Best of NYC: Skatepark For Beginners

Since the weather has warmed up, my boys have been obsessed with skateboarding. They would live at  the Tribeca Skatepark if they could. They are such cool dudes. Me on the other hand? I'm worried I taint the place with my purse and ponytail and water bottles and goofy smile because I can't hide how excited I am to be at a skatepark. In NYC. Omg. If my 16-year-old could see me now. She would be envious.

To avoid ruining it for everyone, I hide in the alcove that blocks the view of most of the park. It's shaded, which is good. Then there's the pipes and the loud West Side High Way and a fence and maybe another parent hiding from his kids too. Not so good. We looks like idiots as we talk about what else? Our kids.

My goal is stay out of the way and let the boys learn on their own and through observation. Nothing worse than a soccer mom like me coming along and nerding it up by taking videos and tons pictures and giving advice on something I know nothing about. Nothing worse at all.

 This video is a perfect example of being boring at the moment, but give it ten years. I'll wish is was 10 minutes long. Also: Check out what the other skaters are wearing, especially that kid with the green stripe sweatpants. It's as if fashion doesn't play a role in skateboarding anymore. This makes me totally outrageous. What is the world coming to? ;)
I took this picture a few months ago. Too bad about the filter. 
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Weight Watchers Update.

or better yet, her:
(i promise to recreate this ridiculous image if i lose the weight.)
I gained 10.6 pounds in 4 weeks. Every week I told myself I was going to lose the weight. The first week I missed my weight watchers meeting. I decided I'll go next week when I lost the 3 pounds I gained from my stomach flu binge. Easy. The next week I gained 2 more pounds. Naturally, I googled: how to lose 5 pounds in a week. A week went by, I gained 2 more. How to lose 7 pounds in one week? I called my sister and she encouraged me to go in and face the facts. She reminded me it's not the first time they've seen this happen. I went in today. Yep, 10.6 pounds. The sickest part? After the weigh in and a great meeting and my resolve to eat healthier? I came home and made homemade pepperoni pizza with my kids for dinner. I ate way too much. The whole time I was pigging out, I was thinking of the hilarious new Instagram account "You Did Not Eat That". As much as I would love the attention, I will unfortunately never make it on that feed because I have 150 pounds of "I DID Eat That' on my ass for proof. Plus I never take food selfies. And more than any of this, I'm irrelevant. Wah.

The topic at the Weight Watchers meeting today was on snacks. We were divided into groups to talk about our favorite snacks. The ideas people told me were insane. Stuff like one slice of cheese on a cracker. ONE SLICE ONE CRACKER? Not in my world. A woman mentioned she saw a sale on Weight Watchers 24 pack of popsicles at the grocery store. I would polish off that box in a couple of days. Hours. The thinnest woman in the group suggested she tops one vanilla wafer with a dollop of pudding and whip cream. Then freeze it. Tastes like pie. WTF? I know it's like pie. I'll eat ten. Plus, that tub of left over whip cream will be calling my name all night until I either eat it or throw it away. I can't have that stuff in my house. Point in case: I had left over pizza dough tonight. Couldn't let that go waste. My solution: dessert pizza.

I slathered the dough with butter, baked it for 10 minutes, then drizzled it with chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, and (get this) Joe Joes. Why do I even own chocolate syrup? Chocolate Chips. Freakin JOE JOES. I popped the pan back in the oven for another 2 minutes to make it all melty and perfect. Have you ever eaten baked Joe Joes? Neither had I until tonight. Inspiring. I had two giant slices with my kids and then scrapped the pan cleaned. Oh yeah, while it was cooking, I ate 3 Joe Joes. It could be more. I lost track. But no worries. I walked 11,287 steps today. Yay. It's like it never happened. Fetch me my bikini. I'm ready for my selfie.

