Monday, December 12, 2016


Third grade is supposed to be challenging for little girls in the friendship department. I heard this a few times but when I recall my own third grade experience, I don't remember it being in issue. I do remember it in seventh grade, but at eight I was blissfully ignorant to any big issues with friends. I also didn't have as many friends as my daughter has now. I was friendly, I had a few really good friends, and then one best friend. That's back when you really did have one best friend. Now that "best" word gets thrown around too often and it is really quite a tricky description for a type of friend.

Arielle and I met in second grade. I was a new student, coming in from a different school after the year had already started. I spotted Arielle right away and she had a roller skate hairband in her low ponytail, and a superman lunch box. The shock of coming from a school where all girls had to wear dresses, and the desks were all lined up in neat little rows, to this room where the desks were set up like tables and kids wore what they liked was a big change. There was so much color in that room compared to what I came from, not only in clothes, and skin, but also in the fun way the class was set up. It was decorated. Arielle had the cutest sneeze I had ever heard. The class giggled when she sneezed because it sounded like a little mouse: achoooooeeee. I thought to myself if this kid (who I wasn't so sure at that point was a girl or a boy) had such confidence to sneeze this way, sport a superman lunch box and a pony -- then this kid is interesting. I was right. She became my closest friend and remains that today.

Arielle and I played after school for hours. We would later be allowed to walk to each others houses. There were days and years  where all of my memories of childhood are combined with her image. We shared the deepest secrets and the darkest fears. During the summer we would go our separate ways and I would cry at our goodbyes. We stayed close until junior high when it seemed everyone around us got shuffled around. We were no longer in class together and she matured a bit faster than me. It took me a bit longer to adjust to not having her around. It also took me longer to find my way in a big new school. Eventually we found new friends. We went our own way but were never far apart and in college we became close again. Despite my move cross-country, Arielle is still a very close friend. We see each other anytime I am home in NY, and now our children play together.

As girls, if we had a disagreement, we would be upset for a minute and then be laughing the next. Our moms only got involved if we asked them too. Now, I feel like everyone is on high alert with anything that fits under the banner of being "bullied." I reached out to a mom last year whose daughter wasn't exactly being warm and fuzzy to mine. I put a lot of thought into reaching out, but after quite a few days of my daughter feeling hurt, I wanted to know if she had heard anything on her end. She was very receptive and explained that her daughter indeed has a hard time playing with more than one child at a time. She apologized if it was at the exclusion of my daughter. She also said she didn't want to get involved unless I thought my daughter was being bullied. Well, I would define bullying to be something more aggresive than leaving someone out, so I dropped it. I did some reading on the subject, and I learned tools to help my daughter to communicate with her friends. I also learned that after a certain point she has to handle these obstacles independently. 

I recently went to her classroom for "back to school night" and I could tell third grade is a step in the more serious direction. Gone were the drawings and presentations about what they did their first week of school. It was all busness. My daughter doesn't seem to notice that it's a bit less play and a bit more work, and that's as it should be. She is where she is supposed to be. She is still learning, in her classroom and with her friends. Her closest friend she met when she was a baby — they are inseparable when they are in the same country, but unfortanatly she lives in London. She has a bunch of close friend here too, but I don't think she has an Arielle yet. I look forward to when she finds her. As tricky as it can be to navigate close friendships, life is much sweeter with good friends.

Friday, December 2, 2016

He's Got A Way About Him

When I found out I was having a baby boy, my friend told me that little boys love their mamas. She described that love as a deep, strong bond that was unbreakable. 

Just after my baby boy was born, I waited for that feeling to start. For that love to grow. It wasn't instant, so I wondered if it was because I was so in love with my little girl that this new little baby in no way could ever mean as much to me. Then one day when he was only a few months old, I was holding him in his room and all of a sudden -- I felt it. I kissed his soft, warm, bald head and said "I love you. I really do."  The rush of it all was so surprising.

From that moment on, I understood what my friend meant, because I felt it. The way my little boy looked at me made my heart melt. The way he would reach for me, hold my neck, or hold my hand — I would fall in love all over and over again. There is no comparing siblings of different genders. Girls and boys are very different. Sure I can talk about their births, or how long I nursed them, or what stuffed animals they both gravitated to, but that is about where it ends, because my two kids are very different. I  know you can have two daughters and two sons be very different from one another as well, but in my own case, I can see some clear differences that fit more into typical girl or boy behavior. My daughter is more emotional and will come snuggle in a gentle way, and my son is more physical and will tackle me to the ground, all in the name of love. His hugs can be painful, his kisses hard, and his cuddling is anything but still.

Over the summer, he went through a tough period. He was freshly four, and well I could just stop right there, because four has never been a fun age for me to parent. Again, though this four looked very different from the whining, pouting, crying four from my daughter. This four had whining, but also anger and hitting. At the time, I feared that my son was Dennis the Menace in the flesh, and I began read as many parenting books as I could. I tried every tip, trick or piece of advice, none of which worked. It felt like all the fun, cuddly little boy stuff seemed to disappear. He wasn't as affectionate and he honestly wasn't very easy to like during that time. The only that I had forgotten was that this too is a phase, and "this too shall pass."

Indeed we came out on the other side and my little wrestling bundle of love returned. We are back in a delicious phase of intoxicating hugs and kisses. They are random, and impromptu, and I welcome every single hug and kiss.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Countless Times

One is how many times I would like to have to ask my kids before they listen. Three is the amount of times I ask before I start getting annoyed.

Five is about the number of times I threaten to take something away if they can't get it together. Zero is the amount of times I tend to follow up on those threats.

Daily, I ask if our morning tomorrow can please go better than this one is going. One out of five is the amount of days we get to school without someone crying.

Two are the amount of emails I have received from my husband with a schedule of how we should operate the morning so it goes well. None, are how many days it went according to the plan. Despite our efforts.

