toddlers and tiaras

I just watched a million clips of Toddlers and Tiaras, so I know how this post might be perceived. Here's the deal: I told Ella if she stopped biting her nails for 2 weeks, she could get her nails done at a salon. She took the offer seriously and after a few weeks, she had 14 stickers on her chart and the nails to prove it. So off to the salon we went. I got mine done too! First time in almost three years! What are your thoughts on taking kids to get their nails done? Too young? Too weird? It was fun, but next time I think I'll give her a mani/pedi myself. :)


Playground and Secret Cafe

I was shocked to find a playground with such simple equipment. 10 see saws, about 5 slides, lots of swings, and a climbing structure that the kids got mildly hurt on. On the way out, I saw that it's officially named Classic Playground! I liked that instead of spending a few million dollars to refurbished it, they gave it a name that would make the equipment look intentional. At 74th and Riverside Park. Views of the Hudson. Very old equipment but new to my kids!
Afterwards we stopped by The Boat Basin Cafe aka by me The Secret Cafe. It's sort of hard to find because you have to walk under the 79th Street overpass, down some stairs, and it appears. Small menu, views of the Hudson, surprisingly good lemonade. Me and the boys split a hamburger with bacon, cheese, and a big tomato. Good! The picture below is on our way out. Go through the arches, find a table outside. Perfect, easy morning.

Girls Night Out: Broadway Show for $12!

My friend Hailey found awesome tickets to see the Broadway play: The Importance of Being Earnest. I was amazed that despite the play being over one hundred years old, the humor was fresh. My favorite was when they poked fun vegetarians. Poor vegetarians!  The theatre was the perfect size and beautiful, I took two pictures before I was asked to stop. We had second to last row seats but I didn't feel like it was so far back.  And finally the $12 tickets! Hailey used Hiptix. Only catch?  You have to be between the ages of 18-35. Get them while you can!


The day after Easter: Baskets are the new briefcase.

 I know where Oscar and Ella come from, but Owen. I'm always watching him and thinking what's going on in his head? Sometimes he reminds me of a serious business man. Annoyed easily. Bossy. Quick to laugh. I wonder about him and love him like crazy.  The series of pictures below capture the dynamic of my family perfectly.


He is Risen! (see hat below)

I slept threw church and therefore backed out of three of my responsibilities: teaching, reading a few scriptures, and helping Ella with a small speech. At 12pm, I took two Tylenols and two Dayquils and dragged myself out the door to drop Ella off at famous the Easter Parade on Fifth Ave.  The Parade is a casual one. No bands or floats. The city simply closes down part of Fifth Ave so people walk down the street and show off their fancy Easter hats. It's been a tradition since the 1800's. Ella's been looking forward to wearing a matching dress and hat with her cousin Henrietta all week. Here's the pictures I took before I went home and crashed. Thanks to all the people that covered for me at church. Also thanks to Brian and Emily for watching Ella all day and for making the hats. Perhaps I have strep throat? There was a moment when the girls were surrounded by paparazzi that I forgot about being sick. I was so proud. If only my voice was better, I could have yelled out: Smile girls! Ok, try a serious face. Now Dance! Again! Spin! Maybe it's better I was sick after all.


New York Botanical Garden Part 2

I wish my days were only red pants and yellow suspenders and orchid shows with Broadway songs playing in the background. Wouldn't that be delightful? Here's a few things that happened that day: Owen yelled at me for 30 minutes because I wouldn't get him a drink from Starbucks. When I was carrying the stroller down to the subway, I tripped and Oscar fell down two steps, screaming! I spent 20 minutes looking for a lost sweater at the gardens. I found it. Bathroom breaks with boys. Yuck. The elevator wouldn't open at the train station on our way home, so we missed the train by mere seconds. The next one didn't arrive for another 38 minutes. I got yelled at and then apologized to at the Grand Central Station food court for my kids making such a mess at dinner.


