Category Archives: school

Meatless May, Again. 

It’s that time of year. At least twice a week I get this sort of email: Dear Parent, please send in pictures of your child doing something she loves, something she hates, and something while speaking French and standing on one foot. OR this: Dear Parent, please come in to school for a two hour long presentation/party/celebration on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week and please make sure your child senses NONE of your resentment. And finally,  my favorite: Dear Parent, please purchase 200 pieces of poster board for the endless projects you and your child will fight about over the next five weeks. 

Luckily for me, it’s also Meatless May! And while it’s more of a Mostly Meatless May (meat can happen on weekends if need be), I actually feel like mostly is a pretty good bar, as in – I am mostly a decent mother, I am mostly a good wife, I am mostly a productive writer. 

Everybody gets on board with the meatlessness. My eldest loves it the most because he complains about the lack of variety come dinner time, which is actually how Meatless May was born. Last week he said, “Wow, you really turn into Guy Fieri in May.” I have no idea who that is, but I’ll take it. 

I rescued the veggie Pad Thai after the tofu turned into a gelatinous mush when I followed the recipe and tossed it in cornstarch (never again.) 

Even though know the chickpea omelette looks and sounds pretty revolting, it’s actually a big hit here. You have to ignore the fact that the batter looks like inedible gunge.

Everybody gamely tried the cilantro and basil pesto, even my youngest who believes that if it’s not covered in Nutella, it’s not actually a food.

The herbs are all made possible by M., who built these rockstar vegetable beds for Mother’s Day. 

(Never mind that I told him to build them in a spot which is under the shade of a giant tree and nothing will really grow except for the herbs. Never mind that instead of making me feel like an idiot, he offered to build me something somewhere sunny in the garden.)

I guess I can safely say that I am mostly capable.

Happy Meatless May, peeps.

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Filed under cooking, food, gardening, Mothers Day, school, Uncategorized

Ay! Santa Maria!

Last week, each afternoon I picked Sidney up from preschool, she climbed into her car seat and exclaimed: “Ay! Santa Maria!” (Nobody believes me, but I swear she even did so with a soupçon of Spanish.)

At first I was sure I was mishearing her.

I wasn’t. “Ay! Santa Maria!” All. Week. Long.

Now, I know that Riverdale Temple is Jew-ish. Last December I was just fine with Jingle Bells and a Kwanza song about a candle at the “Winter Party.” Still, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Santa Maria coming home. At first I thought it had something to do with NYC’s Universal Pre-K program. In exchange for subsidized pre-K, there are restrictions on when religion can be taught — basically only after the UPK session is finished. But this made no sense, if nothing Jewish could happen until the afternoon, how did Santa Maria sneak in? And isn’t she something of a religious entity?

I obviously wasn’t bothered enough to to ask anyone other than a three year old, but I kept asking Sidney until I got a response other than: “Ay! Santa Maria!”

Finally, on Wednesday I got an answer.

Me: Sid, who is Santa Maria?

Sid: It’s not a who, it’s a thing.

Me: I see. Can you tell me more about this thing? Is it a picture of a woman holding her dying son? Is it a triptych depicting the remarkable life of a woman and her child, complete with gold leaf? (Ok, I’m getting carried away. But this was where my mind went: Had they taken a field trip to the Cloisters? It’s not where I would take a class of three and four year olds, but I’m game…)

Sid: It’s funny that you don’t know this, but Columbus sailed to New York on the Nina, the PITA, and the Santa Maria. Ay! Santa Maria! (She will not stand corrected on that second ship.)

And there you have it. Riverdale Temple and my almost-four year old totally schooled me.



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Filed under children, New York City, school

End of year exhaustion is not just anecdotal…

Can you see this?

This is the gate I use almost daily after I drop Sid off at school. It’s up a little hill on the way out of her preschool parking lot. It opens automatically as you approach. It’s a tad on the slow side though. Often I sit for a moment or two.

