Sunday, November 12, 2017

I love Halloween. 2017

It is no secret that I love Halloween.  Always have, always will...and what I love about being a parent is that I can instill that same rabid loyalty to the excitement of Halloween in my children.  This year I had Clara decide on her costume in the beginning of September - I need time to plan these things, people!

All summer Clara had wanted to be Powerpuff girls.  Clara, Freya and I would be the Powerpuff Girls and Gerald would be the villain, Mojo Jojo.  But in a surprise turnaround, Clara decided we would all be Trolls after watching and falling in love with the Trolls movie.  Clara would be the heroine, Poppy Troll, Freya would be the Justin Timberlake Troll -Branch, and Gerald and I would be Background Trolls.  

Over the weeks I began cobbling together their costumes, and took on the task of making the wigs because everything I could find for sale looked stupid and expensive.  When October 1st rolled around, I surprised Clara with a Halloween Countdown Calendar which stoked the embers of excitement into flame.  Freya even joined in practicing saying things like: "Happy Halloween!"  "Trick or Treat?" and "Hee hee hee, I'm a witch!"  It was awesome.

Finally the big day arrived - we were ready - and as usual - it's nearly impossible to get a family picture, especially one where Freya keeps her wig on - but here are the results of months of work.
Freya is not pleased about the wig.
Clara as Poppy Troll.
Gerald and Branch.
Background Trolls.

I host  a Pre-Trick or Treating Halloween Party for the kids in our building.  This year I went with a witch theme - I invented 2 games - throw gooey eyeballs into a witches cauldron, and the Witch's Gauntlet which involved throwing glow rings over obstacles - witches legs, a black cat,flickering candles, and a witch's hat.  Both games were very popular.

Cauldron, bowl of eyeballs on the side.
Witch's Gauntlet.

Then it was time to Trick or Treat.  Clara's friend Sara was there as well as their cousin Fred and his parents, Becky and Dustin.  The only person I know who like Halloween more than me is my sister Becky - their family costume took it to a whole new level.  I present to you Fred as Mike Wazowski from Monster's Inc, Dustin as Sully, and Becky as Boo's Closet door.  Come on People!

 As we tromped around the building knocking on doors, enthusiastic neighbors got into the spooky spirit. 
Babette chased us down because we missed her door.
Trick- or - Spider Man!
Nightmare Nurse!
All in all it was another Halloween for the record books.  Though I have notcied a pattern in Halloween costumes Freya may want to remedy next far all three of her Halloween's Freya has been a sidekick to Clara's star attraction...and a boy.

Year One: Clara - Princess Anna, Freya- Olaf.
Year Two: Clara - Snow White, Freya- Dopey
Year Three: Clara -  Poppy Troll, Freya Branch Troll.

What will next year bring? Only the ghosts and the goblins know.

Freya and Clara.
Poppy Troll and Sky From Paw Patrol.
Freya and Fred get some candy.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sesame Street - 2nd Generation

Last week Gerald and I had the amazing opportunity to take Clara to visit the set of Sesame Street thanks to my old friend (and puppeteer) Tyler Bunch. There was so much nostalgia to this visit.  There aren't many shows that have been on the air since Gerald and I were kids that are still on and relevant to our children.  As fate would have it...and our parents differing industry connections to Sesame Street, both Gerald and I had the opportunity to visit the set as children - and now here we were...30+ years later taking our daughter.

When we walked onto the set the first thing I saw was Big Bird's nest.  Come ON!!!  I love Big Bird!

 The next thing I saw was the sign for Mr. Hooper's store.  The day Becky and I visited the set as children was the day after the actor playing Mr. Hooper died.  It was a quiet, somber set but I remember walking around in absolute wonder. 

I was about 6 years old when I visited, Gerald was younger - and had some real insider access, as he was allowed to take a photo sitting inside Oscar's trash can.  He wasn't so lucky this time, but we did find out that it is one of 2 pieces of set that are original and date back to our childhood.

Gerald then.

Gerald now.

The other piece of set that is original are the brownstone steps leading up to the 123 entry door.  The only photo I know of from my visit to sesame street is on these same steps...and Clara got a photo too.

Clara - 2017.
Becky and I circa 1982.

And then the real magic happened - Tyler had told me before that there was no guarantee that we would be able to meet any of the characters - which was fine - my head was already spinning with childhood glee.  From the back we watched a scene being filmed with Abby Cadabby, Grover (MY FAVORITE!!!!), Mr. Johnson, and Rudy (Abby's younger brother), and real person Chris.  

