Staycation 2015: the week in photos

My kids were on spring break last week and we stayed home because Jacob had 5 baseball games. Was I bitter? Maybe a little. But it was actually nice to be home with few plans and time for the kids to relax.

My boys overindulged on-screen time for sure, but I planned at least one outing a day to make sure they got some stimulation that didn’t include a remote or joystick (I know, no one calls them joytsicks anymore but ‘Xbox controller’ is so undescriptive.)

We’re so lucky to have New York City in our back yard, and I took them in a few times to get a change of scenery and sneak in some culture without the boys realizing it.

Here are the highlights of the week in photos…..

Walking the High Line NYC on

I met two gal pals at Penn Station Friday night. We were having dinner with our husbands in Chelsea at 7pm so we bought ourselves chilled mini wine bottles (at the little store by the stairs to the Garden) which we dumped in paper cups. Then we picked up the High Line at 31st St. and 11th Avenue to walk to the restaurant.

There’s nothing like an outdoor cocktail hour, walking above Manhattan, and people watching on the High Line on a lovely spring evening!

Home/Dreamworks movie poster on


On Monday I took Eli to see the animated movie Home. We both liked it a lot– it’s a very sweet and engaging story, with characters voiced by Rihanna, Jim Parsons, JLo, and Steve Martin. I also like any excuse to eat movie popcorn.

Batting cages at Frozen Ropes on

Tuesday I took Aden and Eli to the batting cages at Frozen Ropes to hit balls off a pitching machine.

Batting cages at Frozen Ropes on

It aint cheap: $30 for 30 minutes, and the time went quickly, but it was a productive, fun activity.

We took the train into the city Wednesday and the kids picked Shake Shack for lunch. The line wasn’t too long….

Shake Shack NYC on

and we chowed on our burgers and fries.

Shake Shack NYC on

Then we walked a few blocks to see Matilda on Broadway. Eli and I read the Roald Dahl book and we had been listening to the music in the car and explaining the plot to Aden.

Matilda on Broadway NYC on

I was worried because Aden wasn’t so psyched when I told him I bought the tickets. But we all loved it! Amazing performances, inventive staging and dancing, and terrific music that we are still humming days later. I highly recommend!

My boys had never been to Dylan’s Candy Bar so after the show we headed east and wandered the sugar sanctuary for almost 45 minutes.

Dylan's Candy Bar NYC on

Giant gummy bear and candy necklace!

I gave them each a $15 limit but still managed to spend an obscene amount of money I can’t think about ever again. Oh well. You only live once right?

Dylan's Candy Bar NYC on

Like mice in a cheese factory….

Two friends and I took our boys to the city Thursday to walk around Chinatown. We had never been to Chinatown in NY and I thought we’d walk the streets, taking in the new culture, marveling at the colorful fruit and vegetable stands, and wandering into little shops.

Chinatown NYC on

But I forgot I was with 7 boys whose only interest was consuming as much sesame chicken as their bellies could hold. The authentic eats at 456 Shanghai Cuisine didn’t disappoint. As you can see here, we tried a little bit of everything. The pork dumplings– both standard and soup– were gobbled up instantly, and the moo shu pork, shrimp and vegetables, chicken lo mien, and sautéed green beans were delicious. Nothing was greasy and no one felt sick 30 minutes after consuming an impressive amount of food. And the price is nice too. The lunch specials were just $5.75 each and came with soup and rice.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on

Although I couldn’t eat anymore, the children managed to cram in shakes and cones from the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory down the street. In addition to the standards, they have some very inventive flavors, including Black Sesame, Ginger, and Lychee. Thumbs up from the fellas.

NYC criminal court tour on

Chinatown is very close to the Criminal Court building, where our friend Chris works, so the boys got a bonus tour of a courtroom and a holding cell.

NYC criminal court tour on

We also stopped at the mecca of sneakers, a place called Flight Club, near Union Square. Literally hundreds of technicolored sneakers line the walls of this store and I couldn’t find a pair for less than $150.

Flight Club NYC shopping on

Much like me at Bergdorf Goodman, the boys browsed the shelves, knowing they could never afford the laces of most of their coveted shoes.

Flight Club NYC shopping on

A boy can dream…..