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15 Things I Must Do With My Kids in NYC This Summer

Gearing up for summer. It's going to be a good one. We're spending a week in Fire Island with friends, taking a family reunion cruise out of Florida, another cruise out of Jersey, and two weekend camping trips. I wrote everything on the calendar and realized there wasn't much time left to enjoy NYC's summer activities. Wah. So I stayed up late picking my favorites and planned the entire summer. Very out of character for me, but it felt good. Besides a few stay-home days here and there, our entire summer is set. It's going to fly by. I better dust off my camera so I can have some memories of it.

1. Coney Island
2. Sandy Hook Ferry and Beach (Ferry tickets here. Kids free M-F)
3. Governors Island x3 (Did you hear the good news? It's open everyday this summer.)
4. Local Playgrounds x4
5. Pier 25 x1,000,000
7. Brooklyn Bridge (So many events to choose from)
8. Central Park's Secret Park
9. High Line (Wild Wednesdays)
10. Brooklyn Botanical Garden
11. Sheep's Meadow
12. MET
13. See a movie at the best theatre ever
14. Bryant Park
15. Statue of Liberty (It's finally opened.)

I've also reserved 3 days of the calendar for each kid to pick an activity they want to do. It can be anything. Chuck E Cheese here we come again.
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Career Day: We Take It Seriously

This morning he came into my room and wanted help clipping his tie onto his shirt.
It was 5:30am. 
I begged him wait. Spying doesn't start until 6:30am.
Science Professor Ella Beesley
Her microscope kept falling out of her pocket. 
Perhaps she'll be the next Jane Goodall or Professor Geraldine Seydoux.

Pro baseball player Oscar
He's actually a fan of the Red Sox.
He told me on the way to school this morning.
That sox. 

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Career Update: My kids Know What They Want to Be, I Guess I Do Too?

I was 14-years-old when this picture was taken. 

This Friday is career day at my kid's school. Oscar will be dressing like a baseball player, Owen's going to be James Bond, and Ella will be a science teacher. They are going to be stoked when they see what I bought. Horray overnight shipping. Horray for dreams.

As a kid I dreamt of owning a competitive gymnastics center with my best friend. Then in middle school I wanted to be a teacher like my mom. In high school, I switched. I started to parade down the hallways proclaiming I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom when I grew up. The highest, holiest calling of all!

I know I'm not the only one in my generation of young mormon women to transform their career goals into dreams of becoming domestic goddesses. It was being grilled into every lesson and talk we heard. I found a perfect example from 1998 called Turning Hearts to Family by Margaret Nadauld. Brace yourself. She encourages young women to learn to cook, help with the laundry, and develop artistic talents for their future home and family. She had the young sisters imagine where they wanted to be in 10 years and write in their journals. I was in 10th grade at the time. I ate this advice up. Journals were my speciality. I cringe at the stuff I wrote.

The dreams I had as a sophomore to be a stay-at-home mom? They all came true. I'm a poster child for Margaret Nadauld's talk. Sort of. I married the second guy I dated at BYU-Idaho and had 3 kids by our 4th wedding anniversary. I've had jobs here and there, but most of my time has been devoted to my family. Brain washing works! Motherhood is awesome! Feminist housewives yay!

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Straight Up Now Tell Me

backside of the NY Public Library. Beginners not welcome. ;) 

I finished my writing course at NYU a few weeks ago. On the last day, I hung out after class with another student to ask the teacher about the future. I wanted to know what path she recommends: take more continuing ed classes or pursue a masters degree.

The teacher paused and said, "Well. Graduate degrees are for intermediate writers. Beginning writers should learn the basics of the craft before pursuing a degree."

I responded, "Oh so get published first?"

And she said, "No, not published. In the middle. It's really competitive to get into graduate school and writers should try to build up their portfolio before applying. Especially for scholarships."

Wait a minute. Is she talking about me? I'm a beginner? Didn't I just finish taking her Fiction 101 class? Surely this makes me intermediate. And didn't she just hear me read my short story? It was totally awesome!!!

"Does that make sense?" she asks.