My experience with melting crayon shavings on hot eggs

I forgot to buy dye from the store and I didn't want to go out (i'm sick/exhausted today), so I did a google search on other methods for egg decorating. It seems like melting crayons on hot eggs is the trendy way to decorate this year. Instructions are here, here, and here. And more places I suspect.  Here's what I learned:
1. Don't forget to add vinegar to the water when you boil the eggs. I forgot and I bet my eggs would have held onto the wax better.
2. Don't shave too many crayons. I come from the school of more is better, but in the end, all the eggs were swimming in red wax. Also, the eggs all stuck to the plate once they dried because the melted shavings turned into one big crayon. I broke three trying to pry them off . See the soupy mess in the last picture.
3. Have the kids take the paper off the crayons. It takes them forever and keeps them busy.
4. My cheese grader is ruined? I haven't tried to clean it yet.
5. The kids adored the process and squealed with delight once they saw the crayons melting. I forgot to tell them, and they were so surprised!
6. I think this is a new tradition. Next year I will use less shavings, less reddish tones, and more eggs!

Have you tried this process? What did I miss?

For more Easter decorating ideas check out my other ones:

New York Botanical Garden Part One

The New York Botanical Gardens might be my favorite thing I've seen since moving here. It's in the Bronx, so it feels so far removed from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. It's quiet! I loved the feeling of land! Lots of land. I wasn't fighting for a piece of space the whole time.  I split a family membership with my friend Hailey and plan on going back whenever I get the chance. I heard the model train show before Christmas is amazing. I can't wait! I will do a few posts of our the day at the gardens.

The first collage of pictures don't have to do with plants and flowers, but it captures the esthetic of the place.  The designers are spot on. The entrance to the Children's Adventure Garden is bordered by two huge ribbon walls. I usually like to stick to a max of three pictures in my collages, but I loved loved loved this wall too much. Presenting a million pictures starring Oscar and ribbons! And one of Ella. And a stick. 


Easter at the MET

 On my walk to the Met today, I realized there might be some interesting art on the life of Jesus. I wasn't expecting a gallery specifically created for Easter, but I was hoping to find paintings depicting the historical life of Christ. I was directed to the Medieval Art rooms. Here I found gorgeous art with a sense of reverence for his life.  I had never been to this section of the Met. It was beautiful and my kids seemed to enjoy it. Ella and I spent most of the time explaining the paintings to the boys somewhat inaccurately. We could have used Rob or at least a Bible.

Spring Break: Day One

I can't think of a better thing to do on the first day of spring break than fly a kite. Looking at the kids faces, I don't think they could either. Here's everyone on the Great Lawn in Central Park. Where's Owen? Asleep on a picnic blanket with a fever. What to do when you have two perfectly heathly kids and one sick kid? Everyone stay home? Bring pillows and Tylenol (or whatever fever reducing medicine is acceptable these days) for the sicky? I chose to go out. He slept in the stroller or the ground the whole time. He was a trooper.  A day later, he woke up hungry and in perfect health.  Still torn on my decision though. What would you have done?

My First Blog DIY

All good mommy blogs have DIY's! Here's my attempt.  With Easter coming up, I thought it would be perfect timing for a DIY Easter Basket.  No instructions needed, just follow the steps in the pictures. Posing is a big part of making this basket work. It can also double as an Easter bonnet.
The credit actually goes Ella and the materials provided by the Brooklyn Children's Mueseum.  Go all the way back on the second floor to make whatever you want! They provide scraps of paper, bottles, tape, glue, scissors, markers, string, rubber bands, ripped up shirts. New random materials come out periodically. It's my favorite part of the museum. Anything goes! Ella has seen the traditional Easter basket I bought for her, but she told me she thinks this one is prettier. I completely agree.


about forgiveness

When I saw all the cherry blossoms around the Great Lawn, I started to forgive NYC for that horrible horrible winter. As we were walking around, I asked the boys what colors they saw in the trees. Owen was the first to answer. He confidently said, "Brown!". I was hoping for a response of pink or white, but I wasn't surprised that he focused on the dark brown branches. That's Owen. We had a picnic lunch, bought some warm roasted cashews from a street vendor, and walked over to the Shakespeare Garden. After the boys ran through the garden, I had completely forgiven the city for winter. Here's to hoping spring is as wonderful as everyone told me it would be. And less brown! Even if that's the color Owen's going to focus on anyway.

