Thursday, December 27, 2012

So I'm reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Surprised by how much I'm enjoying it. I've been unimpressed by other Scandinavian literature I've tried - Smilla's Sense of Snow and The Snowman come to mind. But this seems warmer, more connected. I like the characters and they seem real to me.

Found out that a girl in my co-op is having her third baby. They already have one child of each gender, and live in a two-bedroom apartment. The thought of a third child just fills me with exhaustion. I think two is enough, for me anyway...

Friday, December 21, 2012

So D and I had our last private school interview today. So glad to have it over with - and we ended on a high note. I was pleasantly surprised - we were interviewed by the director of Super Fancy Private School, and she was down to earth and lovely. Apparently she is known for charm, but it seemed genuine.

Regarding the shooting at Newtown - I have nothing to add to all that has been said - but I do hope it is an impetus for much-needed change, and I like Anne Lamott's words - "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" - and Victoria de Soto's bravery.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Proust is not really my style but I can totally see why the madeleine sparked reminiscence...this morning as I was making pancakes, I ate a little of the batter (with raw egg) and remembered how there used to be shakes with raw eggs in them. Morning shakes with banana and wheat germ. Does anybody remember these? If so, do you know how to make one (the proportions)? I would love to.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

One of my persistent fascinations is fate vs. free will. My high school history teacher showed us a PBS film about Oedipus Rex (complete with ominous drums, etc.) He summed it up like this: Oedipus was destined to sleep with his mother; he couldn't help it; but he could choose what he was going to do about it. (He chose to blind himself.) In other words, my history teacher continued, we have a certain amount of destiny that puts us in a box, but we can choose what to do in the box.

Related: if I could know everything that is going to happen in my life, I would do it. I hate surprises, and I like to be prepared. But even if you came across some omniscient gypsy who could see into the future...could s/he really predict it accurately? Maybe just the boxes, but not the choices inside.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Well, thanks to Etsy and Uncommon Goods, I am almost done with my Christmas shopping. And I kind of enjoyed it! This is my note to self that it is possible.

In other good news, we are almost done with private school stuff - just 3 things to go to in the whole month of December, and I only need to go to 2 of those. So, yay!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wild, wild turkeys

This afternoon, I went for a walk with Z and saw a bunch of wild turkeys on my former English teacher's lawn. They were large and skittish. They marched across the street together. When Z and I followed, they flew into the trees.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So I'm visiting my hometown. It's not too cold yet, and E is having a great time with his Dodo, putting her through her paces in the kitchen. We only arrived this afternoon, and they've already made peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and now some fruit salad. He is innovating by adding cherries.

We got E's score report for the private school test (like the SAT for college) and he scored 98th percentile on one section, 99th on the other. We are both excited and proud of him. Yes, it is twisted to have to take this test at this age, but so awesome that he did well, which also means we will have some control over the process instead of it controlling us. So, yay.

Reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver and Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott, whose nonfiction is so fantastic. I also bought a book of poems by Mary Oliver; I only really loved the first poem, but that is worth it, I guess.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I finished knitting a cable hat, put it on to see how it looks, and Z loves it. She keeps looking at my head and giggling.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

So we had a tour, followed by an interview, at a private school this morning. We saw their terrace, the "hydroponic lab" where the kids grow lettuce and basil, and even a pet iguana. He reminded me of Lurch, the iguana at my orthodontist's office when I was a kid. My orthodontist loved Lurch, to the point that he had him stuffed when he died and wrote a poem in his honor. (This may sound creepy, but was actually quirky and charming.) He also asked all the girls to marry him after he took their braces off (ditto).

I was startled when we got to the interview portion of the program and the interviewer seemed nervous. She immediately asked, "So are we fifth on your list, or tenth?" D said something smooth and deflecting and I thought about how each of these interviews are different. She definitely gave the sense of trying to "sell" the school to us and make a good impression - probably the way it should be! Usually they try to trap you with tricky questions - "What is a challenge you have faced with your child?" so this was kind of refreshing. It was bizarre trying to put the interviewer at ease, though. I was anxious and slept poorly the night before, but mostly because I knew this would be one of the longest of the school appointments and I hoped Z would do okay without me (and vice versa). I was very happy to be reunited with her afterward.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

If April is the cruelest month, November is the "month of sacrifice" (according to Old English, anyway).

Reading Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. I don't always like him - Atonement was kind of a drag - but this is fun. About a young British secret service agent in the '70s.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

When it snowed when I was a little girl, I always got really excited. I made a point of taking my Cairn terrier, Pepper, out for a walk "on the first snow" (of the season). She was a small dog, and sometimes she would try to leap over a snowbank and plunge into it. She'd emerge a few seconds later, shaking snow out of her fur.

Unfortunately I don't have the same sense of joy about snow as I did when I was eight; but I can remember it. And there is definitely something cozy about being indoors during a snowstorm. I put the time to good use by giving E a haircut:

Friday, November 02, 2012

Food, glorious food (and light, let there be light)

So...the lights are back on outside! Maybe the grocery stores near me will re-open now. At any event, I tried a super-awesome grocery store on the Upper West Side: Zabar's. I've lived in New York 13 years and never gone in. Definitely a bad decision! The layout is kind of weird and confusing, but the food is top-notch. I got a brie and onion quiche (for me), spinach and mushroom quiche (for D), and apple blintzes (for everyone). I washed down the quiche and blintz with some Riesling, and shared my second blintz with Z, because I am a loving mother. All of it was delicious.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Well, I am happy to report that we were not too much affected by the storm. It was a bigger deal than Irene, though. I knew this when Z woke up to nurse and I peeked out the window. Other than the building opposite the street, which shares our generator, everything was pitch black. No taxis on the street, no streetlights, just a random ambulance barreling through. Patches of the city still have no electricity - there's a line of demarcation above which everything is normal ("Of course we're open!") and then you're plummeted into darkness, until you see our building. There are some strange people in our lobby; I guess they have nowhere else to go. Our local supermarket is closed, no electricity. I've been getting fresh fruit from a corner mart. If I want real groceries, I will have to take a taxi to another neighborhood. The subway is still not running, and not all of the traffic lights are working. Fortunately, we stocked up at Gristedes before the storm.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The new baby was born! This morning, at 8:42 am, my SIL ended up having a C-section. I haven't seen her or the baby yet. I remember begging for a C-section during my first labor and being denied; now I'm glad I was. I hope she is ok.

D and I had a parent interview at a really nice school uptown. Down-to-earth, intellectual, nice people. On the subway afterward, Z inspired some competition between the women sitting on either side of me. Z took a shine to one of them and kept slapping her on the palm and smiling. The other woman, not to be outdone, gave Z her iPhone which had a special reflective covering, so Z could see her reflection. (Of course it was the phone itself that appealed to her.) Eventually I took the phone from Z (I think the woman would not have minded if she kept it).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

So I'm reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (not as good as The Secret Keeper, but what can you do) and The Social Animal by David Brooks, which is kind of awesome. I don't usually like nonfiction that much, but his premise is pretty interesting. He's revising popular views of the unconscious (as a dark quagmire of unhealthy urges that should be suppressed) and portraying it instead as the seat of our creative impulses and the source of most of our decisions. He's also saying that most of our instinctive emotional reactions are valid and accurate. Also that we should see ourselves as multiple selves and not one rigid individual. It sounds pretty trippy but he is also a famous New York Times writer so the whole thing is pretty grounded. Anyway.