I must admit I enjoyed Flight Club from an anthropological perspective. It’s a whole culture of people who purchase, trade, and collect high-end sneakers and seeing so many creative designs made it feel like an exhibit in a modern art museum.

Flight Club NYC shopping on

Check out the price tags on these babies! This is what thousand-dollar shoes look like

The prices of some of the shoes were as expensive as art– going up to the eye-popping $7,000 to 11,000 range! Who knew?

On Friday it was back to work for me so the boys had a free day to play with friends.

I asked them tonight what the highlights were of their break. Jacob groaned, which he does at any question I ask him of late.

Aden said “Everything!” I’ll take it!

Eli? After a detailed recap of all our adventures, he chose the playdate with his friend Kieran yesterday.

Can’t win ’em all.





Carpool Candy Mother’s Day gift guide

Mother’s Day is May 10th people. Have you bought your mom, wife, sister, aunt, grandma a gift yet?

I thought I’d republish some of my favorites from the holiday gift guide, with a couple spring additions. Click on the name of the gift for website links to buy or get more info. All different price points included. (And please note that I get nada from any of these vendors.)

Happy shopping!

High Camp Supply gardenias on

Last week, my friend Julie sent me the most amazing surprise for my birthday. She knows I love flowers, but instead of a classic arrangement, she sent a box of vine gardenias. They smelled divine and felt extremely decadent to a flower buff like me. They remind me of my mother’s perfume or walking through a botanical garden. Elegant, luxurious, nostalgic. A perfect gift! Like anything special worth having, gardenias are extremely fragile so they’re expensive to grow and ship. But if you care to indulge, check out the gift boxes from High Camp Supply.

kller-collection-brass-quill-earrings abc carpet on carpoolcandy.comEarrings — Delicate yet sleek, these earrings are handmade from a mold cast from real quills found in nature, but they’re set in brass so the price is nice. ($110)

Moleskin passion journals on

Specialty journals-– If the kitchen is her domain, she’ll love organizing her recipes and cooking secrets, while checking measurements, conversions and food facts in this cooking journal. If she’s more of a style maven, she can keep track of outfits, convert international sizes, and collect style sheets for wish lists. There are also journals for wedding planning, gardening, music, and even chocolate. ($20)

markandgraham initial soaps on

Initial soaps— Sometimes the perfect gift is something luxurious that you wouldn’t buy for yourself. These soaps fancy up a guest bathroom and smell great. ($29 for 3)

Pyrrha lion necklace on

Charm necklace— On a recent trip to LA, I discovered Canadian jewelry company Pyhhra, which creates original designs I haven’t seen coming and going. I bought a Talisman necklace, handcrafted to exactly replicate an 19th century wax seal of a lion. They have scores of designs and each has a different inspirational meaning. The lion I chose represents wisdom and courage. In reclaimed silver, gold, and bronze. ($140+)

Claire V clutch bag on

Clutch bag— Can a lady ever have too many bags? Most certainly not! This fold-over leather clutch from designer Clare V. comes in scores of colors and textures. Great shape, great quality and will never go out of style. Click around the website and you’ll find several different sizes, including iPad cases and makeup bags. ($220)

danas bakery macarons on

Macaron of the month (or just one variety box!):
For the woman who has everything, including a sweet tooth. Who wouldn’t love a new box of delectable cookies arriving every month? True bakery connoisseurs will appreciate classic French macarons in flavors like pecan pie, berry cobbler, cookie dough, and peanut butter and jelly. If monthly sweets are too pricey for you, a box of assorted is equally yummy. ($90 for three months, $30 for variety box)

Malamine trays on

Decorative trays — These colorful malamine trays are great for entertaining or to house jewelry or candles on a bedroom dresser. ($34-44)

Stylish Bookends from Etsy on

Bookends— If she still likes the feel of a book in her hand, splurge on a few hardcovers from Amazon (I highly recommend All the Light We Cannot See, which just won the Pulitzer, or Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? )….and complete the thought with these simple wood bookends from Etsy. ($39)

tervis tumbler purple on

Personalized tumbler— We should all be drinking more water. These insulated travel cups can hold 16-24 oz of hot or cold drinks, with a variety of sizes and tops, and you can personalize them with initials in fun colors. How about an M for mom? (I’m partial to purple sequins!) ($11)

