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10 Other Kinds of March Madness for Parents Who Don’t Care About Basketball

1. OVER-SCHEDULED. March is the only month of the current school year with no holidays, so every single parent workshop, conference, field trip and fundraiser is jammed in. Carpal tunnel syndrome develops from signing an unprecedented number of permission slips.

2. OUT OF TIME. For those of us working parents who just blew their wad of vacation days on February recess, you best clock overtime this month to bank some days off when the kids are out of school in April for spring break. Good luck making that math work as you already put in for multiple half-days in March to cover all of the school’s events.

3. OUT LIKE A LAMB? Winter on the East Coast was brutal this year. Painfully cold and caked in filthy ice that sat on our streets for months. The first day of spring is today, March 20th. Forecast: snow.

4. BUT WEATHER BE DAMNED! March is when we sign up for summer camp! April is too late! Because the prices go up!

5. EVEN MORE OVER-SCHEDULED. Birthday parties – all weekend, every weekend. You never got the memo that June was the designated sexy time for procreators.

6. SLEEP-DEPRIVED. Daylight Savings Time aka That Which Will Undo Any Success You Have Had Putting Your Kids to Bed.

7. RISKING SCURVY? You’re dying for any seasonal produce that isn’t squash. So you spend $8 on strawberries, they’re not that good, but you want more, then realize this is not sustainable for the planet or your wallet.

8. OUTGROWN. Nothing fits. The kids have suddenly grown three feet over the course of the winter. So you have to find a way to clothe them until it’s warm enough to break out the spring hand-me-downs. You try to make the “Mom’s belted t-shirt” look work for your pre-schooler.

9. OVERWHELMED. With the state tests and participatory school budgeting deadlines approaching next month, your social media feeds are buzzing with opportunities for you to weigh in on this and opt out on that. This is important stuff and you follow your convictions, but not before becoming equally annoyed and saddened by the horrible spelling in the comments by similarly impassioned parents.

10. OUTDATED. You have officially run out of excuses for why your December holiday decorations are still up.

And your reward for getting through the March madness to April? Taxes.



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New Piece on Reductress

Hi friends!
Been a while, mostly because I’m focusing on getting stuff “out there.”

Here’s a humor piece I’ve had success with – up today on Reductress (ya know…like The Onion, for ladies).

Thanks for reading! I hope 2015 is being good to you so far!

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Deja New

Remember that time I left my long-term corporate gig to embark on a new adventure?

I’m done now.

After about a year and a half of self-discovery, trying new things, stretching myself and doing the work that I never would have had the opportunity to experiment with if I had stayed in my position, I’m back in “corporate gig” land. In fact, I’m back working for the same media company I left, albeit for a different division.

And it’s funny; whenever I leave a job (to start a new one), I’m asked if I did so to spend more time with the kids.


Life-work “balance” isn’t strictly about time management. It’s also about fulfillment, and joy and productivity, and knowing yourself. I learned a lot about myself the last year and a half. I’m someone who craves more of a structured environment; I’m attracted to bigger organizations with proven best practices. And most of all, I need to see the fruits of my labor. I need to see I had impact, or at least made improvements.

Because that makes me the happiest. And my family is better off with the happier version of me.

Happy means showing all the teeth.

Happy means showing all the teeth.

The job I left was fulfilling in a very important way; I was doing what I wanted to do. I tested myself; and I learned so much. I re-ignited a creative spark that had fizzled out a while ago and made it so hard to stay motivated. And now, I bring that spark to my new job at Sundance TV.

Part of the same company I left in February 2013.

On the same floor I sat for almost seven years.

Seeing old colleagues whom I missed so much this last year and a half.

But reincarnated in a new role, in a new division, at a network that just feels like a good fit.

I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to work at a production company the last year and a half. I had the privilege of working among driven creatives who taught me such an important lesson: why not?

Why not was something I didn’t ask often enough. I learned to fail fast, and get smarter faster. I learned that taking the G train to the Williamsburg office every day made a considerable dent in my enthusiasm, even though I got to interact with the NICEST Dunkin’ Donuts staff in any of the boroughs (they memorized my order after only 2 times!). I learned that I still want to learn; that it’s important to me to have mentors and people who model behavior and business practices to which I aspire. I learned that I am good at things nobody had offered to have me try; that I had to make my own opportunities and trust my gut.

Me with the office mascot, Hall. This can only happen when your production office is a loft above a custom motorcycle shop in BK.

