Posted in kids, life in nyc, tagged American Girl, birthday party, candy, creative cakes, Disney Sing It, highlights, kids parties, martha stewart, pandora, parenting, poloroid, scrapbooking, twins, Wii, you cake on May 25, 2010 |
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Ok, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But every year I swear I am not going to have a big party for my girls. I’m not going to knock myself out and spend a ridiculous amount time planning and executing a custom party. And then with four days to go I find myself schlepping down to Economy Candy on the Lower East Side to find the perfect candy toppers for the 60 cupcakes I’m baking for their school parties. And suddenly I’m hauling the couch across the living room, clearing out furniture and strewing crepe paper from corner to corner while standing tip toe on the edge of a chair. No matter how hard I try I just have to give in to my inner Martha and create the party of my daughters’ dreams.
This year we did an (Almost) Sleepover complete with a spa set up in their bedroom with wind-chime music, a manicure station, scrapbooking with the super cool sticker pictures we printed on a Poloroid PoGo printer and a relaxation station stocked with back issues of Highlights and American Girl Magazines. Once the girls were beautified and relaxed we herded them into the kitchen for an ice cream sundae bar with a candy bonanza of toppings. These are the liberties you can take when they girls are not staying the night! Then they headed into the living room/disco where the music was thumping (thanks Pandora!) the disco light was swirling and the limbo contest sent the girls into a frenzy. Some Wii Karaoke with Disney Sing It! And then, just when it seemed we couldn’t pile on yet another activity we brought out the awesome cakes that were topped with incredibly special and unique toppers courtesy of You Cake. (full disclosure: the fab moms at You Cake gave me the toppers for free and I attended a super fun You Cake event at Moon Soup the following weekend – but I wouldn’t write about them if they truly hadn’t turned out a superior product! I’m just not that easy.)
It was a smashing success, but the next day – Mother’s Day – I felt like hell. Congested, coughing and exhausted for the next 4 days I pretty much swore I’d never do it again. But I guess it’s like labor. Give it enough time and you forget the true horror and only remember the well worth it result. My daughters are already throwing out ideas for next year. I just stare at them with a glazed expression and nod my head.
Here are pics of the really amazing You Cake toppers. You can see how creative and artistic they are. Much different than the typical “photo” cake because they customize them to your theme or interest. Also, you can take the topper right on over to your bakery and have them lay them on top and finish the border with icing, or you can do it yourself on a homemade or store bought cake. Honestly, these were a huge hit. My daughters adored them.
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I don’t usually publicly brag about my daughters but I am making an exception for this. Thursday, April 29th was Poem in Your Pocket Day in NYC. All the children in my daughters’ school carried poems in their pockets and read them aloud to each other, to teachers, to administrators and to whomever would listen. They had a great time and the school was filled with kids sharing poetry all day long – some silly, some strange and some short and sweet.
But, the best part for me as a mom was when my two seven year-old girls came home with their freshly written poems – each unique and incredibly poetic in my own humble Jewish mom opinion.
Here they are:
Shining and shimmering like pieces of gold in the sky
Casting rainbow streaks on houses everywhere.
Making the clouds look like fluffy lanterns as they pass by
Lighting the atmosphere 3000 feet above and helping
The moon glimmer while everyone sleeps.
When the sun comes up the stars turn off their light and take a break
Till the next night comes.
And when the next night comes they do this
Awake in the day
Asleep in the night.
Oh – Morning Flower
You can start kvelling now!
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Posted in kids, life in nyc, parenting, review, toy fair, toys, tagged American Girl, dolls, great deals, hospital, madame alexander, parenting, playmobile, pretend play, raising kids, shopping, toy fair, toys, Toys and Games, twins on February 25, 2010 |
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One of the best things about being a mom is your chance to reread your favorite childhood books and play with toys both old and new. But, one of the best things about being a mom blogger is getting to go the Toy Fair! Last week the Toy Fair hit New York at the Javits Center and I dropped off my daughters at The Westminster Dog Show with their grandmother (knew those pet allergies would come in handy) and headed to the fair to decide my own Best in Show. First stops, Playmobile and Madame Alexander.
Certain companies evoke the kid in me like no other and Playmobile is one of them. I had the big fort/camping set when I was little. I am endlessly fascinated by incredible attention to detail that Playmobile executes in all their toys, the quality of the pieces that can be handed down over and over again, and way in which their toys facilitate imaginative play. What caught my eye at the fair was their new school. First of all it has such a pleasing, colorful, happy feel. This is the school your kids wish they attended. The details abound – a skeleton figure and microscope in the science lab, a working abacus on top of the real chalkboard for doing math, a little child bathroom and a Principal’s desk with a coffee pot. Details, always about the details. I immediately wanted to pick up the pieces and start playing. It’s also fully fashioned all the way around like all Playmobile toys so that you could really get a bunch of kids playing with this at once – something I’m always looking at as a mom of twins.
