Wednesday, December 21, 2011


It's hard to believe that' its been two months since I was able to post anything. It's been a sad reality that work has taken too much of my time away from the little things. But now it's Holiday time and life turns towards time off with family. Phoebe was so excited to get our little Xmas tree for our house this year. It sits right next her wooden Menorah that seems to hold equal fascination for her at this moment. I love that our Vietnamese, Jewish Princess has so many things to celebrate. When we took out the ornaments for the tree with her Dad, I could see that this holiday holds so much nostalgia and sentimentality for so many of us. I am just happy to celebrate the season with our little family. We are so lucky in so many ways.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

School begins

At last! The summer has come to an end and Phoebe's 2nd year of school at All Souls has begun. It feels so different than last year. Our girl is now in a morning class. We take the bus together and I get to drop Phee at school on my way to work. Phoebe has no hesitations about her learning environment. She's in a new class, with new teachers (Susan, Nikki and Jackie) and yet she is unfazed and ready to be a part of it. At open school night, the teachers told us that Phoebe is a pleasure (of course) so nice to other kids and inclusive in her play, (so nice to hear) and one teacher even told us that in all her years of teaching she has never encountered a student like Phoebe. One day, when Phee was waiting to be picked up, she asked her teacher to sit down next to her. Then she proceeded to ask her teacher what she liked to do when she was at home. Not the typical question from typically solipsistic 4 year olds. We are so proud of our Phoebe and just so happy to hear that she is her best self at school; fun, engaged, kind and great to have around. That's our girl!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Labor Day of Love weekend

The whole family gathered from near and far, to celebrate Grammy's 80th and Grammy & Grampy's 55th wedding anniversary. It was wonderful to see everyone together in our beautiful Vermont home in the late summer. We ate, we drank, we played games and laughed. Vermont is always a special place for our family

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Now I am 4

I'm not sure how it happened, but Phoebe has turned four before our very eyes. This year has been full of changes for all of us, and yet, my intrepid girl has weathered it all. She has morphed from a little baby to a big girl who speaks with emotion and clarity, who knows who she is and what she wants (and how to go about getting it). Smart and clever, strong yet polite, and always fun and funny.

Phoebe's actual birthday was the first day of a commercial shoot for me- my first in over 10 years. I made the decision to miss the shoot and be at her party quicker than I ever could have imagined. It was the only place I wanted to be on August 17, 2011. We took over the roof top pool at 180 East End Avenue and spent a beautiful day (the only one in a crazy week of rain) splashing around, enjoying each other and the friends and family who came to be with us that day.

Phoebe at 4 is a wonder to behold. I am so proud to be her Mommy and to call her my daughter. She is the light, the joy, the gem that brightens everyday. On this particular day, she was shining in all her 4 year old glory. I'm so very glad I could be there to witness it, to be a part of it and to soak in every minute.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Campers

After four hours of driving from Vermont to Maine, we missed the turn that leads into Camp Forest Acres. Panicked that we would miss dinner and excited to return to camp after so many years, we turned the car around, found the way into camp, grabbed Phoebe and rushed into the dining hall. We were greeted by 120 girls singing, "We welcome you to FAC we're mighty glad you're here..." Phoebe's eyes were wide open, mine were filled with tears. Forest Acres had been my summer place for 8 summers. I loved every minute of my time there and it very much molded me into the person I am today. I hadn't been back in more than two decades, and yet it was like it was only yesterday that I sat at those tables and sang those songs a the top of my lungs. The days that followed were jammed packed with activities, teaching creative writing for me, yoga for Alana and dozens of new friends for Phoebe.

For three nights, we slept in Cabin 3 (Alana on the floor) and disconnected from the real world. Time moved so slowly that after the first day, Alana and I looked at each other like we'd been there for weeks. It was wonderful to see my niece Jordan, a true camper now after 3 summers, totally connected to the FA world and now connected to me in a whole new way. She and her cabin mates pulled Phoebe right into their world and made her one of their own in no time at all. I am so excited to have my daughter be a part of Forest Acres and for her to get comfortable with going back year after year. It was amazing to reconnect with old friends, even one of my counselors, who is still working there. I realized that camp is truly the fountain of youth. Those who have kept camp as part of their lives look as young and vibrant as they did when I went to camp. Forest Acres and Indian Acres welcome new campers every year, and yet they are stuck in time in such a beautiful way. How comforting to know there is still a place where kids can go to develop friendships without the use of technology, where they can discover themselves in a way they could never do at home, where they can just be. I absolutely can't wait o go back next year, and hopefully, for many more summers after that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Big Changes for our Big Girl

