Category Archives: babies

Friends, Lovers, Celebs and other things that make us remember and love Les Miserables

girlsWendy is my oldest and dearest girlfriend. We’ve been BFF’s since we were eight years old. She moved to Penngrove School midway through the 3rd grade. She was tall (Wendy is six feet tall), thin and had gorgeous long blond, perfectly straight hair. To my chagrin, all the boys in our class immediately fell for her. She was fun, funny and quite daring. She seemed to have perfect balance and timing for just about any activity – from tap to toe shoes. She could do and excel in just about anything you can think of — skiing, surfing, skate boarding, roller skating. She could ride horses and motorbikes equally well. She was the fasted girl in school — and was a great dancer and singer to boot. So we had a lot in common. Ha! Not! I was a smaller wanna-be compared to Wendy. Moreover, I had never even heard of most of her sporting activities before we met. But somehow I was able to hang out with her and hold my own. Sort of. If you count falling and crying a lot holding your own. Her parents took me water skiing for the first time – and had the patience to teach me how to get up on those skis while I begged to get out of the water. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I actually stood up and managed to fly across the lake on skis! I thought her dad was pretty cool. I had my talents too, I suppose. I was creative, a good artist…and of all her other friends I was the only one who had any talent as a dancer or singer, though I was nowhere near as good as Wendy, who grew up to be a local tap dance teacher. She spent hours teaching me how to tap dance for the 4th grade talent show where we “black berry boogied” our way to elementary school fame, at least in our own minds. As our teachers’ can attest, we were an unforgettable duo. Troublemakers with a capital T. Silly. Crazy. Tacks on teachers’ chairs — swallowed plastic bags — things I can’t even mention here. I think I lived to make her laugh. We were so crazy that we were officially separated and not allowed to even sit next to each other until junior high. I have so many pictures of us laughing  — mouths agape. We just loved each other. After a brief separation for 6th grade and again for 8th grade grade, in high school we were back together again. Even though we would never be assigned a class together in high school (unless we arranged it), our lockers freshman year were right next to each other. We had each others’ combos…of course. She used to eat my lunch sometimes. Or at least my cookies.Wendy, all these years later…is still my best friend — even though we live 3,000 miles a part for most of the year. She was my maid of honor at my wedding, threw my “Hello Kitty” themed bridal shower and tasted my cake for me since I planned my California wedding from the East coast. She sent me the most beautiful baby girl clothes when my first daughter was born; and was on the phone with my mom from my hospital room crying her eyes out the day I gave birth to my first child. She still lives in my home town of Penngrove, though not at her mom and dad’s, but down the street. Best of all, she’s still here for me when I come home for the holidays and for the summer. She knows my daughters and loves them both; and I know her son, Logan, who is now 9 and just the cutest, sweetest boy. Her darling niece Hanna was the flower girl at my wedding. They are like family. On Christmas day, I usually stop by her parents’ house and we do a gift exchange. This year I came with my two daughters in tow. She gave me the CD to the new movie Les Miserables and reminded me that 20 some years ago, I took her to see the musical in San Francisco. I did? Wow, I’d forgotten.

Oh how I loved Les Mis. I guess you could say that I was a Les Mis junkie back then, in the early 90’s. One of my other great friends (Audrey aka Ochie) took me to see it first. Audrey was the original Les Mis junkie. We waited, per her request, outside of the stage for the actors to leave. She was in love with the girl who played Epoinie. I should have known then that Audrey liked girls. She hadn’t really come out yet. I think she was still dating guys back then.  She’s now married to a woman who I introduced her to a few years back.

After Ochie’s introduction to Les Mis, I bought the CD and started singing the songs. I wasn’t a trained singer back then. Even though I don’t show it off, I now have a trained voice and can rock (pretty much on command) all the major songs in the show. But back then, without training, I nearly ruined my voice trying to belt out…”On My Own.”

Which brings me to my Paris/Les Mis connection. At some point in between my first viewing of Les Mis, I moved to Paris, France and spent a semester living in a dorm with about 50 other Americans who were around my same age, 17-22.  This is where I met the girls who were to become my other two BFF’s — Nicolle and Felicia.

Nicolle and Felicia are like my sisters. I don’t know how I could ever function without them. Had it not been for this Paris trip, I don’t know if we would have re-met, because we certainly didn’t hang out in high school. Nicolle and “Flea” as we call her, were two grades above me in school, and because of that distance, our paths crossed rarely if at all. But the few times we interacted, it was memorable. Nicolle and Felicia are two of the most beautiful women in the world, and back when I was a freshman and even a junior, girls like these two were just like royalty in the school. Nicolle was in fact the Homecoming Queen that year. To me, they were the beautiful older girls – popular, beautiful, cool, older. In short, I would never dream of being friends with them.