Henri Bendel ponytail holder on

Hair accessories-– If she likes a pony-tail, she’ll love a little tinsel on her tresses. These fancy hair ties are a decadent indulgence that will always fit. Try one in gold ($28) or tortoiseshell. ($16)

personalized etched wine bottles on

Personalized wine bottles-– Bring these unique wine bottles to holiday parties, give them as hostess gifts, or buy one for your favorite wino. You can etch initials, a full personal message, or choose from holiday and occasion designs. After the spirits are gone, the bottle is a keepsake. ($70) If etching is too pricey, try these personalized stickers. ($1-2 each)

henri bendel cosmetic bag on carpoolcandy.comCosmetic bag–Ladies always welcome a new cosmetic bag and this classic from Henri Bendel is cleanable and wears well. ($48)

are we there yet luggage tag on carpoolcandy.comAre We There Yet luggage tag-– What says ” I’m a MOM” more than this whimsical suitcase tag from Jonathan Adler. ($38)

tennis raquet holder on

Tennis raquet holder-– If you’re buying for a Sporty Spice, how about this monogrammed racquet bag to impress the gals at the club? ($89)

neat closet

Closet organizing– Time for spring cleaning!  Treat the mom in your life to two hours with a closet organizer. She gets an orderly closet and a new wardrobe without spending a dime! In NJ, Betsy Ames of Mindful Style will come to your house and go through every article in your closet to determine what stays and what goes. Then she’ll help you recycle your out pile, put together outfits with keepers, and suggest classic pieces to supplement. For those outside the tri-state, Google “closet organizers” for a closet fairy near you. ($150 for 2 hours)

Hope you found something for the special moms in your life. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with homemade cards and chocolate!

I survived a 7-day cleanse- part 2 (the results)

Wow! Huge response to cleanse post part one! Many of you are fascinated by the idea and/or have your own experiences to share.

Now for the results….(drumroll please)……

Did I enjoy it?   I would say I appreciated the experience. It gave me the kickstart I needed to eat and feel better, and it reeducated me on healthy food and portion control.

Would I do it again?  As I said, the chocolate-flavored shakes smelled like baby formula and tasted like cement, no matter how many different ingredients I tried in them. BUT, I know my blender was not up to the task, and I tackled the cleanse with my friend Hope and she loved the shakes, and several of you commented saying you enjoyed the shakes too so it’s really personal preference. But no, I would not do this cleanse again, and probably wouldn’t do a liquid based cleanse for 7 days again. I missed solid food! But I might try a 3-day cleanse at some point, if I needed a restart. Or I would definitely do a no sugar/dairy/gluten/alcohol/caffeine cleanse that was food based.

Can you exercise while cleansing?   My nutrition and health coach friend, Pam, advised me not to do my regular exercise routines– especially cardio–which was horrifying news for a committed yogi like me who also runs and does other activities. But your body is exerting so much energy cleansing, and you don’t have enough food to give you the necessary energy to exercise at your regular intensity, so it’s best not to overdo it. By day 3, I was getting a dull headache and a bit nauseous if I overexerted myself, so I took a break until the cleanse ended.

Clean cleanse box on

Did I lose weight?   I lost four pounds during that week. BUT I WASN’T EATING! So although I continued to eat a gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol and caffeine free diet for the next two weeks, I was eating more and gained back two pounds right away. BUT, I was able to lose some more weight once I started exercising again and continued eating cleanly. I’d say I kept off about 5 pounds. Then I went on vacation and had some wine and indulged in sweets and all bets were off. But I know if I went back to clean eating and was conscientious about it, I could lose extra pounds. It’s all about choices.

How much does it cost?   The CLEAN cleanse cost about $195. Starving yourself aint cheap! But what I learned and the recipes in the materials they give you, plus Pam’s great advice made it worth the price for me. There was also extra money I spent on food that week. Hope and I went to Whole Foods and loaded up on vegetables, nuts, various non-dairy milk products, almond butter, and other healthy snack food, so that was probably another $150. I looked at it as an investment in healthy eating and weeks later I still have a lot of the stuff.

