Motherhood: Always a Continuing Education

Whenever my babies used to look at me like this, I always felt they could see right through me. That somehow they could sense I didn't know what I was doing. But now I realize they aren't capable of such thoughts. They just want more cheerios. I've got them fooled for at least another 20 years. So now when I see this picture, I don't wonder about their glare. All I wonder now is who the hell is this kid? I think it's Oscar.
Sometimes I feel like I fell silent during the year 2008 when my boys were this age. Did Ella (2 years) and the boys (less than a year) consume all of me? Apparently not. I was reading one of my old blogs and I totally forgot I signed up for writing classes through Stanford's Continuing Studies Program. I took a memoir class and the next semester I took a poetry class. While that period of time was extremely stressful with the kids/house work, those classes kept my spirits up.

Want to read a silly poem I wrote while taking the class at Stanford? My homework assignment was to write a Pastoral Poem. It's about a kid named Steven who moves to the suburbs. I put Steven into everything I write when I don't want it to look like I'm writing about myself. He is always swearing. Now that I think about it, he reminds me of Owen.

I remember having so much fun writing it, reading it to the class, and then getting it critiqued to death. I love a good edit. I forgot to make the changes when I came home, though. I've since lost my notes. That was never the point anyway, to become a poet. I had good time with it and moved on. I wouldn't mind taking another writing class soon. For nothing else, to experience the exciting rush of working on something and the nervous energy while sharing it to the class. Love that feeling.


Happy Days on Arthur Ave.

We had the best time in the Bronx with our friends Nate and Kelly. We've known Nate since we went to college Hawaii. It's nice to be in the same part of the country again. My kids adore him--every smile in these pictures is because of his jokes. He and his wife Kelly took us to Arthur Ave., the real little Italy of NYC. The street wasn't overly stylized, the prices were great, and it had a warmth about it even in 20 degree weather. We walked to all the cozy speciality stores to buy mozzarella cheese, bread, meats, pasta and desserts.  Most of the stores were closed for the day, but it didn't stop us from having a great time and eating fantastic food. I can't wait to go back when the weather is warmer to pick up the best ingredients for a picnic.
Some pictures of the stores after the jump.


Shoe Sale Alert: Swedish Hasbeens

These Swedish Hasbeens are only $68 from Saks. Marked down from $230! Sizes are extremely limited so act fast. I just bought a pair for a cruise I'm going on with my sisters in April. I know it's the middle of winter and the thought of buying sandals seems crazy, but I had to. They arrived (size 10 of course) and feel amazing! Everything they say about this brand is true. I plan on wearing these to death come spring and summer. For now, I'll just have to admire them from a distance as I walk around in my snow boots and dream of warmer than 12 degree weather.


Playing Outdoors in the Winter: Giving it our best shot.

Our outdoor adventure from a few weeks ago. It's suppose to snow on Friday again. i wonder what we'll do. 


Winter Activity with My Family: Scooters

Our winter frowns. I found a batch of pictures with more than the usual amount of sad faces. Captures this chilly time of year perfectly for me.
And then there's this guy below always trying to lighten the mood. 
He's wearing the headphones solely for warmth. He forgot his hat.  
PS. We all own scooters. Rob inherited my old Razor scooter. I upgraded to this scooter. It's the only reason I get to work on time. The kids have all upgraded to Maxi's. Lately it's been our favorite/only outdoor activity. 
picture dump of our scooter adventure after the jump.


Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday in New York City

My kids came home from school on Friday with stories of MLK, reciting portions of his speeches, and information about segregation. Ella even checked out Martin Luther King, Jr.: Young Man with a Dream from her school library. I ended up ignoring my kids as I pounded through the book on Friday night. While it doesn't give the most rounded view of his life, it does have good information. The first three chapters describe Dr. King's past and how he's the descendant of slaves, sharecroppers, and farmers. To learn about his ancestors, I wanted my kids to see what it meant to be a slave in the United States. On Saturday we headed to the African Burial Ground and Visitors Center to gain perspective of their lives.

Approximately 15,000 free and enslaved Africans were buried in the six acre memorial ground in lower Manhattan. It was lost due to landfill and development, and rediscovered in 1991 during the construction of a Federal office building. It’s the largest colonial-era cemetery for enslaved Africans. They later built a memorial to honor the men, woman, and children who were buried here. Here are some of the pictures I took at the visitors center.
Highly recommend checking it out. Afterwards, we headed outside to view the burial grounds. We didn't last long. I had a hard time keeping my kids from getting too wild here. They could have easily ruined the sacred mood for the other visitors.

We quickly walked to Thomas Paine Park to view the monument Triumph of the Human Spirit. It is dedicated to all the unknown enslaved Africans brought to this country. The mood is lighter at this public park--filled with tourists, locals walking their dogs, and skateboarders. It gave my kids a chance to get their wiggles out. Turns out I needed to run around, too. I'm so happy Kendra captured the moment.

Pictures of the burial grounds, my kids, and a rare one of me after the jump.


Craft: Contemporary Art

A trip to the New Museum (pictured above) was the inspiration behind this craft idea . I was impressed by Rosemarie Trockel's beautiful yet simple yarn paintings on canvas. My friend Kendra Smoot noted that something similar could make an excellent craft project for the kids. I agreed, so last week I gave it a try using black and white yarn. My co-worker said the vibration of the two colors give it an almost hypnotizing effect. I'll take that as a compliment.

A child's version may not be so neat, but when set on a white canvas, can still achieve that stark and modernist aesthetic. It would be just as brilliant if it turned out like that red yarn sculpture in the picture. Either way, this craft is a great way to get children thinking about design. I posted the directions on Elizabeth Street earlier this week. But really? It's as simple as glueing yarn onto canvas. Try it and see what happens!
photo credit: NY Times.