Over the past month, Phoebe has had a challenge before her.
The task was to see how many stickers she could get for each night she slept through the night. (no screaming for Mom or Dad, no waking up and trying to get us to come in…) A lot of this had to do with me going back to work. There was a morning I had to leave for a meeting before she woke up, and that set off a string of bad nights for all of us. So Jeff drew up a beautiful, colorful chart and each night our girl slept through, she would get to put a sticker on her chart in the morning. The goal was to get a “big” bed like many of her friends. Maddo and Luca and Kai who all live in our building and who all have turned 4 already, all have big kid beds. (Nothing like a little early peer pressure to motivate a child.) We heard from Phoebe’s teachers that she would report to them about her chart every day and what kind of sticker she got that day. We’ve had butterflies, smiley faces, elephants, pigs, gorillas, pandas and even a giraffe. Her current fav. is a whole week of heart stickers.

After a full month of successful nights, we took out the bed side-rail we’ve been saving since she was a baby. Phoebe helped her Dad as he got out the tool box, took the old ‘baby’ rail off and put in her new ‘big girl’ side rail.

As you can see from this photo, the pride in her accomplishment is undeniable. This morning she woke up, got herself out of bed and headed for the bathroom like any big kid would. We are so proud of our little person, growing up so very fast before our eyes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Death Comes for Biscuit

Talking to children about death, especially when you have atheistic leanings , is never easy. You don’t want to mention Heaven, or earth for that matter. You don’t want to bring God or any master plan into play. You just want to say that they are gone and hope that’s enough to keep the questions at bay for awhile.

Recently, Phoebe would ask, “where’s your Grandma?” “Where’s your Grandpa?” She’d ask me or my parents and we would typically just say, “They are gone now.” One of her babysitters, Siobhan told Phoebe that her dog had died. Phoebe translated that conversation to me by saying, “Siobhan’s dog dived.” “Like under the water?” I asked. And she confidently nodded, yes. So we left it at that. To die or to dive, seemed about the same for the moment. Then her class hamster, the beloved Biscuit, took a dive. Phoebe was sent home with a note for the parents along with an article on how to speak to your children about death. The article said, “The most difficult part is examining your own feelings and beliefs so you can talk about them naturally with your children when the opportunities arise.” Growing up in a secular household, I remember being fascinated by death. I knew I had Catholic friends who believed in Heaven, and I was almost jealous of their certainty. Being an Atheist means embracing the unknown. I once heard death described as a “Secret” that you can’t know the answer to until you get there. Phoebe did not seem to want to know more about what happened to Biscuit. She seemed to like saying the word ‘dead’ and knowing that it meant ‘gone.’ Should she ask again sometime, maybe I’ll say that Biscuit now knows the secret of death. At this moment, I just feel grateful that the very first experience she has had with loss was a hamster. When the time comes for us to lose someone special to us, she will have had an the gentlest possible introduction to one of the hardest things we face as humans. Biscuit, thanks for teaching my girl this difficult lesson, rest in peace little friend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Culture Kids

We started young. And then it became a habit, or maybe you could say, an addiction. I can still remember the first shows Carol & I went to see when we were kids. We saw Shenandoah and Raisin in the Sun. We had special trips into the city, usually with our Moms, to see and experience Broadway.

The show we took Phoebe and Sammie to see last Saturday wasn’t exactly Broadway, but for kids of the toddler set, Knuffle Bunny has become the new favorite. The writer, Mo Willems is a modern day Dr. Seuss. He turned his popular book into a musical aimed at the 2-6 age group and the kids just loved it.

Phoebe has been to a few shows before this one, Freckle Face Strawberry, also from a book, the Gazillion Bubble Show, a kids version of the Nutcracker and a multi-media Butterfly show. Each time, I just love watching her eyes open up to the sights and sounds of the stage. I hope she will become a life-long lover of the arts as we are. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon with my favorite girls.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Phoebe on Ice

This weekend was a first for Phoebe. We had decided to use the long holiday weekend to go up to the house in Vermont. Plans had been made with various friends and their children, but all had fallen through leaving us blissfully alone. A happy threesome. The weekend was a snowy one. We watched most of it through the big windows of the house, content to do very little and just enjoy our change of scenery. On Sunday, we decided to venture out and give ice-skating a try. I wasn’t sure if a three year old would be able to stay upright on the ice, but Phoebe had an amazing first outing. The Riley Rink of Manchester, Vermont is equipped with sliding metal hand-rails that allow little kids to find their feet while learning to skate. The first go around the ice, Phoebe was being helped along by Mom and Dad, but was constantly looking around at the bigger kids doing it all by themselves. We talked to one girl who stopped near us. “How old are you?” we asked. “7” she said with a missing tooth smile. “See Phoebe,” I said, “You’ll be skating like that when you are 7.” Not satisfied with waiting that long, Phoebe soon abandoned the hand-rail and would only skate holding our hands. I was so impressed by her determination to figure this new sport out on the very first try. The whole outing didn’t last very long, but by the end, Phoebe could walk off the ice balancing on her skates. Coming soon: Skating in New York City before the ice melts.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tet Celebration 4.0

