Let the Count down to Christmas BEGIN. . . tomorrow!

This is the fourth year that I've written out simple activities on a piece of paper and slipped them into each pocket on my advent calendar. I have Jordan Ferney to thank for the idea. I used to put a small candy into each pocket too, but not this year! My kids always sneak candy out and by the 15th it's usually all gone. Advent 2011 will just be activities, no treats! Bah humbug?

My favorite part of this tradition is that it makes each day in December special, not just Christmas and Christmas Eve. For idea inspiration, I use some of Jordan's, some of mine, and other ideas from a google search. Here's the list for this year in no particular order:

1. Decorate a gingerbread house.
2. Write a letter to Santa.
3. Make new ornaments for the tree.
4. Sing a Christmas song. See the lights at Grand Central Station (thanks for the idea Cstringhamphoto)
5. Read Luke II.
6. Donate a pair of PJ's to Ella's school's PJ drive.
7. Take a bubble bath and make Santa beards.
8. Tell each family member something you like about them (Ella's idea).
9. Mail Christmas cards to both Grandmas and Grandpas.
10. Look at a window display at a department store.
11. Sit on Santa's lap.
12. Watch a Christmas cartoon/movie.
13. Explain the reason why we have Christmas Trees (Ella's idea).
14. Donate Food.
15. Check out Christmas books from the library.

Check out the rest of the list here.

Do you have an advent calendar? I got my Marimekko calendar the first year I started the tradition. I ADORE it. I wish I could have it up year round.

Are you going to do an advent calendar this year? If nothing else, it gives you automatic blog content each day!


My Lunch

You know how I have been writing those Pillsbury sponsored posts? I got a tub of their vanilla icing to use for an upcoming blog entry BUT everyday I keep eating the icing little by little. Soon it will be gone before I get a chance to do the post. In fact, that's all I ate for lunch today! Yikes. It wasn't until I was visiting Joanna's blog and saw all the fresh ingredients to make a salad that I paused. I realized that I HAVE ALL THOSE ingredients in my fridge right now, but instead I ate icing! I'm obviously still working out the logistics of a sponsored posts and the free products that come with it. Whoops.

To see the my real Pillsbury sponsored post, read it here. I talk about another new tradition I started. I seem to be making up a lot of traditions lately like here and here.  Hopefully eating just icing for lunch isn't one of them!

picture via Cup of Jo


One of My Favorites

For my second post for Pillsbury, I talk about a tradition I started with my family. It all began when my husband started working right through dinnertime every night. Read here about how our tradition gives me the family time I crave! 

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 101

Ever thought of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live? Do it. It completely exceeded my expectations. And mine were high. Here's a few practical tips if you want front row seats.

1. One person from your party must pick a spot on the parade route by 5:30am at the LATEST. I would be there by 5am just to be safe. Bring tarp and blankets to claim your small piece of land.

2. Location: Anywhere along the parade route on Central Park West on the park side of the street. See below. The 60's are great.

3. Send the kids over by 7:00am because the police WON'T let you cross over to the park side after that. See below.

4. The bigger the group you watch the parade with, the better. It was like a huge playdate for my kids. Someone in our party even brought a small tent. The kids played in it until it was disassembled minutes before the parade started.

5. My feet froze. I should have worn snow boots or something similar.
6. Convince your littlest kids to wear diapers. My boys did ha
7. Don't expect to have the energy to cook a Thanksgiving meal after the parade. We were exhausted. We got home at 12:30pm, took long naps, and went over to our cousin's house in Harlem at 5pm. The timing was perfect.
8. Take a family photo. I forgot.
9. I'll keep adding to this list when I think of more. What did I miss?


Waiting for the Parade to Start

I took 500 pictures at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I'll start you off with these three of Ella waiting for the parade to start. The lighting was really pretty.

Before I leave for the day, I'll add that I had the BEST Thanksgiving.  I'm so thankful for great friends and family! Love you guys.

(I bought her hat at the H&M Kid's Department. Actually I bought three! One for each of my kids. And then I bought one like it for myself at Forever 21. So warm!)



Happy Thanksgiving! Blogging from my iPhone--we have front row seats to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I can't wait! 2 more hours....


Bad Timing To Be In A Funk?