Ten is the number of times this school year we have said we should set an alarm. Two is the amount of days that stuck. One of which we ignored.

One is the amount of days this year that I got up before everyone else in the house, exercised, made breakfast and was dressed before the kids. It was the first day of school. It was a great idea. Fifty two days since that I didn't do that.

This morning, I got my kids out without any tears, we weren't rushed, it was a small miracle and I am proud. We got to the back of school where there is a gate that is usually open. It wasn't today,  and we had no time left to go around to another entrance before my daughter would be late for student council. I made the only rational decision I could think of in that moment, and I had her scale the fence. The first try wasn't successful. She was too scared and didn't want to climb back down the far side of the fence. When she came down to me and said she was afraid, I told her that I believed she could do it. I explained that it was okay either way with me, but that she might be late if we go around. Thats when I saw the fire in her eyes, and she attacked that fence. She stuck her Doc Martins in those diamond shaped holes and swung her leg over the top. The only moment of pure panic came when her leggings got stuck on the top of the fence. I climbed up right to her, mother and daughter scaling together, and I ripped her lavender, (already such dirty pants, so now we can throw them away) right off leaving a tiny hole, and encouraged her to keep going. It was then that she said "Mommy, is this illegal?" I assured her that we were fine as long as there isn't any barbed wire on top, we are good to go. She made is down on the other side. Two feet planted on the ground, with her little brother whining behind me that he wants to try, she looks at me blows out a big exhale and we smile. I tell her "you made it, yay, now go" and she runs off into school. I did not set a great example, and I definitely wasn't thinking about safety first, but she learned she could climb a fence. Those are some mad life skills.

Over one hundred times I have said to my kids "Come on, we can't be late for school" Zero is the times we have been late. Not an option.

Infiniti: the amount of time I will say "I love you, have a great day!" No matter how we get off to school.

Countless Times

One is how many times I would like to have to ask my kids before they listen. Three is the amount of times I ask before I start getting annoyed.

Five is about the number of times I threaten to take something away if they can't get it together. Zero is the amount of times I tend to follow up on those threats.

Daily, I ask if our morning tomorrow can please go better than this one is going. One out of five is the amount of days we get to school without someone crying.

Two are the amount of emails I have received from my husband with a schedule of how we should operate the morning so it goes well. None, are how many days it went according to the plan. Despite our efforts.

Ten is the number of times this school year we have said we should set an alarm. Two is the amount of days that stuck. One of which we ignored.

One is the amount of days this year that I got up before everyone else in the house, exercised, made breakfast and was dressed before the kids. It was the first day of school. It was a great idea. Fifty two days since that I didn't do that.

This morning, I got my kids out without any tears, we weren't rushed, it was a small miracle and I am proud. We got to the back of school where there is a gate that is usually open. It wasn't today,  and we had no time left to go around to another entrance before my daughter would be late for student council. I made the only rational decision I could think of in that moment, and I had her scale the fence. The first try wasn't successful. She was too scared and didn't want to climb back down the far side of the fence. When she came down to me and said she was afraid, I told her that I believed she could do it. I explained that it was okay either way with me, but that she might be late if we go around. Thats when I saw the fire in her eyes, and she attacked that fence. She stuck her Doc Martins in those diamond shaped holes and swung her leg over the top. The only moment of pure panic came when her leggings got stuck on the top of the fence. I climbed up right to her, mother and daughter scaling together, and I ripped her lavender, (already such dirty pants, so now we can throw them away) right off leaving a tiny hole, and encouraged her to keep going. It was then that she said "Mommy, is this illegal?" I assured her that we were fine as long as there isn't any barbed wire on top, we are good to go. She made is down on the other side. Two feet planted on the ground, with her little brother whining behind me that he wants to try, she looks at me blows out a big exhale and we smile. I tell her "you made it, yay, now go" and she runs off into school. I did not set a great example, and I definitely wasn't thinking about safety first, but she learned she could climb a fence. Those are some mad life skills.

Over one hundred times I have said to my kids "Come on, we can't be late for school" Zero is the times we have been late. Not an option.

Infiniti: the amount of time I will say "I love you, have a great day!" No matter how we get off to school.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Feeding Frenzy

When I was in college, my sister was in law school. We lived together in one house: our parents, her husband and her growing belly. I listened in awe with every new idea — birthing classes, natural birth or c-section, breast feeding or formula. While I had no intention of having a baby at that point in my life. I was so intrigued, and feel undoubtedly formed ideas about how I would do it when that time finally came.

Watching my sister made me realize that the path we choose as a new mother is not always the path we follow. My sister wanted a natural birth so badly, and after hours in labor, ended up with a C-section. The birth of your child is step one in learning that so much of birth and life is out of our control. My sister had also planned on breastfeeding, and that didn't exactly go according to plan, either. She gave birth to her son in the middle of a snow storm in NYC, and finding an available lactation consultant proved to be impossible. We made the best of it — when my nephew wasn't on the breast trying to latch he was in the arms of my dad, or mine, getting nourishment from us via a tiny feeding tube. It was a bonding time for all of us that is sealed with a smile in my memory.

Years later, when my husband I decided we wanted a baby, I was reminded again how things don't always go according to plan. Pregnancy did not come easy for me. After months of trying to have a baby, my husband and I ended up in the ER. It was here where I found out I was pregnant, but that due to lack of blood supply to the baby, it would be a wait-and-see situation. The baby was strong and thriving. I was out of the woods and ready to enjoy pregnancy, but then I began vomiting. I was diagnosed with something called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Hyperemesis affects less than three percent of women, and it's basically a condition defined by non-stop vomiting. It was awful. Right around the fifteenth week, the nausea finally subsided. As I recovered, and my belly began to grow, my husband and I took a birthing class. The woman who taught the class suggested that when we think about how we would like our births to go. She suggested that we make a birth "wish list" as opposed to a "birth plan.” Little did I know then, that this small change in language would be the best parenting advice I could have ever received.

