And the home of the brave! 

On Wednesday we had one of those days where we needed to be out of the apartment for a solid six hours so stuff could get done, which meant we got to wander around all day looking for various things to entertain ourselves with.  

First we met my friend Lynne for lunch. Three things of note here. The first: We showed up wearing the same exact shorts, which was splendid. Two: Lynne had never had the Shake Shack before?! And C: MADISON SQUARE SHAKE SHACK STILL HAS CRINKLE FRIES.

Lynne is the designer of Cardigan NY, and these shorts. So I guess it wasn't that weird of a coincidence.

Then Lynne had to get back to work and Huck had decided he wanted a pet snake named Hooky, but first he needed to run through the water at the Madison Square playground in nothing but his undies. Clearly our priorities are in check. It was pushing ninety degrees and it felt like a sauna out, so while he ran around I obviously did nothing but think of those giant refrigerators they have in restaurant kitchens. And then we decided to walk clear across the island to check out the Tara Donovan exhibit at the Pace Gallery, because by now it was only 2:00 and we still had three hours to kill.

And here we have Huckles the Great being a good sport about things, his drying undies flapping in the breeze from his scooter handles with fanfare. A few minutes after this shot he sort of slumped over the handle bars in a very dramatic fashion and slowly rolled to a stop and said, "MOM. I'm SO HOOOOT. There better be snakes there."

No snakes, but yes paper mountains. 

No snakes, but yes these gorgeous things.

The way the light played off this piece was enormously magical. Huck tiptoed all around it, peeking in close and then saying in a hushed whisper, "Wowwww!"

We talked about art and all the different ways you can make it, how Tara might have cut up all those squares of paper and where she might have found all those plastic dowels, and the feelings you get and all the different things art can mean to all the different people who see it. I showed him a coffee table book of Rothko's watercolors and we talked about his own watercolor paint set at home, and picked out the colors he had in his own pallet and strategizing about the fun things he could try next. 

And then as we were on our way out the door the security guard stopped us and said to us out of the side of her mouth, "Yoko Ono is right behind you. Go back through the exhibit again. Go go go."

So , Yoko Ono is very small and very adorable and had on the jauntiest little black felt hat, worn at a very precise little angle on her head. It was all rather fantastic. 

So, no. No snakes. But yes Yoko Ono. 

After that was over we wandered around Chelsea aimlessly until we found ourselves in the fur district by accident, which is a crazy strange place by the way. And then fur district ended right at the area of midtown where I once bought myself a bag of human hair, so. That was something. 

We stopped in at a cafe to share a croissant some air conditioning, and to talk more about snakes and guzzle cold bottles of water. And then we decided to visit the New York Public Library and see about some snake books. And now here comes my stupid story about the library. Are you ready?

Well, so we got distracted by the ABC of IT exhibit which is still running, and we were wandering through having a grand old time, but when we got to the comic book section I noticed that one of the glass tables was making this weird sort of ticking noise? Tick tick tick tick. I couldn't figure out if it was part of the exhibit or if maybe we were all about to die? And then I had to be like, Natalie. Let's be very real here. What are the chances that bombs even tick anymore. What is the likelihood here. Something tells me... no. But anyway, you don't live in New York and visit popular tourist attractions without sometimes freaking out over stuff, so I took Huck's hand and we found a security guard and we let her know what we'd heard and off she went to go investigate while I explained to poor Huck that, no, there would be no snake books, because, see, bombs probably don't tick but if they did and we blew up, well, that would make me a pretty bad mom, now wouldn't it. 

Somehow it got to be 5:00. Our six hours were up. I was having grand visions of Frosted Mini Wheats for dinner with Sour Punch Straws for dessert, and Huck needed to pee. And so we walked home.

Good work there, Empire State Building.

Tomorrow I am supposed to register my child for pre-k. Oh pre-k, damn you pre-k! Tomorrow is the last day to accept the spot we were given, the spot many parents would maim for, and here I still haven't found the right answer. Tonight as I was snuggling with Huck before he fell asleep, I asked him what he thought about going to school in the fall. He seemed open-minded to it, and I was starting to think that maybe this could be my answer? Maybe he'll really want to go, and then I can encourage him, and I can let him grow up as fast as he wants to grow up, and maybe I should just be proud and grateful for whatever life hands me. So I started to describe what his days would be like. Walking him there, dropping him off with all his new friends and teachers, his backpack and special desk, and learning new songs and playing new games and painting and drawing and recess after lunch, when all of the sudden Huck started to cry. His little hands were covering his eyes and he said rather pathetically, "Why can't you come too? I want you to be with meeeee!" And then I thought, well, could this be my answer?? 

