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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

wordless wednesday in the city

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

future star of a bravo tv fashion show

I'm not afraid to admit that I ask my six year old daughter for fashion advice on a regular basis.

Lily's favorite show is Launch My Line or Project Runway. Her favorite time of day is when she stands at her closet and creates her own masterpiece. I love watching her expression as she does this. It's the same expression I get when I see a cupcake shop.

She notices if I am wearing something new and points out all the little details. But then realizes that I went shopping without her and scolds me.

But my favorite is when she says, "Mom, you are rockin' those boots." Because I am 42 and I need to hear I am still capable of rockin' something.

She is our in-house stylist.
Yes, I am living with a mini Rachel Zoe.

The other night she was pouring over the Boden catalogue, trying to put together her spring wardrobe. She tore out the pages with items she wanted and handed them to me.

"Mom, I TOTALLY need these things."

"OK. I'll take a look."

"No, really. I TOTALLY need these."

"We'll see, Lily."

"PUHLEEESE Mom. I'll give you a kiss AND a dollar."

Apparently, she's become aware of my love language.

But I noticed a common theme as I examined her choices. Something that usually doesn't happen with her. Everything she picked was shades of black and gray.

People, New York is really rubbing off on her.

Which means I can breathe a bit easier, knowing she will NEVER look like this.

Monday, January 25, 2010

i'm sending up a flare

I made an important discovery.
If one eats a large quantity of NY bagels, NY pizza, and other amazing NY food, one gains weight.
And by one, I mean me.

I've been ignoring the signs. The jeans that started to get too tight. The muffin top that became more visible. But I hit an all time low when I was laying in bed one morning. I picked up the phone to have fresh bagels delivered to my door rather than walk to pick them up. It's a slippery slope from there, my friends. I told Rod I had to do something, otherwise I would just stay in my bed and order food for weeks. He got a worried look on his face. We've seen the Discovery channel.

Fortunately, my apartment building has it's own gym. Something that made me really happy when we signed our lease.

I remember calling my mother with excitement:

Mom, my new building has it's own gym!!

So? Michelle, that doesn't mean anything. Just because you have it, doesn't mean you will actually use it.


Turns out that woman is wise. Plus she has a workout room in her house, and she was speaking from a little something called experience.

But today is a new day. I decided this was the day to start my new fitness routine. First, I googled "Going to the gym and have no idea what to do when I get there." Seriously, I did. But, it turns out there are not a lot of responses to that search. So I headed out without a plan.

I piddled around for a while, and worked up a good sweat, but I think I really need a plan. I'm good with a plan. And I believe I actually have some discipline to carry out a plan once I put my mind to it. In fact, I decided to give up meat for about 2 years once. I was a dedicated vegetarian. And have you been to Chik-Fil-A? The fact that I did not eat there for those 2 years is proof I have said-discipline.

So, I'm reaching out to you, internets. What is your workout plan? Share it with the rest of us.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

who says folgers is the best part of waking up?

My favorite part of the morning is walking the kids to school.
Even if we've had a rough morning and the kids have fought over the elevator buttons down all 31 floors.

Something about the city being awake, bustling, children everywhere.
I get a little buzz off it.
But the absolute favorite part of my morning is this crossing gaurd.
She is a constant for me in an everchanging city.

And she says this. Every. Single. Morning.

I love her.
And I have to fight the urge to hug her.

nyc school mornings from six in the city on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

enough is enough

Dear shag rug,

Look. We need to talk.

I purchased you for this apartment because you were gorgeous.

I saw you across the showroom and you pulled me in with your thick pile of wool, despite your price tag.

You were sexy. You were the right shade of brown. You were divine.

But the reality is, you've got some big issues. And I feel betrayed.

