and then some of the dog show that came on afterwards before we packed up, gathered recipes, and got all dressed up for dinner at Erik & Minerva's.

And yes, I DO mean All dressed up.

Here's James with his two daughters; Bear and Mario.

Unfortunately I don't have any decent photos from the day, but it was a wonderful evening with all sorts of amazing food and plenty of good company. James made some potato-leek soup, which we added to the hosts' lineup of white truffle brussell sprouts, squash risotto and ginger-carrot slaw, in addition to the requisite turkey, stuffing, rolls and cranberry sauce. I made some chocolate rum truffles, which joined a lineup of 8 pies and a homemade pumpkin gelato...it was a pretty decadent meal.

The next day, we headed to James' family home in Connecticut where parents and siblings were all gathering to celebrate the holiday a day late. Uncle Robert took Cadence to meet with a friend of his who has a similarly-aged kid, and they all went to a children's show at a museum and seemed to have a lot of fun. Hazel got to spend some quality time with her grandparents, I got a little work done, and James got another three hour nap on the couch. Yay rest!

Probably as a legacy to having raised four string-playing kids, there are a large number of violins in the Yu house. Once everyone got home, Cadence got to use one of the small violins from Yeye's collection to play with Andrew:

Meanwhile, Audrey and Nainai cooked away in the kitchen:

Finally, after Cadence decided the seating arrangement (Robert on her right, Andrew on her left, Mama and Baba and Audrey on the other side, with nainai and yeye at the ends,) dinner was served, as you can see:

Yes, that is Cadence proving once again that she is a much more successful carnivore than me, with an entire turkey leg. [Though really she closed the book on that issue when she lead me through the anatomy of her roast squab, and then ate the eyes, later agreeing with Nainai that they were, indeed, the best part.] That turkey, we're proud to say, came from our CSA...it was a heritage breed bird that lived a good life on a farm up in vermont. I can also assure you that none of it went to waste! Even Hazel had some.

After another fabulous dinner with lots of tasty dishes, like peas and mushrooms, bell peppers and garlic, Asparagus, tomatoes and basil with mozzarella, mashed potatoes, cranberry apple cider, (and more!) we moved on to dessert:

Audrey made a pumpkin pie, and Cadence made that pumpkin for the top! (but someone stole and ate the stem before I got a picture.)

I also reprised my truffles, but tweaked the ingredients a bit to make coconut-rum truffles this time. Audrey and Cadence helped me roll and dust them all after dinner!

I'm not really sure how the technology came into the mix, but it did so...here is a photo of Cadence drawing a picture of the whole family on Rob's tablet computer, while he cuts the pie for serving and Hazel playfully sticks out her tongue at Yeye.

There was kind of a lot going on.

After dinner we got a real treat. James picked up another of the aforementioned many violins, and he, Cadence, and Andrew struck up some impromptu post-feast music!

Thanksgiving String Trio from Kat Stroot on Vimeo.

Even Hazel got into it, joining Yeye on the bells:

Hazel & Yeye play the bells from Kat Stroot on Vimeo.

Somehow we all managed to stay up well past 2, kids passed out on James and I, watching Lord of the Rings...needless to say, we didn't get up too early the next day, but we did have time for a little cold-weather exploration before heading to a great little South American restaurant for a big meal and then home to the kitties!

All in all, it was a grand holiday. It's definitely kicked off an exciting holiday spirit around here!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and are enjoying the winter season, where ever you may be.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Just a quick note to let everyone know that James is fine after the vicious tiger bite he received this evening. The finger is still whole, and we expect he'll make a full recovery.

The tiger, who was trying out her very first tooth - cut just this morning! - seemed somewhat shocked, but pleased that her new line of defense proved effective.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana

My wonderful friend Croft created a character, and then a story, and it grew and grew and now it is a full blown piece of multimedia brilliance running to rave reviews at under St marks. This is just a note to say Get Thee to the Theater! Go! Go! It is a beautiful piece, you will not regret it.

