Doppelganger Alert

A close second to the same old same old twin questions, I get asked if I think Ella looks like a young Reese Witherspoon. After looking at these pictures, I have to say that she does (a little). Just don't tell her she's pretty. This article will tell you why.

Ella's doppelganger is much better than mine. In high school I got Chelsea Clinton and Joan Osborne. Yikes! Perming my hair wasn't helping my case. Do you have a doppelganger? Remember when Facebook had doppelganger week a while back? Who did you put as your profile pic? I put Joan Osborne. The prettier of my two of course.

I couldn't resist putting my High School look a like. Check out my perm. I tried to down play my perming habits because it was '99, and even by that time, perms were totally out. But I liked it. 


Last Day of School!

(I wrote this post yesterday.)
I plan on taking the Summer 2011 really seriously. Starting today. We all bought bathing suits, ate tons of fresh fruit, got ice cream cones, played in the sprinklers, ran in a field. We walked home at 4pm and crashed in the air conditioning until 7pm. I cooked up pot stickers for dinner, and after that, all the kids went back to bed. Fast forward to fall, and all my kids will be in school full-time and I plan on getting a full-time job. It's my last few months as a stay-at-home mom. I'm going to give it all that I got. I'm hoping that I look back and remember this time as the good ol' days. Coming soon: A list of my summer goals.

I'll end with a picture of Rob and Ella. I took it today to remember one of the best memories Ella has of kindergarden: walking to school with Dad. It probably took them about 15 minutes to get to school everyday. Just enough time to talk and get a donut (his idea) or a piece of fruit (my idea).  After he dropped her off, most days I would get a short text or a message from Rob saying how much he loved and admired Ella. This morning was no different. He texted me: Ella was so cute. Really going to miss walking her.

Here's to a great summer! Do you have plans? What's a must do on your list?


Improv Everywhere video has been posted!

It's up! Oscar didn't make the cut (see why below), but Owen shows up 1.4 minutes into the clip. But wait! I'm in there too. Look behind the trumpet player on his last notes. I'm sitting at the table behind his left arm. A dot really. But it's me!

Here's the insiders scoop on how they made the skit:
1. There was three groups of kids. Owen and Oscar were in the first group. We all waited outside the NYC library so the kids couldn't see all the cameras/actors. The kids had no idea what was about to happen when we walked up to the carousel. I was sworn to secrecy. On my life. Or something similar in legal terms.
2. They rode the carousel and looked confused. Oscar to this day thinks that if he goes back to Bryant Park, it will have the same racing day excitement. I'll have to prepare him for a huge let down.
3. After the ride was over, we had some sandwiches at 'wichcraft and played in the fountain.
4. We walked back to watch the last round. I knew it was going to be the one they kept. It was the third time the comedians had practiced and the skit ran really smooth. And that kid who won was really cute.

Look! He was riding the winning animal! But unfortunately, they didn't pick the bunny to win during his round. Boo. That's why he wasn't in the video. It wouldn't have made sense.   
 If you scroll all the way down Improv Everywhere's website, you can see Owen holding a trophy in the air with pride. And good 'ol Oscar made into into the Flickr stream.

It was fun. Thanks Michelle for the heads up!


Those endless hallways in NYC pre-war buildings

I spend about 90% of my day in this hallway. All the rooms connect from it on the right. I'm sure there is an official name for this horrible floor layout, but I like to call it the Let's Make a Deal floor plan. When people come over and ask where the bathroom is, I tell them, "Pick a door!" If I painted numbers on all the doors, my bathroom would be door number 2. Don't pick door number 3.  It usually has three goats inside.

When we first moved in, the hallway was my least favorite thing about the apartment. It was endless, boring, and dark. So we made it a mission to decorate it like any other room in the house.

Here's the five things we did to make the hallway tolerable: 
1. A carpet runner. We got ours from Flor. I liked that we could customize the length and reshape the carpet tiles the next time we move.
2. Lighting. When we moved in, there was a single ugly light fixture in the middle of the hallway. We replaced it with three of these from CB2 and had the landlord hardwired them. So much brighter!
2. A place to dump my keys and mail. Rob found a small bookshelf off craigslist. It's perfect. See here and scroll down for a pic.
3. Art. Check out this post for more details on how I blew up the pictures.
5. Color. Rob painted the door blue yesterday. I threw out the exact paint color. Sorry. I'll look for it the next time I go to the hardware store.

