Hurricane Season Starts June 1st: NYC Know Your Zone!

Hurricane Season Starts June 1st: NYC Know Your Zone!

photo: Sandrarose.com

photo: Sandrarose.com

We New Yorkers have been through our share of emergency situations over the last 12 years.  I watched the Twin Towers collapse from my apartment window.  I made it through the blackout with twin baby girls who basically slept through the whole thing.  And in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy struck, we were fortunate enough to live uptown, and came to love the huge inclines of the Upper West Side streets that I cursed when I had to push a double stroller up them day after day.  It turns out being perched high up on a concrete paved hill is probably the best place to be in all of Manhattan.  But, it’s also just luck since the power outages could have happened anywhere – and who wants to rely on luck when your family’s safety is on the line?

Know your zone, and know how to be prepared!

  • Use NYC’s Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder or call 311 to find out whether your home or business is located in a hurricane evacuation zone.
  • Understand hurricane hazards and the steps you can take to prepare.
  • Sign up for Notify NYC.
  • Get the latest emergency information via text, phone, email, fax, Twitter (@NotifyNYC), BlackBerry Messenger, and instant messenger.
  • Get the Ready New York Hurricane Guide: The guide contains instructions on how to develop a hurricane disaster plan and secure your home before a storm as well as a map of New York City hurricane evacuation zones.
  • You can check out the SnapGuide too.

And make some thunder of your own!  Participate in the Know Your Zone Thunderclap campaign!  It’s super simple and a great way to let everyone know it’s important to know your zone!

 

True Story: Mayor Koch Made My Sister a 5-Year-Old Deputy Mayor

Ed Koch sits in the office of his campaign manager, David Garth, in New York, U.S., in this Sept. 1977 handout photo. Photo: The New York Post via Bloomberg

Ed Koch sits in the office of his campaign manager, David Garth, in New York, U.S., in this Sept. 1977 handout photo. Photo: The New York Post via Bloomberg

Mayor Koch was mayor of New York City for my entire conscious childhood.  He was such a part of my young New York life that I thought his first name WAS Mayor.  I can’t tell you who was mayor before him, and Dinkins is just a dull blur too.  Mayor Koch embodied my New York of the 1970’s and 80’s.  Loud, heavily accented, aggressive, funny and a showman – he just completely made sense for the chaotic, kind of broken, dirty, noisy and brash New York City of the time.  He also became a pivotal character in one of my family’s legendary stories – the kind you tell over and over again because it just so totally and completely captures everything going on in a family at a point in time.

In the early 80’s there was a drought in NYC, and the mayor launched a campaign to convince New Yorkers to save water.  One part of his campaign was a TV PSA that aired during after school and Saturday cartoons.  This is the “kids” part of the PSA that I found on YouTube, but it’s missing the beginning where Mayor Koch said something like this, “Hey New York Kids, This is Mayor Ed Koch and I am making you my Deputy Mayor in charge of helping New York save water.”

My sister was around 5 at the time, and she watched A LOT of TV.  I was 9 years old at the time and spent most of my after school time in ballet class.  I also decided that I really didn’t feel like taking showers very often.  You can imagine what a great combination dancing every day and not showering was.  This not showering stance basically drove my dad insane and became a huge source of fighting in our home.  And then, because I was 9 – almost 10 – and a total smart ass, I took it one step too far.  I decided I would out smart my dad.  So, one night, I stuck my head under the sink faucet and wet my hair thinking that it would look like I had taken a shower.  Did I mention that my hair looked like I had melted a stick of butter in it prior this stunt?  Yeah, that’s a key point.

So, I trotted downstairs in my pajamas with my hair wrapped in a towel, thinking for sure that I had pulled one over on my dad.  Of course he took the towel off my head and lo and behold there was my hair – wet on top, dry underneath – an obvious attempt to bluff my way through a shower.  So upstairs he marched me.  He turned on the shower and started yelling at me to get in.  I of course held my ground and kept insisting that I had showered.  And we continued this insanity for a good 5 minutes until we realized that my sister was standing there hysterical crying.