Felicia looks like a light skinned Italian, and apparently she has Russian royal blood. Nicolle is French in every possible way. Someone once said that I look their daughter if they had one together. In 1990 the three of us, along with forty something other young Americans lived in a dorm outside of Paris. There was a bar in the dorm where we would order cafe au lait during the days and at night wine; and when we’d had too much wine, we would sit in the stair wells, smoke cigarettes, drink even more vino and try to belt out “On My Own.”

Years later, I finally learned to sing “On My Own” and “I Dreamed a Dream.”  My pretty voice was finally trained. No more straining. No more breaks. I didn’t do anything with it after that. No auditions for musicals. I know?!  But whenever I make a peep (I sing a lot in my daughter’s Gymboree classes) people often ask me if I’m a professional singer.

So as someone who knows how to sing and is a Les Mis junkie, I go to see the film with my dear friend Nicolle. My old friend from Paris and high school, who is now a high school French teacher and a mother of two darling girls.  We kept leaning over to whisper how good Anne Hathaway is in the role, and how wonderful Hugh Jackman is. I reminded her that my oldest daughter, who is three, flirted with Hugh in a New York cafe one day; and how I go to his Laughing Man coffee shops all the time.  I cried several times during the movie. 20 years later, the story resonates more to me than it ever did as a young woman who couldn’t yet sing. I was moved as an actress, who has studied “The Method,”and as a parent of two daughters who I adore and would die for. I was moved as a wife and a daughter; and as a friend. Speaking of “friends”, I was so happy to be sitting next to one of my oldest and dearest friends. As wonderful as motherhood and family life is, there are things about your old life that you do miss. Time with good friends. I live in New York, 3,000 miles away. I miss my friends, and I do cherish them for everything that they are….and for who we once were.

Fall Fabulous – 3;1

I’m always fabulous in the fall months, and now I have proof: Both my kids’ were born in October, so I know that I’m fabulous in the fall.

As usual I’m suddenly busy in the fall, when I was downright slovenly during the summer. Come fall, I’m always thinking longingly on the summer that was. Last year, I was recalling the relaxing moments of the summer before I had a new baby and stopped sleeping for 7 months.

Summer of 2012 — I’ll always remember when I had time to do play dates practically every day with my mom and girlfriends and our kids in the back yard on Sonoma Mountain. I’ll remember driving Maya in her mini car to Gommy’s garden to pick strawberries. I’ll remember sitting outside and looking at the stars and talking about the snakes, spiders and lurking mountain lions. Ah hell…just getting to be in California was nice. I’ll remember taking Maya to the jumpy castle at the Farmer’s Market every Thursday in Cotati. I’ll remember how every single time we’d go there she’d make me dance with her on the grass while the bands played (good bands too) and how I felt kind of like an idiot dancing around, but it didn’t matter because we were having so much fun. I’ll remember when my big “deal” that I’d been working on and stressing about for a year fell a part and I suffered in silence because no one knew what I was going through. Then, I found an alternative….and came back to New York. My oldest daughter just turned 3, started pre-school, dropped her nap, switched to a two story big-girl bed, stopped sucking on her paci and now goes on the potty 90% of the time. My baby (there’s two kids) is into everything — especially eating. I call her the trash compactor. I’m happy…and busy. I’m watching the election process. Freaked out.

Five Things I’ve Learned (about being a mom that is).

So now that I am six months into being a mom of 2 what have I learned? A lot, Here’s five short lessons from my first half a year of having two little ones.

#1.) Time Management 101. I had heard this one before, but 3PM is too late to do anything. Maybe not for the rest of the world, but for us moms 3PM is LATE. Are you kidding by 3PM I am pooped! Note to self: Please get a sitter in the am.

#2.) Poopie Diapers! Everyone’s favorite topic, I know. But when you have kids you talk about it a lot. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this one out. Don’t throw poopie diapers in the diaper pail. Put them in plastic bags and throw them out — as in out of your house — immediately. For 2 plus years I wondered why my daughter’s room was so stinky.

#3.) In case of Emergency!  Not packing a diaper bag? No worries.  You don’t really need it — or do you? One day I took my 2-year-old out to a birthday party in Brooklyn. It was just the two of us. We were having so much fun. She seemed like such a big girl now, holding my hand and walking beside me.  Ooops. I forgot somehow that she wasn’t potty trained. She talks so well that we just ran out the door and whoops! I was calling my husband: “Hurry up with that diaper, Oh my god.”