And...my SIL is in the hospital! In labor! Will keep you posted. Her due date is tomorrow so she might be one of those rare birds whose due date is accurate.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

So today I brought E to a playgroup for one of the schools he is applying to - and found out the parents were touring the school during the playgroup. They did NOT tell us this in the email, so I had brought Z with me (if I had known, I would have got a babysitter for her). I was not the only victim; another parent brought his little guy, who was not as active as Z. Still, we spent some time sitting in the hallway during the tour. Z made herself at home:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I just finished The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and now I have that sad feeling you get when a really good book ends. But happy too, because it was so good. So now I might go back and read some of her other books. I might also read Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews.

We're having a nice long Indian summer - end of October and it's still in the 60s.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It was decided at Z's baby group this morning that she is walking! She has been "cruising" (walking while holding onto things) for a while, and over the past few weeks she has been taking a few steps, every day, without holding onto anything. One of the other moms said this counts :)

We got someone to watch Z during every single interview and tour. AND I got two new dresses at Ann Taylor Loft today and some new shoes (the first "dress" shoes, e.g., not Birkenstocks and not sneakers, that I have bought since 2004). So I am ready to go!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I started reading The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. She was one of those authors I wanted to like, but we never quite clicked; but now we have! Yay. I recommend it.

I am feeling more sanguine about the admissions process. We now have an interview at almost every school we applied to.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Buying clothes for a baby girl never gets old.


I also got her a ladybug costume for Halloween, but I think it will look better on, so I'll put up a picture then. In addition, I am giving ALL these clothes to my SIL once Z outgrows them. Her baby will be exactly a year younger, so it works out perfectly.

I was thinking about that "What would you tell your younger self?" question (sparked by listening to some music I liked in college). I would say, "Worry less and enjoy yourself more." Now, to apply that to the present...

E's second private school interview seemed to go well. I liked the school itself even better than the first. And it has more seats available. So we'll see.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Piano tuners

So I'm reading Winter Journal by Paul Auster - he usually writes fiction, but this is a memoir. It's written in the second person, but it's about his life. I came across this passage:

"You arranged for someone to come and tune the out-of-tune piano, which had not been played in years A blind man showed up the next day (you have rarely met a piano tuner who is not blind)..."

Are piano tuners really usually blind? Anyone have experience with them?

I had a happy childhood, but two regrets: I wish I took piano lessons, and ballet.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Today my mom was in the city and E had no school. So we took him and Z to a park near Chambers Street ("This is the best park I've ever seen!" said E). Later I had a happy experience at Old Navy: I got a purple wool coat that is super cute and some jeans that are pre-pregnancy size. We finished the day by going to Bombay Talkie and having some really delicious garlic naan.

Friday, October 05, 2012

A shameful confession...I am usually pretty good with electronic devices...but my Kindles break all the time. It's too bad they're so awesome, and have converted me from the printed word to e-readerdom, because they break so easily. My iPhone can stand all kinds of abuse - the sandbox, Z's sticky fingers, falling out of the stroller - but my Kindle drops once and it's gone.

Any advice from Kindle owners?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Cognitive reframing

Once my SIL, who studied psychology, was talking about cognitive reframing. I asked her, "Is that when you try to see things differently?" She said yes.

I'm trying to do that. Tomorrow we have the first of our private school interviews. It's kind of a pressure situation, worse than the bar exam. (I remember at the bar exam I ran into a girl from my college who had just got engaged, and we admired her diamond ring during the break.) It's also the furthest away of the schools we applied to (which is probably why we got an interview so easily). So we have the worst one first, really (although the school itself seems quite nice). So I am trying to reframe as follows:

(My natural reaction) What a pain in the ass. I don't want to do this stupid interview in a different borough.

(My reframed reaction) The campus looks cute. It will be fun to see it. If they ask a question I'm not sure how to answer, I'll let D take it.

Additionally, it occurs to me there is a lot of stuff not worth worrying about. Does the apartment really need to be immaculate? No.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I made a really awesome dinner, from Vegetarian Planet. I changed the recipe a little bit. Here it is:

1. Boil water for pasta and cook the penne till just tender. Drain.

2. Melt 4 T butter (I used Vermont cultured butter, really good). Add 1 tsp minced garlic and 1 heaping tsp minced ginger. Saute for 1 min. Add 1/2 t dried sage, 3/4 c red lentils (don't use brown), and 3/4 c water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and cook for 15 min or until lentils are done. Add 2 or 3 big handfuls of fresh spinach and 1 tsp salt. Cook until spinach is wilted. Add pepper to taste and drained pasta.

Plus, Z likes it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I have a cookbook that's coming apart at the seams - the binding is broken, and the 400+ age-spotted and crumb-specked pages are separated into little packets. It's Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons. (The funny thing is, my mother has a copy in virgin condition.) Do you have any cookbooks like that? They are probably the best ones.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Today a friend came in from Brooklyn with her daughter, and we went to a park I hadn't tried before. E loved it. He kept saying, "I don't want to leave, this park is so beautiful." Then we sat by a little pond and he threw bits of bagels with cream cheese for the ducks.


Life in Manhattan can be so crazy, sometimes it is nice to just sit on a low stone wall and give some bagels to some ducks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The middle-aged brain

A book came out a couple of years ago about the middle-aged brain. I didn't read it, but a friend of ours did, and filled us in. He explained that the "young brain" can assimilate new information more quickly, such as foreign languages, but the middle-aged brain has better judgment.

I used to think that middle age began at 40. I had a writing teacher some years ago who was 36 at the time, and referred to himself as middle-aged. Now I know what he means. At 36 or 37, I forget which (I'm 37 now), I started to feel middle-aged. I didn't love this at first. But now I can feel the better judgment of that "middle-aged brain."

The beginnings of wisdom...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I just noticed that, in my iTunes library, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross and "Walk on By" by Dionne Warwick are right next to each other. They're kind of thematically related. Playboy/heartbreaker.

In other news, about three or five of our bowls disappeared. Just vanished into the night. I will post here if they reappear.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

I got some more time to myself today than usual because Z is starting to enjoy D's company more. So I got to take a shower, shave my legs, paint my toenails (shade: Ate Berries in the Canaries), do an extra yoga routine (a relaxation sequence from a Tara Stiles book), and sew some squares in my grownup quilt. It felt really good to get a break.

