The Birthday Party That Almost Killed Me

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.

My Daughters are Poets (and now everyone knows it)

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:

Star

By Isabel

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

All

Over

Again.

Morning Flower

By Sophia

Awake in the day

Asleep in the night.

Oh – Morning Flower

You’re

Just

Like

Me!

You can start kvelling now!

Mom in Toyland – Part 1 Playmobile and Madame Alexander

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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Living La Dolce Vita

Italy_map3 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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The Doctor Will Not See You Now

bad doctor md

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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The Never-Ending Birthday

birthday cupcakesWhen 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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Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Tooth Fairy

-4 Seven years ago when I found out I was having twins – at my second sonogram appointment, not my first one mind you – my initial thought was absolute terror.  I couldn’t imagine one baby growing inside me let alone two.

Suddenly what was once doable seemed overwhelming – would a double stroller fit in our building’s small elevator?  Where would we put two cribs?  16 bottles a day?  20 diapers a day?  We had so many  questions and there were plenty of well meaning people and books doling out the advice about how to handle the realities of two babies invading at once.  And, we got through it.  We handled all of that stuff, weeded out what was seemingly “necessary” for one, but ridiculous for two.  Along the way we somehow managed the double nursery school tuition and the insane kindergarten application process.  Now twindom seems old hat and as our friends have had more kids its all evened out.  Or so we thought.

My daughters are identical twins and so their teeth became loose at the same time.  But, one of them had to be first, so when she bit into an apple at school and out popped that bottom tooth she was not just thrilled she was triumphant.  The Tooth Fairy would come to our home for the first time and it was all for her!  My husband and I were so excited to play tooth fairy that we both crept into her room that night.  We were giddy.  This was a milestone, a serious rite of passage for her and for us and we went large – a webkinz and a ten dollar bill.  She woke up in the morning and put an Oscar winner to shame with her sheer joy, surprise and excitement.  So strong was her belief in the Tooth Fairy that when her grandparents offered her some money the next day as a bonus for the lost tooth she wouldn’t take it.  It had to come from the Tooth Fairy or it didn’t count.  When her sister lost her tooth a week later, in the airport, it was the same thing all over again – bliss, anticipation and utter happiness.

Then, the next one fell out.  Then the next one.  Then the next one… You get the idea.  No one warns you in all of those twin books that you will suddenly be on Tooth Fairy duty at least once a month.  So, ten teeth into this job, I guess it was inevitable that one night the Tooth Fairy would forget.  That’s right.  One night the Tooth Fairy just didn’t show up.  Now, in the Tooth Fairy’s defense, my daughter lost her tooth the night before a big family vacation.  There was a lot of packing and organizing and printing of boarding passes going on.  But, still.  In the morning my daughters threw open our bedroom door and with a look of pure horror in their wide eyes screamed, “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come last night!!!”

My husband and I bumbled around for an explanation, expressed our disbelief that this could be true and he sprang out of bed to his wallet while I kept them in our room discussing the impossibility of this event.  Then my husband called out from the bedroom – “Here it is!  On the floor!”  The girls came running and sure enough there was a dollar under the Tooth Fairy pillow instead of in the little tooth pocket.  The girls danced around imagining all sorts of funny things that may have happened to the Tooth Fairy that made her drop the money in a hurry rather than place it neatly where it belonged.

Now, we probably should have come clean about the tooth fairy then and there.  But, it never even occurred to us.  Instead we were awed by the degree to which our daughters wanted to believe.  I’d like to say we learned our lesson.  But, no.   A month later – and tooth number 14 in as many months – we forgot again.  We pulled off the same stunt and my daughters once again shook their heads at how silly and careless the Tooth Fairy had become.

So, the Tooth Fairy is on probation right now.  My daughters have two more loose teeth each right now.  That’ll make 18 lost teeth in a little more than a year.  I don’t know how much longer my daughters will choose to believe, but I do know that every time the Tooth Fairy falls asleep on the job she is one step closer to the unemployment line.  And I don’t think the Tooth Fairy is ready to hang up her wings just yet.

This is an original nycmomsblog post.

This post was nationally syndicated by McClatchy/Tribune

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