Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fun at the Museum

Winter is officially here and parents everywhere are in search of indoor activities to keep the kids entertained. Here’s a list of some of my favorite museums across the country that are guaranteed to keep your kids entertained for hours.

You know you’re going to have fun as soon as you walk into this museum and spot the giant three-story climbing structure in the center of the ground floor lobby. The museum stresses the importance of The Power of Play, and there's no shortage of activities to help put this theory into practice. There are numerous cultural exhibits, Johnny’s Workbench, KidStage, Art Studio, Peep’s World and much more.  

There are plenty of exhibits to keep kids occupied here, including Roboworld, the USS Requin Submarine, an Exploration Station and a Miniature Railroad and Village. But one that stand out among them all is Sports Works. Learn about physics by becoming a human yo-yo, launch yourself into the air in a bungee-harnessed trampoline and compare your running time to an Olympian's. Kids and adults alike are guaranteed to leave this place smiling.  

No visit to San Francisco with kids is complete without a trip to this impressive science museum. Now located on Pier 15 in the Embarcadero, this is a wonderful place to explore tons of hands-on exhibits both inside and outside the museum walls.  

There is always something fun going on at the Liberty Science Center. Try out the new Infinity Climber, crawl through the pitch-black Touch Tunnel, dodge a sneeze from the giant Blue Nose or take the outdoor Wildlife Challenge (seasonal).  

Exhibits include Kid Grid (an interactive technology exhibit), Moneypalooza, and STEMosphere. No child should leave without visiting the popular Splash room, where kids explore the power and fun of water through various unique experiences.

Everyone knows that New York City is home to some amazing museums, but a new standout is the Museum of Mathematics, where math is made fun through various exhibits, galleries and programs. The exhibits are for kids and adults of all ages with an emphasis on activities for 4th-8th graders.

What’s your favorite children’s museum?
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Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Open Letter to Melissa Rivers

Dear Melissa,

It’s been over a month since your mom passed away, and I still miss her. I miss watching celebrity guests appear on Fashion Police, the same ones Joan had just mercilessly teased a week earlier, now sitting next to her trying to catch their breath from laughing so hard. I miss watching guests coming out of her closet on In Bed with Joan, getting cozy and sharing life stories on her floral comforter. Most of all, I miss watching the two of you bickering and mocking one another, supporting each other and just plain driving each other crazy, on Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best.  Her fierce loyalty and devotion to you and your son was apparent in every scene. And watching your mom drive you crazy felt like home to me.

We’ve never met, but you and your mom have served as inspirations to me. Your mom never minced words about the painful things she had been through in her lifetime. But she survived. And she not only survived, she lived. Through it all, she was unfalteringly unapologetic, honest and real.

About one year ago, I lost my mom suddenly too. My mom was a little like your mom. She never appeared on Carson, never hosted her own show, and never even had the opportunity to get into bed with Ray J. But like your mom, she used humor to battle the difficult times in her life. My mom’s greatest life lesson to me was to laugh in the face of pain. She wasn’t always great at following her own advice, but she always got me to laugh at my own mishegas. And I think that at the core of your mom’s humor, and what made everyone love her so damn much, was that she made fun of herself more than anyone else. As Joan once said, “Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century”.

When you lose a parent, you want the whole world to stop and acknowledge it. And when Joan Rivers passed away, it felt like the whole world did stop for a moment. Your mom was a comedic treasure. A groundbreaking legend. But she was also a walking reminder to everyone who has gone through unrelenting hardships that you need to just keep going. For your family, your friends, your colleagues. For yourself.

Melissa, you are also an inspiration. I loved seeing you on television a couple of weeks ago honoring your mother on Fashion Police. Before I lost my own mom, I probably would have assumed that everyone needs to stay in bed crying for months, waiting for time to heal them and then finally face the world once more. But that’s not really how it works, is it? There is no timetable for when you will finally heal from your grief. The scary truth that I must accept is that I probably never will. I think your mom would agree and that’s why she lived her life to the fullest and simply laughed alongside the pain. Laughed at the pain. As your mom said, “I think anyone who’s perfectly happy isn’t particularly funny.”