I also read a bit of Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfield. This started out promisingly with the story of a father in an upscale neighborhood in Manhattan, who looked like the suspect on a child molester poster. Then the next story was about a handicapped boy with a sister who looked like a model and was popular, and he wasn't, blah blah yawn. So then I tried Every Day by David Levithan, about a sixteen-year-old boy who wakes up in the body of someone different each day. This one is holding my attention.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

So D took E to visit the in-laws at their summer house these past two days. I stayed behind, thinking it would be a nice break to only take care of one kid. I learned a couple things: it really isn't significantly easier to take care of one kid, especially without the other parent; and despite things often being chaotic and busy when everyone is here, I missed them, and missed E's little voice which is almost always chatting from the time he gets up.

Just finished Penelope by Rebecca Harrington (and discovered via Facebook that the author is my second cousin's niece, I guess through marriage, because her brother's children are both small). I really liked it though some of it was too close for comfort. It's about a socially awkward but funny and smart girl and her first year at college. Some of it verged on satire, but a lot of it rang true. If you've ever missed social cues or inadvertently pissed people off, it will probably resonate with you. Also, it was just funny.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

I finished watching 2 Days in New York this morning. It's a Julie Delpy movie, also starring Chris Rock, and a guy who is always in Chris Rock movies (I used to see him at my old gym's pool, and also pushing someone in a wheelchair in my neighborhood). The movie also had a scene in my neighborhood. It was fun, light, enjoyable. A couple of scenes fell flat, but overall I like her neurotic/female/French version of Woody Allen.

I have started the kindergarten admission process (and then hopefully we won't have to do this again for a very, very long time. All these schools seem to give preference to siblings so that will hopefully make things easier when it is Z's turn). E is currently in preschool but his school doesn't go up to kindergarten. So I am wading through applications, with open houses, parent interviews, and playdates in our future. Some of these schools even have "early decision," like college. New York is insane in some ways. At least they have eliminated the "call on Labor Day for an application" craziness where you have to keep calling until you get hold of someone; I read about that in a Jill Kargman book. Now all the applications are online.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Whitney

Z and I went to the Whitney today (we have already been to the Met, the Guggenheim and the MOMA). I was in a bad mood after waiting an hour in line and having a woman with brass cajones try to cut in front of me. (I foiled her.) So we got a brownie in the cafe and shared it, which improved things slightly, and then we took in the Yayoi Kusama exhibit. One floor of it was shut down for the day, but we still got to see the other, and amazingly it was basically worth the hour wait. Very striking art. We weren't supposed to take photos, so I didn't take any with my iPhone, although it's probably an exception.

My favorite pieces were: a painting from 1975 with a large dark-blue eye (the color of a night sky) filled with stars; and a bunch of octopus legs in buckets, all white (very memorable and I REALLY wanted to take a picture of it). I recommend it, though you might want to go on a weekday.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tonight I looked out the window and saw a full moon hanging low over one of the neighboring buildings. Then I heard some music drifting in. Initially I thought it was a saxophone, then I realized it was probably a trumpet. It wasn't a tune I recognized, though it sounded a little jazzy and slightly sentimental, like the soundtrack to one of Woody Allen's softer movies.

Just one of those moments I want to remember :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

So I just finished reading Jonathan Tropper's newest book, One Last Thing Before I Go. I thought it was great, probably his best yet. He is one of the best authors at balancing humor and pathos, that I have come across. After finishing that, I started How Shakespeare Changed Everything. I don't usually like nonfiction, but this seems fascinating. The author, who did his dissertation on Shakespeare, talks about a tribal ritual where men test each other on their ability to quote passages from Julius Caesar by heart. If they mess up, they are whipped with telephone wires. During this whole thing, everyone is drunk on local rum. (I know, bizarre...but interesting).

I finished the baby quilt and started work on an adult one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I finished the sweater for SIL's baby...

and also the quilt top...

It's a little messy but I had fun doing it. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Z and I got some culture this week. We went to the Guggenheim...


and the MOMA. My favorite part of the MOMA was the sculpture garden, filled with funky sculptures, water fountains and a peaceful aura.


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Spirit Line

So we all took a Spirit Line cruise today. This is a boat that glides down the river near Manhattan, pulls up close to the Statue of Liberty, and then circles around back to the starting point. It was really fun. It reminded me of a wedding, but more relaxed; you didn't have to dress up, and you could bring your kids. The waiters doubled as singers and dancers; one of them performed "Footloose," and another sang, "Mama loves mambo," and offered the microphone to Z.


Friday, August 03, 2012

So I've been meaning to make a quilt for the longest time...and I started making one for the new baby (or imminent baby, whatever you want to call her). I wish I did this before. It's not that hard, and it's fun. I love creating things. This is the first row:



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

D's sister is expecting a baby girl near the end of October (right around Z's birthday, in fact). I am really excited. They are only going to be a year apart in age. I hope they will be best friends. I grew up in a large family, which I enjoyed, with many cousins, but nobody was near my age.

I'm thinking of making her this:



Of course I will make it in pink.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The worst part of parenting...

...is cutting baby nails. I remember when E was born, somebody (probably my mother) told me, "You're going to have to cut his nails." I thought, are you kidding? Clipping those tiny nails would be like plucking a hair from a worm. I managed to get out of it with E - my mother did it that first time, with scissors (that's what all the '70s moms did), and afterward I just kind of peeled them off (like I usually do with my own).

That's not an option with Z, who has strong, sharp nails that can't be peeled. And she likes to use them. I saw a network of scratches on my chest; she likes to rake her nails there when she nurses. Fearing I would scar, I had D hold her hands still while I clipped. Hopefully her scratches will hurt less now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The shoe's on the other foot now

I'll never forget when I met one of the other moms in my co-op. In the land of helicopter parenting, she really stands out. She drank Red Bull when she was nursing, etc. Anyway, once I was in the playroom with her and her child started going through her pocketbook. Suddenly her mouth was full of cigarette butts and the mother was lunging across the room at her: "Don't eat those! Those things are expensive!" I remember smugly thinking, "E would never put cigarette butts in his mouth."

Fast-forward four years. I have a baby who has swallowed my moisturizer, tried to eat A&D diaper ointment (resulting in a call to Poison Control after I read the warning on the label), and stuffed some twigs and leaves into her mouth at a park near E's school today. E was always very cautious with eating. "He'll never be poisoned," my mother observed; he often wanted us to eat something before he would try it. It just amazes me how different two children from the same gene pool can be.

Although they are both wonderful :)

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Today was a good day. I put on Z's swim diaper and we all went to D's gym (which I recently joined) for Family Day, when you can all use the pool together. D held Z so that I could swim independently. It was the first time I've swam (not counting wading while holding Z) since she was born! And she was perfectly content to be held by him. We also rested in the hot tub and went out on the sundeck. This is one of the views from the deck:



Later, I made an asparagus and Havarti puff pastry tart.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

So we went to the beach today. It was nice to have a break from our routine. The train was packed, filled with people who smelled like sunscreen and beer. Both E and Z loved the water, and Z loved the sand as well. She kept trying to eat it, and laughing when I tried to stop her. For dinner we had quesadillas that we ate on the beach, plus a bit of rose wine.


