David and I drove to Ithaca, NY on Monday to help Sis and Lorenz move in. They had not even been here 24 hours by the time we arrived, so it was a chance to catch the two of them before they had settled in. Sis still had a few large pieces of luggage in the car and could not figure out how to get the orange U-Haul straps off the car, so almost immediately after hugs and hellos, we went to work.
Her apartment is nicer than I had expected. It's spacious - considering that's only the two of them for most of the year. Lorenz has a great bedroom. There were a number of things to fix around the apartment and Sis had already started a list. After arranging some things, we put Lorenz in the stroller and headed to the downtown area for dinner.
Ithaca is a very crunchy town. It wasn't until day two here that I found out THE Moosewood Restaurant was founded here. We passed several organic grocers and vegan restaurants. The Ithaca Commons (which is a string of stores and pubs where cars are not allowed) is filled with acoustic musical groups and hacky sack players. David had never heard of hacky sack to which Sis and I expressed reluctant belief.
We found a Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating. The meal was cut short by a passing downpour - but by that time, all I had to do was chug my margarita and run for cover.
The second day, we decided to tackle the list of things to fix around the apartment. Sis had a pretty lengthy list that covered things like utensils (she had forgot to bring knives, forks, and spoons), bed rails for Lorenz, curtains and curtain rods, etc. There is a Target in town. David and I had never been in a Target (to which Sis expressed reluctant belief). I have to admit, Target was pretty amazing. The choices of things to get were actually pretty nice and the prices were shockingly low. Sis wanted to get a $99 sofa, but when she saw me sit in it, she realized it was probably too small. So instead we got a sofa cover for existing large and mildew-smelling sofa.
We got some items for Lorenz as well - a Play-doh set and a Spider-Man lunchbox and thermos.
After the Target run, we took Sis to the "other" daycare center. Sis had gotten accepted, but she had decided to go with another daycare center and was racked with indecision. We took her there so she could check it out. It was a more modern daycare, filled with plastic toys and efficiency. Although everyone was very nice and they had a huge waiting list that Sis had somehow gotten around, Sis felt like she had made the right decision taking Lorenz to Namaste Montessori instead - which is more in the country, uses only toys made of wood and metal, and has other vegetarian kids.
Next, we took sometime to explore the campus. It's up on a hill, over-looking the rest of Ithaca. There's a beautiful river cutting through campus so there are waterfalls and bridges. Sis got us some cool Cornell fashions since today was a bit breezier than we had expected. We saw the building with her office, which looked to be one of the nicer and more character-driven buildings (at least form the outside).
After that we went unloaded the car. I put on the bed rails for Lorenz, David hung up the new curtains. At one point, David said that he felt like he was hanging up curtains for his theoretical daughter. I asked him what he meant and he said "I'm at the age where if I had gotten married and had kids, they would be at the age right now where they'd be going off to college and I'd be here hanging up their curtains in their dorm room."
I told him that we were happy to satisfy the needs of his biological clock.
We drove to Namaste Montessori to pick up Lorenz. The school was very small and cute. The teachers all seemed extremely kind and competent. I could see that Lorenz was in good hands. We drove to the nearby Buttermilk Falls and did a bit of hiking around. Lorenz was in a crabby mood from being both tired and hungry, so we skipped the next waterfall and went for dinner.
We couldn't get into Moosewood, so we went for Japanese instead. Lorenz was a lot more pleasant to deal with after he got some food. And we got cold sake to share - making jokes that we were going to change from uncles to drunkles.
After dinner, we took them home (Lorenz LOVED his Spider-Man lunchbox) and went back to the hotel to crash.
Although I am the Capricorn of the family, I fell like my sister is the true sea-goat. The idea of the Capricorn is that with the front of a goat and the tail of a fish, it stubbornly refuses to accept its limitations and climbs mountains regardless of its lack of hind legs. How my sister could pack up her son and just enough items to get by, drive across the country to rent an apartment she'd never seen in a new town is beyond me. It's of course a good career choice, but it's quite a sacrifice and not an easy road. Things will be easier when her husband Mark comes to visit but that's several months away. I don't think I could ever make the choice that she did.
David wins the husband, brother-in-law, and uncle of the year award for taking care of Sis. And I told him as much.