Oh my goodness. She is talking about me. It can't be. Or can it? She would know a beginner writer from a seasoned one. She wouldn't be telling me this if she thought I was anything else. The idea sinks in. I'm a beginner. I'm not that awesome. I pick up my bag, thank her for her time and walked out of class. It stings a little. Better to hear it now I guess. Nothing worse then a writer with an ego.

So with that, here's my beginners attempt at a short story. Fiction 102 here I come.


Crying Wolf: Stomach Flu and Weight Loss

Picture taken May 6, 2012. AKA That other time in my life I was skinny. Hello collarbones. 
I was going strong on my Weight Watchers program for 8 weeks. I lost a total of 8 pounds. People started telling me I looked good. I fit into a size 4 dress that I haven't worn it since I was a vegan years ago. Then my family got a 24 hr stomach flu. First Oscar, then Owen, then Rob. I was sure I was going to be next, so I ate a pint of coconut ice cream to prepare. And a few other things I'm too embarrassed to say. Ok, it was Ho Hos and lemon sherbet and then I lost track. But I was going to throw it up anyway, so what did it matter? 

That night, I suddenly felt really sick. I had severe stomach pains. I was sweating. I laid next to the toilet. While the cold tiles felt cool on my back, I could have done without the smell of piss. I need to clean better for times like this. As the pain got worse, I started moaning. Oscar heard me all the way from his bedroom and said, "Let it out mama. Let it out." My personal stomach flu had arrived. I was relieved my plan worked.

I crawled into bed and posted this picture on Instagram with the caption, "Stomach flu. I'm in bed trying to think of happier times. Like when we rented model boats in Central Park. That was a good idea." And in came the sympathy notes from friends. Hang in there! Feel better! So sorry! I knew what to expect over the next 24 hrs. It wasn't going to be pretty.

An hour later my suffering was over. I never threw up. I started to regret posting that picture on Instagram. And eating the ice cream. The ho-hos. The other stuff. I fell asleep and the next morning I woke feeling fine.

I never got the stomach flu, but I learned something. It was fun eating without restraint. It's been 2 weeks and I haven't stopped. Still preparing for the stomach flu I guess. In that time, my tooth has chipped, I've gained all the weight back, and People Magazine came out with their world's most beautiful people list. That issue is the worst. I couldn't resist it though. Like a giant piece of pie I know I shouldn't eat, I read the magazine cover to cover in the dentist office. I'm out of control.

I have two options. Laxatives. Lots and lots of laxatives. Or get it together. That means: walk 10,000 steps, do 30 minutes of Just Dance and eat 26 points everyday.

Since I'm too embarrassed to buy the laxatives, I'll go with option 2. See ya in 8 weeks. You better tell me I look good.

And if you're curious, I took a picture of what my belly looked like as I prepared for the stomach flu 2 weeks ago . . .


Favorite New Gap Tooth Celebrity: Clarence

February 17, 2010                                           May 7, 2014
The same week my gap grew to astronomical proportions, I discovered another kindred spirit on the Cartoon Network. His name is Clarence and if my mouth was a cartoon, I would expect it to look just like his. I love it. Beyond that, I love how the show deals with the normal challenges like making friends, disappointing parents, and feeling validated. At the end of every episode, I let out a sigh and say, "Oh wow. That was great." So if you want to be my friend or something, then just come over to my house on Mondays at 7pm. We can eat a lot of pizza poppers, we can watch new Clarence episodes on my big TV, and then at midnight we get to bust open my mystery pinata. You're probably not going to want to miss it.

Best episode below.
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Unlikely Celebrity at Our House: Gail Gibbons

If you want to dispute a fact Owen tells you, don't. He's probably read it in a Gail Gibbons book. She's written a gazillion nonfiction books that have his complete attention. She covers everything from corn to the post office to sharks. When he goes "shopping" for books at school, he leaps for the Gail Gibbons books. He has the proudest face when he pulls her books out of his backpack and stacks them on our coffee table. I act very impressed by his loot. And the way he reverends her name. Gail Gibbons this. Gail Gibbons that. He loves saying it. I agree, it is a good name for an author, but look at the cover art for all her books. Even better. Each one could be framed.
We were at a sandwich shop today and a bunch of fire fighters walked in. Owen said, "You know those pants they have on? Those pants protect them from the flames."