We watched them film the scene - during a short break I suddenly heard Abby say: "Hey, you, I like you're skirt - it's just like mine." And I realized Abby was talking to CLARA!!!!!   Ahhhhh!  And just like that Abby and Grover and Rudy came over to talk to Clara and give her lots of hugs.  

I restrained myself from hugging Grover and crying and instead took some photos of this momentous occasion.  As you can see - Clara was a little stunned by all the attention.

A short while later after we saw some of the behind the scenes stuff we walked back on set.  Abby swooped in and took Clara's hand and walked her over to her Fairy Garden. They sat together and talked for a long time.  I cannot express how awe inspiring it was to watch this interaction between a happy-go-lucky pink fairy and my most precious little girl.

It is something I will never forget and I am forever grateful to have gotten to experience the magic of Sesame Street as a child, an adult, and a mother.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Conversations with Clara...Movie Night.

One of the best parts of having an older kid is introducing them to movies you loved as a kid.  The first one I tried with Clara was Labyrinth, and it went over like gangbusters.  Come on - strong protagonist young girl goes up against and defeats the Goblin King to save her baby brother? And the Goblin King is David Bowie?  Clara was going to love it - and she did and has now watched it ten times.

The other night we watched The Neverending Story.  Clara had some critiques about this movie from the beginning.

For example - when introduced to the Rock-eater, Tiny and his Racing Snail, and the Night-hob and his flying Bat,  Clara asked: Why are all the people in Fantasia so ugly?  Isn't this a fantasy?

Clara was also immediately impressed by the bravery of the child Atreyu. (I fast forwarded through the whole horse dying in the swamp part when Clara was in the bathroom)   I started to talk to her about how much I like Atreyu as a character, and she held up her hand to correct me.

Clara: "'s a girl."

Me: No - Atreyu is a boy."

Clara: No, she's a girl.

Clara never wavered on this point - never mind that Atreyu runs around most of the movie without a shirt on, only a loose vest.  I guess ladies in Fantasia have different ideas about modesty...and nipple coverage.

Clara also had some harsh words to say about the title of the film.  

Clara: Why is it called that? Where is the Neverending Story?  What does that even mean?  This movie should be called "The Wolf in Fantasia's Fight" or "The Nothing."

All strong points, Clara.

In the end, though, Clara absolutely loved the movie which made the little girl in me dance for joy.

I'm just waiting for Clara to be old enough for The Dark Crystal and The Last Starfighter. And of course, Newsies.

Clara teaching Freya how to Hide in "Hide and Seek"

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Conversations with Clara. Episode 13. (Freya joins in)

Clara recently turned five years old. She had been obsessed with turning five for months and was crazily over-excited as the big day approached.  The Friday before her birthday I brought in cake for her summer camp class and  everyone sang her happy birthday.  I left and came back later that day to pick her up.

To preface, this was not her last day of camp - she still had 3 more weeks.  But apparently this was the speech she made to her class:

"I will miss all of you.  I've had a great time at camp but this is my last day...because I am five years old now and I have to start Kindergarten tomorrow."

It took some explaining on my part but happily, Clara was excited to be returning to summer camp.

A few nights ago Gerald was having a conversation with Clara about a lot of things. She had a lot of questions.  In the context of the conversation Gerald asked her:

"Clara, do you know what prayers are?"

Clara looked askance at her dad, as if to say: Seriously?

Clara replied: "Of COURSE I know.  They're the things that chase after the prey."

Freya has recently joined in with some clever conversation. The best part about having a big sister is that you pick up all your big sister's idioms in a quest to become older than your 22-month old self, while you run around chasing after said Big Sister.

I will give Freya a turn to choose what she would like to watch on TV. 

Me: Freya, what would you like to watch?

Freya, ponders very seriously, tapping her finger on her chin.

Freya: Hmmmm.  Let's see...How about....Ubble Guppies?

There is also a big poster of happy campers at the entrance to Clara's summer camp.  Freya likes to stop and look at them.  She asks me: Who's that? Who's that?  But she also talks to the poster.  She said quite seriously the other day:

"Hello.  I'm Freya." (pointed to herself, then turned to point at me) "This is my mama."

Glad the poster and I have been officially introduced.

Parachute play.

Cooling off.

Dressed as a superhero.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Clara as Big Sister.