My pregnancy did not go how I wished. My daughter's birth had elements that I wished for. A few years later my miscarriage wasn't something I wished or planned for. When I got pregnant with my son, I got sick again. I planned on that but certainly didn't wish for it. I had hoped that I could breastfeed my children. It was one wish that came true for me. It felt like one of the only things that came easily after such a difficult pregnancy, and for that I was grateful.

 Just like there are many ways for packages to be delivered, there is no one way to have a baby delivered. Snail mail or express. In the end, natural delivery, c-section, drugs or no drugs, at home or in hospital, fertility treatments, egg donors, adoption, the end goal is the same for all new parents.: a healthy child! The same goes for feeding your baby. I have friends who could nurse and didn't want to, and friends who wanted to nurse but couldn't. As new mothers our new responsibility is huge and daunting. We need to make informed educated decisions for what is best for us as individuals. Breast is best for some, but not for all. There are many support groups and lactation consultants for those who need support for nursing, and there are wonderful, healthy alternatives such as those available on the  Honest feeding page for those who choose to use formula. Connecting with your baby is crucial — nursing is a great way to do that, but not the only way.

When I first brought my daughter home from the hospital, I was so overwhelmed with the idea that I had to do everything "right." Like every new mother, I wanted the best for my baby. I went over the top with this idea though and it took me a while to realize that there is no "right" way, or one way for that matter. I remember I was nursing her once, and I got distracted and she came off my breast. Milk sprayed across the room and when I looked down at my baby she had gotten milk sprayed in her eyes. She was fine, but she was covered in drops of milk. I could have laughed, but in that moment, I burst out in tears, as if I had damaged her for life. I was so sensitive and here was this innocent baby looking up at me just wanting to be fed. It was that day that I began to realize I needed to be easier on myself. We were all doing well, healthy, thriving, and if no one is hungry then I shouldn't be crying over spilled milk, even if it is spilled breast milk. I started over that day and began to take heart, that it all works out in the end, but it certainly does not go according to plan.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Skinny

Hillary Clinton's latest anti Trump add was powerful and got my attention. It's a clear and simple message we have heard before: it simply reminds us to be mindful about how we regard body image around our daughters. It showed young teenagers looking in the mirror and observing themselves while Trump's spewing voice-over spoke nasty body shaming comments about women. I am very careful about how I speak around my daughter, and around women in general. We are fortunate to be living in a time where many people are careful, but still so many are not.

We are surrounded by so many mixed messages out there. Eat healthy, yet treat yourself! Gun violence confronts us on an almost daily basis, yet there are movie billboards glorifying guns in a larger than life way. We wouldn't tell our daughters they will be "a player", but people tell my son he is going to be "a little ladies man". There are words, phrases, insults, and curses that my kid's friends are allowed to say that mine are not. I have to explain and undo a lot expressions that I am not okay with, but are no big deal to others. I can let some things go but there is an innocence and ignorance my children have that I would like to protect a little longer. Obviously, with each passing day I let go of my children a bit more, but for now, I hope I can keep a positive impact on how they view things.

My 8-year-old daughter has a friend who already knows about sex. I am not ready to talk to my child about how a baby is really conceived but I would be devastated if her friend told her before I did. This same friend had my daughter asking me what f-u-c-k spelled. I like her friend and I wouldn't keep them apart for these reasons, this child just has a bit of information that I would rather she kept to herself.  My daughter doesn't yet see how any of these things relate to her, but it is only a matter of time. We recently went to a festival that had a rock climbing wall. It was there that my daughter felt how other people view her body, and that did not get past her. The man who helped her put the harness on, said "come here, skinny" as he tightened the straps he said commented on how she doesn't even have a waist. We try so hard to make sure people don't comment on overweight bodies but forget to be mindful of people who are underweight. Any comment about someone's body can be hurtful.

I have read all the articles out there about making sure we speak up and build up our kids by commenting on how strong our girls are bodies are, instead of talking about size, but then we pass bus bench that says, “Wanna better Butt?" This of course brought in questions about what is wrong with that girl's bottom that she needed a better one? Trump is just one man who speaks ill of women, and with any luck, he will quietly go away soon. If not quietly well at least away. Hopefully with any luck she will also never meet him. Unfortunately, I cannot keep her from meeting men as ugly as he is. However, I can and plan to empower her enough that their words are just that, words, and that her heart is the strongest muscle she has.

Friday, October 28, 2016

City people

We just spent this amazing weekend in Park City, Utah. When the sun was out, it held you like a sweet goodbye to summer. The trees were green on the mountains with just a spattering of autumn colors peeking through. We were visiting close friends who left the West Coast eight years ago to move to Utah. They have family there, they all ski, and they had small kids so it just made sense. Now having visited for the second time I can really see how much sense it makes.  It's beautiful, the schools are great, you get more for your money and there is so much open space.

It's not difficult to look at real estate in LA without wanting to flee the city. The prices have climbed to ridiculous numbers. People seem to be buying the tiniest of shoe boxes just to own something in a desirable neighborhood. Most places outside of the big cities like NY, LA, and SF you can actually buy a nice home for a reasonable amount of money.  I felt this way in Massachusetts this summer too. I saw beautiful homes with nice sizable yards and day dreamed about moving there. I just know there are too many things I would hate to say goodbye to in LA.