One of my other favorite things about Playmobile is how their attention to the little things makes them great teaching tools too.
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Posted in Italy, nyc moms post, Travel, tagged dolce vita, family travel, Italy, lay offs, parenting, recession, summer in italy, traveling with kids, twins, unemployment on July 2, 2009 |
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Three months ago while I was in the middle of preparing dinner my husband called from work and told me that he had been laid off. You’d think in this economy I wouldn’t have been surprised, but the mass lay offs at his company had come in January and he had survived, so come April, and the brand new fiscal year, we thought he was in the clear. As I slowly recovered from the initial urge to throw up he told me that his company had a very generous severance planned for him, as well as a three month “transition” time before he would be officially unemployed. In other words, he lost his job but he was being given the gift of time. At that point one thing was clear to me, we were going to get the hell out of here come June 30th and plan a trip – a long far away family summer trip.
It probably sounds ridiculous that in the midst of financial uncertainty my reaction was to plan a major vacation, but there is one thing I’ve realized in the all of the career ups and downs we’ve been through and that’s that money comes and goes but time only goes by. We’ve been through this before (pre-kids) when the dot com bubble burst and the company went bankrupt after working 80 hour weeks, including sleeping overnight at the office. We took off for Japan and Thailand to recharge and get some perspective. In 2001 we actually won a trip to China, but we were never able to take it first because of September 11th and then because my twin pregnancy was deemed too high risk for long flight travel. We were officially grounded.
So now its been seven years since my daughters were born. For the first 4 years we never went anywhere without them, and never for more than a week staying with family. Fun, holiday vacations for sure but the kind of trips that work and school allow. For the past two years my husband and I have gone away together for four days once a year. The kind of trip that grandparent babysitting will allow. So this chance, this opportunity to have an entire month if we wanted to take our girls and show them something of the world that their imaginations had yet to uncover seemed too priceless to pass up. And things began to fall into place – camp refunded our money, extended family generously gave us a place to stay in Italy, we were able to use miles for one of our tickets.
When we told our daughters that this is what we were going to do – go to Italy for the month of July and explore the country, their first reaction was “What about camp? We can’t miss color war!!!” Guess what, we told them, camp will still be there. The ability to have a whole month off to travel? Well that may never come around again. I don’t think they entirely get it yet, but they’ve been studying their Italian picture dictionary and reading Magic Treehouse books about Italy and starting to get excited because everyone around them is so excited for them.
And maybe its the fact that my girls are seven now that made this trip even more appealing. Soon enough they’ll be going to sleep away camp and not wanting anything to do with us. And they will have a way bigger say in how they want to spend their own time. For now, time is a shared family expense, and if they can see the value in using that time to the fullest then I will at least feel like we provided for them in a less tangible but more meaningful way. At the very least they’ll learn that when life gives you lemons you should make limoncello (or in their case some sorbetto limon)!
This post originally appeared at nycmomsblog
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Posted in nyc moms post, tagged birth control, doctor, healthcare, medical school, nycmomsblog, ob/gyn, physician, rebecca levey, twins, womens health on June 10, 2009 |
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I am 37 years old. I have been going to the gynecologist for about 20 years. During that time I graduated from high school and college, started a career, got married, gave birth to twins, tried many different forms of birth control and brands of birth control pills, and changed doctors 4 times. One thing has remained the same in all these years of my “women’s” health care – I always saw a doctor, a Board Certified, Medical School Degree, diploma hanging on the wall doctor. This year I went through the usual ridiculous measures that you need to take in order to see an OB/GYN in a busy Manhattan practice. I called 3 months in advance of my desired date and, after much conferring with the receptionist, got an appointment for my annual check up 4 months later. All set right? Well, no…
Last week I came home to a message from the receptionist telling me that my appointment time will have to be changed to 5:30 pm. In other words I will have to get a babysitter so that I can go to the doctor. When I called back to figure out a new time during the school day I was told the next available time would be 2 months later. Or, the receptionist informed me, I could see the PA next week. The what? The Physician’s Assistant, like this was the most normal option in the world. Turns out the Physician’s Assistant could do an exam, a Pap smear even prescribe drugs. Just like a doctor, the receptionist cheerily told me, except she didn’t go to Medical School.