So after that day I decided to make a little emergency pack in my regular purse for both girls. Oh, I am so, so organized I thought to myself when putting it together. In a plastic bag I put the following: 2 diapers – one for the big girl, one for the baby, A small bottle of formula — just in case — a nipple for the top that is still the wrapper, something that can be used as a wet wipe in an emergency, hand sanitizer and a small Luna bar for mommy. Again, so frigging organized right?  You don’t know how many times I’ve eaten the Luna bar or pulled out the hand sanitizer. Hmmm…what’s missing from this awesome emergency baby packet? Today I knew. A pacifier. Argh! (This is where I swear).

Okay, so I took both girls out to a mama lunch with mama friends this afternoon with our babes. It was my two-year-old’s nap time, but I thought, she can make it, right? Wrong. She wanted her pacifier and I had been out on an audition earlier and only had my purse with me. Poppy had brought her to school. We weren’t thinking about what we didn’t have.  I looked all over and there was no pacifier to be found. A pacifier could have calmed the savage beast that my daughter turned into. She was out-of-control, like I hadn’t seen her since she was 15-months-old (the good old days I call them). As soon as I got the girls home, I put a pacifier in my emergency pack. What else am I missing? Not sure yet.

4. Are you a mom who auditions for commercials? Sometimes I still get invited to audition for commercials. I was an actress — yo. And I used to be pretty cute. But that was BEFORE I had 2 kids back-to-back. I don’t even look like a mom now, I look like a creature who came out of a cave who is starved and certainly due for a hair cut. As my husband so sweetly put it: “At those castings they are looking for fake moms.” You know, super hot, skinny moms who have perfectly gorgeous whitened teeth. Yes, of course I realize  that some of those skinny bitches are also moms. They probably put a fire out on there way there too. Whatever. My current size is actually the size of a plus-size model, but model I am not. I look so tired that I hardly recognize myself. I guess my agent hasn’t seen me lately (hope he doesn’t read this – ha!). Truth is, I like going out to these auditions, even if I most-likely won’t be cast, at least not in my current state. It’s a small reminder of my old life, the old me. You know the me that once had a job in an office. The me that dressed up to go out of the house once in awhile and looked put together.  More and more I catch myself going out in clothes once reserved for bedtime, or uh Target shopping in California. To go out in NYC wearing sneakers when your are not on your way to a workout is uh, not cool. It’s a New York City faux-pax. At least for me it is, I mean was. Now I’ve got a baby sleeping right in front of my closet, so I just grab whatever is there that might fit me. Turns out, nothing fits. It’s all either too big or too small. And my hairdo these days – pulled back mom do. But I’ve been rocking this look for years.  The difference? I go days without washing it now, or even brushing it sometimes. The other day I found that I had grown a dread lock. Yes, seriously. My hair also grew long when I wasn’t looking.  I guess when you don’t have time for hair….it’s time to pour perfume oil on your dread locks?

So I’m all set for my “mom” audition today. I got up pretty early, had time to shower and really put my face on. I nearly saw the old me behind those long dreamy eye lashes. I looked pretty good. I combed my hair, but didn’t really have time to blow it dry, so I put it up. Wet. I swear it looked good when I left.

When I got to the audition and saw all these beautiful versions of me with their perfectly coiffed  blown dry. I realized I had made a mistake. Hmm. Maybe I should wear my hair down?  Oh, can’t do that, it’s wet and I forgot to bring a comb. (Note to self: put an emergency comb in that bag).

What was I thinking? You don’t go to an audition with wet hair. I also had the baby in the carrier on my chest. She fell asleep and I had to go on camera with her there. Oy. Well, she at least covered my fat tummy. I’m not exactly waiting for my phone to ring.

5. Do something for yourself every day. Like today, I’m doing this blog. This is fun for me. Ah. Feels good.

A mom of two

I remember one day back when my daughter was maybe eight months old. It was around 10 in the morning and raining out, so I took her to a story hour at the library next door to my apartment in New York City. We were late, so by the time we arrived the story hour was over. There was a mom of three there. Her 4-year-old was sitting calmly next to her, a 2 year-old on her lap and a 3-month-old on a mat on the floor. She was beautiful, full of love and life. She somehow stayed calm, reading a book to all, while touching the young baby. I was awe-struck at her mothering. I sat nearby with my baby and I wanted her to wrap both of us up in her love. As a mother of just one, I didn’t quite feel like a mom. Not compared to that supermom.

Back then I was just getting used to my life as a mother of one. I really had no concept of what it would be like to have 2 of them.