A little 5-year-old, with chubby cheeks and big tear filled brown eyes, bawling at the top of her lungs and wailing, “I am Deputy Mayor and you are wasting water!!!  I have to tell and you are going to go to jail!!”  We just stared at her, not quite sure what she was saying.  “Mayor Koch said I am Deputy Mayor and sisters have to take short showers and we have to save water.”  She was inconsolable.  And needless to say, her crying, and the ridiculous things she was saying with such pure and heartfelt belief brought the full ludicrous nature of this battle to full relief.

I can’t even remember if ultimately I showered that night, though I think I did.  But I will never, ever forget my little sister with tears flowing and snot running out her nose, taking the words of Mayor Koch so seriously that she was convinced she was a Deputy Mayor with a real job to do to help save our city.  I don’t think Mayor Koch intended kids to listen to him so wholeheartedly, but he was our mayor – the only one we knew – and he governed the only city we knew – NYC.  For young New Yorkers who became defined as Generation X New Yorkers, he was the leader that dominated our evening news, newspaper front pages and even our cartoon time.  With his passing it seems official that that NYC is gone – for better or worse.  There is a tiny of bit of true New Yorker bravado, chutzpah, moxie, that something that puts the snap in street hot dogs and bite in New York bagels (it’s the water right?), that will die out with Mayor Koch and his generation of New Yorkers that my generation will miss, and my children’s generation will miss out on.  For Mayor Koch I hope there’s really good Chinese and a really cheap movie theater in that NYC in the sky.

Getting My Artsy Girls to Play Sports (Hint: It’s about the outfit and gear)

My daughters never liked team sports.  At 4, when I enrolled them in a kiddie soccer class they turned the goal upside down and declared it a spaceship, climbed on in and then proceeded to create a story about going to the moon that captivated the other kids and made it impossible for the 24 year-old coach to interest any of the kids in dribbling the ball through cones.  Needless to say, the other parents were not fans of my girls.

I realized quickly that team sports were just not my girls’ thing.  But keeping them active is important and we didn’t give up on finding sports that they would like and do well in.

Land sports – not for them.  But, luckily water is their thing.  Swimming, skiing, skating – if it involves some sort of water they are into it.

If it involves a uniform, costume or awesome gear then they are REALLY into it!  So, I was excited to head over to the new #RookieUSA store on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side to check out all the fab clothes and shoes.  And while my girls are not land sport crazy, we are New Yorkers and we walk everywhere, so my girls live in sneakers – and having a giant selection is just what we need.  They also started tween spin this year and are in serious need of some cute workout shorts that won’t chafe.

I have also found that I need to canvas a new store without my daughters for the first visit – otherwise it’s a frenzy of “I need this.”  “I must have that.”  A little preparation goes a long way when guiding tween girls through a merchandise heaven.   And merch heaven it is…

I ended up getting these super soft and lightweight Nike shorts for my girls that are perfect for spinning, and a pair of fabulous purple Levis jeggings.  You can see the full photo spread on my Google + post

Purple and aqua – that’s how we roll in our house.

This is a seriously welcome addition to the Upper West Side – especially for the jeans and sneakers.  I have to add that the customer service was incredibly lovely too.  Not only did a saleswoman help me figure out the sizing (they really do need to post size charts for that Nike stuff) the cashier signed me for the rewards program and gave me the discount even though I couldn’t find my $20 coupon.  That really doesn’t happen in NYC.

Plus, it’s right next to Michaels – so after stocking up on sporty stuff I can feed my daughters’ artsy side with crafty goods galore, and then grab lunch at Whole Foods.  Perfect Upper West Side morning.

Check out RookieUSA on Twitter and Like them on Facebook so you can know when the online store launches!

Leave a comment below and tell me what sports your kid is into.  The first 5 commenters get a $20 Rookie USA gift card! 

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Rookie USA #CBias #SocialFabric

What I Want My Daughters to Know About 9/11

English: Twin Towers NYC (scanned from print p...

English: Twin Towers NYC (scanned from print photos) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughters are 9/11 babies.  They were born in 2002, a little less than nine months after 9/11.  I was very newly pregnant that day, but so early I didn’t know I was pregnant for 4 more days.  We lived downtown and one of our favorite parts of our one-bedroom apartment was the view out of our living room window straight down 3rd Ave to the Twin Towers.  That morning my husband left early to vote in the NYC Democratic Primary before heading uptown to work.  I was still in the bedroom putting together my notes and thoughts before I started my day of writing.  All the blinds were down.

