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.

 

 

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My Lil Valentines

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Happy Valentine’s Day !

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!

 

 

 

The Autumn of My Life

ToyStory02-740x416A week or so ago, on one of the last, precious, nights of summer, my son and I re-watched the movie Toy Story while the girls slept upstairs and Mark was back in the city.  Knowing that another summer was behind us, Luca was entering 5th grade, coupled with the inevitable chill in the air and overt recognition of time passing too quickly, I practically wept while watching and sensing the ache and rejection in Woody’s heart while he, inevitably, was being replaced by Buzz Lightyear as Andy’s favorite toy.

Maybe because turning 50 is really only a year and change away, or that Luca wanted to pick out all his own school clothes this year, and even my girls are revealing tidbits of maturation, this year’s back to school season hit harder. I can’t help but wonder if I’m entering the Autumn years of my life.

While the days can seem long, the years are short. And, watching kids grow up is like some sort of clock, forcing you to take stock as to where you fit in with all of their movement; questioning whether I am quietly slowing down. With the chaos that the twins bring, Luca’s homework, soccer and social schedule, I barely have a minute to think straight. But when I, finally, do get a quiet moment, it can be haunting.

There’s always something wistful about watching the days shorten and feeling the air become crisper. It’s a beautiful time of year on the East coast, but I’d gladly relish more time to breathe in the salty ocean air, soak up the warm sun and sand, and feel that unforgiving heat penetrate my skin, chasing the girls around the playground. The innocence and ease of long summer days, late dinners outside, fireflies and fireworks are abruptly replaced by brisk mornings at the bus stop, parent teacher meet and greets, and a never-ending string of frantic texts about homework, school projects, and soccer transportation.

As with every transition there comes reflection and lately I’ve been  preoccupied with an assessment of my own “value” outside the home. Having just turned down a freelance opportunity that would pay me for my writing, I can’t help but feel slightly unsettled. I started freelance work when Luca was in school but since Laurel and Maxine came along, just don’t have the time. Being home with them is tremendously rewarding. But knowing I could earn a paycheck for writing, again, did provide a brief, if not fleeting, moment of pride too.  Hopefully, when the time is right, something else will come along.

As the series progresses, Woody eventually makes his way back into Andy’s heart, only to get accidentally donated to daycare in the 3rd movie; instead of the intended destination of attic storage. When Woody and the gang manage to escape and find their way back, he does get chosen by Andy to go off to college; but we have no sense of what his future holds. Sequel or not, I guess that’s usually the case.

 

It’s the Summer of Camp

With our 2nd annual trek to Lake George taking seven hours, instead of the alleged four (not my idea to leave the city at 4pm on a summer Friday), to drop Luca off for 10 days of sleep away camp, I’ve been thinking that this could be his last summer camping away.  Car travel is never easy with the twins,  and, though she, miraculously, made the full ride on Friday night, Maxine, got car sick on the short, but windy, hilly drive up to the camp for Sunday drop off, just as we were pulling into the parking lot.

camp blog 1I grew up on Long Island, only 80 miles from Manhattan, but what is it about the city and sleep away camp? It seems like everyone goes. It wasn’t in the plan for Luca but, last summer, when 4 of his friends, who all live in our building, were going together, I couldn’t refuse. It’s, undeniably, a great opportunity to gain independence, play zombie tag and gaga out in the wilderness, hike, sail, and swim in the lake while bunking with friends in a cabin . . .who wouldn’t want to go? Sign me up.

But so far, this summer has been consumed with planning, transporting, or packing for various summer camps. And, while I love that Luca is somewhere in the wilderness, hopefully not dangling from a cliff or contracting lyme’s disease, and completely detoxing from technology (not allowed), I wish he was closer and didn’t require a full staff to complete the required paperwork, medical forms, and round trip driving.

I don’t mean to complain. I know I’m lucky to be able to send him. But all this schlepping, packing, and planning for everyone’s whereabouts during these precious 8 weeks is taxing. Rather than relishing the downtime with no homework or having to wake early for the school bus, we are, or at least I am, frantically struggling to align schedules, pack and unpack suitcases, label underwear (not mine) and make sure we don’t loose anyone.

With a 7 year age gap between Luca and the twins, I need to ensure he’s has lots of activities, and time with friends, so he’s not spending all summer being dragged around to assorted playgrounds and toddler classes with the girls, or begging me to play Clash Royal all day. But, keeping all of them engaged and contented is a handful. Between martial arts camp in the city, sleep-away camp up in Lake George, and sports camp out East in long Island, we are all over the place (not to mention that he better be prepared for American Ninja Warrior some day).

