Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Sackett Family Vacation

Hey! Now it’s June 24 (No, seriously. Why don’t you believe me?)

This week was interesting. Work was terrible, but family came to cheer me up. (Lynn, how did you manage to hide from all my pictures?)

Why was work crazy? One of my students was in a class with a substitute and she started fighting with a classmate. The sub, afraid for the girl being attacked, tried to break it up just as the attacker lunged with a pen in her hand. As a result, he was accidentally stabbed in the face. Yes, my boss felt I couldn’t control that class well enough. She claimed I was the only one who had trouble with them. Well, when she went in to break it up, some kids who weren’t even in the fight cursed her out. Hmm…just me, huh? Interesting.

What’s more, this was the week when the eight graders found out whether they were going to graduate. Then it was up to the teachers to deal with the fall out. They then put all the non-passing boys in one room and the non-passing girls in another while the lucky teachers helped with rehearsal. I was one of the lucky ones. I was with the kids, watching the kids sing and dance. I also proudly watched Jason, one of my homeroom kids from last year, practice his valedictorian speech. I even got a little misty. Meanwhile in the not-graduating room, someone punched out a window. Another window was punched out down the hall. Oops.

I also found out I was being given a U rating for the year. I had to go to the union office in the Bronx to grieve the rating. They made me feel much better about the whole situation, because I gave them my rating sheet and discussed the reasons I was given. They assured me it would most likely be overturned. The only problem is, they might not get to my case before I move.

It was nice, then, to have a visit from family members to cheer me up. My cousins, Karen, Lynn, Connor and Hannah Sackett, drove to New York. They arrived on Tuesday and called me that evening. I stopped packing and walked over to their hotel just a dozen or so miles away. Marrakesh Hotel was a Moroccan-themed converted hostel. It was very cool. After hugs, we walked over to Mill Korean for Bulgogi and Bimbimbab cooked in hot stone pots. Hannah, who is usually more comfortable with chicken fingers, found some suit and sour pork that she enjoyed. It was a fun meal. On the way back, we walked by the cathedral of St. John the Devine and the crazy Peace Fountain (the one with St. Michael and the giraffes an the devil and the giant crab).

The next day, they went to various tourist sites, including Hannah’s beloved American Girl Place. Then they went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. I was so happy they did, because a trip to New York is not complete without going to a Broadway show.

Then next day I called in sick to work so I could spend the day with them. I’ve never played hooky before, and I informed my cousins that they aren’t allowed to play hooky until they turn 27. Hannah’s request for the day was to see the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, which I had mentioned to her a year before. (“Be careful what you say to her,” Karen warned, “Apparently she remembers everything you say.”) Connor wanted to go to the top of the Empire State Building.

I started us out in Central Park at Strawberry Fields (see photo above). An artist was arranging flowers on the memorial, as John Lennon’s fans often do. Then we explored down to the Bethesda Fountain.

We walked all the way across the park, stopping at the Hans Christian Anderson sculpture (See the two photos-one before Connor bonked his head on Hans' nose, and one after) before heading over to see Alice.

Children love the sculpture (well, adults do, too, but it's designed for kids). It’s built with hidden steps to help children climb. I was tempted to do so, as well. Connnor and Hannah clamber over it for a while and their parents and I snapped some photos.

As we left the park, we found ourselves near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We made our way inside, where we looked at the Egyptian exhibit, the new Greek and Roman hall and then sought out Hannah’s favorite, Degas’ Ballerinas. Then it was lunch time. I took them over to Blockhead’s Burritos. It is a Mexican restaurant with a SOCK MONKEY THEME. It was close, reasonably priced, the menu had something for everyone and I thought they would get a kick out of the décor.

We all went to our various homes for a quick rest. Then we went down to the Empire State Building. Hannah was afraid of heights, but she informed me, “New York is the place for trying new things.” I was impressed by her adventurousness. Karen killed me, though, as we stood in like. She started telling stories of times in the past when heights scared Hannah. “Don’t bring it up now!” I exclaimed.

Finally we made it through the line an up the first elevator. Then we found ourselves in this dumpy room. “This isn’t it, right?” we asked each other. But then we realized there was a second elevator we were in line for. Then someone announce we could skip the line if we wanted to take the stairs the last eight flights or so. We decided we were game, though soon found ourselves huffing and puffing a bit. When we stepped out onto the observation deck, I realized I had made the mistake of wearing a flippy skirt! I’d been holding hands with Hannah, and she helped me gather the folds of my skirt and hold on to it to keep my modesty covered. Meanwhile, Connor and Lynn went all the way to the top and got the best view the city has to offer. Hannah found she was not at all afraid as she looked out over the city.

Just as we were heading to the subway, it began to rain. We went to Zoma, the Ethiopian restaurant a block from my apartment. Tom joined us. Tom, Lynn and Connor bonded a bit over baseball and Tae Kwon Do. We ordered a few mixed platters. A variety of small mounds of lamb and chicken in different sauces were arranged on a plate of spongy bread. Then each person was given some more spongy bread, which they ripped up and used as a scoop or a pincher to grab the food they wanted to try. This meal was not as much to Hannah’s liking as the Korean food, but she tried it and was a great sport. I just wanted my family to get an interest new dining experience. I was thrilled at how eager they were to try new things, and I think Karen, Lynn and Connor really liked it.

Then we said goodbye in the rain as they headed back to their hotel. They were off to Niagra Falls before driving back to Iowa. It was so nice to see Karen, who has been like a big sister to me since I was little; Lynn, who’s been an amazing brother-in-law; and Connor and Hannah, the best little siblings a girl could pick.

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