What I really, really want to know is this: Is there something wrong with me if I, at least twice a week, I try to open this gate with my garage opener from my house?

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Filed under children, driving, New York City, parenting, school

Snow Job

Yesterday it snowed. Because all of Seattle would come to a polite, but screeching halt with an inch of snow (and because snow in LA is as common as visible signs of aging), after fifteen years on the west coast, I’d never really had to drive in it.

Not so in New York City.

I told a friend that I was going to cancel an appointment I had later in the day and she looked at me as though I had just said, “I’m sorry. I’d open that jar of baby food and feed your starving infant, but I’m afraid to chip a nail.”

Still, while I was prepared to brave the elements, my minivan was not. I piled out of the driveway and immediately got stuck on this hill:


(Do not judge. Yesterday it was covered in snow.)

I’m not sure how, but I got the car back in the garage and walked Sidney to school, which means I carried her after she fell in the snow and soaked her capri pants (again, with the seasonally inappropriate clothing).

The kids wore themselves out playing in the snow after school (that’s right Seattleites: School!) which meant we only had to yell at them for 30 minutes to get them to sleep instead of the usually 90. (When the annoying gratitude people get me to make a list, remind to say bedtimes on snow days.)

Still, I was once again up before the sun. Sid seems to have shifted her DPT to five-something in the morning, because she trotted on in and asked me to watch her do it. I told her that if she’s blessed enough to have a Daily Poop Time, she should have the good sense and decency not to request a bloody audience.

Before I knew it, she and Fi were in our bed, fighting because someone’s feet were touching someone’s leg.

Wars have been fought over less, I’m sure.

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Filed under children, New York City, school, Seattle, Uncategorized, weather, winter

… say it soft and it’s almost like praying.

Nothing feels as wonderful as dropping all the kids off at school on a Monday morning. Nothing. It is especially gratifying after a week of having them all home for some reason or another. When several of them had already come down with the stomach flu, I got an email from Francie’s teacher that she’d hurt her neck during recess. Not wanting to look bad (hey, we’re new here), I went to get her. Rubbed arnica into her scrawny little neck and let her rest. She seemed to forget about the pain until someone mentioned it, or until I asked her to do something other than watch TV or try on my shoes. It was a long week.

I told Sidney, as I dropped her off this morning, that Maria, our babysitter would be picking her up today because I had to take Francie to the ENT in Manhattan. (Consequently, I started to shvitz about the driving and parking in the middle of the night.) I asked her not to pitch a fit like she did last week when Maria picked her up and she threw a full on hissy in front of her teachers.

As Maria told it, she yelled for a while in school and then continued to do so as Maria pushed her stroller down the street. At some point Maria took her into a drug store. There may have been a promise of lip gloss, because (again, this is Maria’s telling) Sidney stopped hollering looked up at her and sang, at full volume:

“Maria! I’ve just met a girl named Maria! And suddenly that name has never been the same to me! Maria! I’ve just kissed a girl named Maria! And suddenly I’ve found how wonderful a sound can be!”


Maria said all her embarrassment and frustration melted away as that bossy little three year old belted out a show tune in her honor.

I’m not usually one to share cute things my kids do. Honestly, it annoys the crap out of me when other people do it. But I realized that kids do these things so that you keep them and don’t give them away even though they yell at you in public, don’t sleep at night (this one in particular has basically been awake for eight weeks solid), or throw bowls of cereal at their sisters.

So, Sidney successfully bought herself some time with that little number.


Filed under children, parenting, school, Uncategorized

Getting Buellered.

Columbus Day. Not much of an event on the West Coast, but here in NYC it feels like more than just another day without mail service. Perhaps it’s the annual parade midtown, or the extra sprinkle of Sinatra on the radio in honor of Italian American pride, but there is a tinge of festivity to the day. (Although there was nothing festive about the Columbus Day protests I saw while in college here in the City. I remember touring perspective students and their parents past a burning effigy of Columbus on the library steps.)

