new york city kid in arkansas
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Oh 2011.  You were such a wonderful year in so many ways, and yet.  You began in the wee hours of the morning of January first with a big loud reminder next door that the Schremmers were officially tired of big city apartment living.  As we took our tree and decorations down on New Years Day, Troy and I began the first of many, many conversations that would be the theme of 2011:  ”Maybe it’s time to leave New York.”  It was a shock to both of us to feel this way and very disturbing to our small New Yorker son.  Here we are, exactly a year later and beginning to make a plan to take us to the next phase of our lives.  We think we have another year and a half in this crazy wonderful city, and then we will pack everything up again and make our way west … to somewhere.  The where and the how and the what exactly are still mysteries, but the why and the when are pretty set.

So 2012 may be our last full year in the city we’ve called home for nearly 15 years.  This means every single place and every single person are being looked at with a little extra care, and it also means all the things that drive us crazy feel a little more temporary.  These days we find ourselves sitting by the DVD fire and trying to face unafraid the plans that we’ve made …

In the meantime, it’s my second favorite day of the year: New Year’s Eve!  A day to reminisce about all the past year’s fun, like our family’s Catskills adventure in February, Aunt Jeni’s March & August visits, our movie hitting the film festival circuit and enjoying it in LA (which included Disneyland with Shannon!) and Woodstock, our big summer family trip to Kansas, visits to Ronnie and Dottie’s in Virginia, our play in the Fringe Festival, many days spent at the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island, the New York Hall of Science, the swimming pool, picnics at the river, walks through the parks, hours spent with faithful friends who are dear to us, jazz choir, kindergarten, first grade, all the Muscota activities, church activities, the Harvest Festival, a volcano Halloween, my new job, our new apartment!  See?  There’s no reasonable explanation for wanting to leave this wonderful life we have.  Except for all those family members back in Kansas …

So whether your life is just as you want it or needing a change or two, we here at the Huck Blog hope your 2012 brings you peace, laughter, and many picture opportunities.

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After a very fun-filled and exhausting December, we were torn between being oh so thankful we didn’t have to pack all of our gifts and warm clothing into suitcases and head to the airport and oh so heartbroken to miss being with everyone in Kansas. We did our best to fill our Christmas weekend with lots of sweet family fun here in New York with the help of good friends who were here, too.  On Christmas Eve (my favorite day of the year) we took Huck to see the charming “Arthur Christmas” movie followed by some delicious lunch with one of our all-time favorite friends Shana, who is usually far away this time of year!  She then joined us as we traipsed all over Christmas Town and looked at the beautiful decorations and trees and lights and tourists.  We ended our time together at the Times Square Marriott Marquis where we enjoyed some Christmas Eve cheer before bidding adieu and heading back uptown for some good old fashioned gift opening and Midwest Skyping before sadly saying goodbye to our elf-on-the-shelf Dixen that no one even believes in anymore (he has to return to Santa on Christmas Eve which is actually Troy’s sock drawer) and going to bed. On Christmas morning we each found exciting surprises from Santa (my red tea kettle!) before walking down the street counting menorahs on our way to a brief church service alongside the paper crane Christmas tree.  We spent the afternoon playing with our toys and then joined our neighborhood friends for a delightful Christmas night gathering wherein I almost beat all the children and dads at Perfection.  (Darn that seven year old Jacob and his 37 seconds!)

Now back to playing with our toys.  (Like this MacBook Pro, for instance, and our brand new flat screen TV.  When did we get so fancy?!)

Happy Christmas Break!

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On December 23rd we joined Huck’s classmates and other parents at Family Breakfast where we were treated to delicious food, cute conversations and a delightful concert.  All semester Troy has helped teach music to the Muscota first graders through Carnegie Hall’s Musical Explorers program.  For the last few months Huck and his classmates have learned about three singers from Syria, Mexico and Staten Island.  They learned all about the music of these artists, their countries of origin and their current New York neighborhoods.  A few weeks ago the students got all dressed up and went to a concert of the singers at Carnegie Hall, which had me imagining my kid self on such a field trip.  Anyway, with Troy’s help Room 106 sang some of their songs from the school year so far, including a very jazzy rendition of “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” which is Huck’s personal favorite.

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Yesterday Huck told me he has six girlfriends, and as if that wasn’t bad enough news he then rated them by percentage points.  For instance, one is 99 percent in Girlfriend Land and 95 percent in Friend Land.  Another is one percent in Girlfriend Land but nearly 90 percent in Friend Land.  Today he said he was down to five girlfriends so naturally I asked what happened to number six.  “She’s almost there.  That’s why we need a play date.”

I don’t even want to know what that means.

