Well 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?
Neglect 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.
Last 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.
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:
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?
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:
Here are my questions for you, fellow bloggers!
Thanks and I am looking forward to your answers!
We 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.
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!
With the arrival of another new year, on January 2nd, Maxine and Laurel turned three! That only three years ago, one day past a similarly frigid New Year’s Day, they came crashing into our lives, blatant and unexpectedly early (in typical fashion), is still staggering.
Starting with the initial, shocking news; so much of it still seems like a blur. I remember heading to midtown for, by all accounts, a “routine” sonogram early in their pregnancy. Relieved and gloriously thankful for the success we seemed to (finally) attain after several years trying for a second child. Between another failed pregnancy, my mom’s breast cancer treatment, a move from our apartment (and, later, back to the same buiding again), there were some stressful years where we, seriously, questioned if we were too old to start over with a newborn. We made the decision to start fertility treatment a year prior, and now decided this would be our last attempt.
I wanted Luca to have a sibling. As an only child, my parents did everything to make sure lots of kids were around and I wasn’t alone. So, at least during elementary school, I barely noticed or cared that I didn’t have a brother or sister. But, around the age of eleven or twelve, our close family friends’ got divorced. I assumed we’d always do everything together and things would never change. Skiing in Vermont, summer vacations in Montauk, holiday parties, and bar-b-ques. But, after their parent’s separation and subsequent move out of the neighborhood, I barely saw those friends again. Even as a child, the realization that blood is thicker than water hit me hard.
Back at my doctor’s office, anxiously awaiting the thumping of one little heartbeat, I recalled, with dread, a similar moment years back. At that time, I stared at a much grainier screen, excited to hear the pumping, so strong only weeks prior, now just appearing as an empty, black, stagnant, and silent screen. Myself, as a much younger woman, naive to the statistics on miscarriage, confused that maybe the machine wasn’t functioning properly.
But this day would be different. Still in my daze, I heard my doctor mention something about there being “a development” and my heart stopped. Having come this far, again, I didn’t think I could bear disappointment knowing it would close the door for us. “Sorry?” I stumbled, unsure that I heard him correctly and what he meant. “I’m hearing another heartbeat,” my doctor said cautiously. I cleared the lump in my throat, “What, exactly, does that mean?”
A quick Google search on the likelihood of having identical twins shows the odds being 1 in 10,000. They develop when one fertilized egg divides into two, and seem to occur entirely by chance, regardless of twins running in the family.
My initial shock inspired panic. Realizing that, even in our attempt to avoid the possibility of twins by using only our healthiest single embryo (in their quest for success most doctors push to use at least two, resulting in many fraternal twins), that our little one split on us, despite our intentions. Sensing my fear, the nurse reminded me of our blessings and added that her mom had twins at 40. “But, I’m going to be 45,” I choked back.
She was absolutely right; Maxine and Laurel are an unbelievable blessing, bringing us pure love, joy, chaos, laughter, exhaustion and fun while rounding out our family. Meanwhile, our initial fears weren’t even close to the reality of how much work they are. Everyday is like running a daycare. But we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The chaos was immediate. From even before they arrived, when my water broke, suddenly and unexpectedly, in the middle of the night. My last doctors exam had assured me I had, at least, another week which would get us close to 35 weeks (still early, but safe). Well, they weren’t waiting.
By midnight on New Years Day, most of our friends in the building, were still away on holiday vacations. My family, not expecting any news, just returned back home from Christmas with us, and never heard our middle of the night cell phone calls. With time critical, we raced to the hospital, taking poor Luca with us. At only seven, he was so patient and supportive, waiting all those hours with me overnight; then having to sit, alone, in the waiting room when they took me in for what turned into an emergency C-section.
When the girls finally came home from the NICU, only two weeks later, the real fun began… and it hasn’t stopped since. We were blessed with two, healthy, spirited, strong and beautiful little girls that would, forever, change all of our lives and give Luca the siblings he always wanted.
As with every new year, when people reflect and make resolutions, this 2018 I will try to remind myself that it’s never too late to try or begin something new. And, to never give up. No excuses. Whether it’s telling your story, getting back to my blog posts, pursuing a new career, making up with an old friend or family member, starting your exercise plan, learning a new language, or just doing something that you’ve been dreaming of for a long time – just go do it. It may change your life, forever! It did for ours.