I did some thinking about my post yesterday. I decided one solution is to try to get Z used to the stroller -- either the car seat stroller or the Maclaren. She is just getting too heavy for the Ergo (baby carrier). Technically it goes up to 45 lbs, but even 20 lbs is a bit much for me. I'm writing this here to remind myself to do it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A blog post in two parts

In the Austen nerd category: I finished All Roads Lead to Austen and loved it. Left me with an interest in Chile and Argentina as well. Maybe someday I will go to Buenos Aires...who knows. Then I started re-reading Sense and Sensibility. (I re-read S&S, Pride & Prejudice and Emma every few years. This is my first time reading them in Kindle editions. Sometimes I re-read Persuasion, too.) Right now S&S is hitting the spot. I loved the Ang Lee film version with Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.

In the True Confessions category: I would love to find a gentle way to get Z less attached during the daytime. The amount of stuff I can do with one hand is limited. Suggestions?

P.S. I know, about 300 miles north of here, a woman is sitting in her computer chair, shaking her head and thinking, I told you so. I have to note that having Z so attached to me is not unpleasant...she is probably my last baby, after all, and we are planning to send her to E's school, which is lovely, when she is two (they have a very short session for two-year-olds at his school, and that class is adorable). But, till then, some GENTLE separation tactics would be at least partially welcome...practically speaking.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Austen!

So I'm reading this really fun book called All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Smith. I just wanted to make a little plug for it here. It's the true story of a woman (I think she's an English professor) who decides to go to different countries in Central and South America to read Jane Austen books with the locals and see how well they translate across cultures. In the first chapter, she notes, "Mrs. Bennet translates particularly well across cultures." It's filled with lively surprises - such as the Guatemalan man who asks her what she thinks about the position of women in Guatemala, and the night she goes out on the town in Antigua and decides she wants to eat something - German.
So I woke up in a bad mood because I didn't get enough sleep, and then two things happened that kind of tickled me.

1) E came in with a little green man on a yellow vehicle. It was very cool. D explained that it was from M___, which is my sister's name. But it turned out he meant M___, the homeless person. This homeless person really likes reciprocity; whenever D gives her money, she gives him a toy for E or a drawing (last time it was a bird with no body, but two feet).

2) D told me that he caught the mouse last night (sometimes we, um, get a mouse in our apartment) and brought it to the garden and set it free. Doesn't that sound like a fairy tale?


Sunday, June 17, 2012

So my cooking/baking self has been reborn. In that spirit, I bought a bundt pan and a cherry wood bowl. (I used to have a bundt pan; I don't know what happened to it.) The bowl was lovely to the touch. In fact, I saw another woman caressing it. So I should wash it before I use it :)

Anyway, I made these two recipes. They were both excellent. This was tofu with personality. And these were fabulous cookies. They were a little messy, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Birthday party

So we threw E a little birthday party yesterday. (He'll also have dinner with the in-laws and see my family this weekend.) The party turned out really well. We had to postpone from Saturday to Sunday because of predicted rain. So we lost some people, but we gained some. And it was fun. I was sorry when it was over. These things are really stressful to plan, but fun in the actuality.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

What I did on Memorial Day weekend.

So D and I took E and Z to Coney Island yesterday. This was our first trip "in season." It was a lot of fun. We didn't go on any rides--the terrified screams from the roller coaster passengers were kind of a deterrent. (Later, we found out they have kid-friendly rides also, including Disney-esque teacups.) We kept it simple--beach, waves, big slices of Brooklyn pizza. E enjoyed standing in the water and frolicking around a bit in it. Z munched on her pizza crust. She seems bored with purees already; she'd rather grab whatever I'm eating and gum it. 

This morning we were walking to a sandwich shop and a fellow saw E and offered to let him walk his dog. (It was a dappled Dachshund that he was actually watching as a favor to a friend.) E loved walking Chestnut. It must be said that New Yorkers are often nicer than their reputation implies. On Saturday, Z and I got caught in a rainstorm and a woman walking into her brownstone insisted on giving me her umbrella. The kindness of strangers...


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sweet potato veggie burger

So today I made a sweet potato veggie burger, with a little avocado sliced on top.


You can find the recipe here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Princess party

So today I went to a princess party. I know a lot of people are opposed to the whole Disney princess franchise; they think it gives girls unrealistic expectations of life, etc. There is some truth to that. But I think my attitude toward the whole princess thing can be summed up by what D said in Disney World: "It's fun if you don't think about it too much."

Outside the front door of the party, there were a group of Barbie dolls of all different styles, sort of like silent sentinels welcoming you. After all the children arrived, an actual, yes, princess arrived wearing a pink dress and a long blond wig (she took it off later and her hair was short underneath). Her main function seemed to be singing and dancing with the children. And it was fun. They danced to Mambo No. 9 and Macarena (songs I could actually recognize. I'm a little out of touch with current pop culture). Then the princess made balloons for them.

The funny thing is, I texted my friend B saying, "I am at a princess party," and sending a photo. She texted back saying that two years ago, she almost took a job as a party princess. I wasn't aware that they existed until today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So today I brought E to school for the first time. (Usually D does dropoff and I do pickup.) They have a little ritual every morning that is really cute. First they put their backpacks in their cubbies and wash their hands. Then they find the fish with their name and put it in the fishbowl (for attendance). Then they put their name under either a happy, frustrated, sad or mad face. I asked the teacher if anyone ever picks "sad," and she said yes, usually if they are sick, or if their nanny is picking them up instead of their mommy. Then they put their name under a picture indicating how they got to school. We live about forty blocks away from the school, so we took the subway. One child takes a scooter to school every day.

Still reading and enjoying John Irving's new book. It makes me sad that some people are not reading it because they were disappointed by his recent work. It's true, the book about logging was a disappointment, but this is really a return to form. If you usually like him, you would like this.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just a little plug for John Irving's new book...In One Person. I love it. His last book, about logging, was a disappointment. This one is fun and riotous and full of story, and maybe better than Garp. I recommend it :)

Also, for the knitters...this is a really cute pair of patterns.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

So E started school yesterday. It's in a beautiful location, right near Central Park. And there is no "iron curtain" like at the old school. I can go right in the classroom to drop him off or pick him up. The teachers seem to love him already (all these preschools have multiple teachers, which I don't remember from my youth. I had a terrifying nun at my Catholic preschool, then a sweet teacher at Living & Learning, but I don't remember either of them having assistants).

I'm still a bit of an outsider as the "new kid," which I have no experience with (I was never a new kid until college, and everybody else was too, so it really didn't count). However, they are all very nice. We have been invited to two birthday parties already, and a "pajama morning" at the school.