You are so thick, you cause my wimpy vacuum to choke. I've had this vacuum for a while and since he's been here longer than you, he has seniority. So don't even tell me to replace him. And now I'm learning that one should not even vacuum a shag wool rug (apparently because of the above reason). Why didn't you tell me this when I met you? The internet now tells me the recommended suggestion for cleaning is a good shake. Not sure how to do that since you weigh about 200 pounds and are 9ft by 12 ft.

You are not good for my blood pressure. The kids walk over you when they clear the dining table. I clutch my chest every time someone carries a half-eaten bowl of noodles to the kitchen. I know it they drop it, I will never find those noodles. You would devour them. And we know my vacuum won't be of any assistance.

But the biggest problem I have with you is that you shed like you are some sort of wild animal. I am finding your fur in all corners of the apartment. This is not endearing. They look like fur balls a cat coughed up, except these fur balls are the size of my head. Sometimes they frighten the children.

I'm giving you a stern warning. I'll let you slide on the vacuum issue, but if you don't stop this shedding, you will end up on the street corner with all the other things NY apartment dwellers toss out.

And whoever scavengers you off the street might not be as nice as this family is.

Think about it.

Willing to give you a second chance,

Michelle

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

the post where i reveal my inner snobbery

I spent the better part of last week contemplating how I could talk my family of 6 into eating macaroni and cheese for a month so I could afford hair extensions. Well, not out loud, but in my head. I decided their therapy cost for doing this would far outweigh the cost of the extensions. And because I'm careful with my money, I decided to forgo the actual conversation. And extensions.

But I have had some hair dilemmas since moving to the city. Well, actually my whole life. I'm really confused as to why God did not give me natural blond hair, when obviously that is really the best color for me. I have been coloring my hair since college and finding that perfect shade of buttery blond is a challenge. Can I get a witness?

When my first son was born, he had the most gorgeous shade of blond hair. I used to take him with me to get my hair done for a visual. I would sit him on my lap and tell the stylist, "See this? Put this on my head. Thank you." But now his hair has turned dark and I can't do that anymore.

I tried a new colorist on the upper east side yesterday. No one recommended her to me. Well, the Internet did and that is almost a real person, right? I had issues as soon as I walked in the shop. Allow me to share.

1. They told me to go hang up my coat. What? You're not going to do that for me? I need to feel a little pampered.

2. They did not offer me a beverage. Umm...Hello? Its after 12 o'clock and that salon down the street serves wine. But really, some water would have even been nice.

3. The staff had Chinese takeout for lunch. The entire salon was filled with Kung Pow Chicken aroma. Mix that with a little bleach, shampoo, and hairspray...not exactly aromatherapy, people. But I did decide to incorporate stir fry into our dinner lineup this week.

OK. As if I don't already sound like snob, I'm going to go ahead and add the last one. The clincher for me.

4. SHE ASKED ME TO HELP HER BY HANDING HER THE FOILS. I'm not sure why some stylists do this? Really, I don't. It is one of my biggest pet peeves. It makes me have flashbacks to my youth where I'm at the kitchen table handing my mother the perm rods as she does yet another perm to my stick-straight hair.

Note to all styists: I am a mother of 4. The salon experience is supposed to be relaxing for me. A place to recharge. A place to catch up on Brangelina and my other celebrity friends. I can't do that if I'm helping you do my own hair, right? Plus, if I'm your new assistant, I'd really enjoy a discount.

So, I am on the search yet again for a colorist in the city that won't cost more than my rent each month and will provide a tad more pampering. Thinking of starting a prayer chain for this.

What about you? What is your worst salon experience?

Monday, January 18, 2010

time for tea

I decided to go to the park with Lily this afternoon. But by the time we started walking down the street, I decided it would be a lot more fun to go eat something. This was an easy sell for Lily. She is always ready to eat. I have taught her well.

We went to the cutest little tea shop. It's called Alice's Tea Cup. There are 3 of these in Manhattan and one is just 3 blocks from our apartment.