Me with the office mascot, Hall. This can only happen when your production office is a loft above a custom motorcycle shop in BK.

I am not home any more than I have been since my maternity leave 4 years ago. I work full-time. My partner works full-time. It is not easy. We have a babysitter, grandparents and are currently looking for a second babysitter to cover holes in our childcare. We have full day pre-k and after-school. We have piano lessons, dance classes, Brownie meetings and karate. We have started buying pre-sliced apples for the lunches because I just…can’t anymore. We have to wake my daughter up to make a 7:20am bus. We have a lot of half-days that require feats of scheduling gymnastics nobody warned me about. We have more homework than last year. We have new chore charts I keep forgetting to print out. We have to stop the yelling.

And I have a new job that, from a title perspective, is not a step up. In fact, it’s a position I occupied a decade ago. Does that matter? For a minute it did.

I read LEAN IN over a year ago and have mixed feelings about it, but I think there is one thing Sheryl Sandberg got right about having a career, for me at least:

“It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.”

So I have zig-zagged and I’m back in with the same company, in a whole new way. Boomerang employees are trending, apparently.



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Level 42

Today is my birthday. So, you know, I got to sleep in (albeit in my son’s bed) and I only had to issue two time-outs before sending the kids off to camp. I used the good sh!t in the shower (though someone ought to let Fresh know that their ungrippable bombs of soap are apt to cause more injury than freshness). My daughter packed my lunch – a ceramic robot with an angular heart taped to the coin slot (nothing in, nothing out). I “forgot” it at home and traipsed to the corner deli for flaccid sushi.

Stress over a birthday outfit? Not at this age. Just zip myself into a onesie and go to work!

Stress over a birthday outfit? Not at this age. Just zip myself into a onesie and go to work!

See, I turned 42. So there isn’t really a reason to make this birthday the best thing ever. Social media is giving me lots of warm fuzzies today and my office mate trucked in goodies from Doughnut Plant. The kids are looking forward to handing me gifts my husband bought for me (oh please lord, let it be headphones) and showering me with more art when we all get home. Apparently there is a some kind of technique involving sunscreen where, if you spray it on your marker drawing of a rainbow, it bleeds through magically to the other side. I’m so glad I spent the extra money on the brand containing helioplex.

Hanging over my head this birthday is the stress of throwing my son’s birthday party this coming Sunday. This is the first party we’re having for him. I never bothered with parties for my kids before they turned 4. Did they have friends before then? Or just playmates their mother chose for them based on which other moms she wanted to hang out with who also had kids? I’ve lined up some entertainment and secured our building party room but I have been in denial about the rest of it. Cake, crafts, candles that still have some wicks left…those will all just magically manifest day of, right?

There is just something about me that hates party planning.

So I leave with you some lyrics from LEVEL 42’s “Something About You” because I would like to think they are about me, today, at age 42.

These changing years

They add to your confusion

Oh and you need to hear the time

That told the truth

That there is something about you

Baby so right

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Drop in. Tune out.

I forgot my headphones today and I think I’m going to die.

I’m not exaggerating.

See, I’ve been blocking the world out, very successfully, for the past 31 years, ever since I got my first Walkman at age 10. It was a Christmas present from friends of the family. I strapped on those foam-padded headphones, slapped in those two AAs and tuned the radio (AM only). I was lost to the beat of “The Little Drummer Boy” the rest of the day.

I grew up in New York. In the city that never sleeps, I had no problem doing so, the backdrop of sirens and airplanes and neighbors’ arguments weaving a blanket of white noise to which I regularly nodded off. In summers, when we decamped to the Catskills, I had a miserable time falling asleep. It was too quiet. I couldn’t focus. Native to a densely populated Queens neighborhood, I quickly learned how to navigate the noise. Just home in and tune it out.

This is me pretending not to see you because I can't actually hear you.

This is me pretending not to see you because I can’t actually hear you.


It’s not that I like noise, or thrive in chaotic environments. Very much the contrary. I loved when teachers would send me on errands, creeping through the deserted hallways and quiet stairwells to deliver memos. In between classes was panic-inducing, the crush of a 1,000 students all feeling freedom at once. Barely scraping five-foot-one, I was mostly unseen in the crowds, getting jostled and body-slammed regularly on my subway commute to high school.