What were the other challenges?   For one thing, I was a total beotch to my family for the last 5 days of the cleanse (they would say I should NEVER do it again!) I didn’t feel great on days 3-5: physically weak, tired, and very cranky, but also mentally resentful of everyone who was freely eating food around me. I took it as a personal affront when my sons scarfed down a bagel for breakfast and tried to suppress evil thoughts while making them pasta for dinner.

cleanse cartoonI would also say the time it takes to plan and prepare for every meal took a toll. I had to get up earlier in the morning to make the shake, and shop for the food I needed for lunch to bring to work or wherever I was going. I had to have the right, clean ingredients for meals and be prepared to make substitutions. I know– cleanse or not– that I should be thinking about what I’ll eat at the beginning of every week and each day, but I found it mentally exhausting and a time suck. But when I don’t plan ahead, I can make poor decisions.  

At meals, I rarely felt deprived and was actually happy with my clean choices. Clean eating can be delicious. I discovered chia and flax seed, ezekiel bread, and coconut milk. I rediscovered spinach salad, hard-boiled eggs, rice cakes, nuts, and brown rice pasta. Salmon has become a once-a week meal for us., with just olive oil and dill.

Shopping at Whole Foods for a 7-day cleanse  on

Hope shopping for veggies at Whole Foods.

–What did I learn?   I’m not always hungry when I think I am and drinking a glass of water can satiate me during the day when I’m antsy and/or bored. It’s hard to drink 64 ounces a day, but I find ice and a straw helps a lot, and pouring the 64 ounces into a pitcher that sits on your desk or counter all day is motivating.

I like an iced coffee now and then but it’s a treat I don’t need and I barely missed it. I missed caffeine as a pick-me-up in my tea at work, but I survived. No alcohol during the week was easy, and while it was a sacrifice on the weekends, it’s doable for a few weeks at a time. I started drinking more vodka and tequila, which have less sugar and carbs than wine. I’ve found some great substitutes for carbs like pasta, bread and bagels and I feel better when I avoid them. And they taste amazing when I indulge.

The most difficult for me to give up was dairy and sugar. I eat non-fat organic yogurt a few times a week with fresh fruit or in a smoothie. I love eggs and often eat them as a source of protein. I love cheese, but I’ve basically given it up for several months now and lived to tell the tale.

Shopping at Whole Foods for a 7-day cleanse  on

–The exceptions/Food I won’t give up  Pizza! But I don’t have 2-3 slices, I try to have one and a salad now. Cookies! I’ll give up bread and pasta, but don’t take away my cookies. Chocolate! Need I explain?

Life is too short to give up eating my favorite things. It’s all in moderation, so better that I enjoy eating what I love, than feeling completely deprived and binge down the road.

I actually liked reading the cleanse pamphlet about the efficiency of clean food in our digestive system, instead of all the crap I put in there. The process forced me to examine my intake and I realized I was eating way too many carbs. I thought I was being a conscientious eater by only consuming whole wheat bread, bagels, and crackers. But I was eating too much.

I needed to look at the whole day of eating and make choices by day– not by meal — to promote better digestion. I started making substitutions for traditional carbs.. I’m not going to say it tastes the same, but I found combinations that I can live with, like sun butter on a brown rice cake and turkey meat sauce on brown rice pasta.

And I didn’t feel like I had rocks in my belly after meals. I felt lighter. While I wanted to lose wight, my goal was really to make better choices to feel better. The cleanse definitely helped me do that.

I also was reminded that although I think I’m craving food, I often need something else. It’s usually sleep, but sometimes can be something to drink or a walk around the block to get the brain juices flowing. My go-to was always to have a snack , but now I’m trying to pay attention to why I’m reaching for that cracker. Mindful eating is key.

If you’re interested in trying a cleanse, I highly recommend you work with Pam from Wholefully Aware. Not only is she knowledgable and supportive, but during the cleanse, she was practically on-call 24-7 for questions about how I was feeling, what food choices to make, and what my personal blocks were in the process.

Would you do a cleanse? Tell me why or why not in the comments.

I survived a 7-day cleanse (but I didn’t enjoy it)

I recently accepted the challenge to go for 7 days without any gluten, sugar, dairy, caffeine, or alcohol. That’s right, no fun stuff.

