Category Archives: Parenting

Goodbye Double Stroller, Hello Bike

We gave away our double stroller yesterday. Over the weekend I sold the warm stroller bags and gloves. All gone. There were no words to be had when the new baby rolled away with my memories. I just gulped and stood there, aimless…feeling like it’s all happening too quickly. I had to smile, though, because that stroller was with us through some pretty extreme weather – for four years. It also was my shopping cart, and often allowed two kids to sleep. I think even a year ago both kids were sleeping in it while mom and dad were parked at a bar drinking wine! As much as I loved the stroller, I also broke my back pushing it all over New York in the rain and snow…and wrote of being caught in a rain storm with babies as “humbling.” It was not uncommon for me to push it all the way to the West Village and beyond. That’s a long way. But we all have to grow and the happiness in those beautiful/stressful memories is that at least I have them. This time in my life happened. We are already past pacifiers, cribs, bottles and potty training. One kid is already reading chapter books and reading to the second kid -without me! And I’m already missing my special chair “Mommy Time” that was me reading to the kids. It’s hard to be sad when our new means of transport saves us money and is so much fun. And it’s hard to be sad about your kids learning to walk, run, dance and read. It’s just a sigh.12642499_10153423716222781_4678929169830025763_nIMG_5466

And all of sudden my baby is turning FIVE!

Maya at her ballet performance, 2014

Maya at her ballet performance, 2014

“That’s right, mom, in four months, I’ll be five, then I’ll be six.”

Me: “Can’t you just be happy being four for awhile?”

My kid: “No, I can’t wait to grow up!”

My younger kid (who is two): “Me too!”

Me: “That’s it, no more growing up!”

My older daughter: “Mommy, it’s okay, if I didn’t grow up, I could never start kindergarten.”

Nothing is more exciting than the moment you are growing your family. Nothing. From just the two of you to “baby makes three” and then the remarkable moment that “baby makes 4.” For a long time you will be marveling at the creation of these little people, who grow while they sleep, who show up in the morning one day — both of them — running, talking, laughing, fighting — pushing you to “get you up.”

Need a change of pace, a change of stasis? Try adding a person to your world. When you have a baby you are adding a person to this earth and it’s a miracle.ImageImageImageImage

It’s a miracle. It’s remarkable — and it goes quite quickly, so quickly you will barely have time to marvel at it….you are so busy cooking them dinner and buying them new shoes. Take the time my friends. Hold them close. Cuddle and love them, even in those angry moments (me — every single day – ha) — and “be not sad that the baby time is coming to an end, but be happy that it happened in the first place, or at all. “This is a quote from my good friend and wonderful actor, Amy Dickenson. I think this just about sums it up. Many of my friends have kids going into kindergarten. Our babies are turning five this year and we can’t stop the tears, they just flow in those moments when, for example you walk in to pick up your little girl from her very last day of pre-school…forever. You know it, the teacher knows it but your daughter, it will take weeks to sink in fully. You exchange a look with the teacher and you see that the she also has tears in her eyes as she has watched these little kids, who were toddlers still when they arrived, turn into such smarty pants. Maya talks about things that I never would have dreamed of at 4. “Mommy, is that person speaking French? We never speak French anymore.” I didn’t even know the word “French” when I was four – unless we were talking about French bread. Maya has a favorite planet. She mixes colors. She speaks Russian “better than mommy.” And sometimes, I catch a glance of her to my right, out of the corner of my eye, and I’m shocked at how grown up she is already is. I see long, slender legs…and her beautiful little face. Sigh. What hell is coming to us? I await.  For now, I will still relish in her little-girl-ness. I’ll enjoy her tea parties and “cooking” and her utter excitement with the world.

To all my friends who are having babies this year, remember that it goes fast. You will barely be able to recall them as babies in a few years. It’s just the way it goes. Take a lot of pictures and savor the moment. I did. I do. By the way, I still have a two-year-old, but she thinks she’s four, but she’s still two. She’s still silly in the way that two year-olds are silly. Still wakes up at 7 just to “get in mommy’s bed.” I’m actually tired at 7. I’m not awake yet, but it’s okay, my little one. You can be next to me.

