Paris Taught Me

I'm sitting alone at a small table in Cafe de Flore drinking the best hot chocolate ever. All the outdoor tables are filled, so I'm inside with a view of the entire restaurant. The waiters are weaving in and out of the narrow paths as they deliver coffee, tea, and take orders.  All the chairs and tables are arranged facing the street for optimal people watching.   The people sitting in the cafe look so relaxed, it's as if they are watching TV.  Most of the people have drinks on their table. They are not reading a book, working on their laptops, or even talking to the person they came to the cafe with. One waiter is walking towards the kitchen with dirty plates on his tray, he greets a couple and directs them to sit next to me with his one free arm. They sit down and look out the window. There's silence between the couple. It's not a cold silence, but a silence that can only come from being so familiar with each other. They order drinks. Then coffee. Then food.  And eat slowly.

As much as I want to, I can't identify with this couple sitting next to me and their approach to eating. Isn't it a lovely thought though? In two days, I'll be flying back to NYC and I know exactly who I'm going to turn into as soon as dinner time approaches: that Parisian Waiter. Serving food. Getting ordered around by people who can barely speak the language in complete sentences. Weaving in and out the narrow paths of toys throughout the kitchen.  Carrying up dirty dishes.

How can I feel more like the Parisians during dinner? And less like a waiter? Here's my ideas:

1. Be hungry. I have to test the food as I cook but most of the time I eat way too much. By the time the kids sit down, I'm already full. The need to sit with them is lost. The kids see that I'm not sitting down, so they assume I'm their waiter.  More milk please mommy! More Mac and Cheese Mommy... please! I need a spoon. Now. please.

2. Eat slowly.  It's late in the day, the kids are ticking time bombs, they're hungry. The thought of slowing down dinner time in any form might be a horrible idea some nights. I'll scratched this idea for now.

3. Be ok with silent when we eat. It's rare, but sometimes the kids do actually do eat in silence. When this rarely happens I usually start checking my email on my iphone.  But if the Parisians taught me anything, it's the art of being silent together with out any distractions. No books, papers, or laptops. Just food, people, and drinks.

Do you ever feel like a waiter during dinner time? How do you make dinner more enjoyable?


Naming Identical Twins

One of the things I dreaded about having identical twins was answering the question, "Who's who" a trillion times before the boys turned three. Of course my husband and I could tell them apart the first day week they were born but what about relatives who only saw them a few times a year? Teachers at preschool? What about when their back was towards me? I wanted a fool proof system that would make it easier for everyone to tell them apart so I did a google search for ideas. Dressing one in red and one in blue was a common solution. I thought this was a good idea, but I considered myself a success if I have clean clothes in any color. Another idea was to iron on name labels to their clothing. I know one day I would have two Owens. The next day, two Oscars. And the next, I would switch their shirts up and be too tired to make it right.

Then around the first year, something amazing happened: They grew hair. That's when I figured about my Who's Who Solution: Longer hair, longer name. Oscar will always have longer hair. Owen shorter. Until the boys protest, this is the system I'm sticking to. Had I thought of this idea earlier I would have made their names obviously longer and shorter. Here's a list I put together of my favorite boy and girl names if you find yourself in a similiar situation:

The long haired list:

The Short Haired List:

How do you tell identical twins apart? Do you have photos of twins that your can't tell apart? I do! It's the one above of my boys. My rookie mistake: dressing them the same for a family photo shoot pre-hair and pre-brilliant naming idea.


A Park Bench in Paris

When I left NYC a few days ago it was a wintery mix of rain, snow, and wind. I needed a winter coat and an umbrella on my way to the airport. Now I'm sitting on a park bench in Paris. The sun’s out, there are pink flowers blooming on the tree behind me, I have on a light sweater. But the thing that’s making me happiest right now? I’m alone.

I started taking vacations by myself since the twins were born. It’s my secret to happiness. When I find myself becoming overwhelmed by the mindless task of doing the dishes. Or overwhelmed by the chocolate milk stain in my daughter’s favorite shirt. Or when the Ghostbusters theme song stops being funny after hearing the boys sing it for the 15,000 time. I know it’s time for me to take a vacation by myself.