What’s left, you say?

Actually quite a lot. The best part of the experience was a re-education on clean food and how our bodies digest it. I’ve read myriad articles on healthy eating and I know the basics, but somehow the knowledge wasn’t translating to what I put in my mouth.

That was my main motivation for this brave stunt. I was feeling gross all the time. I’d say I was going to “be good” and I would eat two relatively healthy meals every day, but somewhere around 4pm, I’d start to slip. I made bad snack choices, ate pretzels while preparing dinner,  and then treated myself to 2 or 3 cookies or pieces of chocolate after dinner, usually as a reward for the thankless job of cleaning the kitchen and tackling bedtime.

I knew I was carrying extra pounds. I could feel it when I ran and when I put on jeans. The jiggle was starting to make me feel uncomfortable, and causing critical whispers in my head.

I tried several times to say I would watch my eating for a few weeks– leading up to an event or trip– but I had a tough time sticking to portion control and healthy snacking.

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My friend and wellness expert, Pam, suggested I try a cleanse several months ago but I wasn’t ready. One day I decided it was time.

There are dozens of cleanses, but Pam advised me on one called the “7-day Refresh” from a company called Clean. (By the way, I have no connection or allegiance to this company or product, I’m just sharing so you can benefit from my experience.)

I received a box with 14 packets of chocolate powder for shakes, 7 small bottles of a pomegranate-flavored “Boost” drink, and 14 packets of supplement pills. There was a helpful guide with directions, explanations, and recipes that made it look so doable. Looking through the box got me excited, like buying new school supplies in August. I was eager to try something new and feel better.

I was supposed to have a shake for breakfast, healthy food for lunch, and a shake for dinner. I figured I could do anything for 7 days.

I could, but it wasn’t easy.

The first day I made the shake with coconut milk, almond butter, frozen strawberries and a banana. It was ok. A little thick because I put too much stuff in and my blender is not fancy, but I was able to finish most of it. I swallowed the 4 horse pill supplements and instantly wondered why I so willingly popped random pills I knew nothing about. As I tried to suppress my gag reflex while gulping the pills, I reassured myself. Pam wouldn’t encourage a cleanse that would poison me, right?

Clean cleanse box on

My lunch the first day was green, leafy spinach with chopped up veggies and a hard-boiled egg for protein (eggs were the only exception to the dairy restrictions.) I learned how to make quinoa, which I substituted for the whole wheat crackers I usually have with my salad. I used balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt as dressing.

Guess what? It was delicious.

I didn’t feel deprived or hungry. In fact, I felt victorious. It all tasted great and I didn’t overeat.

But then came dinner. I planned ahead and got prepared chicken for my kids and gave them the leftover quinoa from lunch, and some veggies. (Only Jacob ate the quinoa, the other two acted like it was curdled milk.) But I didn’t like watching them eat while I drank my meal. Plus, the shake was not tasting good.

The next morning, I made my shake with different ingredients and convinced myself that it tasted ok, but I could barely finish it. Lunch was salmon, seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and dill, some greens and brown rice. Another tasty meal.

grilled salmon and vegetables on

Grilled salmon and vegetables. Healthy food can be delicious!

By dinner, I noticed that the shake powder smelled like baby formula and seemed to be getting thicker in the glass each time I made it. Ick.

In addition to the shakes, I filled a pitcher with 64-oz of water every morning and defied myself to finish it. I drank more water that week than I probably did in the previous month, because it felt like a contest I could win.

If I was starving and needed a snack, I could have a half cup of raw almonds, which was more satisfying than it sounds. I find eating things one at a time soothing, especially when trying to limit my intake.

I’m not gonna lie, by Day 3, I officially hated the taste and smell of the shake powder and was forcing myself to drink it. I was also feeling cranky. I was feeling deprived of solid food and bitter that I still had to feed my kids. But there was no way I was giving up.

Although I dreaded drinking the shakes, I looked forward to the challenge of creating a healthy meal that met all the criteria. Those cleanse people are no dummies. Of course if you’re drinking most of your nutrients, the solid food you’re eating is going to taste amazing. So you’re manipulated into discovering that many healthy foods are delicious, and you begin to crave clean foods, free of any additives and preservatives.  Sneaky!

