Snow Days

March 4, 2010 at 10:53 am , by

sophiasnowmansmileMy husband and I aren’t very outdoorsy. (Recently, when a friend suggested we go HIKING on a playdate with the kids, I nearly fell off my chair!) But when Mother Nature decides it’s time for snow—which she’s done many times this winter—we always get out there with the girls and enjoy it.

We live in a townhouse which means we don’t have a big back yard but we make do with the space we have. During the last storm, my husband Pablo did an amazing job of building a winter wonderland: It had two slides, a snow fort as tall as Sophia, and an amazing snowman. As the fashion editor in the family, I’m always called on to accessorize the snowman. This time I grabbed a straw safari hat (party favor from Lily’s zoo-themed birthday party last year), an old striped scarf from The Gap, button eyes, and a lipstick nose. I had forgotten about the mouth when Sophia brilliantly suggested a cheese stick. Pablo curled it into a little smile and it was perfect. I loved seeing Sophia come up with such a creative solution.

Our new friend, Frosty, melted in a day but he sure was fun to make. And I’m sure there will be a new Frosty on our next snow day. So, tell me…how do you enjoy the winter weather with your kids?

Parent/Teacher Conference: My Drama Queen

January 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm , by

sophiadramaSophia is only 4 years old, so her parent/teacher conference is less about what she’s learning and more about how she’s behaving. I know that she knows her numbers and letters and I’m sure she’ll do just fine when she transitions to kindergarten next year (stay tuned for a future post when I laugh at myself for being this confident!). But for now, I just want to know how she’s behaving with the other kids. We didn’t get a lot of surprises. “Sophia is a leader.” “Sophia is very dramatic.” She even got an “O” for “outstanding” in the “sings along with songs” and “expresses herself well” categories.

Believe me, this is not a surprise. My husband and I both enjoyed performing in plays and musical presentations back at school. And Sophia’s “creative play” at home ranges from strutting her stuff in a pretend fashion show, belting out tunes from Disney movies (solos only, thankyouverymuch!), and spinning and leaping like she’s Clara from the Nutcracker.  And when you ask her to smile for a picture, you get an over-the-shoulder pose full of attitude.

But what do you do with a dramatic kid? There’s no fighting it—it’s just who she is. How do you hone those skills into something useful?  Listen, if someone happened to spot her “doing her thing” and offered her a high-paying TV commercial, I’d have a hard time refusing. But no, we will not be going to any auditions. Blame my fear that she’d end up like Lindsay Lohan. For now, we’ll just let her be a kid. An overly dramatic, runway strutting, superstar singing, over-the-top dancing kid.

So, tell me…what are your kids like? Shy? Dramatic? How do you nurture their personality quirks?

Motherhood, the Movie, Exposes Real New York Living

October 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm , by

Uma with bagsIf you want to know what it’s really like to be a regular mom in Manhattan, watch Uma Thurman’s character go about her daily errands in the film Motherhood, which opens Friday (October 23). It will show you why grocery shopping in New York City has become a religious experience for me.

Famous writer and fellow single mom Anne Lamott has said that the two best prayers she knows are “Help me, help me, help me” and “thank you, thank you, thank you.”  I say these prayers pretty much every time I leave the supermarket.

I usually go in with some reasonable list of things: milk, bread, yogurt, garbage bags. I remind myself that it’s past the home-delivery cutoff time so I need to be selective. But then I realize that my son and I have to actually eat every day, and I won’t have time to shop until the weekend, so the cart gets full and I end up leaving with eight or nine bags, all of which seem to contain cans of buckshot or whole watermelons.