It's a funny spot to be in, where you want your child to succeed and grow and reach, but you also want to tuck them under your wing a little and never let them leave. And it's a silly spot to be in, this all-day pre-k nonsense. Going would be really great for him. Not going would also be really great for him, our play school group for next year is going to be rocking. So all of his options are good which means none of them are wrong and I can't predict the future and this is like trying to decide between a hot cocoa and an ice cream cone months in advance when you're not even sure what the weather will be like. 

Huck and I, we are such a great team. We're pals, we have so much fun. I just love this time as his mom; just us two against the world, exploring the city, thinking about snakes, sharing croissants and talking about art, and singing Row Row Row Your Boat very loudly from 10th Avenue all the way to Fifth. He is getting such an education out here, on the daily. And so am I. And I don't want to be selfish but I also don't want to be coerced into doing what might not feel right for my family, and anyway. That was my Wednesday. Very, very wonderful. Very, very sweaty. And what a funny thing to have this big brave boy who is mine. I have so many wonderful decisions to make, and so many new and scary things to experience, not to mention an expert knock-knock joke crafter by my side 24/7.

"Hey Mom, say 'knock knock.'"

"Okay. Knock knock!"

"Chicken butt!!!!!"


  1. When you have that type of city at your door, why not. More power to you!


  2. Oh my! Another great post. So much to think about, so much to enjoy, so much to feel blessed about! I don't have a child, but I so understand what you are talking about. If I had a child, I would love her/him to be independed and strong and adventurous, but I would also like it if he/she need me in their lives for as long as possible. This is love, honey. True love. So, love.

  3. I need to come visit and stay with you, I think. Yea. I think that's a good idea.

  4. Pre-K would be good for him.. I had the same worry, doubts and fears tt you had before my son went to pre-K. But after enrolling him, I was certain that it was a good decision as he learnt many new fun things from his teachers and friends! Don't worry, your son may be scared and cry initially, but he'll overcome it soon. :)


  5. Ahhh yes, a wonderful thing that the Madison Square Park Shake Shack still has crinkle cut fries. I was shocked as well when I heard they were converting them and didn't realize the old fries would still be available there...About PK3 - my daughter is just finishing her year at a 5 days a week 8:30-5p.m. PK3 program and it's done wonders for her socially. Learning, not so much but I don't think it's wise anyway to rely just on PK for an education. I very much agree that the city does provide quite the education and we still do our Montessori-based learning and exploring activities until her dad gets home from work and on weekends when we can. It's a great balance that's actually made our relationship better (absence does make the heart grow fonder for both of us!). Good luck as you make your decision!

    1. That should read 8:30-3p.m. PK3 program ;-)

  6. AnonymousJune 20, 2014

    It looks like you guys are having so much fun, enjoy this time while it lasts :) Have fun everyday. I kinda sang that in a snoop dog/snoop lion/ snoop dragon? song. Smoke weed everyday. No, I don't promote smoking weed, but that song is damn catchy.

  7. This looks like a lot of fun! Very cool -Hanna Lei

  8. The amount of learning that happens in children when exploring the world and conversing with adults is extraordinary. Childhood is such a precious time and I think it's so important to spend as much time at home with family :) I've stared to post about this on my blog if you're interested. Good luck with your decision! Huck is adorable!
    Stephanie x

  9. you make NYC sound like such a magical place.
    I don't have kids but I definitely get your problem choosing pre k or not.
    I don't think there's a right or wrong. We adapt to all decisions we make.

    Valentina Duracinsky Blog

  10. "this is like trying to decide between a hot cocoa and an ice cream cone months in advance when you're not even sure what the weather will be like." that sentence PERFECTLY summed up how I felt last year at this time when I had to register mine for pre-k. I had to decide between a spot at an all day public pre-k and a mornings only pre-k at a catholic school down the block. It was so hard and it kept me up nights trying to decide. In the end I chose the closer school because I had an infant in the house and didn't want to trek her out in snow, rain and heat to the far away all day school. Long story short, I ended up hating his half day pre-k program (teachers were very strict, I always got reports that he was too active, too talkative) but he just "graduated" and he was SO SAD and keeps saying how he will miss his pre-k, his class, his friends, his teacher....so all along I thought I made the wrong choice sending him there but he actually apparently loved it. I hope this comment made sense, basically it's all ok. we need to stop worrying lol.

  11. huck is just the cutest -- nyc is really the best city ever! I live right across the river in hoboken, nj and I don't get in there enough! :)


  12. oh gosh, my daughter is only three and i am already having anxiety about pre k. seriously, these decisions are tough! don't know how we do it.