Everything is a trade off. I hear people say that all the time when they are talking about places to live. We left our beloved house in the hills two years ago to move to an area where we could walk, bike, and have a community of people around us. It has been the best decision we made for us, as a family. We love how this is a real neighborhood that feels a lot like what I imagine a small town USA town is like -- yet, we are still in a city. It is diverse both racially and economically and is close enough to anything we are willing to fight LA traffic for. Or now we can take the Metro which has been super easy. We also have an amazing public school system and we have been so impressed with it so far. When I look at the money that goes into the schools in Utah it seems like it is this brand spanking new school. It is nicer than most of the private schools here. They even have their own snack truck with the schools sports teams logos painted all over it. We could sell everything we have here and get a really nice house there with money left over, but we would freeze half the year and there are no Trader Joe's.

So we will stay here, because we love it. Well we love the area, but we do miss our house. We miss the natural beauty that welcomed us home everyday as we drove up the hill away from the city. We miss the quiet mountains that surrounded us. We now live in a town house that we love, but wish it wasn't attached to someone else's house on one side. We don't exactly love having a board that keeps reminding us of the rules of living in this complex. We also don't love paying the HOA fees each month. There is the trade, though. I love the convenience, the friends we have made, the grounds here, and the pool. It takes a while for someplace to feel like a home, but I am really settling in. Sure I can up and try something else if we needed too. I don't want to though. I'm making myself comfortable.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What Do You Have To Do All Day?!

Wow, someone actually just asked me what I have to do all day. She asked when I told her I wasn't sure I had enough time to help volunteer my time with one more project. She actually asked me that question, and shockingly she is a mom too. I did not respond. I did not respond because I didn't have the time to give her the real answer. 

We women need to stick together. We need to be more supportive of one another. It is not easy to be a mother and it takes some effort. I know we all have different approaches and different situations that factor in, so we may not all be able to relate completely but surely I thought every woman knew that whether you are working or not, mothering is still a job in and of itself.  I recently had a few projects and jobs that pulled me away from my regular availability to my kids. Lunches got made last minute, homework wasn't done right away, more sugar was consumed than usual, more bribes were made and less baths were taken. I had a taste of what it is to be a working mom and it is hard. My hat goes off to women who work all day and then come home with only a small window left to connect with their kids. To come home from a full day and try to feed them a healthy meal, make sure they read and brush teeth and everything else that needs to get done, you are barely left with enough time to talk to your kid. Not to mention the guilt one can feel for being exhausted and not really wanting to talk with your kids post a full work day.  It's hard!

The norm for me is not working all day at a "job," but let me be clear: I have one, and I am working harder than I have worked in my life. I have fifteen hours a week where I am not doing the mothering job, but I am always on call. Three of those days I report to another job, and then rush to pick up from preschool from there. I am a chef, a nurse, a therapist, a tudor, a personal assistant and the list goes on. I will not map out my daily schedule for you because it is pretty full and I am not looking for any pat on the back. Even sitting down to write has to be calculated for as there really isn't much time to spare. I get way more sleep than I did three years ago when I had a new baby, but he still gets us up at the crack of dawn and I am still struggling to get enough sleep at night.

Not every woman has the choice to stay at home full time. Even "stay at home" is such a poorly worded title for what a mother does. I don't do enough staying at home, if I did maybe I could tell you what soap operas were on while I tried to fold the laundry.  It takes a lot of planning, and some serious time managment. I realize this someone who asked me what I have to do all day, works another job in addition to raising her two small children. Without judgment I can also point out that she has help from a nanny, and a daycare, so perhaps her reality allows for many more free hours in the day than I have. I just don't think any mother should ever ask, "What do you have to do all day?" We should all know that regardless of how many hours we all put into it, its a big job!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Stay Awhile

My dad and I talk on the phone almost every day. My husband sometimes makes fun of me and says "daddy" when he sees I am talking to him. He knows I am a daddy's girl -- he can make all the fun he wants, but my bond with my dad is unbreakable. When I call my mom she is often busy, or she will chat for a minute and hand the phone to my dad. When I talk to my dad, he has all the time in the world for me. Except the other day when I called. He picked up and said hello, but then quickly said he had to go. I asked him why and he said he was at the funeral home. I pushed a bit further and he confessed that he was making arrangements for his own funeral to make it easier on us when he passes. I swallowed back my tears.

 My dad didn't coach soccer games, or teach me how to ride a bike, but he was the one who made our family dinner every night, picked me up from school, and helped me with my homework. Compared to my friend's fathers, mine was much older. He was almost fifty when he had me and so now he is eighty eight years old. Over the last ten years he has had some aches and pains. He has had knee and back problems He has had a few surgeries and epidural injections for pain, but he has been free of any disease or illness and has remained relatively healthy. 

Most people at his age slow down, and he has but his version of slow is exhausting just to think about. He may not walk very well now but that doesn't stop him from getting on planes. He travels to Israel for six months at a time with my mom. They live there, rent an apartment and a car, have friends to visit, concerts to attend, and classes to take. The other six months they live between New York, Massachusetts, and find a way to even get out here to California for a visit or two a year. They are not afraid of adventure and my dad says as long as he can do it, he will. My dad does get anxiety and often worries, but the most valuable tool I learned from him is that despite fears, you do it anyway.

My parents absolutely live life to the fullest.  They were both teachers and they took summer vacations to work in summer camps that were located in the country so they could live somewhere beautiful. The loved to travel so they always set a few weeks of the summer aside so they could a trip. They still go to plays, concerts, see their friends, and they still travel. The biggest obstacle for them now is pain though. It can really get in the way. It might not stop my dad but it surely can overshadow joy. When his back began to ache a few years ago, I thought it was just an injury that would go away with a little time. It has taken me a while to accept that these ailments aren't temporary, they are here to stay. As many people have tried to reverse aging, clearly no one has a solution yet.

