Archive for September, 2011

October 1 – 2: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

bring to light nuit blanche

Bring to Light: Nuit Blanche


Education, art, and poetry combine with The Hive Learning Network NYC at Bring to Light: Nuit Blanche New York 2011 in Greenpoint. Young NYC-based poets will be doing fun and funky things with light and digital projection in the waterside ‘hood. Impress the kids with the art, pick up a pizza on the way home, and still get everyone to bed at a decent hour. This event sounds like the kind of thing we live in New York City FOR. ie: Freakin’ cool.

Earlier in the day, drop by the Children’s Museum of the Arts Block Party — they’re finally in their new space!


Time for pumpkin picking!

Happy weekend!


Currently Obsessed with…. the October, 2011 Issue of Food & Wine Magazine: New French Classics

food & wine october 2011

Can’t put down the French-food-focused October ish of Food & Wine. Melissa Clark’s Marseille-Style Shrimp Stew — with garlicky French rouille on toasts — is a major keeper. Absolutely delicious and full of flavors we don’t always cook with — orange zest, saffron, cloves.

Other temptations:

More recipes for eating the French way: smaller portions of better-tasting food (with wine, of course)

NYC chef April Bloomfield hits France: note the Lyon-Style Chicken with Vinegar Sauce, the Herbed Steamed Rice, and the Warm Bacon-and-Egg Salad

A fun culinary travel guide to Paris: Can we go back, please, and try all of these places?

Bon Appetit!


Other obsessions:

State Prints from One Canoe Two

Dining at Buvette

Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves





September 24 – 25: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

DUMBO Arts Festival

Barely a second to blog today, so I’m keeping it short, sweet, and all about DUMBO.

First, have you been to Vinegar Hill House, on the lovely, quiet, cobble-stone Hudson Avenue? Book a date night and GO.

Second, it’s all about the DUMBO Arts Festival this weekend and, thankfully, there are some indoor activities perfect for families.

While you’re there, don’t forget Jane’s Carousel, Bubby’s Pie Social, and the Calexico Taco Cart at Brooklyn Bridge Park — or grab a juicy burger and fries from the fabulous Frites ‘N’ Meats guys. I have it on good authority that they’ll be on hand for the fun, too!

Happy weekend — stay dry!

Love, Loss, and What I Learned

M. with Pa Pa

Pa Pa and me.

As parents, we’re constantly self-critiquing: How could I be doing better? Why can’t I be more patient? Why did I say that stupid thing I said, and will it land my kid in therapy?

I’ve been giving that a lot of thought over the last few days. My grandfather — at age 98! — passed away last weekend and we had to make a quick trip home to Texas for the funeral.

Members of my family sat down with the pastor at my grandparents’ church in the days prior to share memories of him — the personality traits and characteristics that stood out over a lifetime — and those were part of the service.

Death and funerals put life in sharp relief. And at a time when I’m mulling many things over — trying to look at things in my life with a fresh eye — it was grounding to hear the details that stood out about my grandfather. I knew those personality traits, too, of course, but I hadn’t thought about them in a long time, and I’d never examined them through the lens of parenthood.

My grandfather wasn’t perfect — who is? — but he got a lot right. A lot about love and life’s work. He was lavish with praise and affection, and — a child of the Great Depression and a WWII veteran in the U.S. Navy — he possessed a serious, studied work ethic.

And here’s the thing: People will remember what you say and do. Your actions have a long and lasting impact. Here are some things my grandfather taught me — things that I’m going to try to remember with my kids in daily life.

You can’t tell your children too often that you love them and are proud of them. Really. It seems like a no-brainer — DUH, as Magnolia would say dismissively. But just as one negative comment can linger in our minds for years, repeated positive reinforcement lays a solid foundation for self-confidence. — “I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments. You have been such a blessing to our lives.” (Yes, “blessing” his word, and even though I don’t attend church as an adult, I can tell you, it’s pretty uplifting to know that someone who loved me felt and thought *daily* — and was never shy about telling me — that I was a blessing to him. Appreciative tears brimming as I write this.)

Things don’t get done by thinking about doing them, or pondering what to do next. My grandfather was a machinist by trade, and he worked well into his late 70s — a precise, solitary work, very mathematical. He loved it, and by all accounts, continuing to work well past the age of retirement likely helped extend his life. Again — 98! And he was very well and with it until just the last couple of years. He applied his work ethic to all areas of life, though — I want to show my kids the same thing. Be productive, take responsibility, get the job done and be kind to others while you’re doing it.

Many lessons learned from my sweet grandmother, too — but at 93, I’m lucky to say she’s still here, and I’m sure I have more to learn from her.

98 and 93 — I hope I have their genes! And I hope I’ll leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren that somehow manages to be just as inspiring.

grandma and pa pa

Thanks for everything, Pa Pa!

September 17 – 18: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas, the Early Fall Edition

The Homesick Texan

I took a peek inside today and YUM.

Food blogger and fellow Texan Lisa Fain proclaims jalapeno, cilantro, and lime the Tex-Mex trinity, and of course I couldn’t agree more. I’m looking forward to digging into her new book, The Homesick Texan Cookbook — in the meantime, as fall settles in, consider digging into Frito Pie with One-Hour Texas Chili and Dr. Pepper Ribs. (And, in case you missed it, see what Alex Witchel of The New York Times had to say about Fain, the book, and the chili. Hint: It’s all good.)

And, for your continued pleasure, more weekend linkage:

Design Mom’s House Tour with Jane Foster (oh, how I cover that Marimekko dining room table!)