Paris Souvenirs: Art

Photo by one of the Ferneys
 Jordan and I found the artwork (below) of a blue haired boy on the ground, leaning against some furniture at the Paris Flea Market. Oh the Paris Flea Market! I could have spent my whole weekend there. Millions Trillions of alleyways bursting with anything imaginable. Pillows, knobs, wigs, hats, clocks, party supplies. It was like I was seeing the originals before they get copied and massed produced by Anthropologie.  
In regards to the painting: It probably caught every ones eye when they walked down they alleyway. It was by no means hidden. And how haunting he is! Is it even a boy? Is it junk and not purchased by so many for a reason? I loved it regardless and bought it. I was worried about getting it home in one piece though. So I taped all my clothes around it, put it in my suitcase, and bid it farewell when I checked it in at the airport. Luckily the frame and glass survived! I think it looks good in our living room, despite the fact that it scares the kids. Completely understandable. I'm using it as a way to make them more resilient.


about Central Park

A lot of people who live in Manhattan refer to Central Park as their backyard (read here). On Monday, I was one of those people. My kids dug holes, sang songs really loud, and threw around a mangy tennis ball. We all felt right at home.


Paris Souvenirs: Part 3 French Chocolate

It's blasphemous what I have done to get this post up.  When the real chocolates were eaten faster than I could take a picture of them, I bought cheap look a like candy from CVS. The real things came from A la Mere de Famille, one of Paris's oldest sweet shops. They hand wrap their chocolates in the most beautiful shades of foil in every color of the rainbow. I bought 3 in each color. And the chocolate! Rich and sweet. The candies had no chance of waiting a week for a photoshoot. It's a miracle they made it through my long flight home.

Tips for crossing Brooklyn Bridge with kids

Here's my recommendations for walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with kids based on the experience I had today.
1. Take the 2/3 subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn and get off at the first stop in Brooklyn (Clark St.). If you get distracted and miss that stop, the next stop (Borough Hall) works too.
2. Once you get out of the subway, if you're feeling really lost, you can always stop at a near by Starbucks. It's always available for directions, water and ridiculously overpriced organic chocolate milk for the kids. But it's worth every dime.
3. Eventually, find your way to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Throw rocks in the water. Lay in the grass with your arms out stretched. Have a picnic. Run around in the playground. This is when you might have a few moments when motherhood is as great as you dreamed it could be.

4. I asked my boys, "Are you brave enough to walk over that humongous bridge?" They shouted, "YEAH!" and ran out of the playground. I was shocked they transitioned so well. Try it!
5. Take the stairs that lead to the bridge. A tourist might help carry the stroller.
6. Dig in your bag until you find a couple of dollars to buy two bottles of ice cold water from a street vendor.
7. Last tip: If walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, stay out of the bike path. The white line divides the bike lane and the walk lane. Oscar (left) is demonstrating the concentration, stillness, and seriousness it takes if you want to stand on that line. Owen (right) takes a bit more relaxed approach.  Whatever suits your personality!


Union Square Farmers Market

My friend Corinne and her sweet daughter came with me and the boys to the Union Square Farmers Market.  I like that on Fridays, the market is smaller and slower than on Saturday. Owen filled his bag with 5 pounds of apples. Oscar felt satisfied with two perfect red apples. My shopping list included: mushrooms, bread, and yogurt. It was all going well until my boys had to go to the bathroom four times (plus an accident somehow!). Sadly Corinne saw the reality of taking 3 year old twins around the city.  It's not terribly different than the blog, but not nearly as pretty either.  While I can't fool her anymore, I hope somebody out there still is! Instead of taking pictures, my time was divided between the bathroom and talking to Corinne. A pile of dirty mushrooms is all I got to show for today.


how to play in cold weather

I'm not going to go into details about my feelings on NYC weather, because I think that topic is such a bore. All I will say is that I don't like it. One more thing: It was in the 30's today while I was in Central Park. Don't fact check my numbers, but I promise it was. I kept wondering why my boys seemed so happy, but then I remember it's been weeks since I took them to a playground. They spent a lot of time on the tire swing. Making up for lost time.