It took nine months, but I think I'm finally happy with the hallway. Pictured above is Ella crying about Oscar spilling glue all over her artwork. And the other picture is of Owen sneaking into the kitchen for ice cream late at night. Had these events happened in front of the boring white door, the kids would have gotten yelled at for sure. But the new blue door? I'm suddenly the most understanding perfect mom.  It's been so life changing, I'm planning on painting everything in my life bright blue. Starting with Owen.


Weekend Approved Project: Photo Booth Hats

On Fridays I'll test out some of the DIY projects I find on my favorite blogs. I'll give you the heads up on some of the problems/successes I have while making the crafts.  I would take my advice pretty seriously: I'm about as uncrafty as it gets. And I have proof.

Today, I did a test run on the Photobooth Props #2 Set from Oh Happy Day.  I cut out the free printable props and glued them to sticks. Oscar is the real reason behind this activity. He saw the post on Thursday and has been nagging me for the police officer hat ever since. My favorite was when he told me he didn't want the stick attached. I had to explain to him that the hat was made out of paper and has to be held up with a stick. Poor guy thought it was a real hat! Finally he accepted that it was going to be made out of paper and was excited about it again.

Here's what I learned when I finally succumbed to Oscar's whining and made the props. Before reading my tips, it might be helpful to glance over the complete instructions first

1. 110 lb card stock is fine. No need to use foam core if you're doing it for a casual setting like home.
2. Use a glue gun.  Easier than tape.
3. Buy a few yard-length dowels at the hardware store. I cut them down myself with regular scissors. I'm only adding this tip because it seems like NYC has a hardware store on every corner.
4. No official party/photo booth required. A rainy/lazy day with no real plans could be reason enough. I loved that these props turned the night into an instant party. It was a fun way to entertain the kids while Grandpa and Grandma made a fabulous dinner.
5. Total cost for me: $15. I printed everything at FedEx Office, bought an exacto knife, and the dowels. See? Proof that I'm uncrafty. I don't even own a printer! Or an exacto knife!
6. Total Time: About one hour.

This is one of those low effort, big results projects. I say with 100% certainty: Download the FREE printable and give this project a try this weekend. I want to take the props with us to the park tomorrow. Why not? Thanks Jordan!  Question: Are you taking requests? I'm hoping you'll do a NYC themed Photobooth Props Set next. Like the Statue of Liberty, Chrysler building, a Yankees baseball cap, King Kong, etc. I have the models! And the exacto knife!

And finally, a picture of Oscar in his beloved police officer hat:

 By the look on his face, it was worth the wait. I can't wait to try out another project next Friday. I hope it will be this easy. Have you seen a project in the blog world that looks easy and has big results? Links please! I have no idea what my project will be next week. I just made this Weekend Project post up on the fly. Helllp!


Rob snatched up five dining chairs on craigslist. A fancy design firm was redecorating and wanted to get rid the chairs for $30. Total. $6 each. They usually sell new for $260 each! The only thing that worries me is that they woman at the firm said she couldn't even give them away to the designers. They didn't want them! Could this be the end of the mid-century modern fad for awhile? Who cares, we love them.
Our second score this week comes from a friend who is moving to San Francisco. I really wanted a small table for the kids room and she just so happened to be getting rid of hers. Check it out. It's already gotten lots of love the first day at our house. New at Ikea the table sells for $50 and the chairs are $25 each. We got it for free. The husband looked at me like I had a booger on my face when I tried to offer him twenty bucks for the set.