Jane’s Carousel (finally!) opens in DUMBO, The Feast of San Gennaro, and the World Maker Faire, all via Mommy Poppins.

SJP’s I Don’t Know How She Does It opens this weekend. New York magazine liked it — yes, believe it — ditching the kids, and we are so freaking there.

Happy, happy! Have a good one, y’all.


Can't wait!

Via + Mom Congress: What I’ll Be Doing for You This School Year, Kids

First day of school

Second grade and Kindergarten -- bring it!

Jasper and Magnolia are back in school! Full days! Five days a week! Yippeeee! Not only does this mean — most importantly, of course — that after an exciting summer break, they can resume in earnest the exhilarating learning process. It also means I have some time to myself. Yippeeee X 2!

Sort of. Time to myself means time to think, and that’s a tricky thing these days. With all this parenting stuff, and the day-to-day weight of it, I’ve lost myself a bit. Or a lot. Maybe even a big, huge, gaping expanse of a lot.

I have to reinvent. Redefine. Let go of some things and embrace others. Get back in touch with who I am. Yesterday, something made me think of Anne Lamott, who I’ve read in the past and enjoyed, but it’s been years since Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions, and Traveling Mercies.

Anyway, I Googled her and found two interesting things: 1) a video of an interview she did with Stephen Colbert for Grace (Eventually). They are both Sunday School teachers and he gets her “God” thing and it is very funny. If you like her at all, watch it! 2) a piece she did for The Oprah magazine on Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be.

Ding, ding! A sign!

OK, it turned out to be a little up and down for me, but I found two good takeaways:

“You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren’t. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don’t think your way into becoming yourself.”


In all of this figuring out yourself, your true self, your spiritual self if you want to call it that (I don’t, but), you’re looking for “The self that is revealed in divine feminine energy, your own, Bette Midler’s, Hillary Clinton’s, Tina Fey’s, Michelle Obama’s, Mary Oliver’s. I mean, you can see that they are divine, right? Well, you are, too.”

Um,… OK! Divine me, divine mom. I’m…. working on it.

One thing I know for sure is that a new school year has begun, and I have to take an active part in making it a good one for my kids. Last year, I kicked ass (if I do say so myself) by planning Touch-a-Truck Brooklyn — we raised a ton of money for the school and, I hope, elevated the elementary school’s profile in the borough. I’m proud of that, and I have a million ideas for how to grow and improve the event this year. I can’t take on being the lead organizer again, but I can be an important consultant. I can say yes to taking on a few, manageable, key things, and I can make some good stuff happen.

What else can I do for you, Dear Jasper and Magnolia, to make sure that you get the best education possible this year?

I can communicate with your teachers to make sure you’re participating and getting the most out of your classroom experience. I can help make sure your teachers — hardworking and impressive as they are — have the resources they need to do their jobs well.

I can read to you and let you read to me. I can ask you about your day and show you that I care about every single little detail of if (because, in ways that you are too young to understand now, I really, truly do.)

I can send you off in the morning with a sense of security — a feeling of certainty that you are loved, supported, seen and heard. That I have confidence that you will succeed in learning — and, just as important — make me, yourselves, and each other laugh in the process.

I can remind you that I’m on your team. That we’re in this school thing together, and that learning is fun!

Let’s dive in! I’ll be holding your hand — and helping you through your homework — the whole way.


To read other open letters from moms to their kids about education, hop over to Mom Congress on And, YO, listen up — you can also submit a short essay and photo or video to enter your kid’s school for a chance to win $20,000! A pretty awesome contest, all in the name of better education. Go,

Spread the word!



Tips for Helping Your Child Learn to Read

Tips from a Kindergarten Teacher

Public vs. Private School

Would You Home-School Your Kids?

A Fun, Creative School Fundraiser

Back-to-School Thoughts and Goals for Fall

back to school

It’s official: We no longer have a pre-schooler. Magnolia sealed the deal on that one when she finished Pre-K back in June. Now we are the proud (and astonished — how did we get here so fast?) parents of a Second-Grader and a Kindergartener. WOW.

I’m looking forward to school starting for the obvious reason — take them, please, NYC DOE! — but a few other things are on my mind, too. Like:

* First grade was big — Jasper learned to read! Wonder what new frontiers second grade will have in store for us?

* Kindergarten is a big transition from Pre-K — much more focus on learning and meeting specific goals, and less on creative play. I hope Magnolia, who’s more than a little fond of managing her own time, can make the change easily. Gulp.

* In keeping with the new frontiers motif, M. has her first loose tooth. Already?! She *just* turned 5! According to the dentist, it’s typical for girls to start losing teeth earlier than boys. Apparently, another thing girls do first. Who knew?

* The kids are going back to school and I’m ready for…. Something else. I don’t know what. At least I’ve identified the need. Now I have to fill in the blank. Easier said than done, but I’m moving in that direction.

Also on my post-birthday To-Do list:

* Exercise more. I’ve actually (sort of) already started this, so hopefully increase it a bit and maintain.

* Cook more. We cook a lot, yes, but I really enjoy it. And I want to do more of it. Also, the moms being adventurous in the kitchen encourages the kids to try new foods. All good.

* Read more.

* Work on knowing when the right thing to say is nothing at all.

* Make more time for myself, and carve out more quality couple time for Chrissy and me.

* Surprise myself.

Well, that should keep me busy for a while!


Ready or not, here it comes.

What’s on your Fall To-Do list? Tell me I’m not alone in having one!

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