My Walkman was the answer. It was on. All. The. Time. Walk to the train station? Not without my music. Running around the corner for gum? $1 and my headphones. All over campus, between swim meet heats, to and from my babysitting gigs – my Walkman went everywhere with me. The one time I was robbed, on the Q34, the kid snatched my Walkman and as he fled through the backdoor, headphones trailing after him, my only thought was: “Was he going to be as into the ‘Hair’ soundtrack as much as I am? No. What a waste of a Memorex High Bias II tape!”

I was so loyal to the classic cassette/radio design that I skipped the whole MP3 player phase and was still lugging around a mini boombox well into the aughts until the thing chewed a precious mixed tape from my fiance and I had to make the leap to an iProduct. But those earbuds aren’t designed to block out enough of my world. So I continue to sport the ear goggles, like I did in 1983.

Because NYC is a big space. And while I am used to having so much around me, tuning out, to music or a podcast, tucks me into a safe little bubble. There is nothing to react to, other than what I choose to listen to. I don’t hear the subway musicians, or the loud teenagers or sometimes my own co-workers. For the last 8 years, my job settings have been open floorplans. The only “privacy” anyone gets is by slipping on their headphones. It’s this century’s closed door in a time when office space is a premium.

Tuning out, specifically with headphones, is how I protect myself. So I’m not so vulnerable to everyone in my path who needs something at that very second. I covet my my time and space, which is incongruous to being a New Yorker.

So why don’t I just move? Get out of all all this crackling energy that overloads my senses and makes me want to hide? Because I like to know it’s there. That things are happening. That I am surrounded by life and progress and ambition and that even though it mostly overwhelms me, I could be a part of it if I wanted. It’s like watching a horror movie with your hands over your eyes – controlling how much of it you’ll let in.

Today, I must let all of it in. With no headphones, I am not just watching a movie with a soundtrack of my choice. I am actually a player in the scene. It’s loud. It’s distracting. I can’t gather my thoughts well. I don’t get that little moment of zen on my commute back home before I am greeted with two small children who will forget their inside voices as they talk over one another to get my attention.

It’s all a bit much. But I may be the only person on the planet who understands the reasoning behind Apple’s $3 billion Beats acquisition. They’re buying a lot of zen.

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Turn This Mothers’ Day Out!

While I very much appreciate how my family shows their appreciation on Mothers’ Day, I want to send a shout-out to the teachers. They are the ones coming up with the tearjerker projects my kids are so proud to present to me on “my” day. Along with their dad, my kids’ classroom and after-school instructors are cultivating a culture of recognition – so that our kids stop, if only for a second, and recognize that maybe their parents are making an OK life for them.

My daughter adopts a French talk show persona after she bathes.

My daughter adopts a French talk show persona after she bathes.

So I’m trying not to yell so much. It might confuse the issue.

Obviously I’m giving a shout-out to my mom, who I never properly appreciated until I became one myself. How did she do it all without curb cuts?

Mom and me and our penchant for overalls.

Mom and me and our penchant for overalls.

Mad props to my social media community. I don’t go out much anymore (mostly my choice) but I love to know everyone is still around, and checking in, and showing some love in the form of a like.

And a final salute, this one to my mother-in-law who is no longer with us. She raised a really nice boy who knows how to make this mom very happy. He gave me the afternoon and evening off before Mothers’ Day and he didn’t pass judgment that I used that time to d*ck around on my phone and purge the “checked homework” folder.

My better half, shouldering quite a burden.

My better half, shouldering quite a burden.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all you muthas!

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600 Seconds All to Myself

If I only have 10 minutes, I’m going to make every second count.

You probably don’t have time to read this blog post. But let’s pretend you’re multi-tasking, reading this while you wait in line at Starbucks or are on the can (hopefully not at Starbucks), and you’re not feeling like you had to find the time to scroll through. Because it’s only when we are already doing something not so enjoyable, that we feel justified to tack on another activity that does cause some pleasure. This is evidenced by the number of Candy Crush games I see being played among the sardine masses smushed together on my train.