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Just some thoughts about parenting

It’s hard to believe that last year I had a two-year-old who still sucked on her pacifier, slept in a crib, had awful tantrums and wore diapers. I also had an eight-month old baby. Only a year later and they are already so big, so independent; only one in diapers, one who sucks a pacifier and only one in a crib.

Maya, my almost four-year-old talks like a teenager and seems to have such a confident grasp of concepts; and my little one wants to be big. She’s so darn cute and coming right along. She says “Vadi” for water, the Russian word for it. Yup, she’s coming along. This summer, it’s me that is stalled. Without proper time set aside, I lose myself in parenting. I have a marketing client (I do), who I’ve mostly ignored all summer. I have a playwriting career (I do) and in the summer and winter I simply don’t….have…time. Normally when you have a job, it’s a job and there is a set time that you go do that job. For a mom that works from home, who doesn’t have both kids in school or a day care, where do you get this “time?” You beg, borrow, steal…you pay for it. So it’s a lot to figure out. How do I spend the time that I mostly have to pay for? 

And then, during the summers and winters, I have so much less help that there are days and days that pass by where I don’t get a break, a moment of thought to myself, and I just give in to it…to this parenting thing, and I’m okay with that.

I realize I’m not working a normal job (9-5) for a reason and I know why. I don’t have full-time help for several reasons and I know why. The truth is, I am here in this moment flipping through the channels trying to find Olivia because I want to be here…

When you are a parent you have so many moments of “Wow, oh my god…this is amazing….This is so hard…Why am I sweating so much? Do I really have to bend over to gardenfairylillyget that? Oh yeah, you have learned to put on your own jacket….Please don’t jump on that….Break that…Eat that….Don’t talk to me like that!….Why is it raining and I am pushing a double stroller? And then, it’s over – Pre-school…pushing a double stroller…your parenting time, or maybe your life. So you better enjoy every rainy day, every fight, every tear…every cuddle.

My first born’s first dance retial: The power of love

Call me crazy, but with all the sadness in the world, going to a kids’ dance performance is a way to really lighten your spirits and remind you, that it’s not all bad. Despite the polar ice caps melting and terrible hurricanes, corrupt, polarized politicians — there is happiness to be had, and it’s right in front of you, maybe.

Maya’s first ballet performance was a hit. She was awesome and the show was very professional with so many wonderful children dancers (lots of hip hop boys’ too), teachers and parents. I caught myself getting a little weepy there in the audience. I noticed I was a little teary during the rehearsal too. I was totally embarrassed and put my sunglasses on. I dunno. Perhaps it reminds me of when I was little dancer, which doesn’t seem so long ago. I sort of did a dance on stage in 2004, and before that I did a crazy “Bat Dance” with my friend and amazing dancer Sue Olsen. But that was a long time ago, when I was 18. I danced a lot when I was teenager.

I was also a dance teacher once, and I was the teacher back stage wanting my kids’ to do well.

But this feeling I had today came up and grabbed me in the chest. Love is so powerful.

And then, I got home with baby Lilly and put her down for her nap. Dad is at a birthday party with Maya. I immediately had to get to work cleaning out the double stroller — after an afternoon out, it’s disgusting with milk splattered about. Then, I cleaned my apartment like crazy instead of sitting down to do my real work — for a client that is due Monday, or my writing, which is due for my TV class. I can’t work when my apt is a mess, which is just a perpetual state of affairs when you have little kids….it just is. But once all the laundry was folded and put away, I put the program from Maya’s dance recital in her baby book, and sat in the chair in her room– the one we sit together in every night, where I read The Cat in The Hat and The Giving Tree. I  looked around the cluttered room and thought: just don’t take this from me.Image

Hip Hop Abs…or update…1.5 years into having 2 kids!

It’s almost my birthday. I’m totally old! Ugh.  I’m going out with friends tonight — to a bar in NYC. It’s hard to plan these things last minute…drinks for 15 friends in NYC. A few people will cancel with really good excuses at the last minute…and I will be annoyed. I mean, why bother with all the planning? But whatever. Just because I’m old and sore, I should still get a drink with friends on my b-day, right? I’ll have to update you on how this goes….