The tiny shop is just adorable. Whimsical decor and mismatched china. Lots of teas (brewed in the cutest little pot at your table), great soups and sandwiches...and the scones. My word, the scones. I have never tasted anything so delicious. Lily ate hers, then sighed and said, "I wish I could start all over again." Let's just say she doesn't have that same reaction to zucchini.

Lily ordered the Wee Tea. It's off their kid's menu. It came with her own pot of tea, served with a tower of treats. She selected the berry scone, the chocolate mousse, and chicken fingers. I tried to tell her that chicken fingers was really not proper etiquette for a tea and that she should order the little sandwiches instead. She refused. The girl loves her chicken fingers. I couldn't even get her to put down them down for a picture. At that point I think she was just rubbing it in.



We had a lovely afternoon tea together. It was the perfect girl time - except for when she decided to change all the rules to the game 20 questions. I'm a tad competitive and as you can imagine, this threw me off a bit.

When it was over, Lily said:

"Do you what my favorite thing to do is, Mom?"

"No, what is it, Lily?"

"Anything with you."

Melt my heart and someone get this girl some more chicken fingers.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

70's music makes me think i can dance

I realize what I'm about to say is controversial. But I'm going to say it anyway. I heart the movie Mamma Mia. Don't hate me. And don't write me and tell me how much you hated that movie. I have enough to cope with in my life right now and 70s music makes me happy.

Rod surprised me and bought us tickets to the Broadway show Mamma Mia. It was a fantastic date night. A much needed date night. While I know that I may make the transition to the city look easy, our family is human and it is trying at times- especially when there is only 1200 square feet for the hormones to bounce around in. Sometimes in one day the emotional roller coaster displays itself like this:

I think you're the best mom in the world.

Mom, I hate you!

Mom, I need you!

Mom!!!!!!!

Whatever.

Mom. I love you.

It's exhausting sometimes. But I read something wise this week and it has given me some perspective.

The days are long, but the years are short.

This reminded me that the journey is what counts. I am crazy about my children and love being a mother to my four. I want to savor every moment, the good and the bad. Because, all too soon- they will be gone. I should probably just stop this post there, because this could be a life changing moment for you, too. But I need to tell you about my date night.

After Mamma Mia we went to the Carlyle Hotel for drinks and music. It was swanky. And by swanky, I mean that I should have been wearing some type of fur and holding one of those long cigarettes. Such a fun New York experience.



I loved the wallpaper in the lounge there. And I proclaimed this to Rod no less than 73 times during the entire night.





We stayed out until the wee hours of the morning.
Talking. Laughing. Smiling. Snuggling. Listening.

Because, the days are long, but the years are short.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

wordless wednesday in the city

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

bless my fashionable heart

Apparently when it is cold, common sense says that one should dress appropriately. This helps fix the whole "I'm so cold" issue. I've been a bit slow to grasp this conventional wisdom, but in my defense I was not raised to bundle up. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm from the south. We don't do coats. We don't go outside when it's cold. And if we want to tell someone they're stupid we shake our head and say, "Bless your heart." That last one is just a freebie so you northerners know when a southerner is mocking you.

Anyway, I have to go outside in NYC even when it's cold because there is a law that says my kids have to go to school. And since we only live 2 blocks from there, I walk them. I quickly found out that my cute, short black wool coat was not going to keep me very warm in NY winters. Yes, it's gosh darn cute with those three-quarter sleeves and all, but fashion doesn't keep you warm. At least not the parts that matter.

So I broke down and bought this.



Bah-nanas, right? That's not me in the picture, in case you were wondering.

Love this coat.
Love to wear this coat.
I stay warm in this coat.
But there is one teenie, tiny problem.
The zipper often gets stuck, trapping me inside the coat.
This puts me in, shall we say... a O MY GOSH, I'M GOING TO DIE INSIDE THIS COAT TYPE OF PANIC.