Still, burning effigies aside, it was a sunny fall day and I suspect Bennett sensed the air of celebration because he woke up “sick” this morning. I got talked into letting him rest for an extra hour or so, and he really had me going because I experienced mild pangs of guilt when I yanked his weary body out of bed at ten and drove him to school.

And then I remembered. Honestly, I’m ashamed that I even forgot.

Less than 36 hours earlier I did something I can’t believe someone hadn’t done before.

I introduced Bennett to Ferris Bueller.

I’ll never forget the look of recognition and awe that spread across his face and stayed there for the entire movie. All the pranks and all the shtick that have gotten him into hot water were not only celebrated, they were COOL. (I didn’t want to show him a picture of Matthew Broderick now; the pain of middle age is too much for the young mind.) And while I watched him watch Ferris, I thought: “I will never forget this moment. This is wonderful, even though I know I’m going to pay for it.”

And then I promptly forgot. Because a day and a half later, I got Buellered. Stomach cramps, my ass. He just wanted a day off. Monday morning. The postal workers are in bed, why shouldn’t he be?

I have been kicking myself all day. When I finally figured it out and asked him if he’d Buellered me, he just winked. Winked. Like I was the school secretary.

I’m just lucky he didn’t make his way to the parade.



Filed under New York City, parenting, school, Uncategorized



Derived from the term bitch-slapped. You know you’ve been bitch-snacked when someone points out that you’ve provided one of your kids with inadequately nutritious food.

Just last week I picked Sid up from school. The whopping six minutes that she spends at nursery school had once again flown by and I was once again on the late side of pick up. Her wonderful teachers are waiting with her and hand me her backpack.

“Sidney loved that cookie bar you gave her today.”

Cookie bar?

“… so much so that she didn’t eat a bite of her sandwich.”

I look at Sid. “What is a cookie bar and how did it get in your lunch?”

“It’s a power bar. I put it there.”

I smile sheepishly at the teachers. Why kind of crappy-ass mother doesn’t know what’s in her preschooler’s lunch?

“Oh, and let’s leave the pacifier at home next time, right Sidney?”


“I stuck that in, too,” Sid says.

Her teacher kneels down next to her and asks her if she wants to box up all her pacifiers and send them to a needy baby. Sid winks at me, as if to say, “I can’t believe people still try this.”

What I want to tell the teacher is that Sidney is a fifth child and is therefore lucky to be fed at all, even shitty little power bars. And I’m so worn out, that if she wants to walk down the aisle with a pacifier jammed in her face, I’m cool with it. Really. She has kept us up for seventeen nights in a row with a delightful blend of night-terrors, move anxiety and general two year old bitchiness. Honey, I am done.

Here’s what I also want to say: I JUST SURVIVED SEVEN YEARS IN SEATTLE WITHOUT GETTING BITCH-SNACKED ONCE! HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I GET BITCH-SNACKED IN THE BRONX! I’M THE MUM WHO SCREWED UP THIS MORNING’S OATMEAL BY GOING OVERBOARD WITH THE CHIA SEEDS! THAT’S RIGHT, CHIA SEEDS! (Consequently, I was going to redeem myself yesterday, which was Sidney’s designated day to bring in fruit for the class. I’d show them what kind of mother I really am. But yesterday morning rolled around and I’d completely forgotten. I remembered minutes before school started and the only fruit we had in the house was a leftover bushel of apples from our apple-picking outing last week. I threw Sid in the car and we raced over to the A&P, which is disgusting and only sells fruit that looks like it’s been grown in someone’s toilet in the Bronx. I guess it’s at least local…)

But I say none of that. I’m so glad that Sid has somewhere to go that isn’t with me, even if it is only for 6 minutes, that I’m willing to be bitch-snacked every day of the school year. I smile at her teachers, who I really do adore. I give an extra big grin to Virginia. Sid can’t pronounce her name, and calls her Vir-ginger, which is a whole lot better than the name the kids suggested at home.

I’ll keep that to myself.


Filed under children, food, school, Uncategorized