As an added bit of encouragement, here is a brief video of Cadence dressed as a fairy singing a snippet of the theme song:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Precocious children

Sorry for the lack of updates lately; we have been busy bees here...finally got a new computer to replace the one that was stolen, and are beginning the process of adjusting to having a desktop once more. (NOT easy thing to do, now that the kids demand more flexibility, and a desktop demands, well, the opposite. ACK!) James has added a small internship for a human rights clinic and more work for his RA position to his load, as well as finally taking on a formal form of exercise- which, while it is another big chunk-o-change and time, I am actually very relieved by. It gets him up and moving, which he needs since he spends so much time working at various desks these days, and will provide an all important outlet and form of stress relief. So yay for all of that!

And the girls, well...they're the reason I started this post, which was meant to be a one-off little blip before I realized how overdue a newsier update was. As the title suggests, they are doing well - perhaps even a little TOO well, if such a thing is possible (which I will not dare to complain about! We are so unendingly grateful for the amazing life we have, and all the little wonders it contains). It has been made abundantly clear that Cadence is, shall we say for lack of a gentler way to put it, a little bit ahead of the game, and we are working with her teachers and the development team at the blue school to figure out what the best way to proceed from here is. I will say, I am extremely grateful that she has such warm, hardworking, intelligent people on her side, who are willing to go the distance and create the best solution for her as an individual in this situation. I am so glad she is in a place where they are willing to take her frustrations seriously, and work to accommodate her intelligence and personality instead of bureaucratically sorting her into a box and sticking a label on it, and then poking a few extra holes in the places she doesn't fit.

It's almost scary to discover that your child is actually as smart as you think they are. Parents are supposed to live in an overly-proud fog, aren't they? Our fog is being validated, which I guess means its raining all over everything and clearing up, leaving a beautifully saturated potential which is, in all honesty, daunting and humbling.

And then there is Hazel. Hazel Hazel Hazel our little Amazel, this only five-month-old baby who is ALREADY PULLING HERSELF TO STANDING. She's been doing that for a while now, though I was in a little bit of denial over it. But then today said denial was unmasked, when she stood on her own, not touching anything, even me, for a full 2 seconds.


I'll just let that one sink in there, for a moment.


She has SO MUCH personality already, this girl. She's stubborn and determined and very strong and oh so wonderfully happy and sweet. And she really loves Bananas. And Cats. And her sister.

We are so blessed to have these two unimaginably beautiful, genuinely sweet, intelligent, loving souls in our lives, and we just hope that we can do them justice and create a loving, supportive environment for them, which will allow them to truly flourish.

For now I should get going; we have an epic Cross Town Adventure to embark upon in the morning, as we bring the cats in for well-kitty check-ups and boosters. (They seem to be flourishing, as well, by the way!) I'm sure they would appreciate any good thoughts you can send them tomorrow, I do not expect this to be a pleasurable outing for our poor miaos.

[And don't worry, I am doing well too...got a few things I'm tossing around creatively, along with re-figuring how to make housework and transportation happen amidst the new-found scheduling hooplah. I'm very tired, but also very grateful, and Happy.]

Goodnight, all!


Yesterday, while walking through the flatiron district after walking Charlie, we had a bit of a cinematic moment.

I was walking with Hazel in the wrap, holding Cadence's hand as we headed towards the bus stop. From the other direction came a woman carrying an overstuffed Trader Joe's bag in each hand. She looked up, saw the cute, and was immediately transfixed. Until she walked smack into a tree. Oops.

(She was fine, and though one of her bags got tangled, I think the only thing she injured was her pride.)

See? I toldja, my ladies are hazardously cute.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

dear Hazel: Month 5

Dear Hazel,

Five months have flown by, and I can hardly believe how far you've come. One thing I know for sure: I have fallen Totally and Completely in love with my little bitty tiger cub. Hazel Amazel continues to astound!

So let's see:

The first week of this month, you started doing something that I found quite endearing and silly. You have all the skills necessary to crawl - you know, the strength, being able to push up, balance yourself, a modicum of coordination, knowing what limbs are involved, etc. - but you seem very resistant to the idea of crawling. Why? My guess is that it is because crawling doesn't involve walking, which is your favorite thing ever, and how you KNOW people are supposed to get around. So, starting that first week of this month, whenever we put you into a crawling position, you end up sticking your feet on the floor, which results in your cute little bum sticking up in the air in a perfect downward dog position, and you inevitably hang out there, attempting to lift your upper body so you can stand up and walk, until you ultimately topple over sideways.