Weekend Recipe: Mediterranean Veggie Stew

I've been challenged by my editor to write more recipes for Elizabeth Street. Last Thursday I posted a Mediterranean Veggie Stew Recipe. I love this recipe because it can be easily adapted for everyone. It can go from a vegetarian to a vegan meal simply by eliminating the yogurt. Then, there's my husband who feels like vegetarian meals are side dishes. For him, I grill up chicken or fish while the stew is sautéing. I throw it on top as an after thought. So really, this meal satisfies all. Except my kids. Who cares what they think anyway?
chicken as a garnish. whatever ROB!! ha
Mediterranean Veggie Stew

1 32 oz carton vegetable stock
1 cup couscous
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 sprigs each mint and parsley
1 shallot, chopped
2 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste)
1 cup canned chickpeas
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and cut in half
1 6 oz container plain Greek yogurt

1. Boil the entire carton of vegetable stock in a pot. Measure 1 cup couscous in a bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of stock. Cover for ten minutes. Reserve remaining stock pot to use later in recipe.

2. Meanwhile, do your prep work: chop the mint and parsley, dice the onion and garlic, separate the cauliflower into flowerettes, and drain the chickpeas.

3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook together for about 30 seconds, until the mixture is fragrant, then add the can of tomatoes. Continue to cook, still stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Add the tomato paste, stock, and cauliflower to the saucepan, and bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Add the peas and chickpeas to the stew and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and add the olives.

6. Fluff the couscous and serve it in wide bowls or mound onto plates and top with the stew. Garnish with mint, parsley and yogurt.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from a meal I received from Hello Fresh.

Here's a few more tried and true recipes from the past:


Training In 2013: Wearing Old Navy Again

When I first started running, I had no clue what to wear.  I knew the most important thing was to just get out there, but I wanted to look the part! I spent a lot of time observing runners last year, and I've since tweaked my style. I showed you what I wore 2012, here's what I picked up for 2013.
All this for $50!!! Great stuff, too!
Here's my thoughts on my new clothes:

*NEW SPORTS BRA: Say good bye to the sweet heart neckline. I'm loving Old Navy's scoop neck sports bra. It's tight, but holds everything in place! 

*SHORT SHORTS: I've moved on from biker shorts to running shorts. Basically because running shorts make me feel like I'm someone who runs 9 minute miles. Old Navy's shorts are not different. I especially like the interior pocket. The secret to stop letting it ride up between my thighs is to either wear my biker shorts under or use Bodyglide

*COLOR CHOICE: NYorkers tend to wear a lot of dark colors no matter if it's to work or to dinner or to exercise. It's taken a few years of brain washing, but I've slowly started to change my ways. Even my running socks are now black! Maybe it's completely practical because I don't own a washing machine. Black helps keep things looking less sweaty and grimmy. I've been known to wear my sports bras twice or three times before washing. Old Navy's clothes always hold up to my abuse.

*STAYING WARM: Hand wholes in the jacket! Very Cool.

What are your wearing at the gym this year?

This post is sponsored by Old Navy. Check out Old Navy’s Active wear in stores or at oldnavy.com #GetYourActiveON


Kids Choices in Clothing

One of my first memories is from pre-kindergarden. I remember looking down at my jean skirt and thinking to myself: I look so awesome today! I love everything about my outfit! And then my eyes lowered to my shoes. Well, except for my shoes. I was wearing an old pair of tennis shoes that I thought looked too babyish for my four-year-old self. I never said anything to my mom until ten years later. When I finally did, she laughed and said, "Oh my gosh! I would have bought you new shoes if I knew you hated them so much!"

My next fashion memory is when I was a little older and I was walking around my elementary school with layered slouch socks. I thought it was such an awesome concept. I planned on doing it for the rest of my life because I couldn't think of a better way to wear socks. That was it for me.

It's interesting to watch my kids slowly start to be aware of fashion and trends at their school. Oscar found his piece right before Christmas. A few kids in his class have animal hats and he wanted to be just like them. I showed him these awesome and refined animal hats from RH Baby&Child, but he didn't want any part of it. His hat needed eyes, a nose, ears, and mittens, so I bought this giraffe hat right before Christmas. It's by far his favorite gift from Santa. He couldn't wait for the holiday break to be over so he could show his classmates the hat. I don't think they cared in the slightest, but I could tell it meant so much to Oscar. A few days later, we were all going around and saying our New Years Resolutions. Oscar said he wanted everyone in the world to own an animal hat. I completely get it. For him, he can't think of a better way to stay warm this winter. This hat is it for him.


Flash Back: Awful Wrapping Paper

I adore a beautifully wrapped present. I even wrote an article about the art of gift wrap on Elizabeth Street last year. But the the truth is, I can't bring myself to spend time or money on the stuff. I'm jealous of those that do.

This past Christmas, I spent $10 for a variety pack of paper from CVS. It was enough to get me through the season. I'm sure Target had some great options for the same price, but it takes too much effort for me to get there from my apartment.

And so, as I was in line at the store hating myself for being too cheap and lazy to get the wrapping paper I really wanted, I thought of the best justification for my purchase. While right now my packages look tacky, in fifty years they will look vintage and kitschy! Take a look at these from the 1970's on eBay. Wrapping paper ages so well. It might take awhile, but I'm looking forward to the day my kids compliment me on my good taste.
Oh, I forgot bows. I bought a bunch out of the 75% off bin at Michael's and CVS a few days before Christmas for an extra special flair. Another $5 totally worth it to drive my point. haha
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