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Our neighborhood has a new place called Storefront Science and we checked out their open house over the weekend in between Christmas parties and a nativity play.  Huck was of course in heaven and later when I asked him which class he’d most be interested in taking he chose the one called “Darn Tootin’ Newton,” which is all about gravity and forces and motion and making catapults.  I asked him if he was sure he’d have the energy for a science club and jazz choir after school twice a week and he said, “Of course I will, because I love jazz singing and I love science.  I wish someone would invent a way to do science through jazz music.”

(The woman who started this place and will be teaching the classes is a professional jazz singer, by the way.)

Here are some pictures of the past couple weeks, starting with some electricity experimentation, moving onto Muscota’s Candlelight Night & a few holiday parties, and ending with Huck as a serious Magi singing and dancing to “Joy to the World,” which pretty much sums up that child of mine.

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When I was a kid more than anything I wanted to be magic, and though Huck appears not to be related to me at all in terms of his science and math skills, he too is magic.  Together we purchase tricks and practice them whenever we can, and over Thanksgiving weekend my Uncle Ronnie (who must be where I got my magic from) sat down with Huck for about an hour and watched a DVD of a magician explaining several tricks.  One of them in particular, the Band It, caught Huck’s attention and upon returning to New York he began working on this ring-and-rubberband trick over and over again until he finally mastered it.  I, on the other hand, can’t quite seem to do it right but am hoping for a dose of his patience so that I too can amaze audiences.

The other day he said to me in all earnestness, “When I was born did you look into my eyes and know I was going to be a magician?”  Yes!  I did.

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The other night I read a cute Christmas book before bed and when I finished Huck awkwardly said in a strange foreign accent something like, “Of course that story can’t be true because Santa isn’t real.  Santa is your mom and dad.”  I replied “WHAT?” and insisted that I believe in Santa, to which he retorted, “Of course you do.  You believe in yourself.”  Thankfully he still cuddled with Santa for a picture and then told him what he wanted in a quiet voice that I couldn’t hear.

Sometimes it’s hard to have a 55 year old six year old.

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Here’s what this time of year means around our home.  Troy got up at 4:30 this morning so that he could get to the church by 5 on his day off to get things more ready for tomorrow’s community Christmas party.  Then he got back home in time for Huck to wake up at 6:30, followed by making breakfast and putting on a suit to join Huck and his school for a fancy field trip to Carnegie Hall based on the fantastic music curriculum that Troy has helped teach all semester.  For me it means working part-time at the church, both a fabulous and horrible idea this time of year, and having meetings with people wherein I say things like, “Any idea who should play Joseph this year?” and “So who’s going to Costco to get the hot chocolate?”  It also means trying to find time to do the laundry, like at 7:00 this morning, only to realize after two and a half hours that the triple loader washing machine was never, ever going to stop washing our clothes.  After placing a panicky phone call to the laundry machine experts and finding our super, the hard working machine was finally disconnected so that I could drag what felt like hundreds of pounds of drenched clothing over to other smaller machines, causing my entire morning to be dedicated to this awful task, in between frosting cookies for tomorrow’s cut-throat neighborhood cookie contest party and getting groceries because we’re in charge of snacks for Huck’s class next week.  It is now 11:00 and I’m still doing laundry.  PEOPLE, THOSE ARE SOME CLEAN CLOTHES!

In summary, I’m really happy I made Troy do the Christmas card in November.

And now for some pictures of the happier stuff of December.  Cookie making, candy cane eating, tree lighting, gift making, carol singing …

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Before I start posting fun Christmas themed anecdotes and pictures, I thought I would bid farewell to the glorious autumn by putting some last leaf photos on here along with a non-related, non-holiday tidbit.  Huck is the student council representative for his class along with his BFF Branden (whose buzz cut Huck always wants and whose matching blue and white shirt is often worn on the same day as Huck’s, making for lots of smiles).  The other day I was in the classroom helping their teacher Marilyn with some filing and got to witness two very cute little people sit in front of their classmates and share what was discussed at the first student council meeting of the year.  I was so tickled watching Huck and Branden read from their journals, wondering how on earth six year olds successfully take notes.  Here is a somewhat paraphrased transcript of my favorite part of their very serious discussion:

HUCK:  We discussed having crazy days where we dress in funny ways.  Some examples are Pajamas Day and Rainbow Day.  For Rainbow Day, maybe I would wear all blue and Branden would wear all red.

BRANDEN:  (Looking at his notes.) We didn’t talk about that, Huckie.

HUCK:  No, I was just giving an example that I came up with for Rainbow Day.  FOR EXAMPLE, we could do that.

BRANDEN:  Oh, yeah.  Okay.

I didn’t get much filing done that day.

And now, goodbye to fall …