But that doesn't seem to be holding you back that much. By september you had figured out how to roll in every possible direction, and that was followed quickly by your canny little self putting this skill to good use, employing it as a form of locomotion.

You'll set your sites on some goal or other, and then roll across the room to get to it. just tumble tumble tumble, and there you go. Of course, you don't really do much once you've reached the destination, given that you haven't figured out how to get from you back to a sitting position yet, and you inevitably end laying on your back in whatever spot it is you've chosen.

Actually, other than the brief moments you pass through as you roll from point A to point B, you spend almost NO time on your tummy. Like seriously. I'm getting kind of frustrated with how consistently you stick your butt in the air and roll over to your back, because you do it EVERY TIME I put you tummy side down. Without fail. At this rate you really are just gonna skip the crawling bit, because you NEVER stay on your stomach (or hands & knees, etc) for more than, oh, say, about a 10th of a second.

You even try to get up to walk to retrieve objects just out of your reach, rather than leaning over and being almost in something that resembles a (Gasp!) crawling position.

You do, however, sit up just fine now - you can't get there on your own, but if we put you into a sitting position you'll hang out there indefinitely, unless someone makes you look up too far, in which case the weight of your head proves too much for your poor top heavy body, and you topple backwards...but this is becoming increasingly rare.

We've had a few Big New Life things this month...we've started integrating the subway into our travels, though we still opt for the bus when time permits, since we don't want to overwhelm your poor little ears, but the faster transport allowed by this has been...kind of earth shattering, at least for me. It kind of makes New York feel like an entirely different city, and I can feel the possibilities - for all of us - yawning up at us. It's pretty amazing.


You basically chose your own first food - and established your readiness for it beyond a shadow of a doubt - pretty early on by stealing some of your sister's avocado. So, we went ahead and mashed some up really well, and voila, you became a bona-fide consumer of solid food! You seemed to genuinely enjoy it, so much so that we actually had to cut you off during that first meal for fear of overwhleming your poor little digestive tract, but you seem to very much enjoy getting to eat like the rest of us do at mealtimes now. So. Much. Happy. (and so big already! ahhh!!)

Oh, and how's this for precocious behavior, kid? You've taken to trying to change your own diaper. I have to be even more on my game lately than I would normally be, because you've evidently discovered the relationship between big poops and the removal of the soiled diaper...while you know how to take off your diaper, you almost never do it. If your diaper is clean, you don't seem to mind its presence and don't bother it. If you've have a large bowel movement, however, you begin the removal process as soon as you're done. I am both proud of your intelligence and ingenuity, and dismayed at the level of inadvertent mess-stress this particular behavior causes me. I love you, Hazel Rose.

You have other little personality quirks that are beginning to show up more and more...like how you now roar at your toy tiger...like, seriously, lean forward, focus all your energy on it, stare-it-down and throw your whole body into it roaring, right at the tiger...SO MUCH LIFE!

You've also discovered blowing raspberries, and so, of course, everything in every aspect of all four of our lives has become glittered with raspberries. There is no other way to put it.

These days, you are standing so well we barely even need to hold on-even just having our hands hovering by your hips is enough support for you -you've got some strong gams and a solid core, m'lady, and you're just itching to strike out on your own.

And that will come, all in good time. Already, you're picking up on behaviors we teach you -intentionally or not - and making them your own. For instance, the classic baby game "how big is Hazel? Soooooo Big!" has been a favorite, but now you actually throw your arms up in the air on your own, even if someone just says the phrase "so big" in a completely unrelated context. And you look so pleased with yourself whenever you do it, too.

And now you can recognize the wrap! We go out and about often enough that you now know what the wrap means. Its really kind of cool...I usually put you in the bouncer while I get everything ready to go - including putting on my shoes and such - and you will quite often get worried and fussy, and I think you're afraid I'm going to leave without you (which is silly...I never have, save one or two five minute trips to the grocery store across the street while you and Cadence played with Baba) but you always stop crying as soon as I pull out the wrap, and you watch intently while I put it on, and then start to get wiggly-excited as I move to pick you up and put you in it, its really genuinely exciting. Every trip is a grand adventure in your eyes, and you love being included in them...and that, pretty lady, is absolutely wonderful. Because you know what, little Hazelnut? I absolutely love having your company in every minute thing I do each day.