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A Real Mom Attends the Motherhood Movie Premiere

October 16, 2009 at 11:01 am , by

motherhood_uma_thurman“Motherhood will break your heart,” advised the extremely chatty 60-ish woman who was standing in the line of mere mortals—to the right of the red carpet—waiting to get into Wednesday night’s New York premiere of Motherhood, a new film starring Uma Thurman. My new friend was a passerby who intended talk her way into the screening. Me, I was there by actual invitation, so I could tell all you Ladies’ Lounge readers about the event.  (Thanks to my single-mom blogger buddy Rachel Sarah for passing along the invite!) The film is about a day in the life of a harried mommy-blogger, played by Thurman, with Anthony Edwards as her husband and Minnie Driver as her best friend.  I’ll post about it next Thursday—it hits theaters nationwide next Friday, October 23. For now, though, let’s talk about the premiere.

I don’t get out much, so first thing I noticed once I was in the door was all the stick-thin, black-clad 26-year-olds shifting uncomfortably in their 4- and 5-inch heels. Motherhood? I don’t think so! Most gatherings of moms I go to showcase a wide variety of sneakers. Here, just about the only females in sensible shoes were me, Uma Thurman’s 11-year-old daughter Maya, and the one guest who was so pregnant I thought there was a good chance she’d go into labor in the lobby. Uma, stick-thin and black-clad despite being mom of two, wore spike heels as well, but I had to wonder how often she does so. Her walk into the theater was so spectacularly wobbly and awkward that I could hear several groups of women behind me gossiping about it.

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What My Son’s Preschool Taught Me

September 24, 2009 at 4:52 pm , by

A preschool lunch made by Wendy Copeland (, a mom who's way out of my league!I was getting a bit lax in the eco-friendly arena. But preschool whipped me into shape.

My son just started preschool for the first time last week, and I thought I’d be the  dorky parent who sends carrot sticks and soy nuts for snacks when everyone else gets Lunchables or some other food that’s “fun,” mainly due to being based on white flour and sugar and housed in disposable cartons, boxes and bags covered with brightly-colored, bug-eyed licensed characters. For at least a minute or two, I seriously worried that he might be a preschool social reject because of his uncool, health-conscious lunches.  (In reality, I think he has a couple years before he risks becoming a pariah on those grounds.)

Turns out I seriously underestimated my ultraprogressive, parent-run preschool.  No Blues Clues-emblazoned Yoplait for this crew! Right in the family handbook, it spelled out a lunch and snack policy that was healthier and way more eco-friendly than I was planning to be. Healthy lunch and snacks only, they said, no sweets allowed—and please send food in reusable containers, with real cups, spoons and forks and a cloth napkin. “This practice will eliminate the waste of paper and plastic and help your child learn to preserve the earth’s resources.”

Whoa. I was planning on being eco-friendly and all, but no yogurt cartons, pretzel packs, or juice boxes EVER? What about those little containers of organic applesauce? Don’t they buy me some moral high ground, despite the plastic? What about my guilty addiction to Ziploc bags? And it would never have occurred to me to send a cloth napkin to school. The responsible citizen in me thought these were excellent rules, but the harried mom thought, “yikes!” I had some shopping to do.

After totally striking out at local stores—cloth napkins for kids and eco-friendly lunch paraphernalia are apparently far from the norm, even in my famously progressive neighborhood—I went online and found some great products (my favorites listed below). Scott was ready to go green.

But something else happened. Preparing his healthy, eco-friendly lunches guilted me into doing the same for myself—and because of his preschool’s rules, I was ready with all the right containers.

The ReSnackIt sandwich bag

I swear my turkey on whole wheat tastes way better in its hip-looking ReSnackIt reusable bag than it would in a Ziploc.  Even those drearily healthy carrot sticks have taken a step up: now they get dipped in the hummus I put in one of the tiny little Sassy containers I got for Scott.

The transformation goes further—as I put his cute cloth napkin into his lunchbox, I find myself thinking that, instead of a paper towel, I really could use a cloth kitchen towel to dry the counter after sponging it. Meanwhile, at work, the Envirosax company sent me a 5-pack of their portable, reusable shopping bags. Thanks to Scott’s preschool giving me a shove in the ecologically correct direction, I decided to try them.