The first time it happened, I broke out in a sweat and ran around in circles in the apartment. Screaming. There was also some hand waving involved. My poor husband stepped in to stop the madness help unzip the coat and the two of us wrestled the zipper a good 20 minutes until I was free. I continued to hyperventilate the entire time. Keep in mind my 14 year old was on the couch staring at me the whole time muttering, "you're so weird" over and over again. Then he continued watching TV, updated his facebook and sent about 739 texts. So it didn't faze him too much.

But I know if he had been raised in the south he would have added in a "Bless your heart" for dramatic effect.

Monday, January 11, 2010

channeling my inner martha stewart

We only have 2 non-bedroom closets in this little apartment and one of them is a coat closet. Let me do the math for you. That leaves us ONE CLOSET for storage. We are a family of six. Some of you suburban readers began to hyperventilate as you read the above sentences. While my fellow New Yorkers just whispered, "suck it up Newbie" under their breath.

As we unpacked our moving boxes, this spare closet was quickly filled with random items that couldn't fit anywhere else. And because we basically threw things in there and slammed the door, every time I opened them I was afraid a bowling ball would fall out and hit me on the head. We don't even own a bowling ball, but the Flintstones was about the only cartoon I was allowed to watch as a child and it has made a permanent impression on my psyche.

I finally got around to organizing these closets this past weekend. Let me tell you, it was ONE EXCITING WEEKEND! Should I go out to a Broadway play or should I stay home and organize my closets? I chose the later.

Here's my finished project:



Glorious. And I totally channelled Martha Stewart and put labels on EVERYTHING. Even the shelves below Rod's inbox. I even tried to put them on really straight, so she'd be proud.



I know. I might need a new creative outlet.

Anyway, I took about 20 pictures of the closet because I was just so darn proud of myself. And because I wanted to forget that this is waiting for me in a storage unit in the Bronx. Even though we sold almost all our belongings when we moved here, we did not get rid of enough.



I don't even know what's in there and to be honest, I don't really care. I would like to light a match to it and never think about it again. But for now, I'll keep flipping through my pictures on iphoto of my beautiful, organized closet.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Jesus and waffles

We walked to church on Sunday.

This might sound charming. It may even conjure up images in your mind of our little family skipping down the streets of Manhattan singing all the way to church. That's the way it goes in my head, too. When I dream.

The reality was the air was a brisk 20 degrees and I couldn't feel my face by the time we stepped into church. Plus, the sibling bickering that happens in a car on the way to church totally still happens walking down the sidewalk. I'm guessing it would still happen if each child had their own unicorn to ride to church, too.

Church was great. It was peaceful and refreshing. Pastor Tim Keller gave an amazing message.

It was Jackson's first time there.
I asked him how he liked his class and he said, "I didn't hate it. Plus I actually learned stuff from the Bible at this church."
Not sure what book he learned from at other churches, but I'm making a mental note to start checking into that a bit more.

When we picked up Lily, her teacher said, "Lily was great today. She is so methodical."
Me: "Uhh....What?"
Teacher: "She's so disciplined."
To which Lily replied, "What's disciplined?"

First of all, I'm always shocked when Lily is able to pull this off with total strangers. How can she be so disciplined at church and not so disciplined at home? (Don't email and tell me the answer to this. I will be humiliated.) Second of all, the fact that she's not sure what the word disciplined means could be where some of our miscommunication stems from.

Do you know what we found after church?



A waffle truck. Yes. It is a truck that makes waffles. Hot, crispy, tasty waffles with all sorts of delicious toppings.








The truck moves around the city and tweets their location so you can find them. I have added them to my twitter list. Wouldn't you if you were here? Something about always knowing where I can find delicious Belgian waffles makes me warm inside. I'll let you know if this gets out of hand.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

walk this way...

I have accomplished something remarkable. Something extraordinary.
Something I thought might not be able to be done.
I have taught my six year old how to walk in a straight line on a NYC sidewalk.

If you know my daughter, you are in awe of me right now.
Thank you. I accept your awe.