Thank you for being a part of my life, little bitty wonderful. I adore watching you grow, and getting to cuddle with my sweetheart little tiger cub. You're growing up so fast, it almost hurts - but I am immensely proud of you, and so grateful to be here for you in each passing moment. Here's to many more adventures, my little Hazel Rose, with kisses to your Hazel Rose nose and your Hazel Rose toes. (and everything in between, and the top of your head, too!)

Love Always,

recognizing the wrap!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Crazy Week


I have no idea how to start this post! I wanted to keep up the momentum I've regained recently in terms of posting, so I thought I'd sit down and just do a brief description of this past week, but that is proving slightly harder to actually accomplish than I would like.

Not only has it been James' first full week of classes (the last two weeks were short weeks with things like "legislative mondays" in the mix) and the start of his duties as a journal editor, and not only did Cadence have her first week of school ever, meet all of her new classmates and take definite strides in terms of asserting her independence by kicking me out of her classroom before most kids would even consider letting their parents go; but it has also seen the first school-borne illness to hit our family (at this writing, Cadie is asleep but with a temp of 102.2, Hazel is finally resting after two days of goopy baby nose, and I'm trying to deny that my throat has a tell-tale tickle...)...and oh yeah, we had a break in about midway through it, too.

On Wednesday we left just before noon to walk Charlie, as always, before I brought Cadence to school. There, I got to witness her class' introduction to the 'picture clock'; their schedule for the day broken down into representative photographs to give them an idea of what to expect for their school-day routine. There was a picture of the courtyard for outdoor time, a picture of the rug they all sit on for 'circle time', a picture of her teacher's ukulele for their musical end-cap, and of course representative images of snack time and for free explorations and all the activities they'd get to encounter there. After they were done going over each item on the list, my little Cadie B called for the teachers attention and, very politely though quite firmly, expressed that this was all good, but that "I really want to do learning time." Of course, when I relayed this story to my mom later that night, she reminded me of my reaction to my very first day of kindergarten at the age of 4. I got off the bus and met her enthusiastic inquiries about how it had been with utter disappointment, declaring that "it's just a playing school." Apple? Tree? not too distant, evidently...

Anyway, she sent me on my way shortly after that, so I headed out to Clementine, a great little kids' consignment shop right next to the law school, to pay for a skirt I had (embarrassingly) accidentally shoplifted a couple days before (I know, I know! It's terrible...I tried it on Hazel, Cadence distracted me, Hazel zonked out on my chest while I was dealing with Cadie and I, forgetting that Hazel had the skirt on, absentmindedly just stuck her in the wrap out of habit, without looking, and didn't discover my error until much later).

Having made amends and had a longer-than-I-should-have-stayed conversation with the store's owner about life as the wife of an international lawyer, I hustled back to the blue school to fetch Cadence, and we met with James back at the law school for an OWLS event. OWLS, (Older Wiser Law Students) is a student organization aimed at students who are not fresh out of undergrad, and may have other priorities in life which can make the law school experience significantly different than it would be otherwise, for which James serves as a board member.

The girls were wonderful representatives of some of those outside priorities, and everyone seemed to have a quite enjoyable time. After some good food and schmoozing, I took Hazel home to prepare to receive the guests we were expecting that night, while Cadence and James stayed to see out the event. It had already been a thoroughly exhausting day by the time I got home around 7:00 in the evening, so I was perhaps less prepared for the shock that awaited me upon my return.

I arrived home that evening to discover that someone had broken into our apartment while we were away, and had stolen our computer, my engagement ring, the girls' family rings, and almost all of my jewelry including almost everything I had inherited from my late grandmother.

Thankfully though, no one was hurt. Only the kitties were home when it all went down, and they were all present and accounted for, and didn't seem to have been harmed (but were understandably a bit freaked). All in all we were quite lucky, and I am grateful that all that we lost were material possessions...the place wasn't even ransacked, and in fact they didn't seem to touch anything other than what they actually took...really, this could have been a much worse incident than it was; the way it all went down, it's almost nothing. (Though the feeling of violation and the decreased sense of security make that a big almost.)