It's not something I plan far out in advance or have to save for. Whatever we can afford at the moment is how my husband and I arrange the trip. The first time I went on a mom vacation, I was living in San Francisco. Our budget was tight so I arranged to stay at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel for two nights. Its location is set on a bluff with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. I knew the accommodations were going to be anything but luxurious, so I packed my down comforter to make the bed feel softer. It didn't offer much in regards to entertainment, so I downloaded free episodes of the radio show This American Life to my iPod to listen to while I watched the sunset. The hostel was twenty minutes from my house, it cost me $46 total to stay there for two nights, and I came back to my home on Sunday night rejuvenated. Changed. Happier. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

That brings me to this park bench in Paris. It’s been four year since my first motherhood vacation and with each trip, I’ve gained independence as a traveler. This is by far the most expensive, farthest from home, and longest trip I have taken. I saved money by traveling during the low tourist month of March and by staying with friends.

My only goal for the trip is see pretty things and eat good food every seven days I’m here. I'll go back when the kids are in high school and drag them to all tourist attractions and museums. I’ll go again when I'm old with a tour group. The Paris I want to see right here on this park bench. Quit, unrushed, mixed with a twinge of guilt for being so happy.


notes from Paris

Such a needed break from Manhattan. I'm staying with the best tour guides in the world. Jordan knows exactly where to take me to buy breakfast, metro passes, and ice cream. And Paul stands back and takes the pictures. So far it's been perfect.


prefer my half marathons in san francisco

My time was almost exactly the same at the one I ran in San Francisco. I ran 10:55 pace in SF and 10:56 in NYC. Despite the times being almost the same, the races couldn't have been more different.  

Training for this half marathon during the winter was rough. Waiting outside for an hour in 35 degree weather for the race to start was awful. I think my ankles froze up because at mile two my right ankle started aching and continued for the rest of the race. I never have ankle problems (it's fine a day later).

When I run, I like to listen to episodes of This American Life. The show is almost an hour long, so I use it as a time keeper. For some reason it stopped half way through and started over again. So I listened to the first thirty minutes of "My Experimental Phase" twice. And then it was accidentally on repeat mode (a setting put in place so the Ghostbuster Theme song could be played over and over for the boys enjoyment), it started over again. That's when I stopped running, walked to the side and fixed my iPhone.

Finally I got out of central Park at around mile 8. That was the highlight of the race. They closed off Seventh Ave. to all cars and I had the whole street to myself. It was a cool feeling to run smack dab between the huge buildings.

I was excited to get to Times Square because I knew Rob, the kids, the cousins were there to cheer me on. Unfortunately, they couldn't find me. They tried so hard! Rob and kids gave it another shot and ran to the subway to get to the finish line. They couldn't find me again. He felt bad. I felt bad that they had to wait outside freezing for nothing. When I finally met up with them at the end, they were tired. Owen wanted me to hold him. I did.

I'm in the lottery for the NYC Marathon. If I get in, I'm wearing bright orange pants and green shirt. And scheduling a day at a spa right after the race. Had I done those two simple steps, it would have completely changed the race for me.



These two girls have been having a lot of slumber parties lately.


about nyc themed movies

My boys current love is Ghostbusters. I was sitting on the toilet playing Angry Birds on my iphone when Oscar walked in and demanded I answer the question, "Who ya gonna call?" so I switched my iphone to camera mode. This is the result:


everyone needs a break from nyc

Soon, really soon, I'll be visiting my friend Jordan Ferney in Paris, France. I can't wait. Above is a picture her husband Paul took (click here for all of her Paris blog posts). They live 100 ft from the Eiffel Tower. Here's the email I sent her in regards to the things I want to see/do:

1. eat chocolate/bread/pastries/cheese/moose/wine?
2. walk/run. my preferred mode of transportation. 
3. it would be fun to find an Easter dress for Ella and Easter outfits for the boys. I want to buy new french style backpacks for the kids. 
4. Eiffel tower
5. flea market

6. musée d'Orsay or Louvre
7. centre georges pompidou
8. notre-dame cathédrale or any church's/cathedrals you think are cool

Most of all i want to get the slow version of Paris. I don't have to make it past #5 on my list. If all i did was walk around, see pretty things, and eat good food I would be happy. i'll go back someday when the kids are in high school and see all the major tourist attractions. and again when i'm old with a tour group. (end of email)
I'm totally excited. 


that one of the benefits of walking everywhere is that i can stop.