Grief is a tricky thing to manage. For me, almost a year after losing my mom, it is always there, lurking behind every moment of every day. But something I learned from your mom is that pain and laughter can co-exist. It’s ok to laugh. No apologies.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

FALLING FOR T.V. Fall 2014 Must Watch List

While there are certainly a few shows I’m excited about this fall, a few of them seem like imitations of themselves. Debra Messing plays a NYPD homicide detective who juggles her duties at work with a messy family life. Tea Leoni balances achieving world peace as the Secretary of State with handling her duties at home as a mother. Katherine Heigl splits her time between her work for the CIA and solving a murder mystery with a personal agenda. Kate Walsh plays a criminal court judge who must balance….well, you get the idea. However, there are also some noteworthy offerings on television this fall. Below are seven highlights from the new fall season that will ensure you don’t waste precious DVR space.

Premieres: Sunday, September 7 at 8/7c on Fox
I haven’t come across too many unique concepts for reality shows in recent years, but this one definitely changes things up a bit. 15 contestants spend one whole year in semi-isolation together in the wilderness with the goal of building a new society with their own set of rules. Issues of religion and politics are sure to come up, along with why anyone would sign up for this show. I’m totally watching. 

Premieres: Wednesday, September 24 at 9/8c on ABC
Anthony Anderson created and stars in this sitcom about a father of four who feels his children lack a strong racial identity. For example, his son Andre wants to go by the name Andy, wants to play field hockey, and requests for his parents to throw him a bar-mitzvah. Laurence Fishburne plays the grandfather. Black-ish will follow Modern Family on Wednesday night. Seems like a funny way to spend an hour.

Premieres: Thursday, September 25 at 10/9c on ABC
Yet another sudsy show from Shonda “I own Thursday night” Rhimes. This legal thriller is headed by Viola Davis, which ensures some built-in classiness. Davis plays a law school professor whose students get tangled up in real life murder plot outside of the classroom. Admittedly, I stopped watching Grey’s Anatomy years ago, and I am one of the few out there who has never seen even one episode of Scandal, but I did watch another Shonda Rhimes show religiously which will remain nameless for the sake of you taking any of my television recommendations seriously.

Premieres: Thursday, October 2 at 9/8c on NBC
The Mother is alive! Cristin Milioti is given a second chance at love, this time with Ben Feldman. The romantic comedy will chronicle the ups and downs of their relationship from start to finish. The last time we saw Ben Feldman he was cutting off a nipple on Mad Men, but I still think that decision makes more sense than having Ted Mosby end up with Robin, so maybe Cristin Milioti finally has a real shot at a happy ending.

Premieres: Sunday, October 12 at 10/9c on Showtime
The Affair delves into the messy consequences of marital infidelity from both the male and female perspectives. The show stars Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson. I may watch just to find out why anyone in their right mind would ever cheat on the adorable Joshua Jackson.

Premieres: Monday, September 22 at 8/7c on FOX
While poor Pacey is becoming a cuckold on The Affair, Ryan Atwood (aka Benjamin McKensie) gets to play Jim Gordon, Gotham City’s police commissioner. Gordon’s life becomes more complicated when he begins to investigate the murder of Bruce Wayne’s (David Mazouz) parents. Gotham is going to focus not only on Jim Gordon, but also on the origin stories of the Penguin, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and the Riddler.

Premieres: Tuesday, October 14 at 9/8c on NBC
If you miss Happy Endings as much as I do, get excited for this new romantic comedy from writer David Caspe which stars Casey Wilson and Ken Marino as a couple whose relationship is such a mess that they can’t even get the marriage proposal right. From watching the preview, I feel like this is just Wilson playing Penny in a new sitcom, which is just fine by me.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014


On Saturday morning, my husband was out getting a haircut and I (for a change) was attempting to enjoy my breakfast with limited disruptions. After rising from the table about three different times to refill juice cups, carry in bowls of berries for the kids and finally to wipe up the inevitable berry and juice spills, I was determined to spoil myself with three minutes of uninterrupted time with my coffee mug. I was so determined that I gave a two-year-old my phone.

Big mistake.
A few minutes later I panicked when I noticed that a precious video I had taken earlier in the week of my two boys in music class had been erased. This video made me happy, and now it had disappeared. After working for a couple of hours to try and retrieve it, my husband somberly reported back to me that the video had somehow not backed up and was gone.
At hearing this news, I immediately plummeted myself into the various stages of grief. I told my husband there was no way this could possibly be true. Call Apple! Call the President! Then anger. How could I have been so stupid as to have given my cell phone to a toddler?! I haven’t finished a cup of coffee in over five years, why did I have to attempt the impossible this morning!? After shedding a few tears (and asking if we could call the President one more time) I was finally willing to begin the process of accepting my loss.