I know I don’t have time for anything. I don’t. Don’t even ask me. You know I don’t, because I’m just like you. Here’s what we are all busy with:

  • comparing prices on vacations we’ll never take
  • texting grocery lists to loved ones
  • food shopping
  • food prep
  • cleaning up after meals
  • bathing small humans
  • checking homework
  • paying bills
  • clearing clutter (at least enough to form a path from the front door to the bedroom)
  • commuting
  • digging through our pockets for a Metrocard with enough money
  • chewing off hangnails (our own or those of the small humans who live with us)
  • walking pets
  • buying birthday cards
  • sharing our Buzzfeed test results
  • scheduling doctor appointments
  • enrolling a small human in UPK
  • packing lunches
  • unpacking uneaten lunches
  • maintaining chore/reward charts
  • trying to find that thing we can’t find
  • sewing/ironing/taping on Girl Scout patches
  • shuttling small humans to soccer, dance, art, piano, Thai school, Greek school, Hebrew school
  • doing, folding and putting away laundry
  • updating our Google calendars
  • weeding through and discarding dried up lipsticks, markers, glue and Play-Doh
  • looking at craft projects we won’t do
  • searching for recipes we won’t make
  • cursing tiny Legos
  • Back-pedaling after cursing
  • reading bedtime stories
  • work: researching, writing, calling, proposing, budgeting, meeting, revising, re-scheduling
  • sleeping
  • reminding our partners about that thing we need to remind them about
  • convincing our partners that we’re not nagging
  • scrolling through the Netflix queue
  • Chucking expired milk, coupons and gym memberships

And a lot of other stuff I haven’t listed.

How could I resist these little time suckers?

How could I resist these little time suckers?

So where, in the 24 hours that constitute one day, would we find the time to work out?

This is where 10 minutes come in.

Last week I decided that I needed to re-commit to health. Not weightloss, not being cut. Just, general health. Being more active, having more energy and staying hydrated.

There are some things I can’t control. An editor having an off day, the weather, my daughter’s tendency to dress like a 1920s vaudeville act. But I needed to be more in control of how I was feeling. And I always felt better when I was able to exercise.

So I’m finding 10 minutes wherever I can. I throw on whatever I need to. Sometimes I don’t bother with socks. I don’t “fix” my hair. I just say: “10 minutes now.” And nothing else happens in those 10 minutes other than me pushing for maximum intensity, because if you only have 10 minutes, you have GOT to go hard. I’m finding awesome FREE interval training videos on the Lionsgate BeFIT channel on Youtube.

It’s only been about 6 days, but it’s paying off. I feel more energized. I’m less sore today than I was Monday. And I’m finding that I could squeeze in a couple of 10-minute sessions in a day. Even if one of them is at 10 o’clock at night.

Read a decent amount of fitness articles, especially in women’s magazines, and you’ll find you can be painted into a corner trying to work out the perfect way. Most people will tell you you shouldn’t exercise at night. But I believe exercising at night is better than not exercising at all. Working out certain muscle groups on the same day is not recommended. But I can’t think about it, or take the time to note it in some exercise journal. If I stop and think, I lose momentum.

I just have to do it. 10 minutes at a time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What can YOU do in 10 minutes that will make you feel better?

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Don’t Let Me Get Me

The title of this post is from a P!nk song and, though I don’t consider myself a fan of her music, I kind of like imagining that she’d be an alter-ego of mine. She knows how to have fun, especially when it appears the planet has you pegged for a freak. I think I can relate.

I have lived 4 decades in what many would call the hardest First World city in which to “make it.” I have pushed forward, or at least sideways, in my career and if I don’t retire til I’m 80, my 401K savings should buy me a couple of years of modestly comfortable living before I’m dead. I am raising fourth generation New Yorkers. They’re little toughies with hearts of gold. Because they take after me.

So why does the world suddenly think I’m a hazard to myself?

As evidenced in this incident:

1. Found myself with 2 hours to myself after a canceled meeting left me in midtown on a slushy Wednesday. I had been putting off replenishing my bra supply since 2008. Being pregnant, breast-feeding for 4 and a half years straight and then being a full-time working parent, I was making due with a collection of stretched-out-too-tight-threadbare-pinned-together underthings more suitable for Frankenstein’s lady monster than for a career gal with ambition and a 401K. So off to Macy’s I went. I guess I looked like I needed the help because the saleswomen waived the 6-garment limit for the dressing room, and I spent the next 90 minutes wriggling in and out of 50 bras. Hated every second of it, but I was on a mission. Found 4 that fit and weren’t too utilitarian looking (I forget that matters, but it does…to me, anyway), plus a few bonus slips because I’m 41 and a half and something tells me I need those now. Nothing was on sale, and I hesitated for maybe a second. Do I comb the racks for another hour, trying to find marked-down bargains that still lifted and separated me in all the right places? I had, in my hot little hands, all I needed for the next 2-3 years (probably more), barring any dramatic changes to my torso.  It wasn’t cheap. But it was finally done. To the cashier!