  13. your blog is juuuust the best. i love your stories. and let's be honest, reading about you 2 gallivanting around nyc while i'm stuck at work in sioux falls, sd (dear god) brightens my day every time. live it up, holbrooks!

  14. i can't even imagine the pressure you're under as a parent to make the Right Decision for huck about so many things, including this. i have to say, though, that every moment i got to spend with my parents when i was that young is treasured by them and by me. it sounds like you are a wonderful, playful, kind, patient teacher in addition to being his mum, and if he has a great play group... well, neither option is bad, which is great. i look forward to hearing what you decide!

  15. Glad to see you're using capitals again!

    Also your links are showing up as jibberish for me. I'm not having problems on any other sites, just yours.

  16. I just love this post. That's all.

  17. Amen! As a public school teacher, I'm always telling my class that the best learning doesn't come while sitting at their desks. It comes while out exploring their world.

  18. Tara's friend's with a good friend of mine, both went to VCU. Her work is so labor intensive and amazing. Photos don't do it justice, right? oh and YOKO! wow. Oh and pre-k. It's tough to let go, but I think it's good...prepares you (and Huck) for kindergarten. Mine is off to kindergarten in the fall. Sigh. I'm going to cry like a baby.

  19. Keep your baby close if you can, he has the rest of his life to go to school (and this is coming from a teacher!) The best education you can give your son is when you are learning right along side him imagining, exploring, adventuring and soaking up real life. Love this post!!!

    1. Agree, agree, agree. I can't imagine a better learning experience than another year exploring NYC with his wonderful Mum. Could he do Pre-K next year?

  20. Seeing Yoko Ono was definitely worth missing snakes. And Huck is the best knock knock joker! I have to remember that one ;)
    xo TJ


  21. I love your blog...I have been following since Huck was a teensy tiny baby. I am a Montessori teacher, and I am quite partial to that kind of preschool environment. But, I think that all preschool classrooms can be very beneficial to students. My baby is only 9 months old, and I work full time so he has had to go to a Montessori daycare everyday since he was 3 months. It has not been ideal, because I miss him terribly, but there have also been a lot of positives. He LOVES his primary caregiver at school, and I have actually learned quite a bit from watching her interact with him. We are moving, and I have decided to be a stay at home mom for a while, but I will definitely enroll my guy in school again when he is 3 (probably just for the mornings) because I think he gains a lot from having other caregivers and other experiences. Plus, it gives us a chance to have our own separate lives just for a little bit. I have realized that as a mom I am all about attachment, but also a gentle separation when the time is right. Good luck with your decision. If it was me I would take the preK spot. But it isn't me, so do whatever your heart tells you is right for your sweet boy!

  22. That exhibit looks stunning, I could just imagine what it could look like in real life! It's tough to think about pre-K, but I would sign him up anyway. I mean, you can always pull him out if he really hates it, but NO kid hates pre-k :0

  23. I strongly believe in the power of the family unit and even homeschooling- yet my son thrived in his morning Montessori PreK. His teacher was fantastic and just being a part of a new community, getting a fresh take on the simple act of interacting with my child? It was wonderful. So, yes- no wrong answer. Good luck!

  24. I would totally keep him home one more year. :) Once school starts your life will never be the same. This is your chance to enjoy life just the way you've been doing. And, just my two cents, both my girls disliked pre-k quite a bit actually. Don't know why, but kindergarten was just fine.

  25. oh my gosh tara donovan! TARA DONOVAN. luv! huh! i would kill to see her work in person. and love that she's VCU reppin! In regards to the school question, just follow dat mommy gut. it knows best :)

  26. Why not keep him one more year? You are doing a smashing job as a mom and as cliche as this sounds, time does fly and then they are grown up. So really, there is no rush.

  27. i don't comment too much, but awesome post. those installations are amazing, and i love that jaded new yorkers like a museum security guard can still get excited about some celebrity spottings..

    as for huck, and i have no personal experience on the subject, but read/listen to a variety of topics.. i've heard that pre-k is a very good start for your child (as opposed to no pre-k), BUT that boys can be better off by postponing school for a year. can you pre-k him next year? (especially since he's an october baby, right?) i've also read that some sports-crazy parents of middle and high schoolers are holding their teens back a year so that they're bigger, older, and better on their sports teams. (look up maryland lacrosse, i think it was..) the idea is these prestigious sports schools are funneling these stars into better colleges and scholarships. if huck begins late in the first place, then you don't have to hold him back if he becomes crazy good at a sport! lol