This summer I took my kids on our annual trip back to the east coast to visit my parents. It was the first time that my mother was also in pain. She has some sort of sciatic nerve pain down her leg and it makes it very difficult to walk. This was the first visit that felt like just that: a visit. We spent time with them talking, eating, and staying with them, but we did all of our adventures without them. The lake to swim, a walk, a museum, a trip to the playground all might have been done together in the past, but this year they just couldn't do it anymore. My kids had a great trip and we enjoyed our time together with my parents, but I felt the absence of their energy. I went home feeling slighted of quality time with my parents and in exchange I felt sad. Was this my new normal? I had this underlying feeling of denial, and stubbornness to accept their health this way. If I had a difficult time accepting this I can only imagine what they feel. Aging is no fun for anyone involved, and as my dad says often "Getting old sucks" 

I suppose he is doing the responsible thing, preparing for the future. Statistically, he is planning all of this at an appropriate age. I know humans can only live so long, yet knowledge and understanding can't even begin to prepare me for the way the world will feel without my father in it. So regardless of what lies ahead, I am going to continue picking up the phone everyday. I will spend as much time I can connecting with my dad, and as little time as possibile thinking about when I won't be able to anymore. When I spoke to my dad on the phone from the funeral home, I waited to cry until I hung up. I told him to hurry up and get out of there. I reminded him that he had a long time before he would ever go back there.  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Running Up That Hill

It was early Sunday morning. The adrenaline and excitement didn't pull me awake as I thought it might. I was slower getting ready, not a good start for a day where moving quickly is the goal. I skipped the shower and put on workout pants, a sports bra and the race t-shirt. It was my 5K day. This is my third one. I ran last year but the one before that, I was 27.  I am not a runner. I don't thrive on it like some people. I don't I have a runner's body, my knees turn in slightly so if I run a lot my knees start to hurt. I only ever took it up years ago for a short time because I was dating a runner. I wanted to see what he was so addicted too. Thank goodness he was an athlete and not a druggie, because for a few months I was hooked too. On running.

A few months later our relationship ended, and soon after that my love of running ended too. I was on to exploring new possibilities in this fitness and dating world. I think maybe thats when I started dating a spin instructor. A few years after that though I was living in LA with a roommate who was training for a marathon. She was going to do a 5K as part of her training and asked if I wanted to it with her. I was game, and began taking a few runs around the neighborhood prior to the race. I didn't really want to "train" but I also thought it would be good to not embarrass myself and collapse from exhaustion during the race. As a former figure skater I stayed in shape, but running was a different beast. There is so much more of a mental challenge for me. Much to my surprise I ran a ten minute mile that day, and finished the race in half an hour. I was happy with that, and again put running behind me.

After getting married, having two children, and a few other things that happened in those ten years, I saw a flyer for a 5K that appealed to me. The money that would be raised went to support family fitness and heath. I was already an ambassador for a program that encouraged the same cause so I felt compelled to do as much as I could for it. I also felt ready to do something for me. To have something goal oriented that I committed committed committed, stuck to and could accomplish, was really important to me after parenting full time.

My goal was to do about the same time that I did over ten years before. Again I ran a few weeks before to prepare, and much to my surprise I was even faster. Now I know that like wine some things get better with age, but I beg to differ with that. When I find a gray hair or spend money on facial serums, or have to get reading glasses, I don't exactly feel like I am getting better. It's then that I think I am over the hill. As far as running hills go I have improved. I think having experienced childbirth and being a mother has helped that.

This year the race came around again, and I wasn't quite as prepared. I only got to take two runs a few days before. My husband wanted to run with me, but we didn't know if there would be childcare at the race. Making a game time decision, we left the kids with someone who has watched them before. She was game so we said a quick goodbye and registered my husband to run. I think we both said to each other that we had to pee but it was too late. It was time to get ready to run.

The horn blew and we were off. I lost him as I tend to get in my own head when running. I listen to my breathing and the sound of my feet hitting the ground. I play around with my strides, challenging myself to take bigger leaps and change the rhythm of my steps. I was pacing myself but not taking it easy.  As soon as I get a bit tired I am reminded how much I hate running, then I have to remind myself to think positively.  All was going fairly well until the hill. I remembered it from last year and it was no joke. It was long and hard. I looked down at each crack in the pavement and decided to just take it one crack at a time. I didn't look ahead at anything except the next crack. I started to count the cracks but the number was going so high and the hill still steep, so I went back to my breath.

Finding it hard to keep breathing deeply and steadily, I began to hit that "wall." That place where you want to give up so badly but you force yourself to keep going. Where the challenge becomes so tough that you wonder if your body can actually handle it.  The fight that goes on in those moments between your head, heart, and body is so intense. It felt so familiar too and then I remembered when I felt it before: childbirth. With my second child I felt so exhausted, and spent. With every contraction, a great deal of stamina seeped out of me. I was losing endurance and sight of how I would get to the end result. I had to muster all that was left though and perceiver. Just like getting to having the  baby, I would get to the end of the race. The hill was done and I was able to put that behind me. I suddenly remembered the kids were left at the start of the race in haste. I began to run faster. I wanted to get back to them, and I also wanted this race to be over. I finished and when I glanced up at the time, it was the fastest I had ever done.

Relieved to be reunited and finished my kids and I had some snack and sat around listening to the award ceremony.  When they announced the third place winner they said "at the age of 41" and I wasn't really paying attention after that because I thought that sounded kind of old to win a medal, but then they said my name. I was shocked! it was a very nice surprise and I was proud of myself. Of course going against the "getting better with age" theory the silver medalist was 26 and the gold was 15! Regardless though I was happy, and I thank my children for putting a fire under me, since I ran back so quickly to make sure they were ok.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Put Down That Phone

On mothers day I went to a park with my kids. It was a beautiful day and as they played I sat down on a bench and instinctively picked up my phone. My head was down and oblivious to my kids. I was busy looking at photos and posts of everyone else saying "happy mother's day" and staring at cute pictures of other peoples kids instead of looking at my own, the live ones right in front of me. I'm not saying that I should be paying 110% attention to my children at all times, or that they aren't capable of playing without me, but I did realize in that moment that something felt wrong. I felt addicted to the phone and had to have my own personal intervention to put it down.