Have you gotten any good deals lately? I want to see. I love a good deal. Send me your links!!


grandpa's fishing stories

Grandpa has been telling all his fishing stories to the kids. They love sitting on his lap and asking about the time he caught a shark. They've requested the shark tale so many times, they've started telling him the story. It's been my favorite memory of my parent's visit so far.

art deco

When I went to the Empire State building on Monday, I fell in love with the art deco. All the sunbursts make me happy. I was excited to discover that there is a premade art deco-ish blog on Designer Blogs. I've used this company twice and it's been a pleasure each time. Some blog designs are as cheap as 10 bucks! I highly recommend them. Hope you like the new blog layout. But don't get too attached. I like to change it every few months! Thanks Designer Blogs.

She made it!

Yay! Ella was able to go. Thanks for cheering her on. :) The celebration was over the top. Matching outfits. Slide shows. Costume changes. Certificates. Pyrotechnics. I'm so pleased with my daughters kindergarten experience I could cry. You hear a lot of horror stories in the media about the NYC Public school system. Don't believe a word of it. While the system is in need of improvement, there are wonderful things happening in most of the schools. I happen to send my kids to one of them!
Ella and her two Teachers

And a video of the kids dancing to Waka Waka It's Time for Africa! aka My new favorite song.


Our new downstairs den

I hate to be vain enough to think that I'm the first person to discover the downstairs den to Hill Country Chicken, but I'm going to anyway. Did you discover it too? Things I love about it: spotless, spacious, has tons of board games, light brights, ice cold air conditioning, clean bathrooms, cosy lighting. I'll be back again on the hottest day of summer for some delicious fried chicken and apple pie and good times. 


Cheering Section Take Two

Tomorrow is Ella's kindergarten graduation celebration. Among other things like learning how to read and write, she has been practicing endlessly on a dance to It's Time for Africa (aka Waka Waka! ha). Her entire class will be preforming it on stage. She can't wait to show us. Grandpa and Grandma are even out here. Only problem is: she was sick alllll day today. I kept her home from school for a quick recovery. I'm hoping she's better tomorrow! Cheer for her! Or donate money to the kids missing their kindergarden graduation celebration fund. I'm sure there's one somewhere. Find it and then donate.

NYC Classic: The Empire State Building

The view:
The gorilla:
The souvenirs:
Thanks Dad and Fran for an awesome evening.
My kids are adoring being spoiled by you and so am I. 


Visit Rainbow City before it blows away!

Welcome to Rainbow City! It's free. It's not just for kids!
Quick Facts :
What: Pretty jump houses and air-filled sculptures 
When: Now until July 5th (click here for hours, opened until 10 or 11pm every night!)
Where: 30th St and 10th Ave
Why: In celebration of the opening of section two of High Line Park
Food: There's about 6 food trucks on the lot. I recommend the nachos and tacos from the Kamichi Taco Truck
Bathrooms: A row of port-a-potties with antibacterial gel and hand washing stations for that great outdoor concert feel. 
go. NOW. go!
 if i knew how to make this text blink i would. instead i'll use this ridiculous color combo.
 go. NOW. go!

These are the faces of kids playing at Rainbow City:
This is the face of a kid who has been told, "It's time to go home."
I can't wait to go back. 


5 Best Last Minute Father's Day gifts

Rob, his dad, and the boys.
A Father's Day post as promised here and mostly because of this disaster. I bought Rob a tie for traditions sake. That's what I'll give him. However, I wanted the presents from the kids to be a little more fun. Kids don't care about ties but they might get excited about: 

1. Paint! Remember this post? Rob wants to paint that door at the end of the hallway. I'll make it happen this weekend month. To get the kids involved, I'll give them three choices of vibrant paint colors. I'll buy their favorite.

2. PencilsI bought a hundred from Target a week ago. The classic yellow ones. Who knows where they all disappeared to?  I suggest buying 200 because they will be gone like all useful things (nail clippers, scissors, socks, etc). Have the kids sharpen all of them.  We have whats left of the pencils in the entryway for last minute notes. Include a pad of paper with drawings from the kids inside. And maybe a note. If you want to get fancy, you could get him these via martha stewart.

3. Water Balloons! Have the kids fill them up while he watches the ball game. When it's over, have a water balloon fight.

4. Favorite drinks! Have the frig stocked when he wakes up Sunday morning. This gift will be from Owen because he adores root beer just like my husband. The other night we went to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. All Owen ordered was a root beer. He's so silly.