Z is getting plumper. She has dimples at the base of each knuckle. On the subway last night, we met a man named Nilesh from Mumbai. He let Z play with his luggage tag and asked how to get to 1st and 42nd. We all gave him the same answer (the subway can be pretty social during rush hour), but he seemed a little doubtful. Hopefully he got there.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

So E starts his new school tomorrow. They gave us a photo of the kids in his class and they look sweet and friendly. We also have a list of their names. The school has a very nice location, too - near Central Park and the subway. I will miss walking home with R and W, but fortunately they live very close by, so we will still see them after school. And who knows, maybe we will write another novel together! (The agent is still reading ours. Patience.)

I'm working on my relationship with change. Starting to see it as more of an adventure, rather than approaching it with nebulous fears that dissolve when I examine them more closely.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Pies

Still reading Making Piece and it is making me want to bake pies! Someday, when I have more time, I will do it. There is a banana cream pie from Vegetarian Planet that I used to make, and also a sweet potato pie from the same cookbook. It was the first time I'd ever had sweet potato pie, and it was delicious. The banana cream pie is also fantastic. You can add a thin layer of melted chocolate under the custard, on top of the crust, but I found you never needed it.

This is an apple pie I've been intending to make for a while.

I'm getting increasingly mixed feelings about Facebook. It's a good way for me to stay in touch with people who are far-flung geographically, but it does seem like a lot of people brag on there (and it's not necessarily a realistic representation of their lives). I get fed up with things that are fake. Yet, I'm not ready to deactivate my account. Maybe I will just use it primarily to put up pictures and not spend too much time on there.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

So I don't usually do this, but I am reading two books - both nonfiction, go figure. This one is called Mrs. Kennedy and Me. I really like it so far. It's written by the Secret Service agent who was assigned to Mrs. Kennedy in 1960. At first he was disappointed not to be assigned to JFK's detail, but then he formed a close bond with the First Lady. About 20 pages in, I have already learned a number of interesting tidbits about her - she was 5'7" (the same height as me) and had a "soft, breathy voice" (rather like Marilyn Monroe, I imagine). He also says that she was "more intuitive and in control than her public image suggested."

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I finished The Gilly Salt Sisters. Kind of similar to Sarah Addison Allen, but set on the Cape instead of in the South. Lots of magical realism and too many hard-to-believe secrets at times, but still good. Started reading Making Piece, a memoir written by a woman who lives in the house memorialized in American Gothic, and sells pies there. Chapter 1 grabs your attention: "I killed my husband." Remember, it's nonfiction. But of course she doesn't mean it literally. And there are plenty of succulent pie descriptions. Reminds me of Waitress in that way.

Feeling better about E's school change. He is visiting the new school on Wednesday to get to know the kids better, before he makes the switch for good on Monday. He will be in the "orange room." Next year he will be in the purple room. And this little girl who I think of as his other girlfriend - they, too, hold hands whenever they see each other - invited him to her birthday party. So that will be fun.

Friday, April 27, 2012

So today I saw E holding hands with his little girlfriend at school...just about broke my heart. I'm thinking of getting her mother's email address so they can still hang out. They are adorable together.

I took E to his playgroup today (usually a babysitter takes him; it's once a week, pretty far downtown). For some reason, I decided walking all the way there was a good idea. E was sleeping in his stroller and I figured he'd get the full nap that way. And he did. BUT it must have been 3 or 4 miles. I was about to fall over when I got there.

On the way back we took the subway. There was an elevator at our starting point, but not at the endpoint. So I took E out of his stroller and was about to lug it up the stairs (with Z in the carrier, strapped to my chest). It was awkward but manageable. Still, I was delighted when two people offered to help and carried the empty stroller up the stairs for me. I love it when people are nice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm reading The Gilly Salt Sisters and enjoying it. I forget who the author is (not as prominent on the Kindle), but I think she also wrote The Little Giant of Aberdeen County...or something like that.

Bittersweet news today...E is going to go to a different school in the fall. It seems like a very nice place. But he might even start sooner, as in, finishing out this school year there. There are some issues with his current school. But I will definitely miss parts of it. One nice thing is, the new school is right near the subway - a station with an elevator. E loves subways and he loves elevators.

Tonight I and some of the other neighborhood moms gathered on the blacktop (a little enclosed area behind my building) so the kids could ride their bikes and bigwheels. E just recently got a bike with training wheels, which he usually likes, but he had an eye for W's bigwheel. I guess he is taking after me in that way because I used to steal the neighbor's bigwheel when I was a kid. Anyway, it was fun.

Monday, April 23, 2012

So I gave Anne Tyler's The Beginner's Goodbye another chance, and I'm glad I did. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it before, because I'm really enjoying it now. She has this knack for creating quirky characters that feel entirely real.

I also finished Carry the One by Carol Anshaw...a little unusual, but I would recommend it to most of you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I just read something that I simultaneously liked and found annoying:

"You don't know what you don't know when you're young. How could you? People who are older nod sagely and say you'll learn - about love, about marriage, about failing and falling down and getting up and trying to stagger on toward success...You're like a cake when you're young. You can't rush it or it will fall, or just turn out wrong. Rising takes patience, and heat." (Anna Quindlen)

I love the last two lines. I think there are a lot of areas where you just ripen, and you can't force it. BUT I think we are all cakes forever, still learning. At least I hope so.
So on the way to school this morning, E wanted to take the bus. We did that yesterday and it went fine, so I humored him (even though it is only about 8 blocks). The bus was under a dark star this morning. There was a big truck parked in front of the bus stop and a number of (wrong) buses whizzed by. Finally a bus stopped and we got on, only to see a number of handicapped people on the bus. Obviously, not their fault, but it meant no seats. A number of people sprang up to give E and me their seats, but it meant we couldn't sit next to each other. We took the seats. Then we sat in traffic. I saw R and W heading to school on the sidewalk...and they got there first.

So I told E no bus tomorrow :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's funny, I look at the blogs on my (private) list and get peeved when they're not updated - but I haven't updated myself. So here I am.

For tax reasons, D was considering living in NH for six months at some point - he asked if I would be interested in this. I thought about it and realized I wasn't. I like seeing my family, and I get some intense nostalgia when I go home to visit, but I don't feel a big pull to live in New England. It was kind of a relief realizing that I am in the right place. Not that NYC is perfect. It's not. But it has a certain energy that is hard to find anywhere else; it folds you into its big sweaty embrace, and there are many things to love about it.

On the reading front, I'm in the middle of A Teeny Bit of Trouble by Michael Lee West (a woman). It had a slow start, but then it became all fun and zany (like most of her books). I recommend it if you are looking for something light and enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

All aboard

So D and I took the kids to this mall in my hometown that has been there forever. I used to go there in sixth grade, when there was still an Ann & Hope. Now all the stores are different, except Marshall's, which keeps on hanging in there. We went there primarily to get dinner for E at Panera (mac and cheese and blueberry yogurt) but then E spotted a train with small but usable cars near Claire's. The conductor was a friendly high school or college kid decked out in a classic conductor's uniform with a little red bandanna and pinstriped overalls. He took us and a few other people with children zipping around the mall. When the ride was over, I said in disappointed tones, "Oh, it's over." The conductor said, "I hear that a lot." Then we all got a lollipop.

