Twins Not Any Easier in Brooklyn

But life is. Somewhat.

So far we love Brooklyn; we love our home, the greenery, uncrowded streets, food, views, parks, and the much calmer, more laid back vibe of almost everyone and everything; except me.

With the move on July 3rd, we basically “threw” our stuff in our new place and drove out to Long Island for the 4th holiday. Back to Brooklyn on Sunday for a 90 plus degree week alone with the kids and NO school or camp, as Mark headed to Cannes for the week (when will they send him to Nebraska?)  Next, we were all driving up to Lake George to drop Luca at sleep away camp and then, another weekend out East sandwiched between our drive back to Lake George for pick up. You get the picture . .

Labor Day weekend, when things were supposed to settle down, I got the casual “reminder” email that Seedlings, our new Brooklyn Heights preschool, starts on September 17th!  WHAT! ‘When did you tell me this the first time? I NEVER agreed to this?’ Don’t kids in Texas go back in July?

Three more weeks with two active toddlers and no plan during the hottest NY summer of record. And, when I needed them the most, The Children’s Museum of Brooklyn and Staten Island closed from September 3rd to September 14th for the annual cleaning. Does it really take two weeks to clean a museum? I knew I couldn’t manage them both, alone, at the Coney Island Aquarium, fearing I could find one trying to swim in the new Ocean Wonder shark tanks.

Does anyone really know what its like to raise twins without “help”?  I don’t think there are many east of the Mississippi doing it without a nanny.  Or, at least with family helping on a weekly basis.  I thought I was out of the woods but now, at three and a half, they are wiser and skilled at ganging up and manipulating me.  And demanding! “I want pancakes and I want to put my own butter on them with the purple knife and I want them in a plastic bag, not a plate, and I want to wear my purple princess underwear and I want to go the yoga room after school and I want to eat pasta for dinner and I don’t want that kind of pasta and I want candy and I don’t want to wear those pajamas and I want to color now and I have to go pee and I need you to turn on the light and I want to have my other book in bed and I need you to find my other book, the one with the words, and its NOT that one its the other one with the ripped sticker on it .  .  .” And, that’s just Maxine.

Today, at least I can say all three are in school for some portion of the day.

On that note, one amazing feature of our our new home – a crucial selling point – is a footbridge that connects our building directly to Brooklyn Heights which, as implied, sits  high up on bedrock overlooking Manhattan.  The Squib Park Footbridge, was going to make my walk to Luca’s bus stop and the girls’ new Brooklyn Heights preschool, stress free and downright pleasant.  It was all part of a wonderful dream.

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Then, JUST LIKE THAT, for seemingly no reason the bridge CLOSED.  And my daily routine is nightmarish.  Sorry for the inconvenience?  It’s way more than that. And temporary? The most recent update referred to a multi-month closure. The sign should  read “Attention, Mom of Twins, this bridge will not reopen until the day your kids are old enough to drive themselves to school.”

We were supposed to be like the happy people  you see walking across an already built bridge. Now we have to cross a busy street, with no crosswalk, to walk up a very very long and steep hill. No scooting happily over the bridge, avoiding traffic and enjoying the Manhattan skyline.  Instead I trek carrying my bag, two backpacks, two scooters, and a potty while dragging both unwilling girls up that brutally long hill. Midway, a water bottle usually drops from their backpacks, swinging on my sore arms, rolling downhill faster than I can grab it. Upon arrival, as everyone else is happily dropping off their one child at school and chatting it up, I usually show up like I worked the overnight in the ER.  I cant’ imagine what winter will be like.

At least at the very moment I gently push them into the doorway of their class, I can enjoy a beautiful walk back to my new home, knowing I have a couple of hours to catch up. That’s assuming I don’t go flying down the hill and wind up (back) in the ER.

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Beachin at Sagg Main

It’s Not Me; It’s You

brooklyn-bridge-painting-vojirWell Manhattan, I am finally doing it. I’ve finally worked up the nerve and guts to say it out loud. You and me are OVER. DONE. Yes, you heard me correctly. No more threats and ultimatums; the gig is up.

Come on! Don’t look so surprised. This is hardly the first girl you’ve sent packing. I should have known all those years of moving around from block to block, less than a mile from each, I was just buying time. You can’t really look me in the eye and say that things have been the same between us lately.