My husband burst back into the apartment and told me to open the blinds and look out the window because one of the Towers was on fire.   When we looked out the window it was apparent that they were both on fire at this point.  We spent the next incomprehensible moments watching out our window while watching Peter Jennings on TV at the same time.   And then the unthinkable happened –  the first tower collapsed.   We were frantically on email since phone service was down.  We waited to hear about one friend who worked in one of the Towers.  My sister showed up at my apartment at some point, having watched the same horrific scene from her roof downtown.  I couldn’t get a hold of my dad, a doctor in Brooklyn Heights, who was at his hospital as it tried to handle the inundation of stricken, shocked and debris-covered people who had walked across the Brooklyn Bridge looking for help, too stunned to process what had happened.  My mom was on vacation in Denver, unreachable.  Her apartment downtown was soon behind military barricades, the meatpacking district looked like a military zone.

We walked to our neighborhood diner at some point, just sitting there collectively trying to eat and trying to figure out what normal would be in NYC.  We lived right off of Union Square, which quickly became the site of missing posters, of flyers, of family and friends holding out hope, trying to feel proactive.  It’s still hard to describe how this giant city felt like a small town.  How everyone was scared but bonded all at once.  There was nothing more horrific than what happened that day – but there was also a determination and understanding among New Yorkers that we were in this together.  As much as it happened to America – as much as politicians still try to use it for their own purposes – it truly happened to New York.

Everyone in my childbirth preparation class had a 9/11 story.  My pregnancy was in the shadow of that “recovery.”  I switched doctors partly because the hospital at which I was supposed to deliver was right across from Ground Zero.  My whole pregnancy I worried (and still worry) about the air I inhaled, especially that first week, when it was so intensely filled with the stench of burning steel, acrid odors, and a yellow haze.  Being pregnant during the aftermath of 9/11 was both life affirming and scary as hell.

So, how do I talk to my girls about that time?  The attack on the Twin Towers, the attack on NYC, is not just about terrorism and fear.  One of the things I most want them to understand – if anything can truly be understood from that awful day – is how the city came together during that time.  How hundreds of volunteers lined up to feed the first responders and firemen and policemen who tirelessly kept searching through the burning rubble to find the possible survivors, or find the remains of the victims so they could be properly buried or memorialized.  How volunteers came from all over the country to help.  How a mayor who we didn’t even like, stepped up to fill a giant vacuum of leadership and really came through when the city – and country – needed someone to lead.  How even though I was stunned and shaken and not sure if my beloved city would rebound – I was still hopeful because collectively the city had proved itself to be an extraordinary place full of kindness, grit and compassion.

Today, all over the country most people have moved on.  But, in NYC this still feels like a day meant only for memorials and remembering.  I am still shocked when someone invites me to something frivolous on 9/11.  This day remains different in NYC.   We remember not just because we lived through it, but because these were our fellow New Yorkers.  And I want my daughters to know they should proud to be New Yorkers, but not take for granted this amazing city full of different cultures, languages, food, energy and opinions.  I know I never will.

Behind the Scenes at Mary Poppins – Disney Magic In Times Square

A few weeks ago we were invited to take a backstage tour of the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street, current home of the Disney Broadway musical, Mary PoppinsThe New Amsterdam is a particularly rich historical theater – it housed the Ziegfeld Follies and the fabulous Fanny Brice and is haunted by the ghost of Olive Thomas.  Like most of Times Square in the 70s and 80s The New Amsterdam had fallen apart, become decrepit and rat ridden and showed Kung Fu movies.  I remember when Disney purchased the theater and announced their intention to restore it and bring The Lion King there.  Most New Yorkers were skeptical at best.

What occurred is one of those extraordinary New York and theater moments.  The restoration of the theater – most of it helped by the memories of original Ziegfeld Follies girls then in their 90s – is glorious.  All of the original details were restored or rebuilt from the crowned sconces, to the Shakespeare friezes, to the beautiful murals in the downstairs lounge that depict the history of New York.  It’s hard to imagine the lounge with 2 feet of dirty water filling the floor as it was 15 years ago when they began the restoration.