Now, maybe I’m crazy. Or maybe as the daughter of a doctor this just smacks of the further denigration of respect for what doctors do, but isn’t that part about going to Medical School kind of important? I’m sure a PA has been well trained and can help a doctor “see” more patients than she would normally be able to, but when I go to my doctor for a check up – a very personal check up I should add – I don’t think its too much to ask to actually see my doctor. My vetted, carefully chosen, highly recommended doctor. Isn’t that relationship important? I feel like checking in with my doctor once a year is not just about the actual exam and subsequent lab tests, but about the yearly catch up. How am I doing? Am I thinking about having another baby? Am I happy with the birth control we decided on last year? How’s my marriage? Any personal issues that I would only discuss with my OB/GYN like sex or post pregnancy blues, or other things that are so easy to talk about when you’re in that office with a doctor dedicated to women’s health suddenly become shunted to the side.
I’ve come to realize that now that I am not going to have any more children and fall into the GYN side not the OB side I warrant less attention in my doctor’s practice. But, I want to know why a woman is less worthy of a Medical Doctor’s time because her appointment is “routine” instead of prenatal. So I told the receptionist that I would not like to see the PA. I will get a babysitter or have my husband come home early so that I can have an actual in person appointment with my doctor. And I have to say this has made me rethink my doctor herself. I will probably start looking for a new doctor, maybe one without the hyphen -OB, and one who thinks that a check up is an opportunity to check in.
This post originally appeared at nycmomsblog
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When did my daughters’ birthday become a weeklong celebration? I always felt that the one break parents of twins get is that the birthday can be a joint affair. Especially when you have same sex twins, or in my case identical twins which makes it even easier. But somehow this birthday thing has morphed into an endless week of kid, school and family parties.
When my daughters turned one we had a big family party here in our apartment. When they turned two we did the same thing. They didn’t have any “friends” to speak of so it was easy. But, then they started preschool and the birthday parties began in earnest. Cupcakes at school – of course. And that year we did a party at the playground with all of their new playmates. But, we had to have a family party too because there are so many of us, my parents being divorced and remarried makes our group fairly large, plus my in-laws and extended family. Well, we kept on having all three parties so that everyone had their own celebration time. And that’s how it’s remained right up to now – their seventh birthday.
I’m usually pretty old school about the birthday party thing. I like it to be homemade and reflect my daughters’ personalities, which usually means an insane amount of preparation and schlepping, and clean up. This year we drastically cut the guest list at our kids party and had a “grown up” party as my daughters called it so we booked a kids jazz brunch at Jazz Standard. It’s the first year I’ve done a party where all I had to do was show up and pay the bill at the end. I even had a glass of wine. But, of course that was only one party down. Like the Obamas on Inauguration night our festivities had just begun.
With both girls in separate classes that means 52 cupcakes at school on the actual birthday day. I’ve been baking since yesterday, a thing I usually love but this year everything went wrong. In the end the cupcakes came out fine, certainly good enough for a bunch of 6 and 7 years olds, but now comes twin birthday shuffle – first one class then twenty minutes later the other. We’re hitting the Carousel and Shake Shack after school with some friends. But wait – there’s more.
On Saturday comes the family party, thankfully hosted at my dad’s place not mine. Our entire family, even the ones who live in LA are gathering in Brooklyn to be at the party. The capper to this week of out and out big time reminders that I am the mom is that Sunday is Mother’s Day. Seven years ago today I became a mother of twins. After 37 long weeks of pregnancy, of fetal monitoring, of fear of twin-twin transfusion syndrome, of worry about premature birth and tours of NICUs, I calmly entered the hospital and gave birth to the two little girls who are growing up faster than I ever imagined.
All week I’ve been wondering, when can I stop making cupcakes for school? When will they be too old for all of these separate parties with balloons and goody bags? But in writing this I’m realizing that it will probably be soon, too soon. Before I know it they’ll be too cool for any of this and not even want us to come near their school, forget about jumping up and down with excitement when we enter the classroom. So I’ll take my giant Tupperware cupcake carriers over to school today and try to remember that the extra effort is worth it. That making my kids feel special is part of the job. And, come Mother’s Day I’ll know I’ve earned it that’s for sure.
This is an original beccarama.com post
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There are many different forms of maternal guilt. The too much TV, processed food guilt. The formula vs. breastfeeding guilt. The not enough quality time in the day guilt. I don’t have any of that. In general I find guilt to be a waste of time emotion. But, then Halloween comes around and I am awash in an inexplicable, overpowering guilt – the guilt over not making my daughters’ Halloween costumes from scratch.