Paris Souvenirs: Part 2

I used up the last of my Euros on a fist full of Eiffel Towers for the kids. I adore that it's so kitschy. It's all part visiting major tourist cities. NYC has Statue of Liberty replicas. Orlando, Mickey Mouse ears. And the entire state of Idaho, potatoes. Who doesn't love receiving a giant potato from someone who just visited Idaho? Let me serve this as a warning about the Eiffel Tower replicas: around 30 minutes after giving it to your child, you will step on it. Try not to swear and have a speech ready. I chose the classic parental threat: If I find this on the floor ever again, it will go straight into the trash. I give it one more week and then it's Au Revoir Eiffel Tower!


It's a bird, it's a plane. . .

It's Wednesday. I'm already out of clean clothes for the boys. So when they insisted on wearing their super hero costumes, I went with it. Those capes cover 85% of the stains.  Today's adventures: saving the world at Bryant Park and searching for villains at the NYC Public library. The locals, especially cops and security guards, had some funny things to say to the boys. Everyone felt a little safer with them around. Try it.



This post was going to be about Owen's fascination with earlobes, but let's face it. The real star of the show is my new camera. Thanks Rob!

Paris Souvenirs: Part One

I had to use every ounce of self control not to over spend in Paris. I've been home a week, and I still feel really good about my purchases. I'll start this series with the mini bowls I bought at the flea market. I've seen similar ones at Anthropologie, but I liked the colors of these better.  I'm especially in love with the orange one on top. We've used them for everything: sliced apples for breakfast, ice cream (of course), and tonight I put green beans in them to entice the kids to eat their vegetables. It only worked on Owen. Now that the bowls have been immortalized on my blog, my kids are free to break them. What a relief!

about Mister Softee

Warm weather prompted a nature walk in Chelsea. Soft served vanilla ice cream sold out of a truck.  The boys listened to the subway rumble under the grates and saw a lot of cigarette butts. They adored the flowers for sale in shops and asked me to bring some home for dad. It was a good idea that I completely ignored. No leaves on the trees yet.  We passed some of the best dressed people and a lot of normal people too. When we were finished, I felt like I had walked in the pages of Ezra Jack Keats Neighborhood.


My Last Day

 Photo by Paul Ferney
By the end of my week in Paris, I started becoming an advocate of being alone. The "I am a rock, I am an island" state of mind. All this came to a head on my walk to the d'Orsay musuem alone. I watched a couple quietly argued over directions. It's on this side of the Siene, No this side! Maps stretched out, fingers pointing. I saw a bunch of teenage girls on one side of the street get their cameras out to take a picture. But then the light turned green, and their group was crossing before the girls had time to take a picture.  Ha! I thought. I'm alone! I don't have anyone stopping me from taking pictures. No one questioning whether I was going the right way (I wasn't!).

I'm sure I was looking for reasons to be happy to be alone, because I was walking in PARIS: The romance capital of the world. I'm sure there were people kissing all around me, but I didn't see them. Not when I was so happy by myself! Eventually I got the d'Orsay and found my favorite artwork. I stayed an hour and then decided to go to the Eiffel Tower. It was my last day in Paris, and I still hadn't taken the elevator to the top. On my way, I stopped in a clothing store because I liked the bathing suit in the window.

I walked for a while until I finally made it to the tower. As I waited in line for tickets to the top, I noticed the family in front of me. A mom, dad, and two daughters. The girls were around 6 and 8 years old. American. The older girl was looking all the way to the top of the tower. It really is quit tall. Taller than the pictures make it look. And that's when she did what kids do best: cry. Here it goes, I thought. A meltdown. A classic case of parents dragging their kids around to too many events on vacation and wearing their kids out. I've been there! I was still on my judgmental  individuality kick and started thinking things like: Kids ruin everything! Being alone is the best!