I decided in that moment that I was going to practice some restraint. I committed to turning off the phone for an hour.  I slid that circle to the right and zipped that phone into my bag. I looked around and took in my surroundings. The first thing I realized is that immediately I was able to slow down time because the just by having my head in the phone while at the park made me feel like I was multi tasking even though I wasn't actually doing anything except cruising Facebook. I stood up and walked around, I noticed what my kids were doing. One was playing chess with a little girl she had just met and my son was climbing up and down a net ladder. He called to me to see and I took him in. I wondered if he had wanted to call to me a few minutes before but saw I was on the phone so he didn't bother. In that moment I thought about how many moments are stolen by my phone. I do not want my children to have to compete with my phone. I don't want my children look over and always see my head down and stuck on a device.  I don't want my children to think it's okay to connect mostly through a phone and not face to face.

Cell phones have been life changing and invaluable but they shouldn't be life stealing. I cringe whenever I see kids at restaurants on their parents phone. Sure, it distracts them and allows us to have a conversation but what about teaching them to sit with us and communicate?  If they are too little for contributing to a conversation what about coloring or bringing small toys to the table?  There is so much hard evidence that too much screen time is bad for our kids but it's so easy to let them stay plugged in since it's such a cheap babysitter. Or is it? The cost of time on devices is pricey. Connection, creativity, boredom, touch, daydreaming, making friends, the list goes on.

I don't know the last time I looked at my kids doing something cool and just watched them. Instead I quickly grab my phone so I can snap a picture so all of my "friends" in my social network can like it, and so that later I can see how it's trending and if anyone comments.  This could have been an opportunity to laugh with my kids but instead I had to capture it. It feels out of control. Social media is great in terms of being able to connect with people that you don't get to see often, and I appreciate that. I have a lot of friends that I wish lived closer or that I don't see because of how crazy our families schedules are. One would argue that maybe I have too many people I love that I don't see enough but when I hear the statement "you don't need any new friends" it sits funny with me. When people stop connecting with new people then there is a problem. After I put down the phone at the park I walked over to the table where my daughter was playing chess, the little girl was sitting with her parents who were helping our girls play. They had moved here from London just a couple of years ago ( I seem to connect with Londoners and their kids for some reason) and our girls were playing so nicely.  They went from chess to riding scooters, and playing handball together. The parents and I talked, and by the end of our time at the park we exchanged numbers. We will likely see them again and had I not put down my phone I would have likely missed an opportunity to meet new people or worse missed a chance for my daughter to continue a new friendship.

I would love to hear what stories can come out of putting down your phone. Challenge yourself and see what comes of powering off. Look how many sentences can start with "Put down that phone..."

Put down that phone and play with your kids
Put down that phone and read
Put down that phone and dance
Put down that phone and eat
Put down that phone and meditate
Put down that phone and drive
Put down that phone and write
Put down that phone and smile at the person next to you
Put down that phone and go outside
Put down that phone and go for a walk

and on and on.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Letter To Liz

Dear Liz,

I've been trying to process the news of your death. I heard about it from a few other cast mates from The Hating Pot, and it feels so lonely trying to mourn you all the way here in California. For all the hours, days and years our group spent together, I never took a moment to think that one day we would all splatter across the world, never to be sitting in the same room together again. I went online last night, searching for a way to make peace with you being gone. I looked at old videos of you in the 70's with your long red hair, wildly dancing as you led a huge group of people singing. I read Facebook posts of people thanking you for your inspiration. I saw tributes, obituaries, and stories all about who you were.  As I read, my head kept hearing James Taylor's song, "I always thought that I'd see you again…".

Over the past 18 years since we all worked with you, I only have seen you once. It was a fantastic surprise too. I was in a Whole Foods in West Hollywood and you and Roz were just standing there. It really felt like I ran into family I hadn't seen in a while. It was a surprise but so comfortable. I was so excited to show you that I was all grown up. Meeting you as a teenager and then spending over four years with you — I really did enter adulthood under your watch. I remember auditioning for you. It was a large open call with so many kids from public schools all around New York City. I could see in your eyes how important the subject matter was to you. I so enjoyed the improvs you had us doing and was taking them so seriously. I'm sure part of why I was cast was because I was so eager to meet your level of intensity. 

I joined a group of cast mates, all of us unknowingly beginning such an important project. Not only did I gain a new community, I also learned more than I ever did in all my history, social studies and humanity classes put together.I met other kids who were my neighbors in New York but who had never met anyone Jewish or Black. Together we broke down racial stereotypes and shattered our own racism through honest improvisations. I tapped into a reservoir of creativity I didn't know I had. I sang and danced, expressing all emotions on the spectrum. I traveled around the country, made TV shows, made friends, all thanks to this one show, and thanks to you.

Liz, you were the matriarch of this crew. You lead and steered the ship and without you this production simply wouldn't have been. I was so in awe of you. As a teenager I will admit I had some obsessions with teacher, or mentors. I wanted to know more about these people who were my so called leaders. I definitely craved some attention clearly. With you though I didn't need to search for anything because you gave it to us. You were who you were and you offered it to us completely. For me having you guide us for that many years at that time is a beautiful water mark that you leave on me.

I thank you for giving me a chance, as an actress, as a girl, then as a woman, and as a human. I thank you for teaching me to open my eyes to what is really happening right around us. I thank you for showing me a new way to make a difference. I thank you for teaching me so I can now teach others. I thank you for loving all of us, making music with us, and for taking on such an incredible journey.  I had a dream last night that you weren't actually gone. I ran into you on some Hollywood set of what they think heaven would look like. I asked you what you were doing there and you said you were waiting for the right time to surprise everyone. I felt content with that and was pretty unhappy when I woke up and realized you were still not here.