It turns out that an unintended perk (consequence) of having two children is that the older one (Clara) is constantly teaching the littler one (Freya) to do things.

Positive examples are:

Clara has taught Freya to count to eleven.  Super cool.  Clara is currently hard at work teaching Freya the ABC's. 

Freya is also the most polite 21-month old in town because Clara has shown by example and Freya says: "No Thanks!" in place of "No!" and says "Thank-you" when handed something or helped out in some way.

Showing Freya some technology.
But Clara also encourages Freya's natural daredevil instincts.  At the playground I had been avoiding showing Freya how to climb up to the high, twisty slide meant for big kids.  Enter Clara - and all of a sudden the two sisters are whooping it up going down the big kid slide.

Come on, Freya!
First time, together. 
Second time, alone.

This has lead to early introductions to the chain-ladder climbing apparatus and the big kid swings.  (Thanks a lot, Clara.)

But in reality, despite my fears that my 21-month old has no fear, it's amazing to watch the 2 sisters love each other so much and want to be with each other.  Freya wants nothing more than to catch up to her big sister, and Clara is eager to help her try.

How to ride a motorcycle.

Big kid swings.

Just the other day I was leaving for work and Freya was upset.  She was worriedly crying but instead of walking over to me for a hug, she went over to her sister, took hold of her hand, and said: I love you, Clara.

She loves you right back, Freya. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017


And there I was sitting on the couch next to Clara.  It was 7:45 am on a Tuesday morning and I had miraculously gotten everything done five minutes early.  Five minutes before leaving with my two kids on the 20 minute walk to Clara's school.  I wish I had been late.  I wish I hadn't sat down.

There was innocent Clara - sitting beside me - coat on, backpack on. She told me something - I can't remember what - and I looked over at Clara.  She was in profile...and as I looked at her - a bug crawled out of her braid - winked at me - and disappeared back into her hair.

Silently I collapsed inside.  I split into three personalities - first - the freaked-out mom - screaming inside my head: "LICE!  LICE! AHHHHHHHHH!"

Then there was the calm, cool., collected mom: "Lice - I can handle this. Nothing a little trip to CVS and hours of combing a crying four-year old's hair won't cure."

And lastly - the insane, unhinged mom - "What can I do here?  Maybe jump out this window?  Shave all of our heads?  Set every item Clara's head has touched in the last week on fire?"

I cycle  through these different personalities for about thiry seconds and settled on a manageable combination of Calm, Cool, and Freaked-Out Mom.

Lice are truly disgusting and I only remember the one time I had them as a kid from the perspective of a kid, who didn't have to do any of the actual work associated with getting rid of lice.

So, metaphorical sleeves rolled up, I walked the kids to CVS - purchased lice shampoo - enough for all three of us lovely ladies and Gerald, and marched home.

Total Spent: 53.00

I had the girls strip down to their undies or diapers and slathered lice-killing shampoo in their hair - and then mine.  Spent the next ten minutes trying to distract Freya from wiping her head on the couch and then bathed Clara, Freya, and then myself.

Kids dried off for a bit and I stripped all beds - took all sheets, blankets and pillows as well as Clara's recently worn clothes and hats and got them ready for the wash.

Got kids sort of dressed and put five loads of laundry in to wash - on hot.

Total spent: 7.50

Went back upstairs.  Slathered conditioner in Clara's hair and began combing with the lovely lice comb.  After each comb through her hair I wiped the comb off on some paper towel.   I tried not to notice that some of the black specks were still moving.  20 minutes later...

I combed Freya's hair - no lice.

Then I took a deep breath and combed out my hair.  Luckily, I was able to keep from going totally insane because I too, was free of lice.

Bathe in turns - Clara, Freya, Me.

Get dressed - turn over wash downstairs.  5 more loads.

Total Spent: 7.50

Waiting for prescription lice shampoo - won't be at pharmacy until 4:30.

Condition and comb through Clara's hair for second time.  Half as many lice.   Good sign.  Still shuddering.  While doing this Freya pours a liter of seltzer on the couch.  

Make a late afternoon appointment for a lice-check at Clara's doctor.  She won't be allowed to return to school without clearance from her doctor.

Bathe Clara again.  Over the day I condition and comb and bathe Clara 2 more times. No lice.

Collect 5 loads of laundry and start folding.  Somewhere in here the kids eat lunch and Freya naps.

3:00 - I get a car to take us to the doctor - I can't bear the idea of walking in the rain after the day I've had.  

