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.
So, I finally, stepped up to accept my, unfortunate, duty as a parent to train my girls to use the potty. Indeed, freedom from the endless loop of changing diapers, was motivating, but secretly, I hoped to avoid or just ignore it. Would it really matter if they were still in diapers in first or even third grade? Aren’t there worse things to worry about? Sooner or later they would figure it out on their own. Then, we learned that ski school and camp wouldn’t accept them for drop off, untrained. Alarmed, we had a hard deadline in January and had to get to it.
Back when Luca was young, and I was a fresher faced mom, I, enthusiastically embraced these challenges, reading up on all sorts of advice. Unfortunately, all the experts were aligned. Lock yourselves in for three days, take off the diapers, and let it all go. Well, after the shit hit the fan, or in this case, the floor, I was done. NO WAY could I cope with that for 72 hours. Since I had committed to getting rid of diapers, I put underwear on him and continued for another few torturous days; sitting him down every half hour, me next to him, hoping for a miracle.
Fast forward seven years and, despite technology’s evolution (I didn’t even have a smart phone, let alone iPhone, back then), they still don’t have an app for this. Overwhelmed with two of them, I opted for a laid back approach and promptly amazon primed two pink potties, a portable potty for the playground (Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus), two cases of pull-ups, about 20 pairs of disposable underwear, candy, stickers, and extra bottles of wine to set about my task.
It’s been a frustrating few weeks, but real progress is happening. Maxine took the lead, being the most consistent with usage, supported by her utilization of algorithms to calculate optimal candy accumulation per pee or poop, manipulating timing for optimal rewards. Though I am very proud, one downside has been her determination that it’s not worth her time if she needs to do her business during reward blackout periods occurring daily before 7:00 am or after 6:45 pm.
Laurel was also catching up, but mostly on how she can guilt me into also earning candy for doing absolutely nothing but crying and screaming when Maxine gets her rewards. Though painful, I had to wise up to her manipulation and hold her accountable to, at least, sit on the potty to earn a candy treat. Luckily the prospect of a special new Doc McStuffins, or as she calls it, Stuff McStuffins back pack had her in a frenzy. She only needed one poop on the potty and it was hers.
It was an arduous few days when Maxine earned the coveted prize, before Laurel, and, to Laurel’s envy, wore the backpack everywhere, even to bed at night. Luckily, after dragging both potties, the portable potette (which came in very handy during a nature walk on Shelter Island), and everything else we needed for Thanksgiving, to our house in Bridgehampton, we had a breakthrough. After catching Laurel sneaking off behind the sofa to do her business, Mark yanked her into the bathroom. In a critical moment requiring excellent timing and aim (both rare for my husband), to her shock, Laurel nailed it right in the potty.
Anxious to see her rewarded, I jumped the gun. Once she had that backpack strapped tightly on, she immediately went on strike. After two long days, it took the fear of loosing her prize and possibly spending the afternoon with a fictitious babysitter to motivate her back to action. And, while there have been some slight mishaps, I am confident she has turned a corner.
Among so many things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, having the worst of this job behind me, for the last time, is certainly one I don’t take for granted.
Luca, our only child for 7 years, turned ten on October 14th! Somehow, he still manages to be the sun we all orbit, even with all the chaos his sisters’ create. From his first moments the kid’z been fawned and fussed over, cherished, adored, and overly spoiled. Not that he doesn’t deserve, almost, every moment of it. He’s given us more laughter, love, pride, and pure amusement this past decade that I could ever express in words.
Like most kids, he lives for birthdays and holidays where presents are involved. Which BTW, when did Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day become holidays for relatives to send gifts?
As parties go, this year’s wasn’t over the top but, with little free time on my hands, it was stressful nonetheless. By the morning of, I was still unsure how, after committing to provide transportation, I was going to get 13 of the 16 kids coming from FIDI and Tribeca to Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island City, Queens, during rush hour, on a Friday night.
I also needed to pick up the cake, assemble gift bags, and make sure a sitter was lined up for the girls. Bottom line, I put a lot of work in with little time and help, save for my mom who ran with me to Party City on the eve of the party, while Mark was enjoying a guys night out.