I wasn’t even out of the store yet when my bank called me. They noticed “suspicious” activity on my credit card. Apparently buying myself underwear is cause for alarm. That I should use my Mastercard for something other than pull-ups or pre-school or Girl Scout dues or pediatrician co-pays makes banks uncomfortable. Guess what, HSBC? Mama’s got a brand new bag of underwires, and they’re legit!

And now, we file this one under: “Zen and the Art of Winter Coat Maintenance.”

2. The zipper on my GOOD winter coat has been sticking, ever since the snow started this winter. I brought it in to the tailor, who was able to zip it, no problem. I try it, no problem. But the problem is there, I swear! When my coat is on, I can’t get the teeth to align and I notice that the bottom is beginning to fray. “No,” the tailor tells me. “You just need to calm down when you zipper.” Sure, I saved at least $20 by the refusal to repair my perfectly good outerwear. I am unable to zip up my coat because I am hysterical.

So there it is. I can’t be trusted to purchase lingerie or zip up my coat. Guess it’s ace bandages and Snuggies for me.

P!nk, I’m with you.

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…But You Can’t Take the Girl Out of Queens

Growing up in Queens, my brother and I worked hard to neutralize any New York accent that was fighting hard to filter in from our dad’s side (Brooklyn) and my mom’s (The Bronx). Thank goodness for Sesame Street and The Brady Bunch, where we learned not to drop our “r”s or lean too hard on our short consonants.

But here I am, still in Queens, raising fourth generation New Yorkers. So while I’m here, I’m happy to be writing for Queens Mamas, a site which showcases the best of the borough for families looking for things to do, people to meet and great stuff to eat.

Recently I posted a quasi-crafty article on there listing ways to wrap without using wrapping paper. Not exactly borough-centric. For the holidays, I wrote a piece about where Queens families can volunteer and donate locally, and involve kids at any age. And for those staying in the city over the school’s holiday break, I put together a round-up of the 12 Days of Christmas Break Activities.

Thanks for reading friends!

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Calling Bull

Since 9/11, NYC’s MTA has been running a safety campaign featuring an unattended bag under a subway seat, under the call to action: “If You See Something, Say Something.” There’s been speculation on the efficacy of the signage, but that’s not where I’m going here.

“Ferdinand the Bull” has been a staple in our kids’ library for their entire lives. I remember it as a kid, along with the Disney animated short of the same story. The other night, Charlotte chose it as part of her nightly reading (at least 15 minutes, as part of her first grade nightly homework). She got through the text fine, almost cheerfully as she was proud that she barely stumbled over any words.

When we were done, she broke down in tears.

She became very upset about the treatment of the bulls in the ring. And even though Ferdinand didn’t get hurt, since he just sat down and smelled (I still think that phrase could have been rewritten to not so sound awkward), she was horrified that the notion of sticking things in a bull even existed. It didn’t matter that it was a made-up story. It didn’t matter that nobody experienced pain in the book. She was distraught.

I told her the best thing we could do is to let people know how much this upset her. If people didn’t know, they couldn’t possibly decide to change their actions.

So she wrote a letter.

"Dear bullfighters, Can you stop trying to stick sharp needles in the bulls? It makes me sad and I don;t want animals to get hurt. Love, Charlotte. And I'm six years old."

“Dear bullfighters, Can you stop trying to stick sharp needles in the bulls? It makes me sad and I don;t want animals to get hurt. Love, Charlotte. And I’m six years old.”

And I researched where to send it.

Ministry of Interior
Amador de los Rios,
Madrid, Spain

The Spanish National Tourist Office
57 St. James Street, London SW1

The Spanish Ambassador
The Spanish Embassy,
24 Belgrave Square, London SW1

I don’t really see this so much as animal activism, but making yourself heard. I let my daughter know she had a voice, and that she could use it to do some good. I was a quiet girl growing up. I didn’t choose to be heard, whether it was to voice an opinion, share an idea or offer praise. And I think it played into my lack of self-confidence into my adulthood. It hurts to not feel sure of yourself. I don’t want my kids to get cocky, but they should trust their opinions are valued. They should not bottle their esteem in the back of their throats.

Here’s to the good that comes from kids being seen AND heard.

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