We went on a long baseball tournament. I sewed a lot of hexagons. BY HAND!
It’s summer y’all. That means I’d rather be outside playing in the garden, running around just to be outside or otherwise occupied. That makes me a shittier than normal blogger!
But look! Pictures! of cats! and kids!
I went to Memphis. There were kittens.
There were nieces! and Monkey! The museum wore us out. It also was apparently not exciting enough.
We took the requisite posed pictures at the weird holes in the walls at the zoo. Mostly though, we just played with kittens. How could we not?
Every year as a family we typically adopt a family. This year’s finances have been pretty tight, so we aren’t sure if we can swing it. Instead of giving up totally on the idea of helping someone in need, we’ve offered some help to a family friend. Still, it didn’t quite feel comparable to what we’ve been able to do in the past. Watching the news coverage of hurricane Sandy wrenched my heart. Until this past weekend I’d never been to New York City, so I only knew what it was like from stories, movies and tv. The scenes from Sandy coverage of the flooding just took my breath away. How do you watch an immense tunnel fill with water? How do you watch you car float away into a river? How do you see your warehouse full of records all but washed away?
When I read that Brooklyn based Norton Records lost their Red Hook warehouse, I immediately began to form a plan. The Millionaire has been traveling to the Philadelphia area for his work with a client over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend for the past several years. We’ve been fortunate enough that the small bonus he receives to travel over the holiday covers the expense of taking the rest of the family along. We had tossed the idea of a side trip to NYC the last 2 years, and this year decided to go come hell or high water. Then, I happened to see a call for volunteers from Billy Miller, one of the owners of Norton Records, and the details of my plan fell into place.
Anyone who knows anything about me and the Millionaire knows that we love music. We met via the Goner Records message board, no less. Our love of music has translated into a love of sharing that music, and the accompanying love of vinyl with the Millioniare’s kids. We have made a point to expose them to the music we love, the records we love and the artists we love. When possible, the kids go to shows and meet our friends and favorite bands. When I proposed helping Norton out during our side trip, the Millionaire didn’t even bat an eye. The plan was complete!
Sunday afternoon after a day of walking the streets of Manhattan, craning our necks to see the tallest buildings we’ve ever seen and grabbing a hot dog from a street vendor, we set off for Brooklyn. We fortified ourselves with what each member of the family unanimously agreed was the best pizza any of us has ever tasted: Brooklyn’s Grimaldi’s Pizza. With bellies full of pizza and excitement, we took off for Brooklyn Bowl, the bowling alley that donated the space for the wash-a-thon.
Billy and Miriam couldn’t have been more gracious and patient as they showed us what needed to be done. Rows of tables were set up with record washers provided by Discwasher of Pittsburgh, cleaning solution and rolls and rolls of paper towels. And records. Oh, the records. Stacked in tilted, soggy piles, some over waist high. One entire table was dedicated to tearing off the flood-soaked sleeves, while the rest of the tables were reserved for cleaning and drying and a final staging area full of fans to dry the labels. It made my heart hurt to see all those records, and know it was a matter of time before some were too far gone to save. Needless to say, we worked feverishly to clean and dry as many records as we could, knowing we only had a few hours before we had to leave the city.
I am so very proud of my chicken babies for their uncomplaining hard work. They could plainly see all around them the variety of folks that came out to help. Not only that, with the great DJs from WFMU that donated their time, the kids had an experience of listening to a great assortment of tunes that had us clapping, swaying and shaking right along. One of my most valuable life lessons has been the opportunity to learn how to have fun while I work. This weekend, my chicken babies had that opportunity as well. In the end the Millionaire family cleaned and dried 8 stacks of records. Each stack, a different run of a single title. Some were bigger than others, but we cleaned our hearts out. Our small reward was the visible gratitude from two of our record lovin idols, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna. That’s the best souvenir I can imagine.
Whoopie pies for breakfast, that’s why. While I wish the millionaire could go have tourist fun with us, the kids and I are still having a blast. We started our day at the Reading Terminal Market: the Flying Monkey whoopie pies and butter cake, almond croissant and breakfast club on a bagel. The boy wet with hot chocolate while the girls had yummy Italian sodas. After a quick trip to the Center for Architecture where we all drooled over cool souvenirs, we checked out the Fabric Museum gift shop (museum wasn’t open.) After a short rest we walked to the Betsy Ross house because the kids had never heard of her. *headdesk*
Of course since we were so close by, we just had to have a cheesesteak at Campo’s, a Mt. Vesuvius at Franklin Fountain, and delicious candies at Shane’s Confectionary (a treat I’ve been waiting for for an entire year! They opened a few days after I left Philly last year!)
I love traveling with the kids. As much wonder and excitement as I get out of traveling, it’s even that much more rewarding to see the same sights through their eyes. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I know it will be fun!
ONE WEEK, 7 little tiny days and I can get the heck outta dodge. You know why I love vacation? Because I can pretend I don’t live in a tiny, backwards, claustrophobia inducing little town. My imagination turns me into the cool urban dweller I long to be again. There are awesome cities within a few hours of me, but there is nothing quite like being half a day away to reinvigorate me. Thanks to a recent infusion of dough, I won’t even have to penny pinch, which just makes the idea even more enjoyable.
All the drama and minutiae of day to day life can stay here while I hang out in the city of brotherly love. Ok? OK.
For the last several years the Millionaire has traveled on company business over the Thanksgiving holiday. He has been asked to be on-site on Black Friday and Cyber Monday at a client near Philadelphia. This means that he travels on Thanksgiving Day. His company has been flexible enough to allow him to drive on the years the kids are with us so that we can spend the holiday together without having to pay for airfare for 3 extra people. Our traditions are pretty low-key in general and as long as we are all together, it’s actually fun for us to travel. We love that we can eat our Thanksgiving meal at a nice restaurant. The kids especially love that they don’t have to clean up! We ALL love seeing a bigger city and experiencing new adventures in a far away place.
While the Millionaire works on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the rest of the family gets to have a mini vacation! For some time now the Millionaire and I have had those grown-up, serious money talks about how and if we would be able to swing the trip this year. We worried and stewed, cussed and discussed, and planned how we would make it work out. Our budget is going to be a lot smaller than we are used to on vacations, but every penny we have to spend this year came from eBay sales. Money has been pretty tight this year and I am so very thankful to be able to say that my eBay sales will enable the kids and I to have spending money for our trip.
And that makes me happy cry. eBay has saved our bacon on so many occasions I have lost count. Knowing that we have a back-up funding source, sporadic though it can be at times, gives me immeasurable peace of mind. As a woman who wants to help provide for our little family but who also values being available to the kids, I feel like finding eBay as an income stream was a wonderful gift. The fact that I don’t have to choose between staying at home and working lifts an incredible burden off my shoulders. So, as silly as it might sound to some people, one of the things I’m most thankful for this year is eBay.
This post was written as part of my relationship with eBay, however my gratitude is real and immense.
eBay has been a life-saver for our family.
I wrote this while still in Memphis at Gonerfest 9.
” I can’t believe we waited so long to come to gonerfest dumb, dumb, dumb. My mopey days are done. The hoard won and I’m ok with that now. All is well when I’m siting in the back room of the HiTone watching gonerfest on rocket science audio’s monitors and catching up with some of my favorite people in the world. It’s so good to be in Memphis. I have to soak up every ounce of music and mayhem before the weekend is out. Good times. “