My work has been so influenced by you. My major in college to my goals as a teaching artist have all been shaped how you taught, and what you taught. I hope that what I have to offer now, and what I hope to share with students I work with in the future will reflect my time spent with you. I may not be able to ever run into you again, but when I look at work that I have learned to create from you, that is when I will see you again!

Forever grateful,


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ted Talkers

In one week, three of my female friends shared with me that they were asked to give a TED Talk. TED stands for technology, entertainment and design.  The talks are produced by a non profit organization and their slogan is "Ideas worth spreading." A guest speaker gets up in front a of a live audience and delivers a speech on their area of expertise. If you haven't seen one you should pick any interesting subject and watch one because they are all well done and very educational. If you want to see three of my friends their talks i am sure will impress you too. They impressed me, so much so that I began to wonder if there was anything I could offer a TED talk.

One friend works in non profit making sure minorities and immigrants get treated well in their workplace (here is the link to her TedX talk, picture below). Another started an organization that gives micro loans to women in Africa to start their own businesses. My third friend will be giving her talk this weekend and she is a heart surgeon, who works part time so she can also juggle being a mom and her singer/songwriting career. I have some busy, smart friends. I would like to say they can swing all these important missions because they have chosen careers over children but only one of the three doesn't have kids. One even has three boys all under the age of five.

I have made the choice to dedicate my time to being a full time mom and I am sure soon enough when my kids don't seem to need me quite so much I will be missing this time with them. I have absolutely no regrets. I do wonder though what I will do when they are both in school full time. I don't want to fill my day with errands and wait for the school bell to ring and pick them up. I want to do something a bit more important, a bit selfless, a bit more helpful. It doesn't have to be TED talk worthy, but it should equal it's importance if even in a small way.

I called a friend to share the news about my smart high achieving friends. I confessed to her that I felt my life work felt a little dull in comparison to trophys  earned from their accomplishments, She reassured me that I had many things I could give a TED talk on right now. When I asked her to give me an example she said she would but she had to get off the phone and she will call me back. My head began to wonder. Prior to moving to LA I worked in the world of social change. I was in my late teens and early twenties participating in creative projects all around NYC teaching about race and ethnicity. I believed I could change the world and looking back I still believe we made a small difference talking to kids about intolerance. I have always known I would go back to this line of work but feel rusty and out of practice. Mostly I am afraid of teenagers now since I am so much older than them now. They intimidate me.

As for now, I still have little ones so I can ignorantly go about my errands until I am ready to make a change. I could give a talk on how I think parents should throw away most of their parenting books and just follow their instincts. I could speak about how just paying attention to your kids can work wonders for your kids self esteem. I could share how a hug can help fix almost anything, but these things everyone knows...right? I still await the phone call from my friend on what she thinks I could give a TED talk on. If there are any good ideas I will let you know.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Responsibility

The first thought I have when I think about what my job is as a mother is to love my children. Of course it goes much deeper than that, and there are many more details to parenting, but I keep seeing this image of myself hugging my children. There are so many conflicts, frustrations challenges that all get resolved and the final finishing note is a hug. It doesn't cure all and it certainly can't fix everything, but it can help soften the blows a bit.

Recent current events have been horrifying. The trend of shootings in our world is a disgusting one. I really didn't think this would still be going on with this kind of frequency.  It is difficult to see the future for my children without having to teach them some protective measures and "what if's" as they get older. My daughter is seven though and my son still just three. Neither knows of any violonce in the world. My daughter knows what war is, but only in the most general of ideas. Recently some military officers came to talk to her class about service, patriotism, etc. My knee jerk reaction was to be furious and that talking to children about gaining higher ranks in the military is the begining of recruiting. It glorified the job of "fighting for your country" and that they shouldn't have been allowed to speak to our children without permission. I spent a bit more time with the issue I had and realized that what was really bothering me was that it is my job to teach my children about war. Or is it?
As news soundbites come on the radio, or through people talking, or subtitles on a tv when we are out somewhere, very soon the questions will come. What is a shooting? Where did that happen? Will thathappen here? Or the most difficult question: Why mommy? I won't really have an answer for that one, because together with so many people we are all trying to figure that out. In the meantime I hope that when she sees or hears such horrible news that my husband and I are the ones she is hearing it from. For now she is so innocent and we love that she is still blissfully ignorant. I know those days will come to an end soon enough, and so they are precious.

It has been said by many that thoughts and prayers are not what is needed through these dark times. That the thoughts should be shifted to how we can change this problem and the prayers should be for peace.  I was driving alone last night and listening to the radio when I spotted a billboard. It didn't have any words just a picture of a gun made out of rainbow sprinkles. Who exactly is this picture supposed to appeal to? I was in Hollywood where billboard after billboard appears before you even can digest one there are five more in front and behind it, but so many glorify violence. Hollywood specifically glorifies gun violence. Where is the movement to quiet that down?

So with more shootings, the more likely we will be having conversations soon. I am sure when the idea of violence or war becomes less broad and she learns that each victim victim was family to someone, or that they didn't do anything to deserve something so awful, the questions and emotions will pour in. I don't think I can imagine the end of that conversation with anything  to take away such ugliness or protect her from realty. I can and will though make her feel as safe as I can, and I cant imagine what would do that more than a hug.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


My husband and I both like to get up and go. We have never sat around the house in our pajamas on the weekends. We both have too many things we want to do and see. Especially since having kids and being limited to nap and bedtimes we feel and even bigger pull to get our days going on the weekends. Lately though I am always asking myself why I am so tired and why our schedules are so full. I have been craving just chilling at home. Except I am not really sure how to do it. I am really out of practice.