If we’re all being honest, none of us has the time to sit and watch these videos and pictures that pile up on our phones. Most of them will probably never be viewed again. And yet in recent months these snapshots of life's little moments have become increasingly significant to me. I’m sure this is partly due to having recently lost my mom. She was the queen of taking cell phone pictures, and on her train ride home she would diligently text me a crazy amount of them from our day together. Of course, every one of these captured memories holds a significance I could never have imagined before she died.
The rational side of me (yes, it sometimes makes a cameo) knows that while I may have lost this 53 second video from music class, I did not lose the moment. I did not lose the memory. After “the incident” my five-year-old could see that I was visibly upset and tried to come to my rescue and console me.

“Mommy, I have a great idea. Why don’t we ask our teacher next week if we can sing the song again the exact same way, and then we can record it all over again.”
I smiled at my son’s sweet offer. I was saddened with the knowledge that moments are fleeting, and we can never get them back in the exact same way ever again. But I had also been reminded of something important. There will always be another song to sing.


Thursday, June 19, 2014


“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

              -Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a lovely sentiment. We waste so much valuable time focusing on achievements and end points, while what we should be doing is savoring the countless precious moments that transpire before we even reach our destinations.

A lovely sentiment, indeed. Except to anyone with a toddler. To all of us worn-out and weary parents, I say it’s okay to just want to get to our destinations already.

At our house, we start off our journey each morning with pretty much the same routine. Grievances expressed regarding cereal choices. Squabbles over how many toys are allowed to be dragged into the car. (Am I a bad mother for limiting the count to seven?) Desperate pleas from my two-year-old who wants to strap himself into his own car seat. Sure, why not? It only takes you 29 minutes and all we have to do is get your older brother to school in under four minutes. And we only wasted seven minutes just now trying to explain why you and your five-year-old brother cannot switch car seats.

These daily morning battles can wear us down, but since this ain’t my first time at the rodeo, I know that this too shall pass. Somehow, these mind numbing and endless struggles we endure from toddlers to simply get from Point A to Point B are more or less forgotten over time, and we are just left with the memories from when we got to where we wanted to go.

When Big Bro was a mere 15-months-old my husband and I decided to take him with us to Ireland for our friends’ wedding. And then we bravely decided that since neither of us had been to London, we would stop there for a few days first. Here’s the thing: I know that there were plenty of very tough travel moments. Like when we realized that the car seat we were lugging around with us didn’t fit in the seats on the international flight. Or when our little guy just didn’t seem to get the hint about what you were supposed to be doing on a red-eye flight. Or when the mother sitting in the row behind me decided she would allow her three little kids to sleep under my seat. (Thankfully, the flight attendant put an end to that brilliant plan pretty quickly.)

And yet somehow when I think back on that trip, these little aggravations aren't the first things that pop into my head. All I remember are fun times on the London Eye, good food, great friends and a few pints of Guinness.

So to all those parents who are just trying to make it through the day, or through the next hour, or simply trying to make it to their cars in the morning without having nervous breakdowns, just keep in mind that while the journey of parenthood can be tough at times, the destination is almost always worth it.
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Friday, April 18, 2014

A Mother's Day

As the month of May quickly approaches and I walk through the card aisle in the drugstore I can already guess what people will be saying, or at least thinking.

Mother’s Day is going to be so difficult for you.
Well, yes, of course. And no, not really.

Mother’s Day will be painful not because I cannot hand deliver flowers and a card to my mom, but simply because it is another Sunday without my mom here with us. Another day I cannot share a joke or grumble that she is talking way too loud or watch her frantically hail down the ice cream truck with the kids. Another day that I cannot show off my new duvet cover and ask if she thinks that it brightens up the room. A trivial subject matter, but something she would have wanted to share her opinions about.
There are times that I am so overwhelmed that my mom is no longer here with me that I can barely catch my breath. Then there are moments when I have to remind myself that she is gone. I arrive home to a blinking light on my machine and my first thought is that it’s her. I leave a doctor’s appointment with my kids and I instinctively pick up my phone to deliver a detailed report. I drive by the train station where I would pick her up and for a brief moment I am compelled to stop the car and wait for her. The image of her clumsily climbing off the train and insisting that the conductor wave to her grandsons is so ingrained in my head that it feels like it is happening at that very moment.