But those damn shakes starting feeling like a punishment. I completely acknowledge that I think my blender was not up to the task and if I had a better one, the shakes would have been thinner and more palatable. But honestly I tried every combination of almond butter, coconut milk, almond milk, fruit, and vegetables with that chocolate powder and as the week dragged on, it tasted worse.

I also admit that I didn’t keep up with the pills or liquid pomegranate boost drinks I was supposed to be using every day. It was hard enough making the time to plan all my meals and my family’s meals.

I managed to make it to the 7-day mark without fainting or hurling once.

Curious about the results? Did I lose weight? Did I get an energy boost and feel less tired? What was my mood like? What nutritional lessons did I learn? What did I learn about myself?

This post is already too long so stay tuned for the next one I survived a 7-day cleanse– THE RESULTS– later this week!


Keeping it real: my imperfect Saturday night

I like that movement on social media where people try to tear down the illusion that everyone on Facebook is as happy and perfect as they appear in their fabulous photos of birthday gatherings, tropical getaways, and athletic victories.

If you’re a loyal reader (and thanks if you are) you know I’m pretty optimistic by nature and can usually find the sunny view on the cloudiest day. But lately life’s been dishing out some less than perfect moments, so I thought I’d share one with you to balance out all those shiny smiles in the pictures we post.

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In the last month, we’ve had no less than three plumbing emergencies. The first was a frozen pipe that burst and leaked in a first floor coat closet. About a week later– and completely coincidentally– our very old water heater broke, flooding our basement and requiring replacement. Some bad luck, we thought.

So imagine our shock and frustration when we returned from the glorious weekend celebrating Wilson’s brother’s wedding, to find water pouring out from a light fixture and the ceiling in our kitchen, and the counter and floor soaked from the leak.

Wilson– like many men– tends to feel very out of control when we have house issues too big for him to diagnose, much less fix. There’s a lot of yelling, hand wringing and mumbling…. for days. Then there’s the bellyaching at the plumber’s bill.

I’m sure our misfortune has helped our plumber purchase that fishing boat he’s always wanted.

So last Saturday night when I was coming down the stairs, dressed up to go to dinner and I heard the guttural shouts of “NOOOOOO!!!” I panicked. My stomach tightened and visions of Noah’s flood sloshed through my head.

I ran into the kitchen …but there was not a drop in sight. There was only Wilson holding an empty plate, and screaming obscenities.

You see in the 5 minutes I ran upstairs to reapply lipstick and Wilson stepped into the family room to catch the score of an NCAA basketball game, our beloved puppy, Brady had inhaled all 18 brownies I had baked and lovingly stacked on a plate, covered in plastic wrap to bring to a dinner party.

My goldendoodle ate 18 brownies and survived on

Who, me?

If you don’t already know, chocolate is toxic for dogs. A dog Brady’s size (about 58 lbs) might be able to eat one or two and just feel sick, but 18 were sure to poison him.

I called our heroic vet– who always drops whatever he’s doing on a Saturday night — to help. He advised us to give Brady one ounce of hydrogen peroxide to make him throw up the dastardly dessert.  We, of course, didn’t have any, so Wilson rushed out to the store like a speed demon and was back in 10 minutes. He held Brady’s mouth open while I poured the liquid in.

And then we waited.

The vet — graciously answering all my frantic texts– said it would take 3-4 minutes for him to spew the sweets. But nothing was happening.

There I was, standing in my high heels and leather jacket, perfumed and coiffed and ready for a glass of wine but instead had to roll up my sleeves and get into crisis mode. (It reminded me of the time last year when both my kids got sick the night we were at a cocktail party.)

After 15 anxious but puke-less minutes, we gave Brady a second dose, at the vet’s suggestion.  Then he started pacing around the kitchen and we could hear his belly gurgling. It was a little too reminiscent of the scene in Stand By Me when Lard-Ass gets his Barf-a-rama revenge.

Waiting for it.....

Waiting for it…..

The second dose did the trick, and for the next 90 minutes I waited for Brady to chuck the chocolate, and counted the brownies as I cleaned it up. (Wilson is handy in many situations but he doesn’t do puke.)