I got a kick out of this because a) it was something new happening at this comfortable, familiar, yet rather banal mall, and b) because I had actually been there earlier that day to buy some clothes at Old Navy and did not even see the train, and if I had, I might have just thought it was decoration. It is fun to see the world through a child's eyes.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

So I went to Delaware today (yes, Delaware) to visit some relatives of D's. I was a little miffed that this twice-yearly gathering was being held in Delaware instead of Philly (the norm, and it's closer to us). But the people who lived in Delaware made the case that it would be more relaxing to have the kids at home instead of in a restaurant (the Philly gatherings are always in a restaurant). They hadn't told the Philly person, who had made reservations at the Olive Garden. And it would be a shorter drive for the Virginia people. But anyway. D figured out that the Acela (high-speed train) was only an hour and a half. I didn't quite believe it, but it was true. Then in Delaware, things were fine except Z got cranky (her nap got cut short by the arrival announcement on the train). So I took her for a walk around the neighborhood. She was in the carrier, so she was high off the ground. The neighborhood was suburban and seemed nice enough, but it was completely deserted, which can be a little bit eerie when you are used to Manhattan.

Then I passed a house with a small, nasty dog in the fenced-in yard. There must have been an opening in the fence, because suddenly the dog was trying to take a chunk out of my leg (it didn't touch me, but it was snarling a few inches from my leg, with all its teeth exposed). It was not a large dog, but seemed very vicious. Dear reader, I have never wanted to kick a dog, but I wanted to kick this one. My mother-bear instinct was kicking in and I wanted this dog to leave me and Z alone. So I remembered those shows where you have to prove you are the alpha dog, to make the dog respect you. I yelled, "Get away from me! Get out of here!" in a voice that I hoped was low and intimidating. Finally it slunk away, snarling and hissing. What a vicious beast. A couple minutes later, a car with a couple of creepy guys pulled over and they whistled at me. I ignored them and they went away. But still, it was not a nice walk and it made me miss Manhattan. I have never felt unsafe in my neighborhood of artsy bohemians and trendy gay men. Needless to say I will not be going on walks in Delaware again.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Shortly after I posted my last entry, I got some good news. A literary agent (I won't name names, but she was the agent for a famous series) wants to see our whole manuscript (the one a friend and I wrote). THE WHOLE THING. Blew our minds. Of course she could still say no. But it just feels so flattering, and good, that she wanted to read the whole thing, instead of just saying no to the query letter or offering to read a couple of chapters. We both actually felt a bit sick. I walked in the rambles today and calmed down. (That's an area in Central Park with a lake and lots of little boats. Very picturesque.)
It's funny how music is often associated with something  - a certain person or phase in your life. For me Carole King's Tapestry was associated with nausea - I used to lie in bed when I was really nauseous, pregnant with E, listening to it. Now finally the association has worn off; I'm able to listen to that CD while Z plays little tunes on E's 4-key Fisher Price piano. She's so interested in these toys already; this morning she was fiddling with E's toy camera and Sesame Street remote control. I ordered her some blocks and stacking cups.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I got a new iPhone. I can see why it's so popular - sleek and cute, and the interface is charming and simple. Except, except:

1) How do you send a photo to Facebook? It isn't even listed as an option on my phone yet. When I click "send email" on a photo, it gives me the option to tweet, etc. - but not send it to Facebook. A friend helped me on FB - you have to go in through the FB app. 

2) How do you un-set an image for your home screen, after you have already set it? I took a photo of Z in her chair before giving her some sweet potato and used the image on my home screen - then realized I only want it on my lock screen. Otherwise there are icons all over her little face. I figured this one out - you go in through Settings.

I finished the Anne Lamott book (Some Assembly Required) and now officially love her nonfiction (everyone says her fiction isn't all that, though I like the title of her latest novel, Imperfect Birds). So now I am reading Operating Instructions, which is focused on her newborn, Sam. It's funny and dislocating, because I just finished the book about her grandchild, with her "newborn" starring as the father.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Can I just say...I don't really understand the appeal of The Hunger Games? Almost everyone I know (aside from me and D) seems to be into it. I tried reading the first book twice (once from the library, once on my Kindle). I just don't get it. I think part of it is, I don't like violence, and especially violence concerning teenagers, hunger and death. The whole thing just seems in massively bad taste to me.

I finished reading Gossip, which I loved (except for an ending that seemed out of place, but that wasn't enough to mar my enjoyment), and started reading Some Assembly Required (Anne Lamott's nonfiction account of her 19-year-old son and his newborn). This can definitely go in the "brutally honest" category. I guess all her family members (and her son's girlfriend) are used to scathingly honest writing? Nonetheless, an interesting read.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Adventures in home hair color

So I bit the bullet and bought a box of L'Oreal Sublime Mousse...basically you just mix the dye, put it into a little bottle with a pump, and rub it through your hair. It seems foolproof. Also, I just need to let it set for 30 minutes (as opposed to 40 at the salon). It doesn't smell as bad and it doesn't burn my scalp. And it's a lot cheaper ($9.99 as opposed to $65 at the salon).

We'll see how it looks...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hair

I know this is a recurring theme on my blog...but here goes. I had to start coloring my hair in 2008. I've never used a box. Someone, I think my mother, told me if you're going to get your hair colored, you should go to a salon. (Which is funny, because I remember her dyeing her own when I was growing up - the Miss Clairol boxes, the gloves, the purplish-black dye which was actually brown in practice.)

Anyway, my hairdresser has left her salon in a rage and gone to a rather inconvenient one. I am checking out a new one recommended by someone else, but it is more expensive and they might frown on me bringing a baby. So I am considering the last frontier: box dye. It seems kind of difficult and messy, but all I really have to do is my roots. The rest of my hair is still a pleasant, non-grey brown. How hard can dyeing my roots be? What are your experiences with box dye?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gossip

I know I already mentioned this on Facebook, but I have to mention it again. I love the book I'm reading - Gossip by Beth Gutcheon. She was on my list of okay authors before, but this book really outshines what she's written before. It's one of those books you can say is "delicious."
Sometimes I really just don't know what time it is. I thought Z had awoken at some obscene hour but it turned out to be 6 am-ish. So I decided to do some writing - here initially, then on my new project - book about a middle-aged romance (with some complications of course) and a flight to Brazil. I got a Lonely Planet Rio de Janeiro guide so I could get a feel for the place.

Yesterday I took Z for a walk around the reservoir in Central Park. It's a decent walk, I forget how long, but not a trifle. I hadn't done it in several years. Embarrassingly, I was not able to finish - well, I could have if someone was chasing me with a gun - but in the absence of duress, I gave up about 3/4 of the way through. I don't know if it was old age or the fact that Z was in the carrier. As Mick Jagger says, "What a drag it is getting old."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lucy's Whey

So today I tried a little place called Lucy's Whey. They sell artisanal cheese, some of which smells a little bad, but interesting. They make grilled cheese panini with cheddar and fig, and they sell exotic bits like quince paste and strawberry rose jam. I like trying new things. I have to make a point of remembering to do that.