I responded, "Why don't you ask them to make sure you're right."

"I don't have to. It's in a Gail Gibbons book, Mom." And sure enough, it's in Fire! Fire! I don't know what we would do without Gail Gibbons in our life.
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The 4th Best Place to See Cherry Blossoms in NYC: Finally.

It's here! A blurry map of the 4th best place to see NYC cherry blossoms. Kick a leg in the air. Wishes do come true. But wait. There's two things to keep in mind. The highway next to it is loud and almost every tree is claimed by a picnic or someone taking a picture. It wins my heart because it's close to home and it's free. This week, after you've exhausted the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, the NY Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, come to Riverside Park for a decent (by NY standards) display of spring. It will blow your mind. Don't forget to pack a blanket, some Uno Cards, and your pet parrot.

Picnic blanket: Check
Uno Cards. Check. 
Pet parrot. Check.
Remember when I used to take a million pictures of my kids and NYC? I apparently still do that. Keep reading for proof. 


My Taste Level Worries Me

Case in point: My cheetah hat. 
I worry about my taste level often. My favorite station on Pandora is "Today's Top Hits." I love Facebook. Ho-Hos are delicious. I can forgive myself for those things, but it was during my 8th week of attending Weight Watchers meetings that I really started to worry. I love those meetings. Talking about food. Following their plan. Counting points! It's one thing to be a vegan. I'm not. That would be current and hip and edgy maybe. A 32-year-old Weight Watcher enthusiast? Keeping that to myself. Oh my gosh. So embarrassing.

A few weeks ago I saw a woman from my kid's school at a WW meeting and I wanted to die. No one was suppose to know I was going here. And now she's ruined it. I waved. She waved. We later admitted we haven't told anyone we're members. I never saw her at a meeting again. She must be going another day. One of us had to.

I used my experience at the meetings to write the beginning of a short story for class. The first line is one of the best opening sentences I've ever written. I worked on it forever and was really proud of myself for thinking it up. It's all down hill from there.

Ever since Todd’s wife got home from her Weight Watchers meeting, he’s been hiding in their bathroom. The toilet is the safest chair in the house. He runs here often. One time after her team lost the Super Bowl. Another time when she burned the dinner rolls. This time Todd knew he needed to hide by the way she slammed the front door. And, like always, she’s blaring Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” from the speakers. It’s a threat. 
"It you like it then you should have put a ring on it. Don’t be mad once you see that he want it," she screams. The thing is, Todd did put a ring on it. But it doesn’t fit her anymore. It hasn’t for years. It’s in a glass dish next to the sink in the bathroom.

They never talk about the day she dislocated her finger trying to take it off. She blamed him. Even after getting it resized, she grew out of it. She blamed him. The jeweler said he couldn’t make it any bigger. She blamed his cooking, even though he made everything out of the Weight Watchers cookbook she bought. Every morning when they are brushing her teeth she stares at the ring, then at her husband. Back and forth. He hates that ring.

She turns off the song. For a minute the house is silent. He can hear her heavy breathing on the other side of the door.  
“Why did you make me eat so much food last week? I gained 7 pounds because of you! It's not fair,” she says.

It's over. Todd throws the ring into the toilet and escapes out the window. He didn’t know he would fit so easily through the small window. That cookbook might have not been helping his wife, but it sure helped him at this moment. He smiles as he dives into the recycling bins they keep on the side of their house. Under the Diet Coke cans, jumbo egg cartons, and milk jugs he can still hear the muffled voice of his wife ramble on about points and tracking. He doesn't have his wallet. Or car keys. Or shoes. But he's free.  

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