Perhaps your busloads of tourists and clogged streets drove me to the edge, or that lately Luca can’t walk anywhere on your streets without stepping in dog poop. Since when did everyone in the city get a dog? And, no matter how overpriced and overhyped it may be, you still want me to call 6 weeks in advance to get a dinner reservation? Ok, I know I’m sounding bitter; I guess I just never expected it to end this way. We had such a good run for so long. It used to be so easy.

And, just this year we had that long and brutal winter. How about that day in March! Desperate to avoid the frigid temperatures, with an hour to kill before I could take the girls to Kidville, I dragged all three (Luca home for a 3rd snow day), underground from the Fulton Street Transit Center to your new (I’ll admit, stunning) Oculus, heading for Joe & The Juice. Figuring, it would be empty (who the hell wants a $10 smoothie when its ten degrees outside), at least we could sit somewhere warm and have a nice healthy, albeit freezing, snack before heading over to Kidville.

But no. Backing my double wide umbrella stroller through the ridiculously crowded venue, holding three winter coats and music blaring, I was desperate to find a table. Before I knew it, Laurel had already hopped out, wanting to touch all the lit candles on each table while Maxine made her way around the counter where the teenage employees, using machetes, chop large pineapples and exotic fruit. After stalking a tourist couple who looked like they should have been done (you taught me so well Big Apple), I finally shoved all three in a tiny corner table, put Luca in charge of an iPad and set out to wait on a line for 20 minutes, glancing over every second hoping they didn’t get kidnapped. Thirty dollars later, just as I arrived back at the table with 3 smoothies in tow, Laurel said she had to go pee. . .

Now don’t get so sentimental on me. I know we had a good run. There were some very special times. That day I arrived at my new rental apartment on Houston and Mulberry with all those roommates. When I was able to own my first apartment.  Meeting Mark for drinks that first time. God, I will never forget our glorious wedding day at the Kitano Hotel! Or, Mark and I racing in a cab, me screaming with contractions, to NYU Hospital for Luca’s birth. And what about the twins coming in the middle of the night in January, five weeks early! So many memories; plenty blurred from back in the day. How can I possibly begin to sum up our 21 years together?

We’ve had more than a good thing. It was L. O. V.  E. And, while I am not one to kiss and tell – you’ll find out soon enough. I’m just ready for something more wholesome, less gritty, maybe a little less raw. I know. I was the one laughing all those years ago when the hipsters started moving out en mass to make their artisanal cheeses, beer and whisky. Turns out I actually like all those things. So here we are too. Headed for the County of Kings where at least I can still keep a very close eye on you.

Do you think we can still be friends?

 

 

 

I Left My Heart in San Fransisco

img_3307.jpgNeglect has been eating away at me as I realize it’s been way too long. I’m struggling to keep up my writing with the girls’ schedule this year. After picking up my two non nappers midday from preschool spending all day outside or at Kidville’s gym trying to tire them out, cooking dinner, cleaning up, helping Luca with any homework, school projects or studying, I am letting some stories simmer on the back burner for a while. Until something gives, I may opt for some sporadic posts when the urge hits and I just need to share.

In the meantime, since November, I’ve been meaning to write about what turned into an amazing early Christmas present. Given the rarity of such an occasion, I had to documented it so Mark and I can remember a time when we got away together.

Over Thanksgiving Mark suggested we take a trip. Alone! Assuming he tried some mind altering drug, I initially just laughed it off. While the thought of jetting off was appealing, it’s really hard for me to leave the kids. Seven years passed before Mark and I left Luca for a long weekend away, together. We don’t have a lot of nearby family, and never had a nanny to just leave him with. But back then, after crafting a meticulous and elaborate plan of care that included friends, a babysitter and my mom video chatting from afar, we took an amazing trip to Paris.

Looking back, it still wasn’t easy. Days before our flight, Luca was showing some anxiety that played out in the most bizarre way.  Even though he was excited for the weekend of awesome activities, 4 days before we were leaving he literally crawled into our room at 4 o’clock in the morning crying that he couldn’t feel his legs OR walk.

I assumed it was, obviously, an act or some sort of subconscious anxiety. But after several mornings in a row, it got stressful and I suspected something awful may be wrong; my mind off to the races –  imagining a possible link to years earlier, when (I thought) his pediatrician sloppily administered his polio vaccination . . .

Fast forward to today and it’s no longer just a matter of leaving Luca – we’ve got Maxine and Laurel to contend with too. But, with Mark’s persistence, I started believing we could pull it off. With task force planning that spread the balance of care between Grandma and our trusted sitter – including detailed activities to keep everyone busy, we were ready to go.