On the way back I saw some brightly colored birdhouses in the trees.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

You only have a baby for a year

I saw some ad on Facebook or something that said, "You only have a baby for a year!" The idea was, after that you have a toddler. It's something I've been keenly aware of with Z. With E, the whole task of taking care of a baby, while often joyful, was sometimes overwhelming. This time, being the second time around, I'm more aware of how fast everything will go by, and more in a frame of mind to "enjoy every moment" (or, if not every moment, to be aware of how fleeting it is). It's funny how everything you do can already be tinged with nostalgia. However, I might be getting ahead of myself...she doesn't even have hair yet :) I'm really looking forward to seeing it when it comes, and seeing if it's curly or not (E has a head of wild curls).

It's also interesting how your perspective can change with more information. Unfortunately I have to be vague here because you never know who's reading. This involves two other people (not me). I had felt critical of one person's actions, but found out more about the other person involved, and now I feel more understanding. I think it's important to remember that there always may be layers you're not seeing, information you don't have yet, before you judge.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This is kind of gross, but I always procrastinate about washing my hair. What do you procrastinate about?

I also imagine cutting my hair short, but it would never, ever work. It would turn into a fro.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I am not always a big Margaret Atwood fan (she can be a bit too Brave New World for me), but I'm enjoying her new Kindle single, I'm Starved for You. It's slightly sci fi and twisted but not too much so (more Robber Bride than Oryx and Crake). Anyway, if you are looking for something to read, and you have a Kindle, I recommend it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A few interesting things happened today.

My friend T came into the city and we went to Angelica Kitchen, a very peaceful vegetarian eatery. We were sitting next to a middle-aged man who was reading the paper. Another man said, "Can I have that when you're done?" The man nodded. About ten minutes later, the man who wanted the paper came back. "I'm done waiting!" he yelled, and tore off a piece of the paper aggressively. A waiter kicked him out of the restaurant and they comped the remaining guy's meal.

Later, a friend of mine changed her relationship status on Facebook to "married." (I find out a lot of juicy things through Facebook. T was saying how she found out about her brother's move through Facebook.) Anyway, the suddenly married friend, who has been missing/in L.A. for a while, emailed me asking for my current cellphone number and asking what would be a good time to call. So she will probably give me the dirt.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Standing up to bullies

So there is a miserable woman who lives in our building. She routinely tortures everyone, to the point that I won't get into the elevator with her. (Nor is she mentally ill, just mean.) Anyway, another woman from the neighborhood was in our lobby with her harmless Welsh corgi.

Miserable Woman: Get out of the lobby! Dogs are not allowed in the lobby!

I turned to the woman with the dog and said, "She's wrong. Dogs are allowed in the building, so they're allowed in the lobby." (Note: I wouldn't have intervened if it was a rabid pit bull, but this dog is harmless and it is true that dogs are allowed in the building.)

Amazingly, Miserable Woman shut up. So I went on walking and she started badgering the woman again. So I turned around and said, "Don't listen to her, she's a miserable person."

THIS FELT AMAZINGLY GOOD.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Babies like the darnedest things



Z was playing with these tags for a while.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What I learned on my vacation


I learned that you can survive taking 2 small children to Disney World during February vacation. It won't kill you, and it will definitely make you stronger. I have now changed diapers at 10,000 feet, changed a poopy diaper while waiting in line for It's a Small World, breastfed in all kinds of situations, etc. I am now fairly confident in my ability to do anything.

Advice: the Magic Kingdom is kind of frenetic (during February vacation, at least), Epcot is kind of boring (unless you have a scientific bent), and Animal Kingdom, to my mind, is the most interesting of the three. It was split into different sections, including Africa, Asia and Dinoland (a kitschy dinosaur theme park with dinosaurs quipping, "That really extincts."). I've never been to Africa, but it felt fairly authentic to me. I also enjoyed the Kilimanjaro Safari, which featured live animals and a driver who kept making corny jokes (part of Disney's style). Polynesian Resort (pictured above) really is nice, though some rooms have better views than others. The Tonga Toast (sourdough bread stuffed with bananas and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar) is delicious. The pools (both of them) are lovely, and one has a water slide.

And the weather is beautiful.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Are we having fun yet?

So we arrived in Disney World after a fairly uneventful flight. Z didn't fuss much. I was able to get her to sleep in the Ergo. Unfortunately, there was some turbulence and they felt compelled to make a super-loud announcement about it (as if we hadn't noticed). The announcement was actually more annoying than the (mild) turbulence, and woke Z up. Still, she was okay. We got to our hotel, which was not as pretty as I remembered from when we came in 2000, and then we went to the Magic Kingdom, which was a ZOO FROM HELL. I remembered it as a quaint, charming place. This time it's full of thumping techno music, performers leaping in the air, and CROWDS. This place is more crowded than Manhattan. I'm not exaggerating. I wish I were.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better (or at least another) day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Memories

So my memory is really crumbling. I remember when I was pregnant with Z, I forgot to tip my hairdresser. So I went back to the salon and tipped her. Then I realized I had left a bag of groceries there. So I went back and got them. Yesterday I remembered that two of my nephews were born in February, though I don't remember the exact days. So I bought them cards and signed them, and had E print his name at the bottom. I thought they would enjoy that; they both really enjoy spending time with him. The problem is, I was concentrating on having E sign the cards, and then I sent them without putting birthday checks inside. I just realized my mistake this morning. I felt bad about it for a while. Then I forgot that I did it. (At Christmas, I gave them checks, but forgot to bring them on the day itself.)

Maybe it is time for gingko biloba? On the plus side, my memory deterioration will probably help with grudges. I've always been a bit of a grudge holder, but now I can't remember who I was mad at, or why!

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's a cliche, but I can't believe how fast this is going. Z is now wearing 3-6 month clothes, about to start wearing size 2 diapers, and she's 95th percentile for height (67th for weight and 43rd for head circumference; small head). The height probably came from my side of the family; the head size did not. In 10 days, she will have her first plane trip. On February 29th, she can start eating solids - rice cereal and pureed fruit and vegetables. They have a new gimmick that didn't exist when E was that age (or if it did, I wasn't aware of it) - puree in a tube. Ella's Kitchen Organics makes it. I'm very excited; it's a vast improvement on glass jars :)

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Book update

So I finished The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I liked the concept - how in Victorian England every flower had a meaning - but the book itself was a little too gritty for me. Now I am reading The Odds by Stewart O'Nan. I think he really hit his stride with Emily Alone, the book before this one. I'm also reading The Flight of Gemma Hardy, which is loosely based on Jane Eyre, but transported to the 1950s, in Iceland and Scotland. I like it better than I initially thought I would. The writing is graceful and appealing, though the book is - yikes - 629 pages long!