At this age, Luca’s expectations for additional gifts, on top of, yet, another birthday party needed a serious adjustment. We checked out his Amazon wish list and promptly nixed 3 more giant nerf guns (how many Nerf Zombi Strike FlipFury Blasters does one kid need?), and a tactical vest kit (sorry, NO). Since he would be showered with gift cards from all of his friends, we picked a few listed items, including a pair of random headphones.
But, always wanting things to be perfect, I fretted that, for his turning double digits, I didn’t have that one special gift. I thought,”rather than just any old headphones, why not buy him a cool pair of Apple Beats.” Now, desperate to have them for tomorrow, the 14th, Grandma and I sprinted to the Apple store knowing we still had to get the cake and grab the girls by 1:00. Considering the kid looses everything, I opted for a, slightly, cheaper pair, rather than dropping $300 on wireless ones. Miraculously, I got the last blue ones in stock, and coupled them with a matching iPhone case as a gift from his sisters. Feeling pleased, I ran to pick up the cake.
On Saturday morning, with Luca anxious to open his gifts, I couldn’t wait to surprise him with the upgraded headphones. But, no sooner did I hear, “Is this it?”, after he surveyed the few boxes we brought out, “I can already tell you didn’t get me a nerf gun,” he said, choking up. Defensively, I reminded him how many he had and maybe he could use his gift cards (ie, his own money) for more.
He was acting very childish, but I knew he was tired. Rather than let it go, I became incensed when I saw him sulking on the couch. Before I knew it, I was laying into him, “Didn’t you just have another birthday party, with transportation for all of your friends, and a beautiful soccer ball cake? I went out of my way to buy you something special.”
Clearly we were both out of line but, as the adult, I should have been able to let it go. Hell bent on making my point, I rambled on throughout the morning, exhausting us both. Unlike Mark, somewhat, the, detached, voice of reason, I also couldn’t bare living with Luca’s disappointment, however misplaced it was.
Later that day, it all blew over, and soon Luca was rocking out with his Beats, thanking us lavishly. All was right with the world again, until later that week. As he stepped off the bus, on Friday, he turned to me, his voice seeming to crack a bit, “Mom, why didn’t you buy me the wireless ones?”
I mean, what is it with kids? It never ends.
I’ve been avoiding you completely but it’s not you; it’s me. Actually, more like the non-stop distressing news. Feeling inspired to share anything interesting, witty, or remotely funny these days in the wake of Harvey (not just the storm, but now the movie mogul too), Irma and Maria, has been all but impossible. If only they were characters in a love triangle on some cheesy Fall lineup, but anyone living in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, St. Martin, Anguilla, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, Cuba etc., sadly, knows otherwise.
Then came news of a 7.1magnitude earthquake that stuck in Mexico, and, as I write, California’s wine country is in ruins with more that 52,000 acres in Napa Valley and Sonoma completely consumed. If the environmental news wasn’t horrendous enough, it just kept coming. It’s been barely two weeks since we had the horror in Las Vegas. And, of course, Harvey Weinstein’s rampant sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood just broke days ago.
The awful news is constant, and I’m barely scratching the surface. It can be a real struggle to make light of my day-to-day when the gravity of this stuff weighs you down. The onslaught of natural and human disasters must be wake up call. Regardless of your politics, we may have been able to mitigate, or, possibly, prevent some of the devastation had we taken steps against global warming, to diminish intense climate change and it’s resulting catastrophic storms that have now become our new normal.
Common sense gun control may have also prevented another deranged lunatic from killing dozens. How many more innocent people will be victims before we act? It’s outrageous for people to continue leaning on our 2nd Amendment Constitutional right to bear arms as an excuse to ignore the need for gun reform. The Founders wrote our Constitution at a very different time in history, when America was a mere babe only just gaining her freedom. Common sense gun control won’t take away guns from avid hunters and enthusiast who practice safe sport. But times have changed and it’s absurd to consider our Founders’ anticipated sick people shooting rounds and rounds of semi-automatic fire into crowds at concerts, school children, shopping malls, churches, movie theaters, holiday parties, and college campus.
If, even, one more mother could still hold her son or daughter tonight, or two more homes on St. Martin could have withstood impact from a weaker Irma, or three fewer people died from drowning in Houston from a less severe Harvey, or four fewer homes were taken by the raging fires that burned in Northern California, than maybe even the slightest of our efforts, as a country, would have been worth it.