An Envirosax shopping bag

Turns out they’re not only pretty, but practical: They fold up easily to the size of a Kleenex pocket pack, so you can always keep one in your purse, and they have nice long handles so you can hang them from your shoulders, making grocery-carrying a lot easier (a big deal in New York, where you have to shlep your bags for blocks).  Plus, Justin Timberlake uses them. How cool is that?

The upshot: After two weeks, I’ll bet all the paper and plastic Scott and I would have generated—but haven’t—would fill our kitchen garbage can.  I still use too many paper towels and too much plastic, but I feel great about the changes I’ve made. It took some effort to get myself set up with products that make re-using easy, but now it really isn’t so hard to pour some milk into a thermos or spoon some yogurt or applesauce from a big jar to a small container that I can throw in the dishwasher later. I wouldn’t have done it without a push—our culture is set up to encourage excess packaging and the idea that things can be heedlessly thrown away, and it’s so much easier to just go with it.

So, what I’ve learned so far in preschool? Just like the teacher says, rules really can make the classroom a better and happier place. And sometimes, peer pressure can actually be a force for good!

Do you have an eco-friendly lunch product you swear by? Check out my faves, after the jump: Read more

Ladies We Love: Julie Maloney

September 16, 2009 at 9:38 am , by

Julie MaloneyJulie Maloney started her cheeky blog,, just last year but has already garnered a huge following. Her biggest claim to fame? She lost 60 pounds using the Nintendo Wii Fit and got an overwhelming response when she blogged about it. Now Julie also runs with two other women who got similar weight loss results—talk about a woman with drive!

What makes me a lady: The way I can walk with my head held high, hips slightly swaying and confidence strong because I am secure in my mind, body and spirit.

Favorite guilty pleasure: Oh, do I have to name just one? Chocolate. Hands down, chocolate wins every time.

Three things on my life list: E-Publish a novel, raise my two sons to be the best they can be and work to make my body better than ever.

If I could have a superpower, it would be: I’m a mother, I have them all. ;)

Ladies I admire: My mother, for being strong, outspoken, generous and loving and my grandmother for surviving a concentration work camp, enduring the loss of two children and coming to the United States to live the American dream.

Do you know a woman who deserves some of the spotlight? Tell us about her! E-mail us at and she could be featured in a future post.

True Confession: I Loved Having a Newborn

September 10, 2009 at 10:17 am , by

IMG_0336Here’s what I want to know: Are happy new moms just lucky, or are we also a wee bit simpleminded?

These days, it seems like all the cool new parents complain—bitterly and hilariously—about having an infant. In memoirs, essays and blogs, they debunk the cruel myth of that blissful first few months with a cooing, snuggly bundle of joy. That’s Hallmark-card hogwash, they say to their relieved readers, who find their honesty refreshing. These writers adore their kids, but let’s get real, they write: A newborn means being in a 24/7 state of extreme worry and panic, plus crushing boredom, plus guaranteed post-partum depression and the most searing pain you can imagine when you attempt to breastfeed. Miracle, yes, but also…nightmare!

The latest book I read on this topic was American Parent, a memoir and cultural history by my neighbor Sam Apple. As Sam wrote wittily about the extreme terror and tedium of being a stay-at-home dad with a colicky kid, I laughed out loud. I also recently devoured the beautifully written parenting memoir Waiting for Birdy, by self-described “catastrophizer” and LHJ contributor Catherine Newman, laughing so hard at one point that the other people in my doctor’s waiting room started edging away.

I have a shelf full of other great books that smash the oppressive myth of maternal bliss, like Mothers Who Think, Mommies Who Drink, The Bitch in the House and Perfect Madness. Never mind the many excellent blogs—shout-out to my internet buddy Tertia Albertyn, author of the hysterical and heartbreaking infertility memoir So Close, who now writes lovingly but often crankily about her newborn and her 4-year-old twins on her popular blog.

There’s one problem. I enjoy this kind of writing. It’s funny. But I don’t quite relate to it. At the risk of becoming America’s Most Hated Mom, I have a confession to make: I actually loved having a newborn.

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