Anyway, the rest of that night was a bit of a blur of guests arriving amidst police reports and phone calls, sorting through things and dealing with the shock. There was no sign of forced entry and the door had definitely been locked when we left the house, so the police (and the locksmith who replaced our locks and installed an additional deadbolt the next morning) think they must have had a key...

So, despite some lingering parental trauma, I think we'll be fine. And I really do believe that if someone had to go through all the trouble of breaking in to take it all, whether they were doing it to survive or to support some sort of bad habit...chances are they needed it all more than I do right now, since they are clearly in a worse state of crisis than I. So I sincerely wish them peace.

Anyway, we were all glad to greet the weekend today, though with sickness and some very troubling news within the family (which I won't divulge here out of deference to a loved one's privacy; suffice it to say we are sending oceans of love and worry to someone we all care deeply about), and trying to figure out how to recover our functionality without our main computer...well, we're all a mite exhausted.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Day of School!

Any old friends recognize those socks? Surprised they're hangin' on, but hey I found a great place to wear them!
Taken at one of the parents' events earlier this week.

Today was a very big day around here, since it marked an occasion that has been actively anticipated for months: Cadie's First Day of School!!

Needs no caption.

It went splendidly...The Blue School has a new building now, right on Astor place (Sesame Street aficionados: In the 'word on the street' segment featuring the word "humongous," there is a brief shot of the Astor Cube ["HUMONGOUS!"]...the rather non-descript building in the background houses Cadence's new school. Exciting! For those of you of a NY persuasion but perhaps less current in your Sesame knowledge: it's the building that used to house the Starbucks across the street from...well, the other Starbucks.) .


They have a great program for easing kids into the idea of going to school without the company of mom or dad, which is really reassuring, but evidently unnecessary in Cadie's case. I'd have more to report about specifics except that she kinda kicked us out after the first few minutes.

Baba and Hazel are very excited for Cadence on her first day.

We were there as she played with sidewalk chalk in the courtyard (and started a trend, surprise surprise, getting most of her class to play, or at least draw, hopscotch 'courts'...) and changed her shoes, [No street shoes allowed in the building proper!] which was the first point at which she told us she wanted to play with just teachers and friends and wanted us to go...Katrina, one of her teachers, convinced her to let us come do the introductions and hello songs with her...so we all went through the glow hallway and up to the classroom. After the bathroom tour and a few minutes of play...she wanted her independence, so I ran some errands and waited in the "multi-purpose room" [where Hazel and I got bombarded with first graders on their way home, boisterous as ever after their first day...] and came back to fetch her at the end of the day to reports that she'd done very well, played with a girl named Oonagh (pronounced Oo-Nah) for quite a while, and had a great time overall.

Getting ready to go...

So much for my plans to stay for the whole first day to get to know the routine/kids/other parents...but who am I to stifle her independence when she is so clearly asking for it? And I am so proud of her confidence and grace...so I let expectations fall away and will take it all as it comes.
So Grown Up.

She was mad at me when I came back, though. She hadn't gotten enough. She warmed up a bit once I reassured her that she could come back tomorrow...so I have to think that the first day was a rioting success.

Cadie B and Baba walkin' from his school to hers!

Congratulations, Cadie B! Here's to a great year! We are all SO proud of you, sweetheart, and we're so excited to be taking on this adventure with you, even if it is by supporting your decision to take it on solo for the time being. Parents are invited into the classroom later in the year, and we look forward to coming in as welcome guests at that point. We love you, honeybug! Onward!

Our Little Cadence Ann, at school. (!!)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trout Fishing in America Concert!

...also a little addendum to my last post: The next morning we got up and headed down to madison square park to attend a Trout Fishing in America concert!

TFIA is a duo (Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet) out of Texas, who does music for adults and kids alike, though I think they've been more focused on kids music these days. They are good friends with a very close friend of my family's, so our paths have crossed often over the years. Since I grew up listening to their music, it was very exciting to be able to share this with my own girls!

Cadence loved it, but bless her little heart she didn't understand why everyone was talking and smiling and singing along, and got very angry with me when I tried to get her to get up and dance...it only occured to me afterwards that we've trained her to be a good audience member and when she heard the word 'concert' she must have immediately thought of the many classical music concerts she has attended to see her Baba and uncle Andrew perform.