5. Print pictures of him and the kids! Have the children wallpaper the house with pictures of Dad. Or get a few blown up huge at Kinkos like this. Or just stick a few on the fridge with magnets. Or tape. Or used gum.

That's all. Most of these presents were purchased at CVS. While I was there, I got a king size version of his favorite candy and some vanilla ice cream to make Root beer floats. The kids also wanted to buy him bubbles. I said yes. They also suggested I get him a Pillow Pet. The friendly frog! Take a wild guess what my answer was to that.

Hope you have a great weekend. I'm so lucky that my father and step-mom are flying in to visit us. I'm so excited to spend Father's day with my dad!!


Missed Opportunity (and a repost)

Remember when we met Uncle Nick and Whitney at Brooklyn Bridge Park? It just so happened to also be the 16th Annual Poerty Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge. . .with BILL MURRAY as one of the guest poets. He walked right passed us. Do you know how much restraint I had to use not to scoop Oscar up, not to chase Bill Murray down and not to force my precious son to sing the Ghostbusters theme song to him? A lot.

This is what you missed out on, Bill Murray.


Improv Everywhere

Have you heard of Improv Everywhere? It's a New York-based improv group that creates funny scenes in public places. Some of their videos get over 7 million views on youtube. Ha! My friend tipped me off that they needed kids for a future skit so I dragged the boys down for the event. I can't tell you anything about the secret improv sketch until the video goes live. I'll keep you posted when it does. The idea is so funny and sweet.
Here's a pic of the boys waiting for the event to start:
 And after the event, I found Owen swooning the ladies like any good improv comedian would do. Oscar's somewhere in the background playing hard to get. Those boys are such playas.

I can't wait to show you the in-between pictures! Soon!


*I'm aware that Father's Day is a few days away, and I'm doing what looks like a Mother's Day post.  I'll make up for it somehow. *

Meet Rebecca. She was one of my first friends I made in NYC. Soon after I met her, she blurted out that she was a few weeks pregnant.  Now look at her! She's due any second.  I was honored when she asked me to snap a few pictures during these last few days of her pregnancy. It's such an exhausting task to grow a baby. But look at her strength and beauty and even grace! I certainly wouldn't describe most woman as graceful at this point in their pregnancy, but Rebecca is. Isn't she absolutely lovely?
For this post,  I wanted to find a quote on pregnancy/motherhood that didn't sound like it could be in an overly sentimental Hallmark card. Nothing was right, until I read an excerpt out of Louise Erdrich's memoir: The Blue Jay's Dance. I fell in love with the opening paragraph in Erdrich's book:

Cool quote, right? Good luck Rebecca! The start of another act that rapturously sucks up whole chunks your life is about to begin! Something to look forward to. Ah, it'll be great.


BBQ in Harlem

Yay Harlem! Our cousins in Harlem just upgraded to a new apartment with a roof deck. I could have slept up there it was so perfect. As soon as they install the hammock, I will.
They've already planted weeping willow trees and flowers in used wine barrels (similar to these). Love it.
We actually didn't have a BBQ, we ordered pizza. But someday the title of this post will come true.  
Or else.  

Dressing Toddlers: Father's Day Edition

On Monday night, Uncle Nick met us right after work at Brooklyn Bridge Park. While he was playing with my kids, I realized I loved what he was wearing.  It gave me an idea: I could put together a father/son outfit for Father's Day. So I roped him into posing for these pictures. Thanks for being a good sport Nick!  

It doesn't get any more classic then a blue shirt, black shoes, black pants. But with the right fit and style, it looks totally modern. Here's how to make it work on your toddler:

1. Blue Shirt (Take tie off. Or not!): JCPenney $12.99 
3. Shoes: Shoes.com $65.00 (get 15% off by using promo code: 15off) 
4. Suit Trousers: Zaras $39.90 

  My kids adore you Uncle Nick! Congratulations on your engagement to Whitney. She's wonderful!

I think it's great when my boys dress like their dad or his cool friends.
Click here to see a more casual look I did last week.   
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