Often during her visits she would insist on being driven to TJ Maxx or Michael’s or some other store where she would proceed to buy a few tchotchkes for her grandchildren. Sometimes I would smile at the cute purchases; other times I would bemoan the lack of space to store these random items. Now I am just so grateful that we have these little items all over the house to remember her by. A small statue of a boy playing baseball. Puppets in the shapes of vegetables. The easy button from Staples. A Thomas alarm clock. An abundance of garbage trucks and dump trucks and race cars. A stationery box for my son where she inscribed the words, “A special box for all the special things you will collect in your lifetime. You will need many more boxes.”    

On this Mother’s Day, like every other day since my mom’s passing, I will take deep breaths, shed a few tears and hopefully laugh a little. And I will try my best to resist hiding under my bright white duvet cover.    

Saturday, February 15, 2014


In honor of this year’s awards season, I have compiled a list of some unconventional but indispensable gift ideas for new parents. Newborn layettes, wipes warmers, bassinets and jumbo toys are nice, but if you want your gift to be something a new parent simply cannot live without, the following items will not disappoint.

First-time parents tend to be a bit anxious when trying to decipher whether their baby is sick, teething or simply a little fussy. I’ve found that the quick and easy-to-use Exergen Temporal Scanner can be a lifesaver. Some say it’s not quite as accurate as other methods, but it’s certainly a good starting point for figuring out if there is any immediate cause for concern.

The one item that no new parent can ever have too many of is diapers, so why not make sure they’re stocked up! Take a trip to a big box store like Costco or BJ’s, buy one or two big boxes of diapers, stick a bow on top and you’ve got yourself the most useful gift any parent could ever ask for. Tip: Do a little research first and find out what brand and size diapers they use.  

What is the one thing new parents always have too little of? Sleep! Why not put together a sleep-themed basket filled with goodies that will help infants get a little more shut-eye. My children never stayed swaddled in a receiving blanket for more than ten minutes, so I always relied on Halo Sleepsacks to keep them snuggly and warm. Sound machines are a great way to let the baby know that it’s time to settle down. Add a personalized blanket, a little stuffed animal or a cute crib sheet and you’re good to go. Tip: Make sure the stuffed animal is machine washable.

When mealtime consists of breast milk or formula, it’s hard to imagine needing much more than a burp cloth and a tiny bib to keep things neat and tidy. Yet eventually the day will arrive when mealtimes become so messy that some parents might consider moving as an alternative to cleaning up. If you know a new parent who doesn’t own a Dustbuster, hurry and buy one for them before the Cheerios hit the fan.

Clothing is always welcomed, but if you really want your gift to be remembered, buy something sized 12 months or up. I found that my first child was very well-dressed up until about nine months, until one day I looked in the closet and realized he didn’t have a thing to wear! A tip I learned from my mom: always avoid buying newborn-sized clothes, most outgrow them in about five minutes!

Baby gifts are always appreciated, but it never hurts to also bring a little something special for the exhausted new parents. Treat the new mom to a pedicure or provide the couple with movie tickets to give them an incentive to spend one night out of the house. While you’re at it, offer to babysit for an afternoon while the baby is napping to allow them to get out and run a few quick errands or even simply grab a cup of coffee in peace. You would be surprised at what two hours out of the house can do to refresh frazzled new parents.

What is the one gift that you would recommend for a new parent?
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


This post is dedicated to my mom, my favorite person to laugh with and my favorite person to watch the Real Housewives with.

Here is my list of the top ten ways the Real Housewives are just like toddlers:

1.      Lisa refuses to wear anything but pink.

2.      Ramona needs to bring a bottle with her wherever she goes to ensure that she always has something to drink.

3.      Carlton has a “playroom” in her house.

4.      LuAnn is constantly telling everyone that she is royalty.

5.      Yolanda refuses to have anything but juice at every meal.

6.      Teresa tends to throw food and flip tables when she doesn’t get her way.

7.      Jill needs to work on using her “inside voice”.

8.      Brandi doesn’t see anything wrong with someone peeing by the side of a pool at a party.

9.      Kim Z. hates it when her parents show up at her events.

10.  Everyone is always chauffeured around to wherever they need to go.

Which Real Housewife do you think is most like a toddler?

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