Two pieces of good news:  most of the brownies reappeared (many still whole) so we knew he was going to be okay…and the puke smelled like chocolate so the cleanup was not as gross as it could have been.

Our friends at the dinner party — who texted words of sympathy and encouragement throughout the ordeal– told us to come on over, despite our tardiness and bad dog-parenting skills. We drove as fast as we could to flee the scene of the crime. We really needed a drink!

There is no moral of the story– except maybe that Brady can’t be trusted for even a second.  I thought I’d share the messy details to give you a laugh and keep it real.

What disasters have you survived lately? Tell me in the comments.

Spring Break staycation? What to do with kids in NYC

Jacob made the high school baseball team: yeah! Now we can’t go anywhere for spring break: boo!!

I thought maybe we’d get a 2-day reprieve and head to D.C. or Philly but looks like we’re stuck in Jersey, tethered to a baseball diamond. But I’m not going to complain because we’ll always have Manhattan.

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For those of you staying in the tri-state area for spring break– or if you’re traveling to New York in the next few weeks or even this summer– I’ve compiled a “best of” post of my favorite family activities– and accompanying food of course– in New York City. Enjoy!

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Museum of the Moving Image—  We discovered this little gem tucked into a residential neighborhood in Astoria, Queens last year. Totally worth the extra 15 minutes on the subway from the city. The building is super modern and all white– like you’re on the set of a space movie…

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The museum lobby & cafe

…and has an amazing permanent collection of cool modern art and sculptures, and old TV, radio and film equipment. You see the evolution of still and video cameras, microphones, and sound systems.

Costume collection at Museum of Moving Image on

Yup, that’s Mork from Ork’s space suit, Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills cop getup, and snazzy costumes from the movie Chicago.

Other galleries include old TV’s of every size (like walking through a time warp,) pop culture toys, special effect artifacts (Freddy Krueger’s giant sweater  and the Exorcist‘s motorized mannequin of Linda Blair whose head spins around,) and make up, costumes, and actual scripts from recognizable movies and TV shows like Taxi Driver and Seinfeld.

Animation stations at Museum of Moving Image on

Several interactive exhibits kept my kids busy, like making 3-5 second videos that can be turned into a flip book, computer animation programs, and changing music, sound effects, or dialogue from famous TV shows and movies in real sound booths. My kids were fascinated by the playable, old school video games like Tetris, Genesis, or Frogger, and I got nostalgic playing Atari tennis.

I highly recommend you pair your visit with a meal at nearby Bare Burger for delicious organic burgers, fries, shakes, and even salads. For more info on the museum click here.

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You can never go wrong in Central Park. You’ve got carriage rides, the zoo, the carousel and plenty of space to run around.  Click here for info on walking tours that look pretty cool.

new york historical society museum for kids

In the shadow of the Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side is the New York Historical Society Museum. Don’t miss the short film about the history of New York in the lobby theater, and then briefly check out the eclectic exhibits– from art (paintings, photography and sculpture) to culture (Tiffany lamps to vintage trains and toys.)

At the Children’s History Museum on the lower level of the building, kids can explore the history of New York through the eyes of children of the past. My boys were completely engaged in the interactive exhibits on voting history, kids’ role in the media, and how children lived at the turn of the century.

The kids museum offers great free programs so check the calendar before you go. There are also two scavenger hunt lists kids can fill out as you walk through the building, which keeps them involved.

Jacob creates his own 1930's headline

Jacob creates his own 1930’s headline

After the museum, the kids will deserve a burger at Shake Shack a block away… or take a short walk to Sugar and Plumm— a bistro with Parisian flair– on 79th and Amsterdam, which features gourmet delights like buckwheat savory crepes and chicken and waffles. Or just skip right to dessert: sundaes, fresh-baked cookies and cakes, chocolate, and gelato. Jacob and I split a banana/Nutella crepe and cappuccino macarons that were sublime…

Sugar and Plumm NYC with kids

….but Eli and Aden went for the fancy candy. For more info on the museum and eats click here.

Sugar and Plumm NYC with kids
If your family is less culture and history, and more outdoorsy, check out the newer part of the High Line near Tribeca. The scenery is pretty and the people watching irresistible.