For the second time in almost a decade, after shedding a few tears, Mark and I were jetting off, (this time) in business class, headed for San Francisco. Staying in a gorgeous hotel, we ate, drank and walked our way through my second favorite city in the US. It was an amazingly romantic and incredible trip.

With a few minor incidents, everything back home went off without a hitch. But for the girls taking full advantage of Grandma, managing to clog our toilette and get up at 4 am for a dance party, everyone survived. Now long back in our routine, when, on occasion I push the girls in their stroller (instead of their preferred scooters), and hear a mysterious squeak in the wheels that also developed that weekend, I am forever grateful for that time and to everyone who helped us get away.

Happy You Day

IMG_3779Last week, on the day before my birthday, Luca came home a little late from school. It was a typical Tuesday, when we get home from the girls’ gymnastics class by 4:20, and usually catch Luca in the lobby or find him sitting outside our door waiting for us (and happy to steal a few minutes on his phone). But on the 13th, my heart skipped a beat when I met his school friends in the elevator but no Luca. It wasn’t that I was worried yet – he loves to linger outside with friends and was likely still goofing around – but I did wonder.

A few minutes later he was storming through the front door, “MOM, I just got you the best birthday present EVER!” I was taken back, having never really seen Luca so excited about other people’s presents before. He was  bursting at the seams to tell me, but agreed that he may be bummed if he didn’t wait until tomorrow. Elated, he ran to his room to check everything out.

Moments later I heard sobbing. I entered his room cautiously, to not ruin the surprise, and found him crouched over a bag of flaming red liquid with items sprawled over the floor.

Turns out, Luca got off his bus and went directly to Duane Reade, intent on buying me a birthday gift. He roamed the store and picked out, all on his own, a bouquet of flowers in a vase, some Papyrus tissue wrap, a box of hot tamales candies (that I love) and a beautiful gift bag to put everything in; spending $26 of his own money!

I was beyond touched (and shocked) at his gesture and sick that he was now in tears. In typical fashion, the sales clerk pretty much shoved all the items in one bag, including the vase of flowers, and handed it back to him. Luca, being a ten-year old boy, cluelessly took the bag and packed it in his backpack for the walk home (the stuff never had a chance).

But for the hot tamales, now dripping flaming red liquid on his rug, I was able to salvage most of the items, all soaked from the leaking vase, and calm him down. When he looked up at me with those gorgeous blue eyes, saying how much he wanted everthing to be perfect, my heart melted.

If only he could believe me that it already was.

 

 

Hello Sunshine

 

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It’s a true honor to be nominated for an award by a fellow blogger. So, I must thank Pam, who kindly nominated me for the “Sunshine Award”, given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community. Pam, a fellow nominee herself, writes an amazing blog called called A.JoAnn, that is, and I quote, the personification of a lifestyle that is dedicated to home, heart and family.  There, she shares her incredible experience and talents with cooking, art, travel, gardening, home decor and other ways to find joy and meaning in our world. Please check in out.  Just so you know, Pam also happens to be my dear sister-in-law (I know, this screams nepotism). Nonetheless, I am touched by her support; and besides, who am I to turn down a nomination?

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

So here goes. Below are Pam’s questions for me and my answers.

How do you stay up-to-date on current issues in the news?

I try to read the New York Times everyday. I’m up early to make my son’s breakfast and get him to the bus stop by 7:15. While he eats, I drink my tea and read as much as possible. Through out the day, if I have a moment to steal, I’ll check in and then finish it up before bed.  

What is one goal you have for today?

To get to the gym and finish my responses to this nomination. I managed to do both! Setting goals does work!

How often do you write your posts?

Not nearly as much as I should. When I started (almost a year ago now), I was writing weekly but I had my girls in school for 2 full days and on those afternoons, I got a lot of writing in. Now, they go every day until 1:00, and somehow I am not getting it done. But, at least I’ve learned that I like to write in the afternoons and late evening. 

What food is your least favorite?

This is a tough one because I love good food. I would say jellyfish. But, I also don’t eat red meat. 

If you were to pick a famous person to travel with, who would it be and why?

Another tough one. But, I would probably choose Angelina Jolie. While being super glamorous and well traveled, she also has a lot of depth and talent. I admire the humanitarian work she does for the United Nations and imagine she’s got a true sense of adventure. I also love that she has all those kids and would love to dish about Brad. 

What (or who) inspires you to exercise?