Afterwards, though, we got a copy of their latest CD and Keith and Ezra both signed it (and Ezra drew a teddy bear for Cadie!), I sent Hellos from my family, and Keith even told us that he once spent a whole birthday chasing birds, too, just as Cadence had done the day before - and he caught one!!

Afterwards we went to splash around in the water feature in the playground, hence the bathing suits...all in all, it was a pretty great excursion.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cadie's b-day adventure

Well Happy Birthday, Litty Bitty Big Girl!!

A bit late in coming, but here is a brief pictorial recap of a totally awesome day: Cadence's 3rd Birthday!

It started out at the bus stop, where Cadie B asked me to take her picture.

It ended up being many pictures.

It was painfully hard to narrow it down, but there were tons of other pics, to...thus I keep it to a minimum.

Anyway, the first act of unsolicited kindness of the day took place right at said bus stop...a couple of very nice folks, after talking to Cadence briefly, discovered that it was her birthday and gave her:

Her very own dollar! She was actually remarkably pleased and grateful (even said thank you with ENTHUSIASM!) the troubled expression is simply the product of the latest phase of 'not smiling' in posed pictures. I asked her to hold it up and smile - she held it up, said "no." and held that frown until I put the camera away. The headless folks in the background are the awesome folks who helped kick off her day in a big way. I was very grateful to them for helping to add a little magic to the day!

We went downtown and walked Charlie, as we always do, and of course had a lot of good fun puppy time. Then we caught a bus uptown and, after a joyous ride which involved singing to people and getting tons of sweet birthday wishes, made a stop Cadence has been asking for and looking forward to for weeks: The Natural History Museum, to "see the dead dinosaurs!!"

She'd seen some footage from the dinosaur exhibit on sesame street (or was it dinosaur train? I truly don't recall...) ages ago and asked me if we could go there. She brings it up, all the time, and so this trip was truly a birthday worthy excursion, a highly anticipated trip of her own design.

We had many awesome little experiences on our way in...and can I just say, I am SO impressed with the security guards at the museum? They ended up playing a significant role in making this day such a rioting success, you'll see more of why in a minute.

The first guard we encountered welcomed us heartily and, while we waited for the elevator, he made sounds for Cadence's amusement...trains, rain, various creatures...She loved it, and he got major props for birthday salutes...and he even threw in some compliments, and mentioned that she looked like his own daughter, who, he proudly proclaimed, is also half chinese and about to graduate from Harvard.

Next stop was the ticket kiosk thingy...I didn't want to spend any more than necessary since we were on a very tight budget, however we had a very certain destination within the museum, so I figured better safe than sorry, and asked the security guard stationed at the entrance what level ticket I'd need to just take her to see the dinosaurs. She started to tell me, then stopped, looked at cadence, and waved us on through. Cadence thanked her and said what a nice birthday present...it was very cute.

We spent a long time in there, I let Cadence lead the way, and she gleefully rushed from one display to the next, and then back again, big ones little ones, asking questions, making huge excited gestures when she came across something familiar...

The photo below, for example, is of an archaeopteryx...an ancient bird that was once featured on dinosaur train. Cadence was so thrilled! She was telling me all about them, and I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be schooled in paleontology by your just-now-3-year-old.

Which she can fully pronounce, just FYI.

The Photo below was taken by the Cadie Ladie herself. She's getting really good with the camera, the framing is consistently good...focus is a bit off here, but shooting through dirty glass is always a challenge.

Cadence was also really excited about the ornithomimids.

So proud!

After a while, we ended up, where else, but in the gift shop. She poked around a bit and I told her that she could choose one small thing to get as a birthday gift, if she so desired.

She chose a small bucket full of plastic sea creatures...whales, sharks, dolphins, rays...she was SO HAPPY and proud of it, and wanted to carry it all by herself and not put it in the bag.

We kept exploring for a bit after that, and found ourselves wandering to the other side of the floor before announcements started blaring warning visitors to get the heck outta dodge 'cause the doors were being locked.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, all I know is that somehow, my poor sweet little birthday girl tripped, hit the floor, and her precious bucket smashed and broke into pieces on the floor.

It was devastating.