Highline NYC on

Free High Line walking tours and programs– including poetry readings and wildlife talks– begin in April. Strolling makes me hungry, so put your name in at Bubby’s High Line– home of delicious pancakes and burgers– and then walk up an appetite.

Of course, there’s always lunch and a show. Last spring break, I took the kids for sushi at Haru in Times Square and then to see Wicked, which we all liked, despite Jacob’s expression in this photo.

Kids at Wicked NYC spring break on

I get that Broadway is not Jacob’s thang, so this year I’m giving him a pass and taking Aden and Eli to see Matilda. Eli and I read the book recently and have been listening to the CD in the car to prepare. Very excited!

nyc chinatown file
One activity we haven’t tried yet is exploring Chinatown. My kids are obsessed with Asian food (it’s always about the food) and loved walking around Chinatown on a road trip to Toronto a few summers ago, so it seems crazy not to check it out in our own back yard.

Please let me know in the comments if you recommend any specific sights or restaurants great for kids in Chinatown, or anywhere else in Manhattan.

Happy Spring!

Top 7 signs I live with a teenager

There are certain known phenomenons in parenting that are unavoidable and  practically cliché. You know when you have an infant, you’ll be exhausted from the pure shock of having another helpless being depend on you, combined with intense lack of sleep. You know when they start walking you have to baby-proof the house and prevent them from swallowing dirt.

Everyone knows when you get to the teen years, your child will go through puberty, pull away, and generally think you’re an idiot. It’s a rite of passage.

But knowing it and living it are two different things.

I recently described my 15-year-old to a friend– with haughtiness, humor, and a twinge of guilt–  as “unbearable.” It’s somewhat true, but more of a plea for sympathy from a parent who has not yet experienced the unbridled joy that comes with raising a teenager.

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Jake is very happy to be taller than grandma (and me) now.

Jacob’s always been precocious and mature, but those traits have only intensified, creating a pompous, condescending pubescent who views me as nothing more than a sub par Uber driver, and our home as a bed and breakfast, with very annoying proprietors and guests.

Here’s how I know he’s hit the teen years with full gusto: 

— In his mind, every word that exits my mouth is the most annoying thought on the face of the planet. In fact, anything anyone in the family says gnaws at him like an itch on a broken arm under a cast. The other day he complained that Aden’s voice was too high. “How can you stand to listen to him!” he hissed at me in the car. It took all my strength and patience to muster up a courteous tone as I reminded him that his own voice had the same tenor just 4 months ago.

— He’s rarely around. He’s like a big star who makes cameo appearances now and then. Oh look, there he is curling his lip at me as he grabs a banana before he leaves for school. There he is again barreling through the back door, heading straight for his room to do homework with the door closed and expletive-laced music blaring. Was that him I saw running in to change clothes between a sleepover and a football game in the park? Can’t be sure, that guy has grown so tall in the last few months!

— He eats like an NFL linebacker. He takes 2 or 3 helpings of dinner, and snacks constantly. I spend hundreds of dollars at the grocery store each week and in 4 days, the cupboard is bare. I fill up literally every inch of the shopping cart at Trader Joe’s and the clerk often asks me if I’m having a party. (“Nope, just Tuesday!” I say sheepishly)

classic teen behavior on

He didn’t even want a cake for his birthday this year. Too cool for cake?! I was having none of it.

— All my skin products have been disappearing. He’s always been fixated on his hair but now that puberty has kicked in, he’s focused on zapping pimples as soon as they appear. He’s also brushing his teeth more than ever before. Must be for the ladies, because he’s never shown such an acute interest in personal hygiene.

— He’s sleeping late and occasionally putting himself to bed early. This is one habit I don’t mind. He’s actually more aware of his need for sleep and treasures it.

— He talks only in absolutes. As in: “Everyone has an iPhone and gets to stay out until midnight!” and “No one wears jeans mom!”

— He’s become secretive. He used to tell me friend gossip, girls he liked, and share his favorite music and TV shows, but now he’s a vault. I’m a journalist and naturally curious person… and his mother! It’s killing me.

I know this too shall pass. That’s why every time he does something age-appropriate I try to take a deep breath and smile. It aint easy.

I know someday– sooner than I’d like to admit– he’ll be away at school and I’ll miss being taken for granted. That will truly be unbearable.