We have lived in the city for almost 2 months now. I have spent most of those two months chasing Lily down the sidewalks of Manhattan. As soon as she steps outside our apartment building she goes into sensory overload. And I mean major overload. She goes crazy. She flips around like a fish who has just been tossed out of his fishbowl. It's not cute. And to be honest, it's quite dangerous.

I have pulled her out of the way of screeching taxis, apologized to more innocent bystanders than I care to admit, and almost had a stroke a time or two. And don't even get me started about my anxiety levels when I'm on the subway platforms with her. It scares the bejeesus out of me. While my sister was visiting, she told me Lily should really be on a leash when we go outside.

But, no longer.
Last week Lily had a breakthrough.
Lily learned how to walk like a city girl.
That's even what we call it. She thinks it's a game.

I have to tell you though. It's quite funny. I can tell she is totally suppressing every ounce of energy in that tiny body. She's almost tense while she walks. It takes a conscious effort on her part, but she does it. And I couldn't be prouder. Plus, I no longer crave a Xanax every time we walk outside.

I thought I'd video it for you so you could see for yourself. Enjoy.

Before:

video

After:

video

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

guggenheim museum

My son Jackson (age 11) began his obsession with Frank Lloyd Wright several years ago. I wish I could claim it was because I am a wonderful mother and hung sketches of Frank's architecture over Jackson's bed when he was a baby. But I can't. This fascination came out of nowhere. He just stumbled upon it on the web one day. One of the better things he's stumbled upon, by the way.

He began talking about what an amazing architect F.L. Wright was. And would we please, please, please take him to see one of the houses he built? Rod made that dream come true about a year ago and took him to see Fallingwater. Some of you just said, "Falling who?" You are not alone. I said the same thing. Here's a picture:



Isn't it gorgeous? Jackson promised me that if he becomes an architect one day, he'll build me one of these. So I've stopped entering the HGTV dream home. I'm waiting for a Fallingwater instead.

Jackson took in every square inch of Fallingwater. He was in awe. But then he quickly announced his next dream. To see the Guggenheim Museum. This is because Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim.

Since we now live in New York, this was an easy dream to make come true. It's only a few blocks from our apartment.



Jackson and I spent a special day at the museum. I really don't know what is more fascinating- the works of art housed inside or Frank Lloyd Wright's ingenious architecture.




Simply amazing. Where do want to go next Jackson?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

happy gotcha day lily!

Dear Lily,

Six years ago today you joined our family- making us a complete family of six. I will never forget that day as long as I live. The moment you were placed in my arms, I melted. You see, you were born in my heart years before you were physically born in China. I know it's hard for you to understand all that now. But one day, I trust you will.

I do apologize for dressing you in head to toe pink for the first 2 years of your life with us. This picture is a perfect example of that. But what can I say? I was only allowed to do blue and other boy colors on your three brothers. Except for one of them. I did dress one of them in pink pajamas when they were a baby. I did it only once, but I can't tell you which one it was for fear that your brothers will never let him live it down. In my defense, I am from the south and southern mamas dress their boy babies in pink or in lace collars if they feel like it.

Each of my children bring something special to the family and you are no different. You bring a passion and a zeal for sucking every ounce of life out of a day. You love life. You live life. I am trying to keep up with you. You are creative and energetic. And yes, at times you are a tad dramatic. But I'm so crazy about you.

You are my daughter. You needed me. But I, also needed you. I love you with all my heart. And today I celebrate you!

Love,
Mommy

PS. I don't care what you say, your hat in this picture is fabulous.

Monday, January 4, 2010

serendipity

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to lose those pesky 5-10 pounds.

I ate at Serendipity on New Year's Day.

Clearly, I am off to a great start.

For those of you who don't know about this New York treasure, Serendipity is the cutest little ice cream shop you have ever seen.

They have real food, too, but their desserts are out of this world. They are famous for their frozen hot chocolate. We planned on getting that for dessert, but our very persuasive waiter said it was more of tradition to start your meal off with that. I chose not to argue and ordered 3 for our little table.