Car to and from Doctor: 13.56

Get to doctor - sign in - Clara is cleared. Doc says to use prescription shampoo in a few days to make sure nothing was missed.  Pay co-pay.

Total Spent: 25.00

Got to pharmacy near my house - a coupon bring the cost of the prescription shampoo down from 50.00 to 10 dollars.   

Total Spent: 10.00

Get home.  Make dinner, Clean up. Put kids to bed, all the while scratching my head worrying about phantom lice.

So, thank you, little winking louse, for irrevocably altering the trajectory of my day.  Thank you for reminding us that the tiniest thing can change the course of our lives.  I hope you're enjoying lice heaven.

Grand Total: 116.56.

And thank you to Clara - who totally kept it together and never cried once. 

That blanket got washed too.

Post-shampoo relaxing.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

San Juan or BUST!

When your best friend surprises you with a trip to Puerto Rico, what would your reaction be? Mine was astonishment coupled with excitement and then the whole wait! - kids, family, work...can I? should I? And then I went to tell my husband and his reaction was: "Are your bags packed yet?"

So the next time your best friend surprises you with a trip to Puerto Rice your immediate response is: "Yes.  My bags are already packed."

And then my bags really were packed and there I was at JFK Airport with Lauren at 8 a.m. sipping celebratory mimosas on the advent of our travel.

There is a lot I could say about San Juan. It's beautiful - the ocean, the architecture, the blue-cobbled streets. The food is delicious - ceviche, mofongo, empanada...And the drinks...oh, the drinks. But my enduring memory of this vacation is Lauren.  Getting to spend uninterrupted time with one of my most favorite people in the world was the biggest gift, and best vacation I could ask for. And what can I say - we have a lot of fun together. So thank you Lauren. It was the experience of a lifetime. 

On the plane to San Juan.
Windy walk.
Mojito meets Sangria.
Somewhere in Old San Juan.
Place with amazing empanadas.
How we felt about being caught out in the rain.
Ont the plane back to New York City.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Friday January 20, 2017 Americans witnessed the handing of the baton off from President Barack Obama to President...Donald Trump.  I didn't witness the inauguration.  I did not what to see the beginning of this bleak new chapter in American history. I read the transcript of President Trump's speech and died a little bit more inside.

My friend Anna had the idea weeks ago that friends should gather at her house, eat and drink, and "not watch" this changeover from a pretty great 8 years to its successor - a shadowy future. So Gerald and I packed up the kids and came over armed with wine, whiskey and appetizers.  Other kids and parents showed up. All of the kids were slightly haywire with the late start - curfew comes early for the under-4 set. But we ate delicious spaghetti and meatballs, and drank wine and talked while our kids stampeded through Anna and Anthony's apartment in a blizzard of toys and laughter. I was too busy spending time with friends to take pictures but I do wish I had one shot of the happy mayhem that was wreaked by 10 children under the age of 4.

My husband and I  left Anna's house slightly tipsy with a full bellies and two overtired, happy kids.  I also left feeling happier than I had when I arrived. I was filled with more hope than I have had since election night. Spending good time with good people makes me know that the fight isn't over.  It has only just begun.

Saturday dawned.  I had the honor of watching the Women's March in New York City.  I watched as the first protesters came up Fifth Avenue and I cried  - overwhelmed by the thousands of good people that have taken up the challenge to resist this presidency and to fight the myriad rights and freedoms that are soon to come under attack. I watched as the numbers swelled and over-ran the barricades - a wall of people from building to building marched down the avenue that is occupied by the most expensive retail stores in New York. A man standing beside me climbed up on a streetlight and said: This is what the Other 99% looks like." And he is right.  "Who wants a picture of this?  Who wants a picture of Democracy?" He offered to take the phones people passed up to him and photograph his bird's eye view.  Many took him up on it. The sea of people was energized and positive and healing. 

I've heard it said that New Yorkers live in a bubble.  We do. It is a rainbow bubble filled with everything and everyone you can imagine - we live on top of each other, and we bump elbows on the subway, and we witness millions of different dreams coming true or failing spectacularly every day.  We do all this living together - regardless of and because of our myriad differences and similarities.

Everybody should live in this bubble. Seriously.  If you lived with a million - or even a few thousand -  amazing, dynamic, and DIFFERENT people you're eyes might be opened up a little more. With the beginning of the Trump presidency I felt the bubble of my idealism pop.  Maybe over the next 4 years we can build one big bubble that we can all live in.