The Vietnamese New Year 2011 is the year of the Cat. Unlike the Chinese who are celebrating the Rabbit this year, the stealth and cozy cat is the perfect mascot for our yearly gathering to honor Phoebe’s Vietnamese heritage. We had Josephine & Steve with their 6 month old daughter, Simone, Diana and her two girls, Liana and Julia, Carol and Sammie and Grandma Lynn and Jonfer to round out the family festivities. Bagels and lox were on the menu (to honor our Jewish heritage too) and all the girls played well in Phoebe’s big new room. We had a lot of discussion beforehand about sharing and taking turns with all the toys. Sharing is certainly the challenge of this age group. Phoebe seemed to understand that all the toys and dolls and crayons would still be hers at the end of the day when everyone went home. Much to our delight, she was an excellent host and did really well the whole day. It felt like a turning point for our little person.

It’s hard to believe that it was only 3 years ago that we were spending Vietnamese New Year in Vietnam picking up our little girl and trying to get her back to NYC. Time really does move quickly, making each celebration one to cherish. Now that I am back at work, I miss being the one to spend every day with Phoebe. It’s been a tough transition for both of us. I miss her face all day long, but try to remember how lucky I have been to have these three years at home with her. Every day, just me & Phee. Now it’s time for us to both get used to a new routine. I guess Mommy & Phoebe are both growing up.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mom, Dad Switcheroo

It’s a strange world when I find myself working at DraftFCB and Jeff is home taking care of Phoebe. I am in his workplace and he is in mine. We’re in bizzarro world right now. As far as childcare goes, I could not ask for better coverage. Phoebe gets to be with her Dad every day. They play, they draw, spontaneous puppet shows happen, as well as fun mustache projects (seen here). Not to mention the fact that he is a wonderful cook, caretaker and domestic god. I have often mused that Jeff could teach a course for men on how to rule their domestic sphere as much as they rule their workplace. I’ve never been a particularly good morning person, always staying in bed until the last possible moment, but these days, my man makes sure I don’t miss the alarm, makes an excellent cup of coffee and reminds me to take my vitamins.

This job is only a freelance assignment for now, but it is giving me a taste of what it would be like to get back into the working world. I don’t like leaving Phoebe in the morning and she’s not too keen on it either. The transition is a touchy one for both of us. I miss having the time to lounge around with her in the morning. I miss taking her to school and being the one to see the teachers and her friends. I found a yoga class that meets near her school I managed to get to a few times. That’s history now. But working also means time to do other things being with a child does not allow- like updating the blog I’ve nearly abandoned in the past few months.

In my dreams, I hoped that Jeff’s last job was going to be a new beginning for him and I would be able to stay with Phoebe until she started kindergarten. Now I’m sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen and he’s sliding up next to Phoebe’s desk, drawing her fantastical pictures in crayon. Perhaps he’ll be back at work in no time and this will be just a moment in time where he gets to enjoy his daughter. Perhaps this freelance job will end and I’ll be back with the Mommies at school pick-up. Life is strange and wondrous and I must remind myself that the only constant is change.

The Octogenarian Club

Grampy’s 80th birthday celebration was a wonder to behold. Who knew that 80 could be so fabulous? To look around the room, it was hard to imagine that all of my parent’s contemporaries are doing so well. When my Grandparents were this age, they were in steep decline; not nearly as vibrant and sharp as this crowd. Many of the people in the room had been at Bob’s 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th & 70th birthday parties. Micki made sure to make each of these occasions super special parties everyone would remember. My Mom sure knows how to throw a party. It took me to my adulthood to realize that most people could not throw a party for 50 or 100 people together in a blink of an eye. I grew up watching a master entertainer at work. And yes, I too love to host parties and have a given a few good ones in my day. I guess she passed the love of celebration onto me. This one was particularly elegant. 50 people at the Water Club overlooking the East River. Great food and accompaniment on the piano by Joel O, a lawyer who volunteers his skills at our soup kitchen on Monday nights. My brother gave a moving speech about what it was like to have a Dad like ours. I introduced a video we had made that had the room roaring with laughter. My nieces, now 12 and 15 looked beautiful and stylish in black & white. Hard to believe how they’ve grown into such gorgeous young women. It was a wonderful weekend of family and friends. A moment to remember how truly lucky we are to have each other, our health and the promise of more good days to come.