You know you are feeling old when you are more excited about the massage that you’ve booked for the next day, then your night of revelry.

Anyway, so both my kids’ celebrated their half birthdays this month. Lilly, my little one who is as cute as they come, is 18 months old; and Maya, my oldest is 3.5. Whoa! So I am 3.5 years into this mommy thing….and 1.5 years into being a mamma of two. What have I learned?

1. The first year of having a new baby is the hardest! Whenever I think of having another kid — and believe me — everyone ask “will you have another?” What do they think I am a baby machine…? No, I am giving away all of our baby stuff as fast as possible….I am ready to move on from the baby making phase, but I will remember it fondly, I will….

But what I remember the most, and what I will impart to anyone who asks is this:

The first year of having a new baby is HARD. The real reason women are not supposed to have babies after a certain age is because it’s too hard. Someone is trying to tell us something important. As you get older, you need your sleep!!

2. It’s harder to lose the baby weight after the second baby. For me this has been true. 18 months later and I am down to 3lbs of my pre-second baby weight, which means 13lbs more than before I had babies. I guess that’s not so bad. Things would go a lot faster if I didn’t go to Shake Shack once a week, I know this…yet, I still find myself at Shake Shack every Friday.

3. Laugh more, relax more, Cuddle more and forgive more often. The other day I was about to give my older daughter a time out for not going to brush her teeth right when I told her to. She said, “In a minute mommy.” Then she and the little one started riding on their horse and cow naked. I just started laughing.

4. Realize that I may not have hip hop abs, but maybe I can get to a dance class once in awhile. Before I had babies I used to live in the West Village and on Wednesday nights I took a very professional level dance class at my local gym. It was a hard class and one that you really couldn’t do unless you were once a dancer. I was a dancer when I was younger and used to take classes several times a week up until my twenties. I  even had a dance scholarship when I was 19.

The last time I took this class (at my gym) was before I was even pregnant, probably in 2008. I remembered the class and the teacher fondly. Her name is Abbey and she seems to have a following — she does great choreography. It’s a combo of lyrical jazz and hip hop. In short, a real work out.

Since my daughter now takes ballet and loves it, I had often thought that I should go take a dance class — but I don’t have the time. I mean, that’s now how I would want to spend my time….but maybe that’s what I should do. Dancing is healthy and something that I used to love to do. So the other day, I woke up early with Maya and I went to turn on a cartoon for her, and a crazy infomercial came on for “Hip Hop Abs”…I let it play and after a minute, Maya turned to me and said, “Let’s do hip box ats.” We jumped up and started dancing and I decided right then and there, I was not going to have this flabby muffin top anymore. I was going to go get myself some hip hop abs! I ordered the supplies. I know that I won’t do it, though. I don’t think I even have a dvd player. But I did get inspired to go find a dance class, and you won’t believe it — Abbey’s “Dance Project” was happening that very evening at my old gym in my old hood. I had a sitter that evening, so I decided to go to the class. I slithered in to class in the back. Abbey yelled something to me. I’m sure that she didn’t recognize me. She never knew my name, but back in the day, she used to refer to me as  “Hot Pants.” Anyway, I was sure that I wouldn’t last 10 minutes…but there I was 30 minutes later — hooked…dancing, turning, jumping — sweating. I left though, early, because I didn’t have the right shoes and my toe was bothering me. But I was happy! In fact, I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the evening. Dancing is good. I’ll be back!!

5. Super moms need a break. We are all super moms…I know this.

Remember that you need a break too. This can be anything….a rest, a massage, a moment to write a blog post….a hair cut. Moms (and dads too) need a time out from work and kids. These moments of time out are refreshing and well deserved. I’m a frigging super mom, who also writes plays, TV scripts and has marketing clients.  I take both my kids swimming by myself (they are babies) all the time. You should see what chasing them around the changing room is like, and you’ll understand why I think I’m a super mom. I also do a Russian play group on Tuesday afternoons. Yeah, I speak Russian enough to do a Russian play group. I read French books to my daughter every night and she loves it. No, I’m not perfect, and I never seem to have my double stroller stocked with exactly what I should have (there’s always a lot of weird shit in there), but I’m a very good mommy and I deserve every little break that I can get….you do too.

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.