A crowd of good samaritans gathered as I scooped her anguished little body off the floor...she was fine, but her present...well, a family helped her gather all the sea creatures and put them in the paper bag, while trying to reassure her that they were all fine, but I knew the real disappointment couldn't be remedied...she'd wanted that bucket. The animals were awesome, but that bucket...oh, the possibilities with that bucket!

Clear plastic that she could put things in...oh the amazing worlds that could become!

To her rescue came another security guard, who's name I sadly didn't catch, but who I think was the unopposed hero of the day. Here's why:

He came over, made sure she was ok, talked to her briefly about what the problem was, and swiftly said "well then we'll get you another one" and after checking with me to make sure it was ok, he took her hand and lead her over to the nearest gift shop, which was just lowering the gate. He stopped them, explained the situation, and while quite sympathetic, the manager there informed us that those buckets were only sold in the gift shop we'd purchased it from, on the other side of the floor!!! There was no way we were gonna make it.

But then, this guard, our hero of the day, looks at Cadence, then looks at me, and says "We can do this. Follow me!" And he scooped Cadence up and took off at a run, pulling out his radio as we went...there we were, in a truly cinematic dash through the closing museum, the guard on his radio shouting "this is 17, this is 17 OPEN THAT DOOR!" and magically making locked doors open before us as other bewildered guards trundled after us...there we went, taking a short cut through one of their special exhibits that you need separate tickets to see, zooming through the maze of its twists and turns, he was on the radio the whole time and shouting we "can make it! we can make it!" as we went, and we finally arrived at the closed and gated gift shop, nearly deserted, empty but for one older man, who was just on his way out the door...Our guard urgently called to the guard on the other side "unlock this door unlock this door and tell that gentleman to HOLD he is not to leave the store!" There was a flurry of activity and the gate sprung open, he and Cadence dashed through ahead of me, and I arrived at the counter just as the Guard was finishing his story to the rather stunned older man. My heart was pounding and an excited anticipation was coursing through my veins as I realized holy crap, we made it!

But then I heard what the older gentleman was saying.
He was saying "No."

I wasn't about to let this whole mad dash end in disappointment.

"Please, sir, I'm willing to pay for another bucket!" He looked at me, He looked at his closed register, he looked at Cadie and the slightly winded guard, and relented, somewhat grudgingly, but he reopened his register and let us buy another bucket.

(Here's our friend, the awesome guard, talking to his colleagues about our adventure after leading us back through the now entirely locked floor so we could get out.)

What an amazing thing to have happen, to have so many wonderful people to step in and help out our little girl. I was so incredibly grateful, and so was Cadence, who took several hours to really process what had happened but then talked about it nonstop for days.

Here is another shot Cadence took of Hazel and I with a dinosaur...she's getting so good at using the camera!

After our mad dash, we planned to go splash around in the fountain outside the museum, alas, it was also closed, so we sat in the park for a bit instead. There were other kids there! Amazing!!

She ran and played in that park for hours, playing ball, hide and seek, and a bunch of games I couldn't figure out but they seemed to enjoy...

Cadence ate some more of her bagel from lunch, but dropped a bit of it on the ground. It ended up being a happy accident, as far as she was concerned, because it drew a crowd of sparrows and pigeons. She spent a significant chunk of time trying to catch a bird. Childhood bliss.

Once the sun began to set, we headed over to the shake shack uptown for her birthday dinner. She was in such a good mood, despite being hungry, and managed to totally charm the folks working there; without even knowing that it was her birthday, one of the women working there asked me "do you think she'd like a custard? Just a small one? with sprinkles?" and thus Cadence got a free (really amazing) frozen custard (for those unacquainted: really rich amazing ice cream), with sprinkles, at one of her favorite restaurants. What a perfect end to a really amazing birthday. Another wonderful, sweet, generous person to add to a long list of benefactors that helped to make this birthday super special for a very deserving, patient, kind, and wise-beyond-her years little lady. Thank you thank you thank you to you all.

After that, we sang songs while waiting for the bus, and Cadence got to play/sing/talk to some other kids on the bus, before finally getting home and getting to see Baba, and tell him all about the wonderful adventure.

Happy birthday, wonderful bug. We love you, oh so much. Here's to another jam-packed year of new adventures!