When the girls get a little older, I look forward to not having to over schedule  everyone’s summer break and, hopefully, just spending some days at the beach, going to baseball games and exploring museums like I used to when Luca was young. But, try dragging toddler twins and an active 9-year-old to the Natural History Museum by yourself everyday. So, until then, it’s what needs to be packed, labeled, and whose going to watch the girls next Friday so I can spare them an eight-hour round trip drive back to Lake George for pick up? I sure hope my husband can come home from work early!

Get the Coxsackie out of Here!

It’s been radio silence on my end, but I do have some justifiable excuses for my disappearance. With 4th grade now in the distant past and my son home, with the twins, its been no picnic finding time to blog. Once we evolve into the assorted camp schedules this should, hopefully, work itself out. The end of school year transition throws everything off in our house and is a bitter-sweet reminder of how fast the years really pass – that Luca will be entering 5th grade next year astonishes me. Somehow I blinked, and now he’s almost in middle school.

cox 2And, just in time for summer, we had an unexpected, and unwanted, intruder. In my last post, wasn’t I, just, gushing about how awesome my girls’ preschool was? Well hold that thought; for the second time in 4 months I received another “warning” email that the Coxsackie virus (aka hand, foot and mouth disease) was going around their classroom. And, like the walking petri dish that she is, Laurel, once again, was an easy target. Just in time for her two aunts and cousin to arrive, for an annual visit, and also causing the girls to miss their 2 days a week of preschool. More money out the window; check.

Coxsackie is a miserable virus with multiple symptoms usually accompanied by red blisters in and around the mouth, hands, and soles of the feet. This time, while Laurel’s other symptoms were much worse, luckily, she was mostly spared the blisters. As we’ve learned, kids under 5 can continue to get Coxsackie and don’t really build immunity. Fortunately, it’s rare for older kids and adults to get it.

It was only back in March when, on our way to the airport for a long birthday weekend to Miami, I received the preschool’s first “warning” email and thought how lucky we all were to be skipping town. Toasting ourselves on the plane, as the girls sat, suspiciously mellow, with Luca playing video games, I pondered why everyone was behaving so well.

Somewhere over South Carolina, I noticed strange-looking bumps forming around both girls’ mouths; like they got ahold of my lipstick and tried to connect the dots in a tangled circle. Still, naive to what was coming; it was, in fact, totally foreign to me since, in 9 years, Luca never got the virus at any of his schools, let alone twice in 4 months.

By the time we landed, Maxine and Laurel, both, looked like they got into a rumble with a porcupine; covered in red bumps everywhere, accompanied by two, thankfully, low-grade fevers to match. Impeccable timing when you’re traveling to a place where the only goal was to hang out in the sun in our bathing suits for the weekend.

This week, dare I speak to soon, it looks as if Maxine may be spared. Still, while trying to enjoy, and tend to, our visiting relatives, poor Laurel needed extensive comfort and care, not to mention, wanting to be held constantly.  For obvious reasons, I hope it will bypass Maxine. And, now they’ve missed 2 weeks of school in honor of the July 4th holiday. More money out the window: check, check.

While I haven’t, yet, identified patient zero at the preschool – there are only 8 kids in the class and my two represent 25% of them – we are down to a possibility of only 6 other kids. With my private eyes now out in full force, you can bet that if I see another bump at drop off, my kids will be getting the coxsackie out of that place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hip Hip Hooray! The Girls are Headed to Pre-Pre-K!

For another day. The contract was signed in May.

Don’t get the wrong impression! I genuinely love being home with my girls and feel blessed to be able to do so. I don’t think I would trade it for the world. But the reality of caring for twins, with no help, every day, can bring frequent and, honestly, dire occasions.

FullSizeRenderCountless days are filled with unbounded elation and pride, taking them to the park, guiding and watching as they learn, grow, and interact together; but, others offer the same level of exhaustion and desperation; picking up perpetually dropped food on the floor, pleading with them to stop brushing the walls with the toilet brush, dropping objects in the radiators, pulling diapers out of the diaper genie, and fighting, pushing, and biting each other.

Hearing other moms of “singletons” (a word I never heard before having twins) talk about heading uptown, or to Brooklyn, for some cool new mommy/baby yoga class or exhibition can be isolating, when, at least at this age, taking the twins out of the neighborhood, alone, is the equivalent of trying to commandeer a cruise ship through the Holland Tunnel.

The qualities that make my girls extremely mischievous and endearing, also make them arduous. When other kids are sitting nicely in their high-chairs, mine are usually standing and jumping up and down in the seat shouting “O-U-T!” While everyone else’s kids are sitting quietly in their stroller, my girls insist on standing and leaning dangerously over the tops, nearly grazing the sidewalk, taking all of my strength to keep our tandem double stroller from toppling over on my way to the supermarket.