*Behind me is Riverside Park. I did not take this picture in the middle of the street. 
When I took this picture, I stopped my normal series of questions that run through my head constantly: Is anything falling out of the stroller? Are we going to make it across the street before this light turns red? Did I brush my teeth this morning? Deodorant too? What is the weather going to be today? Did I pack gloves for myself? When was the last time the boys used the bathroom? Is my stroller going to fit between that building and that tree?
Instead, I stopped, held my iPhone up as high as I could reach and took this picture. Sometimes seeing building after huge building makes me feel little and insignificant. This time it made me feel like I was home.
After I took this picture and had this silly thoughtful moment, I continued pushing the kids and began planning dinner. I knew I had pine nuts, garlic, olives, and olive oil. So I could sauté everything together and mixed it with some wide egg noodles and Parmesan cheese.  For dessert, baked grapefruit with bubbling brown sugar.  Dinner/dessert turned out well.
The day ended with Owen demanding a cold grapefruit.

how to be a Central Park runner

Last week I ran in Central Park for nine miles. It was part beautiful, part humiliating.  Beautiful in that I saw parts of the park I'd never seen before. I loved running with masses of people. It had the same energy as a race. The humiliating part was that I was constantly getting passed up. I wondered a few times: Am I really that slow?  But dismissed that thought and continued on my way. Eventually I found my pace behind a 75 year old man, who ran hunched over with his neck slightly turned to the left. We both ran an 11 minute mile pace. By my 8th mile, I passed him out of pride.


how to declare war on a mouse

Since moving to my apartment, I have:
A. Seen a mouse running on my counter top
B. Had a mouse run over my barefoot
C. Seen mouse feces on the glue traps I've set out
D. All of the above

The answer is D. It's me against the mouse at this point. My Super gave me all the mouse traps and bags of poison to kill 500 mice. That was a week ago. Nothing has been caught.  Tomorrow he's pulling out the cabinets and looking for any holes. If that doesn't work, he's calling an exterminator.

As gross as all this is, it gave us a kick start on our spring cleaning. Last night, we removed every pot, pan, and silverware from the cabinets and hand washed them. We ran out of our Trader Joe's multi surface cleaner as we scrubbed every part of the kitchen (walls, floors, inside the stove, etc). So then we went into super green cleaning mode and wiped inside all the cabinets with vinegar. Then wiped with hydrogen peroxide.
Once we were done with the kitchen, we went to sleep. In the morning, I went into each room and vacuumed and swept every crumb. I also organized all the clutter in the closets and under the beds. The house has never looked better. Spring cleaning is done. All it took was 1.5 days and the boys watching a whole lot of cartoons. Now I need is spring to arrive and for the mouse to die. CB2 is selling a 2 foot high mouse pet that I will gladly accept as my trophy when this is over. Seen above.


that i wish Elevator Operator wasn't an obsolete occupation

Despite being so grateful to live in an elevator building, my boys have found a way to make me dread this part of my day anyway. It's a team effort. Owen presses every single floor button. Then, Oscar holds the door open on every level. They crack up. The joke is so old that I think KNOW they find pleasure in annoying me. I try my hardest not roll my eyes or say "Come on, guys!", but somehow they get a rise out of me every time.  Three year olds and their power trips!


how to look for signs of spring

I've been desperately keeping my eye out for any signs of spring. Any signs. If you look closely next to Owen's left foot you'll see a slight patch on green grass. Spring in near! An ice cream truck drove by the playground today. Another sign! The weather channel predicts weather in the mid forties! Spring!
Here's the boys basking in the 46 degree weather in Central Park on Tuesday.
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