I know in the grand scheme of things buying your child’s Halloween costume at the store or from a catalog is perfectly acceptable, but I can’t shake the feeling that this is the ultimate cop out in a mass consumer world. The Halloween costumes I remember the best from my youth were the ones that my mother made. These are the ones that took both imagination and planning. Some were successful; like the time I was a can of Tropicana orange juice and my best friend was a can of Delmonte peas. Some were not so successful; like the time I wanted to be Olivia Newton John at the end of Grease (in the slutty, greaser outfit.) My mother put me in a black leotard and tights for that one and I ended up looking more like Marcel Marceau than Sandy. But, no matter what, come Halloween a costume was made and looked like none other on the streets of Brooklyn.
Its hard to persuade your child to don a homemade outfit when the store bought one is so shiny and perfect, a vision right out of TV. Even worse, its impossible to fight against the dreaded princess costume – all frills and poufy layers, glittery and generic at the same time. There is something so blah about seeing the parade of princesses up and down the streets with the same exact costume. The color may vary but its the same thing none the less. No one remembers the girl in the princess costume, but they all remember the kid dressed like an ipod.
So, we have improvised. A store bought costume with a little customization thrown in. One year my daughter was a unicorn which we purchased on ebay, but we attached a doll size baby carrier to it and put in a baby stuffed unicorn so at least she was a mommy unicorn. The next year I had a homemade costume breakthrough when my daughter decided to be a tropical tree. Her preschool did not allow stuffed animals from home to come to school, and my daughter was basically trying to figure out a legitimate way to smuggle them in. I dressed her all in brown, built a nest in her hair out of yarn and filled it up with fake birds from Chinatown. Then I sewed fake vines all over her and wrapped a toy monkey around her arm. It was a costume she will never forget, not just because she was completely unique but because she was so incredibly proud of creating it.
This Halloween my daughters want to be a cat and a pirate. They both ended up buying their costumes. It was hard to say no and insist on making their costumes when they were both so excited about buying the ones they saw in the store. But, hopefully we will be able to twist and tweak them, make them a little more personal and specific. In the end I know that this homemade costume guilt is like most mom guilt, pointless and completely adult-centric. For the last three years one of my daughters was some variation on a princess. She was thrilled to dress up in that mass produced dress. And, in the end, that is what Halloween is all about – the act of dressing up and being a kid out trick or treating with the feeling that you are something or someone else – homemade or not. Though I’m secretly hoping that next year one of my daughters will want to be a washing machine or a lego or something that we can create together from scratch. Until then I’ll be eating left over Halloween candy and dreaming of homemade Halloweens gone by.
This is an original nycmomsblog post
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I would like to think that if Dante wrote The Inferno today there would be a special circle of hell just for Kindergarten admissions in NYC. And within that level there would be a VIP room for those of us with twins. When I explain the process to friends and family living outside of NYC they look at me like I have 5 heads. There were times during the process when I felt like I had five heads. Between both of my daughters they took four IQ tests, for both private and public schools, a “School Readiness Assessment” for more public schools, went on four private school interview/play-dates, and 2 second round playdates at the specialized public schools. We also entered 2 public school lotteries for the schools within our district that we were not zoned for. Did I mention that my daughters were 4 years old at the time?
In the end we ended up at the out of zone public school that we most wanted from the beginning. Ironically enough, it is an all gen-ed school meaning that they do not separate out or track the students based on scores. So, after all that testing what we realized was that we didn’t want our daughters at a school where they would be segregated based on their scores. Whether we feel this way later on in our daughters’ education life I don’t know. But, for now, we like the “all one family” vibe at our public school.
Now that my daughters’ kindergarten years are coming to an end, I realize that the entire admissions process was like planning a wedding. It is so easy to get caught up in the insanity of the planning, the competition, the scary statistics and rumors swirling around that you lose sight of the end result. In the case of a wedding you forget that what’s really important is the marriage after, and in the case of admissions its all about the schooling your child will receive. No matter how much you may have your heart set on one school or another you really have no idea if will be right for your child until you are in the thick of it.
And – take a deep breath here – if it doesn’t work out, you will move your kid. Yes, its a pain. Yes, there will be some transitioning and rough spots. But, that is part of education too. Not everything works out as we picture it and learning to adjust and shift our expectations isn’t the worst thing in the world. This year I’ve had the distinct opportunity to compare two very different teachers within the same grade, in the same school. Having twins gives you this special eye into things. I can tell you that I am not happy to have the comparison because one of the classes is so much stronger than the other. Have I lost faith in the school? No. Will I give it one more year? Yes. And then if it doesn’t work out, if the school I fell in love with was not the right place for one of my daughters, I may sign up all over again to ride on the admissions the roller coaster. I can feel another head sprouting already…
Original post to New York City Moms Blog.
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