 Checking errands off your to do list shouldn't mean you are accomplished. There is this race daily to do everything you can humanly possibly get done in one day, resulting in utter exhaustion. I wonder why I am so tired by the end of the day. Sure, I have small kids who get up early, but I am also exercising, reading the news, trying to make healthy food, put together some decent outfits and get out the door all by 8 am. By the time I get to my alone time I typically have just under two hours to check an errand off my list. It not exactly carefree. First I pick up my little one and then a few hours after that I pick up the other one. When we all finally get home it's the homework and dinner club. Just to add a bit more chaos to the mix every few days we have some extra curricular activity to attend to as well. I am beginning to feel like the idea of balance in life is a myth.

I strive to have my life be calmer, less complicated, and less stressful, but there is a fine line between simpler and boring. I have a friend who comes home with her kids everyday after school. No play dates, no activities, they do homework maybe watch some tv eat dinner and go to bed. It works for them. Then I have friends whose kids are in competitive sports or dance, that go two days a week and one day on the weekend. They eat dinner on the fly and I guess do homework before bed. We are somewhere in the middle and there are days where that even feels too much. 

   When I plan out my day, I forget to account for all the distractions. From the minute I wake up I think I have a set amount of time but then a text comes in, or I have to forward an email to my daughters classroom, or my child doesn't want to wear the shoes Ive already tied on. In this day of having cell phones be the biggest addiction I have ever had, I have a love hate relationship with technology.  I think our kids probably hate seeing them in our hands all the time too. I read that using our phones is nit unlike smoking was in the 60's. Just like people learned that smoking was bad for them then we know that using our cell phones can be not only dangerous to talk on near our heads but also a complete distraction from the people closest from us. I read "Hands Free Parenting" and loved the message but I can't put my phone down just like everyone else.  I'm hooked. "Stop The Insanity"

As I sit here and write this, I have stopped so many times due to technological interruptions. I try to over compensate my meditating everyday, but something about this seems so ironic. So I have made a pledge to myself just to be a bit more mindful about being chill. Staying home a little bit more at a time. Taking down time. Playing with my kids, and just being present. I am really enjoying my kids right now. Seven and three are pretty sweet ages. I want to soak them in, with minimal beeps and buzzes to pull me away. Yesterday I took an afternoon walk in the rain with my boy. He was so excited to wear his rain boots. I purposely left the phone at home. It felt good to be free of it, and anyway the rain could have gotten it wet. Then what?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Student Of The Month

My daughter received the Student of the Month award! I am proud of her and excited that she is recognized for her work at school. She wanted this award last month, the first month at school, but instead her friend deservingly got it. Both girls, are the "student of the month" type. They are extreamly well behaved, studious, focused, quiet in class, and smart. It was even predictable that the two of them would be the first to get this award at the start of school. Last year, when they were in different classrooms they both stood next to each other with the award during the first school assembely.

Last year when I was new to the school and recieved a note home that she would be recieving this award, I was also excited for her. I quickly realized though that only 9 kids per year in each class would be rewarded with this. We had come from a school before that had an assembley every week and gave out two principal awards per class per week. By the end of that year everyone had got one at least once, or in my daughters case three times.

I am not sure every kid should always be a winner, but rewards systems are flawed. When my daughter started preschool there was a chart with red, yellow, and green on it. Each kid had their names on clothes pins and if they got a warning they moved to yellow, if they continued to misbehave they got a red. I hated this system. Especially the day that I came to school and found my own child's name on red. She didn't even get a warning they had said, because she loved to climb and she had climbed up the fence that leads out of the play area. She had also influenced her friend to do the same. That was the first and last red she ever got in preschool, and I didn't find it misbehaving as they did. I was impressed at her climbing skills, but reminded her that it wasn't allowed, nor was it safe. I was happy to learn though that a year later the preschool replaced the chart with a marble system for when kids did things well, as opposed to pointing out what they did wrong all the time.

I know that as adults we earn rewards all the time for doing things the "right" way. We also get penalized when we do things wrong as well. There are plenty of incentives for good behaviour for grown ups, so I know the lessons to be learned from rewards are not all bad. That being said though, there are a lot of people in the middle who just don't get recognized. The really obedient, but shy child who never raises their hand in class might not ever get to be student of the month. Or the enthusiastic, bright child who is so excited to learn that he can't stop talking. Or that child who has behavior issues that has therapy practically everyday, or worse that child with behavior issues who has no help at all. These kids aren't likely to be student of the month either.

I don't think getting an award like this is life changing, or that important in the grand scheme of a child's life, but for those kids so rarely recognized it can make a huge difference. Think about those kids who are given up on so quickly in their education because of misbehavior. I know that there are amazing teachers out there who say that no matter how challenging it is they can find something wonderful in each child. If that something wonderful was nourished and encouraged all year than ever child would deserve an award.

The day my daughter did not the award and it went to her friend instead, she sat down next to me and told me that her friend was student of the month. I tried to stay as neutral as possible not sure where her emotions were headed. I said "Oh, that's nice, how do you feel about it?" She said she was proud for her. The next thing I heard was my daughter sniffling. When I looked at her she asked through tears, why she didn't get the award. I reminded her that she had run out of class after me a few times in the first month of school and maybe that is why she didn't get it. She immediately stopped crying and said "Oh, right."  For her putting her best foot forward is so important, it also comes very naturally to her. I was happy to see though that the award ceremony had some kids called up who were not the typical "student of the month" kids. Including one of my daughters close friends who is now in another class. He talks a lot but is indeed a passionate, enthusiastic, caring, and sensitive student. I was grateful that he got an award. When he got his award last month I was front and center cheering him on with his mom. He was so shocked and excited that it had me almost believing in this award. Almost! That being said, I am proud that my daughter for continuing her diligence, hard work  and her new ability to stay in her classroom after I say goodbye to her at school.  That alone deserves recognition!