And, the horrified stares and comments, from random strangers, can take their toll. “Do you see that they are not strapped in – that looks dangerous,” I often hear as my girls are blatantly jumping up and down in the stroller, trying to push each-other over; leaving me no room for denial. “It’s not nearly as dangerous as Maxine opening the car door on the Long Island Expressway while we were driving 65 mph, or when she opened the car door right as I was entering the Midtown Tunnel, at night, in the pouring rain, with no place to pull over. . . you should have been there for that,” I want to say.  Usually when all of this is going on, I am carrying some chewed up cheese or granola bar that Laurel has just spit out, in my hands, and only trying to keep us all moving until I can reach the nearest garbage pail.

In truth, I have tried EVERYTHING to keep them nicely seated, but these girls can bust out of a five-point harness quicker than Houdini. So, a few months ago, I enrolled them in a great drop-off Pre-Pre K program, close to home, two days a week. I miss them so much during this time, but I know they are socializing with other kids, doing all sorts of super messy art projects, and having fun. Despite their mild protests on Monday and Wednesday mornings, I gleefully push them along explaining that in a short time mommy will be back to pick them up to go scooting or the park. But, before I know it, I’m often interrupted, “Ma’am, do you see she is dragging her shoes on the ground from the front of the stroller,” and I’ll look down, knowing that, in a few short minutes I will, actually, be stroller free for a while.

Lady, “This is how we roll.”

 

 

 

 

 

Louis Louis

You reach a certain, middle-aged, point in life where it’s nice to have a few special, more expensive, and higher quality items. But it doesn’t take long to realize that luxury goods and kids just don’t mix. We nearly sustained two casualties last weekend, just living our everyday lives, not asking for any trouble.

IMG_2435Despite Apple’s claim to “do swim workouts in open water, track laps at the pool, or splash with your kids,” Mark’s new Series 2 watch didn’t stand a chance against Maxine’s wrath.  As she yanked it down from the nightstand,  it’s screen quickly cracked, thus totally mocking Apple’s claim to “see your metrics clearly, no matter how much the sun glares.”

The second, more unfortunate case occurred in a cab, heading to Randall’s Island, en route to one of my son’s two weekend soccer games.

As an aside, after living in the city, car free, for almost twenty years, we bought a car two years ago – mere months before we learned we were having twins. They say a car’s value deprecates the minute you drive off the lot. In our case, it lost value and, unknowingly, became too small. Last week, we sold it so we could buy another to accommodate the 5 of us, plus Grandma, Uncle Mike, or who ever else may need a ride.

The irony of owning a car in New York it that, but for random weekends or to head to the beach in summer, it’s barely used. Back in the day, taking the LIRR or Hampton Jitney out east was a no brainer. Doing it with 3 little kids and a giant suitcase, during high season, is to be avoided at all costs.

Of course, the only weekend where Luca had two soccer games occurred on the one we didn’t yet have the new car. So, after an expensive Uber ride out to Staten Island on Saturday, we opted for a more frugal cab to take us up to Randall’s Island Sunday morning.

As with most New York City cabs, our ride up the FDR was, utterly, life threatening. While Mark was enjoying the ride up front, I had all 3 kids across the back belted in tight. To our distress, we discovered that Randall’s Island has more than just a few soccer fields, and, after endless looping trying to locate Field 6, Mark and I exchanged pleasantries and decided we needed to pull over. At that very moment, poor Maxine (once again, the villain), succumbed to the perpetual stop and go, and threw up inside my Louis Vuitton bag, sitting open, unsuspectingly, on my lap. Because we were strapped in pretty tight, I couldn’t prevent her from another episode, seconds later, ensuring she covered all bases by blanketing the outside of my bag too.

With me begging the cabbie to pull over, the situation was bleak considering we still had to sit through the game. With only the clothes on our back and the water and snacks packed so lovingly, in my bag, it proved to be long and noxious morning. After paying the driver handsomely for the fare and to have the car washed, any efforts at frugality were futile.

Amazingly, even in her compromised state, Maxine’s targeting skills were quite precise in more ways than one. As our cabbie managed to pull over and we all piled out, miraculously, I was standing right in front of a minuscule sign pointing to field #6. At the end of the day, we all had Maxine to thank!

 

Throwback Thursday – Did I Mention that I Have Twins?

My rant below was originally posted on Facebook on June 9, 2016. As it so accurately sums up a day in the life of raising twins, I wanted it to be published on Tablefor5 so that it can help me document this time in my life. Please enjoy again.  