Friday, February 03, 2012

So I've been writing a book with a friend. We're about 4 chapters in. We are having fun with it, and I'm learning a lot. A few things:

  • My natural impulse is to race to the finish line; but if you do that, you've used up your plot in a few chapters. Enter: subplots.
  • I took a writing class years ago where I submitted a piece about a magic cardigan, and the teacher thought it was too light. He wanted us all to write deep emotional stories. So I experimented in that style, and it just didn't feel right. I like light stories (with some substance of course) much better.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Oops

I just realized that the Superbowl has not yet happened. I'm not a big sports fan, but I have some interest in this game because the competitors are the New England Patriots (where I grew up) and the New York Giants (where I currently live). I saw a cake at Whole Foods that was shaped like a football and said 1-23-12 in icing, so I assumed that was the date. I was wondering why no one was talking about the outcome on Facebook and why no one mentioned Madonna's halftime show.

So it's really February 5th. Just letting you know.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An embarrassment of riches

Often I find myself scraping around for something to read, but in late January, several books came out and I got 4 free samples on my Kindle.

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson - terrible title, but seems like the usual intense, high-stakes Jackson story.

An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer - Wolitzer is really similar to Cathleen Schine and Elinor Lipman. This looks like a light tale about a widower and his dating experiences after his wife's death.

The Odds by Stewart O'Nan - about a long-married couple who go gambling in Niagara Falls to try to save their marriage. Sprinkled with statistics, such as: "Odds of making it to your 25th anniversary: 1 in 6."

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey. This seems like the weak link of the bunch. It's modeled on Jane Eyre, but set in the 1950s in Iceland and Scotland. I don't think Livesey is a bad writer, but imitating Jane Eyre is probably tough to pull off.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Quick recommendation

I just finished Gone with a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West. What a fun book! Her novels always make me hungry - the characters are constantly whipping up red velvet cake, shortbread and cookies. This one had a surprise ending and there will be a sequel in April: A Teeny Bit of Trouble.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

So yesterday we got our first snow of the season. I used to really like snow, but I think last winter killed it for me a bit. We got so much dumped on us. But yesterday was not a bad day. Our friend A from college (he was my year, but now D knows him as well as I do) came into the city for lunch with us. I told him about a recent "pizza day" at E's school. A friend of mine volunteered to help and had a bad experience. The parents were kept out of the classrooms, not allowed to eat the pizza, and given a "death glare" if they did poke their heads in their child's class. D thought this was the lamest thing ever. Then A said, "Well, speaking from the other side of the divide, I can see where the teachers are coming from." He's been teaching since 1997. He explained that schools like to keep parents out of the class because if they are allowed inside, they inevitably judge the other children. This was news to me. As D pointed out, I think parents are more likely to judge the teachers. Still, it was interesting to hear the other side. I had thought the teachers were keeping the parents out because they found them disruptive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

E is learning the states (D got him a map of the U.S. and put it up on his wall). He has some fun pronunciations: Vinga (Virginia), Alibamba (Alabama), etc. He also got a kick out of calling New York "New Mork" and adding a "New" to all the other states. He told me, "Alaska is on top" and "Canada is so cold."

Later, as I was getting him ready for school (and I wasn't saying anything), he said gently, "Don't yell, Mommy. Be very quiet. Do something quieter." It must be something they say at school. It made me laugh, and he grinned and said, "What did I say that was funny?"

It was one of Z's not-super nights (coupled with insomnia, because I slept well the night before), so I opted for some caffeine, in the form of hot chocolate from Brooklyn Bagel. It was fantastic. I also had some chopped watermelon, a favorite of E's.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Guilty pleasure

A friend of mine wrote that choosing clothes for a baby girl is "one of life's (guilty?) pleasures." It sure is. Having a boy is wonderful, but clothing-wise, you are limited to blue, grey, brown, black, etc. Having a girl means pink, pink, pink! All the pink you can stand, as another blogger put it. And my tolerance is high :)

I checked the average temperature of Orlando in February and decided that Z would need some short-sleeved onesies to wear. So I went to oldnavy.com and got her a white eyelet sun hat, two pink skirts, a "smocked bubble", a white dress with red roses, a "popcorn sweater" coat (in pink, of course) and a little onesie that says "Chicks rock" (featuring an actual yellow chick, playing the guitar). Most of these items are for the summer, but a couple were in the 3-6 month size, should it get really hot in Orlando.

I don't know why it is so delightful to buy clothes for a little girl. But it is.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Comfort

So D told me today that he got first class tickets for Orlando! I am absurdly excited. The only time I have ever flown first class was by accident. We were in Italy years ago and missed the flight back to the U.S. So we sat around the airport in Rome and eventually got on a flight to Dublin. In Dublin, I guess they felt bad for us because we had been sitting in an airport for hours, and they put us in first class. It was the lap of luxury. The seats were enormous and the food was really something else. They would bring out apple pie with ice cream, and later they brought out warm, melty chocolate chip cookies. It was actually more food than I could eat, but I appreciated it. So this will really take the edge off of flying with two small children :) D said it didn't cost much more, it guaranteed us seats together, and they won't charge for checked luggage. So, all in all, a good deal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So today was a good day. I woke up well rested. Z didn't sleep for 11 hours or anything, but she may have done 8 pm to 4 am, or 3 am; not sure which; and then we went back to sleep again. And woke up at 10 am. Heaven. I would have slept longer, but I knew I had a hairdresser appointment. That went well, too. Last time she screamed while I was getting my hair washed; this time I brought a babysitter with me and Z was good the whole time. My hairdresser is trying to quit smoking so I recommended a hypnotist to her; D went to him for a while, I forget for what, and it was successful.

Z is also not breastfeeding as frequently now, so I am able to give E more attention, which I like. He loves the High Line (an elevated park) and its "robot elevator" (they play songs with strange robotic voices; it's part of an installation about cyber culture).

Also we booked a trip. E has vacation from school in February and we are going to go to Disney World. It should be an adventure. I also like Florida, I always seem to relax there.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy new year

So last night I had a good NYE. We went to a toddler party for the group of buildings we live in. It's a nice community with a lot of little kids. The couple who organized the party put together a good playlist. Z slept through the first part of the party. When she woke up, I walked around and bounced her to the music, and she was happy. E got in a minor scuffle over a truck (the boy who had it did not want to share), but he enjoyed dancing to Madonna (the only musician he would dance to, of the ones they played. He liked "Lucky Star."). Afterward, we got falafel and then we went to McDonald's because E likes their ice cream. A strange thing, though: whenever I ask for ice cream, the counter people don't know what I mean. You have to say "cone." E had a high old time putting dots of ice cream on his hair, nose, chin and fingertips. I wiped him down with a facecloth when we got home.

I had a good time at my mother's, too (over Christmas). She gave me a kit to make a quilt (a small one, called a prayer blanket). I am planning to do it sometime this year :)