  28. I don't know what you decided, but I will say this about pre-k: I felt so similarly when my daughter was exactly Huck's age. We were such buddies! We went everywhere together! I loved it so much, and it felt so weird and almost wrong sometimes when I thought of signing her up. I didn't sign her up at first, and then I kept going back and forth and wondering if that was a mistake. Then, magically, after Christmas a slot opened up at a school near my house. As soon as I registered her and wrote the big fat check, I immediately thought "oh no! wait, no! no I don't want her to go!" but... I had paid all that money... And the first two weeks she went, I would just pace around our apartment and feel frantic. It was awful! But then we both started getting used to it, and I can't even tell you how amazing it was. Watching her bloom in a way that I really could not provide for her was beautiful. She didn't need the "academics" of it, but she became much more confident and I loved watching her navigate a social world that I didn't create for her (from church/neighbor friends).
    Anyway, I'm not saying that means you necessarily *should* put Huck in pre-k, but I also think the fear is TOTALLY normal. Good luck! This is a tough transition age! My daughter will be in first grade next year. It blows my mind how old she is.

  29. I've never commented here before, but have been reading since Henry was very small. My son is very close to his age and looks a little like him and we live near-ish so it's curiously interesting to watch your life happen, almost parallel to ours, similar in some ways and very different in others. I have also been the stay-at-home mom the last three years, his other mom works and he and I spend lots of time together. We are also making pre-k decisions now. My son is even a little younger than Huck--New Year's Eve birthday...Just. made. the. cut!--and I have never felt that pre-k is Necessary, though certainly not a necessarily Bad idea, so I can relate to some of your hesitations. Ultimately, we decided to apply and will sign him up if we get a spot primarily because it seems that jumping into kindergarten (which is pretty intense these days) might be much more difficult if he doesn't have the pre-k transition. Of course, we were not among the lucky ones who got a spot in the first round and there's not much hope of finding one in our neighborhood, so the point is probably moot, but that was our thinking and maybe it will be helpful for you to know.

  30. I think you should trust your mama instincts! All day pre-K seems pretty intense to me. He will not succeed/fail based upon this one decision. I think you should just follow your heart. As cliche as that sounds.:)

    And while I'm on here.....I left you a comment on Instagram a while back (on the infamous tat pic) and I'm sure you don't even remember (@shellElynnn85) but it has been nagging at me ever since, and so I guess I will just address it. I am sorry. I guess it wasn't even targeted at you but rather at the other commenters, but still. I am sorry for entering the fray because that's really not who I want to be, and I should have just kept out of it.

    You're doing a great job, and I'm sure you'll make the right decision about pre-K for your family, whatever that may be!


  31. AnonymousJune 22, 2014

    Ah the New York I've only ever seen on a movie theatre screen. Beautiful photographs of the city and your son.
    Have a peaceful Sunday!

  32. your blog is really amazing <3


  33. oh man i totally know that feeling of not wanting to send your kiddo to pre-k! while all my friends sent there kids to pre-k when they were 3 yrs old, i was like hey, yeah i got to get on that band wagon too, but the more it approached I just really didnt want to do it. but every time we would come in contact with people they would ask, "oh is he in pre-school", like gasp how could he not be. well once i finally made the decision not to sign him up, i felt so good, such peace. the world, our city everything around us was our school. we are go'ers and do'ers so that's what we did. go and do on our own and with some friends too! best choice i made! he did do pre-k this year because he's was 4 and it was only 3 days a week for 3 hours each, and he loved it- and it was good for him (sad for me) but i knew it would help prep him for when he goes to Kindergarten this fall (sob!) but the best part of being such a rad mom like you, is that you take him with you - you let him experience life and everything around him, that to me is the best!!! :)

  34. These essays always make my day! Isn't this the beautiful thing about blogging though? Years and years and years from now, when Huck is in school and succeeding like we all know he will, you can read back on these special days with him, your little moments and jokes and thoughts and feelings! xx

    The What's In Between

  35. AnonymousJune 23, 2014

    What a wonderful essay! :) You two are too cute. That exhibit looked incredible. And you got to see Yoko Ono. What?!?!?! :)

    Also, my heart broke a little at the part where your son said that he wanted you to go to school with him. :) How sweet.

    I hope you have a beautiful day!!! <3


    the bbb blogger


  36. keep huck home with you for another year. i just love your little relationship and can't bear the thought of not hearing about it as much next year. how selfish was that response? :)

  37. I think a full day for a 3 year old is too much....trust me, my son was 4 when he started a 1/2 JK and all he wanted to do was play, they're not ready for a full day discipline. From my experience it's probably better to hold them back until they're slightly more emotionally mature. It's less stress for him and mom/dad.
    Best, Lisa xo


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