The parents of the crying girl waved me past so they wouldn't hold up the line as they figured out their plans. The younger sister was fine, so perhaps a debate was going whether to split up? Have one parent stay on the ground with the crier, while the other goes up with the happy child? I've been there too! But not today! I bought my ticket and turned around to see them still working things out.

That's when things changed for me. The mom was so nice to the crier, saying all the right things like, "It's ok, We can view it from here." And the dad too, "We didn't know you were scared. We don't have to go to the top." And the cryer, "Really? I thought you were going to be mad at me!" In that brief thoughtful moment, I saw them doing all the classic messy emotions that come with being with a family: Comfort. Guilt. Honesty. Love.

I am all to aware of being with a family or group can slow things down or make it impossible to do things.  For this family, it wasn't going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, one of the quintessential things to do in Paris. Surprisingly for me, when I finally got to the top, it wasn't that great. The elevator was cramped solid with tourist. The viewing area was just as crowded. The line for the second elevator to go to the tippy top was so long that I didn't even bother to wait. After taking a quick view of the city, I found myself wanting to get back on the ground. And as I was squeezed onto the elevator going down, I realized that family didn't miss out on anything and that they actually benefited from staying together on the ground. I hope they got an ice cream and took a ride on the carousel. That's what I'll do when I bring my family to Paris, I thought.

And as I started to make plans for my next trip to Paris, this time with my family, I knew I was ready to go home to be with Rob and Ella and even those sloppy, crying, ghostbuster loving twins. I missed them.


Writing in Paris

While I spent a lot of time alone in Paris, the other part was spent with Jordan and Paul Ferney. By the end of the trip, I made a joke that every time Jordan came around, Paris got even prettier. When I was alone, sometimes I would find myself in a mess of tour buses, Paris t-shirt racks slapping me in the face and tourists saying, "I'm just here to see the Mona Lisa. Where's the Mona Lisa?" Then Jordan would arrive and suddenly carousels, churches on hills, and cobble stone streets would appear. That really happened. Here's the picture she took of me shortly after it did. Look how happy I am!

Staying at their apartment is something I'll never forget. After their kids went to bed, I watched as Paul painted and Jordan worked on the details of her projects in their living room. There was no music, no TV chatting in the background. It was mostly silent while they worked. The windows were open so I could hear cars passing and the occasional outburst of laughing from the people in the cafe below their apartment.  If I looked out the window at the right moment, I could see the top of the Eiffel Tower sparkle. Once in a while Jordan would ask for feedback on a project. I was flattered she asked me for advice. Perhaps she was asking Paul, but I assumed the questions were for the room. 

I couldn't help but be influenced by their creativity so on the second night I borrowed one of their laptops and wrote. I wrote for hours and hours while they worked. I'm sure I could have seen more of the city had I not stayed up so late, but I enjoyed writing so much. The kind of creative writing I started to do in high school and continued doing in college. It was great to be working on something again. I did the same thing the next night and the next.  It became my nightly routine.

Today was my first day back. My life picked up right were it left off a week ago.  I helped get Ella ready for school. I scrambled eggs. I watched an episode of Wallace and Gromit with the boys. I unpacked. I cleaned the dishes from breakfast and put some laundry away.  I made chocolate chip pancakes for lunch. Napped. Bought some milk and vanilla ice cream at the store.  As Oscar was wailing down the street because he didn't like the flavor of ice cream I bought, I wondered if the Paris trip ever really happened. There's noway I was in Paris yesterday buying flowers and beignets and exiting stores singing, "Merci, Au Revoir!" just like Jordan taught me.

So this evening, just to make sure, after the kids and Rob went to bed, I wrote for a few hours to see what would happen.  Would it be the same without Jordan and Paul in the room? Without Paris's beauty and culture motivating me?  It wasn't the same, but that didn't stop me. Here I am at 1:34am still rewriting the ending of this post.  And enjoying every minute of it. Au Revoir!  
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