I just wrote two Babble posts in a ROW that are sorta gloomy. Both have the word "blue" in the title. Ha! Should I have waited until after the holiday weekend to post them? Oh well. What's done is done.

*Have the Blues? Cheer Up Mouse! (Video)
*10 Children's Books That Sing the Blues.


Career Update: I Want to Be a Writer

If you're following my career from this post, here's an update:

I've decided I want to focus my attention on becoming a writer and see where it takes me. So far I've gotten the Babble gig, an ad for my blog, and most recently Babble asked me to do five sponsored posts for Pillsbury. My first one went live on Friday. Check it out! I love it! So so excited that I was one of the people they asked. I already submitted my second post, and I have to work on another one due this Friday. My cousin Emily told me the Pillsbury pie crust is supposedly incredible. Have you ever tried it? Thoughts? I'll link back if I use your comments of course!

This week I finally got a few paychecks in the mail. Do you know how long it's been since I made money?  Almost five years! It felt soooo good. It's got me thinking of ways to make more. Perhaps photography? Just an idea!

*Note to my loyal readers: Sorry if my grammar mistakes drive you bonkers! I've started using Grammarcheck.net. Say goodbye to my passive voice and all my homophone errors. It's not going to catch everything, but hopefully I won't look like a dope everyday! 


Couple Shot

thanks mike for taking our picture!

Here's a photo of Rob and me in New Orleans. I love it!  Someone saw this picture and asked if we were wearing costumes. Ha! Good question! We sort of are. I know we would have never worn those hats unless we were in New Orleans. I had fun dressing out of my element when we were there.

Do you ever dress differently when you are in new locations? I've talked about this with women in NYC and some told me they dress up according to the part of the city they are headed to. For example:
Upper East Side: Preppy, dress up.
Brooklyn: Dress down, jeans, oxfords, cardigans.
Upper West Side: Whatever (love it here)
Soho: A lot of Black, wedge heals

I don't have enough fashion sense/wardrobe options to keep up with all that but it sounds fun! Have you noticed that to be true?

Have a good weekend!


Babble Post: Christmas List

I remember as a kid I would flip through the Sears catalog and circle every toy I wanted. The catalog was endless to me, larger than a telephone book. It was so fun/harmless to dream of what Santa would decide to bring me.

I love hearing what my kids dream of getting for Christmas.  They completely believe in the magic of Santa and that anything is possible. I'm so lucky to have three little believers in the house!

For Babble this week I put together my kid's dream lists. They know they won't be getting everything on the list, but had fun creating them regardless. If a massive Sear's catalog existed today, here's what my kids would be circling:

Find Ella's Rock 'n' Roll list here.
Oscar's list went Postal. (my favorite)
And a big yellow taxi carried off Owen's list.

Did you circle up the Sear's catalog too? How did I think Santa would see all my circles? As a kid, I never found out, but he always came through.

Also, speaking of Babble, did you hear the good news? They got acquired by Disney this week! I'll keep you posted if I hear anything more. I'm excited to be apart of the Babble team and watch it grow!

30th Birthday: Afternoon Tea

We ended up at Lady Mendl's for tea. Thanks to reader Erin Wigger for the suggestion! It was the best way to end my date with Ella.

1. Ella's choice: sitting on the couches next to the fire place (in picture above). The huge candles, the beautiful china. It was warm and inviting without being fussy.
2. Ella kept finding excuses to say "Cheers!"
3. Everyone in the restaurant was seated at 5pm. We all got served dinner at the same time with the same food. There was no menu, just a tea menu. I was so proud of Ella for eating all the grown up food they prepared for us! We cheered to that.
4. As the night wore on, Ella sat next to me on my couch. She was cuddly and tired. We cheered to that.
5. When the dinner service was over, we lingered in the intimate reception area (pictured below). We didn't want the night to end. We sat in the chairs and looked through books. It was as if we had escaped to a different time period. Everything about Lady Mendl's was effortless.

I didn't take a lot pictures of my birthday. I thought I would, but I was pleasently surprised that I somehow turned off the blog switch for the day. All photos from lady mendl's site.