I’ve always been pretty health conscious and determined to stay fit so I have a lot of self motivation to just be active. I am also married to a man who cannot skip his run for anything so, even if I wanted to slack off, I would feel the pressure to keep up.

What was the last thing you ate?

Part of my chocolate peanut butter birthday cupcake (sorry Mark). 

What is the best color for a car, and why do you think so?

Not sure but there’s something about red. . .

What movie would get you to sit down and watch it again on a rainy afternoon?

Couldn’t pick just one -Wall Street, St. Elmo’s Fire, The English Patient, Babel

What flowers do you think have the best fragrance?

Roses

What is the most rewarding aspect of blogging?

Being able to document this unbelievably crazy time in my life, at almost 50 with our 3 year old twins and Luca, while also connecting with a community of bloggers who have been so supportive. 

Here are the bloggers I nominate for the Sunshine Award:

The Humble Fabulist

Deepa’s Wellness Journey

Rhonda Stephens

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Here are my questions for you, fellow bloggers!

  1. What inspired you to start a blog?
  2. How did you name your blog?
  3. What is one goal you have for today?
  4. What’s your favorite thing to do?
  5. What’s your favorite place to travel?
  6. Do you like to fly?
  7. Do you have a favorite possession?
  8. Do you have a favorite city?
  9. What movie would get you to sit down and watch it again on a rainy afternoon?
  10. Do you have a favorite TV (or netflix etc.) show?
  11. What’s been the most rewarding aspect of blogging?

Thanks and I am looking forward to your answers!

Aqua- Flu -Topia

venusWe were all in a pretty bad rut a few weeks ago –  fed up with the grey, cold, wet and long New York City winter – cabin fever and boredom fully set in. Spending one more weekend at Kidville just seemed unbearable. A change was in order!

We needed something fun and out of the city to get our juices flowing. We hadn’t been out on skis yet this season, and could always use a warm up before our family trip to Utah later in the month. So, on a Wednesday, I convinced Mark to book the last available room at Camelback’s Aquatopia for the weekend.  The plan was to ski all day Saturday, stay the night and let the kids enjoy the water park, video arcade, rock climbing, laser tag, etc. on Sunday.  It’s totally cheesy, but I’ll admit it –  I was excited!

We’d been promising to take Luca there for years. After dragging him to a quaint BNB another season, he nearly imploded driving by those giant candy cane tubes protruding from the Aquatopian structure. Why not embrace our fate?

On Thursday morning, Mark called to confirm. “I just booked it; non refundable”, he said, as I held the phone away, feeling flushed and a little queasy, wondering what was coming over me.  Figuring that Luca would be elated, I managed to cough up a “great! It’l be fun!” and hung up – hoping I was imagining the onset of chills.

By Friday, I could barely get out of bed. Thank god, Mark could take Luca out to his 7:30 am bus and get the girls to school. I still don’t remember how I managed to pick them up by 1:00 and care for them until he came home from work. Sensing his frustration, I tried to convince him that I would be totally fine by tomorrow.

As we drove up, Luca and Mark excited to ski, and the girls oblivious to the fact that they would soon be dropped off in daycare; I wondered how I was going to get through the day knowing we couldn’t check into our hotel until that evening. Miraculously, Laurel, who caught wind of the endless Frozen loop playing on the 60×60 flat screen and giant indoor slide, was enthusiastic about going and ran right in. Maxine, on the other hand, almost pulled the safety gate off the wall after they pried her off me. I did call 10 minutes later, to check up on her state, and was told she was collecting tickets from other kids to ride the slide.

It would almost be impossible to combine two activities I would choose last, to try to do with the flu – skiing coupled with splashing around a water park while riding looping slides and being submerged into a giant pool! Being polar opposites, what are the chances of being at a place where you would do both? Such is my luck.

Luckily, on Saturday, the combination of meds I took coupled with Camelback’s modest terrain enabled me to basically just stand on my skis and head down the mountain with little movement, so I could take some runs with the boys; then head into the lodge every other run to nurse some hot tea.

Sunday morning, I used all my strength to get everyone dressed (myself included), to take them down to the breakfast buffet – though I second guessed my efforts, immediately, noticing most everyone including the parents, dining in their pajamas (not a good look, people)!  Even so, it was for the best;  just as I turned my head (after Laurel squeezed open a coffee creamer and sprayed me with, what looked like snow), I saw Megyn Kelly dining right next to us with her family entourage in tow. As the only two grown woman not wearing pajamas, on any other day, I could have said “hi” and, maybe, bonded over our shared enthusiasm for putting real clothes on; and that our kids are the same ages. But, in my pathetic state, I looked away and prayed she wasn’t going to be at the pool later.