To the sleek, young, real estate broker who shared an elevator down to “level C” amenities with me this morning, I’d like to apologize. You see, before I glanced down in shame, I caught the look of horror as the elevator door slid open. I knew you were hoping to show your successful, rich, single client a much more glamorous type that could be his potential neighbor. I was almost going to hop off the elevator and let you all ride in without the discomfort. But then, I realized if only I could take a minute of your time and explain the “situation”.

You see, today was supposed to be my “catch up day”. It’s been a long week, actually a long month, but, I’ll get right to the point about my look this morning. My son wound up missing a few days of school, sick this week. We thought he was on the mend, after a trip to the doctor he mentioned he “felt better” and wanted to eat that second helping last night. Well, just as I was getting ready for bed after an already long day, the forces of nature weren’t having it. The poor guy got sick all over his bed, rug and bathroom. After what proved to be a long and tedious clean up, we managed to finally get to bed for a few short hours.

IMG_4107Did I mention that I also have 17 month old twins? Those little cuties decided to get up at 5:15 this morning! With my husband out the door early for a day trip, I was left to fend the 3 of them off myself. Well my girls can smell weakness a mile away. It didn’t take long before Maxine somehow managed to grab a pencil that her brother left lying around and write all over my walls and door. Literally almost at the very same time (they say identical have this weird connection), Laurel went into her dresser and took one of my favorite sweaters she owns (cute little bulldog on the front) and put it in the toilet bowl along with all the other contents of the bathroom garbage pail. Normally all of our bathroom doors are locked, but since Luca was under the weather, it must have slipped his mind.

I figured that was enough for one morning, but boy was I wrong. When I slipped quietly into my bedroom to get dressed (thank god I did this), I locked the door behind me to protect our printer, lamps and picture frames from attack. Well, the girls must have smelled blood because they immediately went into our hallway closet and somehow dragged out Luca’s heavy razor scooter. As I heard something gouging our floors and walls (they don’t call it a razor for nothing), I panicked thinking they were getting hurt. In my panic, I somehow shut the Master bedroom door before unlocking it ,and, due to the fact that the doorknob is broken and doesn’t have the “unlock hinge”, proceeded to lock myself out of my bedroom.

So, when I saw you earlier, I really didn’t have the chance to “get ready”, or even check myself in the mirror before heading downstairs in pursuit of a maintenance guy to help unlock the door. BOY, when I finally saw what you saw, I really understood that I may have screwed up your commission this morning. I just had to reach out, and, at the very least, explain myself.

Slip Sliding Away This Past Mother’s Day

Oh, Mother’s Day;  a wonderful day to honor thy mom and shower her with love, gratitude, gifts, and body lotion? It was last Sunday morning, when the twins woke 2 hours earlier than usual. After which, they ransacked our bathroom knocking several items off the vanity, including a jar of lotion which created the perfect slip and slide –  eventually sliding over for a surprise attack while I desperately feigned sleep in deep denial about rising this early, again, on a weekend (and Mother’s Day).

Like a scene from a comically contrived “family” movie, I didn’t’ think it was possible that kids really behave this badly; let alone my kids. I hated to be cranky, but things weren’t going as planned. Wasn’t this supposed to be my day?

I thought the conditions were primed perfectly to all but guarantee sleeping in at least until 7:45. With a Nor’easter expected to hit NY the bedrooms would be darker than usual. And, after reading Luca the riot act to stay in bed for mommy, I also equipped him with new reading material and his phone in the (still likely) event he rose early, next waking up the girls.

While my, supposed, full proof plan ended in failure, little did I know it never stood a chance. After a brief investigation (as a preventative future measure), I discovered that, only a day before, my husband purchased the wrong diapers which we could directly trace back to the ‘leaks’ responsible for waking both girls at the crack of dawn. As a little aside, do not buy Huggies Snug and Dry!

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Mother’s Day 2016

After receiving the kids’ beautiful homemade cards and a gift from my husband (helpful for dropping the diaper incident), coupled with the right dose of caffeine, my mood began to lighten. And, I was really looking forward to what’s becoming an annual Mother’s Day tradition – brunch at Bobby Vans in Bridgehampton- with my own Mom and Dad to celebrate. Miraculously, the kids were, fairly, well-behaved and, but for a sole plate of fries dropped from the table, our brunch was lovely.

Blue skies and a break of mid afternoon sunshine, along with being lucky enough to spend the day with my family and Mom – an incredible mother and role model –  ultimately made the day great, no matter the sleep deprivation. Isn’t that what being a mom is all about?