Babble Post: My Current Obsession

I'm obsessed with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade lately. I've been watching youtube videos, emailing friends for parade tips, and trying desperately to convince my family to watch it live. I'm using any methods possible, propaganda even! Check out these parade books that I'm going to check out from library. I hope they will brainwash my kids and husband into thinking it's a great idea to stand in the freezing cold for 5 hours!!

I bought this parade book because I loved it so much. I've been reading it to my kids 20 times a day. Too much?

PS Super jealous my sista was in the parade years ago. Jeannine do you have any pics?!

Anyone have any tips for watching the parade live?

My 30th Part One: The Sentimental Version

I couldn't help but be reminded of mother on my birthday. Had she'd been alive and been here to celebrate with me, I know she would have flipped out over the Rockettes, the Beatles cover band in the subway playing her favorite songs, and Rob's sorry attempt at a homemade birthday cake. I missed her during those three moments and cried a little that she wasn't around to experience them with me.

I kept imagining her big toothy smile, her loud New York accent yapping away at how everything was so great. The way she laughed so easily. She never held back her emotions. As a teenager, it was a little embarrassing how excited she would get when I was trying desperately to play it cool. Looking back on it now, I can't help but love her for it.

It's those same qualities that I love about Ella. That's why I like to celebrate my birthday with her. She's the closest person I know that is the same way. You should have seen Ella ice skating at Rockefeller Center, the moment Santa ran in front of us at Rockettes, the way she was giggling when she got her nails done. I'm lucky to have her.

Non sentimental details of the day tomorrow.


Babble Post: 5 Unconventional Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving

This Babble post is dedicated to all the people that didn't go to their Senior Prom. All the brides who wore a colorful wedding dress. And all the people who picked Danny Wood as their favorite New Kid on the Block!

Read it here.

PS Thanks for Birthday wishes! Thanks for reading! Have a good weekend! Sorry about all my typos! Who else cringed when they saw "collage"?!

Last Post in my Twenties

I got a little braggy about still being in my 20's at the playground today. I was practically skipping around saying, "This is the last time you'll see me in my 20's. La Ti Da!" And here I am doing it again on my blog. And tonight I'll put it on facebook. And then twitter. I love saying I'm still in my 20's. It sounds so young!

Oh, my twenties. How could I describe this decade? I spent most of the past ten years setting up my life. I graduated from college, got married, had all my kids, and settled down in the best city in the world. I'm pretty close to exactly where I wanted to be at this age. And I'm not even a planner! I hate todo lists!

30 years old. What are some things I have to look forward to?


Babble Post: 10 Tips to Throwing a Garden Party

I'm getting a crash course on gardening thanks to my kid's school. Latest lesson: now is the time to plant bulbs! Good to know, I had no idea. My kids have spent two day this past week getting ready for spring. I can't wait for winter to be over soon so they can see the results of all their hard work.

Check out my article here. At best, you'll learn a few tips on how to throw a garden work party. At worst, you'll see some of my photos!

Gardening is something I wish I did more often. I love the idea of it, but it's so much work. Do you have a garden or at least live plants in your apartment? I don't! Raise your hand if you've tried to have an herb garden in your kitchen and failed! Me! Twice? Me! Three times? Me!


Afternoon Tea

Good news: I turn 30 this weekend! More details on my feelings on all of this later, for now, let's discuss my party. It's simple and keeping with tradition.  For the past 3 years, I've celebrated my birthday with my favorite girl I've met so far in my life: My Ella Bean.  I always tell her she's lucky she has two brothers to tease her and put her in her place and rough her up a bit. She needs that when she has a mom like me around always gushing how fun she is and how she truly has such a good heart and is such a pleasure to be around. Since she turned 3 years old that is. From then on, I've been spending my birthday with her. I look forward to it each year.

I have just about everything planned except for afternoon tea. It's also become a birthday tradition. Three years ago we went to Crown and Crumpet in San Francisco. Have you ever been there? It felt very Sophia Coppola and her movie Marie Antoinette. Part classic tea room, part rock n roll. I wish I could live in it. Last year we had afternoon tea in the Palm Court at the Plaza. Love that too for completely different reasons since it was so traditional and polished.

I want to try a new tea shop this year. Any suggestions? I should have planned this sooner. I hope we can still get a reservation! I can't wait to tell you all my birthday plans. I've shamelessly included so many NYC cliches! Would you expect any less from me?! I love NYC cliches!