On our tour we not only saw the beautiful details but also had a backstage, hands-on experience with props and set pieces from all of the Disney musicals.  Sitting in Ariel’s scallop shell bathtub was a definite highlight.  That evening we saw Mary Poppins – for the second time I should say.  But, now that my girls are 9 they had a whole different appreciation.  It also was pretty amazing to see the show after standing on that very stage that morning.  There is nothing like walking on a Broadway stage!  Except, maybe, seeing yourself on one of the giant screens in Times Square.

We had an extra dose of Disney Magic that day when the girls got to experience a virtual Disney Park experience by posing with a beamed-in Daisy Duck and having their pictures projected on the screen above the Disney Times Square store and then again and again on within the “castle” that covered the building across the street.  I think they could have watched themselves forever…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Film Set on my Doorstep

Walked outside my door and saw this parked on the street.  Plus an entire street of classic 60s cars.  Don’t know what they were filming but it’s the perfect reminder that you never know what you’re going to bump into in NYC.  Plus, I wish they’d bring back the checker cab.

Parents as Meaningful Partners in Education

This post was originally written for the White House Champions of Change series and was published last week by Parenting on the Mom Congress blog.   As I prepare for my speaking gig at the #140 Conference on Education I thought I’d share what I’m working on and what I plan on talking about…

How many times during the year are you in your child’s school?  How many times have you been invited inside the classroom to celebrate the good, as opposed to deal with the bad?  Could you articulate what your child is supposed to learn this year?  Do you know the academic goals?  The discipline procedures?  The expectations being set for your child – or more importantly if any expectations are being set for your child?  These are the questions I grapple with every week along with my fellow Parents Association (PA) CO-President, other leadership parents, our administration and our teachers as we try to figure out how to create a strong bridge between home and school and engage our parents in a real way.

One thing I’ve learned since being involved in my daughters’ large NYC public school is that there is a disconnect between the amount of information teachers think they are giving parents and the amount of information parents feel they are receiving.  After attending the Parenting Magazine Mom Congress and meeting women from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, I know that our school is not unique in trying to figure out this dilemma.  The common theme is that parents want concrete, clear goals for their children.  They want to understand how material is being presented – particularly in math – and they want to know how to help at home.  It’s impossible to be a partner in anything, let alone your child’s education if you don’t what you’re working toward.

What do parents need from teachers and administrators to be effective partners?

  1. Clear curriculum goals for the year.  Just like in college when everyone gets a syllabus why shouldn’t elementary schools kids have the same framework for their learning over the course of the year?  Of course teachers should have wiggle room, and the ability to update as the year goes on, but seeing a roadmap for the year gives everyone a plan they can refer to when goals seem elusive.
  2. Celebrate the positive.  Invite parents in the classroom for end of curriculum open houses so parents can review their child’s body of work, see the work of all the kids, connect with each other, and feel a part of the classroom.  Tell parents when kids are excelling or do something special rather than just the bad behavior or struggles.
  3. Curriculum mornings or evenings on a grade wide basis to talk about literacy and math.  Put materials in non-educator speak, demystify acronyms and take questions.
  4. Monthly parent newsletter or email from the teacher for curriculum updates.  Clear, short and to the point.  Teachers seem to think that kids tell their parents everything that is going on in the classroom – they don’t, not by a long shot.

It’s not a bridge unless both sides are willing to meet halfway.  So parents – don’t come in angry, defensive and entitled.  I’m not talking about when things have gone very wrong and a child was harmed – I mean stand up and have a conversation about issues before they turn into debacles.  Articulate what you need and where you are coming from without boiling over with anger.

Engagement works both ways.  We throw a huge teacher appreciation dinner midway through the year as well as provide dinner for the teachers during parent/teacher conferences.  These events are filled with homemade food, a lot of thought and hours of volunteer time, but it’s important to let teachers know we value their time and hard work.

In the end it always boils down to clear communication.  The more parents know the more they can help.  And if the grownups can’t figure out how to talk to each other how can we ever expect our children to do better?