Thank god she wasn’t because we didn’t need any Kelly File style reporting on what was to come. Unable to leave Mark to fend for all three kids, I had no choice but to step up. With my chills in full force, the girls and Luca sprayed me with water and splashed around the wave pool. But, I was starting to feel a little stronger and agreed it was totally fine for Mark and Luca to run off and ride The Venus Fly Trap – I sure as hell wasn’t up for it.

Not one minute after they left, as I watched the girls in sheer joy on the toddler water slides, did I notice Laurel walking funny. She must have sensed my panic and finally rushed out of the pool mumbling something about a “poopie”.  What, “YOU HAVE TO GO?” I shrieked. “NO”, she said,” I ALREADY DID.” But Laurel, “You aren’t wearing a diaper. You’re supposed to go to the potty!”

If I wasn’t sweating out my fever before, now I did in full force. Feeling other parents eyes on me, for multiple reasons, I frantically scanned the water for any fallout and  screamed, with the little voice I had left, for Maxine to GET OUT OF THE POOL, NOW! I was desperate to get Laurel out of sight and into the bathroom to clean up what I could. Of course Maxine wasn’t having it. “You expect me to leave multiple indoor water slides so I can join you in a dirty bathroom to clean up Laurel’s loose poop, “I translated her stare back at me as she climbed the steps on another slide.

Unable to leave Maxine, I backed myself and Laurel in the corner, praying for Mark’s return. Cowering behind an umbrella, I caught sight of  Megyn’s blond hair walking towards the locker rooms. Mark, “We have to leave NOW”, I screamed when I saw him.

On Monday morning, I scanned the Megyn Kelly Today show anxious to ensure no breaking  Aqua-poo-topia stories from Camelback.  While we may have skirted this one, we will definitely be lying low for a while.

The Real Social Needia?

 

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Lately, I can’t stop dwelling on the positive and negative impacts social media and the 24 hour news cycle have on our lives, and how much they’ve changed our behavior, interactions and treatment of each other.

It started last week, racing through Grand Central Terminal, when I looked up and caught this sign hanging in a shop window. I was feeling very cynical, having just scanned many of the 140 comments posted in response to a NY Times story concerning our neighborhood – most of them snarky with assumptions made about people they didn’t know. While I understood their anger and opposition, my heart went out to a mother who was singled out; and I couldn’t help feel that reading those comments would be hurtful.

Only a few years ago, we may have read the paper and tossed it in the recycling bin or mailed in a letter to the editor to prompt further discussion. Now everyone, instantly, has their say; often without filters or the thoughts we’d take to a face to face conversation.

Does knowing so much about everyone, up front, make it easier to pre-judge and miss an opportunity to connect on some other common ground? Let’s face it, if you knew all the details of your barista’s date last night, would you still smile while ordering your Starbucks and say hi? Or, does knowing all the political views of that mom selling PTA tickets make you run the other way?

Later in the week, I also caught a segment of the Today show (at the gym!) talking about creeping. Yikes! If you’ve ever, intentionally (or not), lingered on i.e. dug up a friend’s social media account or rummaged through their friends’ pages – you’ve done it. Who hasn’t innocently (or not) clicked on a friend’s Facebook page and, before you know it, your knee-deep in their vacation pictures of Aspen or Mexico? Or, you can’t stop obsessively checking your boyfriend’s ex’s social media posts. I mean how much time are we wasting people?

After all this, generally, creepy behavior, my sister-in-law’s post, Don’t Look Away on A.Joanne, restored my hope for the positive impacts social media has made. She highlights a tragic story about the rape and killing of a 7-year-old girl in Pakistan, Zainab Amin. When the #JusticeforZainab hashtag went viral, it shifted the tide on the long-held culture in Pakistan, of shaming victim’s (and their families), while abusers go unpunished. Using social media, people expressed their outrage, bravery and willingness to speak openly about their own abuses, pressuring the local government to finally pursue her killer. No doubt this was inspired by the current success of #metoo in shaking up Hollywood, media, sports, politics, education etc, for a long overdue end to sexual misconduct and outrageous behavior.

Not too long from now, Luca will want to join this world too. By then, I can only hope he understands that to be truly “social” is to personally connect with others; to remember to act with those qualities listed on that sign and expect real friends to do the same back! Now if only they would post it on social media too!