Cafes and Kids

We took our kids to a cafe last weekend that was a tad too fancy for us. The mirrored tables should have given us our first clue. The giant cookies at the counter should have been our second. Owen demanded that we give him one. He ate it before we got our lunch. Eventually we dropped 2 full glasses of water. On a positive note, the floors got freshly mopped twice while we were there. The food was delicious, but did my kids even realize? There was a lot of complaining going on. Sometimes I think my kids should just be (at best!) eating at Quiznos before the age of 10.

Do you sometimes try to eat at restaurants that are slightly out of your kids league because you're tired of the same old same old kid friendly places? I do and it's almost always something I regret! Maybe if I took care of my kids instead taking pictures the whole time . . . ha


9/11 Memorial

There's a million things I want to blog about at the moment. First up, the 9/11 Memorial. We walked around it on Sunday.  It was visual stunning and I loved how it almost beckoned me slowly walked around the border feeling each name of the people who died. My favorite was the sound of the waterfalls. It's all I could hear at times.  I didn't hear the huge highway next to the site. I didn't even hear the people talking next to me. It made me get a minute to think. What did it sound like? At times the falls sadly reminded me of the destruction, the water almost mimicking the way the Towers fell.  At other times, it reminded me of a crowd cheering, that our nation has possibly found a way to overcome this huge disaster.

I'm really glad I went. Thanks for the tickets rebecca. Get yours here. It's free to see the memorial, but you have to reserve a ticket first.


Tourist Attractions I've Never Seen

My friend Jordan is staying with me this weekend. Love her. Today we went to SoHo and she was showing me around to the coolest stores. It was like I was the one visiting NYC! ha. For whatever reason, I rarely go to SoHo. It's pretty common for NYorkers to get so caught up in their own neighborhood that they hardly venture out.  I talked to one of the mothers at the playground about this today and she said the same thing.  She said last year she would meet twice a month and have a lunch in a new neighborhood with her friends. It forced them to see new things. My sister has mentioned that she does the same thing in her Florida town. What motivates you to see something new? I always get motivated when friends and family come to visit!

I feel a Babble Kid Scoop post coming up! Here's what I'm thinking: This weekend/week take your kids out to a new place and tell me your experience!  Did you kids like getting out of their routine? Was it too much work? Was it worth it? A totally disaster? I want to hear all! I'll include your story in my post! Perhaps I'll make a slide show if you all send me enough pics!  I'll link back of course!

Have a fun weekend. I can't wait to hear about your adventure!


Babble Post: 10 Things You Can Do NOW to Prepare For the Holidays

Yikes! Does the title of this post make you anxious? Me too. I can’t believe it’s the first week of November and I’m already preparing for the holidays. Most of the things on my list are fun and the ones that aren’t (I’m looking at you #8) I probably won’t do! Ha! What are you doing to prepare for the holiday season?

Read the article here. 

Job Update

nice comb over. ha what was i thinking? 

Remember this Wanted Ad Poster? Here's some updates:

My first month at Babble's Kid Scoop was amazing! I'm on a team with 6 other bloggers who write 5 posts a week. Each post discusses parenting or kid related topics. I come up with most of the topics myself (which is fun!) and sometimes they suggest topics (which is helpful!). I love that it's really flexible and I can do it from home. I also love that it's a paying gig! I hope that more websites follow its business model because it seems to be working. Thanks readers for always clicking to my Babble posts. I did really well my first month because of your support!

I finished my internship at NYFamily. The New Parents Expo was a total success. I even got to sit next to Dr. Harvey Karp and thank him for teaching me how to sleep train my boys. The 5 S's got me through the first year! The event was fun and I love the people at NYFamily. I consider Rebecca (my boss) one of my favorite people I've met in NYC. I hope to work with them again soon!

Writing two posts a day (one for NYC Taught Me and one for Babble), keeping the house clean (you should see my living room right now, it's DISGUSTING), watching 3 kids. I'm curious how my other bloggy friends do it all. They seem to be doing so much more than me! Or at least making less typos and proofreading mistakes ;) I know I shouldn't compare, but I feel like I'm just squeezing everything into my day. I'll learn.

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