Obviously, Lily is concerned about the rate I am sipping. She knows me well. And she has every right to be concerned. I am a selfish frozen hot chocolate sipper.

Did you know they also have a dessert sundae that costs $1000? Yes, $1000. I had to promise Rod before I left home that I would not order one. But doesn't it look delicious? And shiny?



It's called the Golden Opulence Sundae and is known as the “world’s most expensive sundae.” I prefer to call it "a year supply of Bobbie Brown makeup" or "what you should be saving for your child's college education" sundae.

It is made with two scoops of rich Tagutuan vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla. Then it’s covered with an edible 23k gold leaf and drizzled with Amedei Porceleana, the world’s most expensive chocolate. You eat it from a Baccarat crystal goblet (which you can actually take home) with a 14-karat gold spoon. I think for that price it should also include some liposuction to suck it back out of you after you eat it.

I'm not trying to be bossy, but you definitely need to visit Serendipity if you are ever in New York. Call them a few weeks ahead so you can get a reservation though. Otherwise, you will probably have to wait outside for hours. And who really wants to do that?

If you can't get to the city anytime soon, you can also purchase their frozen hot chocolate mix here and make it at home.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

apparently it's time to do some grocery shopping

Saturday, January 2, 2010

museum of natural history

My sister and I decided it would be a great day to take Jackson and Lily to the Museum of Natural History. Apparently thousands of other people had the exact same idea. Go figure. The line wrapped around the museum and the temperature was freezing. As in so freezing I thought I might be standing outside without pants on. Seriously, I had that thought for a second. Did I forget to put pants on this morning? Because my legs would not be this cold if I had pants on. I feel naked cold. Luckily after a brief check I confirmed that I was indeed wearing pants. But alas, this knowledge did not make me any warmer.

Anyway, while we waited in line my sister dreamed of her island home she left to spend Christmas in New York with us.



I'm sure there are some deeper thoughts going on in there, but if I was her, that is what I would have been thinking about at that moment.

You know who doesn't care about being cold and waiting in line?



Lily. That's because there are PEOPLE ALL AROUND. And Oh the people! So much activity! She has to take it all in and drain every last bit of energy from it. Pray for me, people.

Once we finally got inside, we began to defrost. Which if you don't know, means your nose starts dripping like crazy. But we enjoyed the exhibits all the same.

The dinosaur, who according to Lily is "missing his skin" is quite impressive.



The dioramas are amazing and Lily asked me to take a picture of her in front of almost every single one.





And then I overheard her yell, "O my gosh! The animals are DEAD!" After that she requested pictures be taken of the dioramas without her.



And next time she will be bringing her own camera because I really don't want 100 pictures of dead animals taking up my Iphoto space.

The permanent exhibit goes on forever and it is so intriguing. For all ages. Some things you will have to explain to children though. For instance, this woman is not blowing a bubble.



She has a bone lodged in her lip for decoration. And no, you can't do that to yourself.

And, yes, this is a woman from China getting married.



But no, you won't be able to get that same chariot at your wedding one day.

And finally, it appears husbands in Africa lavish gifts upon their wives even after they are married.



But most western-world men have trouble remembering special dates and doing that whole gift thing once you get married. Except for your father. He is one of the smart ones.

Friday, January 1, 2010

j lo's ode to dr seuss

Rather than fighting the crowds in Times Square, our family opted for a comfortable evening at home watching the festivities on TV. I was happy with that decision until I saw this:



In high definition.

While I admire her courage, my first thought was she looked like a Dr Seuss character. A discussion on this matter with my 14 year, Bo, brought forth the following prose. Enjoy.

Could you wear it in the cold?
Would you wear it when you're old?
I could not. Should not. Would not be that bold.

Would you wear it on TV?
Where everyone could see?
O Jenny from the Block, how could you do that to me?
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