This past October, just 2.5 months ago I had baby number 2. Lilly Emme Paperny was born. I’ve been wildly overwhelmed by — wow, just having a second baby. I’m also so busy. Mon dieu. How did our mothers’ do this? I mean, how did they do it? Motherhood has to be the hardest and the most unappreciated job in the world.

Meanwhile, I am feeling old and tired. My skin looks dry — and it is dry. I’m breastfeeding like crazy and I’m dried out. I feel like I’ve been through a war and I’m on autopilot. I have no “evening” because my baby only sleeps for 4 hours before I need to breastfeed her again. It’s exhausting. I’m on edge. And I don’t feel like anyone understands. Perhaps they do, perhaps it’s just tough. I want 20 massages, I do!  And then I stop and ask how have women done this for centuries? We are amazing. My mom is amazing.

At some point I’ll have more time. At some point my little girls will be grown. And then I’ll be sad. I’ll miss them as babies. My two-year-old is just hilarious. The things she says, the looks she gives me — her songs, her dances. What a great age. And little Lilly, oh my gosh. She’s so sweet, so alert.

So now I’m a real mother because I have 2. I have “children” not a child. I have context because I’ve just raised another infant from 0-2….

I am also more than just a mom. I am. I’m a playwright. I have a new job waiting for me when I’m ready. And when will that be? Right now…is right now.

How To Write A Thesis

Maya, my 16-month-old, woke up last night and really wanted to read a book before going back to bed. She loves going through the bookshelf on mommy’s bed and pretends to read “big people books.” It’s rather hilarious. Since we are at my mom’s, most of these books are from my college years. The book she chose: “How To Write A Thesis”…I told her as she took the book with her to her crib in full reading pose – “Maya, this book made mommy very sad. I hated reading that book, if I ever really did read it, and I hated writing my thesis…ugh. Can’t you read a book about Cookie Monster?”

I’m Back, sort of

Happy New Year! I haven’t written anything for a long time. I’ve been away on maternity leave. I had a baby in October, so I’ve been busy. And, as cliché as it sounds, my life has really changed this year. It’s amazing and it’s very hard to wrap my head around how staggering it is to be a mom, mentally, physically and otherwise.  No one can tell you how wonderful it is. It’s absolutely one of those things you need to experience to believe – and the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Not surprisingly, my conversations and concerns have been all about baby – and I must admit I haven’t gotten out much in the past few months, so I haven’t had much to say.

I was joking the other day when I was out ever-so-briefly that it’s wonderful to see New York City even if it’s only from a cab window.  I drove by my old haunts the other day – The café Grounded on Jane street and thought — oh how much I want to go in and order a coffee and write….but no, it’s not even close to possible.  My life as I knew it is now over.

This was a rather weird year for me, I’ve been pregnant and a new mommy for the whole year…and I moved – such transitions make for lots of confusion.

About a month before the baby was due my husband and I moved to Tribeca or Baby Park City, which is what I call it.  I’m not kidding, it’s all babies all the time.  I recently joined the Hudson River Park Mommies Group, which is pretty hard-core email group for mommies who live downtown.  Strollers are a common sight down here – about as ubiquitous as cars — and every time you stop to chat to one of the mommies you find out she’s a part of “HRP.” As soon as you are a mommy your conversations and concerns change.  Mommies talk about poopies, breastfeedings, pediatricians, playgroups, sleep schedules, etc and it feels like it never ends. That’s what these women do – they talk. And now that’s me – I talk baby.

I’ll admit it, probably like most new mom’s I’ve been frustrated, irritated, annoyed and sometimes depressed. I’m resentful that my husband often sleeps till 2PM and then gets up and takes a two hour long shower.  Mommies never, ever get a break and I think that is what is so shocking about the whole new mom thing – we suddenly have much more responsibility than our man. I have felt like I’m drowning in New York at times.

But here’s a little bit of sunshine.  I’m in Sonoma Country, California at the moment. We are spending a few weeks here with my mom, hanging in her country home. I am nowhere near New York or the cold weather or the HRP mommies. I’m in hippy wine country.  It’s nice here. This is where I grew up. My husband and I get to sneak away for an hour or two and go to the mall while my mom watches the babe and we’re thrilled about it.  The best part is that I get to share my wonderful daughter with my family and friends which I wasn’t able to do in New York.   Last night my mom and I sang the baby  lullabies in the room she created for her (my brother’s old room) in the house where I was born and raised.   Life really does come full circle and having a child reminds you how precious, beautiful and amazing life really is. More to come, but for now, I am sending you all a little bit of Sonoma County fuzzy.